A new weapon is about to be added to Ryu’s winning formula.
The ‘Korean Monster’ Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, 바카라 of the Toronto Blue Jays, kept his hopes alive with a near-perfect pitching performance after being forced out of the game with an untimely injury.
Ryu started the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2023 Major League Baseball World Series at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., on Monday (Aug. 8) and pitched four innings without allowing a hit, striking out one and walking two.
Ryu’s near-perfect outing was cut short by an unfortunate injury. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Ryu faced Oscar Gonzalez with two outs and runners on first and second, and had a scary moment when Gonzalez’s pitch hit him in the right knee.
Ryu caught the ball and threw to first base for the final out of the inning, but the pain radiating through his body was unbearable and he collapsed to the ground. Barely able to get up, Ryu returned to the dugout and Toronto sent reliever Jay Jackson to the mound in the bottom of the fifth.
Luckily, it doesn’t appear to be a major injury. “Ryu Hyun-jin was removed from the game due to a contusion to his right knee,” the club said.
Despite Hyun-jin Ryu’s abrupt departure, Toronto showed off its ironclad mound as Jackson pitched a scoreless first inning, Genesis Cabrera pitched a perfect first inning, and Eric Swanson pitched a scoreless second inning with two strikeouts. By the time Garcia left after ⅓ of an inning of two-hit ball, Toronto had already taken a 2-1 lead, and Tim Mayza pitched ⅔ of a scoreless inning to seal the win.
Toronto turned to Jordan Hicks. Hicks was acquired by Toronto in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals at the trade deadline to bolster the bullpen. When you think of Hicks, fastball is the first pitch that comes to mind. He made waves in 2018 when he touched 105 mph (169 km/h) with his fastball in St. Louis.
Entering the game in the bottom of the ninth inning with Toronto leading 3-1, Hicks walked leadoff hitter Andres Jimenez and gave up a single to Jose Ramirez to put runners on first and second with no outs, but he got Gonzalez to ground out to first base on a 100 mph sinker and then got Cole Calhoun to fly out to left field on a 101 mph four-seam fastball.
Hicks then walked Gabriel Arias to load the bases with two outs, but got Brian Rocchio to ground out to shortstop on a 101 mph sinker to end the game. Hicks’ fastball touched 102.5 mph (165 km/h) on the day. With his one-hit, two-strikeout shutout, Hicks earned his 10th save of the season. It’s the first time in three years that Hicks has recorded double-digit saves, after recording 14 in 2019.
Hicks recorded his second save since joining Toronto. Hicks made his first appearance since joining Toronto on Feb. 2 against the Baltimore Orioles, but he gave up two runs on three hits in one inning. However, Hicks returned to Baltimore on March 3 and tossed one scoreless inning of relief, and on March 5, he tossed 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief against the Boston Red Sox, again without allowing a hit, to record his first save since joining Toronto. In four games since joining Toronto, Hicks has two saves and a 4.15 ERA.
Toronto originally had a closer in Jordan Romano, but he has been sidelined since this month with a back injury. Romano established himself as Toronto’s closer in 2021, going 7-1 with a 2.14 ERA and 23 saves, earning his first career All-Star nod last year after going 5-4 with a 2.11 ERA and 36 saves, and he’s been Toronto’s backstop this year, going 4-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 28 saves.
For now, Toronto is filling Romano’s void with Hicks. And so far, the trade for Hicks appears to be a success. If Hyun-jin Ryu is able to shake off the bruise on his right knee and put together another strong outing like the one against Cleveland, he’ll have a solid back door in Hicks to help him get his first win back.