Hyun-jin Ryu snaps Toronto’s 3-game losing streak…uses slow curveball to pick up 3 wins

Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, of the Toronto Blue Jays, used his trademark changeup and a slow curveball that touched as low as 100 mph to pick up his third win of the season.

메이저놀이터 Ryu Hyun-jin pitches in the first inning of a home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Sept. 27. USA Today

Ryu Hyun-jin allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and five walks with five strikeouts in five innings of a Major League Baseball (MLB) home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Sunday.

Back-to-back infield errors in the top of the sixth inning prevented him from getting a quality start (three earned runs or fewer in six or more innings pitched), but he used razor-sharp command without issuing a walk to help his team to an 8-3 victory.

Toronto snapped a three-game losing streak, and Ryu earned his 78th win (46 starts) in his 180th career big league start. It was his third straight win, following victories against the Chicago Cubs on April 14 and the Cincinnati Reds on April 21. He raised his season ERA to 2.25 from 1.89. His fastball topped out at 146 miles per hour, and he dominated Cleveland hitters with a big-drop curveball and a sharp-dropping changeup. On defense, Ryu drew applause for his clean handling of three balls thrown at him.

The start was a little shaky. In the top of the first inning, Ryu gave up a solo home run (119 meters) to Jose Ramirez on a 141-mile-per-hour fastball over the left field fence. It ended a streak of consecutive scoreless innings that spanned three games and 14 innings after he gave up a run in the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles on April 2. After the early blow, Ryu quickly settled down, striking out Oscar Gonzalez and getting Ramon Loreano to fly out to second base. The Toronto bats responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning, including a two-run double by David Schneider.

Ryu Hyun-jin runs to field Freeman’s hit during the second inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2018, in Cleveland. AP

Ryu was unstoppable from there. In the second inning, he threw a cutter and a changeup to Andres Jimenez and Gabriel Arias, respectively, for strikeouts. Three outs. In the third, he gave up a leadoff double to Cam Gallagher, but retired the next three batters. In the fourth, he retired the next three batters. He threw a 104-mile-per-hour curveball to the final batter, Andres Jimenez, for a swinging strike.

Ryu gave up his fourth run in four innings when he gave up a solo shot to left field to Tyler Freeman with one out in the top of the fifth inning to give his team a 5-1 lead. It was Freeman’s first home run in the big leagues. But he got two more outs without allowing another run. By the fifth inning, he had thrown 60 pitches. His first quality start in 464 days, since May 21, 2022, against Cincinnati (six scoreless innings), seemed possible.

The problem was the Toronto infield defense. After giving up a leadoff single to Cole Calhoun in the top of the sixth, Ryu induced the next batter, Ramirez, to hit an infield grounder, but Toronto third baseman Matt Chapman didn’t catch the ball, setting up a bases-loaded double play. The next batter, Gonzalez, hit another grounder that didn’t leave the infield, but this time shortstop Santiago Espinal lost the ball. The back-to-back fielding errors left the bases loaded in what should have been a clean inning.

Toronto third baseman Matt Chapman, left, comforts Ryu Hyun-jin, center, after he was forced to walk off the mound with the bases loaded because of his error against the Cleveland Indians on Sunday. USA Today

Toronto had already replaced the pitcher with Garcia, after all. Back in the dugout, Ryu smirked at pitching coach Pete Walker, who consoled him. Garcia allowed the first batter, Lorenzo, to score on a hard-hit ball to center field, increasing Ryu’s lead to three runs. The run was unearned due to a fielding error, but Garcia retired the next three batters to preserve the win.

The Toronto offense made up for the error parade with an eight-run outburst. Schneider, who came up big in the bottom of the first inning, followed it up with an RBI single in the top of the seventh, finishing 3-for-3 with three runs scored.

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