This, friends. This was the game we were all waiting for, at least before the bullpen made things interesting. This was the game where Adrian Gonzalez crushed an Ian Kennedy pitch to deep right for a 1-0 lead and his second homer of the season, just one of his three hits along with nice defense in the ninth. This was the game where Carl Crawford got two hits, scored two runs, and made two excellent catches in left field, and where newcomer Ramon Hernandez drove in Andre Ethier with a badly-needed insurance run in the ninth. This was the game where Matt Kemp hopefully got going by driving in two on a line drive — that’s six straight games with a hit, by the way — and where the not-completely-useless Skip Schumaker pitched in with a hit, two walks and two runs scored of his own.
And yet despite the offense we were all waiting so patiently for, it all absolutely pales in comparison to the display that Hyun-jin Ryu put on tonight, in his third major league start and first away from Los Angeles. Ryu was simply masterful in pitching into the seventh, striking out nine Diamondbacks while walking just one. Only once did he allow a baserunner past second, and when he struck out the side in the third (around an A.J. Pollock double), he did so with this slow 69 MPH curve that completely embarrassed Gerardo Parra:
In 18.2 innings this year, Ryu has 20 strikeouts against just three walks. Of course, when he exited the game, the Diamondbacks had one run and his ERA was 1.99; after Ronald Belisario allowed both of the inherited runners to score, it was 2.89. ERA! Isn’t it the best? (Belisario was hardly alone in his troubles, as Kenley Jansen made things tense in the 8th by allowing two runs, including a Martin Prado dinger; at least Brandon League had a calm 1-2-3 inning to finish it off in the ninth.)
But of course, no one’s talking about Ryu’s pitching tonight. In the third, he doubled to deep right. In the fifth, he led off with a single. In the sixth, he singled again, later coming around on Kemp’s hit. The three hits are the most for a Dodger pitcher since Randy Wolf also had three against Arizona in 2009. They are, sad to say, also the same amount as Luis Cruz has managed to get all season long. Remember, Ryu hadn’t batted in eight years, since he was in high school, before joining the Dodgers this spring.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out which left-side infielder deserves more of a flogging. Is it Justin Sellers, who robbed Ryu of a fourth plate appearance — and thus an opportunity to tie Claude Osteen from 43 years ago as the only Dodger pitcher with four hits in a game — by getting picked off after a rare single in the top of the seventh? Or Cruz, who had another hitless night (now down to .100/.125/.100) and botched a ball in the bottom of the seventh that was charitably ruled a hit, and eventually an earned run, against Ryu’s record?
For now, I suppose, it doesn’t matter, because there’s so much good to rejoice in. Tonight’s about Ryu, and Gonzalez, and Crawford, and everyone else.
Oh, and about that nickname?
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 14, 2013