“No pitcher is as smooth on the mound as Ryu Hyun-jin.”
Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, of the Toronto Blue Jays, is turning heads with his slower pitches in a major league more accustomed to fastballs. Even before his injury, Ryu was praised for his velocity, but after undergoing Tommy John surgery last June and more than a year of rehabilitation and therapy, he has come to value his slower pitches even more. The 60-mph curveball has become his signature pitch this season.
Ryu started a game against the Texas Rangers at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Wednesday (June 13) and allowed three runs on five hits (one home run) and one walk with five strikeouts in six innings. While the team’s offense was unable to provide any support, dropping the game to 3-6 and suffering their third loss of the season, it was still significant as it was his first quality start since returning from injury. It was his first quality start in 480 days since a six-inning no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds on May 21 last year.
Ryu threw 82 pitches in his six innings of work. 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) with a changeup (18), cutter (18), curve (16), and sinker (5).
It’s notable that Texas chose veteran Max Scherzer (39) to start against Ryu. Scherzer is the opposite of Ryu, having spent his prime as a hard-throwing pitcher. His strikeout prowess is impressive, as he ranks 11th on the Major League Baseball all-time strikeout list with 3,367 career strikeouts. He’s first among active pitchers and four away from 10th place Greg Maddux (3371 strikeouts).
Scherzer is a three-time Cy Young Award winner (2013, 2016, 2017), but as he approaches the age of 40, he’s not quite as strong as he was in his prime. Still, local media in the U.S. and Canada were eager to see how the two veterans would fare in a matchup between the soft-hitting Ryu and the hard-hitting Scherzer, with their teams’ fall baseball futures on the line. As it turned out, Scherzer pitched 5 1/3 innings of three-hit ball on 73 pitches with one walk and two strikeouts to pick up his 13th win of the season.
Canadian media outlet The Toronto Sun wrote, “Schuerzer, 39, and Ryu, 36, looked like boxers too old to be in the ring, and it was nearly impossible to get a hit off them. It was like trying to get a hit against Floyd Mayweather,” he said, describing the intense pitching battle.
“Scherzer didn’t give up a run. Ryu looked almost unhittable. There is no pitcher who can throw as smoothly on the mound as Ryu. He just wasn’t as complete as Scherzer. The Toronto offense just couldn’t hit him in any way,” he added.
Ryu pitched to cool down the hottest Texas offense in the American League. Through 14 games, Texas leads the American League with a team batting average of .266, a team OPS of .793, and a team RBI total of 759. Ryu hasn’t lost his pace as the Texas hitters have gotten aggressive, and he’s been able to find the corners of the strike zone with more precision to get more outs.
Major League Baseball’s official social media outlets highlighted Ryu’s curveball as he chilled the Texas lineup. The slowest curveball Ryu threw on the day was 62.5 mph (100 km/h). Social media footage showed Ryu dropping a 63-mile-per-hour curveball on an 0-2 count to first baseman Nathaniel Lowe in the top of the fourth inning for a groundout. The local Canadian commentator marveled that Ryu “completely froze the batter” as he tried to time his curveball and was struck out.
Even the cruising Hyun-Jin Ryu couldn’t keep his cool against the American League’s best hitter, Corey Seager. After giving up a leadoff single to Seager in the top of the fourth, he gave up a double to left field to Robbie Grossman for an early 0-2 lead. After giving up his first hit of the night to Seager, he threw a cutter to Grossman that was misplayed. Ryu was in trouble again in the top of the sixth when he gave up a leadoff double to Seager up the middle and a sacrifice fly to right field to Jonah Heim with runners on first and third.
Toronto manager John Schneider said, “He had good pitches, you want to take back the one cutter he threw to Grossman, but he had good pitches against a really good lineup. He didn’t give up a lot of hard-hit balls. Based on the way he was throwing on the mound, the score and the number of pitches he was throwing, I felt like I could trust him through the sixth inning,” he said, praising his overall performance.
The only reason Ryu wasn’t smiling after his first quality start of the season was because the Toronto offense was stymied by Scherzer. Scherzer was poised to go seven or eight innings if he hadn’t left the game in the sixth inning with a right triceps injury. Scherzer didn’t seem to struggle much, throwing strikes and making good contact.
He was willing to “throw more,” even as Texas manager Bruce Bochy and his trainers checked him out, but as soon as he tried to throw practice pitches, he realized it was difficult and accepted a substitution. Scherzer’s fiery competitiveness showed that he hadn’t aged well.
“We didn’t want to put him in danger,” Bochy said. We didn’t want to force him to throw. He said, ‘I’m going to keep throwing,’ and we said, ‘No,'” Bochy recalled.
Ryu took the loss, but he and Scherzer had a great pitching matchup. That’s why local media in the U.S. and Canada pointed to the Toronto offense’s inability to help Ryu. MLB.com wrote, “The Toronto offense never really got going until Scherzer left with a right triceps injury. The bullpen, a clear weakness for Texas, was opened up early, and (Toronto’s rally) was too little, too late, as the Rangers once again found themselves in the position of chasing Texas (in the wild-card race).
The loss dropped Toronto to 80-65 on the season, losing the second wild-card spot in the American League to Texas (80-64) and dropping to third. Toronto, which entered the series with a 1.5-game lead, now trails Texas by 0.5 games.
While Toronto is at a disadvantage in the wild-card race, Ryu has faith in his teammates to win the remaining two games of the series against Texas. Toronto will send out Yusei Kikuchi on Thursday and Kevin Gausman on Friday to try to rebound.
Ryu said, “There are not many games left this season. We know we lost two games in a row, but that’s part of the game. Tomorrow is another day. We need to stay focused so that we can put more energy into tomorrow’s game 온라인카지노.”