Ryu and Kim to start on same day for a third timeWill the third time be the charm?
For the third straight turn in their respective starting rotations, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays and Kim Kwang-hyun of the St. Louis Cardinals will take the mound on the same day.
Kim will pitch in the first game of a doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The first pitch is 2:15 p.m. Thursday, or 4:15 a.m. Friday in Seoul.
With Ryu on the hill, the Blue Jays will host the Boston Red Sox at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, at 6:37 p.m. Thursday locally, or 7:37 a.m. Friday in Korea.
Ryu and Kim, both MVP-winning aces more than a decade ago in the KBO, started on the same day for the first time on Aug. 17. Korean baseball fans hadn't seen two of their own start on the same day in the majors since 2007. Kim, in his first big league start, got a no-decision after 3 2/3 innings of one-run ball against the Chicago Cubs, while Ryu earned his second win of the season over the Baltimore Orioles thanks to six innings of one-run performance.
With both pitching on four days' rest, they got the ball again on Aug. 22. Kim earned his first big league victory after shutting down the Cincinnati Reds for six innings. Ryu held the Tampa Bay Rays to a run over five innings in a no-decision.
This time, they'll try to accomplish something that hasn't been done since Aug. 24, 2005 — two Korean starters collecting major league wins on the same day.
That day, Park Chan-ho of the San Diego Padres gave up just one earned run in five innings against the Houston Astros in a 7-4 victory. And Seo Jae-weong pitched seven strong innings for the New York Mets in an 18-4 drubbing of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Both Ryu and Kim are in fine form heading into this game.
Ryu has allowed just three earned runs in 22 innings across five starts in August, going 2-0 and lowering his ERA from 8.00 to 3.19. He hasn't walked anybody over the last two starts.
The Blue Jays are hoping Ryu will go deeper into games than he has so far this season. The left-hander has yet to pitch beyond the sixth inning. In his last outing, he needed 94 pitches just to get through five innings, including 30 pitches in the fifth against the pesky Rays hitters.
The Blue Jays' starting rotation is decimated, with three pitchers — Matt Shoemaker, Trent Thornton and Nate Pearson — all sidelined with injuries. The team had a bullpen day Wednesday and will need Ryu, their highest-paid pitcher, to lift some pressure off the shoulders of their relief corps.
Kim was a model of efficiency against the Reds last weekend, as he worked six innings on 83 pitches in a brisk contest that lasted just two hours and 15 minutes.
This will be Kim's second game against the Pirates. Kim began the season as the closer and recorded his first career save on Opening Day on July 14 against Pittsburgh. He allowed two runs — one unearned — on two hits in that game, as he finished off a 5-4 victory.
The Cardinals played four more games after that before going into a two-week hiatus due to a Covid-19 outbreak within the team. When the Cardinals returned to action, Kim joined the starting rotation, due to injuries to multiple starters.
Kim, who had been a starter for 13 years in the KBO, has allowed just one run in 9 2/3 innings in his new role.
The Pirates ranked last among 15 National League (NL) clubs with an on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) of .622. But they have fared better against left-handed pitchers, with an .822 OPS, putting them in fourth in the NL, and a .289 batting average, good enough for second place in the league.
More in Baseball
Dramatic final day in the KBO sees KT lock in second as Bears jump to third
Eight possible outcomes as top teams fight over playoff spots
Almost everything still to play for as KBO enters final week
NC Dinos clinch first KBO regular season title
Choi Ji-man is first Korean to pick up a World Series hit