Dodgers undone by Urías' early struggles

June 22nd, 2021

SAN DIEGO -- The first two rounds between the Dodgers and Padres had no shortage of late-inning heroics, bad blood and drama. Round three didn’t get off to the start the Dodgers would’ve liked.

Los Angeles’ offense was held in check by a dominant Yu Darvish and struggled yet again, continuing a concerning stretch for the young left-hander. In the end, the Dodgers were thoroughly outplayed in the 6-2 loss to the Padres on Monday at Petco Park. The Dodgers are now 3-5 against the Padres this season, losers of five of the last six.

“They’ve played us really well and they’ve got the best of us this year,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “They’ve pitched us well all year long, they’ve got some big hits. … We just have to play good baseball, pitch well, catch the baseball and take some good at-bats and find a way to win a baseball game.”

The Dodgers came into Monday’s game having won 10 of their last 12 games. Those games, however, came against four teams that are under .500, three of them being last-place teams in the Rangers, Pirates and D-backs. The competition got much more difficult on Monday, and the injury-riddled Dodgers didn’t respond.

Darvish controlled the Dodgers’ lineup all night, striking out 11 over six innings. At one point, Darvish struck out seven consecutive Dodgers hitters. That streak was snapped when put together one of the best swings against Darvish, smacking his ninth homer of the season. If there was a positive after Monday’s game, it’s that Betts has four homers in his last 10 games and is starting to look more like himself.

“He was just mixing up his pitches and keeping them off the middle of the plate,” Betts said. “He’s a really good pitcher and that’s why he is who he is. He proved it today.”

The Dodgers’ offense benefitted the most from the weak schedule over the last two weeks, producing enough despite having Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager all on the IL. But as the competition gets tougher, it's become clear that the Dodgers need that trio back, and quickly. Luckily for them, Muncy is expected back in the lineup on Tuesday and Bellinger should follow on Wednesday. Seager is still a couple of weeks away, but is getting healthier by the day.

“You get an All-Star player back,” Roberts said. “And it certainly makes us better.”

But while the Dodgers’ offense should get a shot in the arm over the next two days, Urías’ recent rough stretch is something to keep an eye on. After allowing six runs in four-plus innings on Monday, Urías now has a 6.31 ERA over his last five starts. The left-hander is already at a career-high 88 innings and the Dodgers will have to monitor his workload moving forward.

Fatigue could be playing a factor in Urías’ recent struggles, but his lack of command has also played a big role. He has walked 10 batters in his last five starts. That’s after he walked one or fewer in eight of his first 10 starts this season. The Dodgers’ starting pitching depth is running thin, so they’ll need Urías to start producing like he was at the beginning of the season.

“They did a good job and they put together some good swings,” Urías said in Spanish. “Honestly, I didn’t feel the best with my stuff, and that’s what happened.”

It was an ugly night for the Dodgers, but they’ve been able to bounce back after similar performances in the past. They’ll get a chance to do that again on Tuesday against a young Padres team that now feels like they belong among the league’s elite.

“We got to turn the page and get ready for another good arm in Blake Snell tomorrow,” Roberts said.