On Thursday, Hyun-Jin Ryu appeared for the first time in a relief for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He threw four innings of scoreless baseball to earn the first save of his professional career.
Taking the starter from his comfort zone was made only after much deliberation by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office, team doctors and Ryu himself, who was not thrilled with it.
He came in, in relief of Kenta Maeda to help the Dodgers defeat St. Louis 7-3. Dave Roberts the Dodgers’ manager said the combination of Maeda and Ryu back to back is quite lethal for opposing hitters.
Ryu gave up a pair of hits while striking out two and became the second Los Angeles pitcher to earn a save in his first relief appearance of his career joining Charlie Hough.
It was the first relief appearance for Ryu as professional since 2011 when he played in the Korean Baseball Organization.
Roberts said he spoke to doctors prior to the game and appeared late to his pregame media availability and admitted the team was trying to determine Ryu’s role.
Ryu, who has had surgeries on his left elbow and shoulder the last two seasons, was taken out of the starting rotation following a 7-2 victory over Miami. On the season, Ryu is now 2-5 with an ERA of 4.75 and 1 save.
Ryu said the routine he has prior to games was not the same as he did not know what to do since he was unsure of when he would be put into the game.
Roberts credited the unselfishness of Ryu in doing something he has never done.
However, Roberts was quick to add that switching Ryu to a relief role was not something they planned to make permanent as it was just a way to build pitch count for him and get him consistent innings.
Maeda helped his own cause in the game by driving in both the tying as well as go ahead runs on a single with two outs during the fourth inning. He turned a double play that ended the fifth to help Los Angeles take two of the three games in the series with St. Louis.
Los Angeles is now 28-20 on the season and in third place just 2 ½ games behind the first place Colorado Rockies and 1 ½ games behind the second place Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dodgers have won 6 of their past 10.