Blue Jays’ Ryu Hyun-jin allows home run in up-and-down 1st spring start

February 27, 2020

Ryu Hyun-jin served up a towering home run but pitched out of an early jam in his much-anticipated spring training debut for the Toronto Blue Jays.

The South Korean left-hander gave up a run on three hits in two innings against the Minnesota Twins at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, on Thurdsday (local time), leaving the game with his team trailing 1-0. Ryu struck out two batters, and threw 26 of his 41 pitches for strikes.

Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Minnesota Twins in the top of the second inning of a Major League Baseball spring training game at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, on Feb. 27, 2020. (Yonhap)
Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Minnesota Twins in a Major League Baseball spring training game at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, on Feb. 27, 2020. (Yonhap)

Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Minnesota Twins in the top of the second inning of a Major League Baseball spring training game at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, on Feb. 27, 2020. (Yonhap)

This was Ryu’s first spring training appearance as a Blue Jay. Manager Charlie Montoyo said earlier this week that he’d get Ryu to make 40 to 45 pitches in two frames. The mission was accomplished, though the outing had its share of adventures.

After leading all of baseball with a 2.32 ERA and finishing second in the National League (NL) Cy Young Award voting for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ryu signed a four-year, US$80 million deal with Toronto. As the highest-paid pitcher in franchise history, Ryu has already been pegged as the Opening Day starter, barring injury. The main objective for the oft-injured 32-year-old is to finish his first camp with the new club healthy.

Ryu pitched himself into trouble against a Twins lineup of mostly minor leaguers who came out swinging. Jake Cave led off the game with a double on Ryu’s second pitch. Then Trevor Larnach battled Ryu to a full count before lineing a single up the middle to put runners at the corners.

Ryu got a groundball to third base off the bat of Willians Astudillo, and Cave was tagged out in a rundown. But Cave bought enough time for Larnach to move to third and Astudillo to reach second.

Ryu went to a 3-2 count against Brent Rooker, who fouled off two pitches before going down swinging on a changeup. Ryu completed his escape job by getting Royce Lewis, the No. 1 overall pick at the 2017 draft, to ground out to third base.

Ryu needed 24 pitches to get out of his jam unscathed.

Travis Blankenhorn grounded out to second to begin the second inning against Ryu. The lefty went up 0-1 on Zander Wiel, who then jumped on an elevated fastball and drove it over the batter’s eye in center for a massive solo home run.

Ryu regrouped to strike out Gilberto Celestino on a 3-2 changeup. Jack Reinheimer then hit a pop fly to shortstop Bo Bichette, as Ryu wrapped up his up-and-down start.

Ryu worked ahead of all nine batters he faced and mixed up a handful of different pitches in his arsenal. There were no velocity readings available at the renovated TD Ballpark.

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