Whatever lingering doubts the Dodgers had about South Korean pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu were likely alleviated -- at least a bit -- when the left-hander struck out five of the nine batters he retired Wednesday in a solid Cactus League performance against the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear, Ariz.
The Dodgers lost that game, 4-0, while a split squad trampled Mexico's World Baseball Classic team, 10-2, at Camelback Ranch.
Matt Kemp had a pair of runs batted in against Mexico, both coming on fielder's choice grounders, while Andre Ethier hit his first home run of the spring, a majestic shot with Kemp aboard in the first inning.
At Goodyear, Ryu went three-plus innings, giving up two runs and three hits while walking one. But he was dominant in the second inning when he struck out the side -- all on called third strikes. He left the game in the fourth inning after giving up a double to Mark Reynolds and a single to Yan Gomes.
"I liked it," Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said of Ryu's effort. "He was able to throw the fastball, looked like he threw it where he wanted. Every once in awhile, you could tell he was missing a spot and he knew he missed it. But he flipped that slow curveball in there, he used the slider today, the changeup to get back in counts. I thought he was good.
"Obviously, I’ve only seen two outings. We’ve seen three as an organization. But you can see how this guy gets people out."
Ryu also came out of the game feeling confident.
"Today, I felt everything was working for me -- control, command of pitches, execution of pitches. Not only my fastball but the other pitches as well," Ryu told reporters through a translator.
Ryu said his command of his breaking pitches has improved with each outing. Wednesday's appearance was his third of the spring. As for his spring earned-run average of 6.00, Ryu was unconcerned.
"It's not about that," he said. "It's about executing my pitches."
The Dodgers managed only five hits against six Indians pitchers in that game, two of those hits coming from former Angel outfielder Jeremy Moore. Chris Reed threw a perfect inning in relief.
At Camelback Ranch, the Dodgers had an easier time of it with Dee Gordon collecting a single and double and stealing two bases to pace a 12-hit attack.
On the mound was Stephen Fife, forced into the starter's role when Zack Grienke was sidelined with flu-like symptoms. Fife went four innings, giving up a run and three hits. Brandon League, Kenley Jansen, J.P. Howell and Zach Lee combined to give up only two hits over the final five innings with Lee, on loan from the minor league camp, throwing two perfect innings with a strikeout.