He pitched well in the bullpen and lost four games. But local media said Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, of the Toronto Blue Jays, did his job at Coors Field, a graveyard for pitchers.
Ryu started the Blue Jays’ 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB)안전놀이터 World Series game against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Feb. 2 (KST), allowing two runs on four hits, including a home run, and two walks in five innings.
Ryu, who did his part with the fewest runs allowed at Coors Field, turned the mound over to the bullpen with a 4-2 lead in the sixth inning, but was denied the win when Toronto’s third pitcher, Yoenis Cabrera, hit a game-tying three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth.
Trailing 5-4 in the seventh, Toronto scored five runs, including a three-run double by pinch-hitter Alejandro Kirk, and added four more in the eighth and ninth to win 13-9.
Ryu’s record remains 3-1 on the season, with only his ERA increasing slightly from 2.25 to 2.48. Toronto has won Ryu’s last five starts.
Coors Field sits at an elevation of 1610 meters above sea level and is known for its low air resistance, which allows for long balls. It’s a hitter’s paradise, but a pitcher’s hell.
Ryu, who returned from left elbow surgery a year ago with a three-game winning streak that was fueled by a slow curveball in the low 100 mph range, threw mostly cut fastballs in the same family as his four-seam fastball early in the game, with fewer changeups and curves to compensate for Coors Field’s unique conditions.
Ryu took the mound at Coors Field for the first time in four years and one month since August 2019, when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and faced a tricky Colorado slugger, Charlie Blackmon, who led off the first inning with a career .343 batting average against him.
Blackmon, who had 12 hits against Ryu, including three doubles and a home run, worked a full count and took eight pitches before hitting a line drive up the middle that was easily picked off by the shortstop, who had already moved to second base.
After cooking Blackmon, Ryu threw cut fastballs to Ezequiel Toba and Elias Díaz for back-to-back strikeouts to end the first inning.
After breezing through the second inning, inducing three ground balls on six pitches, Ryu struck first in the third inning when a 0-0 pitch was in the back of the strike zone.
After a leadoff single to right by left-handed hitter Nolan Jones, Ryu threw a four-pitch changeup to right-handed slugger Eleuris Montero before giving up a two-run homer to left.
The changeup didn’t drop, but instead lodged in the middle of the strike zone.
One out later, after walking Blackmon, Ryu gave up a double to Tova that hit directly off the left field fence.
Ryu got Dias to ground out in front of the pitcher to keep the bases loaded, then struck out No. 4 left-hander Ryan McMahon on a dropped curveball to give himself some breathing room.
Down 1-2 in the bottom of the fourth thanks to Brandon Belt’s leadoff solo homer, Ryu faced his second bump in the road when he gave up a single to Hunter Goodman and a walk to Jones in the seventh.
The umpire didn’t raise his hand when his four-seam fastball to Jones was right in the strike zone, allowing Ryu to be called out.
Ryu worked himself out of the jam by getting Montero, who had given up a home run in the previous at-bat, to pop out to second base to shortstop to first base.
In the fifth, he retired three straight batters to end the inning.
Ryu threw 76 pitches on the day, with 35 four-seam fastballs, 19 cut fastballs, 12 curves and 10 changeups.
Toronto’s Ernie Clement hit a game-tying home run off the left field foul pole in the top of the fifth inning with the score tied at 1-2 to save Ryu from the loss.
Then catcher Danny Jansen, Ryu’s battery-mate, hit a huge two-run homer into the left-field stands with one out in the top of the sixth inning to give Ryu the game-winning run, but it was wiped out by a botched save after an offensive shift.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Imai Garcia handed the baton back to Cabrera with runners on first and second, and Cabrera gave up a three-run homer to Jones in left field to preserve Ryu’s victory.
Colorado right-hander Chris Flexen, a former member of the Doosan Bears of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) who wrote the “reverse export myth” in his return to the big leagues, gave up four runs on three home runs in 5⅔ innings.