Ryu solid in debut, but Dodgers shut out
LOS ANGELES -- Opening Day's heady euphoria for the Dodgers was quickly replaced Tuesday night by the headache of questions Spring Training didn't answer.
The offense did a disappearing act a la 2012 in a 3-0 loss to the Giants, limited to a pair of two-out doubles over eight innings by Madison Bumgarner. With the injured Hanley Ramirez joined on the bench by Carl Crawford for a scheduled day off, the Dodgers showed no ability to manufacture runs as the top five spots in the batting order went 0-for-17.
Korean starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, in his Major League debut, showed the competitor he's known to be. He was ambushed early in the count as the Giants pushed him around for 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings, but showed a Fernando Valenzuela knack for pitching out of jams.
And management's shortstop flip-flop turned sour for a night as Justin Sellers, called up from the Minor Leagues last weekend to be Ramirez's surprise replacement, committed a pair of throwing errors that led to two unearned runs in the seventh inning.
Manager Don Mattingly -- who decided last week to promote Sellers after his demotion to the Minor Leagues and move Luis Cruz from shortstop to third base -- said the decision stands.
"Nothing happened that inning to change anything," he said.
For the Dodgers, there were no Clayton Kershaw heroics, and the blanking followed an opener in which the Dodgers offense was shut out for the first seven innings before Kershaw's home run triggered a four-run rally.
The Dodgers would like to believe Tuesday night's offensive no-show was the result of the opposing pitcher, who struck out five without a walk and is 6-2 lifetime against the Dodgers. In his only start against the Dodgers last year, Bumgarner also pitched eight scoreless innings.
"Madison tonight was kind of exceptional with his control," said Mattingly. "I've never seen him throw quite that many strikes. He's a guy we've had trouble with in the past and tonight in the present also. We're going to have to do a little bit better job with him and make some adjustments."
By contrast, Ryu showed a little more velocity on his fastball (92 mph) than he did in the spring, but his breaking ball is still erratic and he relied on the changeup for the bulk of his five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. His infield, and particularly Cruz at third base, turned three double plays behind him and a fourth later, plus left fielder Jerry Hairston threw out Angel Pagan trying to stretch a hit into a double in the fourth inning.
"He kept his poise and made pitches to induce those ground balls to get the double plays," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "He's got good stuff and good secondary pitches."
"To me, the greatest thing about Ryu is nothing overwhelms him," said catcher A.J. Ellis. "He's pitched in WBCs [World Baseball Classics] and in the Olympics before. He never seems like he's stressed. One thing I have to keep reminding myself and other guys, this guy was the greatest player in his entire country. That's something that nobody over here can say outside of maybe the guy who pitched yesterday for us. He's really special and he's going to have a great Major League career, and I'm just happy to say I was at the start of it."
Ryu apologized for barely jogging out of the box on a sixth-inning groundout ("It was embarrassing"), which drew boos, and admitted he had some jitters.
"It would be a lie if I told you I wasn't anxious or nervous," he said. "I felt that. It was the first time I felt that in a long time. But considering it was my first outing, I'm satisfied with the way things turned out."
As for Sellers, neither of his errors came on routine plays. Joaquin Arias led off the seventh inning with a slow roller that the shortstop charged to glove, but a quick off-balance throw pulled first baseman Adrian Gonzalez off the bag.
Then with one out, runners on first and second and the infield in, Bumgarner greeted reliever Ronald Belisario with a chopper over the mound. Sellers gloved the ball and rushed his throw home wide of Ellis to the backstop as Arias scored. Andres Torres followed him home when Belisario wasn't covering the plate.
"I know where he's at because he feels like it's do or die," Mattingly said in defense of Sellers. "For me, he just forced it. We'll just take the out at first base there. Belisario did his job. He comes in and gets a ground ball, which is a little bit of a high bouncer and takes Sellers into the middle of the field where he didn't have any momentum towards the plate.
"We haven't scored to that point and that's what happens when you're out there. You're thinking you can't give up any more runs. But there I want him to have enough confidence in our offense that we're going to be able to score some runs. Let's take the out right there instead of getting ourselves in trouble and giving up the extra run."
Said Sellers: "Donnie told me not to change. I'm going to make mistakes. Unfortunately, this one cost us a couple of runs. But you live and learn."