Hyun-jin Ryu gets rare opportunity with start in home opener

Mark Kolbe

Three starts in the first six games is something only two previous Dodgers pitchers have done since 1914.

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu leads all of baseball with a 0.00 ERA, and gets the call in Friday's home opener against the Giants, making a little bit of history. He will become just the third Dodgers pitcher in 101 years to start three of the team's first six regular season games.

Ryu is poised to join Van Lingle Mungo (1937) and Don Drysdale (1965) as the only Dodgers pitchers to start in three of the first six games since 1914, the earliest year of full play-by-play data on the Baseball-Reference Play Index.

While Ryu has the Australia trip to partially thank for his opportunity, both Mungo and Drysdale were helped by early weather.

Mungo lost the opener for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 20, 1937, 4-3 to the Giants, the only game of that series. He then lost again to the Phillies four days later, then after another one-game series against Boston in a two-day span, Mungo started the opener at the Polo Grounds on April 28, this time beating the Giants 3-2.

Drysdale beat the Mets in the 1965 opener on April 12, then the Dodgers were off three of the next four days with only one game each in New York and Pittsburgh. Drysdale lost to the Phillies in April 17, then beat the Mets again four days later for his third start in six games.

Ryu was at his best at Dodger Stadium in 2013, with a 2.32 ERA and 79 strikeouts against just 21 walks in 97 innings in 15 home starts. He tries to extend his 12-inning scoreless streak on Friday against the Giants, a team he faced five times in his rookie year. Ryu was 2-2 with a 2.48 ERA against San Francisco, with 18 strikeouts and 10 walks in 32⅔ innings.

Hunter Pence is 6-for-14 (.429) with two doubles and a walk against Ryu while Pablo Sandoval is 4-for-13 (.408) with a double and two walks, and Angel Pagan is 4-for-6 (.667). Buster Posey is 3-for-13 (.231) with a double and three walks against Ryu and shortstop Brandon Crawford is 0-for-10, though Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday he planned to go with Joaquin Arias (2-for-4 against Ryu) at shortstop on Friday, per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

With a win on Friday, the Dodgers would achieve their second 5-1 start in three years, but just their third in the last 27 years.

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