Ryu Hyun-jin “I was in good shape. I’ll show good form next game”

After 4,188 days, Ryu became the first pitcher to lose a game in his KBO comeback.

Hanwha Eagles pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin started the opening game of the 2024 KBO League against the LG Twins at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Wednesday. It was his first KBO regular season start in 4,188 days since Oct. 4, 2012, against the Daejeon Nexen.

After the 2012 season, Ryu decided to try his hand at MLB, signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming a big leaguer. He played for the Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays before returning to his hometown team Hanwha this year. Ryu signed an eight-year, 17 billion won contract with Hanwha, the highest in KBO history.

Ryu took the mound at Jamsil Stadium in front of loud cheers from Hanwha fans and took the loss, allowing five runs (two earned) on six hits and three walks in 3⅔ innings. Hanwha fell to 2-8 in the loss. He made a costly fielding error with two outs in the fourth inning and then gave up three consecutive hits. His fastball topped out at 150 mph, but he struggled with his changeup overall.

In the first inning, Ryu threw five straight fastballs to top hitter Park Hae-min. Two foul balls were called, and on a one-pitch, two-strike count, Park grounded out to shortstop on a 147-kilometer fastball. Hong Chang-ki followed with a 146-kilometer fastball to shortstop for the second out. Two batters later, Kim Hyun-soo hit a 147-kilometer fastball into the left-field seats. All nine of his pitches were fastballs.

But back-to-back singles in the bottom of the second inning shook him. He got leadoff hitter Austin to fly out to left field on a changeup, but walked Oh Hwan on a full count. With one out, Moon struck out Bo-Kyung Moon on a 112-kilometer curveball to right field for the second out.

With two on and one out, Park Dong-won singled to left and Moon Sung-joo gave up a three-run infield single. Shortstop Ha Joo-seok made a diving catch on a fly ball to the outfield. With the bases loaded, he gave up a double to left to Shin Min-jae.

Ryu settled down again in the third inning. He got leadoff hitter Hong Chang-ki to ground out to the second baseman. He walked Kim Hyun-soo on a full count, but Austin fouled out to the first baseman. Two batters later, Oh grounded out to the first baseman to end the inning.

Hanwha scored single runs in the third and fourth innings to tie the game at 2-2. However, Ryu gave up three unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth inning after a critical fielding error. He got Moon Bo-kyung to ground out to first base and Park Dong-won to ground out to shortstop for the second out. Hwa walked Moon Sung-joo on a full count, and his changeup was out of the zone.

He induced an infield grounder with a curveball against Shin Min-jae, but second baseman Moon Hyun-bin dropped it backward as if he didn’t know what to do with it. The throwing error put runners on first and third. Ryu then threw a 145-kilometer fastball to Park Hae-min for an RBI single to center field. LG regained the lead, 3-2, with runners on first and third.

Park Hae-min stole second base on a wild pitch with Hong Chang-ki at bat. With runners on second and third, Hong Chang-ki hit a single up the middle to bring both runners home. Ryu Hyun-jin gave up a single to Kim Hyun-soo and was replaced by Lee Tae-yang with runners on second and third.

After the game, Ryu expressed his gratitude, saying, “I was very happy to see so many fans shouting my name and cheering for me when I took the mound in the top of the first inning, and it was a new feeling.”

“I’ve been preparing well, and the weather was good today, so I had a good fastball and condition, but my pitches weren’t good, and the game didn’t go well,” he said. “Especially, I wanted to give the fans who came today the first win of the season, but it’s a shame. We’ll do better in the next game,” he said.



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