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Ex-big league pitcher delivers best postseason start

All News 23:08 October 11, 2016

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 11 (Yonhap) -- With the LG Twins' Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) season on the line, former big league right-hander Ryu Jae-kuk delivered the best playoff game of his life.

Ryu carried a no-hitter into the sixth en route to tossing eight shutout innings, as the Twins defeated the Kia Tigers 1-0 with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth for the KBO wild card at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul.

Closer Lim Jung-woo was credited with the win after tossing a scoreless ninth, but Ryu was named the Player of the Game for his effort.

Ryu, who has pitched for the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays, did walk three and hit three batters, but gave up just one hit -- a double by Brett Pill in the sixth -- to keep the Tigers off the board.

The Twins lost Monday's game 4-2. Because they finished with a better regular season record than the Tigers, they got their second crack at the wild card, and Ryu made sure they capitalized on it.

Ryu, also a Twins' captain, got out of several jams with more than a little help from his defense.

He made 116 pitches, 74 of them fastballs. He had a solid command of his curve, and three of his strikeouts were of the swinging variety.

Before the start of the series, Ryu said he wanted his club to finish off the Tigers in just one game so he wouldn't have to pitch in a pressure-packed situation on Tuesday.

Ryu was forced into that role, but the 33-year-old thrived when the stakes were high. He had been 1-1 with a 4.19 ERA in four previous postseason appearances.

"I have no idea how the first three innings went by," Ryu said. "I think I only came to my senses in the fourth inning."

Ryu credited his catcher, Chung Sang-ho, with calling a fine game.

"Before the game, Sang-ho told me to attack every hitter because I'd get hit if I tried to pitch away all the time," Ryu said. "And I trusted his game calling."

He has continued his great second-half form into the postseason. The right-hander was just 5-8 with a 5.11 ERA in the first half but went 8-3 with a 3.36 ERA after the All-Star break. It included Ryu's first career complete game shutout on Sept. 18.

The team captain said he wants his teammates to keep having fun in the postseason.

"I was worried most about the young guys' lack of playoff experience," Ryu said. "They get too excited and too nervous at the same time. But now that we've gone past the wild card stage, I think they should be able to enjoy this a little more. I don't want to put any pressure on them. I just want them to keep doing what they've been doing."


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