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Hyun-Jin Ryu pitches two scoreless innings in Cactus League debut

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Dodgers’ left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu made a triumphant return to the mound on Saturday after missing nearly two full seasons with elbow¬†and shoulder injuries.

Ryu tossed two scoreless frames against the Angels, striking out two of the first three batters he faced and allowing just one single to designated hitter C.J. Cron in his 26-pitch outing. He also executed a flawless catch after Shane Robinson grounded out to first:

Ryu finished his outing with a simulated inning out of the bullpen, all very promising for someone who didn’t look capable of throwing a baseball several months ago. Prior to undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery¬†in 2015, the southpaw touted an impressive 3.17 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 7.7 SO/9 in two major league seasons with the Dodgers. He’s endured further setbacks to his health over the last year, including¬†a minor groin strain and a debridement procedure on his left elbow, but finally appears healthy enough to work his way back up to a full-time gig.

While the 29-year-old is still considered a long shot to make the rotation by Opening Day, he’ll have approximately four more starts to tweak his mechanics and get stretched out before the 2017 season kicks off.

The Red Sox start is ridiculous

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The red-hot Red Sox completed a sweep of the previously red-hot Angels last night, outscoring them 27-3 in their three-game series. Last night’s game was, relatively speaking, a close one, with the Sox winning “only” by six runs. They did manage to strike out Shohei Ohtani three times, though, so some style points help make up for the “squeaker.” Also worth noting that they held Mike Trout of all people to a 3-for-11 line in their three-game series. He did not score a single time and drove in no runs.

That series win puts the Sox at 16-2 on the year. They dropped their Opening Day game to the Rays, but then won their next six games against Tampa Bay, which I’d say makes up for it. In between those two series they swept a two-game series from the Marlins and afterwards they took two of three from the Yankees and three in a row from the Orioles. The only thing that even threatened to slow this juggernaut down is the weather, resulting in a postponement of Monday morning’s Patriot’s Day game.¬†Somewhere in here we should notice that they’re doing this with their starting shortstop and starting second baseman on the disabled list.

As we’ve noted many times, their 16-2 record is the best start in the Red Sox’ 118-year history. It’s also the best start for any team since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers began 17-1 (let us just forget, for the time being, that those Brewers lost 18 of 20 in May of that year). They are the fourth team since 1961 to win 16 of its first 18 games.

The Sox aren’t simply getting lucky here. They’ve scored 116 runs and have allowed only 50, which is a Pythagorean record of 15-3. They lead all of baseball in offense, scoring 6.44 runs a game, leading individually in average, on-base percentage and slugging. They are only three one hundredths of a run behind the Astros from leading all of baseball in pitching, allowing only 2.78 runs a game. They’re winning all of these games because, in the early going, they’ve simply been that dang much better than everyone they’ve played.

No, the Sox are not going to go 144-18, as they are currently on pace to do. Yes, they are going to find a lot more trouble in their schedule once they play the Orioles, Rays and Marlins less, play a healthier Yankees team more and face off against the Astros, the Blue Jays, the Indians, the Twins and some tougher interleague opponents. This is baseball, obviously, and no one makes it through a season without rough patches, long, short and numerous.

Still: this has been one whale of a start for Boston. Those wins are in the bank. It’s been quite the thing to see.