Hyun-Jin Ryu’s seven scoreless innings are more than enough for Dodgers’ offense as they cruise past Rockies for division lead
This victory was for Kenley Jansen.
When the Dodgers played in Colorado a couple weekends ago, Jansen stayed home. No sense risking the altitude triggering another episode of atrial fibrillation.
The Dodgers hopped back into first place Monday with an 8-2 rout of Colorado that left them half a game ahead of the Rockies with 11 games to play.
The Dodgers’ last four days have ended like this: second place behind Colorado, first place, second place behind Colorado, first place. It is possible that the two teams could finish tied for first place in the National League West.
But, if they do, the tiebreaker would be played at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers clinched the season series against Colorado on Monday, earning them home-field advantage in a potential tiebreaker against the Rockies and sparing them any concern about playing that game without Jansen.
Of course, if the Dodgers play a few more games like the one they did Monday, that issue would be moot. Joc Pederson hit two home runs, Max Muncy hit one, and that was in the first four innings.
They’ll play the final two games of the Rockies series behind their best starting pitchers, Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. The Rockies might have to play without MVP candidate Trevor Story, whose status is uncertain after he left Monday’s game because of elbow pain.
The hitters were not the only productive participants for the Dodgers. Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven scoreless innings, giving up four hits and no walks, striking out five.
“He’s always been a big-game pitcher,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “For him to be healthy and set the tone for this series, he was in complete command.”
Ryu lowered his earned-run average to 2.18 overall and 1.29 at Dodger Stadium. He has been limited to 70 innings this season, primarily because of a severe groin injury, but he has not missed a turn since rejoining the rotation Aug. 15.
“He’s been lights-out all year,” Muncy said. “He came back from the injury, and it didn’t seem like he missed a beat.”
This season could be different. With the Dodgers moving Alex Wood to the bullpen last week, Ryu and Rich Hill could complete a playoff rotation, unless they opt for right-hander Ross Stripling as a matchup alternative to one of the left-handers.
The Dodgers have won five consecutive division championships. But Ryu last pitched in the postseason in 2014, the year before he had the shoulder surgery that threatened his career.
“Last year, I had to sit on the sideline,” Ryu said through an interpreter. “It definitely was a different feeling. … If I can consistently and continually show what I’m doing, I have pretty good confidence I’ll be able to make the postseason roster this year.”
Wood, who did make the playoff rotation last year, relieved Ryu on Monday. In his first relief outing this season, Wood gave up two runs and failed to complete his one inning. He faced five batters, walking one and hitting one, and giving up a hit too.
Pederson, like Ryu, was left off the roster when the postseason opened last year. Unlike Ryu, the Dodgers added Pederson for the later rounds, and Pederson hit three home runs in the World Series.
As Matt Kemp has cooled, Pederson has settled into the role of platoon left fielder. Pederson led off the first inning with a home run, the first of six runs the Dodgers racked up against starter Jon Gray before they dismissed him in the third inning.
By that time, the Dodgers led 6-0, with three of those runs coming on Muncy’s 33rd home run. The complete list of NL players with more home runs than Muncy: Matt Carpenter, Bryce Harper and Nolan Arenado.
Those three players have a combined 13 All-Star appearances. Muncy was at home this time last year, after hitting 12 home runs for triple-A Oklahoma City.
Jansen said he isn’t sure the doctors would have forbidden him from traveling to Colorado, but the potential tiebreaker game in Los Angeles means one less thing to worry about.
“At some point, I have to play there again, if I want to be a Dodger — nine, maybe 10 times a year,” he said. “I’ll be fine.”
Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin
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