By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, April 14 (Yonhap) -- Three starts into the 2021 season, Ryu Hyun-jin finally has a win for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The South Korean left-hander limited the New York Yankees to a run on four hits in 6 2/3 strong innings, helping the Jays to a 7-3 victory at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, on Tuesday (local time). He struck out seven and walked one.
The lone Yankees run off Ryu was unearned, as it came following a throwing error by third baseman Cavan Biggio in the seventh inning.
Ryu is now 1-1 for the season and lowered his ERA from 2.92 to 1.89.
In five previous starts against the Yankees, Ryu had been 1-2 with a 5.53 ERA in 27 2/3 innings, with eight home runs among 29 hits allowed.
This time, Ryu kept the Yankees in the park and off balance all day with an effective mix of all four pitches: fastball, cutter, changeup and curveball.
Pitching on five days' rest, Ryu faced the minimum through the first five innings, allowing just three balls to leave the infield while inducing two double plays.
He erased a leadoff infield single by DJ LeMahieu in the first inning with a 4-6-3 double play ball off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton. Aaron Judge then struck to end the inning.
Ryu was his vintage self in the second inning, when he struck out the side on three different pitches.
First, it was cleanup Gary Sanchez fanning on a high fastball at 92 miles per hour (mph). Aaron Hicks got way out in front of a 79.7 mph changeup and missed. Then Rougned Odor went down swinging on an 84.1 mph cutter on the outside corner.
Ryu also had three-up, three-down frames in the third and the fourth.
The Blue Jays spotted Ryu a 2-0 lead in the bottom second, thanks to Josh Palacios' two-out, two-run single off starter Jameson Taillon.
Then in the third, Randal Grichuk's sacrifice fly put the Blue Jays up 3-0,
With Ryu dealing on the mound, his teammates kept doing their thing at the plate. Marcus Semien blasted a solo home run with two outs in the bottom fourth for a 4-0 lead, and two batters later, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. sent an RBI double to right-center gap to tack on another run.
And that was more than enough support for Ryu on this day.
Hicks singled to left with one out in the fifth, but Odor bounced into an inning-ending double play into a shifted infield.
The Blue Jays weren't done at the plate, as Rowdy Tellez blasted a solo shot for his first dinger of the season and gave the team a 6-0 cushion.
Ryu pitched into trouble for the first time in the sixth inning. After two strikeouts, Ryu gave up a double to Jay Bruce and walked LeMahieu. The lefty cleaned up his own mess by retiring Stanton on a soft tapper back to the mound.
The Yankees ended the string of zeroes in the seventh inning. With two men aboard following an error and a double, Odor hit a groundball to second that scored the Yankees' first run.
It also spelled the end of Ryu's day, after 95 pitches, 68 of them for strikes.
Reliever David Phelps got the third out of the seventh on one pitch to get Ryu off the hook for the remaining runner.
The Yankees scored twice in the top eighth, but the Blue Jays got a run back in the bottom eighth, with Bo Bichette's sacrifice fly rounding out the scoring.
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