Big day for Korean pitchers sees two starts, one win, zero losses
For the first time in 13 years, two Korean pitchers started in major league games on the same day.
Kim Kwang-hyun of the St. Louis Cardinals and Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays both took to the mound to open for their respective clubs on Monday. This was the first time since April 15, 2007, that two Korean pitchers have started on the same day in the MLB.
Playing a double header against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Kim made his first start for the Cardinals. Although Kim made his major league debut in the Cardinals’ bullpen back in opening game, he was bumped up to starter after Covid-19 interrupted the rotation.
It was a long-awaited start for Kim, who was assigned as starter on Aug. 11 but had to wait a week after that game was canceled.
Kim didn't get off to the best start, appearing on the mound in the first half accidentally wearing the team's batting practice hat. Looking nervous, Kim loaded the bases by giving up a walk to Anthony Rizzo and a double to Javier Baez with one out. But he quickly picked up his pace, striking out Ian Happ and forcing David Bote into a grounder to get out of the inning. He returned in the second inning with the correct headwear.
“Even though it was bases loaded, my thought process was, if I get one out and a runner scores, that’s O.K. with me,” Kim was quoted as saying. “So I tried to be very comfortable in that situation, even though it’s not easy. So that was what my mindset was during the bases-loaded [situation].”
Following the first inning, Kim threw two scoreless innings but was pulled out in the fourth inning after giving up a solo home run to Happ.
Although Kim left the mound when the two teams were tied at 1-1, the Cardinals ended up picking up a 3-1 win by scoring two at the top of the seventh. Since Kim didn’t toss the full five innings for a win, he walked away with a no-decision.
“I was a little nervous,” Kim was quoted as saying through an interpreter on the St. Louis Cardinals website. “It’s been a while since I’ve pitched, so I’m looking forward to the next game.”
Kim left the game having tossed three and two-thirds of an inning with three walks, three hits and a run while striking out one. Kim tossed 57 pitches and his ERA is now down to 3.86 after two appearances.
Following their win in the first game of the double headers, the Cardinals weren’t able to continue their streak as they lost the second game 5-4.
A little over two hours after Kim’s start, Ryu started for the Blue Jays during a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore on Monday.
Despite Ryu’s slow start to the season, he seems to have found his pace as he tossed another six innings giving up just one run. Throughout the six innings, Ryu gave up four hits and a run while striking out three. Ryu tossed a total of 86 pitches today.
Ryu started the game strong by tossing three scoreless innings, and the Blue Jays gave him some breathing room by scoring four runs at the top of the third. Although Ryu gave up a run at the bottom of the fourth inning, he successfully managed to keep the Blue Jays’ lead by tossing scoreless fifth and sixth innings.
“I was just trying to get as much weak contact as possible,” Ryu was quoted as saying on Blue Jays website, “because they’re aggressive as they can get. I think that not staying on one particular pitch definitely helps, so giving them different looks and different speeds has made things more successful recently.”
Once Ryu left the mound, the Blue Jays scored three more runs in the next three innings to pick up a 7-2 win.
Along with the variety of pitches Ryu threw against the Baltimore hitters, the number of walks also stood out — none.
“My command has been more of what I want it to be,” Ryu was quoted as saying. “Toward the later innings, I felt good. The velocity isn’t necessarily there yet, but there is some life to it, which is getting the result I want, so I’ve been happy.”
Just as Ryu said, looking at his statistics for the month of August, Ryu has a 1.06 ERA, which is a lot lower than his 8.00 ERA in July. With his second win of the season, Ryu now has a 3.46 ERA for the 2020 season.
Following Ryu’s victory, the Blue Jays once again complimented Ryu by posting on their twitter saying, “Ryu was a STAR tonight,” and “Get Ryused to this,” pointing out his impressive stats for this month.
Elsewhere in the major league, Choo Shin-soo of the Texas Rangers appeared in all three weekend game against the Colorado Rockies, adding two RBIs on Saturday. The veteran now has a 0.226 batting average for the 2020 season with six runs, 14 hits, three home runs and 10 RBIs from 62 at bats.
Choi Ji-man of the Tampa Bay Rays also appeared in all three games against the Blue Jays over the weekend. On Sunday Choi added another run to bring his batting average to 0.180 with seven runs, 11 hits, one home run and seven RBIs from 61 at bats for the 2020 season.
BY KANG YOO-RIM [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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