Rookie sensation Hyun-Jin Ryu wasn’t the only Korean celebrity at Blue Heaven on Earth Tuesday night. Controversial, but undeniably popular Korean pop star Park Jae-sang, better known as PSY, was also in attendance to watch the star pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Best known for his hit single Gangnam Style that has taken the world by storm, PSY adds to an already large celebrity representation at Dodger Stadium. Even though PSY has the first, and currently only, music video in the history of Youtube to reach one billion views, his presence could prove a public relations faux pas for the Dodgers.
As for the game itself, PSY may prove to be a good luck charm of sorts for Ryu, who pitched the best game of his short MLB career so far.
Dexter Fowler led off the game for the Colorado Rockies by striking out looking for the first out of the game. While Dodger fans didn’t know it then, this was a sign of things to come. The very next batter was Josh Rutledge who struck out swinging and it was starting to become clear that Ryu was in the zone. He gave up a solo home run to Carlos Gonzalez to put the Rockies up 1-0 early, but Ryu wasn’t fazed and struck out Michael Cuddyer to record the third strikeout of the inning.
The Dodgers came out of the gate fast with Jerry Hairston, Jr., filling in for Carl Crawford because of tightness in his right hamstring, singling to shallow center field and Nick Punto reaching on a bunt single to first base, giving the Dodgers’ struggling Matt Kemp a chance to capitalize. Much to the delight of Dodger fans, Kemp delivered with a single to left field, plating Hairston, Jr. to tie the game at 1-1 and advancing Punto to third base. With runners on the corners and nobody out, Adrian Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly to left field that was deep enough to let Punto tag on the play and score. Hanley Ramirez, in his first start since being activated off the disabled list, grounded out to first base, but moved Kemp up 90 feet to second base. Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa got out of the jam by getting Ethier to pop out to right center field. But, the damage had been done and the Rockies had already squandered their lead and now trailed 2-1.
Ryu picked up in the second inning right where he left off in the first by striking out Jordan Pacheco to lead off the inning. This was Ryu’s fourth consecutive strikeout against the Rockies lineup. Nolan Arenado broke up that streak, but wasn’t able to reach base safely either. He grounded out to second base. Yorvit Torrealba also grounded out to second base to end the inning.
A.J. Ellis led off the bottom of the second by drawing a walk and Juan Uribe singled to shallow left field, giving the Dodgers two runners on with no outs for the second inning in a row. Ryu came up to bat and grounded into a double play, with Uribe being the sole safe runner, advancing to second base. Hairston singled to shallow left field, and Uribe rumbled around third and scored to increase the Dodgers’ lead to 3-1. Hairston advanced to second base on the throw home. Punto followed that up with a single of his own to left field, plating Hairston and extending the lead to 4-1. Matt Kemp hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning, with Punto being thrown out at second base.
The Rockies’ bats were dominated once again in the top of the third with the second 1-2-3 inning in a row for Ryu, who started the inning off by striking out Jonathan Herrera and De La Rosa for two quick outs. He then got Fowler to hit a comebacker to him, which he tossed to Gonzalez at first base for the third out of the inning.
Gonzalez led off the bottom of the third by striking out, but Hanley Ramirez decided to take a page out of the Manny Ramirez playbook and hit a home run on his own bobble head night. Ethier followed that up by doubling to right field. Ellis grounded out to third base for the first out of the inning. That brought up Uribe with the pitcher in the batter’s box. The Rockies decided to give Uribe a free pass and face Ryu. The move backfired. Ryu singled to shallow right field, knocking in Ethier to give himself an insurance run. Uribe advanced from first to third on the play and subsequent throw, giving the Dodgers runners on the corners for Hairston. De La Rosa got out of the jam by getting Hairston to pop out to shallow left field for the final out of the inning, but not before the Dodgers could cross the plate two more times and extend their lead to 6-1.
Rutledge led off the fourth inning by grounding out to shortstop. After that, Gonzalez worked the count and drew a walk, but he wouldn’t get past first base. Ryu struck out the next two batters – Cuddyer and Pacheco – with ease.
Punto led off the Dodgers’ half of the fourth by popping out to left-center field for the first out of the inning and Kemp followed that with a pop out to second base. Gonzalez hit a two-out single to shallow center field and Ramirez moved him to third base on a double to shallow right field, keeping their inning alive. Unfortunately, Ethier grounded out to second base to end the threat, giving De La Rosa his first scoreless inning of the game.
The top of the fifth was pretty much the same for the Rockies as the rest of the game – Another quick 1-2-3 inning dominance by Ryu. Arenado started it off by flying out to center field then Torrealba struck out looking. Herrera struck out swinging for the final out of the inning.
The Rockies decided to go with their bullpen in the bottom of the fifth inning. Edgmer Escalona relieve De La Rosa and Reid Brignac took over shortstop duties to complete the double switch. Escalona tossed a perfect frame for the Rockies, striking out the trio Ellis, Uribe and Ryu for a three strikeout inning.
Brignac led off the sixth inning by striking out with his bat on his shoulder. The speedy Fowler followed that up by hitting an infield single to second base. Rutledge grounded out to third base, advancing Fowler to second base. Gonzalez drew a walk and Fowler stole third base on ball four, giving the Rockies runners on the corners with two outs. Cuddyer finally came through for the Rockies by doubling to shallow right field, plating Fowler and advancing Gonzalez to third base. The run scored inched the Rockies closer, now trailing just 6-2. Ryu struck Pacheco out to end the inning and kill the Rockies’ rally.
The bottom of the sixth inning was pretty lackluster for the Dodgers. Hairston led off the inning with a fly out to shallow left field and then Punto lined out to left field. Kemp got a two out single to right field but Gonzalez lined out to first base to end the inning.
Ronald Belisario got the call to come in as Ryu’s relief to help preserve the game. He got things started off right when he got Arenado to ground out to third base for the first out of the inning. Torrealba drew a walk and the Rockies sent out a pinch hitter for Escalona. Ryan Wheeler lined out to left field for the second out. Brignac kept the inning alive by singling to right field, advancing Torrealba to second base. Belisario responded by striking out Fowler for the final out of the inning.
Matt Belisle relieved Escalona and he struck out Hanley Ramirez to start off the bottom of the seventh inning. Either drew a walk before Belisle struck out Ellis for the second out of the inning. Uribe grounded into a fielder’s choice with Ethier getting thrown out at second base to end the inning.
The Dodgers made a double switch for the top of the eighth inning. Luis Cruz took over third base duties from Uribe and Kenley Jansen came in to relieve Belisario. Jansen gave up an infield single to Rutledge to start off the inning, who slapped a hit to the shortstop but was able to beat out the throw. Gonzalez cancelled that out by grounding into a 6-4-3 double play. Cuddyer popped out to shallow right field to end the inning.
Rex Brothers relieved Belisle for the bottom of the eighth inning and got Cruz to line out to shallow right field to start the inning. Hairston responded by singling to right field but Punto flied out to right field for the second out of the inning. That brought up Kemp, who subsequently struck out swinging to end the inning.
In a non-save situation, the Dodgers stuck with hard throwing Jansen for the ninth inning. He coasted through an easy inning, garnering three routine fly outs to Pacheco, Arenado and Torrealba to preserve the win for Ryu.
Ryu had a career-high 12 strikeouts through six innings en route to his third win of the season. He gave the jersey he wore during the game to PSY after the game.
”I’m just very thankful the game turned out the way it did,” Ryu said through a translator. ”It would’ve been a really different situation if it went the other way. I’m glad he came by.”
”He (Ryu) pitched well,” said Pacheco”It does make it difficult when you haven’t faced a guy. You don’t really know his tendencies or what he likes to go to. But at the same time, he hasn’t faced you so it goes both ways.”
Pacheco struck out three times against Ryu.
The 12 strikeouts overall were the most by a Dodgers rookie since Hideo Nomo struck out 13 in 1995 at Shea Stadium in New York.
”He was really good,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. ”He had his A game and it was going to be tough to put together a big inning or put together something big against him. He was in control.”
De La Rosa’s career record against the dodgers fell to 0-8.
”It’s like they know what’s coming,” said De La Rosa, who had recorded quality starts in his first four starts. ”I have to do something different the next time I face them.”
Crawford is expected to play Wednesday night after receiving an unscheduled rest day and staff ace Clayton Kershaw is expected to rejoin the team in time to pitch Friday against the San Francisco Giants. He has been on bereavement leave since his father passed away on Sunday.
The Dodgers recalled former closer Javy Guerra from Triple-A Albuquerque, swapping him with Josh Wall to give Wall some time to work on his mechanics and confidence.