Dodgers’ Ryu Hyun-jin stifles Rockies for crucial win

September 18, 2018

SEOUL, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) — Los Angeles Dodgers’ South Korean starter Ryu Hyun-jin has twirled a gem for a crucial victory over a division rival.

Ryu tossed seven shutout innings against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Monday (local time), lifting the Dodgers to an 8-2 victory. Ryu allowed just four hits and struck out five while walking none.

With the win, the Dodgers moved into first place in the National League (NL) West at 83-68. The Rockies are a half game back at 82-68.

Ryu improved to 5-3 in 13 starts this year and lowered his ERA from 2.42 to 2.18.

This was Ryu’s fifth scoreless start of 2018, though in the third one, Ryu only lasted 1 1/3 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 2 before leaving with a groin injury that kept him sidelined for three months. The seven innings pitched and 93 pitches thrown both matched Ryu’s season high.

In this Associated Press photo, Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin throws a pitch against the Colorado Rockies during the top of the first inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Sept. 17, 2018. (Yonhap)

In this Associated Press photo, Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin throws a pitch against the Colorado Rockies during the top of the first inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Sept. 17, 2018. (Yonhap)

Ryu had been 3-6 in nine starts versus the Rockies, with a 5.77 ERA in 43 2/3 innings prior to this game. He had also given up 11 homers in those innings, but kept the ball in the park against the vaunted lineup with some big boppers at the top.

And one such slugger, All-Star shortstop Trevor Story, exited the game in the middle of his at-bat in the top of the fourth inning with an apparent arm injury. Story grimaced after whiffing on Ryu’s 2-1 changeup, and was examined by a team trainer before being taken out of the game.

Nolan Arenado, who was 10-for-16 with three homers and seven RBIs against Ryu before Monday, only managed a soft infield single in the first inning against the South Korean in this one.

Ryu worked around that Arenado hit in the first inning, and retired the side in order in the second inning on just nine pitches.

Charlie Blackmon hit a two-out double off Ryu in the third inning but Ryu retired DJ LeMahieu on a grounder to second and kept the Rockies off the board.

Ryu gave up another two-out hit in the fourth, this time a single by Matt Holliday, but the Rockies went down quietly as Ian Desmond lined out to center.

The Dodgers were leading 8-0 through four innings, and Ryu was in cruise control from there, sitting down six straight batters from the fifth to sixth innings.

Pat Valaika opened the top seventh with a single, and Ryu responded by striking out Holliday and getting Desmond to hit into an inning-ending, 4-6-3 double play.

That was the final out for Ryu, who was relieved by Alex Wood to begin the eighth inning. The Rockies scored twice against Wood but couldn’t get any closer.

Ryu said afterward he was thoroughly prepared for the Rockies, in particular Arenado.

“I kept thinking about him for the past few days,” Ryu said. “I spent more time on studying him than anyone else.”

Ryu threw 35 fastballs out of his 93 pitches, his second-highest usage rate for fastballs this year. He also touched 92 and 93 miles per hour (mph) with his four-seamers, after averaging 90.2 mph with the pitch so far this season.

“I tried not to give up runs early in the game,” Ryu said. “I usually try to go six or seven innings. Today, I wanted to throw hard from early on and keep the other team off the board, even if it meant I could only go five innings.”

Ryu said he didn’t leave any pitch over the middle of the plate, which allowed him to induce plenty of soft contact.

Asked how he felt after completing seven shutout innings, Ryu said, “I felt like I’d accomplished something important, and it was the first time I had that feeling in quite a while.”

Ryu was left off the Dodgers’ postseason roster in 2017 as they reached the World Series. He was squeezed out of the Dodgers’ crowded starting rotation, and he wasn’t considered an option in the bullpen because he needed a lengthy pregame routine to get ready to pitch following his shoulder operation in 2015.

This year, Ryu has been one of the Dodgers’ best starters when healthy, and he may stay in the rotation for the postseason if the Dodgers get there.

“I am confident that I can make the postseason roster,” Ryu said. “I’ve always had a lot of confidence. I’ll try to finish the regular season on a strong note.”

The Dodgers gave Ryu more than enough run support. They scored twice in the bottom first, with Joc Pederson’s leadoff home run and a wild pitch by Colorado starter Jon Gray.

Manny Machado delivered an RBI single in the third, and Max Muncy followed up with a three-run blast later in the inning to put the Dodgers up 6-0.

Ryu helped himself by drawing a walk in the fourth and coming home on Pederson’s two-run shot in the fourth.

In this Reuters photo via USA Today Sports, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers (L) is congratulated by teammate Yasiel Puig after scoring on a two-run homer by Joc Pederson against the Colorado Rockies in the bottom of the fourth inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Sept. 17, 2018. (Yonhap)

In this Reuters photo via USA Today Sports, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers (L) is congratulated by teammate Yasiel Puig after scoring on a two-run homer by Joc Pederson against the Colorado Rockies in the bottom of the fourth inning of a Major League Baseball regular season game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Sept. 17, 2018. (Yonhap)

 

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