Urías' 20th win keeps LA in NL West hunt

Dodgers head into Game 162 one game behind Giants in division

October 3rd, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- An hour and a half before the Dodgers took the field on Saturday, the first wave of loud cheers was heard throughout Dodger Stadium. The early commotion had nothing to do with something that occurred in the stadium, but instead what was taking place nearly 400 miles north in San Francisco.

The fans had just finished watching Wilmer Flores fly out to center field in the 10th inning as the Giants fell to the Padres. Those cheers extended into the home clubhouse, where all of the Dodgers players were watching. Just like that, the Dodgers had an opportunity to make the final game of the regular season interesting, provided they could pick up a win of their own in the middle game against the Brewers.

Sure enough, Los Angeles gave the fans plenty of more reasons to cheer as they stayed hot at the plate and won his 20th game of the season in the 8-3 victory over Milwaukee on Saturday at Dodger Stadium.

With the win, the Dodgers picked up their 105th victory of the season, the most by any defending champion since 1969. But more importantly, they now head into the last day of the regular season one game back of the Giants in the National League West race.

“[The Giants] opened up the door a little bit,” Dodgers outfielder told SportsNet L.A. after the game. “They feel the pressure a little bit. We’re right on their heels. We’ll see what happens. We’re gonna take care of business on our side, and we’ll see if the Padres can do something for us.”

A big reason why the Dodgers are still in position to win a ninth consecutive division title is because of what Urías has provided this season. Urías entered 2021 as a full-time starter for the first time in his career and has delivered in a big way.

Urías allowed one run on one hit and struck out seven over 6 1/3 innings of work. After an Eduardo Escobar one-out double that gave the Brewers an early 1-0 lead, Urías bounced back to retire the next 16 batters he faced before allowing a two-out walk to Willy Adames in the sixth.

After seeing a dip in velocity in his last couple of starts, Urías’ stuff was back in line on Saturday. He averaged 94.7 mph on the four-seam fastball, slightly above his season average. In his last start, Urías averaged 93.1 on the heater. His curveball was also really sharp, with six whiffs recorded on the pitch.

With his stellar performance, Urías finished the season with a 2.96 ERA and became the 12th starting pitcher in Dodgers history to win 20 games in a single season. He’s also the first pitcher in the NL to reach the 20-win mark since Max Scherzer in 2016.

“It’s something incredible,” Urias said in Spanish. “It’s a dream of mine. It’s a dream season. I feel really happy and blessed, honestly.”

Aside from the boost in the standings, Urías’ impressive start came at the perfect time for Los Angeles. With Clayton Kershaw out for the postseason with a left forearm injury, the Dodgers are going to rely more on Urías than initially planned. The club had hopes of using Urías in a similar role as last season, but he’s now viewed as one of L.A.’s top starters in a playoff series.

As Urías dominated on the mound, the left-hander got plenty of run support from his offense.

wasted no time, smacking a three-run homer off NL Cy Young Award hopeful Corbin Burnes in the first inning. In the fourth, Pollock added a two-run homer of his own to extend the Dodgers’ lead to 6-1. hit the team’s third homer of the night in the seventh, making it a fourth straight game with at least three Dodgers home runs.

The Dodgers’ offense has been inconsistent all season long, but they’ve been much more productive as of late. They have 35 runs over the last four games. It’s the first time since July 11-17 that the Dodgers scored six or more runs in four consecutive games. They believe they’re starting to look more like the offense that won them a championship in 2020.

“It’s just a fun lineup to be in,” Turner said. “It’s an offense that is capable of making guys work a ton and make guys throw the ball over the plate and we can score really fast in a lot of different ways. It’s been a lot of fun playing with the whole lineup.”

While the Dodgers celebrated another win, the focus will quickly shift to Sunday. In order for the Dodgers to force a Game 163 in San Francisco on Monday, they’ll have to complete the sweep against the Brewers on Sunday. Walker Buehler, the team’s most consistent pitcher this season, will be on the mound. L.A. will also need some more help from the Padres, who are rolling out a bullpen game against Logan Webb and the Giants.

“It’s what you put in all those hours of work for,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “This is a privilege. It’s a privilege to be in this position to play for something that really matters.”

The Dodgers hope it all ends with even more to cheer about.