The Dodger offense gave Hyun-Jin Ryu a lift in the desert tonight, showing signs of life and making one of their best efforts with runners on base of the season.
Ryu went up against Diamondbacks ace Ian Kennedy tonight, and would prove to be the greater of the two pitchers in this game.
Ryu and Kennedy managed to match each other in the early going and the score was tied at 0 after 3 innings. There was one significant highlight during this stretch. In the Top of the Third, Hyun-Jin Ryu hit a one-out double over Gerardo Parra’s head in right-center field and wound up on second base with a double. The double marked Ryu’s first major league hit, and it was anything but cheap. Making the moment all the more memorable, Ryu’s parents were at Chase Field taking in the game, and a camera was trained on them capturing their excitement and showing it on replay. A special night for the Ryu family in Arizona.
In the Top of the 4th, Adrian Gonzalez came up to lead off the inning and took an 0-1 fastball out of the yard to right field to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.
Ryu would single again leading off the 5th inning. Ryu would be out at second on a force play and Carl Crawford would take his place on the base paths. Skip Schumaker, starting at Second Base in place of Mark Ellis, then doubled to left-center and the speedy Crawford raced around the bases to score and make the Dodger lead 2-0. A wild pitch by Kennedy would move Schumaker over to 3rd, then Andre Ethier would single home Schumaker with 2 outs to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.
The Diamondbacks would get on the board against Ryu in the Bottom of the 5th. Cliff Pennington singled, took second on a wild pitch, was sacrificed to third by Ian Kennedy, then scored on a groundout by A.J. Pollack to cut the Dodgers’ lead to 3-1. Ryu would then settle in and get Gerardo Parra to end the inning.
The Dodgers would break the game open in the Top of the 6th. The rally started with two outs when Hyun-Jin Ryu picked up his third hit of the game, a base hit to right field. Carl Crawford followed with a double, with Ryu stopping at third base. Skip Schumaker walked, then Matt Kemp turned the lights out on Ian Kennedy’s night by singling sharply to left field, bring home Ryu with the speedy Crawford right behind him and giving the Dodgers a 3-1 lead. Matt Reynolds would come in to replace Kennedy and promptly gave up a single to right by Adrian Gonzalez, plating Schumaker to make the score 6-1 before Andre Ethier struck out to end the inning.
The line on Ian Kennedy tonight: 5 2/3 innings, 6 runs (all earned,) 10 hits, 4 walks allowed, 4 strikeouts.
Ryu continued to look superb through 6, managing a 1-2-3 inning and recording 2 strikeouts to bring his total to 9. The Dodgers would fail to score in the Top of the 7th, with Ryu being denied a chance to record his 4th hit of the game when Justin Sellers was picked off First Base to end the inning. The Diamondbacks would start to climb back in the game in their half the 7th.
Ryu simply ran out of gas in the 7th inning, perhaps from all the running around the basepaths he did throughout the course of the game with his double, two singles, and run scored. Regardless of the reason, he gave up singles to Alfredo Marte and Josh Wilson to start the Bottom of the 7th inning and was replaced on the mound by Ronald Belisario. Belisario would not be able to keep the runners off the bases. Belisario would strike out Cliff Pennington, who would be subsequently ejected for arguing the third strike call with Home Plate Umpire Jim Reynolds. The Diamondbacks then received consecutive pinch hit singles from Eric Hinske and Eric Chavez. Hinske’s single to right plated Alfredo Marte, and Chavez’s single to right plated Josh Wilson and the Dodger lead was 6-3. Belisario would then induce Gerardo Parra to hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The final line on Hyun-Jin Ryu for the evening: 6 innings pitched (with two batters faced in the 7th,) 3 earned runs allowed, 6 hits, only one walk and 9 strikeouts. A good line, but perhaps more reflective of how Ryu pitched was his line without the first two batters of the 7th factored in. Before he tired, Ryu’s 6 inning line was 1 run allowed on 4 hits with 1 walk and 9 strikeouts. Either measure is good enough to credit with a quality start, but the 6 inning line without counting his last two batters faced is more indicitive of how well Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched tonight.
The Dodgers failed to score in the Top of the 8th, then Kenley Jansen entered the game and promptly gave up a home run that got about 2 rows deep over the left field wall off the bat of Martin Prado to cut the Dodgers’ lead to 6-4. Miguel Montero would single, and with 2 outs, Aaron Hill would hit a sharp line drive down the left field line that clanged off the wall about 10 feet to the fair side of the foul pole, scoring Montero and cutting the Dodger lead to 6-5.
The Dodgers would fare much better in the 9th inning. Andre Ethier hit a one out double off left hander Aaron Sipp, then one batter and a pitching change later, recent Dodger acquisition Ramon Hernandez, starting behind the plate for A.J. Ellis tonight, hit a double of his own out to right field against Heath Bell, plating Ethier and giving the Dodgers a 7-5 lead.
Brandon League, given the night off in the Dodgers’ Thursday night win in San Diego after throwing 34 pitches to pick up a save the night before, then having a second night off last night as the Diamondbacks won 3-0, came in with a 2 run lead in the Bottom of the 9th and retired the side in order to pick up the save and give the Dodgers a 7-5 victory.
Hyun-Jin Ryu picks up the win and will leave Arizona with a 2-1 record. Ian Kennedy is your loser, his record falls to 1-1. Brandon League picks up his 4th save on the season.
The Rubber Game is set for tomorrow afternoon at Chase Field. Josh Beckett (0-1, 4.91 ERA) goes for the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks will counter with Trevor Cahill (0-2, 5.91 ERA.) The winner of tomorrow’s game moves on guaranteed at least sole possession of second place in the National League West, with a chance to take over first place by a half game if the San Francisco Giants lose their Sunday afternoon matchup against the Chicago Cubs.
Prado Causes Jansen To Spring A Leak
Martin Prado’s 8th inning home run continued a brief but successful career line for the Diamondbacks infielder. Prado has faced Jansen 3 times in his career and is 3 for 3 with 2 homers of the Dodgers reliever. Prado also has given the Diamondbacks great support at multiple positions defensively this season and played 3rd Base, 2nd Base and Shortstop at various times for the Diamondbacks tonight.
Adrian Gonzalez has done very well at doing his job on offense this season. While much of the early season offensive focus has been on Carl Crawford’s hot start and Matt Kemp’s struggles, Gonzalez has silently raised his batting average to .375, has hit two home runs, and tonight’s 2 RBIs bring his season total to 10 through 11 games. Over the course of an entire season, this would project out to power numbers of about 29 homers and 145 RBIs. Gonzalez is also getting on base at a .468 clip. No one expects Gonzalez to necessarily maintain quite these totals (29 homers is realistic, 145 RBIs is possible but much more difficult, though 100+ RBIs are very likely given Gonzalez’s track record and the fact he hits in the cleanup spot, and of course a .375 average will likely settle down closer to .300 or so based on Gonzalez’s career numbers,) but it’s clear that the Dodgers acquired two great offensive assets when they picked up Gonzalez and Crawford from the Red Sox last August.
Once again, we have congratulate Hyun-Jin Ryu. Not only did Ryu get his first major league hit (a double in the 4th inning,) but he finished the game 3-for-3 overall, a great night at the plate by any standard, and an exceptional night at the plate for any pitcher. Having his parents in the crowd at Chase Field only could have served to make the memory of this game even sweeter.
Ryu was criticized by some fans after failing to run out a ground ball in his first game in the big leagues. Ryu said he “would not let that happen again,” and made a point to demonstrate what he was capable of with the bat tonight. Chances are good that between his pitching and hitting efforts, Dodger fans have long-since forgiven Ryu’s first game base running mental lapse.
Oh, and Ryu’s 9 strikeouts tonight were pretty great, too.
Andre Ethier, Lefty Killer?
Andre Ethier has historically had his struggles against lefties, but got another key hit in the 9th inning tonight off left-hander Aaron Sipp. Ethier’s double off Sipp was followed by another double by Ramon Hernandez. Ethier and Hernandez’s back-to-back doubles gave the Dodgers a key insurance run and took away some momentum from the Diamondbacks who had cut the Dodger lead from 5 runs to 1 run in the two prior innings.
On the year, Ethier is hitting lefties at a .353 clip. In fact, Ethier may want to start focusing on right-handed pitchers as he’s only hitting .188 off them this season. Ethier has 1 homer and two doubles to go with 2 RBIs off left-handers this season so far.