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Putting L.A. behind 8-ball

Dodgers are unable to recover from Ryu's very short, rocky start

April 05, 2014|Dylan Hernandez

Yasiel Puig was late for batting practice and scratched from the lineup, but he wasn't the reason the Dodgers were crushed Friday in their home opener by the San Francisco Giants.

Hyun-Jin Ryu was.

The pitcher the Dodgers leaned on most in the aftermath of Clayton Kershaw's back injury, Ryu lasted only two innings and gave up every one of the runs scored by the Giants in an 8-4 defeat at Dodger Stadium.

This was the very antithesis of the first game here last season, when Kershaw not only pitched a shutout against the Giants but also hit a home run in a 1-0 victory.

"I disappointed the fans and also my teammates," said Ryu, who pitched a combined 12 shutout innings in his first two starts.

For the month or so that Kershaw is on the disabled list, the Dodgers can't afford to have many more starts like this from Ryu or Zack Greinke, who will face the Giants in the series finale Sunday. Kershaw's absence has already forced the Dodgers to tap into their pitching reserves. Veteran left-hander Paul Maholm, who was signed to be the team's sixth starter, will take the mound Saturday.

That Ryu was in trouble early Friday wasn't particularly surprising, as his first-inning earned-run average last season was 5.10. What was surprising was that he couldn't make the bleeding stop.

Ryu retired the first two batters he faced, only to walk No. 3 hitter Pablo Sandoval.

"Two-out walk," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "Sometimes it will come back to haunt you and sometimes in a big way."

Did it ever.

Eight consecutive batters after Sandoval reached base, and the Giants took a 6-0 lead in what turned into a 37-pitch inning for Ryu.

Ryu wasn't entirely to blame. Matt Kemp allowed Michael Morse to take an extra base when he failed to cleanly field his single to center field. Dee Gordon and Adrian Gonzalez lost a popup in the sun, resulting in a double for Brandon Hicks. With the bases loaded, a backtracking Hanley Ramirez couldn't catch a flare into shallow left-center field by pitcher Ryan Vogelsong.

"We didn't do him any favors defensively, either," Ellis said.

The Giants extended their lead to 8-0 in the second inning, in which Ryu threw 32 more pitches. Manager Don Mattingly wouldn't let him throw any more.

As it was, Ryu was starting for the third time in six games for the Dodgers.

An entire week separated Ryu's starts in Australia and San Diego. But even when the typically durable Kershaw was healthy, the Dodgers were determined not to subject their ace to this kind of workload.

For his part, Ryu claimed to be unaffected by the condensed camp or making his third start so soon.

Whatever the case, Mattingly made it sound as if the Dodgers would use their two days off next week to give Ryu extra days of rest before his next start.

The Dodgers have a day off Monday. They plan to start Dan Haren on Tuesday in the first game of a two-game series against the Detroit Tigers. They had Josh Beckett lined up to start Wednesday, which meant Ryu wouldn't have had to make his next start until the Dodgers play Friday in Arizona.

However, Beckett appeared to be injured Friday night in his start with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga. Beckett, who is on the disabled list with a sprained thumb, left the game in the fifth inning with a trainer by his side after fielding a bunt, according to a scout on site who spoke under the condition of anonymity.

Chad Billingsley is also working his way back to the major leagues, but won't be available for at least another month.

Billingsley, who underwent reconstructive elbow last year, is scheduled to pitch Sunday at Rancho Cucamonga. The game will be the first of five Billingsley will pitch in the minor leagues. He said that if he emerges from his start Sunday without any problems, he will pitch two games for triple-A Albuquerque, then two more for Rancho Cucamonga. He will pitch every five days.

Considering the operation from which Billingsley is recovering, he said he won't return prematurely.

"Whenever I feel I'm ready, I'll be back," he said. "Whenever they feel I'm ready too."


Twitter: @dylanohernandez



The third out is always the toughest

Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, who hadn't given up a run in his first two starts of the season, gave up six runs to the Giants after two were out in the top of the first Friday.

Pagan strikes out

Pence flies to right

Sandoval walks

Posey doubles to left

Morse singles to center


Belt bloop single


Hicks pop-fly double


Arias walks (intentional)


Vogelsong bloop single


Pagan singles to center


Pence walks


Sandoval lines out




San Francisco 8, Dodgers 4

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