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Stellar Ryu backed by HRs as LA takes Game 1

October 4, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers chose Hyun-Jin Ryu over Clayton Kershaw to start Thursday's Game 1 of the best-of-five National League Division Series, and there's nothing wrong with the call so far.:: NLDS schedule and results ::Ryu dominated, allowing four singles in seven scoreless innings and striking out eight with

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers chose Hyun-Jin Ryu over Clayton Kershaw to start Thursday's Game 1 of the best-of-five National League Division Series, and there's nothing wrong with the call so far.
:: NLDS schedule and results ::
Ryu dominated, allowing four singles in seven scoreless innings and striking out eight with no walks, while sluggers Joc Pederson, Player Page for Max Muncy and Enrique Hernandez homered in a 6-0 victory over the Braves.
"I think we feel pretty good about it," Roberts said of his starting pitching decision.
In the history of five-game series with the 2-2-1 format, teams that have won Game 1 at home have gone on to take the series 27 of 36 times (75 percent). The Dodgers have won their last six NLDS games, including the last four at home, while the Braves have lost their last three NLDS games and six of their last seven.
The Dodgers now seem to be in command, with Kershaw starting Friday's Game 2 on an extra day of rest and rookie Walker Buehler starting Game 3 in Atlanta on Sunday, coming off his masterpiece in the Dodgers' Game 163 clincher.
"Sounds pretty good," Muncy said. "I don't know if there's anything that could sound much better than that."
Dodgers set tone with Game 1 power, patience

The decision to start Ryu was a surprise, but his shackling of Atlanta hitters just continued the late-season stinginess that got him the start in the first place. In five September starts he had a 1.50 ERA with 30 strikeouts and three walks. His regular season was interrupted by a three-month hiatus for a badly strained groin muscle, but before and after he was good enough to compile a 7-3 record and 1.97 ERA.
Ryu also pitched seven scoreless against the Cardinals in the 2013 NL Championship Series, joining Sandy Koufax, Orel Hershiser and Jerry Reuss as the only Dodgers to pitch multiple playoff games of at least seven scoreless innings.
Everything you need to know about Hyun-Jin Ryu

Although this was his first postseason appearance since 2014 because of a marathon recovery from 2015 shoulder labrum surgery, Ryu lived up to the reputation he developed in Korea of a big-game pitcher. He made a season-high 104 pitches and his fastball played up to 94 mph. He was pitching on an extra day of rest after allowing one run in six innings beating the Giants last Friday night.
"The three-year process was tough, but tonight seems to be the fruition of all that hard work I put in," said Ryu.

His changeup had the Braves off balance throughout the lineup.
"He did what we knew he was going to do," said Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman. "He pitches backwards. Every time you think you're going to get something, it's always the opposite. He commands up, down, in and out. The back-door cutters were big against righties and he kept throwing changeups to lefties, which kept us off balance."

Before the game, Roberts said Ryu was unhappy being left off last year's postseason roster and was eager to prove his worth. Everybody seemed pretty pleased after the win.
"I'm happy I was able to keep my promise to go full throttle from the get-go," said Ryu. "As a starting pitcher, I always prepare to throw 100 pitches."
His ERA in 10 Dodger Stadium starts this year is 1.02. No doubt that will be a factor if this series goes to a fifth game back at Dodger Stadium and management again must decide between Ryu and Kershaw.

Pederson, who slugged three homers in last year's World Series, didn't need to get as deep into October before going deep this postseason -- he did it in the team's first plate appearance. Pederson, who had 25 home runs during the season, launched a 98 mph 0-2 fastball from Mike Foltynewicz over the fence in right-center.

Pederson set the franchise record with eight leadoff homers this year, despite leading off only 59 times. He had one RBI on 0-2 pitches the entire regular season.
With a Justin Turner double and walks by Muncy and Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers loaded the bases, and with two outs the Braves started to warm up Sean Newcomb, but Yasiel Puig struck out to strand three.

But the Dodgers weren't done with Foltynewicz. With two outs in the second inning, the Atlanta right-hander hit Pederson on the foot with a pitch, walked Turner on a close 3-2 pitch, then Muncy took him deep for a three-run blast. Muncy, who led the club with 35 homers this season, is only the fourth Dodger to homer in his first career postseason plate appearance.
Folty ready for redemption after brief G1 start

Muncy also drew three of the Dodgers' six walks to become the first player to have a home run and three walks in his first postseason game. The Dodgers had eight walks and one hit batter.
Hernandez, who had a three-homer game in last year's NL Championship Series clincher at Wrigley Field, homered off Brad Brach on a 1-1 pitch with two outs in the sixth inning.

The Dodgers blasted a franchise-record 235 home runs this year, which led the National League and was seventh on the NL's all-time single-season list. They were 5-2 against Atlanta this season.

SOUND SMART
Pederson has recorded at least one hit and one run in his last seven playoff games, tied for the seventh-longest streak in MLB postseason history and the longest since Daniel Murphy had eight in 2015. His five postseason home runs ties for seventh on the Dodgers list with Dusty Baker, Andre Ethier, Gil Hodges, Manny Ramirez and Steve Yeager.

Meanwhile, Turner's first-inning double gave him nine in his postseason career, tying Carl Furillo for the franchise record.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
You already know Manny Machado can play both sides of the ball, but the Dodgers shortstop teamed to show off Muncy's defensive ability on Charlie Culberson's sharp grounder leading off the eighth inning. Machado went into the hole and fired a 90.1 mph bullet on a bounce. Muncy made the difficult short-hop, backhand grab while stretching and still keeping his foot on the bag for the out.

HE SAID IT
"All of September, I think we've kind of come together -- offensively, defensively, starting pitching, the 'pen -- and this is when you want to play your best baseball. We have a lot of good players. We're healthy and this is a very focused and determined group." -- Roberts

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