Alex Wood began the season 5-0 but has since suffered consecutive losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers and been hurt by the long ball in both outings. On Thursday, it was Justin Turner, DJ Peters and Max Muncy taking Wood deep in a 4-3 win at Dodger Stadium.
However, before Muncy provided the game-winning blast, he and Wood exchanged words in the first inning. The southpaw is a notoriously quick worker, and Muncy didn’t believe Wood was compliant with the home-plate umpire granting time between pitches.
“That’s one of the things that’s part of Woody’s game. He’s very quick with his delivery. It helps make him very effective,” Muncy said. “He’s got really good stuff and then he does that on top of it. I didn’t feel like I was ready at the plate, so I got time.
“It was just a little exchange. I don’t know if you saw me smile, but as I was talking to Curt, it was all almost just because it was Woody. Getting fired up just because it was him. It was kind of fun out there.”
Although Wood has logged six innings in each of his past two starts, the Dodgers have generally been able to say the matchup was enjoyable. “I was just looking for a pitch up in the zone and he finally made a mistake,” Muncy said of his homer.
“He’d been making good pitches all night, and at least to me that was kind of the first mistake he made. It felt really good. … He’s fiery, so it’s fun facing him. Being his teammate for a couple years, you see him on the mound when you’re playing defense behind him.
“It’s a little different when you’re actually in the box against him. It’s been fun for us. We all love Woody, but it’s fun to face him at the same time.”
On top of seeing a former teammate, there was also the factor of Wood being who accidentally hit Muncy with a pitch during Summer Camp last year. It caused a fracture in a finger on Muncy’s left hand and ailed him for much of the 2020 season.
“I don’t know if there were any flashbacks, but it was definitely in my head,” Muncy said of seeing Wood at Dodger Stadium. “There was definitely some intent behind every swing tonight. There’s no doubt about that.
“It’s just one of those things that kind of happens. You’ve just got to move on from it and go out and face him.”
Roberts: Muncy playing best of career
After a prolonged stretch where Muncy reached often reached base via walk but had little by way of hits, he’s been on the upswing over the past couple weeks.
“I feel good. The adjustments we’d been trying to make in the beginning part of the year are finally taking hold,” Muncy said. “I feel like I’ve been getting a lot of good swings off on some good pitches. It’s a lot of fun. I feel pretty locked in.”
The improvement is clearly evident to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who believes Muncy is performing at the highest level of his career. “I think since the last part of Milwaukee or Chicago, he’s been great,” Roberts said.
“The hitting guys have worked through some mechanics. Max, you could argue right now, is one of the top two or three baseball players in the game; playing the best in the game right now. … It’s the best all-around baseball that he has played in the big leagues.”
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