NEW YORK -- Baseball wasn't a young man's game Friday night at Citi Field.
In his Major League debut, 19-year-old Dodgers phenom Julio Urias couldn't get out of the third inning. But 37-year-old Chase Utley silenced a deafening crowd of haters with a game-tying three-run double in the top of the ninth inning for the Dodgers, only for 35-year-old Curtis Granderson to slug a walk-off homer leading off the bottom of the frame as the Dodgers lost the series opener, 6-5.
Urias' debut couldn't possibly live up to the hype of the previous 24 hours, but the Dodgers were anticipating something better than a 36-pitch first inning and a 2 2/3-inning start out of their No. 1 prospect. That made for a rugged beginning to a difficult trip -- three games against the Mets followed by four at Wrigley Field with the Cubs. The bullpen already has picked up 5 1/3 innings (Chris Hatcher and Joe Blanton allowed home runs), and iron man Clayton Kershaw won't give it a day off until Sunday.
Was Urias nervous?
"I was," he admitted. "I'm not going to lie, when I went out there, I started thinking of everything I've had to go through to get here. But when I was on the mound, I was able to settle down, be a little more comfortable. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get the results we wanted."
The setup for Urias could have been gentler. He was facing a team that went to the World Series last year, that knows how to work counts on a young pitcher; it unfolded on the Big Apple stage, in front of a Citi Field crowd so bent on heckling Utley it barely was interested in rattling Urias.
With a 90-pitch limit set pregame, the lefty burned off 81 when manager Dave Roberts brought the hook, 36 of them in a three-run first inning. He faced 17 extremely patient Mets batters, none of them swinging at the first pitch, 13 of those balls. He walked four with a wild pitch and struck out three, his fastball ranging between 90-95 mph.
"There was a lot of excitement," said Roberts. "I thought he kept his composure, had good stuff. His pitches [were] on the edges; he might be used to getting those calls. He wasn't wild, just missing a tick off his fastball command."
Urias, though, found Mets hitters a tougher assignment than Triple-A, and there were suggestions that home-plate umpire Dan Bellino gave Urias a smaller strike zone than he saw during the 27-inning scoreless streak that helped get him promoted.
"There was a big difference," Urias said of the quality of hitters. "They were looking for specific pitches, and sometimes I tried to fool them and I wasn't able to. Today, it didn't work out, but I'm going to continue to work hard and try to get results."
Urias said he will remember the good more than the bad.
"I'm very happy," he said. "This is the best day of my life, as it is for any big league player or any player that makes a debut. Although we didn't get the results that we wanted, I'm going to continue to work, and I thank God for the opportunity that he gave me."
Roberts said team officials on Saturday will discuss the next assignment for Urias, whose innings are being managed carefully because he threw only 80 2/3 frames last year.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.