MLB SPORTS: Even with bat, Urias again October clutch

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

MLB SPORTS:

MLB SPORTS: Dodgers starter gets key RBI, goes 5 strong to even NLDS

7: 57 AM UTC

SAN FRANCISCO — Pitchers tend not to wear single-digit jersey numbers, so it looks strange when someone like Dodgers lefty Julio Urias dons No. 7.

But when he popped an RBI single to ignite Saturday night’s 9-2 National League Division Series-tying victory over the Giants at Oracle Park, the visual made sense. He turned to the dugout and shouted encouragement and celebration, before flexing.

From that moment, plenty of Dodgers stepped up. Cody Bellinger’s two-run double keyed a four-run sixth-inning rally; Mookie Betts snuffed out a potential Giants rally in the bottom of the sixth with a graceful pirouette and a lightning throw to erase Wilmer Flores’ attempt to go from first to third; and Will Smith popped a home run.

But Urias powered this win in a couple of ways.

Urias excelled at his main duty by striking out five and limiting the Giants to one run and three hits in five innings, with his start shortened only because manager Dave Roberts pinch-hit for him to keep that rally going. Urias has a record of 5-0 in seven postseason games, with one save and an ERA of 1. 29 ERA (four earned runs in 28 innings pitched).

And, after the Dodgers absorbed a 4-0 defeat in Friday night’s opener, Urias delivered what his team needed — an early lead. Urias sparked a rally of two runs after Giants starter Kevin Gausman intentionally walked AJ Pollock. This also included Betts’ RBI double.

“I was just trying to put the bat on the ball,” Urias said in Spanish, with Dodgers club official Juan Dorado interpreting. “I think they fed off that — a lot of energy after that.”

Pitching wasn’t big enough to describe Urias’ performance. Betts said that Urias’ work was so great that baseball could not contain it.

“It’s huge. Sometimes it’s just like Steph Curry seeing one ball go in, which is a poor analogy. Betts compared Urias single to a three pointer from the Bay Area’s most beloved basketball player. We just needed one to cross the plate. We knew we could do it. It creates momentum.

“I got a hit after that, and we just kind of stayed consistent throughout the game, scoring runs the whole game instead of just in one or two innings.”

The way Urias, 25, pitches in the postseason, the Dodgers don’t have to score throughout a game.

The Dodgers’ rotation has bigger names — none bigger than Max Scherzer, who will start Monday night’s Game 3, or even Clayton Kershaw, who will not pitch this postseason because of discomfort in his left forearm and elbow. Walker Buehler has more hype than Walker Buehler who lost Game 1.

But it might be time for Urias to grab headlines. Urias went 20-3 with a 2. 96 ERA to become the 12th 20-game winner in the storied history of the Dodgers. While modern thinking doesn’t regard a pitcher’s win total highly, there’s no getting around the fact the team this year is (counting Saturday) 27-6 when Urias starts, and has won his last 12 starts.

“Julio has, for a long time now, been kind of underrated, and now people just are giving him his credit,” Betts said. He’s been great all his life. He was consistent this year. This has been the difference.

“Obviously, in the postseason he’s always been really good, but throughout the season he’s had his ups and downs, but this year he’s just stayed consistent, one of our best arms and he proved it tonight.”

Urias’ handling of the second inning, which opened with him walking Flores and later seeing him score on Donovan Solano’s sacrifice fly, demonstrated why the Dodgers tend to win when Urias pitches.

“I thought he kept his composure, regained himself,” Roberts said. “For me, that’s just growth, being able to limit damage.”

Urias will be a key figure as the series progresses. With 72 pitches thrown Saturday, Urias could conceivably appear in relief in Game 4. If the series is completed in five innings, Urias could be eligible to play the final. The Giants were 80-35 this season against right-handed starters. Saturday’s loss left them 11-11 against lefty starters since the All-Star break.

Whenever he pitches, Urias has shown he’s cool and broad-shouldered enough to handle any postseason assignment.

“It’s just trying to treat it like another game,” he said. “The game is big and the stage is magnified, but you just focus and put your energy into that pitch.”

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