A series of potential distractions hasn’t deterred the Dodgers so far during a home-opening weekend that featured Friday’s World Series ring ceremony and Saturday night’s pregame tribute to the late Tommy Lasorda and concludes with Sunday’s 40th-anniversary celebration of “Fernandomania.”
The Dodgers hung a five-spot on Washington left-hander Patrick Corbin in the second inning Saturday night and beat the Nationals 9-5 before a reduced-capacity crowd of 15,021 at Dodger Stadium.
The evening began with a video recording of Lasorda, the former Dodgers manager and franchise ambassador who died at age 93 on Jan. 7, singing an off-key but full-throated karaoke version of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” while a montage of his career highlights played on the scoreboards.
The Dodgers, who managed just four hits in Friday’s 1-0 win, then had their way with Corbin in the second, taking advantage of three walks, Zach McKinstry’s two-run single and Chris Taylor’s laser into the left-field bullpen for a three-run homer and 5-1 lead. Justin Turner’s RBI double in the sixth made it 6-1.
Dodgers starter Julio Urías wobbled in the first two innings, giving up one run and five hits, but he escaped further damage with an assist from McKinstry, who charged Starlin Castro’s soft, run-scoring single and fired a one-hop throw third to nail Ryan Zimmerman for the final out of the first.
When Victor Robles lined out to Urías to end the second, it marked the start of a 3 2/3-inning stretch in which Urías retired 11 straight batters before Juan Soto sent a 109.5-mph laser into the right-field pavilion for a solo homer to make it 6-2.
Urías gave up three more hits, including Yan Gomes’ RBI single that made it 6-3. He was replaced by right-hander Jimmy Nelson, who struck out Andrew Stevenson with a nasty curve with the bases loaded to end the sixth and got the dangerous Soto to ground into an inning-double play in the seventh.
AJ Pollock lined a game-breaking, two-out, three-run double past the diving Stevenson in left field to put the Dodgers up 9-3 in the bottom of the seventh. Soto hit a two-run home run in the ninth off Dodgers left-handed reliever Scott Alexander.
Urías gave up three runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings, striking out three and walking none. Including the 2020 playoffs, he is unbeaten in his last 19 games (13 starts), going 8-0 with a 2.68 earned-run average since July 26, 2020.
With Saturday’s start behind him, Urías can relax and watch fellow countryman and pitching idol Fernando Valenzuela, whose rise from the obscurity of Navojoa, Mexico, to 20-year-old Dodgers pitching phenom in 1981 sparked the “Fernandomania” craze, get honored before Sunday’s game.
On April 9, 1981, Valenzuela threw a five-hit shutout against the Houston Astros on opening day, the start of a remarkable eight-game run in which he went 8-0 with an 0.50 ERA, seven complete games and four shutouts and ignited the Mexican American fan base in Southern California and beyond.
Valenzuela finished the strike-interrupted season with a 13-7 record and 2.48 ERA, 11 compete games and eight shutouts. He won the National League Cy Young and rookie-of-the-year awards and helped the Dodgers win the World Series.
Valenzuela has not had his No. 34 retired by the team, but long-time Dodgers clubhouse attendants Mitch Poole and Alex Torres have not issued it to anyone since the left-hander last pitched for the team in 1990.
“To me, it would be nice,” Valenzuela, speaking on a video call, said of his number being formally retired. “I don’t know what the Dodgers are thinking, but I’d be happy if somebody was wearing that number.”
The Dodgers don’t have a written policy for retiring numbers, but each of the franchise’s retired numbers was worn by players who were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame with one exception — Jim Gilliam, who was the team’s first base coach when he died at 49 before the 1978 World Series.
Poole is now the visiting clubhouse manager.
“Alex Torres is in charge of the home clubhouse now — the decision is his,” Valenzuela said. “If anybody wants to wear it, it’s fine by me.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.