LOS ANGELES — Hyun-Jin Ryu was nearly the unlikely hero for the Dodgers’ offense Wednesday against the Cleveland Indians.
Had Ryu batted in the ninth inning, the outcome may have been different. But with the right-hander done for the day after a seven-inning, eight-strikeout performance, it was up to the struggling Matt Kemp, who has played the hero role so many times in the past.
With runners on second and third and just one out, Kemp couldn’t complete the two-out rally. He popped out to center field to end the game, and the Dodgers fell 5-4 to the Indians in the rubber match.
"It was a tough game," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "It was one of those days where we know we had to get people off their feet today so we kind of went with some guys that aren’t playing every day. But I was really proud of (Andre Ethier) and Matt and Dee, guys that had to kind of get out there again at noon today. I thought they had plenty of energy then we battle back to get that lead and get where we want to be."
Ryu did not get a decision, despite only allowing two runs and contributing more than his fair share with the bat, going 2-for-2 with a double, an RBI and a run scored.
"Hyn Jin hung in there real well today. I don’t think he quite had his real good stuff, didn’t seem to have a little extra gear on his fastball," Mattingly said. "But you could tell, once he got the lead there he kind of emptied the tank and really got us where we wanted to be after that seventh inning."
The Dodgers had a 3-2 lead after the seventh and intended to keep it that way. But Brian Wilson struggled in relief in the top of the eighth, giving up three runs. One of which was caused when Kemp was attempting a play at the plate and threw the ball wild. Carlos Triunfel looked as though he would have been the cutoff man at third base but his back was turned to Kemp.
"That’s a play that’s a play at the plate so you’re hitting the cutoff man, I’m thinking he should be expecting that ball to go to (Triunfel) hitting the cutoff man there," Mattingly said. "I think we had this play earlier in the year too where the shortstop is going over and the ball is going to home plate so i don’t think they were expecting it."
Later on, as Kemp faced a situating in which he could redeem himself, he fell short. Kemp is now marred in a 1-for-12 slump over the last three games. He put the loss square on his own shoulders.
"I take full responsibility," Kemp said. "I made a big mistake. I kinda feel like it’s my fault we lost this game."