Max Muncy’s two homers help power Dodgers in another rout of Giants
Dave Roberts didn’t think Max Muncy caught all of a first-inning fastball that San Francisco Giants starter Tyler Anderson left over the plate.
“He toed it a little bit,” Roberts said during an in-game television interview.
Not that it mattered.
Muncy lined the pitch over the wall in right field anyway, the start of a two-home-run, three-hit display that keyed the Dodgers’ 9-1 win over the Giants at Dodger Stadium.
In addition to Muncy’s two solo shots — the first baseman went deep to center in the sixth inning, collecting his fifth career multi-home-run game — the Dodgers received two RBIs from Justin Turner, three hits from Corey Seager, Mookie Betts’ first RBI and scored in seven of their eight trips to the plate.
Already feeling better after suffering a back injury and missing his opening day start, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw believes he will return soon.
“Those first few innings,” starting pitcher Ross Stripling said, “it felt like we hit for 15 minutes each time.”
The offensive explosion was superfluous on a night Stripling delivered seven stellar innings. Effectively mixing high fastballs, a new-grip changeup and his other off-speed offerings, the right-hander gave up only one run (a solo homer by Jaylin Davis in the third) and struck out seven.
“He was very efficient, pitched to all the quadrants,” Roberts said of Stripling, who threw 92 pitches and didn’t walk a batter. “He’s just such a good executor of pitches. The rhythm was really good. The seven innings was real big.”
The changeup, a pitch Stripling tinkered with during spring training and throughout the summer, was the biggest revelation, helping him retire 16 of the 17 left-handed batters he faced.
“I’ve faced some of those [Giants] hitters over there many times and feel like I got some swing and misses on the changeup, a new wrinkle they haven’t seen,” Stripling said. “Good to get some instant feedback from it.”
Stripling’s gem followed up an impressive spot start from rookie Dustin May on opening day, propelling the Dodgers’ to a 2-0 start even without former Cy Young Award winners Clayton Kershaw (on the 10-day injured list with back stiffness) and David Price (who opted out of the season) currently in the rotation and 2019 All-Star Walker Buehler still building up to full stamina.
“I certainly think you should be impressed, but not surprised,” Roberts said of the team’s early pitching success. “To see these guys rise to the occasion, not a surprise at all. Opportunities they deserve.”
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Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ bats have provided plenty of insurance. On Friday, they recorded 13 hits and went five for 17 with runners in scoring position, tagging four of the five Giants pitchers with at least two runs. Over the first two games, they have reached base safely 38 times and recorded 10 extra-base hits.
“Potent, dangerous, explosive, exciting,” Muncy, who was moved back to the No. 2 spot in the order Friday after leading off a day earlier, said when asked to describe the team’s offense. “There’s not really one word you can pick for it. … It was exciting during summer camp. It’s even more exciting now that the real games are going on.”
A look at key factors in the Dodgers’ victory over San Francisco on Friday:
1. MUNCY GOING DEEP: Max Muncy showed why the Dodgers signed him to a three-year, $26-million extension this offseason, hitting his first two home runs of the season. After stroking a line drive over the wall in right in the first, he went deep to center in sixth, Muncy, who had three hits and a walk, is coming off back-to-back 35-homer campaigns.
2. STRIPLING’S NEW CHANGEUP: Throughout spring training, right-hander Ross Stripling tinkered with a new changeup grip he hoped would make him more effective against left-handers. In his seven-inning, one-run season debut Friday, it paid off. Giants left-handers went one for 17 against Stripling and accounted for all seven of his strikeouts.
3. NOT NEEDED: It didn’t matter that neither of the Dodgers’ “Killer Bs” — Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts — recorded a hit until the seventh inning. By then, the Dodgers were already up by five and every other member of the starting lineup had a hit or RBI. Betts finally broke the seal with a run-scoring single in the inning, his first RBI as a Dodger.
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