By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Oct. 1 (Yonhap) — The Toronto Blue Jays’ South Korean starter Ryu Hyun-jin picked the worst time possible to have his worst start of the year.
The left-hander was roughed up for seven runs — three earned — on eight hits, including two home runs, in 1 2/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 2 of the American League (AL) Wild Card Series at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Wednesday.
He was lifted with two outs in the second inning and the Blue Jays down 7-0. The Blue Jays dropped the opening game of this best-of-three series by 3-1 on Tuesday, and a loss in Game 2 will knock them out of the postseason.
The final blow against Ryu came in the form of a grand slam by Hunter Renfroe.
The Rays opened the game with three straight hits over a span of five pitches, and Ryu was lucky to escape with just one run on the board.
Leadoff man Mike Brosseau dropped a hit to left and but was tagged out trying to stretch it to a double. Three pitches later, Randy Arozarena dumped a single to right field, and then moved to third when Brandon Lowe singled to right on a first-pitch sinker.
Ryu got Yandy Diaz to fan on a cutter on the outside corner for the second out of the inning, but couldn’t get past Manuel Margot, who singled to right field for a 1-0 Rays lead.
Ryu escaped further damage in the opening frame despite a defensive miscue.
Renfroe hit a one-hopper to shortstop Bo Bichette, who, instead of going to second for the easier force out, airmailed a throw to first for a throwing error and allowed the Rays to load the bases.
Ryu bailed out Bichette by striking out Willy Adames and kept it a 1-0 game.
The story wasn’t much different for Ryu in the second. Kevin Kiermaier led things off with a single, and No. 9 hitter Mike Zunino, he of .147 regular sesaon batting average, turned on a 0-2 fastball for a two-run home run and a 3-0 Tampa Bay lead.
Two batters later, Arozarena got his second hit off Ryu with a double off the right field fence. Ryu got Lowe to line out to second, but then walked Diaz on four pitches.
And then Bichette did it again. He bobbled a grounder off the bat of Margot and made a poor throw to first to load the bases again.
This time, the Rays made him pay, as Renfroe smacked a grand slam that opened up a 7-0 lead.
Ryu’s night was done. All four runs scored off that slam were unearned.
The Korean left-hander faced 15 batters, and 11 of them reached base.