In this Associated Press photo, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches against the Baltimore Orioles in the bottom of the sixth inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore on Sunday. (Yonhap)
One pitcher held up his end of the bargain. The other failed to join him in the win column.
For the third time in 2021, the two South Korean left-handers in the majors, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays and Kim Kwang-hyun of the St. Louis Cardinals, started on the same day. And once again, they failed to pick up a victory together.
Ryu got his "W" taken care of earlier Sunday afternoon in Baltimore, where he kept the Orioles to a run on three hits in seven innings in a 7-4 Toronto victory.]
Ryu's command issues with his changeup, normally his go-to pitch, continued against the Orioles. The lone Orioles run against Ryu came via a solo shot by Trey Mancini off a changeup. Ryu only threw the pitch 17 percent of the time, well below his season average of 29.1 percent.
"I've been giving up home runs on that pitch, and my misses have been too much outside the zone," Ryu said. "I've been watching videos, and I even threw in the bullpen. I threw a few good changeups later in this game and hopefully I'll be able to build on that. I'll do whatever it takes to fix the problem."
In the Sunday Night Baseball game, televised across America on ESPN, Kim gave up just one run in four innings against the Atlanta Braves on the road. But Kim got literally zero offensive support, as the Cardinals were held hitless by Atlanta starter Drew Smyly through 5 1/3 innings and ended up losing 1-0.
Kim fell to 1-5 for the year. He's still looking for his first victory since April 23.
Kim only threw 47 pitches through four innings but was lifted for a pinch hitter, Lane Thomas, in the top fifth as the Cardinals looked for some offensive spark. Thomas flied out to center and the Cardinals finished with just two infield singles for the game.
The lone blemish for Kim was the solo home run by Ronald Acuna Jr. in the third inning. Kim left his 2-0 slider on the inner part of the plate, and Acuna blasted it over the left-center field wall for the only run of the contest.
"I fell behind in the count, and I was trying to throw a strike there," Kim said. "It wasn't a bad pitch, and (Acuna) hit it well. I am also disappointed about throwing two straight balls in that at-bat."
This was the second game of a doubleheader for the Cardinals. They won the first game 9-1 behind a seven-inning complete game effort by starter Adam Wainwright.
The Cardinals' bullpen was well rested, especially after the teams had their Saturday game rained out. Kim said he figured he would be kept on a short leash in his game, so that relievers would get some work in before another day off Monday.
"As long as it helps the team, I don't mind getting pulled early in the game so that our bullpen guys get their work," Kim said. "I didn't necessarily consider myself a starter today. I felt like I was just the first pitcher out of the bullpen."
Back on June 4, both Ryu and Kim suffered losses. Eleven days later, the two left-handers settled for no-decisions.
In 2020, Ryu and Kim started on the same day four times during the regular season, and both won on Sept. 24. They were the first pair of South Korean starters to win on the same day in the majors in 15 years.
Both the Blue Jays and the Cardinals are off on Monday, and the two South Korean pitchers could start together again on the weekend: Ryu at home against the Orioles during a four-game set and Kim in St. Louis against the Pittsburgh Pirates during a four-game series. (Yonhap)