LOS ANGELES (AP) — The game within the game was a highly anticipated showdown between South Korean countrymen Chin-Soo Choo and Hyun-Jin Ryu in their first confrontation in the major leagues.
Choo, the Cincinnati Reds' center fielder, walked his first time up before grounding out to first base and striking out against the Los Angeles Dodgers' left-hander. Ryu held the Reds to just two hits Saturday night, including a home run by Jay Bruce, in a 4-1 victory punctuated by Skip Schumaker's tiebreaking two-run homer against Bronson Arroyo.
It was the 300th home run given up Arroyo (9-8), including a career-high and major league-worst 46 in 2011. The 14-year veteran right-hander was charged with three runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings, after going 4-0 with a 2.30 ERA in his previous six starts against Los Angeles. He was coming off a complete-game 11-0 victory at San Francisco on Monday.
"This is not an easy lineup to navigate through, and they were hitting him pretty good," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "But it wasn't about how Bronson looked. It was how Ryu made us look. We didn't score any runs other than Jay's home run and we managed only two hits."
It wasn't difficult for Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis to notice before the game how much Ryu's preparation was intensified by Choo's appearance at the top of the Reds' lineup.
"He was very serious before the game, very intense," Ellis said. "I mean, he's usually very quiet before he pitches, but more so today. I'm sure Choo was on his mind. I mean, it's a big deal. Choo is one of his best friends and one of his baseball idols. So with him facing him in America in an atmosphere like this, and also playing in front of a huge TV audience back in Korea, it's pretty neat to know you're a part of that. It was really cool to seer those guys match up. You could hear the crowd on every pitch and every swing."
Ryu (9-3) had nine strikeouts, all in a span of 13 batters. The first came against Joey Votto, who took a called third strike after Chris Heisey hit his first triple of the season with two out in the third.
"That's the first time we've seen Ryu, and he looked pretty good," Baker said. "He had a great changeup, threw an occasional breaking ball, and his fastball looked even faster after the changeup."
The Dodgers opened the scoring in the first on a two-out double by Hanley Ramirez, but the Reds tied it in the second when Bruce drove Ryu's 2-0 pitch into the right field pavilion for his 22nd home run. Since the start of the 2010 season, Bruce leads all left-handed batters with 42 homer against lefty pitchers — including eight this season.
"I think it's helped him being around Joey Votto, and seeing how Joey hits lefties," Baker said. "Most guys, I think, have trouble with lefties because they don't see them (enough). I mean, it's hard enough to find a right-handed batting practice pitcher that can throw strikes — and it's almost impossible to find a lefty to do it. But we've got two of them — Mark Berry and Ronnie Ortegon. And we always travel with one, so I think that helps a lot.