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|Brenly consoles his closer after his second rough day in relief.
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NEW YORK -- The first time he threw a slider that didn't slide, to Derek Jeter on Wednesday night, Byung-Hyun Kim sat at his locker afterward, staring straight ahead without a trace of emotion, despite facing row after row of reporters asking endless, probing questions.
The second time he threw a slider that didn't slide, to Scott Brosius on Thursday night, Kim sat at his locker and again tried to answer endless, probing questions. But this time he couldn't look up. He stared forlornly into the next locker stall trying to hide an avalanche of emotions.
"You just wanted to go over and give him a hug," said Arizona first baseman Mark Grace, who did just that on the mound after Kim gave up his second game-tying ninth-inning homer in as many nights of the World Series. "He's just a baby. He's 22-years-old. I told him, 'You hang in there. You hang in there. You're still our guy.'
"He's still the future here and we are going to need him again in this series."
Kim tried to give the impression that he didn't want to cry, at his locker or on the mound, but his moist eyes betrayed him. He had gotten his team to within one out of winning World Series games two times in two nights only to have Yankee hitter heroics sabotage his save.
And to top it off, he said he isn't sure what he's doing wrong.
"I don't understand," Kim said. "I felt mentally and physically ready. I tried not to throw pitches the same as (Wednesday) but it just didn't work out for me."
Kim saved games in 19 of 23 chances during the regular season and didn't allow a run in eight innings in the postseason before Wednesday's Game 3. But both nights, it was the long ball that made short work of Kim.
"I'm disappointed," Kim said. "I'm sorry for the players and the managers of this team. I would like another chance. I can't wait to pitch again because I will be up to the challenge."
That's just what Arizona manager Bob Brenly is counting on.
"He's our closer," Brenly said. "Absolutely I would go back to him if needed this weekend."
Brenly, who will be second-guessed for a second time for pulling a dominant starter and going to his young, Korean submarine pitcher, said he was assured Kim was OK after throwing 2 2/3 innings on Wednesday night.
"I talked to him at length this afternoon and he said he wanted the ball in that situation," Brenly said. "When I called down to bullpen coach, Glen Sherlock, (tonight) and asked how he was warming up, (Sherlock) said his stuff was electric. He's our closer, but he made a bad pitch, a slider that hung over the inside of the plate to Scott Brosius."
Being a reliever who is the designated closer is a difficult task because he's expected to finish up games every time out without giving up the lead. Anything else is considered a failure.
"We knew he threw a lot of pitches in the last game, so you're hoping you can do it again," said Yankees reliever Mike Stanton. "We know we have the ability to do it, but you don't expect it. When it happens the first time, it's amazing. When it happens a second time, you can't even describe it. Last night was what dreams are made of."
Veteran right-hander Matt Mantei started the season as Arizona's closer but hurt his arm and went out for the season. Brenly then decided to keep Kim as the setup man because of his age and turned to 24-year-old rookie Bret Prinz. But Prinz also hurt his pitching arm and missed the rest of the season. Kim inherited the job around mid-season.
All three closers made the postseason trip to New York but now Mantei and Prinz find themselves trying to help Kim deal with despair. Prinz said Kim just has to be strong.
"Tomorrow is another day," Prinz said. "Our mentality as closers is that it's over. You have to go back out there once the ball is handed to you and you have to forget about it."
Mantei agreed but said it won't be easy for Kim.
"Either you're gifted with the capability to forget about it and move on or you are not," Mantei said. "As for me, I know I can do it. I have done it. You have to to be successful in this league.
"He's got enough experience that his age shouldn't play into it. And I know the whole team is behind him because as soon as we came in the clubhouse, he got support in the form of pats on the back and hugs from the rest of the players."
Arizona starter Miguel Batista, who pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings Thursday, also has pitched in relief many times in his pro career and knows how difficult it is to deal with giving up a lead.
"You can't show emotions to show up your teammates," Batista said. "It wasn't a good thing to watch. He's my teammate and I know he wanted to win. We all take the loss because we are a team."
Fellow starter Brian Anderson said Kim has to move on and be ready for another call.
"I can't imagine what's going through his mind," Anderson said. "If we're going to win this thing, we're going to need him. It remains to be seen, maybe our horses will go out and pitch two complete games, but he needs to be ready."
Third baseman Matt Williams said it will be difficult but Kim should be able to bounce back.
"I feel bad for BK because he's got good stuff and he's done a great job for us all year," Williams said. "You feel bad for him but he's a young guy and he'll bounce back. You just give him the ball again the next time out."
"You just wanted to go over and give him a hug. He's just a baby. He's 22 years old. I told him, 'You hang in there. You hang in there. You're still our guy.'"
--Mark Grace on Byung-Hyun Kim
Paul C. Smith is a reporter for MLB.com.