Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, of the Toronto Blue Jays, took another significant step forward in his return from Tommy John surgery.
Ryu made a start against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday (June 13) at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, giving up three runs on five hits (one home run) and one walk while striking out five in six innings. It was his first quality start since returning from injury and his first in 480 days since May 21 last year against the Cincinnati Reds (six scoreless innings). However, he received no run support from the offense and suffered his third loss of the season as Toronto fell to 3-6. Ryu’s season ERA increased slightly to 2.93 from 2.65.
Ryu finished his outing after throwing 82 pitches in six innings. His fastball topped out at 90.6 mph (145.8 km/h) and averaged 88.9 mph (143 km/h). He mixed his fastball (25 pitches) with a changeup (18), cutter (18), curve (16), and sinker (5) to showcase the variety in his arsenal.
Although Ryu took the loss, he didn’t doubt the quality of Toronto’s fall baseball, telling the local Canadian media after the game, “We don’t have many games left this season. I know we lost two games in a row, but that’s part of the game. Tomorrow is another day. We have to focus on tomorrow’s game and make sure we’re stronger for it,” he said, showing a strong belief in his teammates.
Texas Nukes?…Ryu responds with a 100 mph slower curveball
Ryu faced Texas for the first time since returning from Tommy John surgery. Texas has arguably the most powerful offense in the American League. Coming into the game, Texas led the American League with a team batting average of .267, a team OPS of .794, and a team RBI total of 753. The offense was led by some of Ryu’s old teammates, including Corey Seager and Marcus Semien.
Aware of Ryu’s command, Texas hitters swung aggressively at fastballs in high counts. Ryu didn’t let them get to him and kept his pace. He threw a slower curveball to take away their timing. The slowest curveball he threw that day was 62.5 mph (100 km/h).
Major League Baseball’s official social media also took notice of Ryu’s curveball, posting a video of him dropping a 63-mile-per-hour curveball on a 0-2 pitch to first baseman Nathaniel Lowe in the fourth inning for a groundout. It added, “Ryu dropped a 63-mph ball and completely froze the batter in his tracks.
4 No-hitter in a row was a disappointment
Ryu Hyun-jin was cruising through a scoreless inning when he lost the lead in the top of the fourth. The bases were loaded. Seager, the leadoff hitter, singled up the middle. Ryu gave up his first hit of the night, a two-run shot to left field to Robbie Grossman. Grossman intentionally targeted Ryu’s first pitch, and Ryu opted for a cutter, only to watch it sail over the fence. It was Ryu’s sixth homer of the season and fourth in a row.
Ryu has a 2.92 ERA this season. Considering that he hadn’t pitched more than five innings in any of his previous seven games, he’s doing a good job of keeping the runs down. The problem is that most of those runs have come in the form of solo home runs. If Ryu is going to be able to help Toronto in the wild-card race at the end of the season, and possibly in the short-term playoffs, he’ll need to limit the number of home runs he gives up.
Ryu throws 62 pitches in 5 innings…first QS of the season in 6 innings
Hyun-jin Ryu threw only 62 pitches in the fifth inning, so he took the mound in the sixth. He was in line to pitch his first six innings since his injury when he was hit by a leadoff double to the back of the infield by Seager. Seeger intentionally hit a slow curveball on Ryu’s body, and center fielder Kiermaier tried to make a diving catch, but fell short.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Ryu faced Grossman, the man who gave him his only home run of the night. A fierce full-count battle ensued, and Ryu delivered a six-pitch chain changeup that landed just inside the lower corner of the plate for the final out.
This wasn’t a Texas lineup that could rest easy knowing they were over the hill. With runners on first and second, Garber singled to right to put runners on first and third. He then gave up a sacrifice fly to right field to make it 0-3. Ryu struck out Lowe on a swinging strikeout for his first quality start of the season.
Schneider: “I was able to trust Ryu until the sixth inning”
Toronto manager John Schneider was positive about Ryu Hyun-jin’s overall performance on the day. Speaking to the Canadian media after the game, Schneider said of Ryu’s first six innings of work this season, “First of all, he had a low pitch count and good command. He had good command of his pitches, so he did a good job of sticking to the plan.”
“I’d like to take back one cutter to Grossman, but I threw good pitches against a really good lineup. He didn’t give up a lot of hard-hit balls. The way he was pitching on the mound, the score and the pitch count, I felt like I could trust him through the sixth inning.”
The hope is that the quality start, his first in 480 days, will serve as a springboard for Ryu to pitch longer innings in the future. Toronto has avoided pitching more than five innings since Ryu’s return to protect and manage his elbow. Part of the reason is that Ryu’s velocity wasn’t up to par when he returned to the big leagues.
Schneider said, “(Pitching long innings) is something you want to do every game. “We’ll see what the pitch count is and what the score is, but ultimately the goal is to go seven or eight innings, 100-plus pitches. He probably threw about 83 pitches today (Aug. 13), and I think he can throw more than that. We all want our starters to go long innings,” he said, adding that he expects Ryu to ease the burden on the bullpen.
Canadian media criticizes Toronto’s lethargic bats for failing to help Ryu Hyun-jin
Local reporters in Canada criticized the Toronto batting lineup for their inability to help Ryu Hyun-jin. According to Sportsnet Canada, “After Brandon Belt went down with an injury, Spencer Horwitz stepped into the center field spot. Horwitz is one of 10 different batters to hit in Toronto’s center field this year. The lack of consistency in the middle of the order all season has led to an up-and-down offense.
‘Prior to the game, the batting metrics for Toronto’s No. 4 hitter ranked 15th in the majors with a .249 batting average, .336 on-base percentage and .424 slugging percentage. His OPS is just .759, and his 19 home runs rank 20th. He has just 66 RBIs.
MLB.com’s Toronto reporter Keegan Mathieson writes, ‘The Toronto offense never really got going until Texas starter Max Scherzer was forced to leave early with a right triceps injury. The door to the bullpen, Texas’ obvious weakness, was opened early, and (Toronto’s rallying run) was too little, too late, putting Toronto in the position of chasing Texas (in the wild-card race) once again.
Scherzer didn’t give the Jays much of a chance to make up ground, pitching 5 1/3 innings of three-hit ball with one walk and two strikeouts before leaving the game. The Toronto offense finally broke through in the bottom of the seventh, trailing 5-0. Horwitz led off with a double to right field and advanced to third when Davis Schneider flied out to right field. Cavan Biggio followed with a single to right to make it 5-1.
Toronto needed a big inning here, but with runners on second and third, pinch-hitter Ernie Clement hit a grounder to first base to cut the deficit to 2-5. In the bottom of the ninth, down 2-6, Schneider hit a solo shot to left, but it wasn’t enough to tie the game.
The fact that Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went a combined 0-for-4 to spark the middle of the order was another reason why Toronto struggled to win.
Another Canadian outlet, the Toronto Sun, said, “Toronto came into this series with Texas confident, but they were no match for them. With two games to go, the first two have been one-sided in favor of Texas and not even close. Toronto’s offense has been almost non-existent,” said a sharp critic.안전놀이터
Toronto loses despite losing Ryu Hyun-jin, must take next two games against Texas
With the loss, Toronto dropped to 80-65 on the season, losing the second wild-card spot in the American League to Texas (80-64). Toronto was looking to secure at least three wins in this series with Texas, but dropping game two was a disappointment. After entering the series with a 1.5-game lead, Toronto now trails Texas by 0.5 games.
The Rays needed to bounce back with a strong start from Hyun-jin Ryu, but their offense couldn’t come alive and they dropped their second straight game. The Jays will send Yusei Kikuchi and Kevin Gausman to the mound for the next two games against Texas, hoping to somehow secure two wins.
Schneider said, “It’s going to be a battle. We have to control the things we can and try to rack up the wins. We’ll go all the way. There’s no pressure, but it’s important. We know it’s a really important series,” he said, signaling a rebound.