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Ryu Hyun-jin returns in 426 days

Posted August. 03, 2023 07:46,   

Updated August. 03, 2023 07:46


Toronto Blue Jays starter Ryu Hyun-jin made a return to Major League Baseball in a home game at Rogers Centre in Toronto on Wednesday, showing contrasting signs of hope and challenges at the same time.

The brighter side of his performance was that he handled at least five innings in a start – one of the required qualities for starting pitchers - although surrendering several hits. He suffered a double hit by Adley Rutschman to the middle right, a lead-off batter in the first inning. Then, No. 2 hitter Ryan Mountcastle scored another double, followed by No. 3 hitter Anthony Santander making a hit to the left. As a result, Ryu lost two points in the first inning alone. A timely hit by Rutschman in the second inning took another point away from the South Korean MLB pitcher. He recorded a fastball velocity of slightly over 140 km/h or so, and his changeups, of which Ryu is known to have a good command, disappointingly ended up into the middle.

Nevertheless, Ryu turned around in the third inning nicely wielding curve balls – another signature pitching of his career. Despite hits surrendered in every inning that followed, he mixed curve balls dropping straight down with other pitches to deceive hitters. His excellent crisis management skills enabled him not to lose additional points in the third to fifth innings. With a runner on first base, and no outs, he removed Austin Hays on a double play in front of the second baseman and struck out Gunnar Henderson with a four-seam fastball thrown outside the strike zone.

Ryu’s fastest ball of the comeback game was thrown at 146 km/h. Even put at a disadvantage following a hit and a walk leading to runners on first and second and no outs in the fifth inning, he held back Hays with a double play in front of the short fielder, closing the inning.

Heon-Jae Lee uni@donga.com