Max Muncy’s home runs, ninth-inning rally help Dodgers sweep Rockies in slugfest
The exodus began about 30 seconds after the baseball left Yasmani Grandal’s bat. As Grandal touched home plate in the ninth inning of Sunday’s 10-7 Dodgers victory over Colorado, a wave of purple-clad Rockies fans headed for the exits at Coors Field. They had seen enough, with the Dodgers hammering their team for three days in the thin air.
The two-run homer from Grandal capped a three-run inning against Wade Davis, one of the few competent relievers in the Rockies bullpen. The Dodgers (29-30) completed a sweep by scoring in double digits for three games in a row, a 33-run outburst that offered protection for their own pitching staff.
“This is always a good place to come and get the offense clicking,” Justin Turner said. “Obviously, one of the best offensive parks to hit in the league. Guys did a good job all series staying in the zone, making their guys throw pitches and taking advantage of mistakes.”
The Dodgers followed that blueprint in Sunday’s final inning. Entering a tied game in the ninth, Davis crumbled in incremental fashion. He gave up a leadoff double to Logan Forsythe, then uncorked a one-out wild pitch. Chris Taylor walked and scooted to second on another wild pitch. Turner brought home the go-ahead run with a groundout along the first-base line. Grandal finished the scoring by crushing a belt-high cutter.
Max Muncy supplied the offense in the first three innings with a pair of home runs. One was a solo shot. The other was a three-run blast that pulled the Dodgers back within striking distance after a dismal start from Alex Wood. The left-hander lasted just two innings, his briefest start since a five-out appearance on Sept. 11, 2015. He gave up six runs.
The bullpen responded with seven innings of one-run baseball. Six relievers kept the Rockies at bay. Kenley Jansen finished the afternoon with his 14th save of the season. The Dodgers started a reliever Friday and won. The relievers offered four scoreless innings Saturday. The group topped that performance Sunday.
The day before, the Rockies clubbed rookie Walker Buehler for four runs in the second inning. Buehler recovered to complete five innings. Colorado delivered a similar thrashing of Wood in Sunday’s first inning.
Four of the first five Colorado batters reached base. Wood permitted three singles to open the game, with Nolan Arenado driving in a run in the third. A sacrifice fly from Trevor Story added another run. Wood flung a 90-mph fastball near the top of the strike zone to Ian Desmond. Colorado’s lead doubled when Desmond’s two-run shot left the ballpark.
The Dodgers shaved a run off the deficit in the second, when Muncy launched his eighth home run of the season. But Wood remained ineffective. He had walked two or more batters in only two of his 11 starts this season. He walked three batters in the second inning alone.
Wood sparked a fire by walking Chad Bettis, the opposing pitcher. His fastball remained erratic as he walked second baseman DJ LeMahieu on four pitches. A single by Charlie Blackmon loaded the bases. Wood brought a run home by plunking Story on the foot with a curveball. Desmond walked on a close, 3-2 fastball to force in another run.
“To win in spite of that start I had today was pretty impressive,” Wood said.
Wood finished the second inning with 61 pitches. He would throw no more. With a day off Monday, Roberts decided to navigate the final seven innings with his bullpen.
When Wood departed, the Dodgers trailed by five. Muncy shaved three off the tab with one swing in the third. After singles by Taylor and Matt Kemp, Muncy settled into an 11-pitch duel with Bettis. Muncy fouled off five consecutive pitches before Bettis spun a slider over the plate. Muncy bashed the pitch into the second deck of right field for his ninth homer. He’s tied with Kemp and Grandal for the team lead despite not being called up until April 17.
“That was a big moment for us,” Muncy said. “Kind of got us back in the game there. You’re never out of a game here, especially at this place. You can put up a lot of runs in an inning, just like that.”
The Dodgers kept chopping away at the deficit. Yasiel Puig hit a two-out double off the right-field fence in the sixth. After Enrique Hernandez walked, Forsythe hit an RBI single. Colorado coughed up the advantage when Story threw away a grounder off the bat of Breyvic Valera, which allowed two runs to score.
Few leads in this ballpark are safe. Protecting them requires care. The Dodgers operated in sloppy fashion in the seventh. Brock Stewart was pitching for a second inning. Stewart sandwiched a pair of strikeouts around a single by Arenado. With Desmond at the plate, Stewart decided to focus on the runner. He bounced a pickoff attempt to first base and Arenado hustled to third .
The error set the stage for another. Desmond hit a grounder to Forsythe. The ball slipped out of Forsythe’s grip as Arenado crossed the plate to tie the score.
The game did not stay tied for long.
“Honestly, I think our offense has been pretty good for quite some time,” Roberts said.
He credited the starting pitching and the bullpen as well as the offense. “When you’ve got two of those three things going, you’ve got a chance. This series, it was the ’pen and then the hitting.”
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