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JT on Ryu: 'Absolute display of art of pitching'

Lefty tosses 7 shutout frames in return; L.A. slugs 4 homers vs. D-backs
@kengurnick
August 11, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- The best team in baseball got its best starting pitcher back on Sunday and, well, you can probably guess how that went. Hyun-Jin Ryu came off the injured list to resume his National League Cy Young Award quest with seven scoreless innings and the offense slugged four

LOS ANGELES -- The best team in baseball got its best starting pitcher back on Sunday and, well, you can probably guess how that went.

Hyun-Jin Ryu came off the injured list to resume his National League Cy Young Award quest with seven scoreless innings and the offense slugged four home runs, two by Justin Turner, during a 9-3 rout of the D-backs at Dodger Stadium.

Box score

“It’s an absolute display of the art of pitching,” Turner said of Ryu’s latest masterpiece. “He can pitch to all four quadrants, his command has been great all year. Vintage Ryu. Changing speeds, keeping guys off-balance. He’s like Houdini when he gets in trouble; he finds a way out of it.”

Ryu improved to 12-2 with an MLB-best 1.45 ERA after scattering five hits in his first start since missing 10 days with a sore neck. The Dodgers single-season ERA record for a starter is 1.58, set by Rube Marquard in 1916. Sandy Koufax’s best was 1.73; Clayton Kershaw’s was 1.69.

“It’s definitely unbelievable,” Ryu said of his ERA. “Like I’ve said many times, I don’t think this is all because of myself. There are many people around me, especially my teammates, that have helped me reach that number. My goal is to do what I do and finish the season strong.”

Ryu routinely deflects credit to others, but he’s not afraid to take blame. He said he would love to “destroy” his June 28 start at Coors Field, when he allowed seven runs in four innings. If he could strike it from the record, his ERA would be 1.04. That, however, is not the way Ryu sees it.

“It was actually beneficial because I was able to focus on the next start,” he said. “Sometimes, to have a hiccup like that makes you able to refocus, and I was able to do what I needed to do.”

The Dodgers are 17-5 in Ryu’s starts and finished the current homestand 8-2, improving their MLB-best home record to 48-16. They lead the National League West by a season-high 19 games. The rotation is 6-1 in August. Since April 25, it’s 39-16.

“We’re having an incredible year as a group. No one has pitched on a short leash, which means we’re all doing our part,” Ryu said of the rotation. “You can look at the stats and the numbers we’re putting up.”

Turner afterward talked about keeping the pedal to the metal with the postseason home-field advantage at stake. That said, Roberts used the eighth and ninth innings to continue summer training camp tryouts for relievers Yimi García and JT Chargois, and each allowed a home run.

Whether focused on the daily grind or more into Spring Training roster competition, there’s something for everyone with the Dodgers these days.

Especially starting pitching. In this three-game series, Ryu, Kenta Maeda and Walker Buehler threw 20 shutout innings. Clayton Kershaw, who has an 11-2 record and a 2.72 ERA, starts Tuesday in Miami.

“We’re in a great spot with those three guys in particular, and Kenta coming off a start as good as he’s had in four or five starts,” Roberts said. “And offensively for us to get leads and allow them to go deeper into games [is great]. This is as good a starting group as we’ve had here.”

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