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Blue Jays' Ryu Hyun-jin takes no-decision after strong start in 'home opener'

All News 11:12 August 12, 2020

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) -- With his bullpen blowing a three-run lead with two outs in the ninth, Toronto Blue Jays' Ryu Hyun-jin instead settled for a no-decision despite a strong performance.

Ryu pitched six fine innings against the Miami Marlins, giving up just one run on two hits while striking out seven at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, on Tuesday (local time). The only blemish was a solo home run by Brian Anderson to start the second inning.

In this Associated Press photo, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Miami Marlins during the top of the first inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, on Aug. 11, 2020. (Yonhap)

Ryu was done after the top of the sixth inning with the Blue Jays down 1-0. Then they went double-double-home run to start the bottom sixth to jump out to a 3-1 lead, with Bo Bichette delivering the three-run jack to put Ryu in line for the win.

The Jays scored again in the seventh, scoring more than three runs for the first time in seven games.

But the bullpen that had been among the best in the American League squandered all of that with two outs in the ninth inning, as closer Anthony Bass gave up a game-tying, three-run home run to Francisco Cervelli on a 3-0 pitch.

Two relievers ahead of Bass, Rafael Dolis and Jordan Romano, threw a perfect seventh and eighth, but Bass couldn't match that performance.

The Blue Jays won 5-4 thanks to Travis Shaw's bases-loaded single in the bottom 10th.

Ryu remained at 1-1 for the year but lowered his ERA from 5.14 to 4.05.

He had allowed eight earned runs in his first nine innings across two starts. But over the past two starts, he has held opponents to just one earned run on three hits in 11 innings with 15 strikeouts.

This was the Blue Jays' "home opener" at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York. It's the home of the Jays' Triple-A affiliate, the Bisons, but with minor league seasons all canceled and major league season also being affected by the coronavirus pandemic, it will serve as the Blue Jays' home for 2020.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Blue Jays have been banned from playing their home games in Toronto. They were hoping to share PNC Park in Pittsburgh with the Pirates before the state health authorities in Pennsylvania rejected the plan. The Jays settled on Buffalo, but Sahlen Field needed some upgrades in its lighting, club house and other amenities to meet major league standards.

The Blue Jays ended up spending 21 days on the road before arriving in Buffalo. They batted last against the Washington Nationals in Washington for two games late last month, but Major League Baseball (MLB) has said Tuesday's contest in Buffalo will be considered the first official home game for the Blue Jays.

Ryu pitched around a two-out walk in the first inning. He served up the leadoff home run to Anderson in the second but got three quick outs, two via strikeouts, to avoid further damage.

In this Getty Images photo, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Miami Marlins during the top of the first inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, on Aug. 11, 2020. (Yonhap)

After a strikeout to open the third, an infield single and an error by shortstop Bichette put runners at first and second. Bichette quickly atoned for his miscue, by starting an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play.

Ryu then had his first three-up, three-down inning in the fourth, needing just 16 pitches to retire the side in order.

He walked Lewis Brinson to begin the fifth but sat down the next three batters to strand the lone runner. Logan Forsythe and Monte Harrison both struck out looking at a cutter that inning.

A strikeout and a pair of groundouts took care of the sixth inning for Ryu, who finished with 92 pitches, 57 of them for strikes.

Ryu received congratulations in the dugout for the job well done, though he seemed headed for a hard-luck loss with zero run support. The Blue Jays had managed just one hit, a single, off the Marlins' starter Eliesser Hernandez through five innings.

Then in the bottom sixth, the bats woke up. Danny Jansen led off with a double to left field, and Cavan Biggio followed with a double of his own.

Biggio's ball hit the top of the fence in left, and Jansen, unsure if the ball would be caught, got a late start and had to stop at third.

Bichette made sure it wouldn't matter, as he drilled a three-run homer off a light tower in left field for a 3-1 lead. It also drew a rare smile from Ryu in the dugout.

Biggio's two-out single in the seventh put the Jays up 4-1, and that was enough for the stout backend of the bullpen.

That should have been enough of a cushion, though Bass gave up a double and a walk before Cervelli's devastating blow.

But the Jays found a way to win in the bottom 10th, as Shaw delivered the winning hit off Stephen Tarpley.

In this Getty Images photo, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Miami Marlins during the top of the first inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, on Aug. 11, 2020. (Yonhap)

In his last outing, Ryu kept the Atlanta Braves off balance with his bread-and-butter changeup. He went to his fastball and cutter more than the changeup this time, while also mixing in an occasional curve.

Of Ryu's seven strikeouts, three came with four-seam fastballs, plus two with cutters, one each with a curve and a changeup.

Ryu, usually stingy with walks, issued two free passes in this game. This was the third time in his first four starts of this season that he's given up multiple walks -- matching the total from all of last year when he made 29 starts.

He's up to nine walks in 20 innings in 2020, compared to 24 walks in 182 2/3 innings in 2019.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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