The prototypical bullpen game completed the final leg of the Dodgers’ journey Tuesday night.
Manager Dave Roberts employed Tony Gonsolin as his opener and then shuttled in six relievers to stifle the Rays in the Dodgers’ 3-1 victory in Game 6 of the World Series.
Gonsolin surrendered a first-inning homer to Randy Arozarena and was removed after recording five outs. The parade of relievers followed. In all, the Dodgers received 7¹/₃ shutout innings from the bullpen — capped by Julio Urias. That unit had pitched 4¹/₃ shutout innings the previous game.
Roberts had decided against starting Walker Buehler on short rest, opting to keep his co-ace on his regular turn for a potential Game 7. Only strengthening Roberts’ resolve was the fact he had Urias available from the bullpen, three days after the electric left-hander had started against the Rays.
On this night, Urias pitched 2 ¹/₃ perfect innings, striking out four, and earned the save, marking the second straight postseason series he closed out with dominant relief. Urias had fired three perfect innings to finish Game 7 of the NLCS against the Braves.
“I just focused on getting the one out,” said Urias, who entered Tuesday in the seventh inning with a man on and two out. “Little by little, I just went batter by batter and when I least expected it I was getting the final out.”
Urias started Game 4 on Saturday, allowing two earned runs on four hits over 4 ²/₃ innings with nine strikeouts. He departed with the Dodgers ahead 3-2, but the game turned wild in the later innings, punctuated by Arozarena’s dash to the plate in the ninth inning with the winning run (he had stumbled between third and home, but catcher Will Smith mishandled the throw, after Chris Taylor bobbled the ball in the outfield on Brett Phillips’ game-tying single).
Most notably, Kenley Jansen never resurfaced after blowing the save in Game 4. The erratic closer was also avoided in Game 5, when Roberts used Blake Treinen to get the final three outs in a save situation.
Urias wasn’t the only bullpen star on Tuesday. Another left-hander, Alex Wood, fired two scoreless innings with three strikeouts on a night when the Rays whiffed 16 times.
Dylan Floro recorded a big out in the second inning, replacing Gonsolin and striking out the only batter he faced, Arozarena. The Dodgers also received strong relief performances from Pedro Baez, Victor Gonzalez and Brusdar Graterol ahead of Urias.
“It’s a beautiful feeling,” Urias said of throwing the final pitch in the World Series clincher. “You know everybody is waiting for that out and I’m thankful to God for the opportunity and thankful for all the blessings.”