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Ryu returns as a game changer with changeups

Posted August. 23, 2021 07:36,   

Updated August. 23, 2021 07:36


Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays led the third victory of the team, regaining a momentum as an ace of the team after a period of a plateau.

Ryu pitched six scoreless innings and allowed three hits, one walk and five strikeouts against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada, which led his team to another victory by 3-0. He pulled into a tie with Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees) and Christ Bassitt of the Oakland Athletics for the American League (AL) lead in victories with 12 wins by winning three matches after the match against the Cleveland Indians (two runs for seven innings) on August 4. Ryu ranked sixth in the AL with a 3.54 ERA, down from 3.72.

Ryu proved on the day that he was still in his prime with 40 fast balls, in average 146.2 kilometers/hour, varying from changeups (29), cutters (22) and curved balls (14). Ryu’s changeups, which had been assessed as weaker than before, made that Detroit batters had a hard time playing against him.

The Korean pitcher led three changeups from five strikeouts (60%). He scored the first strikeout with changeups against Jonathan Schoop on the first base with no outs at the beginning of the first inning and another strikeout by throwing a changeup as a kill shot to the first batter of the fifth inning Jeimer Candelario and Derek Hill on the first base with no outs in the sixth inning.

Six out of 11 grounders (54.5%) that he led were changeups. Detroit’s living legend of Miguel Cabrera, who has one homerun left until his 500th, hit into a double play by putting his bat at Ryu’s changeup on the first base with one out in the fourth inning.

Toronto’s coach Charlie Montoyo seemed to have a belief in him when all of his balls including changeups had an effect. In the previous match, the coach replaced Ryu, who allowed a walkout in the late seventh inning while the team was leading the match by 3-2. It triggered a controversy that coach Montoyo did not treat the team’s ace with respect. On Sunday’s math, however, the coach did not replace Ryu when he allowed the first walkout to Cabrera with one out at the beginning of the seventh inning when his team was leading by 2-0, to which Ryu responded by making a double play against next batter, Arnold Castro. It was Ryu’s third double play on that day.

The Toronto Blue Jays rank fourth of the AL East with 64 wins and 57 losses. The team is not likely to win in the AL East as it is lagging behind the first runner Tampa Bay Rays (76 wins and 48 losses) by 10.5 matches. But it may advance into the post season with a wild card. The gap with the second runner Oakland Athletics (70 wins and 54 losses) is 4.5 matches. “Today’s match was big. We had to win the game and Ryu gave us a victory,” said Montoyo.

Bae-Jung Kim wanted@donga.com