Lee Jeong-hoo (26, San Francisco Giants) missed the record as the first Korean major leaguer to do so by just a few centimeters. It was a disappointing hit that made everyone jump to their feet after realizing it was a home run.

Lee Jung-hoo started as the number one hitter and center fielder in the 2024 Major League Baseball (MLB) regular season home game against the Arizona Diamondbacks held at Oracle Park in San Francisco, California on the 22nd (Korean time) and went 0-hit in 2 at-bats, 2 walks, and 1 walk. (Ball that fits the body) was recorded. His season batting average dropped from 0.289 to 0.282, and his on-base percentage rose from 0.330 to 0.337.

As he failed to produce a hit in four at-bats, Lee Jeong-hoo’s streak of hits in consecutive games as a Korean major leaguer, which had continued since the game against the San Diego Padres on the 8th, stopped at ’11’. If he had hit two more games, he could have challenged Choi Ji-man (New York Mets) in 2022, and if he had hit three more games, he could have challenged the records of Choo Shin-soo (SSG Landers) in 2012 and 2015, and Kim Ha-seong in 2023 for the longest hitting streak by a Korean major leaguer. However, by hitting in 11 consecutive games, he set a new record for consecutive hitting in his debut season as a Korean major leaguer, surpassing the 10 consecutive games achieved by Jung-ho Kang (then of the Pittsburgh Pirates) in 2015 and Hyun-soo Kim (then of the Baltimore Orioles) in 2016.

The most disappointing at-bat was the one in the bottom of the 6th inning when San Francisco was down 2-3. Lee Jeong-hoo, who started as the leadoff hitter, hit Arizona starter Slade Ceconi’s first pitch four-seam fastball (91.9 miles per hour) and went wide over the right fence of Oracle Park. He hit a large ball that fell straight into McCovey Bay, located on the right side of Oracle Park. However, even with the naked eye, he was a few centimeters short. Unfortunately, this hit went outside the right foul pole and was not recognized as a home run.

If this batted ball had landed inside the pole, he could have continued his streak of hitting consecutive home runs for two days in a row.

There is one more record I missed. It was a splash hit that even Lee Jeong-hoo himself was greedy for. The splash hit is a record, with only 102 hits since Oracle Park opened in 2000.

The conditions are strict. A splash hit is only recognized when a San Francisco player overcomes the strong headwinds of McCovey Bay and sends the ball directly into the ocean. Home runs scored by away players are not recognized as splash hits and are commemorated in a separate list under the name “Other Home Runs into McCovey Cove.”

Among Korean major leaguers, Choi Hee-seop and Choo Shin-soo each achieved success once. Choi Hee-seop recorded against Kevin Correia on May 1, 2004 with the Florida Marlins (now Miami Marlins), and Choo Shin-soo recorded against Jeff Samaja on August 3, 2020 with the Texas Rangers. Hwang Jae-gyun, who played for San Francisco in the past, did not record a record.

Passing it over itself is tricky. Including both home and away players, only 163 home runs over 25 seasons met the minimum splash hit requirement. Although the distance to the right pole at Oracle Park is short at 94m, both batting speed and distance are important as a fence over 7.3m must be overcome through the sea breeze. Because it is so difficult to push and hit, there has never been a case where a right-handed batter has dropped the ball into McCovey Bay.

Hitting the sidewalk on the right side of Oracle Park and entering the sea is not recognized. Dinard Span’s (retired) home run against Cincinnati on May 13, 2017 also fell into the sea, but was not recognized as the 73rd splash hit because it bounced off a sidewalk block.

Because of this, it is difficult to record unless it is supported by power and sophisticated hitting techniques. Barry Bonds recorded the most splash hits with 35, followed by Brandon Belt with 10 and Pablo Sandoval with 8.

Because it was such a difficult record, Lee Jeong-hoo was greedy for a splash hit from the time he joined San Francisco. At the induction ceremony in December last year, Lee Jeong-hoo said, “I played in a dome stadium in Korea, so it’s good to play in a natural grass stadium. I’m looking forward to the most famous splash hit.”

Lee Jeong-hoo’s splash hit was also of interest to local reporters in the United States. The day before, when Lee Jeong-hoo hit his first home run at Oracle Park, local reporters asked, “How long does it take for a splash hit?” Lee Jung-hoo responded with a shy smile, saying, “Okay, what will happen to that? I’m not sure.”

Meanwhile, the match between Lee Jung-hoo and Meryl Kelly was also canceled. Originally, on this day, Arizona announced Kelly as the starter. Against Kelly, who played for the SK Wyverns (now SSG Landers) from 2015 to 2018, Lee Jung-hoo was very strong, with a batting average of 0.467 (7 hits in 15 at-bats), an on-base percentage of 0.526, and a slugging percentage of 0.600. Because of that, it is true that his hitting streak was expected.

However, the match was canceled as Kelly felt shoulder pain while playing catch before pitching and his pitching was postponed. According to MLB.com, the official Major League website, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan revealed damage to his shoulder muscles. In the end, Arizona replaced the starter with sophomore Slade Cecconi.

Se Coni performed at his best despite his surprise start. Ceconi continued his no-hit streak until 2 outs in the 5th inning, and earned his first win of the season by putting San Francisco’s batting lineup to rest with 2 hits (1 home run), 1 ball hit to the body, 3 strikeouts, and 2 runs in 6 innings. On the other hand, San Francisco starting pitcher Jordan Hicks was shaken, allowing 1 run on 1 hit, 6 walks (4 walks, 2 balls hit to the body) in 5 innings, and Eric Miller became the losing pitcher after allowing 2 runs (1 earned run) on 2 hits, no walks, 2 walks, and 1 strikeout in 1 inning.

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