Fending off a sweep, the Dodgers finally broke through on offense and were backed up by excellent pitching. In other words, they looked like what everybody wants the Dodgers to look like today, winning by a score of 7-1.
Much like last night, the Dodgers had an important outing by a starting pitcher during today’s game. Hyun-jin Ryu, so underrated yet so important for the Dodgers’ playoff hopes (for proof, remember what the Dodgers’ rotation looked like during the last two weeks), returned from the disabled list, and all he did was have one of his best outings of the season. He was touched up in the first inning by Yangervis Solarte and Yasmani Grandal doubles, but that was all the Padres could do.
After the early speed bump, Ryu settled down and retired the next 14 batters in a row. In his seven innings of work, he struck out seven batters and didn’t walk any. He even had 17/24 first pitch strikes and only had two three ball counts. Along with the fantastic control, his curveball was working about as well as we have seen from him.
The Padre batters were extremely off-balance, which helped Ryu carve through the lineup efficiently. He could have gone further into the game (only 84 pitches today), but was pinch hit for during a rally in the top of the eighth inning. The bullpen has worked so much through the extra innings over the last couple of days, and Ryu pitching deep into the game will set them up well for the upcoming series against the Nationals. The value of innings is sometimes overlooked in favor of the value of ERA, FIP, etc, and today’s game showed an instance where just going deep into the game was important on its own.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers began the game picking up where they left off on offense. Eric Stults couldn’t really find the plate, but the Dodgers were having trouble taking advantage. Stults walked five batters in six innings, but the Dodgers only scored two runs against him, including not scoring with the bases loaded and one out in the third inning.
However, that changed in the eighth inning. After the team loaded the bases with no outs (cue groaning), they scored four runs while batting around. Perhaps the most exciting play was this slide by Matt Kemp, coming after a Jesse Hahn wild pitch:
The slide avoided an out at the plate, instead resulting in the fourth run of the game. After struggling so much with runners in scoring position over the first two games of the series, the Dodgers were 6-for-14 today. Things are so much more fun on that side of the mean.
Also encouraging is that Adrian Gonzalez had four hits today. Juan Uribe also had two hits in his return from the disabled list, including the first with the bases loaded in the eighth inning rally and a double in the ninth.