After a slump to open the season, Max Muncy took a step back, then took it out on the Giants. Muncy hit two home runs and drove in seven in the Dodgers’ 9-1 win over the Giants on Monday night’s series opener at Oracle Park.
Muncy’s struggles this season and last have been well documented, from the elbow injury to bad swing habits to using a step-back in his swing. He entered the series with just four hits in 33 at-bats, with 16 strikeouts, including just 1-for-15 with seven strikeouts since his first home run, which came last Tuesday.
Now Muncy has three home runs. He hit a three-run off Logan Webb in the third inning, then blew the game open with a grand slam off reliever Sean Hjelle in the seventh. On both home run swings, the step-back was evident.
.@maxmuncy9 to center! #Dodgers lead the Giants, 4-0. pic.twitter.com/S4REmp5jCs— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) April 11, 2023
MAX GRAND SLAM. pic.twitter.com/Le1jwWW81b— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 11, 2023
Batting cleanup as he has in all but one start this season, Muncy also walked and singled. He has 23 career home runs against the Giants in 73 games, his most against any opponent. Three of Muncy’s 10 multi-home run games have come against the Giants, including the last two.
Muncy’s seven runs batted in on Monday bested his previous career high by two.
In a perfect illustration of how early it still is this season, with just 11 of 162 games now in the books, Muncy entered Monday hitting .121/.293/.212 with a 53 wRC+. After the game, Muncy is hitting .194/.356/.444 with a 118 wRC+.
Along with Trayce Thompson’s three-homer, eight-RBI night on April 1, the Dodgers have two grand slams this season, matching their season-long total in 2022.
Mookie Betts got things started on Monday, homering into the left field stands on the sixth pitch of the game. Betts had two hits against Webb, against whom he has 12 hits in 26 career at-bats, including the postseason, with two doubles and Monday’s home run. Webb did get Betts out once on Monday, though it was a 103-mph screamer to center field.
Betts added a third hit later, a two-out single to center in the seventh that drove home James Outman, the first of four consecutive hits culminating in Muncy’s grand slam.
Because Betts started at second base on Monday — opening the door for all three left-handed-hitting outfielders to start against the right-handed Webb — that means all three Dodgers home runs came from infielders. Monday was Betts’ fourth start at second base this season.
Since Webb dominated the Dodgers during the 2021 season and NLDS, allowing only six runs in 30⅔ innings over five starts, the right-hander has struggled against the Giants rivals. Since the start of 2022, the Dodgers have scored 18 runs in 27 innings in five starts against Webb. That included four runs in six innings on Monday, not too far off from our Devin Csigi’s prediction of three runs in five innings. Csigi nailed the six strikeouts and one walk, though.
Julio Urías had no such trouble against the rival Giants. Wilmer Flores hit a solo home run in the fourth inning, the only tally against the Dodgers’ ace.
Urías did face some trouble, walking his first two batters of the season. He threw 26 pitches in the second and 22 more in the fourth. But he got through six innings, as he has in all three starts so far this season. His 96 pitches are the most by a Dodgers pitcher this season. The only other outing of at least 90 pitches was by Clayton Kershaw on Friday in Arizona.
Urías has a 2.08 ERA in 121 career innings against the Giants, including the postseason.
Home runs: Mookie Betts (2), Max Muncy 2 (3); Wilmer Flores (2)
WP — Julio Urías (3-0): 6 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
LP — Logan Webb (0-3): 6 IP, 6 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts
Dustin May is on the mound for the Dodgers on Tuesday night (6:45 p.m.; SportsNet LA, MLB Network), with old friend Alex Wood starting for San Francisco.