Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Post-Game 32 Thread: Dodgers Turn To Stone, Then Spring Back To Life

Little-known fact about Dodger 3B Max Muncy: he doesn't eat or drink with his mouth. Rather, he absorbs nutrients like sunflower seeds and Gatorade through his skin--so his teammates are happy to help him ingest.


In a game that started with a shaky MLB debut from Gavin Stone, the Dodgers were able to wrest victory from the jaws of defeat against Philadelphia at the Stadium today. Stone was not great (4.0 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 8 H, 1 K and 2 BB), putting the Dodgers in a 5-0 hole through three innings, and giving the Phillies their first lead of the entire three-game series. But, luckily for Stone, the Dodgers didn't roll over and play dead; rather, they scratched back a run in the third (Mookie Betts with an RBI single), and two more runs in the fourth (two-run HR from Miguel Vargas). Freddie Freeman added a sacrifice fly in the seventh to bring us to within one run, down 5-4.

Then, unexpected things happened from two of the worst hitters on the team. Miguel Rojas, pinch-hitting for Jason Heyward in the eighth, hit a one out single. Rojas was batting .162 entering this game, so the fact he was even at the plate as a PH in the first place was an unusual call (Rojas added a slick defensive play in the top of the ninth inning to nab Trea Turner on an apparent infield single, not an easy feat given Turner's speed). James Outman doubled to put two runners in scoring position. And even though Vargas got Rojas thrown out at home on a fielders choice for the second out, Vargas stole second--and Dave Roberts' second unusual PH call, Austin Barnes (hitting for David Peralta), amazingly singled home two runs to put the Dodgers in the lead.

Barnes was batting .085 entering this game. How Roberts made both PH calls yield benefits is honestly befuddling. Both calls were incredibly illogical, and yet both calls worked.

The Dodgers gave up the lead in the top of the ninth when Roberts yanked Craig Ferguson, who had cruised through the eighth and gotten one out in the ninth--but Roberts opted to go with Brusdar Graterol. Graterol got lucky on that Turner ground out I mentioned earlier, but then fell apart after that, yielding a single to Bryce Harper (who got his first hits of the 2023 season today, in his second game back), a walk to Nick Castellanos, and then a bloop single by Bryson Stott that tied the game. Graterol struck out Alec Bohm to staunch the damage, but it was still tied going to the bottom of the ninth.

But guess who bailed the Dodgers out of this one? None other than Craig Kimbrel, former Dodger reliever (who was awful for us in 2022, mercifully losing the closer role midway through the campaign), now with the Phillies. We tarred and feathered Kimbrel on Monday night (0.2 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, and 1 HR), but here was Kimbrel again, ready to serve up another disaster...this time, with the Dodgers taking advantage instead of taking the pain. Chris Taylor lead off with a single, and though Betts got caught looking, Freeman was intentionally walked, Will Smith was unintentionally walked, and then Max Muncy wasted no time taking the first pitch yard:

The Dodgers went 6-0 on this homestand, sit atop the NL West with a 19-13 record (1.5 games ahead of Arizona and 2.0 games ahead of the Padres), and get a day off tomorrow before a huge series in San Diego this weekend. The Dodgers' +42 run differential is only fourth in the NL (behind Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and the Cubs), but we've scored more runs than anyone else in the NL, thanks to a league-leading 52 HR.

There's still cause for concern, however: the Dodgers' batting average at .238 is only 21st in the majors, as we have the second-most number of team strikeouts (only behind the Giants). Our OPS at .787 is fifth in the league, showing how much we are dependent upon the home run for run generation; small ball is just not our game, with many of our runners lacking speed. I think this is going to expose us as the year goes on. For now, as the Dodgers are mashing, our momentum is rolling.

Let's go!