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Ryu Hyun-jin beats Hwang Jae-gyun in Major League showdown

Ryu Hyun-jin beats Hwang Jae-gyun in Major League showdown

Posted August. 01, 2017 09:22,   

Updated August. 01, 2017 11:23

Friendship did not matter much in their fierce competition to win. 

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin (30) garnered a perfect victory over the San Francisco Giants’ Hwang Jae-gyun, who is the same age, in their first showdown in the Major League Baseball. 

Ryu faced San Francisco at the Dodger Stadium on Sunday local time, and gave no run (five hits and one walk) during the seven innings, the most innings he has played this season. He only threw 85 pitches in total until completing the seventh inning. In his showdown with San Francisco’s starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (28), one of the top-rated pitchers in the Major League, Ryu staged a tight race between pitchers by keeping the score tied 0-0 until the seventh inning, and laid foundation for his team to come from behind to ultimately win the game 3-2 in the 11thinning.

The five hits that Ryu gave to San Francisco were all one-base hits. While playing 72 and two thirds of innings alone until the game against the Los Angeles Angles on June 28 this season, Ryu gave as many as 15 homers. The number of homers he gave was the same as the total number of homeruns he allowed while playing 192 innings in the 2013 season. However, he has dumped his disgraceful nickname "homer manufacturer" by playing quality pitching in which he gave no homers in two consecutive games.

His pitches that caused the batter to hit grounders in every crisis he faced were impressive enough. Through his solid ball control, Ryu managed to garner as many as four double plays. “He dominated the game through quality ball control,” team manager Dave Roberts said after the game, making very positive comments on Ryu’s performance. The Dodgers’ pitchers including Ryu had a total of six double plays, the most double plays the team has ever recorded, on the day.

Even his best friend could not avoid Ryu’s monstrous pitching, which he showcased for the first time in a long time. Prior to the game, Ryu made joke that he would never give a fastball to Hwang Jae-gyun, who was on San Francisco’s starting lineup as sixth batter and third baseman, but the first pitch Hwang was served by Ryu in the second inning was a fastball with a speed of 147 kilometers per hour.

Ryu tricked Hwang into unsuccessfully swinging his pitches by throwing changeups successively to post the ball count in his favor, pitched cutters, changeups and curves in succession. Hwang, who did not swing on successive tricky pitches, brought the showdown to the full count, but Ryu pitched a fastball again to cause Hwang to hit a grounder toward the second base. “It was great to see Hwang, but I did not want to give him a hit. I have used all the repertoire that I had at my disposal,” Ryu said after the game.


Again in the fifth inning, Ryu threw a fastball to Hwang in his first pitch, but then threw changeups in succession to trick the batter to unsuccessfully swing, and ended up garnering a strikeout. “The first pitch, a fastball, came to the strike zone immaculately at a lower, outer section of the zone, and I ended up hitting a foul. Then, I had a changeup in the same section. Ryu pitched really well,” Hwang said to explain his situation after the game. “I regret that I did not display good batting performance, even though I felt it was amazing and interesting to have (a showdown with Ryu Hyun-jin).”

San Francisco’s batters were completely hopeless in the face of Ryu’s curves and changeups that penetrated all different corners the strike zone. “Ryu performed the best pitching in this season. He sent a strong message to his team’s leadership that ‘look at me. I can play this well.’ The location of all the pitches he threw (fastballs, sliders, cutters, curves and changeups) that he used was the knee section of the catcher,” MBC baseball commentator Heo Gu-yeon said. “He also maintained the speed of his fastballs at 92 miles (148 kilometers) per hour. If he displays such quality pitching once again, he will have the third starting pitcher position guaranteed by his team to serve as backup for starters (Clayton) Kershaw and (Alex) Wood.”

Bo-Mi Im bom@donga.com