Julio Urías, Austin Barnes play well in Mexico’s shock loss to Colombia

The crowd continued to flock to Chase Field on Saturday, increasing in volume with the addition of the frenzy of green, red and white, and Julio Urías soaked up the atmosphere as best he could. He wanted to look around and greet everyone who shouted his name as he warmed up in a Mexico jersey for the first time in more than a decade.

But he had work to do. The team (Mexico) was different. The stakes (World Baseball Classic) were unusual. The schedule (mid-March) was strange. However, the goal was the same: to secure as many exits as possible.

For four goals, he collected the lefties without obstacles against Colombia. Twelve up, 12 down. perfection His fastball touched 95 mph. He scored four points. He needed just 45 pitches while working comfortably with Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes.

“He was untouchable,” Mexico manager Benji Gil said.

And then it wasn’t. A back-to-back double and a two-run homer off the left-field foul pole by Reynaldo Rodriguez—a 36-year-old walk-on who has never played in the major leagues—scored three runs to spoil the first run of Colombia’s Urías. WBC start Mexico later tied it on Randy Arozarena’s two-run home run, but took a 10-inning loss, 5-4.

Colombia’s Reynaldo Rodriguez is upset after hitting a two-run home run in the fifth inning against Mexico.

(Godofredo A. Vasquez / Associated Press)

The upset leaves Mexico in a near-necessary situation against the U.S. on Sunday. Mexican fans are not happy with the unexpected result. The Dodgers and their fans, however, should. Urías looked sharp out of that bleak stretch of three at-bats.

Most importantly, the Dodgers’ de facto ace was healthy three weeks earlier than usual after unloading 62 pitches at maximum effort.

“He looked really good,” Barnes said. “But that’s baseball. A couple of swings can change the game, but his stuff looked really good.”

The sudden slide began when veteran major league catcher Jorge Alfaro lined a double into right-center field. Four pitches later, Elias Díaz switched places with him. Rodriguez skied the next pitch, a 93 mph fastball, off the foul pole.

The pitch that Rodriguez hit, Barnes noted, was about a foot inside, off the plate. It didn’t matter.

“I felt good,” Urías said in Spanish. “Obviously, that’s the beauty of baseball. It doesn’t matter how perfect you are, how good you are, how good your pitches are and how everything is working.”

With a double in a row, there was a brief scare behind the plate when Barnes took a pitch in the dirt from Urías by the throat. Barnes shook for several moments. The trainers looked after him. He stayed in the game after taking some of Urías’ training tosses. He left the stadium with a red mark on his neck.

Mexico's Austin Barnes doubles in the ninth inning against Colombia.

Mexico’s Austin Barnes doubles in the ninth inning against Colombia. The Dodgers catcher went two for four.

(Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Batting ninth, Barnes went two for four after Toronto Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk was ejected from the tournament late last month, if not most games in Mexico. He doubled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to put the winning run in scoring position before being replaced by a pinch runner.

Colombia then went deliberately to Arozera. The strategy worked. Guillermo Zúñiga, a former Dodgers minor leaguer, struck out Alex Verdugo, a former Dodgers outfielder, with three fastballs to end the inning. The first was 101 mph. The second was 100 mph. The third, a 102 mph dart, rocked Verdugo.

An error led to Colombia’s lead in the 10th inning, leaving most of the 28,497 in attendance stunned. It was a disappointing result for Mexico. For the Dodgers, it was a different story.

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