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Hyun-Jin Ryu signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers on the same day Joe Blanton joined the Angels. They hooked up against each other Thursday night in the opener of the preseason Freeway Series, and neither gave an inch.
Ryu retired all 12 batters he faced in his final spring training start, combining with six relievers on a two-hitter, and the Dodgers beat the Angels 3-0 in the first of three straight exhibition games between the teams leading up to opening day.
Ryu, a 25-year-old left-hander from South Korea, agreed to a $36 million, six-year contract with the Dodgers after they bid $25.7 million to win exclusive rights to negotiate with him. He will become the first player to go directly from the Korean league to the major leagues when he makes his big league debut next week against the World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
"He's very poised, very confident, and obviously he's got good stuff," Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. "Each outing seems to be sharper and sharper, which is what you want going into the season. His last three or four outings can't be much sharper than what it's been. His fastball command has been there, and the velocity is starting to creep up with it, so it's a good combination. His breaking stuff is definitely improving, and the changeup is also there, so that's got to be in the back of your mind, too."
Ryu was 2-2 during the exhibition schedule with a 3.29 ERA in six starts and one relief appearance. Last Saturday, he held the Chicago White Sox to one hit over seven innings in a 10-4 victory while retiring 17 of his last 18 batters.
"He's kind of been as advertised to this point," manager Don Mattingly said. "He's been pretty good and he's had a really nice spring. He pitches quick and does everything you want him to do. So as we keep moving forward, I think everybody's pretty confident this guy knows what he's doing and he's ready to go."
The Angels didn't get their first baserunner until Alberto Callaspo greeted Matt Guerrier with a single leading off the sixth. Callaspo was stranded at second after winning pitcher Ronald Belisario retired Erick Aybar on a grounder.
The Angels' only other hit was a two-out single in the eighth by J.B. Shuck against Kenley Jansen. Brandon League pitched a perfect ninth for the save.
Blanton scattered five hits over six scoreless innings and struck out four against his ex-teammates. The right-hander, who signed a $15 million, two-year deal with the Angels as a free agent, was 2-4 with a 4.99 ERA in 10 starts for the Dodgers last season after they acquired him in a trade from Philadelphia on Aug. 3.
"I think Joe had an incredible spring, and he's where he needs to be in the fact that he got deep into the game," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He did everything you could ask of a guy, the way he performed this spring, and we're starting to see how it's going to translate once he gets into the regular season. Hopefully, he'll be big for us."
The Dodgers broke through in the seventh against losing pitcher Mark Lowe after second baseman Howie Kendrick misplayed a tailor-made double-play grounder by Scott Van Slyke and had to settle for the out at first. One out later, Tim Federowicz singled home Uribe.
The Dodgers tacked on two more in the eighth against Austin Wood after Mark Ellis led off with a single. Matt Kemp drove him in with a triple down the right-field line and past a diving Shuck, and Andre Ethier followed with a sacrifice fly.
Due to Major League Baseball's realignment, which has shifted the Houston Astros to the AL after 51 seasons in the NL — thus giving each league 15 teams — the Dodgers will have only four interleague games against the Angels per season instead of six. They will all be played consecutively from May 27-30, the first two at Dodger Stadium.
NOTES: Tommy Lasorda, who just can't get managing out of his system at age 85, piloted a split squad of Dodgers in a 4-3 loss to their Class-A Rancho Cucamonga affiliate, which dedicated their clubhouse in his name. ... According to Forbes Magazine, the Dodgers have the second-highest value in Major League Baseball at $1.62 billion, and the Angels are ninth at $718 million. ... The Angels unveiled their new press box, which has been relocated from behind home plate to the right field club level. The objective was to build luxury suites where the media used to sit, creating more revenue for an organization whose opening-day payroll was reduced from $160 million to $148.5 million after OF Vernon Wells was traded to the injury-ravaged New York Yankees on Tuesday.