LOS ANGELES -- Before Sunday, the last time Hyun-Jin Ryu was the winning pitcher for the Dodgers their shortstop was Hanley Ramirez, their right fielder was Matt Kemp, their third baseman was Juan Uribe, their catcher was A.J. Ellis and their second baseman was Darwin Barney.It's been a while. In
LOS ANGELES -- Before Sunday, the last time Hyun-Jin Ryu was the winning pitcher for the Dodgers their shortstop was Hanley Ramirez, their right fielder was Matt Kemp, their third baseman was Juan Uribe, their catcher was A.J. Ellis and their second baseman was Darwin Barney.
It's been a while. In fact, the Korean media had it right down to the number of days, 973, a drought that ended on Sunday with Ryu pitching the Dodgers to a 5-3 win over the Phillies and a sweep of the series.
After shoulder and elbow surgeries, literally years of rehabs and an 0-4 start to this season, Ryu didn't undersell the significance of his first win since Aug. 31, 2014.
"Today's definitely a milestone for me," said Ryu. "It's been almost 1,000 days since I've had a 'W,' so it's definitely a milestone and I'd like to build on it from this moment and always put the team in position to win."
The only run Ryu was charged with was tainted, as right fielder Yasiel Puig misplayed leadoff hitter Cesar Hernandez's first-inning fly ball into a triple with a late break and a drop. But Ryu minimized the damage in the first with two of his nine strikeouts, allowing only three hits over 5 1/3 innings. Three walks helped run his pitch count up to 93 and led to the early exit.
Otherwise, this was much more like the Ryu who won 14 games in each of his first two seasons. After allowing six home runs in his first 15 1/3 innings, Ryu has kept the ball in the park his last two games.
"If you look at his starts, take out some of the slug, a handful of pitches he left over the big part of the plate, but the whole body of work is really good," said manager Dave Roberts. "He continues to trend in the right direction."
That's a good thing for Ryu, as the Dodgers have too many starting pitchers. They are going through their second turn with a six-man rotation and Rich Hill is a week or two away from returning from a blister, although it hasn't been determined if he will start or relieve.
Roberts said he now looks at Ryu as a pitcher, not a rehabbing pitcher.
"For me, that's in the past," Roberts said. "For him, where he's at right now, he's throwing the ball pretty dang well. The last couple years were very difficult for him, but he's working, preparing. I feel good every single time he takes the mound."
Ryu said he believes he's "pretty similar" to the pitcher he was before the operations, conceding that his fastball velocity is still a tick or two slower. But his changeup and curveball have made up for that.
"I took a long time and it's been a difficult road," said Ryu. "Now that I'm here and I've gotten my first win, I'm very happy. Considering the last two games, I feel fine. Velocity-wise, I didn't have it as much as the previous game against the Giants, but as the innings went on I got my velocity back. Giving up the run in the first inning was upsetting for me, but in the end, it all worked out fine."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.