By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) -- Toronto Blue Jays' starter Ryu Hyun-jin has been shellacked for the second straight outing as a once-promising season for the South Korean left-hander is quickly unraveling down the stretch.
Ryu allowed five runs on five hits, including two home runs, in just two innings against the Minnesota Twins at Rogers Centre in Toronto on Friday (local time) as the Blue Jays dropped the game 7-3.
This was Ryu's shortest start of the season. He threw only 2 1/3 innings in his previous start against the Baltimore Orioles on Sept. 11, when he was charged with seven runs on eight hits.
Ryu fell to 13-9 for the year, and his ERA reached a season-worst 4.34. Since making his major league debut in 2013, Ryu has never posted an ERA above 4.00 in any full season.
Ryu was 8-5 with a 3.56 ERA after the first half. In a dozen starts since, Ryu has gone 5-4 with a 5.61 ERA.
Ryu was pitching on five days' rest. In 10 previous starts with an extra day of rest, Ryu had been 6-3 with a 2.61 ERA, compared to a 4-3 record and a 5.64 ERA in a dozen outings on four days' rest.
And the trend appeared to hold up in the early going, as Ryu pitched a clean first inning against the Twins, including a strikeout of the leadoff man, Byron Buxton.
But Ryu walked Miguel Sano to begin the top of the second inning, and that free pass came to bite him when Brent Rooker drove in Sano with a two-out double and put the Twins on top 1-0.
The Blue Jays responded with two runs in the bottom second, but Ryu couldn't make the 2-1 lead stand even for an inning.
The Twins went single-double-home run-home run against Ryu in the top of the third, knocking the left-hander out of the game in the blink of an eye.
No. 9 hitter Ryan Jeffers began the rally with a single to center. Buxton then hit a ringing double off the left field wall to cash in Jeffers for the tying run and advanced to third on an error by center fielder Corey Dickerson.
Jorge Polanco, whose error at shortstop had contributed to a Jays' run in the bottom second, atoned for that miscue with a go-ahead two-run blast. Ryu threw him a curveball for the first pitch, but it hung just high enough for Polanco to drive it into left-center field.
Josh Donaldson went back-to-back with a solo shot to right field, jumping on a belt-high cutter to give the Twins a 5-2 lead.
That spelled the end of another frustrating game for Ryu, who couldn't record an out in the third inning before handing things over to Ross Stripling.
The Blue Jays only managed one more run the rest of the game and fell to 82-65. They temporarily dropped to third place in the American League Wild Card race.
The New York Yankees (83-65) moved into the second and the final Wild Card position with an 8-0 win over the Cleveland Indians.
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