Toronto dropped a shocking four-game series to Texas at home at Rogers Centre from April 12-15. Four straight losses are four straight losses, but the fact that the opponent was Texas, a team that was in the thick of the American League wild card race, had a huge impact.
The immediate aftermath of the four-game series was such that even local Toronto media were concerned that “the Rays’ chances of making the postseason were slipping away.” With Tampa Bay firmly in the driver’s seat for the first American League wild card, the two remaining spots in the West were up for grabs, but the Rays were in a similar position to Texas before the series, having lost four straight. After 15 games, Toronto’s chances of making the postseason had dropped to 33.7 percent, according to Fangraphs.
But Toronto didn’t give up. They resurrected their chances by taking all three games of a three-game series against Boston from April 16-18. Coincidentally, Seattle also lost a three-game series to the Dodgers, and Texas was swept at Cleveland. On the 17th, Fangraphs gave Tampa Bay a 100% chance of making the postseason, Texas 78%, Seattle 63.3%, and Toronto 64.5%.
Then on the 18th, after Toronto’s dramatic 3-2 overtime win over Boston, the probability graph jumped again. Toronto jumped to 78.5%, while Seattle dropped to 52.8% and Texas dropped to 71.4%. The Toronto flip had begun.
Spearheading the charge was Hyun-jin Ryu, 36, who started against Boston on April 18. After undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow ligaments in June of last year, Hyun-jin Ryu returned to action in August of this year and was a key part of the team’s late-game comeback, pitching well in the early innings when it mattered most.
He didn’t go the full five innings. In 4⅔ innings, he threw 83 pitches, allowing six hits, two walks, and two strikeouts. He actually left a lot of runners on base. His walks per inning allowed (WHIP) rose to 1.12, up from 1.05 last season. But baseball is all about scoring runs. And Ryu did his part by limiting those runs with his brilliant crisis management skills.
Sportsnet, the Canadian sports network and host broadcaster in Toronto, had high hopes for Ryu before the game. While they didn’t expect him to go more than six innings, they were hopeful that he would be able to win the early game because of the quality of his pitches. Before the game, veteran Sportsnet commentator Buck Martinez said, “Ryu has pitched very well, with an ERA under three in eight games since returning from Tommy John surgery.”
Martinez continued, “He’s looking better and better with each outing. He’s getting more innings. Everything is flowing smoothly.” “My fastball is down in velocity, but it has good design. He’s dropped his curveball down to the low 60s,” he said of Ryu’s success.
With Boston sending seven right-handed hitters to the plate, Ryu had his work cut out for him. But he was able to work through them with his defense. At the end of his outing, the Sportsnet commentary team said, “It was a good pitching performance from Ryu and a good defensive play behind him.”
The defense came through in the first inning. Rafaela’s leadoff hit appeared to drop in front of the right fielder. It wasn’t a hard-hit ball, but it was a 75% chance of a hit, and Biggio made a diving catch in right field to keep Ryu out. The play allowed Ryu to get out of the first inning with a triple play and relax.
In the second inning, Ryu gave up an infield single to Devers and then a double to Duvall, his nemesis, to put runners on second and third. Here came some good defense from shortstop Bichette. Reyes’ daring throw home on a grounder to shortstop kept Devers at home. With Duvall on second base, it was difficult to catch the ball and make a good throw, but Bichette made a good play to help Ryu. He prevented a run from scoring.안전놀이터
“It was a great play by the shortstop, a great throw,” said Martinez of Sportsnet, “and it put runners on first and second with a chance to kill. It was a great play by B.P. and they couldn’t score.” Ryu then got two more outs to end the threat of runners on second and third. Ryu was especially grateful for the defense after the game. He had envisioned a scenario in which he would trade an out for a run.
In response to Ryu’s skillful pitching with runners on second and third in the third inning, Sportsnet commentators said, “Ryu got out of the jam for the second straight inning,” and “It was beautiful. The veteran pitcher got out of a difficult situation.” In the fourth inning, a fielding error by Chapman with one out was followed by a skillful throw to first base by David Schneider, who expertly avoided a runner at the plate on a McGwire hit.
After the game, TSN called Ryu “the master of the clutch.” In fact, Ryu retired seven batters in order with runners in scoring position. It’s a record he’s maintained this season. Ryu has a .087 batting average after two outs. His batting average with runners in scoring position drops to .162. Ryu’s crisis management skills saved Toronto.