Dodgers 3, Angels 0: It’s More Fun to Have Hyun-Jin Ryu Than Joe Blanton

ryu_marlins_2013-05-011I had the night planned out perfectly, you know. I’d go see a concert, and get back home in time to see at least the last two innings of tonight’s Dodgers/Angels game — possibly even more, considering how slowly most Dodger games have gone this year.

That didn’t exactly work out as I’d expected, really, thanks to an absolutely fantastic Hyun-jin Ryu performance, which helped to blow through this game in just barely over two hours flat. That means that I didn’t get to see the outright domination that Ryu dropped on the Angels, holding them two a mere two baserunners over nine shutout innings (one of which he accounted for with a double of his own). I didn’t get to see him touching 95 in the eighth inning, if the reports I’ve seen are correct, and I didn’t see Matt Kemp take a Joe Blanton ball of his elbow, requiring him to leave the game after telling Don Mattingly he “couldn’t throw a baseball“. (He is not expected to miss any time.)

And no, I definitely didn’t get to see Luis Cruz‘ fifth inning blast off Blanton that would give Ryu all the run support he would need, though believe me when I say I heard about it through the wonder of social media. Honestly, this goes back to how great Ryu was tonight — the way things have gone this year, could you imagine Cruz not only going deep, but doing so in a scoreless tie, then not getting the main billing? You can thank Ryu for that, and with the rotation issues this club has had… you better believe we should all be thanking Ryu endlessly right now.

That’s technically a sweep for the Dodgers in the odd two-game series, though since they go right down the road to play the Angels in Anaheim tomorrow, it doesn’t really feel like it. I think we’ll all take it regardless though, right?

Dodgers 7, Marlins 1: Smiles All Around

ryu_marlins_2013-05-011I think I can speak for all of us when I say… we needed that. Badly. Sure, it’s the Marlins and they’re barely a big league team, but at this point, you take what you can get. After eight straight losses, an outburst like this seems extra satisfying.

That also makes eight starts for Hyun-jin Ryu with six innings or more, comprising his entire brief career. Everything I said about him earlier tonight holds true and then some, because he’s just been an invaluable part of the team so far; in fact, he bookended the losing streak, because the last time this team won was two his starts ago. Though he’ll never be a Kershaw-level ace, the consistency he’s brought to this team from day one is not to be understated.

Of course, I’m going to completely shortchange Ryu here because Dee Gordon hit a home run and oh my god Dee Gordon hit a home run. His second career dinger — and first outside of Colorado — wasn’t even a cheapie down the line, but rather to the power alley in right field. Gordon also walked in five plate appearances and made some nice plays in the field; clearly, no one should jump to conclusions after just a few games, but he has shown some reason for us to be hopeful about his future so far.

Then there’s Andre Ethier, who had four hits — two doubles — and scored three times, before briefly scaring the hell out of us all by appearing to be limping in the dugout after scoring in the seventh inning.  Despite the lead, he went out to right field in the eighth and made a nice sliding catch for the first out.

Every Dodger starter had at least one hit, and the fact that we’ve made it this far without even mentioning that Skip Schumaker drove in four runs or that Juan Uribe got on base three more times — his OBP is .403, which is just incomprehensible — should tell you a lot about what kind of night this was.

It’s just one game in a long, long season, but one so very badly needed.

Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 5: All Hail Babe Ryuth

ryu_arizona_2013-04-13This, 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?

 

Dodgers 6, Pirates 2: I’m Really Going To Miss the Pirates

ryu_april7_2013

For the first four hitters of today’s sellout matinee against the Pirates, there was concern. Hyun-jin Ryu had allowed Starling Marte to lead off with a single, then after a Neil Walker popout, Andrew McCutchen took Ryu deep for a quick 2-0 lead. Ryu responded by walking Gaby Sanchez, and you started to get the feeling that this was going to go nowhere good.

Maybe one day that’ll happen, but not today. Ryu got ground outs from Michael McKenry & Pedro Alvarez to end the inning, then shut the Pirates down into the seventh inning, throwing 101 pitches and retiring 18 of the last 20 men he faced. Through 12.2 innings as a Dodger, Ryu’s allowed just three earned runs, striking out 11. We’re going to need a lot more than two starts to know what we’ve got with him, but I tell you this: I’ll take “pitches into the seventh, allows two earned runs” from Ryu every time out and be very happy to get it. That’s especially the case when the bullpen continues to be as dominant as it has been; Ronald BelisarioMatt Guerrier (who lasted just two hitters in his season debut) & J.P. Howell combined to shut the Pirates out for the final 3.1 innings.

Even better, for once this game wasn’t entirely won on the strength of pitching. Adrian Gonzalez singled three times, driving in four. Carl Crawford, continuing his torrid start, had two hits and scored twice.Matt Kemp reached twice, including a double, and also drove Crawford home on a sacrifice fly. Even the much-maligned Justin Sellers managed to break his oh-for-the-season streak with a no-doubt seventh-inning longball. (Here’s looking at you, Luis Cruz.)

Frankly, I’m sad to see the Pirates leave town, because they’ve lost nine in a row at Dodger Stadium. (They’ve also scored only eight runs all season, which, yikes.) After a day off tomorrow, they head to San Diego, and I don’t want to say the Padres without Chase Headley & Yasmani Grandal are bad, but…

Oh, and Matt Cain got completely lit up for the Giants today. It’s a fun, fun time to be a Dodger fan.

Pirates @ Dodgers April 7, 2013: Ryu Goes For the Sweep

dodger_stadium_2013_150x150

In his major league debut last Tuesday, Hyun-jin Ryu scattered 10 hits over 6.1 innings against the Giants, allowing three runs (only one earned, thanks to Justin Sellers), and not issuing a single walk. If something much less than outstanding, it was effective, and that’s good enough for the man’s first start in a strange country.

Here’s what’s fun, though: when Ryu steps on the mound this afternoon to attempt to help the Dodgers finish off a sweep of the Pirates, he won’t have thrown a single pitch (other than pre-game warm-ups today) since getting Brandon Crawford to ground out in the seventh inning last week.

Yahoo’s Tim Brown has more on Ryu’s unusual methods, which I’ve snipped two unrelated paragraphs from:

In the U.S., the vast majority of starting pitchers throws a fairly rigorous bullpen session between starts. It is there where pitchers maintain arm strength and feel, and troubleshoot issues from the previous start. Ryu might throw the ball around in the outfield with a teammate. Or he might not.

If nothing else, it’s interesting. Honeycutt said that, outside a few with aching or worn-down bodies, he’d not known of a pitcher whose philosophy was to go – literally – from start to start. A lot of coaching takes place in those bullpen sessions. A lot of refining. A lot of conversation.

Pirates
Dodgers
LF
Marte
LF
Crawford
2B
Walker
2B
Punto
CF
McCutchen
CF
Kemp
1B
Sanchez
1B
Gonzalez
C
McKenry
RF
Hairston
3B
Alvarez
3B
Uribe
RF
Tabata
C
Federowicz
SS
McDonald
SS
Sellers
P
Locke
P
Ryu

The Dodgers have said that they’re willing to let Ryu continue his practice of not throwing between games so long as it works for him, and that’s admirable on their part; there’s no point in making the player unhappy by forcing him to do something he doesn’t want to do, as long as he’s effective doing it his own way.

Back to today’s game: Tim Federowicz gets his first start of the season and sixth of his career, but it’s almost certainly his final one for quite some time. Ramon Hernandez (wearing #33 for now, though he’s attempting to get #55) is expected to be in uniform this afternoon as the Dodgers will staff three catchers for games today and Tuesday, before likely sending Federowicz down to make room for Chad Billingsley on Wednesday.  I don’t know about you, but I’m rooting for Federowicz to hit for the cycle, just because it would be awkward. Want to see it for yourself? Looks like there’s still some decent Dodgers tickets available for today’s game.

The rest of today’s lineup is a fun combination between “it’s a lefty” and “it’s a getaway day”, because Andre Ethier, Luis Cruz, and Mark Ellis are all sitting. That gets Nick Punto his first start of the season, and while having Jerry Hairston batting fifth isn’t ideal, having Ethier, Cruz, A.J. Ellis, Mark Ellis, & Hernandez all on the bench likely makes for the strongest set of reserves the team will have in any game all season.

If and when Ryu is removed, I’m guessing we’ll see some new faces out of the bullpen. As you can see from the chart below, which is updated daily on the bullpen page, Brandon League, Kenley Jansen, & Paco Rodriguez have each pitched two days in a row, while neither Chris Capuano or Matt Guerrier has appeared at all this season. With a Monday off-day looming, I’m guessing Don Mattingly won’t want to completely freeze that duo; on the other hand, Ronald Belisario & J.P. Howell are each well-rested, so he might just say the hell with them. I’m pretty okay with that.

Fri 10/11Sat 10/12Sun 10/13Mon 10/14Tues 10/15Wed 10/16Thurs 10/17
RR. Belisario9105
LJ.P. Howell152026
RK. Jansen51626
RC. Marmol26
RB. Wilson281411
RC. Withrow2544
RE. Volquez