Urías starts strong, Dodgers beat Rox 4-2 for 3rd win in row

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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DENVER — Julio Urias got off to a strong start after a fine finish in last year’s World Series, pitching into the eighth inning as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 4-2 Sunday.

The champion Dodgers won the last three in a strange four-game series at Coors Field that featured a home run turned into a single on opening day, a cat running into the outfield, an inside-the-park homer and spraying fountains that distracted hitters.

“There’s always a relief when you get out of Coors,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Our guys do a great job of embracing the schedule, and this is part of the schedule. It’s taxing, physically, mentally on the players, myself. It was exciting baseball all the way around and ultimately to win three of four here was a good start for our season.”

Urias (1-0) gave up one run and three hits in the longest start of his career. The 24-year-old left-hander struck out six and walked one in his season debut. He needed just 77 pitches to get through seven innings and exited after Ryan McMahon singled to lead off the eighth.

“I felt great, I felt really, really good about everything,” Urias said through a translator. “The pitches were all working really well today, everything was going the way I wanted it to be, especially in a place like this.”

Urias had a brilliant postseason last year as the Dodgers won their first title since 1988. He was 4-0 while allowing just three earned runs and striking out 29 in 23 innings, and he capped off the Game 6 clincher against Tampa Bay in the World Series with 2 1/3 hitless innings for a save.

Austin Gomber (0-1) walked seven and struggled in his debut with the Rockies. He issued four walks and had a throwing error in the first inning when Los Angeles scored three runs without a hit.

“Here’s a guy that probably wanted to, on his very first day in a new uniform, in front of a home crowd, to really perform well and it went the other direction,” manager Bud Black said. “His stuff was fine. If you just grade out the stuff on velocity and action and movement, everything was fine except the ability to get the ball consistently in the strike zone.”

The seven walks were a career high for Gomber.

“I don’t think I pitched bad, I just didn’t throw strikes,” Gomber said. “I gave up one hit, I walked seven guys in three innings. I don’t think that’s nerves, it just wasn’t my day.”

Will Smith homered leading off the Dodgers eighth. Garrett Hampson had a two-run double in the bottom of the inning to account for Colorado’s scoring.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: OF Cody Bellinger and SS Corey Seager were given the day off. Manager Dave Roberts is mixing in days off with the Los Angeles playing every day for the first 12 days of the season.

Rockies: RHP Jon Gray is expected to make his next scheduled start, manager Bud Black said. He left Saturday night’s game in the sixth inning with full-body cramps. … INF Josh Fuentes was a late scratch from the lineup with a sore wrist.

GONSOLIN ON IL

RHP Tony Gonsolin was put on the 10-day injured list Sunday with right shoulder inflammation, a move retroactive to Thursday. The Dodgers recalled righty Dennis Santana from the alternate training site at Glendale, Arizona, to fill the roster spot.

Gonsolin, 26, made the opening-day roster for the first time but has not pitched this season.

“That shoulder inflammation, it’s something that’s been kind of lingering for the last few days,” Roberts said. “He went out there and played catch today, didn’t feel great so I think it’s more being cautious with Tony being a big part of our club.”

UP NEXT

Dodgers: RHP Dustin May makes his season debut at Oakland on Monday. May went 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA in five Cactus League games, four starts.

Rockies: RHP German Marquez gets his second start when Colorado opens a series against Arizona on Tuesday. Marquez allowed one run in four innings against Los Angeles on Thursday.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.