Dodgers continue their home runs in comeback over Cardinals

By | April 1, 2024

Shohei Ohtani led the American League in home runs last season. He has yet to hit his first home run for his new team. Nevertheless, the Dodgers lead the major leagues in home runs.

The Dodgers hit more home runs last season than any major league team aside from the Atlanta Braves. Out: JD Martinez and David Peralta, who combined for 40 home runs last season. In: Ohtani and Teoscar Hernández, together 70.

“I think we have more slugs,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

The Dodgers certainly defeated the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, with two blows that turned a sloppy and discouraging defeat into a dramatic 5-4 victory at Dodger Stadium.

Read more: Motivated by the move to shortstop, Dodgers veteran Mookie Betts is in tears

The Dodgers were five outs away from defeat, five outs from a .500 start to perhaps the most anticipated season in team history, when Hernández and Max Muncy homered in the eighth inning.

Hernández is tied for second in the Majors with three home runs, one behind teammate Mookie Betts. His solo home run narrowed the Dodgers’ deficit to 4-3. After Chris Taylor walked – for the third consecutive at-bat – Muncy hit a 400-foot home run to provide the tying run and the winning runs.

Muncy turned excitedly toward the Dodgers dugout, then turned back to trot around the bases.

The day after the Dodgers’ sluggers rallied for three runs to tie the game, they rallied for four runs to victory.

“They definitely keep you in the game,” said Dodgers starting pitcher Gavin Stone, “no matter how many runs you give up. It’s going to be fun to watch.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31, 2024: Los Angeles Dodgers design hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) reacts.LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 31, 2024: Los Angeles Dodgers design hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) reacts.

Dodgers design hitter Shohei Ohtani celebrates after hitting a ground-rule double in the sixth inning. Teoscar Hernández celebrates after hitting a solo home run for the Dodgers in the eighth inning. Dodgers starting pitcher Gavin Stone delivers during the fifth inning. Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Reliever Nabil Crismatt earned his first Major League victory in two years in his Dodgers debut. Daniel Hudson, who suffered a knee injury each season of his last two years, recorded the save for the Dodgers.

The sloppiness the Dodgers showed on Sunday could be a cause for concern.

In the fifth inning, Stone was unable to field a dribbler past the mound, and the ball went for an infield single, and first baseman Freddie Freeman was unable to catch a pop-foul that landed near his feet.

In the sixth inning, with the Cardinals already up 2-0, Stone walked the first batter, and the Dodgers removed him after 85 pitches. Reliever Alex Vesia walked two more batters and then hit a batter to force a run. Catcher Austin Barnes committed interference on what would have been a third strike for Paul Goldschmidt, and the Cardinals scored another run for a 4-0 lead.

Read more: ⚾ Dodgers box score

The Dodgers’ come-from-behind victory was special for Muncy, who came off the bench to deliver the winning goal. Muncy noted that the Dodgers wore down the Cardinals to the point where St. Louis had to use the left-handed reliever on Friday and Saturday, which is why he didn’t pitch on Sunday.

“That made it a little easier for me,” Muncy said. “It’s just something that goes unnoticed by a lot of people, but it’s something we’re very proud of here.”

Muncy said he was still not 100% after contracting a virus and losing nine pounds as the Dodgers prepared for their season opener in South Korea.

“I think a lot of the team is feeling quite ill at the moment, just from those long flights,” he said, “and coming back home and the weather we’ve had. It was a bit unusual for LA, but you just have to fight through it.

St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Brendan Donovan, left, and shortstop Masyn Winn are unable to catch a blooper hit.St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Brendan Donovan, left, and shortstop Masyn Winn are unable to catch a blooper hit.

The battle was won on Sunday, prompting Hernández to wonder if he had ever played on a team with so much power. He could only think of one: the 2021 Toronto Blue Jays, led by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. with 48 home runs and Marcus Semien with 45. Hernandez hit 32, Bo Bichette hit 29 and George Springer hit 22.

“And there was another guy, but I forget about it now,” Hernandez said. There were so many boys. Randal Grichuk also hit 22, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit 21.

The Dodgers could be the same way.

“It was fun to be here,” Hernandez said, “and to be part of this team.”

Ohtani looking for first home run

  • Ohtani, who hit one home run every 11.3 at bats for the Angels last season, has no home runs in his first 26 at bats for the Dodgers.

  • Barnes, who went hitless in his first 18 at bats last season, singled in his first at bat this season.

  • In his first minor league rehab start, Walker Buehler gave up four runs in 3⅓ innings for triple-A Oklahoma City, striking out two and averaging 90 mph on 54 pitches. Roberts said Buehler would likely have to reach 90 pitches — and make three more minor league starts — before the Dodgers consider activating him. Buehler last pitched for the Dodgers on June 10, 2022; he underwent his second Tommy John surgery in August.

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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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