SAN DIEGO — What if the Dodgers’ rotation actually featured three aces? Three guys for whom most teams would sell their baseball souls? And if they did, would it actually be enough?
The Dodgers received seven more scoreless innings from Hyun-Jin Ryu in baseball’s Sunday night opener, but he still couldn’t pull out the victory when their grand bullpen plan crumbled.
When Ryu exited after the seventh inning with a 1-0 lead, the call went to reliever Brian Wilson, who promptly gave up a game-tying home run to pinch-hitter Seth Smith and a two-run single to Chris Denorfia.
Throw in a pair of errors and the eighth made for one ugly Dodgers inning and a 3-1 victory for the Padres on Sunday night before a record Petco Park crowd of 45,567.
The bearded Wilson had a strong spring, but he was far from sharp Sunday. After Smith’s homer, he walked Yasmani Grandal and then dropped Everth Cabrera’s sacrifice bunt for an error.
When Denorfia missed a bunt, third baseman Juan Uribe charged the plate, and with shortstop Hanley Ramirez failing to cover third, Grandal stole third. Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly elected to bring the infield in while not holding Cabrera at first, allowing him to easily take second.
All of which proved costly when Denorfia lined his game-winning, two-run single to center.
When first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was charged with an error on a hard-hit bouncer by Chase Headley, that was it for Wilson.
Wasted was a strong outing by Ryu. The Dodgers already have Cy Young winners Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke to headline their rotation, but now Ryu is acting like a guy who wants in on the exclusive club.
Ryu was subbing for the injured Kershaw and looked very much the ace, adding the seven scoreless innings to the five he had previously thrown in Australia.
Ryu retired 16 consecutive Padres at one point and did not give up a hit after the second inning. In his seven innings he allowed three hits, three walks and he struck out seven.
Carl Crawford had what might politely be called a poor spring. There was the birth of his third child, but nothing much notable happened for him on the field. He hit .154 and drove in one run.
He struck out three times Sunday, but did single in the Dodgers’ lone run in the fifth off San Diego starter Andrew Cashner.