Not only does he have exceptional command, but he’s so unpredictable that his own receivers sometimes have a hard time anticipating what’s to come and the few base runners who barely arrive almost never feel comfortable enough to even attempt. a stolen base. This adds up to a frustrating combination for opponents and a career ERA of less than 3.00 for Ryu.
Under these circumstances, the Blue Jays have gotten used to winning when Ryu takes the mound. In fact, they had never lost Ryu’s back-to-back starts before falling 5-2 to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, but poor defense cost the Blue Jays early, White Sox left-hander Dallas Keuchel knocked off balance. visitors. all night and Chicago won the series 2-1.
The resulting loss puts the Blue Jays 31-29, but it would be unfair to attribute much of that to Ryu, who pitched much better than against the Houston Astros last Friday. Working with receiver Riley Adams for the first time, Ryu pitched six innings, allowing three runs on five hits while striking out three.
“He does what he does,” manager Charlie Montoyo said afterwards. “He made an adjustment and kept us in the game. He wasn’t that precise in locating all of his throws, but good enough. Good enough to keep us in the game until the end.
To be fair, Ryu’s line would have been very different if he had had passable defense behind him. With a strikeout late in the first inning, Yermin Mercedes kicked a ball up the left field wall with the kind of unbalanced swing that Ryu so often generates.
The flying ball had an expected batting average of .230 meaning it should be an out much more often than not, but Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s reading on the ball was wrong. He turned to the right, towards the foul line, but the ball went towards the left center. Realizing his mistake, he turned to his left and rushed forward, but it was too late. The ball landed behind him and Mercedes reached second place with a brace.
The play error also meant there were two outs, rather than three, when the next batter, Yoan Moncada, lined up. And so the round continued, first with a double from Jose Abreu and then with a home run from Yasmani Grandal. By the time Ryu returned to the opening goal, the White Sox were leading 3-0.
“He will be the first to tell you that he should play this game,” Montoyo said. “If Gurri had made this game it would have been a different game, but I see this guy working hard every day with (first base and outfield coach) Mark Budzinski and I know it will get better. But talk about this game? Yes, it probably cost us a few runs.
For Gurriel Jr., the poorly chosen route corresponds to a larger pattern. Too often his readings cost him chances of catching playable flying balls and while his throwing arm can compensate for some of those mistakes, it’s not a good thing if your starting fielder consistently makes the position difficult. By using Teoscar Hernandez over Gurriel Jr. in situations that demand defense, the Blue Jays suggest they prefer others when possible.
Of course, Gurriel Jr. has always been hitting, and that aspect of his game is vitally important for a team that struggled to score against Keuchel on Thursday.
In the fifth, Marcus Semien followed singles from Joe Panik and Santiago Espinal with a line down the middle that scored Panik and put the Blue Jays on the board. But with runners in the corners and two outs, Keuchel pulled Bo Bichette at bat to end the threat and preserve Chicago’s lead.
The next inning, the Blue Jays scored again when Gurriel Jr. hit Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who had struck down the middle to reach and climbed to third on a wild pitch. In the end, that was as close as the Blue Jays would get.
“We have one of the best kills in baseball,” Montoyo said. “This whole series, we have to give credit to their pitching. They did a good job. We were dealing with good pitching and that’s what happens when you face good pitching.
Relievers Anthony Castro and Joel Payamps each allowed a relief run, as the Blue Jays’ search for quality innings out of the reliever pen continued with mixed results. After an impressive outing on Wednesday, Castro certainly deserves more chances in close games, even though he gave Adam Engel a home run this time around.
“He deserved it,” Montoyo said before the game. “You’re going to see it more in high leverage places. “
Afterward, the Blue Jays prepared for a late-night flight to Boston followed by a four-game streak at Fenway Park. There’s a good chance Cavan Biggio will join them at some point this weekend, as he continues to progress from the neck injury that put him on the injured list. And while George Springer’s schedule remains uncertain, Nate Pearson could work his way into the big leagues after striking out six batters in five scoreless innings in triple A on Thursday.
Whatever reinforcements are on the way, the challenges continue for the Blue Jays. After four games at Fenway, another streak with the New York Yankees awaits next week before the schedule finally shuts down and the chance to beat less competition finally arrives.