LOS ANGELES -- If you were at Monday night’s Dodgers game -- and millions of you would have said you were -- you nearly saw something that had never been done.
Had Ryu been able to get six more outs in what wound up a 4-3 Dodgers win over the Cincinnati Reds, he would have combined with Josh Beckett to give the Dodgers the first back-to-back no-hitters in baseball history. Beckett, who no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, was among the first people to greet Ryu with a high-five when he came into the dugout after being removed by Don Mattingly in the eighth.
One team, the 1917 St. Louis Browns, pulled off no-hitters on consecutive days, but the second came on the back end of a doubleheader.
How it happened: Ryu was mesmerizing, changing speeds as usual and summoning unusual zip when he got in jams. He got Brandon Phillips to ground out on a 95 mph fastball in the seventh inning.
The Dodgers didn’t exactly rack up the baserunners off the Reds’ Johnny Cueto, one of the National League’s toughest pitchers this season. L.A. got a run in the third inning but also left the bases loaded that inning.
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, a utility player thrust into the starting lineup by an injury to Juan Uribe, made two diving stops behind Ryu. Turner also drove up Cueto's pitch count with a 16-pitch at-bat that led to a walk in the seventh inning and started a three-run rally.
The long Dodgers' rally in the seventh, during which Ryu had to run the bases, seemed to throw off his rhythm. The Reds bunched two more hits. Then reliever Brian Wilson continued to struggle, with closer Kenley Jansen having to be summoned to get the final four outs. Jansen struck out Phillips to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth.
Hits: For a guy who has started only 170 major league games, Drew Butera has done some extraordinary things. He has caught two no-hitters, Beckett’s and Francisco Liriano’s for the Minnesota Twins in 2011. Much of it, of course, is luck. But Butera is an excellent defensive catcher and, apparently, calls a pretty fair game behind the plate.
Misses: The Dodgers are trying their best to fix their defensive shortcomings. They replaced Matt Kemp in center field with Andre Ethier. They’re using acrobatic shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena at shortstop in place of injured Hanley Ramirez. But it has come with some cost in the lineup. The Dodgers have scored four runs or fewer in five of their past six games. As usual, all personnel decisions have trade-offs. The Dodgers apparently are going all in on pitching and defense, at least for now.
Stat of the game: Yasiel Puig reached base safely for the 27th consecutive game with his third-inning walk.
Up next: The Dodgers’ strong pitching has a good chance to continue for a while. The next two games are pitched by Zack Greinke (7-1, 2.01 ERA) and Clayton Kershaw (3-1, 3.49). The Dodgers will face Alfredo Simon (6-2, 2.31 ERA) Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. PT.