Heading into the three-game series at Dodger Stadium between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals, plenty of attention, and deservedly so, was put on the expected pitcher’s duel Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer would have.
Along with being two of the best in baseball, it marked just the 13th time (10th in the regular season) pitchers with at least three Cy Young Awards started opposite one another. Both encountered their share of trouble, with Scherzer ultimately outdueling Kershaw.
Saturday’s matchup of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Stephen Strasburg wasn’t quite as heralded. But in the end, Ryu went seven shutout innings, while Strasburg allowed just two runs on five hits also in seven innings of work.
Strasburg worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth by striking out Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson and Matt Kemp. It was the only time he was stressed on the night.
Ryu explained going against the right-hander provided him with additional motivation, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“Definitely an intriguing matchup against Strasburg, one of the best righties in the National League,” said Ryu. “It definitely helped me focus more. I don’t want to say it kind of got to me, but most definitely I was thinking about the matchup and pitching well enough to give the team a chance to win.”
Although Ryu kept the Nationals off the board, they did manage to put at least one runner on in each of the first three innings. Included in that was loading the bases with two outs in the third.
After issuing back-to-back walks, Ryu induced Moises Sierra into a groundout. It marked a string of 13 consecutive batters retired for Ryu that was halted only because he gave way to Tony Cingrani in the eighth inning.
Since allowing three runs on five hits and issuing five walks in 3.2 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks in his 2018 debut, Ryu has limited opponents to just two runs on six hits while recording 25 strikeouts in 19 innings over his last three starts.