If it wasn’t for the Dodgers’ outstanding starting pitching, the narrative heading into the all-star break would be much different than what it probably will be. Sure, the Dodgers won 1-0, but if they hadn’t pulled out victories in the final two games there would be a lot of complaints about the offense (which remains one of the best in baseball over the course of the season).
The world doesn’t need much more evidence that the Padre offense is bad, but consider this. On Thursday night, Clayton Kershaw retired the first seven batters that he faced. On Saturday night, Paul Maholm retired the first ten batters that he faced. And this afternoon, Hyun-jin Ryu retired the first eleven batters that he faced. He shook off a Chase Headley comebacker which appeared to hit left forearm in the first inning and went on to pitch one of his best games of the year.
Ryu didn’t have much command against the Tigers earlier this week, but his curveball and slider in particular looked very sharp today. The only hits Ryu allowed were a Carlos Quentin looping single to short left field and Alexi Amarista‘s grounder up the middle. He also struck out ten batters and walked none. If there is one thing to critique in Ryu’s start today, it’s that he only made it through six innings. Mattingly’s hook seemed a bit quick, since Ryu only made 92 pitches. He also batted in the prior inning and isn’t pitching again for eight days. Nevertheless, the Dodgers would take that start ten times out of ten.
Tyson Ross nearly matched Ryu, pitching seven innings while striking out nine batters and walking one. The Dodgers had a very difficult time with his slider, swinging and missing at it or only managing weak contact. The Dodgers almost broke through in the second inning, starting with runners on first and third with nobody out. However, A.J. Ellis struck out and Miguel Rojas lined to third, which turned into an easy double play. To Rojas’ credit, he hit the ball hard. Ross kept the Dodgers bats quiet until the sixth inning. Dee Gordon singled (and stole second on a pitchout). Carl Crawford walked behind him, and Puig singled up the middle to drive the run in. He was pretty excited:
Puig went on to add a double to the gap in the eighth inning. The all-star game is usually boring, but I’m really excited to see Puig in Minneapolis.
The bullpen mostly picked off where Ryu left off. Brandon League allowed two baserunners and only got two outs in the seventh. League was hurt by his own issues on defense, failing to touch first base on what would have been an inning-ending double play (it was really close, but a challenge on the play was ruled inconclusive). J.P. Howell cleaned up League’s mess in the seventh, then pitched a scoreless eighth. Kenley Jansen, pitching for the third day in a row, walked a batter and allowed a single before striking out noted Dodger-Killer Seth Smith to secure the victory.
The Dodgers will now head into the all-star break with a 54-43 record, the best in the National League. They re-open the season against the Cardinals in St Louis on Friday, but all eyes will be on the Dodgers’ four all-stars. In the meantime, you can expect coverage of prospects from Dodgers Digest, with Dustin on the Futures Game and an updated top prospects list in the coming days.