Julio Urías was tasked with getting one out during the Los Angeles Dodgers pennant-clinching win in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. Not a big deal you might be thinking, but given the circumstances of the moment and the emotions he was surely dealing with it’s a moment that illustrates poise beyond his years.
Rookie starter Walker Buehler had pitched 4 2/3 innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts. He had just given up a double to leadoff hitter Lorenzo Cain and likely NL MVP Christian Yelich loomed on deck with the Dodgers holding on to a slim 2-1 lead in the fifth inning.
Manager Dave Roberts opted to go with the lefty-lefty matchup and pitted the 22-year-old Urías against Yelich. Urías, who came into the major leagues as a rookie in 2016 missed the majority of the 2017 season and much of the 2018 season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
Urías made his return late in the 2018 season and pitched just four innings across three games in relief. When the Dodgers made the National League Division Series, Urías was left off the roster in favor of Scott Alexander. After the Dodgers defeated the Atlanta Braves 3-1 in a best-of-5 series, Urías replaced Alexander on the NLCS roster.
In Game 1 of the championship series, Urías pitched in relief giving up one run on two hits. The lefty from Culiácan, Mexico was credited with the win in the Dodgers’ walk-off win in extra innings in Game 4 after pitching the 13th inning.
During Game 6, Urias was the first pitcher out of the bullpen following Hyun-Jin Ryu’s disastrous start.
Prior to his critical appearance in Game 7, Urías had never pitched back-to-back days in his professional career. Urías, who is a starter traditionally spends several days of rest in-between appearances. Relievers, however, often appear in multiple games, pitching multiple innings.
Urías faced Yelich and quickly tallied a 0-2 count. On his third pitch, Yelich smacked a ball to opposite field that was sure to drop and knock in Cain. Fortunately for the young southpaw, Chris Taylor was able to make the catch and perhaps save the Dodgers’ season.
Not only was Urías pitching with virtually no rest, but he was also doing so with a heavy heart. His grandmother Angelita, passed away in the night prior to Game 7.
Following the Dodgers’ win, Kiké Hernandez issued a special toast to Urías and his grandmother during the team’s celebration.
“Guys, we all know how hard it’s been for Julio. It’s been a long road to be here with us. Not only did he go back-to-back for the first time in his life, but for those who don’t know, I want to make a toast because his grandma passed last night. He came in today and got us the biggest out of the game.”
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 21, 2018
On his performance Urías said, “I talked to my mom a little while ago and I told her that all this was thanks to my grandmother. She obviously was sad, but happy for the achievement.”
The Dodgers will now travel to Boston to take on the Red Sox in Game 1 of the 2018 World Series on Tuesday night.
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