Blue Jays’ Oh Seung-hwan pitches scoreless inning in debut

March 30, 2018
In this Associated Press photo, Oh Seung-hwan of the Toronto Blue Jays throws a pitch against the New York Yankees in the top of the eighth inning of a major league regular season game at Rogers Centre in Toronto on March 29, 2018. (Yonhap)

In this Associated Press photo, Oh Seung-hwan of the Toronto Blue Jays throws a pitch against the New York Yankees in the top of the eighth inning of a major league regular season game at Rogers Centre in Toronto on March 29, 2018. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, March 30 (Yonhap) — Toronto Blue Jays’ South Korean pitcher Oh Seung-hwan has tossed a scoreless inning in his regular season debut.

The right-hander kept the New York Yankees off the board in the top of the eighth inning at Rogers Centre in Toronto on Thursday (local time), though the Yankees still went on to win the game 6-1.

Oh entered the game in the eighth as the Jays’ fifth pitcher, with the team trailing 5-0.

He gave up an infield single to Aaron Hicks to begin the frame. Hicks chopped a grounder to first baseman Justin Smoak, but Oh was late covering the bag and Hicks beat him to it.

Oh dodged a bullet against the next batter, Didi Gregorius, who hit a deep fly out to the warning track in right field.

The South Korean then struck out Brandon Drury on a sharp slider. After falling behind 2-1, Oh offered Drury back-to-back sliders for his only strikeout of the game.

Oh got a weak comebacker to the mound off the bat of Neil Walker in what should have been the inning’s final out, but the pitcher bobbled the ball when he tried to field it barehanded.

Oh then escaped the inning unscatched by getting Tyler Wade to ground out to second on a first-pitch fastball.

The 35-year-old touched 92 mph with his fastball, and also threw sliders, changeups and curves. Oh made 12 pitches, 10 of them for strikes.

Oh is the first South Korean to play for the Blue Jays. He signed a one-year deal worth US$1.75 million last month, with a club option for 2019 worth $2.5 million that goes into effect if he meets performance incentive thresholds.

After 11 seasons as a top-notch closer in South Korea and Japan, Oh pitched the last two years with the St. Louis Cardinals.

In 2016, he went 6-3 with 19 saves and a 1.92 ERA in 79 2/3 innings while recording 103 strikeouts against just 18 walks. He took over as the closer midseason.

But Oh struggled last year, going 1-6 with 20 saves and a 4.10 ERA in 59 1/3 innings. He only struck out 54 batters while walking 15 as his opponents started making harder contact.

The Blue Jays have an All-Star closer in Roberto Osuna, who has 95 saves over the past three years, and Oh is expected to help bridge the gap to the young right-hander.

The Jays trotted out a couple of other new faces in their bullpen, John Axford and Tyler Clippard, and they each gave up an earned run. Oh, Axford and Clippard all have closing experience in the majors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>