Dave Roberts, hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc, and Max Muncy were both ejected in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes. The ejections came on successive pitches, Van Scoyoc after the second called strike to Muncy, Roberts when he went out to argue, and Muncy one pitch later when he struck out swinging. Muncy also was called out on strikes in the third inning.
The tension was building for a few innings, with home plate umpire Mark Ripperger taking the brunt of it. The situation is made weirder given that there is limited umpire movement this season during the pandemic, so this was Ripperger’s 11th Dodgers game worked this year, and his third behind the plate.
That umpires at times have traveled with teams on their chartered planes adds a few layers to these interactions.
“On the field, they have a job to do, we have a job to do. Everyone’s competing and doing their best,” Roberts said on a postgame conference call. “But once we’re done playing, I don’t think it has any any effect.”
It would have been understandable if the Dodgers were testy because of how the game on the field played out, too. Trailing 5-3 at the time of the ejections, the Dodgers were already on their third pitcher of the night, and were about a use a fourth.
It was an odd night for Julio Urías, who labored in the first two innings. He walked one and ran three other three-ball counts. He allowed four balls in play — three singles and a double — with an average exit velocity of 96.3 mph. Urías struck out the other five batters he faced.
But after just 1⅔ innings, Urías was pulled, with runners on second and third and the right-handed Dylan Moore due up. Urías faced only 10 batters, and seven of them batted with a runner in scoring position. It was 52 pitches to record only five outs, the shortest start of the season by a Dodgers pitcher.
Urías has allowed seven total runs in his five starts for a 2.74 ERA. But four of those runs have in the first inning, including one on Wednesday.
“Julio is going to need to be a little more sharp from the outset,” Roberts said. “I think the stuff was good, but tonight you could clearly see the slider wasn’t sharp, the change was in-zone and not located, and the fastball wasn’t commanded.”
Urías on Wednesday had the second-longest start ever by a Dodger in which every out was a strikeout, behind only the two-inning, six-strikeout start by Chan Ho Park on April 17, 1996.
Not left behind
Even after the short start by Urías, they led 3-1 early, thanks to solo home runs by their three struggling left-handed hitters — Muncy, Joc Pederson, and Cody Bellinger — all of whom entered the day with batting averages that start with a one and an OPS that started either with a six (Muncy) or a five (Bellinger, Pederson).
A run in the eighth pulled the Dodgers to within a run, then they loaded the bases in the ninth inning against Taylor Williams. But he got Corey Seager swinging to close out the game.
In the silver lining department, the road loss meant the bullpen only had to record 19 outs instead of 22. Four relievers were used for those outs, including 2⅔ scoreless innings by Dylan Floro and two scoreless frames by the just-recalled Victor Gonzalez.
The Dodgers bullpen has pitched 54⅔ innings in the last 13 days, an average of 4.21 innings per game.
Home runs: Max Muncy (6), Joc Pederson (4), Cody Bellinger (5); Austin Nola (3), Dylan Moore (5)
WP — Taijuan Walker (2-2): 7 IP, 4 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
LP — Dennis Santana (1-1): ⅔ IP, 3 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout
Sv — Taylor Williams (4): 1⅓ IP, 1 hit, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
The Dodgers finish off the Seager series with Clayton Kershaw on the mound in Thursday’s finale, another early start on getaway day (4:10 p.m. PT; SportsNet LA, MLB Network). Seattle will turn to left-hander Yusei Kikuchi.