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Julio Urías changes things up to dominate Rockies

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7+ innings for LHP as Dodgers win 3rd straight

Los Angeles Dodgers v Colorado Rockies Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Julio Urías decided to change things up on Sunday, and pitched the longest outing of his career, helping the Dodgers to a series win, 4-2 over the Rockies on Sunday afternoon at Coors Field.

Urías was a brilliant, strike-throwing machine on Sunday, throwing 59 of his 79 pitches for strikes, striking out six while walking one. He pitched seven innings for the first time in his career, only removed after a leadoff infield single by Ryan McMahon in the eighth, just the fourth Rockie to reach base against Urías.

“He attacked the zone. He was going after them with his heater. His changeup was filthy today, that’s the best I’ve ever seen his changeup,” catcher Will Smith told Kirsten Watson on SportsNet LA. “He was constantly ahead in counts, and putting guys away with two strikes.”

McMahon later scored in the frame against Jimmy Nelson, the only run charged to Urias, whose previous longest outing was 6⅓ innings, done twice (2017, 2020).

“My focus is always to attack. To attack hitters and throw first-pitch strikes,” Urías said through an interpreter. “We have a lot of really good talented arms on this team, and I try to do the same, to follow their lead, try to do the same things they do to go deeper into games.”

Colorado didn’t even have a runner in scoring position until Chris Owings doubled with two outs in the sixth inning. A walk that followed gave the Rockies the tying run at the plate, but Urías got Trevor Story to harmlessly pop out to right field.

That came on a fastball, but Urías did the bulk of his damage on Sunday with a new weapon: his changeup.

Urías threw 24 changeups, his 30.3-percent usage of the pitch more than double last season (13.2 percent), and for good reason. He got eight swinging strikes on the changeup, and finished four of his six strikeouts with that pitch. Pretty remarkable considering Urías ended six strikeouts on his changeup in all of last season.

“A guy that can miss bats with a few different pitches, commands the fastball, gets left, gets right out, can navigate a lineup three times through, which he’s shown he can do, and can pitch in leverage and pitch out of leverage,” manager Dave Roberts said of Urías. “There’s no ceiling for him.”

On the offensive

After at least a dozen hits in each of the first three games, the Dodgers matched their highest-scoring inning of the series without the benefit of a hit in the first inning. Austin Gomber was all over the place, throwing 18 of his 33 pitches out of the strike zone during the frame, and compounded that with a wild pitch and by throwing a potential double-play comebacker into center field.

By comparison, Urías threw 20 balls in his seven-plus innings.

Gomber’s wildness helped the Dodgers to three runs in the first inning, but amazingly that was all Gomber allowed in his three innings. Gomber walked seven on Sunday, the most walks against the Dodgers since Atlanta’s Sean Newcomb on August 3, 2017. That they didn’t score more was thanks to running into a few outs, with Max Muncy thrown out at third base on a sacrifice fly in the first and Mookie Betts caught stealing at second base in the second.

“We took our walks, but I thought we still let them off the hook. We gave away some outs on the bases,” Roberts said. “But I thought our at-bat quality, swinging at strikes and taking balls, was good all game.”

Gomber threw 73 pitches on the day, and was the third Colorado starting pitcher to fail to see the fifth inning. The Rockies rotation allowed 12 runs in 15⅓ innings in the series, with more walks (15) than strikeouts (13).

The ancillary benefit of taxing the Rockies starters was making their bullpen have to throw 20⅔ innings. The Dodgers scored 14 runs of Rockies relievers over the weekend, which was a big reason why they won three of four games.

Notes

  • Will Smith homered onto the concourse in left field, the Dodgers’ first official home run over the fence this season. Hit in the 35th inning of the series. Smith has four hits in seven at-bats this season, with two doubles and a walk to go with his homer.
  • Zach McKinstry doubled in the second inning, his third extra-base hit in three games. The only Dodgers with longer streaks of games with an extra-base hit to start a season are Gary Sheffield (five games, 2000), George Watkins (four, 1936), Jim Wynn (four, 1974), and Jimmy Rollins (four, 2015).
  • Betts, in addition to getting caught stealing in the second, was thrown out trying to advance to second on an errant throw on his infield single in the seventh. Counting caught stealing, Betts only made four outs on the bases during the 2020 regular season.
  • With Kenley Jansen unavailable after his five-out save Saturday, Corey Knebel pitched a scoreless ninth for the save, his first since Game 1 of the 2018 NLCS, which came with the Brewers against the Dodgers.
  • The Dodgers have won 30 of their last 38 games against the Rockies, dating back to 2018.

Sunday particulars

Home run: Will Smith (1)

WP — Julio Urías (1-0): 7+ IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts

LP — Austin Gomber (0-1): 3 IP, 1 hit, 3 runs (1 earned), 7 walks, 2 strikeouts

Sv — Corey Knebel (1): 1 IP, 1 strikeout

Up next

The Dodgers move on to Oakland next, with Dustin May making his 2021 debut on the mound on Monday night (6:40 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA), against old friend Frankie Montas for the A’s.