SPORTS

Dodgers' Ryu Hyun-jin solid in return to rotation

By a2017001
  • Published : Jun 1, 2017 - 11:53
  • Updated : Jun 1, 2017 - 12:42

Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers has thrown a solid outing in his return to the starting rotation, while fellow Korean pitcher Oh Seung-hwan earned a save for the St. Louis Cardinals in the same game.

Ryu tossed six effective innings in a no-decision against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Wednesday (local time). Ryu held the Cards to a run on three hits over those half-dozen frames, while striking out four and walking one, but the Cardinals went on to win the game 2-1.

The left-hander was lifted for pinch hitter Austin Barnes in the top seventh with the score knotted at 1-1. He remains at 2-5 for the season but lowered his ERA from 4.28 to 3.91.

The Cardinals broke the tie in the bottom eighth with Dexter Fowler's solo home run, and Oh worked around a single in the top ninth to pick up his 12th save of the season.

This was Ryu's eighth start of the season and first since May 18.

Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals in their Major League Baseball regular season game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on May 31, 2017. (AP-Yonhap)

Last Thursday, Ryu made his first relief appearance in the majors and earned his first career save with four scoreless innings against these same Cardinals. He'd been squeezed out of the crowded Dodgers rotation, with the combination of his own inconsistency and some strong outings by others jockeying for position on the staff.

The Dodgers placed left-hander Alex Wood on the 10-day disabled list, opening up a spot for Ryu to take the mound against the Cardinals.

And Ryu made the most of his opportunity.

He retired the side in order in the first but got into some trouble in the second.

Tommy Pham hit a one-out single and moved to second on Stephen Piscotty's fly out to center. Paul DeJong then launched a double over the head of center fielder Chris Taylor to bring Pham home.

Ryu intentionally walked Aledmys Diaz to face Cards pitcher Carlos Martinez, who flied out to right.

Ryu was hardly threatened the rest of his day. He retired the next five batters in a row, three by swinging strikeouts, before Piscotty hit a ground-rule double with two outs in the fourth.

Ryu then settled down and set down his final seven straight batters.

Ryu missed the entire 2015 season with a shoulder injury and made just one start last year before elbow problems ended his season.

He has never been an overpowering pitcher and coming into this game, the average velocity of his four-seam fastball this season was 89.6 mph, more than 3 mph slower than the major league average. But he induced plenty of weak contacts against the Cardinals with an array of sliders, curves and changeups.

He got seven groundouts and six flyouts, most of them of the soft variety.

Ryu touched 92 mph with his fastball in the first and again in the third, but the four-seamer sat around 90 mph. He did get two of his strikeouts on fastballs, while the other two came on sliders.

Ryu has been getting little run support this season. He entered the game with an average of 3.43 runs scored per outing, 55th among 66 National League pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched. The Dodgers were in third in the NL with 270 runs scored before this game, with four other Dodger starters, Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda and Brandon McCarthy, all receiving more than five runs per game from the lineup.

Ryu has been mostly undone by extra-base hits this year, and two of the Cards' three hits off Ryu in this one were doubles.

He entered Wednesday's game having allowed eight home runs, 11 doubles and a triple in 40 innings, with opponents' slugging percentage of .519.

In 2013 and 2014, his first two full seasons in the majors, he held opponents to slugging percentages of .361 and .364, respectively.

Oh Seung-hwan of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates after striking out Chris Taylor of the Los Angeles Dodgers to save the Cardinals' 2-1 victory in their Major League Baseball regular season game at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on May 31, 2017. (AP-Yonhap)

Ross Stripling, who relieved Ryu in the seventh, allowed a go-ahead solo shot to Fowler in the eighth, which set the stage for Oh in the ninth.

Oh allowed a bloop single to shallow left to Adrian Gonzalez to start the ninth, but sat down the next three batters in order to preserve the victory.

Oh got Chase Utley to swing on a 1-2 changeup. Cody Bellinger then flied out to center. Oh went to 0-2 on Chris Taylor after two straight fouls, but Taylor then watched three straight sliders go out of the zone. Oh came back with another slider, and Taylor fanned on it to end the game.

Oh lowered his ERA from 3.00 to 2.88. He has converted 12 of his 14 save opportunities so far this year, and has struck out 24 in 25 innings. (Yonhap)