Mariners’ Lee Dae-ho belts walk-off home run

Lee Dae-ho of the Seattle Mariners belted a walk-off home run Wednesday for his second long ball of the season.

Lee launched a two-run blast in the bottom of the 10th inning against the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field in Seattle, lifting the M’s to a 4-2 victory.

Lee started the game on the bench and pinch-hit for first baseman Adam Lind against left-hander Jake Diekman, with a man on and two outs in the bottom 10th.

Lee looked at a 97-mile-per-hour fastball for a first pitch strike. He fouled off another heater, this time at 95 mph. When Diekman challenged Lee with another 97-mph fastball, the South Korean was more than ready, turning on the high pitch and sending it over the left field wall.

The Mariners lost their 2-1 lead in the top eighth but improved to 3-6 thanks to Lee’s heroics. The victory also snapped the Mariners’ losing streak at five games.

The right-handed batting Lee signed with the Mariners in February as a backup to Lind, who bats left-handed. With right-hander A.J. Griffin starting for the Rangers on Wednesday, Lind got the nod at first base.

Lind went 1-for-4 but with the hard-throwing Diekman on the mound in the 10th, Lee stepped in for the veteran and delivered the game-winning shot.

Lee, former regular season MVP in Korea and championship series MVP in Japan, is now batting 3-for-13 this season. Lee is the first Mariners rookie to hit a pinch-hit walk-off home run.

Lee is also the first Korean player to hit a walk-off home run in extra innings in the majors.

Former first baseman Choi Hee-seop and Lee’s childhood friend, the Rangers outfielder Choo Shin-soo, are the only other South Koreans to hit a walk-off shot.

Choi hit his game-winning shot in June 2005 against the Minnesota Twins while playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Choo has two such blasts: first for the Cleveland Indians in 2011 and for the Cincinnati Reds in 2013.

All three blasts came in the bottom of the ninth inning. (Yonhap)