Justin Turner and Max Muncy power Dodgers to sweeping win over Rockies
The Dodgers bused to San Diego late Thursday night for the first of what third baseman Justin Turner called “19 World Series games” against the Padres, the rivalry with their Southern California neighbors going from regional feud to a full-blown clash between two of the best teams in baseball.
The Dodgers will hit Petco Park for a stretch in which they’ll play the Padres seven times in 10 days with a full head of steam, having completed a three-game sweep of the woeful Colorado Rockies with a 7-5 come-from-behind victory before a reduced-capacity crowd of 15,129 in Chavez Ravine on Thursday night.
Max Muncy keyed a four-run seventh inning with a clutch three-run homer, and starter-turned-reliever David Price survived a harrowing ninth, as the Dodgers extended their win streak to six games and their major league-best record to 11-2.
“The last thing Doc said is we’re going to win this game for Jackie Robinson,” Price said, referring to a pregame speech manager Dodgers Dave Roberts gave at Robinson’s statue in the Center Field Plaza, part of the team’s Jackie Robinson Day celebration.
“To battle back the way we did after that tough sixth inning … this team is tough. We’re not gonna give up. We don’t ever feel like we’re out of a game, and that’s what special teams do.”
Muncy followed seventh-inning walks to Matt Beaty and Turner by blasting a 2-and-0 changeup from reliever Yency Almonte into the right-center field fence for at two-out homer, turning a 5-3 deficit into a 6-5 Dodgers lead.
“It wasn’t necessarily that I was sitting on a changeup 2-0,” Muncy said. “It was just trying to get something to be up. I saw it come out of the hand a little high, and the spin on it told me it wasn’t going to be a heater, so I just tried to stay underneath it, to the middle of the field, and thankfully I was able to do that.”
After Beaty’s one-out walk, Chris Taylor beat out a potential double-play grounder to keep the inning alive, and Turner walked to put two on.
“That was huge,” Muncy said of Taylor’s hustle. “Every guy on this team does a lot of things that may go unnoticed at times, and that’s one of them. We have guys who hustle really hard down the line, and C.T. is definitely one of them. He beat it out and J.T. put a really good at-bat in front of me and gave me a chance.”
The Dodgers went on to load the bases against reliever Tyler Kinley on singles by Will Smith and AJ Pollock and Edwin Rios’ walk. Carlos Estevez replaced Kinley and threw a wild pitch that allowed Smith to score for a 7-5 lead.
Jimmy Nelson retired the side in order in the seventh, and Dennis Santana threw a one-two-three ninth. Roberts then handed the ball to Price, who was handed his first-ever save opportunity in 325 career regular-season games.
Price gave up singles to Yonathan Daza and Alan Trejo to open the inning before striking out pinch-hitter Trevor Story with a 91-mph cut-fastball and Garrett Hampson with an 87-mph changeup.
“He gave up two hits, but it didn’t faze him at all,” Muncy said of Price. “He was throwing the ball well, pounding zone, and he looked really good. That’s gonna be huge for us if we can put him in spots like that. He’s a guy who’s done it for a lot of years now. We’re gonna rely on him heavily, so it’s nice to see that.”
With front-line relievers Victor Gonzalez, Blake Treinen, Corey Knebel and Kenley Jansen all pitching in Wednesday night’s 4-2 win, Roberts told Price before the game that he would be the team’s closer if a save situation arose.
What was Price’s reaction?
Justin Turner’s home run absolutely destroyed a fan’s plate of nachos in the new ‘Home Run Seats’ on Wednesday night.
“I can’t really repeat what I said, but I was excited for it,” Price said. “He told me in trainers’ room, right before the national anthem. I was pumped for it. I was happy Max hit the big home run. Dennis threw the ball well in eighth to set up ninth. Everything held up well in the game, and it was cool to be a part of it.”
Thursday night marked Price’s fourth appearance of the season, “and that was the most adrenaline I’ve felt,” he said. “To be in that spot, to get into that jam with first and second, no one out, to be able to continue to make pitches ... that goes a long way for myself, my teammates and coaching staff.”
Colorado took an early 2-0 lead on solo homers by Ryan McMahon in the first and Hampson in the third off Dodgers left-hander Julio Urías.
Turner wiped out that deficit in the bottom of the third, following Urías’ bloop single and Taylor’s walk by pounding a first-pitch curve from Austin Gomber over the center-field wall for a three-run homer and a 3-2 lead.
Turner also singled in the first and doubled in the fifth, giving him seven multi-hit efforts in 13 games. A notoriously slow starter, Turner is batting .432 (19 for 44) with four homers, six doubles and 14 RBIs.
But Urías couldn’t hold the lead. McMahon doubled with one out in the sixth and scored on C.J. Cron’s RBI single for a 3-3 tie. Josh Fuentes singled to put two on, and after Elias Díaz struck out, Daza flared an RBI single to right for a 4-3 Rockies lead.
Zach McKinstry bobbled the ball in right and threw to Taylor at second. Daza slipped and fell between first and second and was caught in a rundown. When Fuentes, the trail runner, broke for home, Taylor sailed a throw over the catcher’s head, Fuentes scoring on the error for a 5-3 lead.
But Muncy’s blast put the Dodgers back in front in the seventh, and Price, a veteran left-hander in his 12th big-league season, was able to pitch out of the jam to record his first career regular-season save.
“To see David finish it out on Jackie Robinson Day really capped the night off,” Roberts said. “It’s a special day for him. You don’t script many things in baseball, but this couldn’t have been scripted any better for him.”
Asked to gauge the chances of Cody Bellinger (left-calf contusion) playing against the Padres this weekend, Roberts said, “I’m not going to say zero, but, uh, it’s close to that number.” … Corey Seager and Mookie Betts did not start, Roberts giving them “planned days off,” but Seager entered at shortstop in the eighth and Betts played right field in the ninth. … Gavin Lux was scratched because of right-wrist soreness but entered as a pinch-runner in the seventh. … Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who suffered a partially dislocated left shoulder and partially torn labrum on an April 5 swing, is expected to be activated for Friday night’s game. … Roberts, Price and Betts will donate their full-game salaries from Thursday’s Jackie Robinson Day — a combined $275,000 for the two players — to the Players Alliance, a non-profit organization founded by active and former players seeking to improve representation of Black Americans in the sport. ... The Dodgers are 28-8 against the Rockies over the last three years.
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