'On a mission': Big inning sparks Dodgers

Offense rolls after five-run first to help Urías to 12th win

July 17th, 2021

DENVER -- While the Dodgers dealt with a string of injuries in the first half of the season, manager Dave Roberts often said his team was “holding serve” while they waited to return to full strength.

The Dodgers aren’t quite at full strength and still face some uncertainty in their starting rotation, but they’ll have to break serve in the second half of the season if they want to leapfrog the Giants in the National League West. They took their first step in that direction on Friday with a 10-4 win over the Rockies at Coors Field.

“On a mission,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said about his team. “It was good to come out with energy.”

Though they’re still waiting for Corey Seager to return, this is the healthiest the Dodgers’ offense has been since the first week of the regular season and they’re starting to remind everyone why they’re one of the game's best. 

The big inning was the Dodgers’ best weapon in the first half of the season and that continued on Friday. The Dodgers put up a five-run first against Rockies’ right-hander Chi Chi González, who got the start after Antonio Senzatela was placed on the COVID protocol list just hours before first pitch. Cody Bellinger got the scoring started with a two-run single and Chris Taylor delivered the big blow with a three-run homer.

It was the 23rd time this season that the Dodgers have scored five or more runs in an inning. No other team has more than 13 such innings.

“We just don’t give at-bats away,” Roberts said. “I think there’s other times where I felt we could put a crooked number, but we lined out and it didn’t play out as such. But if you’re relentless and you keep doing that, good things are going to happen.”

But unlike the first half of the season, the Dodgers’ offense didn’t just rely on the big inning. They were able to tack on throughout the game with Mookie Betts leading the charge.

Betts opted to not participate in the All-Star Game festivities, citing multiple nagging injuries as the reason. The rest clearly did Betts right as the outfielder recorded three hard-hit balls and went 3-for-4 with an RBI. He also made a pair of good defensive plays in right field. The 2018 AL MVP said he had a “bad” first half. The second half began on a more promising note.

“I know he missed the All-Star Game and the festivities and seeing the fans,” Roberts said. “But to get home, to reset, to clear his mind and get his body right, he was in a good place, certainly.”

While it was Betts that ignited the offense, he certainly wasn’t the only one that contributed against the Rockies’ pitching staff. Will Smith had a pair of two-RBI hits and Bellinger and Taylor did their damage in the first. As a team, the Dodgers recorded 15 hard-hit balls, tied for the seventh-most in a game this season.

That was plenty of support for left-hander Julio Urías, who picked up his 12th win of the season, tied with the Cubs' Kyle Hendricks for most in MLB. Urías allowed four runs over 5 2/3 innings and didn’t have his best stuff, recording just five whiffs with the curveball and changeup. He did, however, limit the damage to just a C.J. Cron grand slam in the third inning.

With Clayton Kershaw on the injured list and the uncertainty surrounding Trevor Bauer’s future, the Dodgers are going to need Urías to continue his successful season, despite him surpassing his career-high in innings.

The Dodgers will also need to rely on their high-powered offense. Friday was a good start.

“I think right now it’s win the division. It’s going to be a close, tight race I feel like for the rest of the year," Smith said. "There’s a couple other good teams in our division that we’re going to have to compete with. It’s just going to take each and every game, showing up, doing what we do, and win a bunch of ballgames.”