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Ryu Hyun-jin hits first homer in MLB and grabs 13th win

Posted September. 24, 2019 07:27,   

Updated September. 24, 2019 07:27


It took 255 at bats and 118 appearances over 7 seasons in the Major League Baseball for Ryu Hyun-jin, the Korean pitcher of the Los Angeles Dodgers, to hammer his first career home run, which sent the crowd at Dodger Stadium into a round of fanatic cheer. Orel Hershiser, the legendary pitcher of the Dodgers and commentator of SportsNet LA, burst to his feet and belted out big laughter after Ryu smacked the equalizer, which was a shot in the arm for the dampened morale of the hosts.

He hit well and pitched well. Ryu Hyun-jin has grabbed his 13th win this season (five losses) with his first home run in the MLB, proving instrumental both on mound and at-bat.

Making an outing at home against the Colorado Rockies on Monday, the Korean pitcher struck out 8 batters, allowing 3 runs and 6 hits in 7 innings, and chalked up his first win in 42 days since the last game with the Arizona Diamondbacks on August 12. His ERA, which went slight up from 2.35 to 2.41 after conceding 3 runs with 2 homers, still remains the best record in the MLB. The runner-up for ERA competition is Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets (2.51), who is competing with Ryu for the honor of the National League Cy Young award. Having carried the game by 7-4, the Dodgers hit the mark of 100 wins (56 losses) again in two years since 2017.

The highlight of the game was Ryu’s home run. Appearing at bat in the bottom of the 5th inning, Ryu found himself driven to the wall with 2 strikes and no balls against Antonio Senzatela, but in the third pitch, he made an impeccable contact with a 151 kmph fastball, sending it over the right side fence. The distance ran 109 meters.

Even after the game was over, the attention was heavily focused on Ryu Hyun-jin. Cody Bellinger, who blasted a grand slam home run in the 5th, received questions about Ryu. “I know his homer run is more important than my grand slam,” joked Bellinger, telling how his teammates were even more excited for Ryu and mentioning Ryu’s rigorous batting practice, which would make it hard for anyone to believe that this was his first homer.

After the game, Ryu showed off his home run ball marked “No. 1 Home Run,” which was encased in a box along with the list of his other achievements, and he said with laughter that he hit the home run with Bellinger’s bat.

With six more games to go for the Dodgers, Ryu could make yet another outing before the playoff. Fans are closely watching if Ryu will be able to achieve the best ERA as the first Asian to do so in the Major League Baseball.

Bae-Jung Kim wanted@donga.com