In this Associated Press photo, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Texas Rangers in the top of the first inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, on Sunday. (Yonhap)
Though it came in an abbreviated game, Ryu Hyun-jin will take a complete game shutout in any shape or form.
The South Korean starter for the Toronto Blue Jays pitched a seven-inning shutout against the Texas Rangers to open the second half of the season at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, on Sunday (local time), carrying Toronto to a 5-0 win in the first game of a doubleheader. Ryu gave up three hits and a walk while striking out four, after his scheduled start was pushed back by a day due to a rainout.
Under revised rules during the coronavirus pandemic since last year, games in doubleheaders only last seven innings. However, Ryu's performance does count as an official shutout, his first since May 7, 2019, against the Atlanta Braves.
Ryu improved to 9-5 and lowered his ERA from 3.56 to 3.32. He has now won four of his past five starts, dating back to June 20.
Ryu retired the first three batters of the game on only four pitches but then served up a triple to Joey Gallo to start the second inning. Ryu kept Gallo at third base, though, as he sat down the next three batters, two of them via strikeouts.
The Rangers threatened to score again in the top of the third, with a single and a walk at two outs putting two aboard for the dangerous Adolis Garcia. Ryu fanned the rookie slugger on a 1-2 changeup to escape the jam.
The Blue Jays broke the deadlock in the bottom half of that inning, with a Marcus Semien groundout and a Bo Bichette single cashing in two runs.
That was all the run support Ryu would need on this day. He had a three-up, three-down inning in the fourth with just eight pitches. A seven-pitch fifth inning saw Ryu get a flyout and two groundouts against three batters.
Ryu's batterymate, Danny Jansen, led off the bottom of the fifth, with a solo home run for a 3-0 Toronto lead.
After Ryu pitched around a one-out double in the sixth, the Blue Jays added two more runs in the inning with a sac fly and a groundout.
With a comfortable lead and his pitch count still low, Ryu went back out for the seventh and finished off the game with another clean inning.
He made only 83 pitches, with 30 fastballs, 24 changeups, 23 cutters and six curveballs. Coming off an All-Star break and an extra day off following Saturday's rainout, Ryu touched 93.3 mph with his four-seamer.
His bread-and-butter changeup induced seven misses on 17 swings for an outstanding 41 percent whiff rate. (Yonhap)