Wouldn’t this be heart-wrenching?
The Toronto Blue Jays won 3-1 in an away game against the 2023 Major League Cleveland Guardians held at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio, USA on the 8th (hereinafter Korean time).
In fact, the road to victory was arduous. Ryu Hyun-jin, who came out as the starting pitcher, pitched well without a single hit in 4 innings, walking 1, striking out 2 and allowing no runs, but was unable to get on the mound in the 5th inning. It was because Oscar Gonzalez’s assault ball hit Ryu Hyun-jin’s right knee at the end of the 4th inning, making it difficult to continue pitching any longer.
Although Hyun-jin Ryu suddenly left the mound, Toronto was able to overwhelm Cleveland with a relief strategy, starting with Jay Jackson’s relief in the bottom of the 5th inning, followed by Genesis Cabrera, Eric Swanson, Imi Garcia, Tim Mayza, and Jordan Hicks. He pierced the protruding variable with the ‘inhae tactic’, in which only six bullpen pitchers were put in.안전놀이터
Toronto also met Cleveland the next day, the 9th. The key was to minimize the consumption of the bullpen pitching staff for Toronto, which was just digesting the schedule of ’17 consecutive matches of death’.
Toronto’s starting pitcher is Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi. On this day, Kikuchi pitched flawlessly. He pitched 95 pitches in 7 innings, getting only 3 hits and allowing only 1 walk while allowing 1 run. There were 6 strikeouts. As a left-handed fire bowler, his four-seam fastball with a maximum velocity of 97 miles (156 km) was powerful, and he was in excellent condition to record a maximum speed of 96 miles (154 km) in the 7th inning.
The only loss came in the second inning. After allowing lead batter Oscar Gonzalez to go on base with an infield hit to shortstop, Ramon Loreano hit a double at the right time to the left and allowed one run. In the bottom of the 3rd inning, when first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. caught a ground ball from lead batter Steven Kwan, Kikuchi covered first base and stepped on first base to catch the ball given by Guerrero Jr. with his bare hands.
Nevertheless, instead of winning, Kikuchi was given a defeat. This is because the match ended in Toronto’s 0-1 defeat. The Toronto lineup did not score a point even though they had 9 hits. Kikuchi was looking for his first double-digit win since his major league debut, but it was his fourth loss of the season. At least, he took comfort in lowering his season ERA to 3.53.
Although Toronto lost 0-1 and Kikuchi was also listed as a losing pitcher, Kikuchi’s 7 innings seems to give momentum to Toronto’s bullpen operation.
On this day, the official website of Major League Baseball (MLB.com) pointed out the point, “In the game the previous day (8th), reliever pitchers covered the vacancy of Ryu Hyun-jin, who was injured, but Kikuchi delivered 7 innings with perfect timing.” The bullpen pitching team had to be started early as Ryu Hyun-jin suddenly left the mound the day before. Toronto sent only one bullpen pitcher following Kikuchi. Cabrera, who took the mound in the bottom of the 8th inning, allowed one scoreless inning.
After the game, Kikuchi said in an interview with ‘MLB.com’, “I don’t think too much when I pitch now.” He said that a changed mind is the secret to good fighting.
Meanwhile, Ryu Hyun-jin is scheduled to start normally in the home game against the Chicago Cubs on the 14th, as he has not suffered a major injury. Toronto coach John Schneider said, “Ryu Hyun-jin will be able to start the next game. The X-ray examination result was negative and his condition is much better.”