Dodgers find stride in series opener against Pirates

Michael Grove kept the Pirates offense at bay as David Peralta and Max Muncy mash in 5-2 win.

LOS ANGELES — A truly refreshing sight for Dodger fans is a solid, no-stress victory and that is exactly what happened Monday night. After a rocky start for Michael Grove, he settled down and worked through a few jams to go four innings of one run ball and give the Dodger bats a chance to get some run support.

The Pirates only had 3 hits since the 2nd inning, and a ton of credit goes to this pitching staff.  Max Muncy, who had been in a big slump as of late, got things going with a solo home run in the second, and later in the inning Jason Heyward doubled to bring home the still red hot David Peralta. From there on out it was all Dodgers. Miguel Rojas hit an RBI double in the 4th, David Peralta laced an RBI single in the 5th, and Jason Heyward got on on an error (which should’ve been ruled a double) later in that inning to put this game away.

It was a bullpen day which meant that this team would need their arms to step up and they did tonight, going five innings of one run ball end the game. This is an excellent sign, albeit a bad Pirates’ lineup as of late, that this bullpen won’t need major, farm system shaking moves at the deadline. The Dodgers are now 25-15 at home.

Here are my three takeaways from the game:

David Peralta Brings a New Approach 

I just can’t stop talking about this guy, and no it isn’t because he was a bargain or that we got him to be a part of the lower part of the lineup. It’s that he adds something new to this lineup. What has largely been a part of their downfall in postseason’s past, hitting with runners in scoring position is still a problem. But David Peralta is the perfect guy for that problem, simply because he doesn’t try to hit for power. He is hitting .346 since May 1st which is the highest in the National League over that span. That’s right, over Ronald Acuña and all of the All-Stars. Like I’ve said before, they don’t even need him to be this good, but he is improving every game it seems like, and if he can keep his average at .270 or better the rest of the way, he will go down as the best bargain in baseball.

Daniel Hudson is The Best Dodger Reliever Not Named Evan Phillips

Look, I know Brusdar Graterol has a sub 2.00 ERA, but what I’ve seen out of the return of Daniel Hudson makes me much more excited about his late-season role. Two scoreless innings are one thing to make note of, but he has been as dominant and sharp as he was before his injury. His stuff is already making hitters look foolish, but if he can find his groove physically as he gets stronger coming off that ACL injury, this may not even be the best form we see of Daniel Hudson.

Muncy Bounces Back  

It was a 2-4 night for Max Muncy, including a solo home run to dead center. Although he did have a strikeout with runners in scoring position, his approach tonight at home seemed completely different. He was short and quick to the ball in his first at-bat that lead to the homer, and not trying to do too much in his second hit which was a single to left field. He needs to be consistent with these approaches and tendencies if he wants to keep his role on this team, and with as much power as he has, a simple approach can pay dividends for him. The thing is, he has done it before, his All-Star year in fact. Approach is everything for this offense at this point, and buy-in is crucial in terms of handing the baton. If Muncy can contribute in smaller ways, it will be a bigger success in the long run. 

Emmett Sheehan takes the ball on Independence Day for the Dodgers against Luis L. Ortiz for the Pirates Tuesday. The 4th of July first pitch is set for 6:10 p.m.