He’s about to become the first foreign pitcher to go undefeated. Finally, 10 wins and no losses.
KT Wiz’s foreign ace William Cuevas has won 10 straight games this season.
Cuevas pitched 8 1/3 innings of one-hit ball, striking out three and walking one to lead the Wiz to a 4-1 victory over the KIA Tigers at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field on Wednesday.
캡틴토토He improved to 10-0 and nearly became the 15th player in franchise history to throw a no-hitter. He was two steps away from the record. Until the bottom of the ninth inning, he hadn’t faced a hit, allowing only two walks and one hit by pitch. A batter later, he gave up a triple to Kim Do-young and a walk to Kim Sun-bin before handing the mound over to Kim Jae-yoon to close out the game.
With his 10th win, Cuevas moved into first place with a 100 percent winning percentage. Only Oh Bong-ok of the 1992 Samsung Lions (13 wins and no losses) and Kim Hyun-wook of Samsung in 2002 (10 wins and no losses) have ever had a 100 percent winning percentage. If Cuevas doesn’t lose a game by the end of the season, he will become the first foreigner in history to have a 100 percent winning percentage.
Cuevas will also become the sixth foreign pitcher to win 10 or more games as a substitute. The previous five were Samsung’s Galvez (10 wins) in 2001, Samsung’s Elvira (13 wins) in 2002, Lotte’s Oxspring (13 wins) in 2013, Nexen’s Sosa (10 wins) in 2014 and Nexen’s Brigham (10 wins) in 2017.
Cuevas worked out of a jam with two outs in the bottom of the first inning. After getting Lee Chang-jin to fly out to left field and Kim Do-young to ground out in front of the second baseman, he gave up a hard-hit ball to Kim Sun-bin at third, then suddenly gave up a straight fly to Choi Hyung-woo at fourth.
After two straight pitches to No. 5 Socrates, KT manager Lee Kang-cheol came to the mound to calm him down. He then fought a full count with Socrates and got him to ground out to the first baseman.
In the second inning, it was back to the ‘undefeated pitcher’ Cuevas.
In the second inning, Lee Woo-sung flied out to first, Han Jun-su flied out to center, and Oh Sun-woo struck out to end the inning. In the third inning, Kim Kyu-sung fouled out to third, Lee Chang-jin flied out to right, and Kim Do-young flied out to center, In the bottom of the fourth, Kim Sun-bin flied out to shortstop, Choi Hyung-woo grounded out to pitcher, Socrates flied out to center fielder, Lee Woo-sung flied out to center fielder, Han Jun-soo struck out, and Oh Sun-woo struck out to end the inning, retiring 13 consecutive batters. The fifth inning was over in a flash, and Kia had zero hits on the scoreboard at the time of the cleanup. Cuevas’ no-hitter was beginning to be felt.
The 2023 KBO League game between the KIA Tigers and KT Wiz was held at Gwangju KIA Champions Field on March 23. KT Cuevas is pitching in relief. Gwangju
The 2023 KBO League game between the KIA Tigers and KT Wiz was held at Gwangju Kia Champions Field on Wednesday. KT manager Lee Kang-cheol encourages Cuevas on the mound. Gwangju
The 2023 KBO League game between the KIA Tigers and KT Wiz was held at Gwangju Kia Champions Field on Wednesday. KT Cuevas is pitching in relief. Gwangju
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Cuevas held the KIA bats to a no-hitter. No. 9 Kim Kyu-sung hit a fastball and Cuevas caught it himself, and No. 1 Lee Chang-jin grounded out to the shortstop. No. 2 Kim Do-young struck out swinging. The bottom of the seventh inning against the center fielders looked to be a tough one, but Cuevas gave up a walk to Choi Hyung-woo in the fourth, but easily retired Kim Sun-bin in the third, Socrates in the fifth, and Lee Woo-sung in the sixth to maintain his hitless streak.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, KIA tried to get a hit off of Cuevas by sending Kim Tae-gun, Go Jong-wook, and Byun Woo-hyuk to the plate. Cuevas retired all three on swinging strikes. After throwing 103 pitches through eight innings, Cuevas took the mound in the top of the ninth with a comfortable 4-0 lead.
He got leadoff man Lee Chang-jin to fly out to right field on two pitches with one out. He was now just two outs away from a no-hitter. Against Kim Do-young, the first pitch, a high cutter, is fouled off. The second pitch, a low cutter, was caught by Kim Do-young. It looked like a home run, but it hit the top of the fence and fell into the net. A triple. Cuevas smiled wryly, as if he was disappointed. With the tension released, Cuevas threw four pitches in a row after the first pitch to Kim Sun-bin at third, allowing a walk. Runners on first and third. His pitch count reached 112, and eventually Lee came up. The infielders all came to the mound to cheer on Cuevas, who had pitched a great game so far. Cuevas went down. Closer Kim Jae-yoon gave up an infield grounder to Choi Hyung-woo in the bottom of the fourth to allow a runner to score from third base, but he didn’t allow any more runs to score and preserved the win. Cuevas missed out on a no-hitter, but he picked up his 10th win, remained undefeated, and kept his team in second place.
Cuevas isn’t just a foreign ace for KT, he’s their “championship ace. That’s because he’s the pitcher who led KT to a championship in 2021. On October 28, Cuevas started the second game of a doubleheader against the NC Dinos and threw 108 pitches over seven innings, allowing nine hits and two runs in a 5-2 victory. KT, which was in a tie for first place with the Samsung Lions, lost to the Kiwoom Heroes on October 29, but won the season finale against the SSG Landers on October 30 to tie with Samsung at 76 wins, 9 losses, and 59 draws. The next day, October 31, they had to play a separate match to decide the first place in Daegu. Traveling from Incheon, KT didn’t have a starter immediately available, so they started Cuevas. It almost seemed like a gamble to send out a pitcher with only two days of rest and hope for a win. Samsung, on the other hand, started a well-rested Won Tae-in.
But Cuevas performed a miracle. After a scoreless first inning, Cuevas continued to pitch in the second, third, and fourth innings, eventually shutting down the Samsung bats in the seventh inning with a whopping eight strikeouts, giving up just one hit and three walks, as KT won the regular season 1-0 and advanced to the Korean Series. Cuevas also started Game 1 of the Korean Series and earned his first win, as KT easily swept the Doosan Bears in four straight games to claim their first championship.
Last year, after just two games, Cuevas’ elbow soreness prevented him from throwing for long periods of time, and KT eventually cut ties with him and brought in Wes Benjamin. Cuevas stayed in Suwon to rehabilitate and help Benjamin adjust to life in Korea. He pitched in the minors this year, continuing to show KT that he was in good shape, allowing KT to make quick substitution decisions when Bo Schuler wasn’t pitching well.
The 2023 KBO League game between the KIA Tigers and KT Wiz took place at Gwangju KIA Champions Field on April 23. KT manager Lee Kang-cheol encourages Cuevas on the mound. Gwangju=Jae-man Park 기자pjm@sportschosun.com/2023.09.23/
The 2023 KBO League game between the KIA Tigers and KT Wiz was held at Gwangju Kia Champions Field on Wednesday. KT players celebrate after winning the game. Gwangju=Park Jae-man 기자pjm@sportschosun.com/2023.09.23/
The 2023 KBO League match between the KIA Tigers and KT Wiz was held at the Gwangju Kia Champions Field on Wednesday. KT players celebrate after winning the game. Gwangju=Park Jae-man 기자pjm@sportschosun.com/2023.09.23/
And since returning to KT, he’s been a victory fairy. In the 16 games he’s pitched, including today’s victory, KT is 12-4 with a winning percentage of 7.05. He had 12 quality starts, eight of which were quality starts plus, giving his team a chance to win.
He said he had never thrown a no-hitter this long in his life. “I think I threw five or six innings in Double-A or Triple-A,” Cuevas said. “After the third inning, I saw the scoreboard and realized it was a no-hitter, but I didn’t pay attention to it then, and then in the eighth and ninth innings, I did,” he said.
The matchup with Kim was a disappointment. “A no-hitter is very difficult for a pitcher,” Cuevas said. The situation was also difficult for the hitter, but he got a hit, so I have a lot of respect for him,” Cuevas said, adding, “I didn’t get a no-hitter today, but I had a good game.”
Cuevas said he was in great shape in the bullpen, but it was a different story on the mound, as he didn’t face a single hit until the bottom of the ninth inning. “When I went to the mound in the first inning, my timing was different than in the bullpen, and my lower and upper body were different,” Cuevas said. “In the third inning, my timing started to come together, and I was able to pitch until the ninth inning with good form.”
Lee’s advice at the end of the first inning was a big help. “He told me that my arm height was a little low and that I should raise it a little bit,” Cuevas said. “You can’t see yourself on the mound. So his advice helped me a lot. I had a good game thanks to him.”