Dodgers hope to reach red-hot territory

May, 21, 2014
May 21
9:06
PM PT
NEW YORK -- Hyun-Jin Ryu is back in the starting rotation, looking as good as ever. Brian Wilson is back in his set-up role, looking better than he has.

So are the Los Angeles Dodgers ready to look the way they were supposed to?

[+] EnlargeHyun-Jin Ryu
William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY SportsOther than giving up a home run, Hyun-Jin Ryu stepped right back into the Dodgers' rotation and looked sharp for the most part.
They'd like to think yes, and they used the evidence of a second straight win over the New York Mets to make their case Wednesday night.

"This is a team the division doesn't want to get too hot," Wilson said after Wednesday's 4-3 win. "If we can put it together, go to Philadelphia, we might get red-hot."

They're not red-hot yet, but they have guaranteed themselves a series win, after coming to New York having dropped four of the past five series. They own back-to-back wins for only the second time since the May 1 doubleheader sweep in Minnesota.

And the rotation and back end of the bullpen look a little more stable.

Ryu was pitching for the first time in 24 days, because of shoulder inflammation that sent him to the disabled list, but he looked far from rusty in going six innings and giving up only a two-run homer to Eric Campbell in the sixth. He gave up nine hits but walked only one and struck out nine.

"He looked sharp," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He was what we thought he would be. This guy seems to be able to step right in and throw the ball where he wants."

The Dodgers had lost the last two times Ryu's rotation spot came up, with Paul Maholm filling in for him (although it wasn't all Maholm's fault). Then again, they've also lost four of Ryu's eight starts this season.

They haven't been as impressive as expected, and even Wednesday's game was something of a struggle. The Dodgers could score against Mets rookie Jacob deGrom only on three solo home runs, and they got a fourth run in the eighth inning only because the Mets botched what should have been a routine double play.

Ryu had to strike out Curtis Granderson to leave the bases loaded in the third, and Brandon League had to get cleanup hitter Chris Young to strand runners at second and third with a one-run lead in the seventh. And before closer Kenley Jansen finished it off in the ninth, he gave up a Juan Lagares triple that forced him to face Daniel Murphy and David Wright both representing the tying run.

But Wilson did look good in the eighth, for the second straight night.

"I'm comfortable," he said. "It's familiar ground, a high-intensity inning. I feel like that's where I belong. ... That's what I came here for. I don't like 'get my work in.' I like to pitch with intensity."

Wilson still has an 8.22 ERA, and one inning at a time that won't come down quickly no matter how well he pitches. But two nights in a row, the Dodgers' bullpen has been able to turn a lead into a win.

And even though Josh Beckett wasn't great Tuesday, it's also two nights in a row that a Dodgers starter has been able to hand the bullpen a lead.

"There's not too many teams that have a good starting five," Wilson said. "They might have a good 1-2, a decent third and then hope to get something out of the fourth and fifth. When you have five good ones like we do, it can really help you get going."

The Dodgers now have their five back, with Ryu joining Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Beckett. They have a red-hot Adrian Gonzalez (home runs in three straight games) and a hot Yasiel Puig (reached base in 22 straight, with a home run Wednesday).

They have a more settled bullpen, with Wilson in the eighth leading to Jansen in the ninth.

They're not red-hot as a team, not yet. But once again, they can hope this is the start of getting there.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Yasiel Puig
BA HR RBI R
.317 12 54 59
OTHER LEADERS
HRA. Gonzalez 15
RBIA. Gonzalez 70
RY. Puig 59
OPSY. Puig .946
WZ. Greinke 12
ERAC. Kershaw 1.76
SOC. Kershaw 141