Hyun-jin Ryu wasn’t making any excuses for himself after a rough fourth inning undid a sizable lead for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Ryu struck out four and allowed just one run in the first three innings of his start on Sunday afternoon. But then the starting pitcher was derailed in the fourth, recording only a single out as the Texas Rangers stormed back for a 12-6 victory over Toronto.
“I left some pitches over the plate too much in the fourth inning after throwing well in the first and third inning,” said Ryu through translator J.S. Park.
He said walking Texas designated hitter Mitch Garver to start the fourth inning threw him off.
“I felt my command, fastball, everything seemed pretty well. Just after getting that unnecessary walk I just fell apart from there.”
Because of Major League Baseball’s labour lockout, all teams had a shortened spring training. Ryu also wasn’t immediately able to report to the Blue Jays’ camp in Dunedin, Fla., which limited his preparation time to start the regular season.
However, Ryu said he feels healthy and could have had a higher pitch count if he hadn’t gotten into trouble in the fourth inning.
“If I did play well, it would have been a little different,” said Ryu.
Matt Chapman’s three-run homer was his first with the Blue Jays (2-1), and George Springer, Danny Jansen, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. added solo bombs to build an early 6-1 lead.
Julian Merryweather, Ross Stripling, David Phelps, Tayler Saucedo and Trent Thornton came out of the bullpen for Toronto, coughing up six more runs.
Although the Blue Jays took the home-opening series against Texas two games to one, Toronto’s relief pitchers combined for 18 1/3 innings in the three-game set.
“But should be OK for tomorrow,” said Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo about playing the Yankees in New York on Monday.
He also noted that relievers Adam Cimber, Trevor Richards, Yimi Garcia, and closer Jordan Romano were all rested.
Jonah Heim had two hits and three runs batted in, including a two-run homer for the Rangers (1-2). Brad Miller and Nick Solak also homered for Texas, with Solak going 2-for-2 and scoring four runs.
Starter Spencer Howard struck out five, but gave up six runs in just three innings. Brock Burke, Dennis Santana, John King, Josh Sborz and Joe Barlow shut down Toronto’s potent offence the rest of the way.
Springer led off for Toronto, hitting his home run into the Blue Jays bullpen in his first at-bat of the game. Five hitters later, Chapman’s home run to deep left field scored Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., for an early 4-0 lead.
Solak replied for Texas in the second inning with a solo shot to right field just over the Rangers’ bullpen to make it 4-1.
Jansen restored the Blue Jays’ four-run lead in the bottom of the inning with his second home run in as many games.
Guerrero piled on in the third with a solo shot to the second deck of Rogers Centre. The blast was a career-long 467 feet for the Blue Jays first baseman, who led Major League Baseball with 48 home runs last season.
Andy Ibanez began the Texas rally in the fourth with a double to centre field that cashed in Mitch Garver.
Charlie Culberson added another run two at-bats later, with his single bringing Ibanez home. In the next at-bat, Heim’s comeback single bounced off Ryu’s leg and scored Solak.
Ryu was pulled after giving up the three runs, but waved off trainers as he walked to Toronto’s dugout. Montoyo said postgame that Ryu had a contusion but would be fine.
“My next outing, I’m sure I’m going to do what starters have to do, which is pitch into the fifth and sixth and seventh innings,” said Ryu. “Try to keep the team in the game.”
Merryweather inherited two runners on base and gave up a two-run double to Miller to tie the game.
The Rangers made it through their entire order, with Corey Seager’s single scoring Miller for a 7-6 lead and saddling Merryweather with the loss.
Texas tacked on two more runs in the fifth, with Nathaniel Lowe’s single scoring Adolis Garcia and Miller’s sacrifice fly bringing in Solak.
Heim’s two-run homer in the seventh also scored Solak. Before those runs were even up on the scoreboard, Miller cranked his solo shot to make it 12-6.