Max Muncy and Justin Turner each hit three-run home runs to lead the Dodgers over the Giants 7-3 in Wednesday’s series and homestand finale at Dodger Stadium.
After a great renewal of the rivalry in last year’s season series that extended to the first playoff matchup between these two storied franchises, this season things kind of took a step back which doesn’t necessarily mean these were just regular games by any means, but it hasn’t been exactly the same.
What pretty much everyone expected mostly happened. After a 107-win season, and a division title that ended the Dodgers reign over the West, the Giants have taken a step back in 2022, and simply haven’t been able to put up a real challenge for back-to-back division titles, while the Dodgers have mostly maintained their recent pace.
That isn’t to say that a below-.500 record was expected or that this team hasn’t underachieved, but it was within the realm of possibilities, and it’s their current reality.
After getting swept in San Francisco in the middle of June, the Dodgers have bounced back well against their bitter rivals, and won nine of their last ten meetings against the Giants. In fact, Monday's loss was the only Giants win in Los Angeles all year long.
Muncy’s hot streak even entails a decisive bunt hit
The Dodgers’ power-hitting left-hander has had a challenging year, but there’s nothing challenging about his current hot run with the bat, and despite the two homers he had Tuesday, Muncy came up to hit in the bottom of the fifth inning Wednesday with a chance to tie the game with a home run, and instead, he laid one down the vacated third base line, reaching safely on a bunt hit.
Max Muncy getting a shift bunting session in. pic.twitter.com/ZMBp75rApi— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) September 7, 2022
The Giants’ broadcast even made a point to acknowledge that it might not have been the worst thing for the visitors, given that Muncy had been red-hot with the bat, and came up as the tying run, but would you know, that Justin Turner came up next and gave the Dodgers the lead with a three-run shot.
Justin Turner 11th Homerun of the Season pic.twitter.com/F9CaTb9EmV— Homeruns MLB (@homers_mlb) September 7, 2022
Justin Bruihl coughed up the lead, relieving Clayton Kershaw in the seventh inning, but it wasn’t long before the top of the lineup did its thing once again, with Trea Turner driving in the go-ahead run with a double off the wall in the eighth inning.
And to wrap it up, Muncy finalized his papers as new owner of the San Francisco Giants completing his marvelous series with a three-run shot to put this one to bed, and guarantee the Dodgers another series victory.
Max Muncy has done it all today!! pic.twitter.com/HC0ywlV1Jo— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) September 7, 2022
Kershaw tuning up for October
The Dodgers are gonna play in the postseason without Walker Buehler and regardless of what kind of year he was having, and the absurd level to which this whole staff has stepped up to in his absence, the simple truth is that he’ll be missed, and everyone is going to have to do a little more come October.
One of the names this pitching staff will need to rely on is Kershaw. The three-time Cy Young winner is coming off his second injured list stint, and while Kershaw himself implied that his extended absence happened in part due to an abundance of caution, it is frankly understandable given his recurring back problems.
So far, since his return, the Dodgers have been very cautious about limiting Kershaw’s pitch count, and ultimately making sure he is ready to go for the start of the NLDS.
Kershaw ran into a bit of trouble in his first inning back at Citi Field struggling with command but has been razor sharp since, he ended that afternoon with 74 pitches over five innings in New York, and today he finished six innings on 86 pitches, managing eight strikeouts on 18 whiffs with no walks.
The only blip on the radar was a two-run bomb to David Villar. Another opposite field homer for these Giant hitters on a series in which the ball has really carried.
Home runs: Justin Turner (11), Max Muncy (19); David Villar 2 (4)
WP — Evan Phillips (6-3) 1⅓ IP, 1 hit, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
LP — Zack Littell (2-3) 1⅓ IP. 3 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
The Dodgers get an off-day before a three-game series in San Diego against the Padres. Dustin May and Mike Clevinger will face off for the opening game of the series on Friday night (6:40 p.m., SportsNet LA).