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Ryu opens All-Star Game on the right foot

@kengurnick
July 10, 2019

Based on the 2019 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, the Dodgers save their best performances for the championship pursuit. While they had five representatives on the National League team on Tuesday night, only Hyun-Jin Ryu matched his first-half play, becoming the first Korean player to start an All-Star Game and

Based on the 2019 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, the Dodgers save their best performances for the championship pursuit.

While they had five representatives on the National League team on Tuesday night, only Hyun-Jin Ryu matched his first-half play, becoming the first Korean player to start an All-Star Game and checking in with a scoreless inning. The Dodgers were in the middle of just about everything, though, during a 4-3 loss to the American League.

Fellow Dodgers starting pitchers Clayton Kershaw (who received the loss) and Walker Buehler allowed single runs in their one-inning stints, MVP candidate Cody Bellinger struck out in both of his at-bats and Max Muncy went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and was unable to backhand a ground ball that led to the run charged to Buehler. However, Muncy also made a sensational diving play to retire Carlos Santana.

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Ryu escaped unscathed despite allowing a leadoff single up the middle by Houston’s George Springer. Three ground balls followed, including a rocket one-hopper by Mike Trout off the chest of second baseman Ketel Marte, who hung in there and retired the Angels’ superhero.

Ryu -- in his first MLB All-Star Game after appearing in seven (four starts) in Korea -- made 12 pitches, the fastest at 90.6 mph.

“I think I did my job, getting grounders is always good for a pitcher, and I got most of them as ground balls, so I think I did my job as best I could that one inning,” said Ryu, who is the 16th Dodgers pitcher to start an All-Star Game, a list that does not include Kershaw, despite his eight appearances.

“Knowing [NL manager] Dave [Roberts], there was definitely a good level of comfort, and also I think it was more of a present that he gave [the start] to me for the good first half that I had for him, so I’ll try to do my best for the second half to make sure that we get to the World Series.”

Bellinger had a tough time in his second All-Star appearance, striking out twice. He was fanned by Masahiro Tanaka leading off the second inning and was caught looking by Lucas Giolito in the fourth. Bellinger was replaced in right field by Charlie Blackmon in the bottom of the fifth inning. Nonetheless, Bellinger seemed to enjoy his All-Star return more than his debut.

“It was awesome,” he said. “I think I tried to soak it in more -- the media, the autographs, the Home Run Derby, the game. You never know when it’s going to be the last one. I just enjoyed it.”

Bellinger was miked up on the national telecast for a chat with fellow MVP candidate Christian Yelich while they played the outfield during the second inning, and they talked about last year’s playoffs as well as the series between their teams this year.

“It gives the fans some insight in our personality and what we talk about on the baseball field,” he said. “I think it’s pretty cool.”

Kershaw followed Ryu and allowed a one-out single on a wicked smash by Alex Bregman gloved by third baseman Nolan Arenado, who lost the handle on the transfer while spinning. With two outs, Michael Brantley doubled to left-center to score Bregman. Kershaw stranded Bregman by striking out Jorge Polanco on a curve.

“It’s always great. I had a blast,” said Kershaw. “I really do enjoy my time, you know, obviously wish I didn’t give up a run. It’s just a lot of fun, soaking it in. Thankful for the experience every time. I really am. It’s not every day you get to be in the clubhouse with that group of guys.

“To experience it with my son now, who’s old enough -- my daughter got to experience it a few years ago -- but now that he’s kind of old enough to really enjoy it, he just had a blast, too, so it’s just a fun, fun experience.”

Little Kershaw has adorable All-Star practice

Buehler, in his first All-Star appearance, came on in the bottom of the fifth inning and allowed a double by Gary Sanchez leading off. Austin Meadows’ groundout moved Sanchez to third, and Sanchez scored when Muncy, in his first All-Star Game, couldn’t handle a Polanco grounder, which was ruled a single. Despite being charged with a run, Buehler struck out two in his inning of work.

“I’m a little disappointed, I didn’t want to give up any runs, but those things happen,” said Buehler.

An inning later, Muncy made a diving backhand stop and throw from his knees to rob former Dodgers farmhand Santana of a hit. Muncy, added as an injury replacement for Anthony Rendon, grounded out sharply in his seventh-inning at-bat and was struck out by Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.