The Dodgers got their second taste of the funky extra-inning rules on Saturday night, which meant yet another first. Max Muncy delivered the first leadoff sacrifice fly in major league history, and Kenley Jansen struck out Mike Trout on three pitches to close out a 6-5 win over the Angels in 10 innings in Anaheim.
In an effort to prevent extended extra-inning games this season, MLB starts every extra inning in 2020 with a runner on second base. This time it was Chris Taylor to start the 10th inning, as he made the last out in the ninth. Taylor stole third, which allowed Muncy’s fly ball to the right field wall bring home the go-ahead run. Leading off the inning.
The Dodgers are 2-0 in extra-inning games this season, having won those games on the first leadoff two-run home run in major league history, on July 29 in Houston, and Muncy’s MLB first tonight.
It ended a good night for Muncy, who entered batting .169/.289/.351 after his first game off this season on Friday. Muncy drove in three runs in the win, and was a factor all night. He walked and scored in the second inning, then delivered a two-out, go-ahead two-run single in the third, snapping a personal 0-for-15 skid with runners in scoring position.
Muncy also barreled a ball in the seventh inning, 100.7 mph off the bat, .770 expected batting average per Baseball Savant, but it was caught on the center field warning track by Trout.
“It was just kind of a typical Max Muncy game,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Hopefully that day off got him right, because he’s not going to have many more going forward.”
The other slumping left-handed run producer, Cody Bellinger, who homered twice on Friday, singled twice and scored twice on Saturday, his first back-to-back multi-hit games of the season.
A bumpy ride
Walker Buehler’s uneven start to the 2020 season continued, throwing a season-high 89 pitches on Saturday but failing get out of the fifth inning, pulled after allowing five runs. Four of those were earned, with an error by Kiké Hernandez cashed in immediately in the first inning on a home run by Trout.
That was the fifth homer by Buehler this season in 19 innings.
It was the 2-3-4 spots that gave Buehler the most trouble. Two doubles and a walk in the third inning, all with two outs, got the Angels one run, then three straight singles and a wild pitch helped plate two more runs in the fifth. Tommy La Stella, Trout, and Anthony Rendon drove in all five runs for the Angels.
“It was death by a thousand cuts out there,” Buehler said. “I felt like I made some good pitches, I just didn’t get the results that I wanted.”
Buehler, who wasn’t fully stretched out when the season began, has pitched into the sixth inning just once in four starts, recording only two total outs past the fifth inning.
What a relief
Caleb Ferguson (1⅓ innings), Brusdar Graterol (1⅓ innings), Jake McGee (1⅔ innings) and Jansen (one inning) combined for the final 16 outs, allowing only two hits and no runs. McGee got the win by retiring all five batters he faced in the eighth and ninth, using 16 pitches, all four-seam fastballs.
That continued a pattern for McGee who has thrown four-seam fastballs for 132 of his 139 pitches this season (95 percent), up from 80.4 percent last year with Colorado. So far it’s worked, with 12 strikeouts and four baserunners allowed in 8⅔ scoreless innings.
“Jake just has special fastball,” Roberts said. “It just gives that perception that the ball rises and it’s hard to square up. Jake got with out pitching guys, and really feels comfortable. Those were five big outs.”
That’s not to say there wasn’t an anxious moment. With one out in the ninth inning, Angels catcher Max Stassi nearly ended it with a fly ball to left center, but his 389-foot blast was caught by Chris Taylor just in front of the 390 sign, keeping this game going.
“I thought it had a chance [to go out], but I don’t think he got enough of it,” Roberts said. “I thought he just got under it a tick.”
The lead set the stage for Jansen to face the top of the Angels order, and after getting David Fletcher to fly out he struck out La Stella to set up the confrontation with Trout. Jansen threw two cutters and a four-seam fastball, and Trout took them all, ending the game with the tying run in scoring position.
“Those three pitches that he threw,” Roberts said, “were next-level pitches.”
On the other side, Angels reliever Keynan Middleton retired all three Dodgers batters he faced in the 10th but got hung with the loss.
Best vs. Best
Mike Trout hit a two-run shot in the first inning, his ninth home run of the season to tie the major league lead. Mookie Betts hit a game-tying solo shot in the seventh, his eighth homer. Saturday was the 36th game Mookie Betts and Mike Trout have played against one another, dating back to 2014. Betts has 11 home runs in those games and Trout has 10, but this was the first time they both homered in the same game.
Home runs: Mookie Betts (8); Mike Trout (9)
WP — Jake McGee (2-0): 1⅔ IP, 2 strikeouts
LP — Keynan Middleton (0-1): 1 IP, 1 unearned run
Sv — Kenley Jansen (6): 1 IP, 2 strikeouts
Dustin May starts the finale on Sunday (1:10 p.m. PT; SportsNet LA, Fox Sports West, TBS), and will throw to catcher Keibert Ruiz, making his major league debut. Julio Teheran starts on the mound for the Angels.