For all the success and subsequent confidence Hyun-Jin Ryu generated through the season’s first three months, and there was plenty of both, Friday night presented a challenge unlike any other.
Mistakes were not to go unpunished at a steamy Coors Field, where balls were carrying through the hot, thin air to a degree that left everyone amazed the previous night. A mislocated fastball or a straight slider or a hanging curveball could lead to a run or two or six. Coors Field in these conditions is a different beast.
Walker Buehler, himself on a roll before pitching in 90-degree heat a mile above sea level, found that out Thursday. And on Friday, Ryu was reminded of it too as the Dodgers’ 12-game winning streak over the Colorado Rockies ended with a zany 13-9 loss.
By the time Edwin Rios struck out for the Dodgers’ 27th out, the teams had combined for 28 hits, five home run and five errors around a 19-minute lightning delay. Through two games of their four-game series, the clubs have scored 48 runs and slugged 12 home runs.
“No pitcher likes coming here,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, “but you have to do it.”
Nearly two years after he was shelled for five runs in two innings the last time he pitched at Coors Field, Ryu (9-2) was pummeled and exited before recording an out in the Rockies’ eight-run fifth inning. He surrendered seven runs and nine hits, including three home runs. It was his shortest injury-free outing since August. The seven runs were more than he had given up in his previous 10 starts. His ERA climbed from 1.27 to 1.83, still the best in the majors.
He walked off the mound after yielding five straight hits to start the fifth. The final hit was a two-run home run by David Dahl, which gave Colorado a 7-5 edge. Joe Kelly replaced Ryu and things, as they often do when Kelly pitches, got weird.
The Dodgers committed three errors, made a couple of other mistakes in the field, and gave up three more runs before Kelly could finally secure the third out. Shortstop Chris Taylor was charged with two throwing errors, though novice first baseman Joc Pederson didn’t help much with the first, and Justin Turner was tagged with one. Kelly also misfired on a throw to first base on Chris Iannetta’s grounder and Charlie Blackmon reached on a ground ball that deflected off Taylor’s glove. Both Rockies were credited with hits, meaning Kelly gave up five in his inning of work. One left the infield. He did not agree with the official scorer.
“I think that if you read outside of the game or if you look at a box score, it’s not going to tell the whole story,” Kelly said. “I’m not a believer in me giving up five hits. It is Colorado. And we’re in Denver. Who knows? That guy up there could be ... high.”
Ryu and Kelly combined to throw 43 pitches. Two of the eight runs were unearned. The Dodgers (56-28) hadn’t given up that many runs in an inning since April 2017.
“That fifth inning, for us, obviously, worst inning we’ve played all year,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers shelled right-hander Antonio Senzatela for five runs in five innings before offering a swift response to the eight-run debacle. Max Muncy’s 464-foot, three-run home run off reliever Carlos Estevez cut it to 10-8. The lightning delay followed. Turner doubled and scored on a ground ball by Muncy that Rockies first baseman Daniel Murphy misplayed to slice the gap to one run.
It would not stay there for long. Dylan Floro allowed the first three Rockies to reach base in the eighth inning, leaving the bases loaded for J.T. Chargois. The right-hander entered and struck out Nolan Arenado on three pitches before yielding a sacrifice fly to Murphy.
Then came the knockout punch: a two-run double for Iannetta to swell the margin to four and put the Dodgers away on a night when even arguably baseball’s best pitcher could not avoid a fiasco in this setting.