‘Milestone’ for Hyun-Jin Ryu as Dodgers sweep Phillies
The magnitude of the moment was not lost on Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who struck out nine over 5 1/3 one-run, three-hit innings on Sunday to earn his first victory since Aug. 31, 2014.
“Today is definitely a milestone for me because it’s been almost 1,000 days since I’ve had a W,” Ryu, speaking through an interpreter, said after a 5-3 victory completed a three-game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies in Dodger Stadium.
Nor was it lost on a South Korean reporter, who was quick to correct Ryu. “It’s actually been 973 days,” the reporter said, as Ryu and those in the interview room broke out in laughter.
Did Ryu, limited by shoulder and elbow injuries to one game in 2015 and 2016, think it would take this long to return after his shoulder surgery in May 2015?
“No, I definitely didn’t see it coming,” Ryu said. “It’s been a long time, a difficult road, but now that I’m here, I’m really happy with my efforts.”
Ryu didn’t inspire much hope with his first three starts, going 0-3 with a 5.87 earned-run average and allowing six homers in 15 1/3 innings. His last two starts, in which he allowed two earned runs and eight hits in 11 1/3 innings, have been more promising.
“He threw the ball well,” manager Dave Roberts said. “There was a compete in there. The pitch mix was really good. He continues to trend in the right direction.”
The velocity of Ryu’s fastball, which sat between 88-90 mph on Sunday, is down from the 91-93 mph he threw in 2014, but Ryu had a sharp, downward break on his curve, burying it in the dirt for several strikeouts, and mixed his changeup and slider well.
“I pitched toward their weaknesses and my strengths,” Ryu said. “My offspeed has worked pretty well the last couple of games, and that’s why I’ve used more offspeed.”
In the first, Ryu gave up a triple to Cesar Hernandez — a ball that right fielder Yasiel Puig got a late break on, ran down at the warning track and dropped — a run-scoring single to Freddy Galvis and a walk to Daniel Nava. He retired the next three batters, two by strikeout, to limit damage in the 24-pitch inning.
Ryu needed only 56 pitches to blank the Phillies on one hit over the next four innings before departing in the sixth with a 2-1 lead that the Dodgers built on Justin Turner’s RBI single in the first and Chris Taylor’s solo homer in the second.
Andrew Toles led off the first with a double, Cody Bellinger reached on an infield single, and Turner capped an eight-pitch at-bat with a single to left, extending hitting streak to 16 games and kick-starting a three-hit day that raised his average to .404.
Toles followed Yasmani Grandal’s leadoff single and Chase Utley’s two-out walk in the sixth with a three-run homer that traveled 403 feet to right-center off reliever Jeanmar Gomez to give the Dodgers a 5-1 lead.
“He doesn’t scare from a big spot,” Roberts said, “and today, that three-run homer was huge.”
Toles’ second homer in two games — he hit a 421-foot shot Saturday night — and fifth of the season tied him with Puig and Corey Seager for the team lead. The most homers Toles hit in any professional season was seven for rookie-league Princeton (West Virginia) in 2012.
“I’m working with my hitting coaches on my swing path, trying to elevate the ball,” Toles said. “I’ve always hit the ball hard but have never had that lift on it.”
Don’t let that 5-foot-9, 192-pound frame fool you. Toles might have the body of a leadoff man, but he does a fair impersonation of a cleanup batter.
“It’s not really about size, it’s about bat speed and direction,” Toles said. “You want to throw me good pitches to hit, I’ll hit them over the fence from time to time.”
Toles said some pregame advice from Turner, who suggested Toles try to load his swing more on the inside of his back knee than his hips, helped.
“He just asked me one question, I agreed with him, and he took into the game, I guess,” Turner said. “The guy can hit. We saw it last year. Even the outs he’s making, he’s hitting rockets all over the place.”
Odubel Herrera also hit a rocket into the right-field seats for a two-run homer off Dodgers left-hander Grant Dayton to pull the Phillies to within 5-3 with two outs in the ninth, but Kenley Jansen came on to strike out Hernandez for his seventh save, preserving the team’s sixth win in eight games.
Do you bleed blue?
Get our Dodgers Dugout newsletter for insights, news and much more.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.