May 1, 2017
Ryu Hyun-jin throws to the San Francisco Giants on April 24. (AP)
of the Los Angeles Dodgers has collected his first big league win since 2014.
Ryu held the Philadelphia Phillies to a run on three hits over 5 1/3 innings at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Sunday and earned his first win of the season as the Dodgers won 5-3.
This was Ryu's first win in Major League Baseball since Aug. 31, 2014, when he pitched against the San Diego Padres. The South Korean left-hander missed all of 2015 following a shoulder surgery and made only one start last year before shutting down with elbow problems. Prior to this game, he went 0-4 in his last four starts in the 2017 season.
Ryu also had his first nine-strike-out game for the first time since Sept. 6, 2014. With his latest outing, Ryu lowered his ERA from 4.64 to 4.05.
"It's a new feeling and I feel like I'm starting fresh," Ryu said of his long-awaited win. "I never thought it was going to take this long (to get my first win)."
Ryu couldn't dodge a bullet early against the Phillies. He allowed a leadoff triple to Cesar Hernandez as right fielder Yasiel Puig failed to catch a fly ball and surrendered a single to Freddy Glavis, which gave a 1-0 lead to the visitors.
However, it turned out that was the only run Ryu conceded in this game.
Ryu then gave up a walk to Daniel Nava, but he retired the next three batters -- two via strikeouts -- to close the first inning. The Dodgers leveled the score right away against Phillies starter Nick Pivetta, who was making his MLB debut, on three hits.
Ryu easily wrapped up the second inning by getting two ground outs before striking out Pivetta.
The Dodgers then took the lead next, thanks to Chris Taylor who hit a solo shot. With one out, Enrique Hernandez hit a double and Ryu drew a walk, but the Dodgers failed to score extra runs.
Ryu cruised through the next two innings, striking out four, inducing two fly outs, and walking one. In the bottom fourth, he delivered a single to center fielder Aaron Altherr, but failed to come home as Andrew Toles grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Ryu gave up a ground-rule double to Cameron Rupp to start the fifth, but catcher Yasmani Grandal picked off the Phillies man at second. The southpaw then retired Pivetta to strike out swinging and got Hernandez to a ground ball to shortstop.
In the sixth, Ryu allowed a walk to Galvis after nine pitches and earned his ninth strikeout of the night from Nava. However, that was the end for Ryu as he was relieved by Sergio Romo, who struck out two batters next to end the inning.
The Dodgers gave some breathing room to home fans and Ryu in the sixth inning as Toles bashed a three-run home run to make it 5-1. The Dodgers surrendered two runs in the ninth, but were able to extend their winning streak to four.
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin speaks in a press conference after winning a Major League Baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on April 30, 2017. (Yonhap)
"I knew we're going to win this game," Ryu said. "Our hitters were getting into their rhythm, so I thought about winning."
Ryu made 93 pitches, 56 of them for strikes. He threw 35 changeups, compared to 32 fastballs, 16 curves and 10 sliders. Four of his nine strikeouts against the Phillies came on curves, while he also produced three strikeouts on changeups. He also threw a 148 kilometer-per-hour fastball during the game.
"I threw curves with confidence from the beginning, and I think my curves played a more important role today than other ones," he said.
Ryu, who collected 14 wins in his first two seasons in the MLB, said his form is getting better like his heydays in the past. He joined the Dodgers in 2013 from the Hanwha Eagles in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO).
"My control and fitness is fine, and I think I'm getting there," he said. "I still need to improve velocity a little bit, but other than that, I think I'm good."
Ryu said he doesn't have a specific goal for this season other than to appear on the mound regularly.
"I'm sure many South Korean fans have watched my games early in the morning, and I'm happy that I was able to finally deliver my first win," he said. "It's meaningful for me, too. I will try to show better performance next."