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Ryu Hyun-jin isn’t waiting around

He’s the 2nd Korean pitcher to ever win an MLB opening game

Mar 30,2019
Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch during the first inning of the season opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium in California on Thursday. [REUTERS/YONHAP]
Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers got off to a great start of the season by picking up a win in the Dodgers’ opening game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Throughout six innings, Ryu gave up four hits and a run while striking out eight. Tossing just 82 pitches, Ryu could have kept going, but manager Dave Roberts opted to pull him out while the Dodgers were leading 7-1.

Although the Dodgers’ bullpen gave up four more runs after Ryu left the mound, the Dodgers’ still cruised to a big 12-7 victory to start the 2019 season.

With the win, Ryu picked up his first win of the season and has a 1.50 ERA. Also, by picking up a win in the opening game, Ryu became the first Korean pitcher since Park Chan-ho in 2001 to do so in the majors. In 2001, Park also played for the Dodgers.

Park started in the Dodgers’ opening game against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 3, 2001, and tossed seven scoreless innings to help the Dodgers win 1-0.

“There wasn’t any pressure,” Ryu was quoted as saying on the Los Angeles Times. “My goal going into the game was to not give up an early lead. I think it worked out pretty well.”

Along with his personal achievement, the Dodgers also set a record in the major league, hitting eight home runs in an opening game.

This is the most home runs ever hit by a club on opening day.

“I was feeling good from the get-go,” Ryu was quoted as saying on MLB.com. “And getting that run support from my teammates definitely helped me in terms of getting in a good groove. From that point on, it was very comfortable because we had the lead and I felt good.”

Although Ryu is normally the fourth pitcher in the Dodgers’ starting rotation, this year Roberts assigned Ryu as the opening game starter due to the first three starters - Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Rich Hill - being injured.

“His heartbeat is so consistent and he never lets nerves or pressure get to him,” Roberts was quoted as saying.

“He was in complete command, both sides of the plate. Toward the second, third time around, he started using the top part of the zone. He made those guys feel him inside to open the outside part of the plate. He was just real good.”

Despite missing three months due to a groin injury last year, Ryu still had an impressive season by picking up seven wins and three losses with a 1.97 ERA.

Then, Ryu made history by becoming the first Korean pitcher to ever start in a World Series game. However, he wasn’t able to pick up a win.

Following the successful season, Ryu received a qualifying offer from the Dodgers, and by accepting it, he will be playing one more season in Los Angeles this year before becoming a free agent again.

As Ryu has gone through both shoulder and elbow surgery since 2015, this season he adopted a more structured approach to training in preparation for the season with former LG Twins training coach Kim Yong-il.

Getting an early start with Kim has certainly helped Ryu’s season. Since spring training, Ryu has shown potential for another successful season with a 3.00 ERA in 15 innings.

While Ryu had a strong start, Oh Seung-hwan of the Colorado Rockies didn’t have the best start in the season opener against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park in Florida.

Oh appeared as the Rockies’ closer and gave up one hit - a home run.

By giving up a big hit, Oh starts his season with a 9.00 ERA, but the Rockies still won the game 6-3.

Oh had an inconsistent spring training this year. After a solid start, he struggled in three straight games, giving up eight runs.

Then, in the following five games, Oh only gave up one run to finish his spring training with a 11.05 ERA in seven and one-third of an inning.

For Oh, too, this is an important year as he will become a free agent after this season. Since Oh will be 37 years old, his statistics will be considered one of the most important factors in his FA signing in addition to his health.

BY KANG YOO-RIM AND KIM HYO-KYUNG [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]


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