LOS ANGELES -- With Clayton Kershaw and Sandy Koufax watching and his teammates conducting their own Home Run Derby for support, substitute starter Hyun-Jin Ryu upheld the Dodgers' tradition of dominant left-handed pitching on Opening Day.
The fourth choice to get the season started, Ryu limited the D-backs to one run over six innings with eight strikeouts and no walks in a dominant 12-5 win on Thursday at Dodger Stadium. At one point, he retired 13 consecutive batters. Former Dodger Zack Greinke, who allowed four of the Dodgers' MLB Opening Day record eight homers in 3 2/3 innings, took the loss.
“His heartbeat is so consistent, and he never lets nerves or pressure get to him,” said manager Dave Roberts. “He was in complete command, both sides of the plate. Toward the second, third time around, he started using the top part of the zone. He made those guys feel him inside to open the outside part of the plate. He was just real good.”
Ryu was making the first Dodgers Opening Day start by a Korean since Chan Ho Park in 2001, in the first Opening Day not started by Kershaw since 2010. He drew the assignment because injuries left Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Rich Hill unable to take the ball.
“I was feeling good from the get-go, and getting that run support from my teammates definitely helped me in terms of getting in a good groove,” said Ryu. “From that point on, it was very comfortable because we had the lead and I felt good.”
Ryu’s history is that of rising to the occasion as long as he’s healthy, and he said the starting nod did not present added pressure. The only run came on a home run from Adam Jones leading off the sixth inning, but by that time, Ryu had a seven-run lead.
“My goal going into the game was not giving up an early lead, and that was what I focused on,” he said. “The game plan worked out well and the game ended the way we wanted.”