Muncy flips script -- and his bat -- to power LA's comeback win

'Hopefully, there won’t be any easy nights for anybody out there,' says Dodgers slugger

April 1st, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- As struck a John King slider, the Dodgers' third baseman immediately dropped his bat, looked at his teammates in the dugout and couldn’t help but bask in the glow of a crowd that had erupted after the moment of impact.

In a season with as much anticipation as any in franchise history, it was Muncy who delivered the first big exclamation point at Dodger Stadium this season, smacking a two-run go-ahead homer in the eighth inning to help the Dodgers beat the Cardinals, 5-4, on Sunday.

“It was fun,” Muncy said. “Second night in a row we haven’t had any quit in the team and, you know, that’s probably the reason why you fight every night.”

With the firepower throughout this lineup, no lead will be safe for opposing pitching staffs this season. Through six games, the Dodgers have shown just that. Sure, they’ve flexed their muscles, showing off their overwhelming starpower at every turn. But they’re also demonstrating that it’s not just a talented roster -- it’s also a resilient one.

The Dodgers came from behind on Saturday, but their comeback attempt fell just short in extras. On Sunday, the Cardinals jumped on the Dodgers once again, scoring a run in the third and another in the fifth to take a quick 2-0 lead.

In the sixth, the deficit doubled for the Dodgers in what was another bizarre inning this weekend. -- who showed much improvement in his first start of the season, allowing just three runs over five-plus innings and a career-high six strikeouts -- kept the Dodgers in the game as long as possible. After him, however, struggled with his command once again, walking two batters and hitting another to help the Cardinals push across one more run.

Even with the inefficient outing, it looked as if Vesia limited the damage by striking out former NL Most Valuable Player Paul Goldschmidt with the bases loaded. Instead, was called for catcher’s interference, the second night in a row that happened to a Dodgers catcher, allowing the Cardinals to take a 4-0 lead.

At that point, the Dodgers had 12 outs to work through a four-run deficit.

Plenty of time.

They immediately answered back with two runs in the bottom of the sixth to cut the deficit in half once again. Then in the eighth, it was really time for the fireworks.

After grounded out to second for the first out of the frame, continued his strong weekend, smacking a solo homer off Andre Pallante to cut the deficit to 4-3. Perhaps even more important for Hernández and the Dodgers is that it was the first homer of the season for the outfielder against a right-handed pitcher.

“I couldn’t be happier for him, because he was scuffling there for a while,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “He’s a pro. His track record speaks for itself. There was no panic. He comes to the ballpark fresh every single day ready to help us win each night, whether it’s playing left field, playing right field, hitting sixth or hitting fourth. There’s just no complaining, just [being] ready when called upon. The game honors you.”

Two batters later, the game also honored Muncy, who didn’t start on Sunday but stayed ready enough to take the biggest at-bat of the game. Facing the left-hander King, Muncy turned on a slider and sent it deep into the right-field seats to give the Dodgers the lead for good.

Muncy has collected a hit in all six games this season, and Sunday's big blast was not only his first of the season, but against a left-hander -- an area in which Muncy struggled a season ago.

“I feel relaxed, and that to me that’s the most important thing,” Muncy said. “When I’m relaxed, I’m not pressing. I’m able to just see the ball and try to get a good swing on it. It is baseball, it’s hard. There’s not always going to be good results, especially in certain situations. But as long as I’m relaxed at the plate and I’m not pressing, not trying to do too much, I feel pretty good about myself.”

Not pressing is even easier considering the help up and down the lineup. The last time the Dodgers won a game after trailing by two or more runs in the eighth inning or later was on July 25, 2023, against the Blue Jays. They did it three times all of last season.

Muncy’s blast on Sunday capped off the first one this season, and it’s hard to imagine that it’ll be the last.

“Hopefully,” Muncy said. “There won’t be any easy nights for anybody out there.”