Max Muncy: Strikeout With Bases Loaded Due To Surprise Pitch From Pirates’ Wil Crowe

Max Muncy is among the regulars in the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup who are off to a slow start this season, and that was magnified in a key at-bat during Wednesday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Dodgers were trailing 3-0 when the seventh inning began, but loaded the bases with nobody out and tied the game on Edwin Ríos’ double. He took third base on a flyout, which was followed by Trea Turner and Freddie Freeman each drawing a walk.

Then with two outs and the bases still loaded, Muncy and Crowe battled for a seven-pitch at-bat. It ended with Muncy taking a changeup over the heart of the plate for strike three. Pittsburgh went on to take a decided lead in the bottom of the seventh.

After the loss, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts acknowledged he was stunned Muncy didn’t offer at Crowe’s changeup, via Jack Harris of the L.A. Times:

Roberts said he was surprised Muncy didn’t swing: “I was taken aback by that because it was a good pitch to hit.”

Muncy explained he was caught off guard by Crowe sticking with the changeup rather than going back to his fastball:

Muncy said he was looking for a fastball: “I just assumed he didn’t have the guts to throw another changeup.”

Crowe began the at-bat by throwing Muncy a changeup for called strike. Two fastballs followed, both of which were fouled off. Then came three more changeups — none of which were near the strike zone — to run the count full and give Muncy perfect reason to sit fastball.

After hitting a home run in the series finale against the San Francisco Giants and believing improved results were on the horizon, Muncy has gone 1-for-14 with one triple and eight walks over the past six games (five starts).

Roberts confident in Muncy

Despite his uneven start to the season, Roberts recently expressed confidence Muncy would start hitting to expectations.

“I think he’s starting to come around,” Roberts said last week. “It hasn’t shown itself. I think there’s obviously a lot of talk about hitters not getting rewarded for quality contact; I think it’s real.

“So I think the internal struggle is to keep going when you’re not getting the results. There’s been some good at-bats, solid contact, he’s still taking walks, I still like the quality of at-bat. It’s easy to bet there’s going to be positive results coming.”

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