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, 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 defeated the Nationals 9-5 before a reduced-capacity crowd of 15,021 in Chavez Ravine.
“That’s something we talk about a lot, as far as eliminating distractions,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Regardless of opponent, location, time of year, we’re focused on winning a baseball game, and I think that just resonates in our clubhouse. So yeah, there’s a lot of stuff going on that could be looked upon as distractions, but it just doesn’t get in the way of us taking care of business.”
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 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.
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 shot 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 Soto to ground into an inning-double play in the seventh.
AJ Pollock lined a 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.
The nine-run, nine-run effort was produced without star right fielder Mookie Betts, who missed his third straight game because of back stiffness and is not expected to start Sunday, and Cody Bellinger, who is on the injured list because of a calf injury.
“We’ve always had a deep lineup top to bottom, and we have a couple guys that are really stepping up for us, McKinstry and [Gavin] Lux, who we didn’t see a lot of last year,” Taylor said.
“It goes to show that this organization has a ton of talent just waiting in the wings. One through nine, it doesn’t matter who’s up, we have all the confidence in them. As a team, we’re just trying to put good at-bats together and pass the baton to the next guy.”
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 ERA since July 26, 2020.
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 season in which he won rookie of the year and the Cy Young Award.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.