MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jung Ho Kang is enjoying the spotlight in the major leagues and showing the Pittsburgh Pirates just what they hoped when they brought him over from South Korea.
Kang hit a tiebreaking home run off the facing of the second deck in left-center field in the ninth inning, lifting Pittsburgh over the Minnesota Twins 8-7 on Tuesday night.Kang’s sixth home run of the season, a drive off All-Star closer Glen Perkins (0-3), sent Pittsburgh to its fourth win in five games.
”Always enjoyed the situations like this ever since I play in Korea,” Kang said through an interpreter.
Kang has hit two of his six home runs in the ninth inning in his first season after the Pirates signed the infielder to a four-year, $11 million contract in the offseason. He hit a game-tying home run off St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal on May 3.
”I think my focus goes up towards the end of the game because when it comes to a tighter game like this, you really get a whole other level of focus,” Kang said.
Kang had two hits, scored two runs and was hit by a pitch. He is hitting .441 in his last nine games in helping Pittsburgh overcome injuries to third baseman Josh Harrison and shortstop Jordy Mercer.’
‘He continues to grow, he’s doing things here he’s probably done before in some sequence or context, just a different place now,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ”Sometimes it’s closers he’s facing, but that’s a dynamic swing off one of the best closers in the game.”