Ryu Baffles Reds, Schumaker Skips Home. Dodgers 4, Reds 1

After being a bit shaky in his last two outings, Korean rookie left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu righted the ship Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, pitching seven innings of one run ball while striking out nine. (Image source: Gary Vasquez of USA Today, http://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/ac1394dbdcca6a36cbf486633b129cd813095ac3/r=x404&c=534×401/local/-/media/USATODAY/USATODAY/2013/07/28/1374984839000-07-27-2013-Hyun-Jin-Ryu-1307280015_4_3.jpg)

There were two storylines to last night’s game.

The first was the head-to-head matchup between South Korean natives Hyun-Jin Ryu and Shin-Soo Choo, the first time that two Korean players have faced each other in the same major league baseball game.  In a bizarre coincidence, the event occurred on the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, so there was a degree of irony in the union, and a lot of the Korean community came out for the game to see two of their native sons face off against each other.  The story was big not only in its historical sense, but in the sense that seemingly the entire nation of South Korea was watching, with a broadcast of the game being beamed back to a Sunday morning audience in South Korea that was watching in very high numbers.  A very large contingent of Korean fans were also in the ballpark, making for a very festive atmosphere at Dodger Stadium.  Even Korean Pop Star Psy came to the ballpark to witness the game, much to the delight of the crowd when he was placed up on the Diamondvision during a half-inning break in which the song “Gangham Style” blared over the PA.

Neither player disappointed.  Choo, the Reds’ center fielder, did not have a great day at the plate, but he did manage a leadoff walk against Ryu, one of the very few blemishes on the Korean lefty’s night and understandable as the pitcher appeared to be a bit jittery over the situation.   He also made a dazzling catch of a sharp Juan Uribe line drive in the bottom of the sixth with a runner on first, denying the Dodgers’ third baseman extra bases and a possible RBI.  Choo did strike out against Ryu one time, leading off the top of the sixth inning.

Ryu was in control most of the night.  A lone major blemish on his pitching record for the evening was a home run by Jay Bruce into the Right Field Pavilion that at the time tied the score at a run apiece.  However, after giving up four earned runs and failing to pitch through six innings his last two outings, Ryu managed to get through seven innings in this one, striking out nine batters along the way and touching as high as 96 miles an hour on the Dodger Stadium gun, a rarity for a pitcher who normally tops out around 93.

Skip Schumaker has been there when the Dodgers have needed him all season long, whether it’s to fill in for Mark Ellis at second base, play any of the three outfield positions, or even to throw an inning of relief to save the bullpen in a blowout.  His contribution to this game, however, was perhaps his loudest of the season.  Schumaker took an  88 mile an hour Bronson Arroyo sinker that failed to sink enough and hung up around the middle of the strike zone and crushed it 410 feet or so to dead center field with a runner aboard.  The smash broke a 1-1 tie and would prove to be the deciding margin.  After the game, Schumaker talked about how he grew up dreaming about hitting a home run at Dodger Stadium and how “every 200 at bats or so, I just manage to run into one.”  Schumaker, not known for his power, has hit two home runs in the past week, and the game-breaking blast to dead center was the 25th home run of his career.  In his post-game interview with Steve Lyons, Schumaker said to the many folks in the sellout crowd that stuck around for the post-game interview “I grew up in L.A. going to Dodger games, so I’ve always thought about hitting a home run in Dodger Stadium, and actually doing it is pretty incredible.”

Skip Schumaker watches the flight of his sixth inning two-run home run off Bronson Arroyo. The blast was the 25th of Schumaker’s career and made Schumaker’s dream of hitting a Dodger Stadium home run come true. (Image source: Los Angeles Times at http://www.trbimg.com/img-51f498ab/turbine/la-sp-dn-dodgers-reds-recap-20130727-001/600)

The scoring started out in the bottom of the first inning.  Yasiel Puig drew a walk.  Adrian Gonzalez flew out to right, with Puig tagging and taking second on the throw back to the infield.  Puig then stole third base without a throw, and Hanley Ramirez hit a double to right-center that plated Puig and gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

Jay Bruce evened the score in the top of the second, his smash into the right field pavilion evening the score at one run apiece.

The two teams would trade zeros for the next few innings, with Arroyo and Ryu both holding the opposing hitters in check.

That would change in the bottom of the fifth.   With Mark Ellis aboard after a single and a sacrifice by Ryu, Bronson Arroyo hung the previously mentioned 88 mile an hour sinker.  Schumaker got a good swing on the ball and it carried over the head of Shin-Soo Choo and then over the center field wall, giving the Dodgers a 3-1 lead they would not relinquish.

Arroyo failed to get out of the sixth inning, being pulled for Alfredo Simon after putting up a line of 5 1/3 innings pitched, 3 runs on 8 hits, two walks and only one strikeout.

Ryu on the other hand managed to get all the way through the seventh inning, finishing with 7 innings pitched, one run allowed on only two hits, striking out nine and walking only one in what was his most impressive outing over the past few weeks.  Concerns that Ryu, who did not have as rigorous a pitching regimen in Korea, may be breaking down as the season progressed have been hushed for the moment.

The Dodgers managed one more run in the game.  Skip Schumaker rocketed a double to left-center, then Adrian Gonzalez hit a single to center, scoring Schumaker for a 4-1 lead.  The throw to the plate was cut off and Gonzalez was thrown out trying to take second on the play for the third out of the inning.

Ronald Belisario, Paco Rodriguez and Kenley Jansen combined for two innings of shutout relief, making the final score 4-1.

Hyun-Jin Ryu picks up the win, extending his season record to 9-3.  Bronson Arroyo picks up the loss, dropping his record to 9-8.  Kenley Jansen’s 1-2-3 ninth inning was good for his 14th save.

Also of note: Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford missed the game and was taken to the Emergency Room with what was described as a “high fever.”  It is not projected that Crawford will be sidelined for any extended period of time.

The Dodgers look to take the four game weekend set from the Reds this afternoon at Dodger Stadium, a 1:10 p.m. start.  Chris Capuano (3-6, 5.03 ERA) takes on Tony Cingrani (4-1, 3.18 ERA).  The game will be followed by an off day tomorrow, then a two game set against the New York Yankees on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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