Tuesday, December 7 2021
Los Angeles Dodgers' Gavin Lux, from second from left, sits on the bench with Chris Taylor.
Injured Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy, far right, sits in the dugout with (from left) Gavin Lux and Chris Taylor during a 4-0 loss to the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday. (Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)

Two years and four months ago, Max Muncy spoke six words that made him forever a part of the best rivalry in baseball.

Muncy launched a mammoth home run, with the ball flying over and out of the ballpark before plopping into San Francisco Bay. Madison Bumgarner barked at Muncy to get on with his run around the bases, and Muncy’s comeback was such a classic that it appeared on T-shirts almost instantly.

Get it out of the ocean,” Muncy barked back at Bumgarner.

As the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants opened their National League Division Series, Bumgarner was not on the mound. He no longer pitches for the Giants.

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, Muncy was not in their lineup. He still plays for the Dodgers, of course, but he was injured on the final day of the regular season.

On the first day of the division series, the Dodgers did not win and did not score.

Managers like to talk about how depth lengthens the lineup. Muncy’s absence is the primary reason why the Dodgers’ lineup is shorter, at the most important time of the season.

“He’s a threat,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He gets on base. He can drive runs in. When you’re talking about games like this, every base matters, keeping the line moving.

“It’s a big void. But it’s where we’re at.”

In their two postseason games — Wednesday’s wild-card game included — the players who started the game in the top five spots in the Dodgers lineup have 10 hits in 38 at-bats.

The players in the sixth, seventh and eighth spots have one hit in 19 at-bats.

The Dodgers lost, 4-0. The Dodgers had five hits, all from the top of the order. Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, Will Smith and two Turners are good, but trying to win a playoff game with half a lineup is not so good.

Muncy led the Dodgers in home runs this season, with 36, and in walks, with 83. He hits the ball out of the park, or he gets on base so someone else can. This is what you want.

“That’s a big bat in the middle of the order that we’re missing,” Smith said.

Dodgers infielder Max Muncy tosses a ball around during a team practice session on Tuesday.Dodgers infielder Max Muncy tosses a ball around during a team practice session on Tuesday.

Dodgers infielder Max Muncy tosses a ball around during a team practice session on Tuesday. (Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

“We’re still fine without him. We’ve got plenty of guys to drive in runs.”

The immediate retort from Giants fans: So what? The Giants lost their first baseman to injury too, and he led their team in home runs.

True. Brandon Belt hit 29. The Giants led the NL in home runs without anyone hitting 30. Their offense is a bit more diversified.

No one on the Giants had 500 at-bats this season. Three Dodgers did: Justin Turner, Chris Taylor and Muncy.

Muncy is injured. Taylor did not start Friday; he hit .121 over the final month of the regular season.

In the sixth spot, and replacing Muncy at first base, the Dodgers put Matt Beaty.

He was hitless in three at-bats, same as he was in the wild-card game Wednesday.

In the seventh spot, the Dodgers put Cody Bellinger.

He was hitless in three at-bats, with two strikeouts. He hit .130 in the final month of the regular season.

In the seventh inning, Smith doubled with one out, giving the Dodgers two chances with the potential tying run at bat.

Beaty struck out. Bellinger struck out.

In the eighth spot, the Dodgers put AJ Pollock.

He was hitless in three at-bats, with two strikeouts. His postseason batting average: .000 this season, .162 for his career.

The totals for the evening: The Dodgers’ top five hitters went five for 20 with four strikeouts; the sixth, seventh and eighth hitters went 0 for 9 with five strikeouts.

Roberts agreed the Dodgers must do something. On Saturday, he said, Taylor would play center field, with Bellinger moving to first base and Beaty to the bench. Bellinger started two games at first base this season.

The Muncy injury is not the only one that could be highly damaging to the Dodgers’ chances of winning the series.

The Giants are a marvelous team against right-handed starters (80-35), a decent one against left-handers (27-20).

The Dodgers could have started left-handers Clayton Kershaw and Julio Urías in the series. Now Kershaw is injured, and the only apparent chance for the Dodgers to start a second left-hander would be to deploy David Price as an opener.

On Friday, the Giants scored all their runs on home runs. The one Buster Posey hit plopped into San Francisco Bay.

Get it out of the ocean? The Dodgers better get on the scoreboard, or their season could be one game away from sinking.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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