Friday is the final day of April, and despite the fact that the Dodgers will finish the month with either a .592 winning percentage (a 96-win pace) or a .630 winning percentage (a 102-win pace), they haven’t been playing too well of late.
They’ve lost eight times in their last 11 games, hitting .193/.319/.310 as a team and averaging 3.45 runs per game in that span. They’ve gotten better since last weekend at giving themselves more scoring opportunities, averaging 10 plate appearances with runners in scoring position over those last 11 games, but even that is down from the Dodgers’ MLB-best 12.1 PA per game with RISP.
But in Thursday’s series opener, the Dodgers only had five shots with runners in scoring position, thanks to each of their first seven hits coming with two outs. That changed in the ninth when Chris Taylor singled to open the ninth, and Austin Barnes delivered the Dodgers’ one hit with runners in scoring position for their only run.
“We do extend innings with two outs, which is a good thing. It’s just still hard in this league to string three hits together,” manager Dave Roberts said. “When you get the leadoff guy on to create stress earlier, you have a better chance to produce runs.”
On the season, the Dodgers are hitting .278/.365/.522 when leading off an inning. That’s the highest OPS and slugging percentage on those situations, and the second-best on-base percentage. But over the last 11 games, their OBP is down to .333 when leading off an inning.
While it might seem easy to point to Mookie Betts, the Dodgers leadoff hitter who is hitting .209/.320/.302 over the team’s 11-game slump, he’s actually done fine while leading off an inning, hitting three doubles with a .368 OBP in the times he’s opened a frame.
One more game in the month also means one more game in the most productive April of Justin Turner’s career. His six home runs are double what he hit over 480 plate appearances in all previous Aprils. He’s also hitting .344/.425/.622 with 20 runs batted in, one of five career months with 20 RBI.
“You understand that we’re taking good at-bats, we’re hitting balls hard,” Turner said Thursday. “Eventually they’ll get back to finding holes, and we’ll be able to pass the baton like we’re used to.”
Nobody has been better at passing the baton than Max Muncy, who leads the major leagues with 26 walks. That’s already a Dodgers record for April, and through 27 team games (the Dodgers play their 27th game Friday) he has the second-most walks in franchise history, behind only Duke Snider’s 30 walks in Brooklyn’s first 27 games in 1955.
Snider walked a career-high 104 times that season. Only six Dodgers have walked in triple digits since then, with Gary Sheffield the last to do it in 2000. Muncy walked 90 times in 2018.
He’s also emblematic of the Dodgers offense over the last two weeks or so. Muncy is just 1-for-15 over his last six games, the one hit a two-out single in the sixth on Thursday. But he’s also walked 12 times and was hit by a pitch, good for a .500 on-base percentage during that time. But despite reaching base 14 times over those six games, Muncy has only scored three times.
Teams: Dodgers at Brewers
Location: Miller Park*
Time: 5:10 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA