Ryu Hyun-jin of Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch against the Houston Astros (Yonhap)
It was all of South Korean baseball fans' worst nightmares rolled into one.
Two major league starters from South Korea, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays and Kim Kwang-hyun of the St. Louis Cardinals, got the nod on the same day -- Friday evening in America, when it was Saturday morning in their home country. And both took losses, while Kim exited his start early with a lower back injury.
They made four regular season starts on the same day last year and both notched victories on Sept. 24.
But fans' hopes of seeing them in the win column together were dashed quickly on this day. They instead lost on the same day for the first time in their major league careers.
Ryu was roughed up for a season-worst seven runs -- one unearned -- on seven hits, including two home runs, in 5 2/3 innings against the Houston Astros. He also gave up a season-high three walks while striking out one at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, the Blue Jays' temporary home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Astros were up 7-0 when Ryu was yanked and went on to win 13-1.
Ryu fell to 5-3 and his ERA went up from 2.62 to 3.23.
Kim took himself out of the game against the Cincinnati Reds before the top of the fourth inning at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
After throwing warmup pitches, Kim walked off the field under his own power, accompanied by a team trainer, and the Cardinals later said Kim had lower back tightness. It's the same condition that kept him sidelined at the start of this season.
Kim too gave up a pair of home runs. The Reds were ahead 3-0 when Kim exited the game and took the game 6-4.
Kim has now lost four straight starts. He's 1-4 and saw his ERA rise from 3.65 to 4.05.
Neither pitcher had given up more than one home run in any game this year until their latest starts.
Ryu admitted afterward that he made too many mistakes against the hard-hitting Astros lineup.
"I tried to be aggressive early in the count and that led to a lot of hits," Ryu said. "I'll have to rewatch the game tomorrow and figure out what went wrong."
Both home runs that Ryu gave up came off a changeup, usually his bread-and-butter pitch.
"I felt my changeups were just fine, but I'll have to go back and watch the clips," Ryu said. "I knew Correa had hit a home run as soon as he made contact, but I didn't think Maldonado's ball would leave the park."
Ryu pitched in cold, rainy conditions in his previous start in Cleveland, gutting out five innings of two-run ball then. The left-hander said the Cleveland game had no bearing on his latest outing and added: "I feel great. There's no issue whatsoever."