He did it again. The Toronto Blue Jays’바카라 “Korean Monster,” Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, pitched another no-hitter to pick up his second win of the season.
Ryu took the mound against the visiting Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio, on April 21.
Ryu threw 83 pitches over five innings, allowing four hits, one walk, seven strikeouts, and two runs (unearned) to lower his season ERA from 2.57 to 1.89. It was his 14th consecutive scoreless inning. Using four pitches – a four-seam fastball (38), changeup (18), curve (16) and cutter (11) – Ryu confounded hitters with a fastball that reached 89.6 mph (144 km/h) and a slower curve that touched 65.5 mph (105 km/h).
Toronto committed two errors in the second inning that cost Ryu two unearned runs, but they were not credited to him, and the offense gave him “express support” by exploding for five home runs and scoring a whopping nine runs.
Toronto’s starting lineup was Whit Merrifield (second base), Bo Bissett (shortstop), Brandon Belt (designated hitter), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (first base), George Springer (right field), Dalton Basho (left field), Matt Chapman (third base), Danny Jensen (catcher), Kevin Kiermaier (center field), and Ryu Hyun-jin.
The return of these key players has bolstered the offense. Shortstop Bissett, who is looking to lead the league in hits for the third straight year, overcame a knee injury to make his return against Cincinnati on April 20, and closer Jordan Romano, who has been dealing with a back injury, looked healthy in his recent return, picking up two saves.
Cincinnati sent Stuart Fairchild (right field), Matt McLane (second base), Eli De La Cruz (shortstop), Spencer Steer (left field), Joey Votto (designated hitter), Christian Encarnacion-Strand (first base), Noelby Marte (third base), T.J. Friedle (center field), and Luke Mealy (catcher) to the mound, with Hunter Green on the mound.
Green, a fireballer who hit a career-high 102.6 mph (165 km/h) last year, made his first start since June 18 against the Houston Astros after being sidelined with a right hip injury.
Toronto struck first in the top of the first inning, backing up Ryu. One out later, Bissett hit a triple that dropped in front of the center field fence. Center fielder Friedl made a jumping catch, but the ball deflected off Friedl’s glove. Belt then hit a line drive toward second base, and McLain, who was trying to field the ball in front of him, couldn’t make the catch, allowing the ball to sail into the outfield. McLain’s error allowed Bissett to score from third base, giving Toronto a one-run lead. Toronto had runners on second and third when Springer hit a grounder to third baseman Marte, but Bashaw struck out swinging to end the inning without further damage.
Taking the mound in the bottom of the first with a 1-0 lead, Ryu faced leadoff hitter Fairchild and induced a 70-mph (113-kilometer) curveball to shortstop at 2B 1S for the first out of the inning. Collected his first strikeout against McLane. With the count 2B 2S, he threw a six-pitch 78 mph (126 km/h) changeup to induce McLain to swing wildly. He then needed just two pitches to retire Dela Cruz. Ryu got an 87 mph (140 km/h) four-seam fastball to ground out to the third baseman to end the inning.
Ryu is pitching in relief.
Ryu takes the mound against Cincinnati.
Toronto then took some of the pressure off Ryu in the top of the second inning with a pair of cannonballs. Jensen led off the inning with a double down the left field line and Kiermeyer followed with a two-run homer to right field to give Toronto a 3-0 lead. On a 1B 2S count, Kiermeyer took advantage of Green’s four-pitch 85 mph (137 km/h) slider for his sixth home run of the season. That wasn’t the end of it. After Merrifield doubled up the middle and advanced to third on a wild pitch by Green, another two-run homer, this time from Belt, put Toronto up 5-0 in no time. On a 2B 1S count, Belt crushed a four-seam 99 mph (159 km/h) fastball from Greene for his 12th home run of the season.
However, Ryu had to deal with some bad luck in the bottom of the second inning due to a defensive miscue by his teammates. After drawing two consecutive strikes against leadoff hitter Steer, Ryu’s third pitch, an 87-mph four-seam fastball, was hit into the infield for a single to third base. After striking out Joey Votto on three pitches with a 65.5-mph (105-kilometer) curveball, Ryu gave up a 75-mph (121-kilometer) changeup to Encarnacion-Strand with runners on first and third with one out.
Facing a full count against Marte, who was making his major league debut, Ryu got a fly out to left field on a 77-mph (124-kilometer) changeup. The trouble came next. Chapman, the third baseman who cut off Basho’s throw to left field, made a bad throw to second base, allowing both runners to score. Ryu gave up two quick runs, neither of which were earned. Friedle’s grounder was then picked off by first baseman Guerrero Jr. who threw the ball to Ryu, who was dropping into coverage at first base, but the throw went wide. Ryu was able to get Mailly to fly out to right field to end the inning without further damage.
The Toronto bats retired the side in order in the top of the third, and Ryu was able to keep his defense in check in the bottom of the inning. After striking out pinch-hitter T.J. Hopkins on a four-pitch 86-mph (138-kilometer) cutter on a 1B 2S count, Ryu walked McLain, but induced another strikeout on a full count against Dela Cruz with a six-pitch 66-mph (106-kilometer) curveball. Ryu then induced Steer to ground into a pitcher’s choice and ended the inning himself.
Toronto put on another home run show in the top of the fourth inning. With runners on 1B and 1S, Bissett hit a three-pitch 97 mph (156 km/h) fastball from Green for a solo shot over the right field fence. Bissett’s 18th home run of the season. Then, on a 2B 2S pitch, Belt took a five-seam 99 mph (159 km/h) fastball from Greene for a solo shot to left field (his 13th of the season). It was Belt’s second home run in as many at-bats, following Bissett’s homer. After Guerrero Jr. walked, it was Springer again, this time hitting a two-pitch 86 mph slider from Green for a two-run homer (No. 15 of the season) to left field.
Cincinnati eventually made a pitching change to right-hander Buck Palmer after Green walked Bashaw, who was charged with nine runs (eight earned) on 10 hits (five homers) with three walks and four strikeouts in three innings.
Returning to the mound in the bottom of the fourth inning with Toronto up 9-2, the right-hander got leadoff hitter Votto to fly out to left field, Encarnacion-Strand to fly out to right field, and Marte to ground out for the third out. All three batters were hit by different pitches. Votto used an 85-mph cutter, Encarnacion-Strand a 70-mph curve, and Marte an 89.6-mph four-seam fastball for the final out.
It was in the fifth inning that Ryu really came into his own. After giving up a 74-mph changeup to leadoff hitter Friedle for a single to right and a 78-mph changeup to Mealy for an infield single to shortstop, Ryu had runners on first and second with no outs, but he worked a full-count battle with Hopkins, striking him out on an 89.5-mph (144-kilometer) four-seam fastball, inducing McLain to fly out to center field on a 71-mph curveball, and striking out Dela Cruz on three pitches on a 69-mph (111-kilometer) curveball to end the inning.
Ryu Hyun-jin pitches.
Ryu Hyun-jin pitches for his second win of the season against Cincinnati. Yonhap/AP
Ryu’s work was done. Toronto sent left-hander Genesis Cabrera to the mound in the bottom of the sixth inning with a 9-2 lead. Ryu threw 83 pitches on the day, 12 in the first, 21 in the second, 16 in the third, 11 in the fourth, and 23 in the fifth.
Toronto did get a run in the bottom of the seventh off right-hander Bauden Francis, who hit a solo home run to left-center off Tyler Stephenson, but it didn’t affect the outcome of the game. The game ended 10-3 in favor of Toronto, and Ryu picked up his second win of the season. The two-game winning streak puts Toronto at 69-56 and on pace to reach the 70-win plateau, while Cincinnati is 64-61.
Returning to the mound after more than a year off following left elbow ligament reconstruction surgery in June, Ryu was activated from the disabled list after giving up four runs on nine hits in five innings against the Baltimore Orioles on Aug. 2 and was hit by a batter’s pitch on Aug. 8 against the Cleveland Indians. Despite being hit in the right knee, he pitched four scoreless innings of one-hit ball and earned his first victory on May 14 against the Chicago Cubs with five innings of two-hit ball (non-run), his first win in 444 days since May 27 last year against the Los Angeles Angels.
Ryu, who is cruising to a 2-1 record and 1.89 ERA in four games since returning from surgery, has struck out 15 in 19 innings and hasn’t allowed a home run since his return against Baltimore. He’s also given up just five walks, while striking out 15. His pitch counts since his return have been 80, 52, 86, and 83.
Meanwhile, Guerrero Jr. left the game with a left middle finger injury and was replaced by Caban Vizio. Toronto will have a day off on April 22 before opening a three-game series against Baltimore on April 23.
George Springer celebrates his home run.
Beau Bissett celebrates his home run.