South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers stepped onto the mound as the first pitcher of the National League at MLB All-Star Game held at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio on Tuesday (local time). He allowed only one hit and no run during the first inning throwing 12 pitches against four batters in front of the 36,747 spectators.
Ryu was his usual self as a “big game pitcher.” He conceded one hit towards a center fielder by George Springer of the Houston Astros, the first batter of the bottom of the first inning, but proceeded to strike out the three following batters. All four batters hit grounders as the center of their bats missed Ryu’s pitches. Although Springer had his eyes on a home plate successfully moving to the third base after two outs but the South Korean pitcher stood strong.
Ryu seemed to enjoy the celebratory mood along with his fans when he appeared on the red carpet event with his wife, Bae Ji-hyeon, and parents.
U.S. sports media ESPN analyzed the success factors of the first South Korean pitcher to start All-Star Game as overcoming injuries, expansion, and evolution. Following his debut on the KBO league amid concerns about his elbow injury, Ryu ranked No. 1 in wins during the first year, strikeouts, and ERA, winning the Rookie’s award and MVP. Also in the MLB, Ryu has become a more challenging pitcher by transitioning from the three-pitch pitcher (fastball, change-up, and curve) to the five-pitch one (adding cutter and two-seam fastball) despite his injuries.
The biggest factor that has led Ryu to his admirable baseball career was diligent studying. "My first couple of seasons, I was more of a passive learner, just trying to learn about the hitters from others,” the Korean pitcher said. “But in the recent two seasons, I've been more active studying these hitters, and I think that resulted in better pitch sequence and just attacking the hitters in general and getting to know them. That really helped my game incredibly.”
Bae-Jung Kim firstname.lastname@example.org