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Ryu’s Long Outing + Dodgers Long Balls = Game 1 Victory for Dodgers

Talk throughout Los Angeles for the past couple of days has swirled around the Dodgers’ decision to drop Clayton Kershaw from his usual Game 1 starter status, and hand the ball to Hyun-Jin Ryu. Tonight it was time to see how that decision would look when put to the test.
As usual for an early evening start in LA, half of the fans weren’t even in their seats when the game began. Fans from other teams love to call this a lack of support for the home team, but anyone who lives here knows it’s got more to do with rush hour traffic around the stadium than apathy. The lucky ones who were in their seats early were treated to an easy first inning from Ryu and a very difficult one for the Braves’ starter Mike Mxpikylic, or whatever his Superman villian name is.
Joc Pederson got things started for the Dodgers in the first with a leadoff home run that got the crowd rocking. Justin Turner followed with a double, and Max Muncy promptly walked, putting the exclamation point on a potential first inning – big inning. Manny Machado and Yasmani Grandal both immediately struck out, putting the exclamation point on the fact the Dodgers all too often don’t string together enough base hits for a big inning. Cody Bellinger walked to load the bases and that brought up Yasiel Puig with two out. The Dodgers once again found themselves in prime position to put a crooked number on the board right from the get go.
The moment did not disappoint. The count ran full. Puig did disappoint however, as he swung at ball four – which was at least six inches off the plate. Inning over.
The frustration didn’t sit long. In the next inning, Max Muncy CRUSHED a pitch to center field. The best part was there were two other Dodgers on the bases, so Muncy’s blast put the Dodgers up 4-0.
Meanwhile, Ryu was methodically shutting down the Braves.
For some inexplicable reason, the Braves let their crappy pitcher bat in the top of the fourth, then yanked him and inserted a new guy for the bottom half.  This guy wasn’t so crappy, as he threw a 1,2,3 inning. Machado and Grandal were shaping up to be a strike out black hole in the middle of the lineup.
Ryu felt a little heat in the fifth, with two out, two on and pinch hitter Kurt Suzuki up. Ryu got him to pop up to Puig: threat over.
For the third time through the order, Machado and Grandal were back to back outs.
6th inning: Machado muffed an easy grounder, allowing a baserunner. He tried to steal and Grandal cut him down for a strike em out, throw em out double play! The Dodgers offense decided to make themselves heard in the sixth as well, with a solo HR from Enrique Hernandez. The Dodgers were now up 5-0.
Ryu was done after 7 innings: 104 pitches, 8 Ks, 4 hits, 0 walks, left with 5-0 lead. It was a magnificent start. He commanded the strike zone, and when the Braves made contact, it was soft, and usually an infield ground out. The Dodgers’ faith in Ryu paid off magnificently.
Caleb Ferguson took over in the eighth. He got a fantastic play (at both ends) from Machado chasing a screaming grounder into the outfield, and Muncy super-stretching and short hopping a ball to complete the out at first.
In the Dodgers’ half of the inning, Puig walked and when a pick off throw went wild, zoomed for third base, without even looking back. He was committed from his first step. It was a wonderful display of speed and bravado from the Wild Horse.
Meanwhile, the Braves were burning through their bullpen. Puig scored the Dodgers’ sixth run on a sac fly by PH David Freese.
In a bit of a surprise, at least to me, Alex Wood came in to close things out in the ninth. Wood got his first out with a running and sliding catch in foul territory by Yasiel Puig. Wood earned the second out himself with a strike out. After a pair of two out singles, Roberts had seen enough, pulled Wood and went to Dylan Floro to finish off the Braves. One pitch later, Randy Newman was blasting through the speakers at Chavez Ravine.
The Dodgers win 6-0 and go up 1-0 in the best of 5 series. WE LOVE IT!

Oscar Martinez

I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

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Oscar Martinez
I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

13 thoughts on “Ryu’s Long Outing + Dodgers Long Balls = Game 1 Victory for Dodgers

  1. Excellent win! The Braves burned through several pitchers today. Let’s run the count up in Game 2. Machado’s first two strikeouts were very borderline but it happens, and you’ve got to protect the plate by fouling those off sometimes.

  2. Still pissed I did not get the game on TV, but I did listen to the radio feed. The next 3 games are all on FS1 so I will get those. Nice way for Pederson to start the game off. He becomes the 4th LA Dodger to start a playoff game with a homer. Any of you remember Juan Uribe’s clutch homer in the 2013 playoff series with the Braves? Won the game and the series for them. That Braves team had a lot more veterans on it than this team does. Culberson will be playing SS the entire series with Swanson out.

  3. You have to be pretty confident right now even though it is only game 1. With Kersh going tomorrow and Buehler in game 3, the Dodgers have an excellent chance to sweep. The Braves won’t just lie down, but I think the Dodgers just have too much firepower for them. One bad thing this game, the Dodgers continue to strike out WAY TOO MUCH!

    1. I am not thinking sweep. Our hitters are hot and cold and we lost so many games to some of the worst teams ever.

      That said, we have enough good starters, and our hitters had good looks at 6 different Braves pitchers today. I am expecting a series win and if it takes 5 games it takes 5 games.

      One of the commentators on Fox Sport made an excellent point today. During the game there was a conversation about the Dodgers having a much weaker bullpen than last year. The commentator said the Dodgers have a good rotation this year, and further that the bullpen use or overuse, while understandable from an analytics point of view, has many long term negative effects on the bullpen that creeps up on you over time. And that is why after a very long season, the teams that win the World Series are usually the ones that have the most number of reliable starting pitchers. I am not sure he is talking about starters going the distance or 6 innings, but surely 6+innings would be a good standard these days and 7 would be great.

      1. Kershaw is 4-0 against the Braves in his career. They are hitting under .200 against him. So the chances of a win tonight are pretty good. They go to Atlanta up 2-0, and all the pressure is on the Braves. They would need to win 3 in a row, and that’s what you want to do, put pressure on your opponent. That was what they failed to do in the World Series last year. With Buehler set to pitch game 3, I think they are in a great spot.

  4. Wow! What a gutsy performance by Ryu! Total command all night. Had the Braves’ hitters on their heel with his arsenol of pitches, all six of his pitches were working. Great work by the bullpen. DR comes out looking like a genius, starting Ryu over Kershaw, but actually it was a no brainer decision.

    Pederson opens the floodgates with another monster leadoff home run. Then the gates closed abruptly, as the middle of the lineup, led by “The Smirk”, prevented a first inning run-a-way. I think DR needs to rethink the middle of the order. “The Smirk”, followed by Grandal, Bells lost in the mix, with Puiggy following. This lineup produced 6 runs, but also squandered many opportunities, leaving 15 on base, 1-7 RISP, and 10 K’s, 8 K’s coming from the middle of the order.

    RISP has to improve. If they move on, these opponents will be tough, and every run is going to be needed, especially against the powerhouse AL representitives.

    Kersh has a tough act to follow. If Kersh fairs well, and with Buehler following, this could be a sweep. The Rocks and Brewers beat each other up. Let them fight, and be battle weary for the NLCS.

    Go Blue, one game at a time!

    1. Forgot to add, that Funky Muncy was able to pocket three more runs, before “The Smirk” was able to put the brakes on another potential run-a-way.

    1. I would love to see Costas in the booth. He is leaving his network job at the end of this year. Guy is a great announcer. Much better than the guys on TBS. That being said, I still think Orel needs to leave the booth. Tired of his same old rhetoric and he is not that great of an analyst.

        1. On you he might look good. He still drones on and on. He did the FS1 broadcast last night and it was more of the same. BORING.

  5. A glorious article by Grant Brisbee.

    Love this part:
    I’m no statamatrician, but I’d like to see a stat for something like, “Appearances from someone who probably shouldn’t be there.” That is, both on the pitching and hitting side, times a player is in the game, even though he stresses you out. The postseason is two games old, and we’ve already seen Drew Butera, Terrance Gore, and Jonathan Lucroy hit. Fernando Rodney and Liam Hendriks have faced seven combined batters. These are players who make you say something like, “Uhhhhh” the whole time you’re watching them. It’s not because they’re bad; it’s just that they’re a little bit worse at varying skills than you’re used to.

    The Dodgers generally don’t have these players. Joc Pederson never turned into Jim Thome, but he’s still pummeling mistakes. Kemp is struggling since the second half, but he’s still punishing lefties. The rotation might not be as dominant is it has been, but Hyun-jin Ryu has been absolutely outstanding, and everyone behind him is absolutely worthy of a postseason roster spot, if not a postseason starring role.

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