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Ryu Hyun-jin picks up first win in Toronto

Posted August. 07, 2020 07:46,   

Updated August. 07, 2020 07:46


Toronto Blue Jays’ starting pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin has chalked up his first win after making two unimpressive outings since he moved to Toronto. Visiting the Truist Park, the home of the Atlanta Braves, on Wednesday local time, the “Korean Monster” showed off a dominant five-inning performance with eight strikeouts, three walks, and a single hit. Winning the game 2-1, Toronto escaped their recent three-game losing streaks.

Signing an 80-million-dollar contract with Toronto for four years early this year, Ryu didn’t exactly live up to the expectations in his first two appearances. Having covered less than five innings, the South Korean player lost one game out of two, with 8.00 ERA.

This time, Ryu was different. His infamous changeup was back in swing, successfully subduing Atlanta hitters. Of 84 pitches that he threw on Wednesday, 32 were changeups, and out of the eight strikeouts, six were clinched with a changeup.

“From the early innings, Ryu aimed cutters close to the batter, and his changeups came back,” said Song Jae-woo, commentator of MBC Sports Plus. His strategy forced hitters to get ready for an insider, leaving them vulnerable to changeup’s velocity gap. According to BrooksBaseball, an MLB statistics site, Ryu induced a swing-and-a miss with a chance of 62.5% (20) when he threw changeups. “I could feel that my changeups were sharp today during the warmups,” Ryu said in an after-game interview. “I feel comfortable throwing them.”

The pickoff on Ronald Acuna Jr., the first hitter of the Braves who was walked in the bottom of the first inning, was also remarkable. Ryu is considered a very tricky pitcher to steal base from, allowing only one stolen base over 182 2/3 innings last year. “In the beginning, he was rather shaky with a walk on the first hitter, but his control came back to focus thanks to the pickoff,” said Heo Gu-yeo, baseball commentator of MBC.

Hong-Gu Kang windup@donga.com