Hyun-Jin Ryu was the hard-luck loser for the Dodgers on Monday night in Phoenix and certainly pitched well enough to beat the Diamondbacks. It wasn't Ryu's fault the team lost their fourth straight game — hell, he scored the team's only run — even if he didn't quite agree.
"We got just what we needed from Hyun-jin. He was terrific. I know he tried to get the ball down [to Paul Goldschmidt] but he get the ball up. Even with the ball up — you don't want to go up to him at all — it's still not a bad pitch," manager Don Mattingly said after the game. "Then he doesn't give anything up after that."
Ryu allowed a first-inning home run to Goldschmidt, accounting for the only two Diamondbacks runs. Ryu then retired 19 straight batters and allowed only two hits and a walk in eight innings. But after the game Ryu was thinking about the one pitch that didn't go his way.
"I threw 100 pitches today, but that one pitch seems to be a mistake. It's my responsibility," Ryu said, through an interpreter. "I believe that no matter how good a pitch, if it's a home run, it's a mistake."
Ryu has nearly completed a stellar first season in MLB, with a 3.03 ERA after 28 starts, including 21 quality starts. He has 144 strikeouts and just 47 walks in 181 major league innings, and has averaged 6.46 innings per start.
One of his bugaboos has been the first inning. He has allowed 16 runs in the opening frame this season, and no more than nine runs in any other inning. It's a tradition Ryu has had for a while.
"I had some issues before in Korea in the first inning as well. But that's just my style of pitching," Ryu said. "In the first inning I go in and try to find the strike zone, and some hitters take advantage of that."
Goldschmidt did take advantage in the first inning, and though Ryu kept the team in a position to win for the rest of the game the Dodgers couldn't come through for him.