Yasiel Puig continued his storybook spring on Saturday night, but the story of the Dodgers' 10-4 win over the White Sox at Camelback Ranch was Hyun-jin Ryu. The left-hander pitched seven innings, the longest outing by a Dodgers starter this season.
Ryu allowed a run in each of the first two innings, but only on a walk, one hit, and a wild pitch. After a second-inning double, Ryu retired 17 of his final 18 batters faced, including the final 11 in a row. Ryu struck out five on the night.
"He was a little sluggish early it seemed like, but then he just kept getting better and better. He threw 20-something pitches in the first, then ended up with under 100 in seven innings, so that's pretty good," said manager Don Mattingly. "He got efficient, and it seems like his stuff just get better as the game goes."
Ryu even had a hit at the plate, matching his total allowed for the game. It was the first hit for Ryu since high school, eight years ago. But the talk after the game was Ryu's performance on the mound.
"He's just been consistent, really," Mattingly said. "I just think he's been pretty solid every time out. You can't really say that he hasn't pitched good."
Though Mattingly hasn't technically named his starting rotation outside of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Josh Beckett, it's clear that the other two spots will be occupied by Ryu and Chad Billingsley. When asked if Ryu was a part of his rotation, Mattingly was equal parts evasive and revealing.
"I don't know if I have to come out and name anybody, but it's hard to say this guy isn't in the rotation with the way he's pitched," Mattingly said.
Ryu's next start will be Thursday night in Anaheim.
Daily Puig Update
Puig didn't start Saturday for the Dodgers, but he still managed to impress. He made a sprawling catch down the left field line, he advanced from first to third easily on an errant pickoff attempt, and oh yeah, he had three more hits in his three at-bats.
Puig is now hitting .547/.527/.887 for the spring. He has 10 hits in his last 11 at-bats, 15 hits in his last 19 at-bats, and 18 hits in his last 27 at-bats.
"It's kind of getting goofy now," Mattingly said. "It's almost like Little League."
Whether or not Puig makes the opening day roster is a question that is becoming less and less farfetched by the day, and will basically be asked daily until a decision is made. But Mattingly had two telling answers Saturday.
When asked how could he send a guy like Puig down, Mattingly said, "I haven't sent anybody down. But I usually just tell them."
Mattingly was then asked to imagine how good his team must be if Puig wasn't one of the best 25 players.
"I don't know about that," Mattingly said.
- Carl Crawford went 1-for-2 played three innings in left field, his first game in the field since Aug. 19. Mattingly said Crawford will play five innings in left field on Sunday, against the Athletics in Phoenix.
- Matt Kemp went 1-for-3 with a two-run double and walked twice, and also stole his third base of the spring.
Andre Ethier went 2-for-4 with a three-run double.
- Juan Uribe was a late scratch from Saturday's starting lineup with tightness in his right hamstring. He took ground balls before the game to test the hamstring but it still felt tight. He will be reevaluated on Sunday. "He didn't want to mess anything up," Mattingly said.
- The pitching rotation has been set for the remainder of the Cactus League. Josh Beckett will start Sunday in Phoenix against the A's, Zack Greinke will start Monday against the Royals in Surprise and Chris Capuano will pitch in a game on the back fields, Aaron Harang starts Tuesday against the Rockies in Glendale, and on Wednesday in Peoria against the Mariners the start will go to Clayton Kershaw, expected to throw only about three innings, to be followed by Ted Lilly.
- The announced crowd of 13,721 on Saturday night set a new Cactus League attendance record.
The Dodgers still have one Cactus League park they haven't yet played at this year, but that gets rectified Sunday afternoon with a trip to Phoenix Municipal Stadium to play the A's. Beckett gets the start for the Dodgers, against A.J. Griffin for Oakland.