The southpaw ace was in control throughout his seven innings of work in a 7-2 win over Cleveland, the type of unleveraged contest envisioned as a regularity on Toronto’s idyllic summer nights when he signed on the dotted line.
Backed by home runs from George Springer and Teoscar Hernandez in the first inning, and a few well-executed situational strikes later in the game that swelled the opening margin, Ryu led the Blue Jays to their fourth win in five outings since returning to the house in front of a crowd of 14,270.
“It meant a lot to me,” he said through performer JS Park. “The mood right now, just back in Toronto, is really good. The simple fact that we can still play in front of our true home fans in Toronto means a lot to us and amplifies everything we do here. “
Among the many idiosyncrasies caused by the club’s pandemic move is the fact that Jose Berrios, acquired on Friday in a trade deadline blockbuster, launched the Dome as a member of the Blue Jays ahead of Ryu.
Regardless, Ryu made sure it was worth the wait, allowing just two runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts in his sixth start in seven innings this season, extending his recent rebound after hitting a rut just before the star break.
Feeding the load was a slight increase in speed – his four-stitch machine sat at 90.6 mph, exactly one mph above its season average, and touched 93.6 – while his change continues to get back into shape, generating three puffs, two called strikes, three fouls and four outs.
Also firmer was a cutter he used 32 times, a high in the game, throwing him to an average of 87.7 mph, two mph above his season average, while his curve ball drove at five puffs on nine swings.
“I don’t think it’s just my change and my cutter,” Ryu said. “The curve ball and even my fastball, I was able to put a lot of guys in today with these throws, especially with all my throws that worked for me the last outings and even today where I could hit the guys. and take them out at an earlier rate. This led to a good result today.
The 99 shots were the most he’d thrown since a 100-pitch start on June 20 in Baltimore, which should set him well for his next outing in Sunday’s series final against the Boston Red Sox.
The Blue Jays are loaded for this series, with Alek Manoah slated to kick off the first game on Friday and Berrios and Robbie Ray handling tasks in Saturday’s doubles schedule, the third ever at the Dome and the first since April 17, 2018, the next day a piece of ice fell from the CN tower and pierced a hole in the roof.
This scenario prepares Steven Matz and Ross Stripling for next Tuesday’s doubles program in Anaheim, at which point the Blue Jays will decide whether to return to a five-way rotation.
“The most important thing for us as a team is to make sure that we have a winning spirit and to try to compete there,” said Ryu, “and to make sure we try to get every game out. on the winning side. “
In the meantime, they’ll have to attack to keep chewing on pitchers like they did with Zach Plesac. Springer opened things up with his 41st career home run and after Bo Bichette shot a single with two strikeouts, Hernandez fouled three shots with two strokes and took a slider in the dirt before shooting a ball. quick on the outside edge above the wall to the right.
He’s been very successful hitting the ball from the right side this season, a product of his work over the past three seasons to become a more complete hitter, and the home run was an example of his maturation.
“He was throwing me a lot of breaking pitches early in the beat,” Hernandez said. “I was trying to get a fastball in the area that I can drive the other way around because I think they were trying to go far with me. That’s what they did (Monday) and I made this adjustment. He left one in the strike zone and I put a good swing on it. “
Breyvic Valera, who will see more action with Cavan Biggio on the injured list due to what the club called the narrowness of the mid-back, scored a late-fourth goal after Cleveland crossed out a point in the top half. The Blue Jays took the lead in the fifth on a Bichette fly sacrifice and a single Hernandez RBI while Springer added a fly sacrifice in the sixth.
Corey Dickerson, activated from IL to take Biggio’s place on the roster, went 0-for-4 in his debut for the Blue Jays but put the ball into play in all four at-bat appearances. His lefty stick will be inserted into the outfield mix, likely starting against tougher righties and coming off the bench at other times as the Blue Jays try to maximize the field’s advantages with him and others.
Dickerson was at DH in this one, but manager Charlie Montoyo made several late-game defensive changes to put on his best defense, which he plans to do more often. Randal Grichuk replaced Lourdes Gurriel Jr., moving Hernandez from left to right, while Santiago Espinal replaced Valera in third place.
“We did everything right,” Montoyo said. “It’s one of those games where, as a coach, you’re happy because the defense was good, the execution at plate was really good and, of course, the pitching was exceptional. “
Indeed, it was, and nearly 20 months after Ryu joined the Blue Jays he started a game under an open roof and his first round at Rogers Center went exactly as the team did. hoped.