Dodgers 2, Giants 1: Exhale

gonzalez_hits_bummgarner_2014-04-07

In between Yasiel Puig doing all the things that make him great – and don’t forget the out-of-nowhere catch that may have saved a run in the eighth inning – there was actually a baseball game today. I know! And once again, Hyun-jin Ryu is making people notice that the Dodgers have more than two outstanding starting pitchers. Ryu shut out the Giants on 112 pitches over seven innings, walking one and allowing four singles. That’s it.

If this sounds familiar, well, maybe it should. Ryu has now pitched three times on the road, and he’s allowed exactly zero runs in 26 innings against Arizona, San Diego, Arizona again, and San Francisco. His one game at home? Two innings, eight runs. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Other than, you know, nothing, probably. (Eric Stephen notes that Ryu is now the second Dodger in the last century with four straight road scoreless starts, joining Orel Hershiser.)

Also as usual: the Dodgers really, really needed Ryu to be good, because the offense was underwhelming. The Dodgers did get 11 men on base, including three doubles, yet somehow managed to get only two runs in, one on a Tim Federowicz single, and one on the Adrian Gonzalez single you see above to plate Scott Van SlykeMatt Kemp, disappointingly, went 0-4, but at least he made a sparkling catch in deep center field; Dee Gordon, getting a shot against lefty Madison Bumgarner because Justin Turner was pressed into service at shortstop to replace Hanley Ramirez, also went hitless. In the three games in San Francisco, the Dodgers scored five runs. It’s hard to win like that, and for the most part, they didn’t.

After Ryu, Brian Wilson came on in the eighth for the first time since returning from the disabled list and proceeded to scare the hell out of all of us, needing 28 pitches to get through the inning, allow a double to Ehire Adrianza and a walk to Hunter Pence. He did, however, touch 97, which is a good sign for a guy who just missed two weeks with elbow trouble, but only 15 of those 28 pitches were strikes.

And I suppose we can’t ignore Kenley Jansen, who also made it interesting by letting a run in, despite allowing just about nothing hard-hit. Jansen started off by striking out Mike Morse, which is great, except Morse still reached when Federowicz couldn’t handle the pitch. Jansen then blew away Hector Sanchez, but walked Gregor Blanco before allowing Adrianza to dink a dink into left field, scoring Morse. Mercifully, pinch-hitter Brandon Crawford flew out to end it. The Dodgers and Giants are now tied for first, with the Dodgers headed back home to welcome the putrid Diamondbacks tomorrow night. It’s fun just to type that.

Oh, and just in case you still think that Puig is the only player in the game who does dumb things: Gonzalez led off the eighth with a double, and after Kemp struck out, Van Slyke grounded to Jeremy Affeldt… who caught Gonzalez inexplicably hung up between second and third. As Gonzalez was being tagged out in the rundown, Van Slyke tried to sneak into second, getting tagged out as well for your traditional 1-6-5-4 double play. Puig absolutely does dumb things, don’t forget. No one’s saying he doesn’t. But so do other players. Lots of them.

Dodgers @ Giants April 17, 2014: No Hanley, And Bad History For Ryu

attparkThe Dodgers are looking to salvage this series — much like the last series against the Giants — in the final game of a 3-game set. They turn to Hyun-jin Ryu to be the “stopper.”

Normally, I’d feel pretty confident (even going up against Madison Bumgarner), but for whatever reason, Ryu struggles against San Francisco.

In six career outings — including the disastrous April 4 home opener when he gave up six runs on eight hits in two innings — Ryu has been less than stellar against the Giants:

Dodgers
Giants
12:45 pm PT
San Francisco, CA
2B
Gordon
SS
Arias
SS
Turner
RF
Pence
RF
Puig
3B
Sandoval
1B
Gonzalez
C
Posey
CF
Kemp
LF
Morse
LF
Van Slyke
1B
Belt
3B
Uribe
2B
Hicks
C
Federowicz
CF
Blanco
P
Ryu (L)
P
Bumgarner (L)
  • 3.89 ERA
  • 1.58 WHIP
  • 3.4 BB/9
  • 5.2 K/9
  • 1.54 K/BB
  • .300 BAA

If you take out his numbers against the Giants, Ryu looks like an even better pitcher than he already is against the rest of baseball:

  • 2.77 ERA
  • 1.11 WHIP
  • 7.8 H/9
  • 2.2 BB/9
  • 7.9 K/9

The only thing that hasn’t done (knock on wood) is give up a lot of homers to the Giants. Ryu’s biggest problem has been the walks. In fact, 22.8 percent of the walks he’s issued in his career have come against the Giants. The Giants’ plate discipline won’t be confused for the Red Sox or A’s anytime soon, which makes the higher-than-optimal walk rate against SF rather surprising.

The hitters who have given him the biggest problems are Angel Pagan (5-for-8), Andres Torres (5-for-11, 1 2B), Hunter Pence (6-for-15, 2 2B, 2 BB), Marco Scutaro (5-for-12, 1 BB) and Pablo Sandoval (4-for-14, 1 2B, 3 BB)

If there’s any silver lining, it’s that Ryu has fared better in San Francisco against the Giants than he has in Los Angeles.

  • 3 games
  • 3.20 ERA
  • 19 2/3 IP
  • 16 H
  • 7 R
  • 7 ER
  • 1 HR
  • 6 BB
  • 11 K

The Dodgers have struggled against the Giants so far (1-4), and a win on Thursday would do a lot to stop the bleeding. I’ve said it on the podcast, but I think the Dodgers and Giants will be fighting for the majority of the season for first place, with the Dodgers ultimately pulling away in August or September. But, as is always the case, the Giants will be a tough draw for the Dodgers.

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Yet another story detailing Yasiel Puig‘s journey from Cuba to the United States was published. ESPN has it this time with some additional details than the article that came out on Sunday in Los Angeles Magazine.

“Sometime after 1 in the morning, the knock came. Two men dressed in burglar back stood silently at the door. Somehow, there were no guards that night. (Yunior) Despaigne is at a loss to say why. Regardless, Tomasito had chosen an inopportune moment to relax his grip on his captives. Following the two men in black, Despaigne, Puig, his girlfriend and the padrino crept out of the hotel and down a few dark streets and into a marina and onto a waiting boat that ferried them across the water to Cancun. No violence, no Tomasito, no Leo, no guards. The heist had worked. But the Rubio group had also just ripped off a criminal gang whose highly lucrative underworld ventures required the sanction of Los Zetas. They had now motivated some darkly uncompromising individuals. In plotting the heist, they hadn’t really even discussed the dangers; they were just that obvious. But so too were the rewards, and they’d come to an unstated consensus: For a chance to get Yasiel Puig, they were willing to risk their lives.”

So, the next time you run into someone who’s badmouthing Puig for “not playing the game the right (white) way,” show them these articles. It might be a waste of time because there are just some folks with tiny brains and a complete unwillingness to open their minds to the other side.

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Hanley Ramirez is out today after taking a fastball off his hand/wrist last night. X-rays were negative, which is encouraging. Ramirez says he plans to play tomorrow, which is nice, as though we all haven’t heard that one before. But the Dodgers can really ill-afford to lose Ramirez for an extended period of time. Justin Turner gets the nod in his place.

Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 0: Hyun-Jin Ryu, Adrian Gonzalez lead the way

ryu_2014-03-30-standsThat went about as well as could be expected. The Dodgers had a comfortable 6-0 victory on Friday night in Arizona behind great performances from Hyun-Jin Ryu and Adrian Gonzalez.

Ryu, starting for the first time in a week, threw seven scoreless innings, allowed two hits, walked one and struck out eight Diamondback hitters. He threw 99 pitches (70 strikes) in his seven innings. He showed no ill effects from his toenail injury. His velocity was on-par with his season average to date (90.9 MPH tonight, 90.7 MPH on the season), and he topped out at 93.1 MPH. He mixed his pitches well, throwing just 56 fastballs, 19 sliders, 16 changeups and eight curveballs. He had all his pitches working on this evening.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Dodger game without some kind of injury — even though it’s minor.

Sounds like he’ll be OK. Jamey Wright threw two scoreless innings of relief to close out the game.

Gonzalez got things going right away in the first inning, turning on a Brandon McCarthy fastball and hitting a no-doubter to right field. He followed that up with a 2-run single and an RBI single. In fact, the only at-bat in which he didn’t get a hit was when Paul Goldschmidt (whom the Dodgers, somehow, kept off base) made a diving stop on a liner down the line. It was Gonzalez’s best game of the season, logging three hits and five RBIs.

Hanley Ramirez chipped in three hits of his own, scoring three runs and driving in Yasiel Puig (who went 1-for-4 with a double in his return to the lineup) in the eighth inning.

Dee Gordon continued his hot hitting, chipping in two singles and a stolen base out of the No. 8 spot in the lineup. Juan Uribe had a rough night at the plate, grounding into two double plays. But he made a great play in the field and is the early leader in defensive runs saved for the Dodgers (+4).

The Dodgers send Zack Greinke to the hill on Saturday to face Wade Miley. Expect a different lineup than the one that was out there on Friday. First pitch is at 5:10 p.m. AHT. The Dodgers are now 7-4, while the Diamondbacks fall to 4-9.

Dodgers @ Diamondbacks April 11, 2014: The Return of the Puig

puig_yasiel_st 3.13.14

Puig will start for the first time since April 2. (By: Dustin Nosler)

After splitting a 2-game series with the Tigers, the Dodgers (6-4) travel to Arizona to take on the Diamondbacks (4–8). We all know what happened last time these two teams met in Arizona — the Dodgers clinched the National League West title for the first time since 2009.

Yes, the Dodgers, behind a strong bullpen performance and home runs from Hanley Ramirez (two) and A.J. Ellis helped to clinch. The Dodgers then celebrated in the Chase Field swimming pool — something that pissed off seemingly everyone in Arizona. Oh, then they allegedly peed in said pool.

Chase Field - Flickr Ryan Leighty

Hope that pool is clean. (via)

Much was made about this situation (which I refuse to call “poolg–e,” mostly because the term is idiotic), but the fact of the matter is: if the D-Backs didn’t want the Dodgers celebrating in their pool, they should have played better baseball. For everyone’s sake, I hope there’s no retaliation tonight for the Dodgers, because the Dodgers will likely have to retaliate, leading to a surefire brawl — something neither team needs right now.

The two clubs met in Sydney in the last couple weeks of March to play the opening series. The Dodgers won both games, but lost Clayton Kershaw for at least a few weeks, but more likely a month or two. There’s no definitive proof the trip played into his injury, but it’s hard to deny it had an adverse affect on him.

Dodgers
Diamondbacks
6:40 pm PT
Phoenix, AZ
LF
Crawford
CF
Pollock
RF
Puig
2B
Hill
SS
Ramirez
1B
Goldschmidt
1B
Gonzalez
3B
Prado
CF
Ethier
C
Montero
3B
Uribe
LF
Trumbo
C
Federowicz
SS
Owings
2B
Gordon
RF
Parra
P
Ryu (L)
P
McCarthy (R)

Hyun-Jin Ryu is making his first start in a week after getting shelled against the Giants in the Dodgers’ home opener on April 4. Yasiel Puig returns from a strained/sprained thumb he suffered by foolishly sliding head-first into first base. He pinch hit on Wednesday night (and struck out), but this is his first start since the injury. Ken Gurnick reported Puig might actually have more issues fielding rather than hitting. We’ll see if it’s a factor tonight.

With Puig back in the lineup and the Dodgers facing a right-hander, Matt Kemp is getting his first night off since returning from injury. He hit two home runs on Sunday night, but he’s 0-for-7 with two walks and five strikeouts. His swing looks like it once did, but he didn’t have much of a spring training, so some ups and downs are to be expected from him early on.

Oh, then there’s this:

Awesome.

Giants 8, Dodgers 4: At Least Matt Kemp Didn’t Break

ryu_giants_2014-04-04

There’s no way around this, really. After a stellar first two starts, Hyun-jin Ryu was atrocious today, giving up six runs in the first and two more in the second before finally stepping aside. He walked three. He gave up eight hits. At no point did he look like the Ryu who had been so good in San Diego and Australia.

Of course, he didn’t get a lot of help, either. Matt Kemp fumbled the first ball hit to him, and while it didn’t turn an out into a hit, it did allow runners to advance. (He also failed to bring in a long drive in the second, though it was scored a hit.) With two outs and a 3-0 deficit, Dee Gordon lost an easy pop up in the sun, which fell between Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier. (This is how the box score reads “Brandon Hicks doubled to first.” Hanley Ramirez made a poor throw on Buster Posey‘s second inning grounder, giving away an out and helping to set up more damage. Ryu wasn’t good, but his teammates made it look a lot worse.

Slowly, very slowly, the offense tried to work back. Gonzalez and Ethier hit back-to-back homers in the fourth, then Matt Kemp doubled in Carl Crawford in the fifth. After Hanley Ramirez singled Kemp to third, chasing Ryan Vogelsong, Ethier drove in Kemp against David Huff, cutting the lead to four. Juan Uribe smashed a ball down the third base line, looking for all the world like at least one run would score, but Pablo Sandoval made a nice play to snare it.

But that was it, sadly, because after Ryu, the story of the day was missed opportunities. Both homers were solo jobs, and despite the fact that the Dodgers had 10 hits and four walks, they could manage to cash in just four of those baserunners.

Silver lining No. 1: the bullpen was great! Jose Dominguez, Brandon League (!), and Chris Withrow each threw two innings of solid ball, and when combined with Jamey Wright‘s ninth inning, the Giants did not get a hit after the second inning. Think on that for a minute; in a game where the Giants scored eight runs, they actually went hitless for seven innings.

Silver lining No. 2: Kemp is still in one piece! Playing all nine innings after Yasiel Puig‘s benching, he doubled, walked, and scared the hell out of all of us when it looked like he went into the wall hard, though it turned out to be nothing. On the double, at least, his trademark extension looked to be there. If you can take nothing away from this game other than some small solace from Kemp, it’s well worth it.

Puig did not appear in the game after his benching. It’s probably all his fault anyway.

Hyun-Jin Ryu’s Other New Toy

After Hyun-jin Ryu‘s excellent start on Sunday evening, his curveball got attention here and elsewhere. Sunday’s start was Ryu’s first of the year in front of a Pitch F/X system, so I went to Brooks Baseball to look up more information on the curve. However, while researching, I stumbled on something else that was interesting. The curveball wasn’t only different pitch for Ryu. According to the data, Ryu has added a sinker (the pitch could also be a two-seam fastball, since Brooks often groups the two pitches together).

According to Brooks, Ryu threw the sinker 14 times on Sunday, or 16% of his 86 total pitches. Before that start, he had never thrown the pitch. He didn’t use the sinker very often while ahead in the count, instead using it more often while behind or even in the count.

The break on the pitch is very interesting:

Ryu_Sinker_Break

The sinker basically breaks the same as his change-up but at 91MPH. In concept, that sounds great. If the break is similar, it could potentially fool batters into thinking that the sinker is a change (or vice versa). If that’s true, the pitch could be a valuable addition to Ryu’s arsenal.

I decided to search Baseball Prospectus’ Pitch F/X leaderboards for comparable sinkers in 2013. The closest option I could come up with was Wei-Yin Chen, who throws his sinker at approximately the same speed and same break as Ryu’s. Chen is about a league-average pitcher, but his sinker hasn’t had great results. He allowed a line drive rate of 27% on the pitch and a SLG of .500 in 2013, neither of which are great. However, break doesn’t describe the full value of a pitch and Ryu might have the added benefit of deception.

After digging into the specifics Ryu’s sinker, there’s some reasons to be concerned. First of all, he tended to leave the pitch up:

Ryu_Sinker_Location

He also only generated one swing and miss on the pitch, far less than what is ideal. Here’s a GIF of the pitch doing its job, however:

GIF Link

It’s a bit early to get excited about Ryu’s sinker. Half of them came in the first inning, while he was struggling with his command. He threw seven more while he was pitching well. The sinker could just be an aberration in the Pitch F/X data. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on Ryu (and the accompanying data) to see if he keeps using the pitch, and to monitor his success with it.

Hyun-Jin Ryu’s Fun New Toy

ryu_2014-03-30-standsYesterday, we noted how awesome Hyun-jin Ryu was in his start against the Padres, even though the offense and Brian Wilson conspired to blow it for him. And he was! Now we know a bit more about why, thanks to Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register:

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said Ryu was debuting a new curveball grip he worked on all spring. And, indeed, PITCHf/x data tracked on BrooksBaseball.net measured Ryu’s curveball as having nearly twice as much vertical movement Sunday night as compared to his two playoff outings last October.

“It was the sharpest curveball I’ve seen him throw in the last year and two starts,” Ellis said.

Fun! Let’s investigate. First, via Brooks, it does seem like Ryu’s movement was indeed nasty last night, and do note that this chart is arranged in a way that the lower it is, the more movement there is. (The park in Australia didn’t have PITCHf/x cameras installed, obviously, so we’re limited to just yesterday.)

ryu_curve_brooks

Ryu threw 13 curves last night, and it’s easy to show that the Padres did nothing with them. Four were balls, four were called strikes, two were fouls, two were swinging strikes — including a punch-out of Chase Headley — and one was a Chris Denorfia groundout.

Let’s look at the Headley whiff. LOOK AT IT. It’s glorious.

GIF Link

But what’s interesting to me is that while he may very well be using a new grip, as Ellis mentioned, it seems he’s releasing it from a different point as well. Another graph:

ryu_release_brooks

Look how much lower that is. So let’s go back and compare that to last year. Unfortunately, Ryu somehow managed to get through his entire debut season without pitching in San Diego, so the camera angle won’t be identical. Here he is against Gregor Blanco in July instead:

GIF Link

It’s admittedly difficult to see release point differences in GIFs, so I won’t pretend that I do. But what does seem clear is both that the Blanco pitch doesn’t dive as much, and also that it started higher, as it went only to Blanco’s belt, as opposed to below Headley’s knees.

There’s also this: Ryu’s curveball wasn’t really a weapon for him last year. He threw it 295 times, and it got hit hard, to the tune of a .307/.325/.480 line against. And yet, he was still 17th overall in FIP. He was still 14th, tied with Stephen Strasburg, in ERA, and 25th, tied with Justin Verlander, in RA9-WAR. On a team where he wasn’t overshadowed by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke (and Yasiel Puig, and Matt Kemp, and Hanley Ramirez, and…) he might have been viewed as an ace. By some measures, he already was, and now he’s got a fancy new toy and 12 scoreless innings to start the season. I would have taken a repeat of last year and been perfectly happy with that, honestly. If there’s now some hope that he can be even better, well, that’s just not fair.

Padres 3, Dodgers 1: At Least Ryu Was Great

ryu_bats_2014-03-30

Hey, Hyun-jin Ryu: I think this is going to work out just fine.

And really, when this game got started, I wasn’t sure this was going to be Ryu’s night. Missing badly outside to righty hitters, Ryu allowed three of the first four Padres to reach, walking Everth Cabrera and Jedd Gyorko around a Chase Headley strikeout and Chris Denorfia single. He survived by inducing a Yonder Alonso 1-2-3 double play, but then allowed the first two hitters of the second to reach, and it seemed like this might be a long evening.

But then: nothing. Ryu got the next three in a row to escape the second, then sailed through the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings — setting down 16 in a row, including the first batter of the seventh — and even when the streak was snapped by Tommy Medica‘s walk, Will Venable‘s double play immediately ended the the threat. In seven innings, Ryu struck out seven; in 12 innings this year, he’s struck out 12 and allowed not a single run. This is, as I saw someone joke on Twitter, potentially the greatest March in baseball history.

Oh, I know the Dodgers lost. Don’t think we won’t get to that. We will. But before we start talking about the eighth inning, I wanted to at least focus on how good Ryu was in front of a record-setting Petco Park crowd, because over the course of the long season, his production is worth way more than the one game that was dropped today.

Obviously, there’s more to the story than that, because then Brian Wilson had to immediately blow it by allowing Seth Smith to destroy a baseball on Wilson’s third pitch of the 8th inning. But it’s okay: it got worse, when Wilson walked Yasmani Grandal, then couldn’t handle a Cabrera bunt, then allowed Grandal to steal the first base of his professional career — and while that’s partially on Juan Uribe, I like to think that the Dodgers just couldn’t see Grandal in his camouflage uniform — and then Denorfia drove in two with a single. After Adrian Gonzalez booted a ball of his own, off the bat of Headley, that was it for Wilson, having retired zero batters. Chris Perez entered to get Jedd Gyorko, and Paco Rodriguez, thankfully, struck out Alonso and Medica to get out of it.

Kenley Jansen, as far as I know, never warmed.

I’d like, if we could, to not kill Don Mattingly for lifting Ryu after 88 pitches, which I’m already seeing some of on Twitter. Remember that 48 hours ago, we didn’t even know if Ryu was pitching this game, thanks to that toe injury. Remember that it’s March 30. Remember that he’s starting three of the first six games. Remember that Clayton Kershaw is on the DL. If there was ever a time not to push your starter, this was it.

Wilson gets hung with the L, which I mention only because it was absolutely deserved, but of course, I’d be remiss to not mention the disappearance of the Dodger offense, which is another way of saying “Andrew Cashner is really, really good.” Only Carl Crawford (who drove in Dee Gordon for the only run in the fifth), A.J. Ellis (two), and Juan Uribe had hits; only Yasiel Puig, Ellis, and Gordon walked, and yes, that does mean that Ellis reached three times.

But what that means is that the top five — Crawford, Puig, Hanley Ramirez, Gonzalez, and Andre Ethier — combined to go 1-19 with a walk. Crawford struck out three times. Gordon couldn’t get the job done with two on in the second. Ryu’s fifth-inning bunt attempt with two on ended with Ellis thrown out at third. Ramirez grounded out to end the fifth with the bases loaded. There was a whole Gordon/Ryu buntastrophe in the seventh that may or may not have been Mattingly’s fault.

It doesn’t really seem like it because this was the first game most of us watched — I know I didn’t really give the Australia games the usual amount of attention — but the Dodgers still have two wins in their first three games. While the fact that they’re off tomorrow (Zack Greinke and Ian Kennedy resume the series on Tuesday) might not sit well after tonight’s loss, I’m frankly looking forward to the idea of 12 solid hours of televised baseball without needing to worry about the score.

So Much Good News. Too Much Good News?

ryu-australia_2014-03-23

This right here, this is good news:

The Dodgers will start Hyun-jin Ryu in their domestic regular season opener on Sunday night against the Padres at Petco Park. The southpaw cracked his right big toenail while running the bases on Sunday in Sydney (Saturday night in Los Angeles), but has been cleared by the team medical staff to return to the mound.

So is this:

The Dodgers’ home opener against the Giants on April 4 could double as a homecoming of sorts, and not only because that may be Clayton Kershaw‘s first regular-season appearance on the mainland: There is a good chance it also will mean the return of Matt Kemp.

The Dodgers’ outfielder, recovering from surgery on a major weight-bearing bone in his left ankle, Friday pronounced himself all the way back and ready to roll.

And this, from Don Mattingly on Clayton Kershaw:

“He didn’t feel anything throwing. Obviously, he was not trying to throw 95.

“My next question was did he feel anything when he played catch the other day, and he said yes.

“That means we’ve taken a little step forward.”

And so, somehow, is this:

Given their spate of early season off-days, the Dodgers will not need a fifth starter until April 19. And when that day comes, a familiar face appears ready to step back into the rotation: Josh Beckett.

In fact, Beckett is doing so well that if Clayton Kershaw isn’t ready to pitch by next weekend, the veteran right-hander could be called upon.

And what the hell, this was great to see from Joc Pederson last night, too:

As we look forward to the final exhibition game tonight and the start of the regular season tomorrow, we’re being hit with nothing but good news on the eve of what should be a fantastic season. So like any good Dodger fan would ask, what could possibly happen to make us rue feeling so positive? I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. For now, nothing but good news.

Dodgers 7, D’Backs 5: Nice Way To Start A Season

ryu-australia_2014-03-23

I am quite unsure how that could have gone better. If there’s one thing that would have been more annoying than flying approximately 200 million miles to Australia during spring training — for the players, that is, because I’ve quite enjoyed seeing baseball at the famed Sydney Cricket Grounds — it would have been flying approximately 200 million miles only to come home knowing that you’re starting your season 0-2, down two games to your biggest competitors in the division.

So… good luck with all that, Arizona.

After a solid Clayton Kershaw start in the first game of the abbreviated two-game set, Hyun-Jin Ryu followed with five shutout innings, allowing just a walk and two singles. Including Kershaw’s start, the two Dodger starters combined for 11.2 innings, giving up just one run while striking out 12 against two walks and seven hits… and Zack Greinke wasn’t even part of it. You know what? I think that’s going to work.

Out of the pen, things were great, until things got derpy. Chris Withrow and Paco Rodriguez combined to throw 1.2 scoreless innings, reminding us all how perturbed we’ll be when they’re inevitably sent to Triple-A when the team has to set their regular Opening Day roster. Jamey Wright struggled a bit, allowing four runners on and one to score, but J.P. Howell picked him up, then Jose Dominguez struggled too, because what would a baseball game trying to sell itself to a new audience be without a four hour running time? Paul Maholm came in, mercifully, to get an out, but only just one, because Don Mattingly insisted on going out to get Kenley Jansen to shut the door… only to see Jansen immediately give up a homer to Mark Trumbo, cutting the lead to two, but Jansen rebounded to strike out Gerardo Parra.

(Sadly, no appearance from Seth Rosin. Imagine if he’d made his debut here, then got Rule 5′d back to Philadelphia and never made it back, thus making his only MLB appearance ever coming on the other side of the world? Just a hypothetical, of course; Alexander Guerrero actually did get his first plate appearance, striking out against Addison Reed as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. I imagine we’ll see him again.)

But to merely focus on outstanding pitching — other than the eight walks, of course — would be to neglect an offense that put up seven runs against Arizona starter Trevor Cahill and several relievers who were not Arizona starter Trevor Cahill. Three Dodgers had three hits apiece, combining for nine of the club’s 13 hits, and I’m not sure I’m being facetious when I say that Dee Gordon, Yasiel Puig, and Juan Uribe just might be the most unlikely trio in the world to comprise that group. Each of the three had a double and two singles — Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier also reached three times, it should be noted, combining hits and walks — and Puig reached base a fourth time, on a hit by pitch.

Gordon actually got on five times, believe it or not, thanks to a hit by pitch, and also thanks to not a little bit of help from Arizona catcher Miguel Montero (thanks, Chad!):


GIF Link

All this, by the way, despite the Dodgers doing their best to give runs back to the Diamondbacks with silly mistakes. Puig was thrown out twice on the bases, Adrian Gonzalez let a ball get past him at first (though it was scored a hit,) Gordon booted what looked to be an easily catchable ball, and then, well, this happened:


GIF Link

But then, that Montero gaffe was just one of Arizona’s three errors, and the Diamondbacks didn’t have seven runs and a pitching staff that did not allow seven runs to divert attention to.

The Dodgers fly back to California after the game, and are expected to arrive back home at around 3 p.m. Pacific on Sunday, with three days off before facing the Angels in the first game of the Freeway Series on Thursday. No matter what happens there, they’re still 2-0 in games that count. It’s a pretty nice way to spend a 17-hour flight, I would imagine.