LOS ANGELES -- Hyun-Jin Ryu was left off last year's postseason rosters by the Dodgers despite a reputation for big-time starts in big games. If Sunday doubled as a tryout for October, Ryu made a case for a role more demanding than cheerleader.He threw six scoreless innings with eight strikeouts
LOS ANGELES -- Hyun-Jin Ryu was left off last year's postseason rosters by the Dodgers despite a reputation for big-time starts in big games. If Sunday doubled as a tryout for October, Ryu made a case for a role more demanding than cheerleader.
He threw six scoreless innings with eight strikeouts and had three hits as the first-place Dodgers gave the last-place Padres a football-score whipping, 14-0, taking the rubber game of the series and cutting the magic number to win the National League West to six.
"He understands the magnitude of every start," manager Dave Roberts said of Ryu. "I've said it, I've heard it -- he's a big-game pitcher. It showed today. He was really on point today.
"He has the ability to execute multiple pitches. The moment doesn't get too big for him. He's got a certain heartbeat, doesn't get too amped up. Does a great job controlling the adrenaline and the feel of his pitches makes him very dangerous."
The Dodgers went 14-5 against the Padres this year, the kind of dominance that could decide the race with the Rockies, who were 11-8 against the Padres. The Dodgers, with six games to go, lead the Rockies by 1 1/2 games.
In the final regular-season home game on Korean Thanksgiving Day, Ryu improved his career record against the Padres to 7-1. He is 5-2 at home this year and essentially has switched places with Alex Wood, a starter last October but a reliever now.
"I think the team and I are heading in the same direction as far as the postseason," said Ryu, a free agent after this season. "Obviously, starting is something I've looked forward to in the past and if you're a starting pitcher, you definitely want to start. Right now, at the moment, I do feel optimistic."
Ryu (6-3, 2.00 ERA) downplayed the reputation of being at his best when he's needed the most.
"I'm aware people say that about me, but I try to make sure I find the right balance between anxiety and excitement as I go into a game. I think that's crucial. Up to this point, I think I've done a good job and that's my focus to prepare every game the same way."
At the plate, Ryu tied a career high with three hits. He's batting .292 this year.
"He's always talked about what a good hitter he is and I didn't see it the last few years, but we're seeing it now," said Roberts.
Fair enough, but it was homers from Manny Machado, Matt Kemp (on his birthday) and Austin Barnes did the real damage on Sunday. Player Page for Max Muncy, who didn't enter the game until the fifth inning, had a pair of two-run singles. In 16 games against San Diego this year, Muncy has 12 RBIs and five home runs.
Kemp also doubled, singled and finished with three RBIs for a career total of 1,002, 11th among active players. Machado has home runs in back-to-back games since moving into the cleanup spot. He has 37 homers this year and 13 as a Dodger, Kemp has 21.
Padres starter Joey Lucchesi (8-9) struck out the side in the first inning, but in the second inning served up solo home runs to Machado and Kemp and wiggled out of a bases-loaded mess without further damage. He put the Dodgers down in order in the third inning, but didn't get out of the fourth. Kemp doubled, Barnes homered, and David Freese's RBI single made it 5-0 to chase Lucchesi in what turned into a six-run inning.
The Dodgers' total home attendance of 3,809,684 this season is the second-highest in franchise history, behind the 2007 season (3,857,036) and the eighth-highest in MLB history.
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YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In his first Dodger Stadium appearance of the season, Julio Urias showed how far he has come back from shoulder surgery by striking out the first three batters he faced, including William Myers on a 96.8-mph fastball, according to Statcast™. He finished with four strikeouts in two scoreless innings.
Roberts didn't rule Urias out of consideration for the postseason.
"He's certainly in the conversation," said Roberts. "As we've said, the game tells you with performance and it becomes clearer the more games you play."
HE SAID IT
"I need 1,000 more to get up there with the big dogs." -- Kemp, on surpassing 1,000 in career RBIs
Clayton Kershaw can move the Dodgers closer to October baseball when he starts Monday night in the road series opener against Arizona and Robbie Ray at 6:40 p.m. PT. Kershaw has been nails down the stretch and this one takes on added significance. Not only is it key to the playoff chase, there's a slim chance it could be his final start as a Dodger, because he holds an opt-out clause after the season.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.