Hyun-Jin Ryu continues to roll
September, 24, 2013
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Barring some unforeseen circumstances -- or perhaps a misguided decision by the Los Angeles Dodgers to go with Ricky Nolasco -- Hyun-Jin Ryu will pitch Game 3 of the Dodgers' first-round playoff series.
If the Dodgers need that game to advance, or even if they need it to stave off elimination, it would appear they'll have the right guy on the mound. Ryu has certainly not looked overtaken by big moments.
Ryu pitched seven strong innings, giving up only four hits and a run in the Dodgers' 2-1 win over the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on Tuesday. It was certainly not a playoff atmosphere -- the Giants have been playing out the string since August -- but it was a game the Dodgers had to have if they want to maintain hope of opening the playoffs at home. The Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals both won.
Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY SportsHyun-Jin Ryn had another strong game Tuesday and looks primed to give the Dodgers a lift in the postseason.
Ryu is 14-7 with a 2.97 ERA. Were it not for Miami phenom Jose Fernandez and the Dodgers' own Yasiel Puig, Ryu would have been a walkaway Rookie of the Year winner.
"I've surpassed my initial expectations," Ryu said through an interpreter. "Not that I thought it was going to be easy, but it's been much better than I thought. That's a good thing."
He had lost four of his previous five starts coming into Tuesday, but all four of those losses were quality starts. In a spotlight game in his native Korea, he pitched brilliantly in a Dodgers' win over the Cincinnati Reds and Korean superstar Shin-Soo Choo back in July. He gave up one earned run in his major league debut.
The Dodgers have gone 11-4 in his past 15 starts. Since the All-Star break, Ryu has walked nine batters in 11 starts while striking out 57. He can even hit a little, though his base running isn't exactly graceful.
"We couldn't have asked, really, for anything more," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Another pitcher who looks ready for prime time is Brian Wilson. It probably took him longer to groom his beard than to pitch his inning Tuesday. Making his first appearance here as a visiting player, Wilson breezed through the eighth on 10 pitches. He struck out two of the three batters he faced, including Juan Perez with a 95 mph fastball on the outside edge of the strike zone. Kenley Jansen pitched around Buster Posey's single in the ninth to pick up his 28th save.
Puig isn't the most popular player among the Dodgers' NL West opponents, which is exactly as the Dodgers would want it. Matt Cain hit him in the back with a fastball in the third inning and, two innings later, Puig responded in the perfect way. He hit a massive home run and, to his credit, circled the bases quickly.
After Tony Abreu hit a solo home run for the Giants in the fifth, Matt Kemp hit his sixth home run, to center field in the sixth.