LOS ANGELES -- For all of the early issues that cropped up for the Dodgers, it's hard to knock the quality of their fifth starter.
That's Hyun-Jin Ryu, who merely outpitched Stephen Strasburg Saturday night with a two-hitter over seven innings in the Dodgers' 4-0 win over the Nationals.
Ryu retired the final 13 batters he faced and came away with more than a little satisfaction, along with a 3-0 record and 1.99 ERA.
"Definitely an intriguing matchup against Strasburg, one of the best righties in the National League," said Ryu. "It definitely helped me focus more. I don't want to say it kind of got to me, but most definitely I was thinking about the matchup and pitching well enough to give the team a chance to win."
He struck out eight for a total of 27 this season in 22 2/3 innings.
"He's really synched up, and he's got a lot of confidence," manager Dave Roberts said of Ryu, now in his second healthy season after missing two years with injuries. "For him to start a season as a regular player, healthy, he's very motivated and confident. This has been huge for our staff."
"I think we probably had a decent approach, but the way he kept going back and forth kept us off balance just enough," said Washington catcher Matt Wieters. "He threw a great game, and Stras was battling pitch for pitch and gave us a chance to win. We just couldn't quite mount any kind of rally."
Sharing the pitching spotlight with Ryu was closer Kenley Jansen, who looks like he's finally ready to roll, judging by a sudden jump in velocity to 96 mph against the Nationals after hovering around 91 previously.
"He's on a mission to get back," said Roberts.
Jansen concedes his semi-vacation during Spring Training, designed to preserve him for late in the year after last year's grueling campaign, might have under-prepared him for the start of the season.
"I'm good now," said Jansen. "Maybe the season starts for me. Seriously, I just continue and focus and stay on it. This game teaches you, sometimes you can get in bad habits so quick. I never stop believing in myself, no matter the outcome."