Dodgers set tone with Game 1 power, patience

Pederson, Muncy, Hernandez homer as L.A. draws 8 walks

October 5th, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- It wasn't long before the Dodgers' offense began clicking like the Dodgers' offense in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Thursday night.

Three pitches into the game, uncorked a leadoff home run on an 0-2 fastball on the outer edge of the plate. An inning later, unleashed a three-run shot into the right-field pavilion at Dodger Stadium.

:: NLDS schedule and results ::

In their 6-0 thrashing of the Braves, the Dodgers scored their first five runs via the long ball, including 's solo shot in the sixth. It was a fitting extension of a regular season in which they set a franchise record and led the National League with 235 dingers.

"You gotta grind out at-bats, and I think we do a great job of that," Pederson said. "Hit with runners on base, get the guy over, situational hitting -- it all plays a part. But I mean, sometimes a home run does the job. I don't know what else to tell you."

Power and patience. Patience and power. It's what these Dodgers do.

It's what these Dodgers have done all season.

And if they're going to beat Atlanta in the National League Division Series, it's almost certainly how these Dodgers are going to do it. Atlanta's pitchers weren't particularly susceptible to the home run this year, but they've walked more than their share. The Braves issued more free passes than any other pitching staff in the National League.

Pederson and Muncy will have the chance to be at the forefront, too. The Braves are currently in line to start right-handed pitchers for the remainder of the series. The platoon-happy Dodgers are expected to ride the lefty-hitting Pederson and Muncy the rest of the way.

"I like our left-handed-[hitting] lineup," Roberts said with a grin.

On Thursday night, it was easy to see why.

After a dominant cruised through the top of the first inning, Pederson made an immediate statement. Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz threw a 98-mph fastball on the outside corner. But with two strikes, Pederson was swinging to do damage.

And that's precisely what he did. When the ball landed beyond the outstretched glove of center fielder , Pederson became the first player in Dodgers history to homer in the team's first at-bat of the postseason. It was the club's fourth leadoff homer in a playoff game and the first since Chris Taylor opened the World Series with a leadoff shot last October against Houston.

"It's pretty special," Pederson said. "That guy had plus-plus stuff, and we were just trying to get him early and get some guys on base. I got behind 0-2, and I was able to battle and put a ball on the barrel. I definitely wasn't trying to do that, but it was really nice."

That's a recurring theme with these Dodgers hitters. They aren't trying to hit home runs. They just do.

"It's just a result of us having a good approach and good at-bats," Muncy said. "A lot of the home runs we've had have come off of long at-bats, working the counts and wearing the pitcher down. Again, I don't feel like we're trying to hit a home run. It's just the result of a good approach."

With that approach, the Dodgers led the Majors with 647 walks this season, too. That kind of patience could prove particularly dangerous over the next few days.

It showed on Thursday, as the Dodgers worked eight free passes. Muncy did so three times, becoming the first player in history to homer and record three walks in his first playoff game.

As recently as last year, Muncy was looking for work, having been designated for assignment by Oakland. He wasn't on the Dodgers' Opening Day roster and didn't earn a callup until late April. In the second inning Thursday, he sent a playoff crowd at Dodger Stadium into a frenzy when he pulverized a Foltynewicz fastball into the fifth row.

"This is what everyone dreams of doing," Muncy said.

The way this series lines up, Muncy and Pederson will almost certainly get the chance to live a few more of those dreams.