“At his age, it’s just unbelievable.”
Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, Toronto Blue Jays, has proven his class in just his third game back. The right-hander earned his first win of the season on Thursday (July 14) against the Chicago Cubs at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, allowing two runs (unearned) on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts over 86 pitches. Toronto won 11-4 to snap a three-game losing streak.
There was a lot of weight on Ryu’s shoulders. First and foremost, the team snapped a three-game losing streak. If Toronto wanted to stay alive in the American League wild-card race, they needed to snap the losing streak and get on a roll. They also wanted Ryu to end a hellish 17-game road trip with a win. Along with the team’s mission to stop the losing streak, Ryu also needed to prove that he was healthy after suffering a right knee contusion against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Aug. 8.
Toronto manager John Schneider was confident that Ryu was up to the task. Schneider was impressed with Ryu’s determination to not miss a game despite the knee contusion.
“We held our breath (when Ryu was hit by the hard hit), but he’s a young, strong young man,” Schneider told the Canadian media. As soon as the ball hit his knee, he continued his defense, and it was very impressive that he got a good outcome (pitcher’s interference), so you have to give him credit.” And Ryu lived up to expectations.
Ryu impressed by Schneider and his teammate
Ryu underwent Tommy John surgery last June and took 13 months to complete his rehabilitation. There were many concerns about Ryu coming back from surgery in his late 30s, but he proved his class by securing a win in his first three games back. It had been 444 days since Ryu had a winning pitch against the Los Angeles Angels on May 27 last year. He lowered his season ERA to 2.57 from 4.00, proving that he’s back on track.
Schneider told a local Canadian media outlet after the game, “It was amazing. He really doesn’t make any mistakes. He kept the hard-hitting balls down, and the first three games he pitched after coming back, he was the same as he was before he hurt his (elbow). At his age, it’s just unbelievable. It’s not an easy thing to do, and he makes it look so easy.”
Even his opponents, who have struggled to generate offense, were impressed with Ryu’s pitching. Cubs manager David Ross said, “I know his velocity isn’t back to where he wants it to be, but he was able to pitch well enough. When you give him a lead, he’s one of the hardest pitchers to get a big inning out of. We needed those mistakes, like when Toronto scored two runs on an error in the first inning, and he just cruised once he got the lead,” he said tongue-in-cheek.
U.S.-Canadian media spotlight Ryu Hyun-jin’s ‘human triumph’
The U.S. and Canadian media recognized Ryu’s human triumph. MLB.com’s Toronto reporter Keegan Mathieson wrote, “Ryu was solid, and it was a very Ryu-esque outing. It was a solid outing, a very Ryu-jin-esque outing…just what you’d expect from a fifth starter in Toronto.”
“Ryu picked up his first win since undergoing Tommy John surgery to reconstruct ligaments in his left elbow last June,” said Canadian outlet Toronto Sun. Against the Cubs, Ryu proved that he has reached a certain level of confidence.
Another Canadian outlet, Sportsnet, said, “Ryu didn’t allow an earned run in five innings and proved there were no lingering effects from the knee injury he suffered in his previous start. With Toronto sending Alec Manoa to Triple-A, Ryu’s spot in the starting rotation is essential, making it all the more important for him to continue to progress after returning from Tommy John surgery.
According to Sports Illustrated, “Ryu’s performance on the mound led to a decisive victory for Toronto. Ryu gave up two unearned runs in the first inning, but from there he was solid, holding the Cubs’ dangerous bats scoreless until the fifth inning. The Toronto starters have been having a great season this year, and Ryu seems to have absorbed all of that positive energy. Ryu only struck out three batters on the night, but his command was good enough to get the job done.
The pitch that got him his first win was his changeup. All three of Ryu’s strikeouts on the day were with his changeup. Ryu relied heavily on his fastball (40 pitches) but utilized his changeup (24 pitches), cutter (12 pitches), and curve (10 pitches) to get through the Cubs’ lineup. His fastball topped out at 91.1 mph (146.6 km/h) and averaged 88.4 mph (142.3 km/h). The 91.1 mph was Ryu’s highest velocity since returning from injury.
Major League Baseball pitching analyst Rob Friedman posted a video on social media of Ryu striking out three batters with his changeup, calling it a “filthy changeup.” “His changeup was devastating,” the Los Angeles Cubs manager said.
1: A ridiculous Belt error in the first inning…and Ryu took care of business.
He had to face a Cubs offense that ranked first in team runs scored in the second half. The Cubs had been on fire in the second half prior to this game, ranking second in the majors with a .286 team batting average, third in team home runs with 46, and first in team runs scored with 183.
The Cubs faced Ryu with a starting lineup of Christopher Morel (designated hitter)-Nico Horner (second base)-Ian Happ (left field)-Cody Bellinger (center field)-Dansby Swanson (shortstop)-Seiya Suzuki (right field)-Patrick Wisdom (first base)-Nick Madrigal (third base)-Miguel Amaya (catcher). The left-handed hitters showed a strong desire to attack the left-hander, sending only Bellinger to the plate.
Ryu didn’t get much defensive help from the start. In the top of the first inning, he walked Horner and got Happ to ground out to first base. It was an ordinary grounder that first baseman Brandon Belt should have been able to handle, but Belt missed it and what could have been at least a double play turned into runners on first and second.
Ryu got the next batter, Bellinger, to fly out to left field. If it wasn’t for the error, the inning would have been over, but with runners on first and second, he gave up a two-run double to Swanson down the left field line to give the Cubs a 0-2 lead.
Like a veteran, Ryu didn’t falter. In the top of the second, he retired the leadoff batter, Wisdom, on a swinging strikeout and got Madrigal and Amaya to ground out to third base and fly out to center field, respectively, to retire the side in order on 11 pitches.
Once Ryu settled down, the bats started to come alive. In the bottom of the second, Dalton Basho hit a three-run homer, followed by RBI singles from Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and George Springer to make it 5-2. That’s when things started to look promising for Ryu, who picked up his first win of the season.
91.1 mph fastball keeps Cubs from chasing…86-pitch cruise through 5th inning
Ryu continued to stifle the Cubs’ attempts to rally after a big third inning. He gave up a single up the middle to Horner one out later, but catcher Jansen nabbed Horner stealing second base on a hap-hap play to end the inning with no outs. Ryu continued to wear down the volcanic Cubs lineup, fanning Happ on a 91.1-mile-per-hour fastball to right field.
Ryu walked Bellinger to lead off the fourth inning. It was his first leadoff walk of the night. Ryu retired Swanson and Suzuki on consecutive flyouts to right field to keep Bellinger stranded at first base, then induced a swinging strikeout of Wisdom to end the inning.온라인바카
A three-run fourth inning gave the offense an 8-2 lead heading into the top of the fifth. Ryu was up to the task of getting the final three outs. Madrigal grounded out to third base, Amaya grounded out to the pitcher, and Morel flied out to left field to end the inning.
With 86 pitches, Ryu could have gone another inning, but after suffering a calf contusion in his previous outing, he took it easy. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Toronto manager John Schneider gave Ryu the “job done” sign in the dugout, which he promptly accepted and shook hands with his teammates.