|Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Choi Ji-man, right, and third baseman Matt Duffy celebrate after defeating the Houston Astros in Game 3 of a baseball American League Division Series in St. Petersburg, Fla., Monday. AP-Yonhap|
Tampa Bay Rays' South Korean infielder Choi Ji-man has gone deep for the first time in his postseason career.
Choi belted a solo shot off Zack Greinke of the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the American League Division Series (ALDS) at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Monday (local time). Choi's home run over the right field in the bottom of the third inning gave the Rays a 4-1 lead, and a ray of hope that they could extend the best-of-five series to four games after dropping the first two in Houston.
The Rays went on to rout the Astros 10-3, forcing a Game 4 back at the Trop on Tuesday.
It was also Choi's first career postseason hit. He grounded out in a pinch-hit appearance in the AL Wild Card Game against the Oakland Athletics last Thursday, and he'd been 0-for-6 with two walks and five strikeouts in the first two games of the ALDS.
Choi remained in manager Kevin Cash's starting lineup for Game 3, batting cleanup and playing first base.
The South Korean grounded out to second in the bottom of the second, extending his ALDS hitless skid to seven at-bats. But in his next time up in the third, Choi swung on a 2-2 change-up and the ball left the ballpark in a hurry.
Choi's was one of three home runs by the Rays off Greinke. After Jose Altuve put the Astros on the board with a solo shot in the first, Kevin Kiermaier erased the deficit with a three-run blast in the second.
Choi followed that up with a solo shot in the third, and Brandon Lowed added a solo homer of his own for a 5-1 lead during a four-run fourth inning. Willy Adames had a solo homer off Houston's third pitcher, Wade Miley, in the sixth.
Choi didn't have another hit the rest of the game. He drew a walk in the fourth, went down swinging in the seventh and struck out looking in the eighth.
For the ALDS, Choi is batting 1-for-10 with seven Ks.
Choi is only the second South Korean player to homer in a major league postseason game, joining Choo Shin-soo, who went yard for the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Wild Card Game in 2013 and again for the Texas Rangers in the ALDS in 2015. (Yonhap)