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Julio Urias

Dodgers’ Julio Urias sets off World Series Fiesta in Mexico, Los Angeles

Nayarit's Victor Gonzalez and Sinaloa's Julio Urias help Dodgers win first title in 32 years

ARLINGTON, Texas – More than an hour after sealing the Dodgers’ first World Series title in 32 years, Julio Urias still had a Mexican flag draped over his shoulders.

Urias held it closely after receiving it from countryman Victor Gonzalez Tuesday night when they shared a long, tight embrace a few feet from the Globe Life Field mound minutes after beating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 in Game 6.

The 2020 World Series title belongs to Los Angeles, home to the largest population of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the United States. In many ways, though, the title also belongs south of the border, where the Dodgers have been Mexico’s favorite team since another Mexican lefthander, Fernando Valenzuela, captivated the major leagues with Fernandomania in 1981.

For the first time in history, a pair of Mexican pitchers combined to earn the victory and the save in a World Series game. 

Gonzalez, who took over in the fourth inning with a runner on base and the Rays ahead 1-0, pitched 1 ⅓ scoreless innings while capping his outing by striking out the side in the fifth. The Dodgers took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth on a wild pitch and a Corey Seager fielder’s choice grounder to first.

After Venezuelan Brusdar Graterol pitched two-thirds of an inning, Urias took over in the sixth. The lefthander from Culiacan, Sinaloa, handled the final 2 ⅓ innings to win the best-of-seven Fall Classic, four games to two.

“The way that Julio pitched,” Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw said, “that was incredible.”

Urias drew praise from Los Angeles to Mexico, from the top echelons of politics, sports and the arts world.

Mexican president Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador wore a blue Dodgers cap and congratulated Gonzalez and Urias, saving his highest praise for Urias.

“We’re in the celebration now. The Dodgers won,” Lopez Obrador said in a video posted to his Twitter account. “Most importantly, a Mexican won and the save was also at the hands of another Mexican. Julio Urias is the best, the pitcher from Culiacan, Sinaloa, our paisano. Congratulations.”

Dozens of fans among the crowd of 11,437 waved Mexican flags during  Game 6. Loud Mexican gritos and huacos echoed when Gonzalez was introduced as his walk-up song “Mi Lindo Nayarit” played.

Mexican flags were back out in the sixth inning when Urias took over. 

“Totally,” Urias said when asked if the Dodgers’ World Series title felt like a victory for Mexico. “Totally. Truly, the support I get from all the (Mexican) paisanos is unconditional support in the good and bad times. 

“So truly I’m very happy and proud to accomplish this. This is for me but also for all of them. I feel very happy for all of them.”

Gonzalez became just the fourth native of Mexico to earn a winning decision in a World Series, following Valenzuela (1981), the Tigers’ Aurelio Lopez in relief in 1984 and Astros starter Jose Urquidy in 2019.

Urquidy, who became just the second native of Mexico to win a start in a World Series game last year, was actually a teammate of Urias’ on the Sinaloa state team when they were 12 years old. 

Gonzalez, Urias and Urquidy grew up in an era after Valenzuela popularized baseball throughout Mexico. They knew how long it had been since the Dodgers won their last title.

Los Angelenos bemoaned the Dodgers’ 32-year World Series drought, especially as they fell short during the 2017 Fall Classic against the Astros and the 2018 Series against the Red Sox.

That drought was also felt in Mexico.

“Obviously the Dodgers are very famous in Mexico, and you grow up familiar with the team and what it means to wear (Dodger) blue,” Urias said. “I feel very happy, not just for me but for my teammates and the fans who waited a long time.” 

There was something poetic, perfect even, about Mexican natives earning the save and win for Valenzuela’s Dodgers in the clinching game of the World Series. Although Mexican Bobby Avila won an American League batting title in 1954 with the Indians, Valenzuela is the one who truly put Mexico’s stamp on Major League Baseball.

Valenzuela won two titles with the Dodgers. He still works for the club as a Spanish language broadcaster. 

It took 35 years between the second (Lopez) and third Mexican-born pitcher (Urquidy) to win a World Series game, yet it took only two years between the third and fourth.

Despite Gonzalez’s victory, though, most of the attention centered on Urias because he closed it out. He was the one who struck out the Rays’ Willy Adames to secure the Dodgers’ first title since 1988.

“Totally that’s the most important out in my life,” Urias said. “It’s a dream for everybody, not just me. It was a pitch that everyone expected. The whole team, everybody. All of Los Angeles was expecting that. Everyone was waiting for that. I thank God we were able to achieve it.”

On two sides of the U.S. and Mexican border, Dodgers fans rejoices. The long wait is over. Los Doyers are World Series champions again.

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