Ryu Hyun-jin couldn't stop the bleeding for the Toronto Blue Jays, taking a tough-luck loss despite throwing a quality start against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Ryu fell to 4-2 after giving up two runs on six hits in six innings against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on Saturday (local time), with most of the damage being done in the fifth inning. The bullpen took over to begin the bottom seventh with the Blue Jays down 2-1, and they went on to lose by 3-1 after managing just two hits against four Phillies pitchers.
Ryu's ERA remained at 3.00. He matched his season highs with eight strikeouts and 99 pitches.
The Blue Jays have now lost six straight games to fall to 26-26, though they're still well positioned to make the expanded postseason as the second Wild Card entry in the American League (AL). They're back down to .500 in winning percentage for the first time since Aug. 25.
The Blue Jays entered Saturday's action leading the Seattle Mariners by four games for the last Wild Card berth. Should the Blue Jays qualify, Ryu is expected to get the starting assignment for the first game of the opening round on Sept. 29.
Ryu is on track to pitch on four days' rest on Thursday for his final regular season start and then pitch the postseason game on another rest of four days, should the Blue Jays get there.
Ryu cruised along through the first four innings on Saturday, holding the Phillies to one hit while striking out six.
Ryu walked Andrew McCutchen to open the game in the first inning, but he got two strikeouts to finish off the inning -- with Jean Segura and Didi Gregorius both going down swinging on a curveball.
Ryu recorded two more strikeouts in a three-up, three-down second inning. Jay Bruce fanned on a 2-2 curveball, while Scott Kingery whiffed on a cutter in the dirt for the final out.
Ryu gave up a leadoff single to Andrew Knapp in the third inning but retired the next three batters in a row, including consecutive strikeouts of McCutchen and Bryce Harper at the top of the lineup.
The left-hander made quick work of the heart of the Phillies' order in the fourth, retiring the 3-4-5 hitters on just eight pitches, with two groundouts and a popout.
Travis Shaw gave the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead with a solo home run in the top fifth. Given the way Ryu was dealing, it seemed to be enough of a cushion for the lefty.
But things unraveled for Ryu in the bottom fifth, as the Phillies took the lead with two runs on five hits.
Jay Bruce started the rally with a double, and two batters later, Knapp drove him home with a single and tied the score at 1-1.
No. 9 hitter Adam Haseley hit another single, and McCutchen then put the Phillies up 2-1 with a single up the middle.
Harper's single to right field wasn't deep enough to score Haseley from second, but it loaded the bases with the meat of the lineup coming up.
Ryu dug deep and got out of the jam, striking out Segura on a curveball and getting Gregorius to fly out to left on the first pitch.
Ryu had one more inning left in him, and he struck out Kingery on his 99th pitch of the evening in the bottom sixth.
No Toronto starter has thrown a pitch in the seventh inning or has gone past the century mark in pitch count this season.
As the Blue Jays' bats remained quiet, the Phillies got an insurance run in the bottom eighth for a 3-1 win.
For the Blue Jays' pitching staff, most of the good vibes from the surprisingly strong month of August have disappeared in September.
In August, the Blue Jays posted the seventh-best ERA in the majors with 3.80, led by the bullpen's 3.10 mark, fifth best in baseball.
Prior to Saturday's game, the Blue Jays had the worst ERA in the majors this month at 6.93. The once-thriving bullpen ranked third from the bottom in September with a 7.50 ERA. Their pitching staff also ranked among the worst in baseball in walks per nine innings, home runs per nine innings and opponents' batting average. (Yonhap)