Julio Urias helps deliver a Dodgers win in first start since suspension
Nothing was unusual when Julio Urias took the mound Tuesday night. He jogged out as Vicente Fernandez’s “Mexico Lindo y Querido” filled Dodger Stadium, grabbed a baseball, and began firing his warm-up pitches before facing the Colorado Rockies. He said he heard some shouts of support while warming in the bullpen but the crowd was indifferent to his emergence to begin the game.
If fans had strong opinions about Urias’ return from serving a 20-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, they kept it to themselves.
And yet to be back with the Dodgers, in a routine, facing big league hitters, working for a spot on the postseason roster felt a little strange to Urias.
“But everything felt normal after my first pitch,” he said in Spanish.
Urias proceeded to deliver a sound performance. He went as long he was scheduled to pitch — three innings — in his seventh start of the season, first since July 30, and first appearance since Aug. 16. He limited the Rockies to one run and two hits. It took longer than expected, but the Dodgers’ offense finally erupted late behind its three oldest members to supply the firepower in a 5-3 win.
The Dodgers want Cody Bellinger to play center field in the playoffs, so A.J. Pollock slides to left field. Alex Verdugo will be in the mix when he’s healthy.
After scoring 16 runs in their previous game, the Dodgers (91-50) couldn’t figure out Chi Chi Gonzalez for six innings. The Rockies right-hander, who began the night with an 8.07 earned-run average, held Los Angeles to two singles and two walks until the seventh when he faltered and opened the door to the dreadful Rockies bullpen.
Cody Bellinger worked a leadoff walk in to ignite the Dodgers’ surge. Two batters later, Matt Beaty cracked one of the Dodgers’ few hard-hit balls off Gonzalez for a single on his 101st pitch. His night ended there with one out and runners on first and second. High-fives awaited Gonzalez in the Rockies’ dugout as Bryan Shaw jogged in to pitch. The vibe flipped immediately.
Shaw got Enrique Hernandez to line out and was one strike away from escaping when he threw a cutter to Russell Martin over the inner half of the plate. The 36-year-old pounced and smacked it over the left-field wall for a go-ahead, three-run home run.
“To get behind in the count and really continue to grind and fight,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Regardless of what the numbers say, Russ, in a big spot, he just has that pulse where he can still stay in the strike zone, compete … One of the biggest hits, really, of the year for us.”
Fellow 36-year-old David Freese, pinch-hitting in the pitcher’s spot, followed with a solo home run the other way to double the Dodgers’ lead. Justin Turner, the club’s third-oldest position player at a spry 34, padded the margin with a solo home run in the eighth. The blast gave Turner 27 homers, tying his career high set in 2016.
Five relievers held Colorado (59-81) to one run over five innings before Kenley Jansen found himself in another jam. The Dodgers’ closer walked Ryan McMahon, surrendered a double to Yonder Alonso and gave up an RBI groundout to Tony Wolters before securing the final out for his 28th save.
“If I didn’t walk him, the inning might be very different,” a frustrated Jansen said. “Walks kill you, so that’s what hurt.”
The Dodgers knocked the magic number to win the National League West title down to five. The earliest they can clinch their seventh straight division crown is Saturday.
Urias isn’t scheduled to make another appearance during the Dodgers’ homestand, which concludes Sunday. He will make his next appearance, another start, on the road, in Baltimore.
Urias’ suspension included five games he missed while on administrative leave in the week after his arrest, leaving 15 games for him to sit out. The 23-year-old left-hander reported to the Dodgers’ spring training facility in Arizona. There, he threw bullpen sessions and faced hitters. He was sent to start a game for single-A Rancho Cucamonga before coming off the restricted list Monday.
“It’s great to have Julio back,” Roberts said Monday. “Going through the suspension and learning from his mistakes, he’s definitely learned from it. On the off-field stuff he’s very contrite, on the on-field, he’s done a great job keeping his body, his mind focused on playing.”
Daniel Murphy lofted a fly ball just over the wall to lead off the second inning against Urias. He gave up a double to Garrett Hampson later in the frame and retired the other nine hitters he faced. He touched 97 mph, struck out three and threw 44 pitches.
“Julio is a guy we’re counting on,” Roberts said. “He looked pretty sharp.”
It was a strong performance as the Dodgers proceed unsure how they will use Urias in the postseason. Roberts said Urias will stay in the starting rotation for at least another turn, ideally building up to four innings and 60 pitches.
“I’m happy to be here again with my teammates,” Urias said, “and helping them move forward.”
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