Joc Pederson hit a lead off home run Thursday, Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven shutout innings as a surprise Game 1 starter, and the Los Angeles Dodgers opened the National League Division Series with a 6-0 victory over the visiting Atlanta Braves.
Max Muncy and Enrique Hernandez also homered as the defending National League champion Dodgers won their first post-season game since losing Game 7 of the 2017 World Series to the Houston Astros.
“I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel, and I was a little nervous before the game, but there is a lot of experience on this team and that really helped me out,” said Muncy, who was playing in his first post-season game. “Those guys were as calm as can be in there. They weren’t acting like this was anything but a regular-season game, and that definitely resonated with me.”
Watch highlights from Game 1:
Ryu, who missed 3 1/2 months this season due to a left groin strain, was named Game 1 starter over staff ace Clayton Kershaw, who would have been on regular rest after making his final regular-season start on Saturday. Kershaw will start in Game 2 on Friday.
Gave up only 4 hits
Ryu (1-0) gave up only four hits, all singles, and struck out eight with no walks in his first post-season start since the 2014 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Pederson hit his home run off Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz on the third pitch of the bottom of the first inning. The blast came after a regular season when Pederson had 25 home runs, including eight leadoff homers.
“You know, that is something we do special is being real tough outs one through nine [in the batting order],” Pederson said. “Muncy and [Justin Turner] have some of the best eyes I have ever played with, and it’s a quality at-bat almost every time. When they are getting on and setting the tone for the guys behind them, it takes the pressure off.”
The Dodgers loaded the bases in the first inning after Pederson’s home run, but Foltynewicz struck out Yasiel Puig to end the threat.
The Dodgers started a two-out rally in the second inning after Pederson was hit by a pitch. Turner walked in front of Muncy, who lifted a Foltynewicz pitch into the seats in right-centre field for a 4-0 lead. Muncy led the Dodgers with 35 home runs in the regular season.
‘I’ve had struggles in the past’
Foltynewicz (0-1) lasted just two innings, giving up four runs on three hits with three walks. Five of his six outs were by strikeout.
“I’ve had struggles in the past against [left-handed hitters],” said Foltynewicz, after lefty hitters Pederson and Muncy did damage against him. “I think I have done a better job this year, but they were just patient tonight. They took a lot of good pitches. My off-speed was not there at all.”
Hernandez added a solo shot in the sixth inning as the Dodgers played to their strength. Los Angeles led the National League with a club-record 235 home runs, and it was second in baseball to the New York Yankees’ 267 homers.
David Freese added a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning for the Dodgers’ final run. Los Angeles rookie left-hander Caleb Ferguson pitched a scoreless eighth inning, while former starter Alex Wood combined with Dylan Floro combined for a scoreless ninth.
Six Braves pitchers combined to walk eight batters while striking out 10. The Braves’ offence had six hits to the Dodgers’ five.