Ryu Hyun-jin, who always covered mistakes, why Peraza was an exception

“I honestly don’t think I was able to control my facial expressions at the time.”

Hanwha Eagles left-handed ace Ryu Hyun-jin, 37, earned his 99th career victory on Nov. 11 against the Doosan Bears in Jamsil, South Korea. Ryu threw a six-hit shutout, allowing one run on 94 pitches with two walks and eight strikeouts in a 3-0 victory. The win came 4,216 days after his last victory in South Korea, on Sept. 25, 2012, against the Jamsil Doosan Bears (one run in seven innings). Thanks to Ryu’s first no-hitter since returning to Korea, Hanwha snapped a five-game losing streak and remained in fifth place with a 9-7 record on the season.

Ryu Hyun-jin wanted to win more than anyone. Ryu shook up the Korean baseball world when he signed an eight-year, $17 billion contract with Hanwha in February. It signaled the end of his 10-year major league career and the return of a monster. He boasted the highest salary in KBO history, and he was able to turn Hanwha into a team capable of finishing in the top five.

However, Ryu hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, taking two losses in three games this season, with an 8.36 ERA in 14 innings pitched. He is currently the only Hanwha starter without a win. Furthermore, Hanwha has lost five straight games dating back to the last game against the Gochuk Kiwoom Heroes, when Ryu struggled with nine runs in four and a third innings, dropping the team from first place to a tie for fifth.

Ryu was eager to redeem himself. Speaking to the media after the victory, Ryu said, “It feels like (the first win) is late, but it’s a lot late. We’ve been struggling because we’ve been giving up runs in one inning after another, but today (the 11th), I think we got through it. The losing streak started because of me. Before the game, I met with the head coach in the hotel sauna and told him that I would definitely stop the bad start,” he said.

Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho said, “Ryu Hyun-jin pitched a perfect game, shutting down the opposing batters and ending the team’s losing streak with his first win back. It was a very seasoned pitching performance,” praising the ace, who finally got a burden off his mind.

His desperation showed in his pitches. His fastball had a maximum velocity of 148 kilometers and an average velocity of 145 kilometers, which means he had full power. His changeup, which he hadn’t been able to fully utilize because it hadn’t been working well, was also working well today. He threw almost an equal number of fastballs (32) and changeups (31), with a good mix of curveballs (19) and cutters (12). His curveball was also an effective pitch, generating 16 of his 19 strikes.

Ryu continued to pitch well until the fifth inning. He had runners on base three times, all after the second inning, including a walk to Yang Seok-hwan in the second inning, a walk to Kim Jae-hwan in the fourth inning, and a single to Kim Ki-yeon in the fifth inning. The game plan of getting quick outs worked, especially as Doosan batters struggled to respond to the changeup and curveball.

Meanwhile, Hanwha’s bats were aggressively driving in runs. Doosan, looking for its first series sweep of the season behind three-game winner Brandon Waddell, opened the scoring in the top of the first inning with a leadoff double to left-center field by Choi In-ho. With two outs, Noh Si-hwan singled up the middle to make it 1-0. In the top of the fourth inning, after a leadoff walk to Chae Eun-sung, Ahn Chi-hong doubled to left center to extend the lead to 2-0. It wasn’t a comfortable lead, but with Ryu’s command, even two runs felt pretty big.

Then, in the bottom of the sixth inning. Right fielder Jonathan Peraza made a ridiculous defensive error. One batter later, Heo Kyung-min hit a line drive to right field, but Peraza didn’t catch the ball correctly with his glove and dropped it, putting runners on first and second. Ryu’s face hardened for a moment, and in the aftermath of the error, Yang’s next at-bat was a wild pitch, putting runners on first and second.

But Ryu didn’t give up a run. He inadvertently gave Peraza two more chances to make amends by getting Yang Ji and Kim Jae-hwan to fly out to right field. After the mistake, Peraza 토토사이트 apologized, using one hand to support his glove and two hands to catch the ball. He even shook his head and admitted to himself that it was a ridiculous mistake.

Usually, Ryu responded to the mistake with a generous amount of grace, but not on this day. He was joking around after the win, but not after the loss. “Honestly, I think I lost control of my expression a little bit,” Ryu said of Peraza’s error. I was the center fielder, so I tried to concentrate a little bit more. Coincidentally, the last two pitches went to Giro (Peraza), so I don’t think he was more focused than me,” he said, laughing.

Aside from the mistakes, Ryu was able to pitch well with solid defensive support from the field. In the first inning, first baseman Ahn Chi-hong made two leaping catches of fly balls to take the pressure off Ryu’s shoulders.

Ryu said, “When a play like that comes early in the game, it makes the starting pitcher feel comfortable. You’re grateful. You can get outs quickly. The batters were focused, and it was good except for Peraza,” he said, eliciting another laugh.

Ryu was most pleased with the revival of his changeup. “I was having trouble with my changeup when I came to Korea, but I threw it differently, so I’m happy with it. My grip was the same and my throw was fast. It had more speed than the previous game. It was similar to an angled fastball and induced a lot of false swings and bunt hits.”

The pain of the previous game was forgotten that day. His ERA, which had risen to 8.36, was lowered to 5.85 thanks to the no-hitter. “I was a little shocked that day,” Ryu said. From then on, I tried to forget about it because it was early in the game, and I think that’s why I pitched well today,” said Ryu.

The Hanwha fans, who had been waiting for Ryu’s victory more than anyone else, cheered loudly as he walked off the mound. Even after he finished the game with a win, they continued to chant “Ryu Hyun-jin” and shout “Thank you for coming back.”

“I should have heard it a long time ago,” Ryu said. I think it was better (to hear the fans’ cheers) after the game. These days, Hanwha fans come to every game, home and away, and support us, so I think we need to focus as much as they do so that our players can play a good game.”

Ryu will now try to reach 100 career wins. Before the start of the regular season, Ryu said it would be meaningful to reach 100 wins with two more wins.

“I prepare for every game with the same mindset,” he said. I think if I do what a starting pitcher can do, like I did today (Nov. 11), the 100 wins will come. I will always prepare the same from the first inning until I come off the mound,” he said.

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