While the Rockies already lost the Nolan Arenado trade, the start of Sunday afternoon’s game at Coors Field couldn’t have felt very good. Austin Gomber needed 33 pitches to get out of a 1st inning that included no hits for the Dodgers, but three runs scored thanks to four walks.
With Julio Urias absolutely dealing in his season debut, the Dodgers didn’t have much to worry about despite the offense somewhat wasting the nine walks by Rockies pitching through the first six innings, and won 4-2 to close out a series victory in Colorado.
Gomber walked Mookie Betts to open the game, with AJ Pollock reaching on a error by the starter. Justin Turner walked to temporarily load the bases before Gomber’s wild pitch brought Betts home for the first run of the day. Two more walks with one away forced home Pollock, with the final run of the inning scoring on Gavin Lux‘s sacrifice fly to right. Turner crossed home just before Max Muncy was tagged out at third base, giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead that they’d hold onto the rest of the day.
Gomber walked three more through his next two innings, but just one hit by the Dodgers left the score at 3-0. After hitting about .371 in the first three games of the series, a 1-for-7 stretch in the first three innings alongside the seven walks was a much different (and slightly annoying) beginning to the series finale.
After singling against Urias in the bottom of the 3rd, Gomber departed for Chi Chi Gonzalez to start the 4th. Finishing at 73 pitches across his 3 innings, Gomber allowed just the one hit to Zach McKinstry but threw just 37 strikes. Gonzalez worked through 3 hitless innings, walking and striking out two apiece, with Carlos Estevez taking over for 1-2-3 7th thanks to Betts making an out trying to take second after an error.
After six scoreless innings by the Dodgers’ offense, Will Smith greeted Robert Stephenson to the game with a 438-foot homer to left field on a 1-1 slider in the 8th. Thanks to Cody Bellinger‘s not home run and McKinstry’s homer staying in the park, Smith’s shot was technically the first to leave the park this season.
On the other end, Urias breezed through his first five innings, with the single to Gomber the only blemish. Needing just 53 pitches in the five, Urias struck out six with 10 swinging strikes through the stretch.
Notably, it was the lefty’s change-up that impressed in his first start of the 2021 season. With Baseball Savant listing just six strikeouts on the change in 2020 and 12 in 2019, the four Ks off of the pitch against Colorado stood out. Just two of his first 15 change-ups went for balls, with four swinging strikeouts, three groundouts and a line out.
Touching 96 mph with the four-seamer, Urias only ran into a little trouble in the 6th with two away. Chris Owings doubled to right and Garrett Hampson walked on five pitches as a pair of change-ups missed the zone with Urias ahead 0-1. However, Trevor Story flew out to right on the first pitch of his at-bat to end the scoring threat.
Entering the 7th with still just 65 pitches, Urias worked through Charlie Blackmon, C.J. Cron and Elias Diaz on another 12 pitches (including another groundout and flyout on the change) to reach the longest start of his career. Getting 6 1/3 innings against the Pirates in 2017 and the Padres last year, Urias had yet to close out a 7th inning in his 38 career starts.
Urias’ average exit velocity was down at 83.0, as the Rockies put just four balls over 90 mph in play through his seven innings, while also notching 21 first-pitch strikes. I’m sure there’s much more to dive into after today and in Urias’ games to come, but it was a truly dominant day to say the least, and likely one of the Dodgers’ best at Coors Field in recent memory.
Nelson entered and sat down Yonathan Daza and Raimel Tapia with a pair of strikeouts on nine pitches before running into a bit of trouble once again. A four-pitch walk to Owings brought Hampson back to the plate with two on, and he promptly brought them home as he sent a 2-0 pitch to center for a double. A three-pitch strikeout of Story, the game’s tying run, ended the 8th with the Dodgers’ lead cut in half.
With Kenley Jansen getting the day off, the Dodgers turned to Corey Knebel in the 9th. Getting ahead of Blackmon 0-2, Knebel forced a groundout before Cron struck out on an 0-2 curve for the second out of the inning. A quick ground out by Diaz wrapped up the game and Knebel’s first regular season save since September 2018.
Now 3-1 to start the season with a three-game win streak, the Dodgers head to Oakland to face the A’s for three games to start the week.