In his final start before the All-Star break, Ryu left the game after six innings with the Dodgers leading 1-0. Ryu allowed only two hits and struck out a season-high 10 batters before handing things over to Brandon League to start the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium.
Ryu entered the day with a 9-5 record and a 3.65 ERA. He lowered his ERA to 3.44 with this gem. It was his fifth scoreless start of the season, and his first since April 17 against the San Francisco Giants.
In 2013, his first year in Major League Baseball, Ryu didn’t pick up his 10th win until Aug. 2, in his 21st start. He went on to win 14 games. This was his 18th start.
|Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin throws in the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium. (AP-Yonhap)|
Ryu had been just 3-3 with a 4.66 ERA in eight starts at Dodger Stadium prior to Sunday, compared to 6-2 with a 2.75 ERA in nine road starts.
The Padres entered the game with an MLB-worst team batting average of .214 and had no answer against the South Korean lefty.
Ryu struck out two batters in the first inning to set the tone for the rest of the day. He fanned two batters in the next frame, and in the third, Brooks Conrad went down swinging and Alexi Amarista struck out looking on three pitches.
Carlos Quentin got the first hit for San Diego with two outs in the top of the fourth and he was soon forced out at second on Yasmani Grandal’s grounder to short.
Ryu went back to business in the fifth, again striking out two Padres. Amarista had San Diego’s second hit of the game to lead off the sixth, but Tyson Ross botched his sacrifice bunt as Amarista was thrown out at second. With Ross standing on first with a man down, Ryu fanned Chris Denorfia and got Chase Headley to fly out to right.
Ryu said he had an excellent command of his off-speed pitches against the Padres.
“I was able to put my breaking pitches in the strike zone when I was ahead in the count,” he said. “I had good control and struck out a lot of guys.”
The Dodgers broke the deadlock in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Dee Gordon singled and stole second. One batter later, Yasiel Puig drove Gordon home with a single, putting Ryu in line for the victory.
Three Dodgers relievers kept the Padres at bay to preserve the win for their starter. Kenley Jansen picked up his 27th save with an adventurous ninth. He put runners at the corners with one out, but struck out the final two batters to end the Padres’ last rally.
Ryu said his goal in the second half of the season will be to keep lowering his ERA.
“If I can lower my ERA, then I feel wins will come naturally,” he said. “I am happy to have put together scoreless starts in the first half, but disappointed that I gave up a lot of runs early in a couple of starts. My goal is to keep my ERA below 3.10.”
The near-flawless start on Sunday came only four days after one of Ryu’s roughest outings of the year. Against the Detroit Tigers, Ryu got tagged for seven earned runs in just 2 1/3 innings.
He said he had enough gas left in his tank after the abbreviated outing last week.
“I was hit so hard the last time out, and I concentrated extra hard today,” Ryu added. “I figured I was going to come out in the seventh inning, since I batted in the bottom of the sixth and I wasn’t fatigued. But after we scored a run in the sixth, I guess the manager (Don Mattingly) made up his mind.”