‘All gone’ dugout → ‘Ace’ couldn’t happen…Spike on. We’re ready to go…
The game is over. The Korean Series is over. LG won the championship. But there was one player who wasn’t done yet. William Cuevas, 33, KT’s ‘foreign ace’. In the dugout, he watched the LG players celebrate in spikes. The disappointment was palpable.
KT lost 2-6 against LG in Game 5 of the 2023 KBO Korean Series at Jamsil Stadium on Nov. 13. The loss dropped KT to 1-4 in the series.
The team came into the series on a three-game winning streak after losing two games in the playoffs. The best-of-seven series between the regular season champions LG and KT was set. LG took Game 1, 3-2, and had all the momentum.굿모닝토토 도메인
The problem is Game 2. We started 4-0, but we lost 4-5. They gradually lost the lead and were hit by a two-run homer by Park Dong-won in the bottom of the eighth inning. Game 3 was similar. It was a close game, and I led 7-5 in the eighth inning. But in the top of the ninth, with one out, they gave up a three-run home run to Oh Ji-hwan.
The momentum was lost. They lost game four, 4-15, and game five, 2-6. It was a tense series, but they were swept and finished as runners-up.
In fact, in Game 5, KT was also drained. They kept all of their pitchers on the bench except for Kim Min-ho and Choi Byeong-seong. Even William Cuevas and Wes Benjamin waited. Manager Lee Kang-cheol said, “It would be best if we win without using Cuevas, but we have to win anyway. I hope we win,” Lee emphasized.
It didn’t happen. Ko Young-pyo was pulled after four innings of three-run ball, and Lee Sang-dong followed with a two-run homer. That brought his total to five runs. Lee Sang-dong also pitched two innings of one-run ball. Son Dong-hyun and Park Young-hyun pitched a scoreless inning each, but it was too little too late.
That’s how KT lost Game 5. The moment the last out was recorded, LG players and fans cheered and celebrated to their hearts’ content. KT fans had to turn away in disbelief. KT players gathered their gear and went into the locker room.
Only Cuevas was sitting in the dugout chair, looking out at the field. He was wearing spikes, which meant he was ready to pitch. Otherwise, he should have been wearing sneakers. He watched the LG players cheer with a stoic expression and a hint of frustration.
If he had a lead, he might have gone out. If Cuevas had gone out and blocked, KT might have won. All of this is hypothetical. That’s why it was even more disappointing, and it seems that he couldn’t leave.
Cuevas is the “returning ace. He left the team last year due to injury, but returned to the KT uniform as a replacement this season. In 18 games, 114.1 innings, 12 wins, no losses, and a 2.60 ERA. He was named the ‘Undefeated Winning Percentage Leader’.
Started Game 1 of the playoffs on March 30. He gave up seven runs (four earned) in three innings. He also had some bad luck, allowing a run to score on a fielding error. Instead, he came back in Game 4 and pitched six shutout innings. He didn’t falter twice.
Cuevas started Game 2 of the Korean Series and pitched six innings of eight hits (one home run), two walks, three strikeouts, and two earned runs before his team came up short. This would be Cuevas’ final start of the Korean Series.
It’s unfortunate that KT couldn’t capitalize on the moment to get Cuevas back on the mound, much to his chagrin. It’s hard for anyone to accept defeat. Being a foreign player is no different.