Ryu shows he can handle a bat as well
The last time most of the players at Chase Field had the kind of game that Hyun-Jin Ryu had Saturday, they probably were still in high school.
For Ryu, it was even before that.
“Even in high school, I don’t think I got three hits in one game,” the Dodgers rookie said through an interpreter.
As a hitter, Ryu was three for three with a double and a run in the Dodgers’ 7-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. On the mound, he struck out nine and limited the Diamondbacks to a solitary run over the first six innings
Midway through the game, the husky South Korean left-hander was being called “Babe Ryuth” by Diamondbacks television broadcasters Steve Berthiaume and Bob Brenly. Babe Ruth started his professional career as a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox.
“Totally not,” Ryu said smiling.
Ryu’s display with the bat prompted Manager Don Mattingly to jokingly tell Clayton Kershaw that he had been replaced as a pinch-hitting option.
The box score will indicate that Ryu was charged with three runs and that his earned-run average climbed to 2.89, but those numbers fail to convey the level of his dominance for most of the game.
“More than anything, he’s able to locate it and he’s able use his changeup behind in the count,” Mattingly said. “In hitter’s counts, he can pitch backward. If you can do that in this game, you’re going to be successful.”
The last two runs charged to him came in the seventh inning, in which he allowed the first two batters to reach base and was replaced by Ronald Belisario. The hard-throwing sinkerballer gave up a pair of singles that resulted in both of them scoring. The Dodgers’ 6-1 lead was suddenly reduced to 6-3.
The Diamondbacks moved to within 6-5 in the eighth inning, when setup man Kenley Jansen served up a home run to Martin Prado and a run-scoring pinch-hit double to Aaron Hill. A run-scoring double in the ninth by newcomer Ramon Hernandez provided a two-run cushion for closer Brandon League, who saved his fourth game.
For the first six innings, the game belonged to Ryu.
Because pitchers don’t hit in South Korea, Ryu hadn’t picked up a bat since high school before he signed with the Dodgers. His offensive inadequacies showed in his first two games, as he was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.
But he was somehow able to get a hit off Ian Kennedy, a contender for the Cy Young Award as recently as two years ago.
Ryu doubled to the gap in right-center in his first at-bat. He moved to third on a hard-hit single by Carl Crawford, but couldn’t score, as Skip Schumaker and Matt Kemp struck out.
Scenes like this had become routine, as the Dodgers entered the game batting .148 with men in scoring position.
The high-priced lineup started to break through in the fourth inning, when Adrian Gonzalez put the Dodgers ahead, 1-0, with a home run.
The Dodgers added two more runs in the fifth inning, which started with a single to center by Ryu. Crawford hit into a force play, but he scored from first on a double by Schumaker.
A wild pitch allowed Schumaker to reach third, and he scored on a single by Andre Ethier to increase the margin to 3-0.
Ryu singled again in the fifth inning, this time with two out. Crawford doubled and Schumaker walked to load the bases for Kemp, who was hitless in his previous three at-bats.
Kemp singled to left, driving in two runs. Kennedy was replaced by Matt Reynolds, who gave up a two-out single to Gonzalez that scored Schumaker for a 6-1 lead.