Julio Urías Struggles, But Austin Barnes Helps Team Mexico Advance To WBC Semifinals

Originally published by DodgerBlue.com

Julio Urías uncharacteristically faltered on the big stage as he surrendered two home runs over just four innings in his second start with Team Mexico in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

Urías’ struggles put Mexico in an early deficit that they managed to overcome in a thrilling 5-4 comeback win against Puerto Rico in the quarterfinals thanks in part to Austin Barnes. Team Mexico is in the WBC semifinals for the first time in their country’s history, and now play Team Japan on Monday.

Urías began his start by striking out Francisco Lindor, only to later surrender back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches before he could get through the first inning. Eddie Rosario, who tormented the Dodgers during the 2021 National League Championship Series, hit the second homer off Urías.

Reports indicated the Dodgers had a limit of 65 pitches in place.

“So there’s going to be a conversation with the Dodgers to clarify so we’re on the same page,” Team Mexico manager Benji Gil said this week.

“How many pitches they’re willing for him to throw, and also we will adjust with that. At the end of the day, the other day he threw 62 pitches in five innings. Maybe it’s something similar. Obviously we will try to win but we’re not going to try to jeopardize one of the best baseball players.”

Urías threw 29 pitches in the first inning but still managed to get through four. He finished at 60 pitches, four runs allowed and four strikeouts over four innings.

Pitchers were capped at a maximum of 65 pitches per outing during pool play. That increased to 80 pitches for the quarterfinals and is 95 in both the semifinals and finals.

Austin Barnes key in Mexico rally

Barnes again was behind the plate to catch Urías, but it was his 2-for-4 effort that arguably was most impactful in their comeback win.

Barnes singled with two outs in the fifth inning and it wound up leading to Mexico scoring a run that cut their deficit in half on Alex Verdugo’s RBI base hit. Barnes then led off with a double in the seventh inning, and Mexico went on to score three runs to take their decided lead.

The four-run comeback is tied for the second-biggest in WBC history.

Venezuela erased a five-run deficit against Italy, and the Dominican Republic did so against the United States as well, with both occurring in 2017.

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