Julio Urias can’t hold off Marlins in Dodgers’ 10-6 loss
Only 11 days before Saturday night, before an enraptured crowd at Dodger Stadium, Julio Urias displayed the upper limits of his ceiling. He carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning of a game, capable of subduing his opponents with only his fastball. The fans lavished cheers upon him as he exited the stage.
The applause on Saturday, his first game back in this ballpark, felt different. It occurred much earlier, midway through a ruinous third inning. The noise stemmed not from appreciation but relief.
In a 10-6 loss to Miami, Urias took a pounding for the second start in row. The statistics to illuminate this are numerous. He gave up seven runs on seven hits and three walks. He threw a wild pitch and got called for a balk, but did not record a strikeout. He faced 17 batters and retired only six of them.
In less than a fortnight, Urias (0-2, 5.40 earned-run average) demonstrated the range of outcomes possible for a 20-year-old pitcher attempting to finish his development at the game’s highest level. He gave up one hit on May 9. Colorado blistered him for six runs on May 14. The Marlins did worse on Saturday.
Miami unsettled Urias in several ways. His delivery malfunctioned on the wild pitch. His body did not behave on the balk. And he could not get his pitches past bats, which led to the Marlins piling up hits.
“It was just a bad night,” Urias said. “Everything goes together. When you don’t throw first-pitch strikes and you don’t have control, it ends up being a bad night.”
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Dodgers (25-19). Distress was not exclusive to Urias. Luis Avilan gave up two runs. Josh Fields surrendered a homer. By then, though, the outcome was not in doubt.
The Dodgers nudged the game closer to respectability after Urias exited. Enrique Hernandez hit a solo home run in the fifth. Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger traded back-to-back homers in the seventh.
Roberts did not commit to giving Urias another outing in the majors. He remains troubled by Urias’ inability to finish off batters. Urias has walked 14 batters this season and struck out only 11.
“Anything should be on the table,” Roberts said. “Right now, we’re going to go back and re-evaluate his last starts, and figure out what’s best for him.”
Roberts has not announced a starting rotation beyond Thursday, when Kenta Maeda is scheduled to return from the disabled list. Hyun-Jin Ryu rebounded from a wretched outing in Colorado to throw 5 1/3 solid innings on Thursday. Urias may get lost in the shuffle.
The opening did not bode well. Former Dodger Dee Gordon singled on the first pitch of the game. Urias walked the next two batters. He managed to wriggle free relatively unscathed: Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton grounded into an RBI fielder’s choice and first baseman Justin Bour bounced into a double play.
Urias was less fortunate in the second inning. Miami third baseman Derek Dietrich ripped a curveball down the first-base line, past a lunging Adrian Gonzalez. Dietrich legged out a triple. Roberts moved his infielders to the edge of the dirt. The positioning left shortstop Corey Seager flat-footed when Marlins shortstop J.T. Riddle rolled an RBI single through the left side of the infield.
Riddle moved to second base on a bunt by Miami pitcher Dan Straily. With two outs, Gordon spoiled a well-placed slider, low and away, by flicking a single into center. The hit splashed down just before Riddle came home for a third Marlins run.
After the outing against Pittsburgh, catcher Yasmani Grandal remarked that Urias could not tame his offspeed pitches. Only his fastball worked. This fact hinted at Urias’ talent — he could shut down a big-league lineup with only one pitch — but also foreshadowed his upcoming aches.
“I just feel like I’m not throwing enough first-pitch strikes,” Urias said. “I think I’m going to focus on that, going forward.”
The headaches did not cease in the third. With Justin Turner on the disabled list and Yasiel Puig nursing a back issue, Hernandez started in right field and Chris Taylor started at third base. Some scouts consider Taylor a better fit for the middle of the diamond. A high throw by Taylor to start the third placed Marlins outfielder Marcel Ozuna on first with none out.
Urias compounded the jam by balking on a pickoff throw. Soon after, Stanton stroked a slider into right for an RBI double. Bour hit an RBI single on another slider.
After Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto drew a walk, Urias threw a pair of flat, belt-high changeups to Riddle, who fouled off the first and then smashed the second for a two-run double.
Roberts rose to the top step of the dugout before the play had finished. He hurried to the mound to extricate Urias from the mess. Urias could not do so on his own.
“We’ve got to figure out what’s next,” Roberts said. “And how he can get back to being the pitcher we know he can be.”
Follow Andy McCulough Twitter @McCulloughTimes
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