Hyun-Jin Ryu would like everyone to know that he's pretty darn good, too.
On a staff where Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke get most of the attention, it was Ryu who put together a remarkable two-hit shutout of the Angels on Tuesday. Even more remarkable? Luis Cruz finally got on the board with a two-run homer, leading the Dodgers to a 3-0 victory.
With lots of the attention most likely at Staples Center where the Kings won a thrilling Game 7 over the Sharks to advance to the Western Conference Finals, Ryu put on a show of his own. He walked no one and struck out seven. The only hits surrendered were a single by Howie Kendrick in the second and double by Chris Iannetta in the eighth.
The Angels countered with old friend Joe Blanton, who's had an atrocious year coming into this game. Well, it was almost inevitable that he'd start turning things around at some point, and the Dodgers obliged for most of the way. The game was scoreless through 4 1/2.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Dodgers finally got things going. Juan Uribe got another start at third and singled leading off. In stepped Cruz, who could not have possibly started this season off any worse. Seriously, I could make the case that he was the worst player in all of baseball. He was red hot to end last season, and limped into this one hitting under .100. Yet, he once again avoided a demotion, with Dee Gordon getting the honors when Jerry Hairston was reinstated from the DL a couple days ago.
Cruz took an inside fastball from Blanton and hammered it out to left, giving him his first homer and only his fourth RBI. And you know what? Good for him. Nobody deserves that much frustration, so even if he is sent down when Hanley Ramirez makes his return soon, at least he has something positive to build on.
Another guy looking for something... ANYTHING, to build on is Matt Kemp. Don Mattingly made some waves before the game for moving Kemp to the fifth spot, instead of his usual #3 or #4. In the sixth, Kemp doubled with one out thanks to a lot of hustle getting to second. He then scored on A.J. Ellis's RBI single, and it was 3-0.
That was more than enough to support Ryu, who was absolutely phenomenal. I know the Angels haven't played as well as they hoped (sounds like another team I know...), but they still have Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Mark Trumbo in their lineup (Josh Hamilton was a late scratch). For Ryu to shut them down on only 113 pitches showed just how in control he was.
For all of the offensive and fielding woes this team has gone through, just take a look at their top three in the rotation: Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu. We all know what Kershaw is all about, so no need to discuss him. Greinke is still working his way back from a broken collarbone, so give him some time. And now Ryu seems to get a little better with each start. I'm not sure many teams would want to line up against them in a playoff series.
That's obviously getting way ahead of ourselves, especially since the Dodgers are still dead last in the NL West. But just imagine if the offense EVER starts to score runs more consistently. Then the wins will start to come more often. Hey, I'm trying to keep hope alive here.
Next up is two more against the Angels with the location in Anaheim. I refuse to refer to them by the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" or whatever the hell they call themselves these days. That just sounds ridiculous. Chris Capuano takes the hill against the returning Jered Weaver.