+ A

Ryu makes unsuccessful return

Dodgers’ pitcher got first loss of the season, but it wasn’t all bad
Apr 22,2019
이미지뷰
Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers walks to the mound during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on Saturday. [GETTY IMAGES/YONHAP]
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin returned from injury but picked up his first loss of the season against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.

Throughout five and two-thirds of an inning, Ryu, who returned to the mound for the first time in 12 days due to a left groin injury, gave up six hits and two runs at Miller Park. Of the six hits, two were home runs by Christian Yelich.

After a fly out in the first inning, Ryu allowed a solo home run to Yelich at the bottom of the third, over the left center field. Then, Ryu gave up another home run to Yelich at the bottom of the sixth inning, this time over the right field. Yelich is off to a great start this year, hitting 13 home runs during the first month of the 2019 season.

Although Ryu picked up the loss, it wasn’t a total failure. He gave up only one walk while striking out nine in 92 pitches.

“You have to give him a lot of credit, especially the first one, to be honest I felt I executed my pitch,” Ryu was quoted as saying on MLB.com. “He just got there and put it in the stands. The second one was more of a mistake. I didn’t throw my curve the first two times, and I switched things up and he got to the curve. You can’t deny he’s the hottest hitter at the moment, and he just punished me like that.”

Once Ryu left the mound, the Brewers added three more runs while the Dodgers’ batters stayed silent throughout the game.

With a 5-0 loss, the Dodgers also ended their six-game winning streak. Ryu has now picked up two wins and a loss in four games, with a 3.10 ERA.

“One good takeaway from this outing is, I came out of it healthy,” Ryu was quoted as saying on MLB.com.

Despite giving away two home runs to Yelich, manager Dave Roberts complimented Ryu’s performance.

“[Yelich is] tough,” Roberts was quoted as saying. “Obviously he’s a really talented bat-to-ball guy. He thinks through at-bats, how pitchers will attack him. I thought Hyun-jin did a really good job, I really did. It just shows how locked in he really is.”

Ryu was added to the Dodgers’ 10-day injured list after his third game of the season against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 8 due to a left groin strain. During the game, Ryu left the mound after tossing one and two-thirds of an inning.

The left groin injury has become a recurring problem. Ryu missed three months due to the exact same injury in 2018. Since he accepted a qualifying offer this season, injuries are going to be crucial in his performance as he will become a free agent once again when the season ends.

When Ryu joined the Dodgers in 2013, he managed to pick up 14 wins in his first two seasons. Yet things started to go bad in his third season, when he underwent shoulder surgery in May 2015.

Since shoulder surgeries are crucial for pitchers, not many observers expected Ryu to make a successful return. At the time, doctors in Korea expected Ryu’s career in the majors to end.

Having appeared in only one game in 2016, Ryu underwent another surgery on his left elbow in September that year. Despite multiple surgeries that could possibly end his career, Ryu worked harder than anyone to make a successful comeback.

In the 2017 season, he picked up five wins and nine losses. In 2018, he pitched in 82 and one-third of an inning and picked up seven wins and three losses. Although Ryu’s three-month absence could have impacted his last season before free agency negatively, he still finished the regular season strong.

Last season was truly the best one of his career as Ryu became the first Korean pitcher to ever start in a World Series game. This season, Ryu got off to a strong start, picking up a win in the Dodgers’ season opener. By doing so, Ryu became the first Korean pitcher since Park Chan-ho in 2001 to do so in the majors.

BY PARK SO-YOUNG, KANG YOO-RIM [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]