For Urías (8 ER), it's 2 steps forward, 1 back

July 19th, 2023

BALTIMORE -- After two consecutive strong outings, the Dodgers felt confident was getting back to his old self and ready to demonstrate why he has been one of the most successful pitchers in the Majors over the past few seasons.

In order for Los Angeles to reach its peak potential, it will need Urías, their Opening Day starter, to pitch like the ace it expected. But as has been the case all season, Urías struggled to build on momentum.

Instead, Urías allowed a career-high eight runs over five innings during the Dodgers’ 8-5 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday at Camden Yards. It was the fifth time in 14 starts Urías has given up at least five runs.

“I think no one’s more frustrated than Julio,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “In my chair, I’m going to bet on him any day of the week. I do think this year probably more than any other we’ve had to kind of figure out the delivery from start to start, within the start. It’s a work in progress right now. I’m never going to bet against that guy.”

The Dodgers got on the board quickly for Urías, scoring two runs off Dean Kremer in the first inning. Over the past two seasons, an early lead would be almost an automatic win for Los Angeles with Urías on the mound. Last season, he allowed more than two runs in a start just five times; none in the second half of the season.

“Just the inconsistencies again,” Urías said in Spanish. “My teammates gave me a lead in that first inning, and I wasn’t able to hold it. I think that started all the frustration I had with my mechanics and the consistency of my throws. From the first inning, I just wasn’t able to respond to them giving me an early lead.”

As the rain started to come down in the first inning, Urías stood on the mound and just never looked comfortable. The Mexican left-hander asked for a new rosin bag during the frame, trying to keep his hand dry in order to get a better feeling. At one point, he pounded the dirt on the mound more than a handful of times just to get better footing.

When he did throw his pitches, the Orioles’ offense was all over him. After getting Austin Hays to ground out to start the game, Urías walked Anthony Santander and scattered consecutive singles to Ryan Mountcastle, Aaron Hicks and Jordan Westburg. The four-run inning ended with a two-run double from Ramon Urías that erased the Dodgers’ early lead.

Urías has struggled in the first inning throughout his career. Entering Wednesday, opposing hitters had a .263 batting average against the left-hander in the first, the second highest of any inning. With four runs allowed against Baltimore in the first, Urías’ ERA in the frame rose to 5.32 in 115 career starts.

“Obviously, it was kind of a weird first inning,” said Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes. “Not to make excuses or anything like that, but it was a little bit of a weird first inning. We just didn’t make the pitches when we needed, got behind a little bit, gave in on some fastballs and then they hit some curveballs off the end that found some holes and put us in bad spots. I feel like I didn’t make the adjustment quick enough to get off the scouting report to something else.”

With two weeks until the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline, the Dodgers will dig in on starting pitching help. Whether they add arms -- or how many they add -- remains to be seen. But regardless of what Los Angeles does over the next couple of days, one thing is certain: The club needs to have Urías back in form if it wants to have an increased chance at winning the World Series this season.

“Julio as a ballplayer has nothing to do with our thoughts on the Deadline. I know that certainly,” Roberts said. “But with our ballclub and the fate of our ballclub, for him to pitch like a top-end guy as he has in his career is definitely needed for us.”