Once again, Ryu Hyun-jin couldn't solve the New York Yankees.
The South Korean starter for the Toronto Blue Jays was roughed up for three home runs against the Bronx Bombers at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, on Monday (local time), and was pulled after five innings with the Blue Jays trailing 5-2.
Ryu was charged with five earned runs in five innings. Three of the six hits he gave up went over the fence, including back-to-back jacks by Luke Voit and Aaron Hicks in the top of the first. He struck out five and walked two, while throwing 57 of 98 pitches for strikes.
Ryu's ERA ballooned from 2.51 to 3.19. He had allowed just four earned runs over his past six starts combined, spanning 34 innings, prior to this messy start.
The five runs allowed also tied Ryu's season high. He hadn't given up a long ball since Aug. 11 versus the Miami Marlins, five starts ago.
In three career starts against the Yankees, Ryu has served up seven home runs and 15 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings for an 8.80 ERA.
After Ryu left the game, the Blue Jays gave up another run in the top sixth to go down 6-2. But then they exploded for 10 runs in the bottom sixth to take a 12-6 lead and get Ryu off the hook.
In that stunning surge of offense, the Blue Jays sent 13 batters to the plate and put up a 10-spot on five hits, including a grand slam by Danny Jansen, along with four walks and an error.
They went on to win by 12-7.
In his previous meeting against the Yankees while pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers in August last year, Ryu had also allowed three home runs. And this game had an inauspicious start, as Voit and Hicks each hit a solo shot with one out in the first.
The Blue Jays got a run back in the bottom first with Rowdy Tellez's RBI double, and then Santiago Espinal came through with a game-tying single in the bottom second. And after those two early homers, Ryu settled down to keep the Yankees off the board over the next two innings.
But with one out in the fourth, Ryu gave up a solo home run to Miguel Andujar that put the Yankees back up by 3-2.
The fifth inning sealed Ryu's fate. DJ LeMahieu and Voit reached with consecutive singles. Ryu retired Hicks on a pop fly to catcher, but cleanup Clint Frazier broke things open with a double to left field that scored both runners.
Left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. made a good throw home that could have nabbed Voit, but catcher Danny Jansen couldn't squeeze the ball as he tried a swipe tag.
The bullpen took over to begin the sixth.
On offense, the Blue Jays wasted a few early chances to take the lead. They wasted two singles in the bottom third, and stranded a pair of runners again in the bottom fourth after starter Jordan Montgomery walked two batters.
Gurriel Jr.'s one-out double in the fifth didn't amount to anything, as Jonathan Villar grounded out and Travis Shaw struck out.
Down 6-2 heading into the bottom sixth and seemingly en route to a dispiriting loss, the Blue Jays suddenly came to life.
It all began with a leadoff walk by Santiago Espinal, the first of four free passes handed out by the Yankees bullpen in that inning. After one out, another walk and a single loaded the bases.
Tellez then hit a grounder to first baseman Voit, who mishandled the ball and allowed Espinal to come home to make it 6-3.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s sharp single to right cashed in two more runs. Gurriel Jr. then delivered a game-tying single to left.
Another walk loaded the bases for Travis Shaw, who drove in two runs with a single to center that put the Blue Jays ahead 8-6.
The fourth walk of the inning meant another bases-loaded opportunity for the Blue Jays, and Jansen cleared the bases with his first career grand slam, giving Toronto a 12-6 lead.
New York scored a run in the top ninth but that was it for the evening.
This was the first game of a crucial three-game series with huge pennant race implications. The Blue Jays now lead the Yankees by two games in second place in the American League (AL) East at 23-18.
The top two clubs from each of the six divisions will qualify for the postseason, joined by the next two best clubs in each league in the expanded playoff format. In all, eight clubs from each league will advance to the postseason. (Yonhap)