Ryu Goes Gangham Style, Puig Pulverizes, Schumaker Skips Home. Dodgers 2, Braves 1

Since 1900, only four players have hit four home runs in their first five games in Major League Baseball.

Yasiel Puig is the fourth.

Yasiel Puig is off to what may be the most successful start to a career in Dodgers history, with a .421 batting average, 4 HR and 10 RBIs through 5 games. (Image Source: Business Insider at http://static3.businessinsider.com/image/51af43e7ecad04e71c000000-649-487-400-/yasiel-puig-dodgers-hits-home-run-1.jpg)

With his sixth inning blast off Atlanta Braves Starter Paul Maholm, Puig became the first player in Dodger history to record 10 RBIs in his first five game.

Not even a week into Yasiel Puig’s career, novels could already be written about the Cuban phenom’s accomplishments.

What has been most impressive about Puig’s home runs is that they’ve all been significant.  The first homer, a 3 run blast, tied the game.  The second, a 2 run blast, widened a 1 run lead to 3 runs and wound up being the difference in the 9-7 victory.  The grand slam on Thursday night took a close 1-0 game and put it nearly out of reach at 5-0.  And tonight’s solo blast tied the game at a crucial point in the 6th inning.  Puig is coming up in situations where he can make a difference and is succeeding at an astounding rate.

But tonight’s hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves was a full-team effort.  Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball, lowering his season ERA to 2.72 to go with a 6-2 record.  Though he didn’t record a decision tonight, Ryu’s continued excellence has helped steady the Dodgers’ starting rotation, taken some burden off of an over-taxed bullpen, and if Ryu has not garnered serious consideration for the All Star Game yet, the powers that be that make those decisions might want to take a closer look.  The South Korean rookie has been phenomenal so far this season and seems to get better as the weeks go by.

While sensationalized by the Korean media and garnering attention for such stunts as meeting Korean Pop Star Psy, what’s most impressive about Hyun-Jin Ryu is what he’s doing on the mound in his rookie campaign: a 6-2 record to go with a 2.72 ERA (Image source: Los Angeles Times at http://www.trbimg.com/img-515bb970/turbine/la-sp-ryu-bumgarner-30-20130402-001/600/600×419)

The Dodger bullpen has also had a revival of sorts this week, and that continued tonight.  Although Paco Rodriguez gave up a sharp single up the middle, Kenley Jansen and Brandon League combined for 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.The Bottom of the 10th inning made for a sense of inevitability.  After Andre Ethier hit a ball to the warning track that came within about 10 feet of being a walk-off home run but found a glove instead , a single by Ramon Hernandez, a wild pitch and another single by Luis Cruz, Don Mattingly put in Skip Schumaker to pinch run for Hernandez at third with Juan Uribe at the plate and Puig on deck.

Mattingly, who presumably kept Ramon Hernandez in the game in anticipation that he might need to catch deeper into the extra inning game, changed strategies and anticipated that the threat of speed at third and Puig on deck may have been enough to induce a wild pitch from Braves reliever Anthony Varvaro, who came into the game with 5 wild pitches and uncorked a sixth earlier in the inning.  The decision paid off.  With the count 1-0 on Uribe, Varvaro’s 80 mile an hour breaking pitch went into the dirt and skipped past catcher Evan Gattis, allowing Schumaker to sprint in from third with the winning run for the Dodgers’ first walk-off win of this 2013 season.

Skip Schumaker has done a little bit of everything for the Dodgers this year, playing multiple infield and outfield positions and even pitching an inning of relief (shown above.) Friday night, Schumaker added to his exploits when he scored a walk-off pinch run on a wild pitch. (Image source: ESPN at http://espn.go.com/photo/2013/0429/la_a_schumaker_600.jpg)

The Dodgers will attempt to take the series from the Braves tomorrow night with Stephen Fife on the mound.  The Dodger Stadium gates open at 4:10 p.m. for the Dodgers vs. Yankees Old Timers game at 5:30.  The Dodgers and Braves take the field for their game at 7:10.

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