(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Dodgers turn to rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu on
Sunday, as the National League Division Series shifts to Dodger Stadium for a
pivotal Game 3 against the Atlanta Braves.
Ryu was a seven-time All Star in the Korean Baseball Organization, but signed
a 6-year, $36 million deal with the Dodgers last winter. The left-hander
adapted quickly to the majors, going 14-6 with a 3.00 ERA.
"He's such a smart, intuitive guy who has a great feel for the game of
baseball," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. "We've really grown together, him
and I working together. He's grown with a lot of guys on the team."
However, Ryu went just 2-5 over his final seven starts, while also dealing
with a back ailment that forced him to miss a start in early September. Ryu
raised some eyebrows on Friday when he tossed a bullpen session in front of
the Dodgers' team surgeon.
Everyone has insisted that he is fine, though.
"Actually, I feel really good right now. My goal is just to get my body ready
to be able to go out there and win, and take the lead of the series," Ryu said
on Saturday. "Typically, when I rest longer than normal, I always squeeze in a
bullpen in there just to make sure that my body is responding the way I want
Ryu will also become the first South Korean pitcher to start a postseason
game. Chan Ho Park and Byung-Hyun Kim have combined to make 21 postseason
appearances, but neither ever started a game.
"It's a huge motivation to know that an entire country's going to be watching
the game," Ryu said. "But equally important is the fans here at Dodger Stadium
and the Korean community here. I understand there are going to be a lot of
them coming out (Sunday), but it's a big encouragement for me."
Atlanta, meanwhile, will counter with a rookie hurler of its own in right-
hander Julio Teheran, who was 14-8 with a 3.20 ERA. Teheran got better as the
season wore on and pitched to a 2.97 ERA after the All-Star break.
"He's a young kid," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We've seen him for
162 games. He just keeps getting better and maturing with experience, and I
think we've just seen the tip of the iceberg with him."
After losing to Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, Atlanta evened the best-of-five
series on Friday, as lefty Mike Minor gave up one run in 6 1/3 innings and the
Braves held on for a 4-3 win to knot the series at a game apiece.
Jason Heyward's two-run single in the seventh gave Atlanta the insurance runs
it needed for its first postseason win in three years.
Hanley Ramirez's two-run homer in the eighth got the Dodgers within a run, but
Craig Kimbrel came on for a four-out save.
"Every night in the postseason is a must-win game for us," said Heyward. "You
don't want to ever think it's OK to lose. That's been our attitude all year. I
feel like any team that's in the postseason says we need to win tonight and we
came up big."
Kimbrel walked two in the ninth, but Gerald Laird threw out pinch-runner Dee
Gordon on a close play and Kimbrel struck out Carl Crawford with a runner on
first to end the game.
"We came in and got one out of two in here," said Crawford. "We knew it was
going to be a tough place to play with the crowd and everything. We had the
opportunity to win two. We just gotta go back and get back on track."
Atlanta won five of its seven regular-season matchups with the Dodgers this
season. However, these teams haven't met in the postseason since the Braves
swept the NLDS back in 1996.
The Sports Network