Julio Urías and Dodgers struggle, drop season-opening series to Rockies
There was no shortage of issues for the Dodgers to address Sunday afternoon.
Following their 9-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies — which cemented their first series loss at Coors Field since 2018, and their first defeat in a season-opening series since 2013 — there were plenty of questions in the clubhouse.
Starting pitcher Julio Urías had a troubling season debut. He suffered a drop in velocity from last season. He failed to strike out a single batter. And he gave up six runs (three earned) in two-plus innings.
The defense also struggled for a second straight day, digging the team into an early three-run hole in the first inning after Chris Taylor lost track of a fly ball in the wind.
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The offense underwhelmed once again, as well. Despite racking up 10 hits, the Dodgers struggled to capitalize in the clutch, going two for nine with runners in scoring position and stranding seven men on base.
“We didn’t play good baseball,” manager Dave Roberts said.
Indeed, this was not the start the uber-talented Dodgers were expecting. After winning Friday’s opening day contest, their losses Saturday and Sunday were marred by sloppy play in the field, inconsistency on the mound, miscues on the bases and an unexpected power outage at the plate.
“I think it was a bunch of things compounded today,” Taylor said. “So we definitely have a lot to improve on.”
Sunday’s game got away from them early.
Freddie Freeman hit into a double play in the top of the first inning. Justin Turner got doubled-off at first base on a line drive in the second. And during the half inning in between, Taylor’s error in the outfield allowed the Rockies to jump in front.
With two on and two outs, Urías got Ryan McMahon to hit a seemingly simple fly ball to left. As Taylor went back on it, however, the top-spinning drive was pushed toward the infield by a brisk, cool wind. Taylor stopped and tried to lunge forward at the last second but couldn’t get his glove on the ball.
“It was one of those balls that I kind of expected to slice, and it didn’t really slice and kind of stayed at me the whole time,” Taylor said. “It just sort of died on me.”
One run scored as the ball dropped in front of Taylor, then another following an off-target relay throw from shortstop Trea Turner. An at-bat later, McMahon scored on Randal Grichuk’s single, saddling Urías with three unearned runs to begin the game.
“It was a play that obviously he knows that he should have made,” Roberts said of Taylor. “And he didn’t.”
Urías had troubles of his own soon after. Despite stranding a leadoff single in the second, the left-hander came unglued in the third. He walked the leadoff hitter, Brandan Rogers, then hung a curveball that CJ Cron hit for a two-run home run.
Urías lasted only three more batters, plunking McMahon with a pitch and walking Grichuk before Elias Diaz lined a 90-mph fastball to right for an RBI single. When Roberts came to the mound for a pitching change, Urías had yet to record an out in the inning.
“He just didn’t seem in sync from pitch No. 1,” Roberts said.
The most troubling part of Urías’ futile debut was his drop in velocity. After averaging 94.1 mph on his four-seamer during a breakout 2021 campaign, the pitch sat at just 91.4 mph Sunday. Urías’ other pitches also had a decrease in velocity.
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Urías insisted he physically feels fine, and Roberts says he believes the velocity drop — which also plagued his final exhibition start — is a byproduct of the lockout-shortened spring training.
Both the pitcher and manager agreed it wasn’t the only cause for his outing Sunday.
“I just saw him not really commanding anything,” Roberts said.
Added Urías, through an interpreter: “I could throw 100 miles per hour and the results would have been the same, because the execution was poor.”
The Dodgers were handed a lifeline in the top of the fourth. Taylor put them on the board with a sacrifice fly. Then Rockies left fielder Kris Bryant misplayed a fly ball of his own with two outs and the bases loaded, letting a drive from Freeman bounce off his glove to allow three runs to score.
The rest of the afternoon, however, was filled with missed opportunities.
Trea Turner grounded out to end the fourth, stranding Freeman at second. In the sixth, the Dodgers had runners on the corners with one out after a walk from Cody Bellinger (who had his first two hits of the season Sunday) and a base hit from Taylor (part of his two-for-three day), but failed to bring either of them home.
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The lineup didn’t manage another baserunner, making 12 straight outs against reliever Ty Blach to end the game.
“I would expect us to be able to build innings and score some runs from the fifth inning on,” Roberts said when told the Dodgers scored only one run after the fourth inning in the series. “That’s a surprising stat.”
And, fittingly, it was another miscue that allowed the Rockies to put the game away in the seventh.
With two outs, Freeman booted a high-bouncing grounder at first. In the next at-bat, Diaz hit a two-run home run off Evan Phillips — ensuring the first weekend of the Dodgers season would not be a successful one.
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