Ryu Hyun-jin pitches Blue Jays into postseason with win over Yankees

September 25, 2020

Ryu Hyun-jin has pitched the Toronto Blue Jays into their first postseason in four years.

Ryu tossed seven shutout innings in Toronto’s 4-1 victory over the New York Yankees at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday (local time). Ryu gave up five hits and two walks while striking out four.

Ryu finished his first regular season with the Blue Jays at 5-2 and a 2.69 ERA in 12 starts. The seven innings were his season high, as were the 100 pitches thrown.

The Blue Jays are headed to their first postseason since 2016, likely as an eighth seed in the American League (AL) in the expanded format.

Ryu worked a scoreless first inning and pitched around a two-out double by Gio Urshela in the second inning.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gave the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead with a solo homer in the bottom of the second.

In the third, Ryu gave up a two-out single to DJ LeMahieu but escaped the inning without any damage.

The Blue Jays gave Ryu some extra cushion, with Bo Bichette delivering an RBI double in the bottom of the inning for a 2-0 lead.

Ryu’s biggest trouble came in the sixth inning. Luke Voit and Aaron Hicks, batting second and third, respectively, reached with back-to-back singles, giving the Yankees two base runners in an inning for the first time in the game.

Ryu dug deep and retired the next three batters to strand both runners. He struck out cleanup Giancarlo Stanton on three pitches and then Gleyber Torres flied out to right field. Urshela grounded out weakly to second as Ryu completed six scoreless innings.

Rookie Alejandro Kirk gave the Blue Jays more breathing room with a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the sixth. With a 4-0 lead, Ryu came back out for the seventh inning, becoming the first Toronto starter to pitch into the seventh inning this season.

Clint Frazier opened the inning with a single, but Ryu retired three straight batters, all with soft flies to right field.

The last two outs were especially huge: the dangerous Aaron Judge pinch hitting in the ninth spot and flying out on a 2-0 count, and LeMahieu, the American League batting leader with a .360 average, also popping out to right on a 0-1 changeup.

It came on Ryu’s season-high 100th pitch. He’s also the only Blue Jays starter to make at least 100 pitches this year.

The Yankees got a run back against the Blue Jays’ bullpen in the eighth. Then with the bases loaded later that inning, pinch hitter Gary Sanchez almost blasted a go-ahead grand slam off reliever Rafael Dolis. Center fielder Randal Grichuk had to make a jumping catch at the wall to keep it a 4-1 game.

Dolis then finished off the ninth to lock down the three-run victory.

Ryu made his big league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2013, and his team has made the playoffs every year. He missed the 2015 and 2016 postseasons with injuries, and didn’t make the postseason roster in 2017. But he pitched in the 2018 World Series and the National League Division Series last year.

Ryu will start the opening game of the best-of-three wild-card round Tuesday, on four days’ rest.