The Dodgers listed 10 relievers on their lineup card Saturday. Not 10 pitchers, mind you. Ten relievers.
They all sat there in the bullpen for the first hour of the game, and then some, watching as the San Francisco Giants turned Saturday into one of the worst days in the career of Julio Urías.
He gave up more hits Saturday than he ever had. He was hit often, and he was hit hard. Hit after hit, run after run, and all the relievers sat there.
The Dodgers’ game plan was Urías pitching deep into the game. The Dodgers stuck to their game plan, and in the meantime the Giants piled on the runs, en route to what turned out to be a 11-6 victory.
“He needed to give us five innings,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, “and he did that.”
Urías gave up 11 hits, including hits to eight of the first 15 batters. Of the first 12 batters, the only outs: a sacrifice bunt by the opposing pitcher, a 102-mph fly out, a diving catch by left fielder Matt Beaty, and a strikeout when Austin Slater swung at a pitch closer to his batting helmet than to the strike zone.
When Urías missed the strike zone, he could miss by plenty. He walked off the mound after what he thought was a third strike, when it was not. He did not back up home plate.
Urías is a very good pitcher, and this day soon will be forgotten as one of those days. But the Dodgers declined to rescue a clearly struggling pitcher, putting themselves in a five-run hole.
Max Muncy and Albert Pujols later hit home runs — Pujols tied Babe Ruth for fourth place on the all-time list of extra-base hits — but the hole was too deep.
By the time the game was done, the Dodgers had given up a season-high 16 hits and fallen back into third place in the National League West, one game behind the Giants and 2 1/2 games behind the first-place San Diego Padres.
Cody Bellinger, activated from the injured list Saturday after rehabilitating a hairline fracture in his left leg, played in his first game since April 5 and went hitless in four at-bats.
There are days, of course, when a bullpen is weary and a starter is expected to pitch deep into the game, no matter what. On this day, Urías said, his aggressiveness was solid but his pitches were not.
“The fastball wasn’t there,” he said. “I didn’t really have the other stuff working for me.”
The Dodgers had hoped to get at least six innings from Urías on Saturday. They had used five relievers on Friday, seven in a bullpen game Thursday.
However, Blake Treinen and Kenley Jansen were the only relievers to pitch in both games. No one else made even 20 pitches Friday, and David Price and Edwin Uceta were the only ones to do so Thursday.
If Treinen, Jansen and Price were unavailable, that would have left seven relievers. None of them stirred until after Urías had given up his 11th hit. It was the fourth inning.
Roberts nonetheless sent Urías back to the mound for the fifth inning.
“I didn’t have to,” Roberts said. “I just felt that his stuff was still good. I’m not putting him in harm’s way. It’s the bottom part of the order, the pitcher being one of them. I just think it’s a smart baseball move.”
Urías retired the side in order in the fifth inning, his last. He tied a career high by giving up seven runs. He said he was not surprised that the team did not go to the bullpen sooner.
“I didn’t have my good stuff tonight,” he said. “To go out there and pitch five innings, to give a little bit more length, and for Dave have the confidence in me to throw those five innings, is something I could take away, and feel really good about and really happy about.”
Urías batted for himself in the bottom of the fifth, striking out. The Dodgers finally called upon a reliever, Phil Bickford, to start the sixth.
They used four in all, exposing the soft underbelly of a bullpen with Treinen and Jansen unavailable and Brusdar Graterol, Corey Knebel, Scott Alexander and Jimmy Nelson on the injured list. Still, they had 10 relievers on the active roster.
Urías batted for himself because the Dodgers had a short bench. They had a short bench because of all those relievers. Roberts said he was pleased six went unused Saturday.
“You’ve still got to give Julio credit for being able to shorten the game a little bit, and get through five innings,” Roberts said. “It’s losing a game today, but it’s also how you lose it. Being able to save an arm or two for tomorrow and the days to come are important.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.