By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) -- Just like any other starting pitcher in baseball, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays wants to go deep into every game he pitches.
But he has now failed to get out of the third inning in two consecutive starts, the first such streak since September 2017.
Ryu was touched up for two home runs in two-plus innings against the Minnesota Twins at Rogers Centre in Toronto on Friday (local time) as the visiting club prevailed 7-3. Ryu gave up five hits and four of them went for extra bases.
This outing came on the heels of a dismal start against the Baltimore Orioles last Saturday, when Ryu was charged with seven runs on eight hits in 2 1/3 innings.
Ryu is now 13-9 with an uncharacteristic 4.34 ERA.
The 2017 season, when Ryu was with the Los Angeles Dodgers, also ended up being his worst full campaign in the majors. He was 5-9 with a 3.77 ERA in 25 games.
He dealt with some physical issues then and was left off the Dodgers' postseason roster. In 2021, with the Blue Jays in the thick of the Wild Card race in the American League, Ryu has been the weak link in September in the otherwise strong rotation.
Ryu bristled at the notion he has reverted to his 2017 self and insisted he has no physical problems whatsoever.
"I don't remember much about 2017, and I don't want to think about it, either," Ryu said in his postgame Zoom session. "It doesn't help me to go back and rehash memories from a bad season. Right now, I am just not doing the job a starter is supposed to do. There are no physical issues."
Ryu was pitching on five days' rest, as opposed to four days, and he had previously done better with that extra day of break. It didn't help him this time, and Ryu blamed the loss on a couple of mistake pitches the Twins hit for home runs.
"I felt fine. I just left some pitches over the heart of the plate, and they went over the fence," Ryu said. "If those mistake pitches go for fouls, it can help pitches. But they made hard contact and I ended up giving up multiple runs in one inning."
The Twins got a run in the second and then jumped on Ryu for four more runs in the next inning. They got single-double-home run-home run off the South Korean left-hander, who was pulled without recording an out in the third.
"I am frustrated. I think any starting pitcher would feel the same way if they get yanked before getting to the fifth inning in two straight starts," Ryu said. "I have to focus on things that I can do well and figure out ways to get through this stretch."
Asked if he'd be better off skipping a turn in the rotation for a breather, Ryu said, "I haven't thought about it and I would rather not do that."
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