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Ryu emerges as consistent starter

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin delivers against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday. The Korean lefty surrendered five earned runs in five innings of work. (AFP-Yonhap News)
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin delivers against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday. The Korean lefty surrendered five earned runs in five innings of work. (AFP-Yonhap News)
Despite his shaky outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers ended the first half of his rookie Major League Baseball season as one of the team’s most consistent starters.

The 26-year-old left-hander was charged with five earned runs on seven hits and two walks in five innings against Arizona. The five earned runs tied Ryu’s season high.

The Dodgers, though, beat the D-backs 7-5 in 14 innings.

Asked whether he was exhausted or hurt, Ryu said he simply didn’t pitch well.

“I didn’t feel particularly bad out there. I just did something that a starting pitcher should never do,” he said. “After our team went ahead, I let the other guys take the lead again.”

Before this game, the rookie had thrown eight straight quality starts ― at least six innings pitched while giving up three or fewer earned runs ― dating back to May 22.
Cincinnati Reds center fielder Choo Shin-soo scores a run against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday. The Korean went 3 for 4 with a double. (AP-Yonhap News)
Cincinnati Reds center fielder Choo Shin-soo scores a run against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday. The Korean went 3 for 4 with a double. (AP-Yonhap News)

Ryu will head into the All-Star break with a 7-3 record and a 3.09 ERA. He has struck out 93 batters and walked 39 in 116 2/3 innings.

The All-Star Game is set for next Tuesday at Citi Field.

Ryu is tied with former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke for the second most victories on the Dodgers, one behind another ex-Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw.

In the first half, Ryu made 18 starts, 14 of which were quality starts. He failed to pitch at least six innings only twice the whole season, and has thrown one complete game shutout, coming against the Los Angeles Angels on May 28.

Ryu looked unsettled in his major league debut against the San Francisco Giants on April 2. Ryu gave up 10 hits, all of them singles, and one earned run in 6 1/3 innings to take the loss.

The lefty found his groove and won his next two starts. Then on April 30 against the Colorado Rockies, Ryu struck out a season-high 12 batters. He has relied on his four-pitch repertoire for most of the season. In April, Ryu struck out more than a batter per inning, but he has since been getting opponents out on contact.

Since the beginning of May, his strikeout ratio has decreased, but he has been no less effective.

Ryu’s win over the Giants on July 5 came in large part thanks to that adjustment to his approach. Ryu had faced the Giants three times before that game and had been 0-2 against the National League West rivals, giving up 26 hits in 19 innings.

In the fourth meeting against the Giants, Ryu gave up just four hits and two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. He only struck out three, but he didn’t need to overpower hitters, as he consistently threw them off their rhythm with an array of fastball and breaking pitches.

Ryu, who bats right-handed, has also made some contributions at the plate. He even enjoyed a three-hit game against the Diamondbacks in April and is batting .222 in 36 at-bats with four RBIs.

Kim In-sik, Ryu’s former manager with the Eagles in the KBO, said Thursday his prized pupil is pitching better than he’d expected and added that Ryu’s win-loss record would be better had he received more run support.

Ryu still has room for improvement, Kim said.

“In the second half, he needs to have better command and try to work the corners,” Kim said. “He also needs to throw sharper breaking pitches.” (Yonhap News)

Cincinnati 6, Milwaukee 2

Boston 11, Seattle 4

Tampa Bay 4, Minnesota 3

Miami 6, Atlanta 2

NY Mets 7, San Francisco 2

Baltimore 6, Texas 1

Toronto 5, Cleveland 4

NY Yankees 8, Kansas City 1

Washington 5, Philadelphia 1

Detroit 8, Chicago White Sox 5

LA Angels 13, Chicago Cubs 2

St. Louis 5, Houston 4

Pittsburgh 5, Oakland 0

Colorado 5, San Diego 4
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