PITTSBURGH -- The Dodgers’ 7-2 win on Saturday night at PNC Park started with a leadoff double by Joc Pederson, and from there, the doubles kept coming and coming.
The Dodgers knocked eight doubles off the Pirates, tied for the most in team history (since 1958); they also accomplished the total on July 2, 1978. The only time the Dodgers franchise has seen more doubles in a game was June 4, 1939, when the Brooklyn-based team hosted the Pirates at Ebbets Field.
As manager Dave Roberts succinctly put it, “We don’t discriminate against the double.”
On Saturday, the bulk of the doubles came in a stretch between the fourth and fifth innings. Hyun-Jin Ryu, whose scoreless-inning streak was snapped at 32 in the second, hit a go-ahead double off the right-center field wall, just a few feet shy of his elusive first career homer.
“I thought he got enough to carry the right-field wall,” Roberts said. “It sounded good coming off.”
“I knew it was hit well, but I have to work on my launch angle," Ryu said.
“That’s always the approach,” Muncy said of the team’s focus on doubles. “That’s never not the approach.”
It’s somewhat of a turn in the Dodgers’ batting mentality. Last year, they were often viewed as a home run-centered offense, which made for an exciting brand of baseball, but one that was critiqued come World Series time.
The club is still producing a lot of long balls -- they’re currently on pace for 246 home runs, which would top last season’s 235 -- but even Muncy, who broke out with 35 homers in 2018, sees the team branching out on offense.
“I think it’s a different animal than last year,” Muncy said. “Last year, we relied pretty heavily on the home run, and this year, we’re able to produce runs in a different manner. And that’s making us a more complete team and a more dangerous team.”
It’s making it so that the Dodgers’ lineup has become one of the hardest to attack in baseball. On Saturday, it tagged Joe Musgrove for six runs after he gave up just one earned run to the Dodgers through 6 2/3 innings on April 27.
“If you watch these guys play, [they’re] one of the best teams in baseball,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “They’re capable of beating you in a number of different ways. There’s speed. There’s power. There’s hit ability. There’s right. There’s left. There’s grinding out at-bats.”
And in the end, it was that final point -- the ability to work the count -- that Roberts said proved to be as big as any double the team might hit. Take, for instance, Chris Taylor’s at-bat in the fourth that kickstarted the critical stretch of four doubles in five at-bats. Taylor saw 10 pitches from Musgrove with two outs before lacing a single, and then came around to score on Ryu’s double.
“[Musgrove] got up to close to 80 pitches with two outs [in the fourth],” Roberts said. “You're looking at the bottom of the order, and for Chris to run a count, that took an inning away. So for us to get deep in their bullpen, to not allow Musgrove to go another inning, was big.”