HEY, Max MuncyWhat have you been up to lately?
tax evaders fans know very well that the answer is the same as when someone asks, “What’s going on?”
Default response: “Not much”.
That doesn’t mean Muncy isn’t appreciated. He was honored before Thursday night’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies, with bobbleheads distributed to fans entering Dodger Stadium. His wife, Kellie, threw the first ceremonial toss and Muncy held their 9-month-old daughter, Sophie Kate, until nearly game time.
Mired in a debilitating seasonal crisis, Muncy hoped fans would fondly remember the 36 home runs he scored last season, the 35 he scored in 2019, the 35 he scored in 2018.
“We have the best fans in the world and I don’t think they’ve forgotten what I’ve been doing for the past couple of years,” he said. “At the same time, they expect me to be better and I expect me to be better.”
Muncy’s contribution was minor – two strikeouts, two walks and a check-swing dribble for a single – but the hit helped fuel a stunning Dodgers rally in the eighth inning that turned a four-run downside into a draw. short term.
The Phillies responded in ninth, scoring two goals against reliever Daniel Hudson to win 9-7, forcing manager Dave Roberts to explain why he didn’t employ Craig Kimbrel closer with the score tied. Hudson opened the ninth by tackling the eighth and ninth hitter of the Phillies lineup and Roberts felt he could have saved Kimbrel to face half of the lineup if the game went extra inning.
“I followed the book, I liked Hudson at the bottom of their order and it didn’t work out,” Roberts said.
Hudson got a quick out, pinch-hitter Odúbel Herrera squeezed for a single, and Hoskins burned a ball to the ground that looked away from Hudson for a shot. Alex Bohm walked and Hudson threw a wild pitch that scored Herrera and gave up a sacrifice fly for another run.
A last Dodgers rally was not up to par at the bottom of the inning. Trea Turner took off with his third hit and Muncy and Will Smith walked to load the bases against former Dodger rescuer Corey Knebel. But Austin Barnes, Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor all flew away, handing the Dodgers their third defeat in four games.
“The demonstrations were encouraging,” Taylor said. “We have recovered. The crowd was involved. We just came short in the ninth “.
Muncy received the loudest ovation when the lineup was announced and beat the cleanup despite averaging .138 with an anemic rate of .299 rounds. He leads the National League in walking with 27 but perhaps this is a sign that he is too passive at the plate, taking shots that he should take.
He was warmly welcomed by fans before his first serve at bat to start the second inning and hit a curveball in the dirt by Phillies ace Zack Wheeler, making his first start since coming off the Covid roster. Muncy struck out swinging to another low ball that breaks in the fourth and entered the sixth.
His single excuse me in eighth loaded the bases with no eliminations and was followed by a single RBI from Smith and a double two from pinch-hitter Justin Turner, reducing the Dodgers deficit to 7-6. A single from Taylor brought home Smith to even the score, but Turner was held third.
Barnes then ran for Turner and Hanser Alberto batted for Gavin Lux. Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins correctly hooked the Dodgers’ intention to squeeze bunt and crashed when Alberto hit, fielding the ball and throwing easily Barnes on the plate.
Bottom line: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts telegraphed the squeeze by inserting Barnes as a runner and Alberto as a hitter. The Phillies weren’t fooled and the Dodgers missed the chance to take the lead.
Roberts’ wishful thinking began even before the game, when he hoped that Muncy would ride the positive vibes from fans and deal a heavy blow.
“I’m sure the fans will come out and support him and are clamoring to get a bobblehead and hopefully he’ll take a home run,” he said.
Home runs are something of a tradition on a blistering Dodgers day, which starts with a Successful Grand Slam by Manny Ramirez in 2009. Hanley Ramirez went deep into his bobblehead day of 2013 and was followed by Yasiel Puig in 2015, Howie Kendrick in 2016, Manny Machado and Bellinger in 2018, and an outburst of two Bellinger homers in 2019.
Bobblehead’s mojo didn’t help Muncy against the Phillies, however. He has gone too far.
Despite his strikeouts against Wheeler, he doesn’t often chase out-of-zone shots even though outs and runners have remained on base. Roberts prefers to attribute Muncy’s patience as a refusal to panic.
“There have been some good lines, solid contact, he’s still walking, I still like the quality of the serve,” Roberts said. “It’s easy to bet that there will be positive results to come.”
Muncy’s ability to recognize a ball from a strike is his best asset beyond his obvious power. No twisting of his arm could persuade him to become more aggressive. And, in fact, the mere hint of twisting his arms is enough to make him jump.
Muncy, 31, sustained an ulnar collateral ligament tear in his left elbow on the final day of the 2021 regular season when a base runner snapped through his outstretched arm at first base, grotesquely bending his elbow.
The Dodgers were shy about the extent of the injury, with Roberts insisting that Muncy could return at some point in the postseason. It turned out that he was all a bluff. He didn’t disclose the torn ligament until December.
Is the arm a factor in your current crisis? Is he completely healed?
“Um, I don’t know,” he said Thursday, shaking his head. “I do not know.”
Another stressor is that Muncy’s $ 26 million three-year contract expires at the end of the season, but includes a $ 13 million squad option. It is expected that all Muncy has to do for the Dodgers to acquire the option is to produce as he did in his first four seasons with the team.
But every day this terrible crisis continues, the 121 home runs and the 309 points beaten from 2018 to 2021 seem increasingly out of reach.
Even on a night he had an appreciative crowd in his corner.