Dodgers News: Max Muncy Key To Clayton Kershaw Catching Manuel Margot On Attempted Steal Of Home

With the Los Angeles Dodgers clinging to a one-run lead, Clayton Kershaw found himself in a jam after issuing leadoff walk to Manuel Margot in the fourth inning. He promptly stole second base and took third when Chris Taylor inexplicably dropped the throw.

Kershaw followed that by walking Hunter Renfroe, putting the go-ahead run on base, still with none out. He began to wiggle out of trouble by inducing Joey Wendle into a pop-up and striking out Willy Adames.

Then with an 0-1 count to Kevin Kiermaier, Margot broke for home on an attempted steal. Kershaw stepped off the rubber and threw to Austin Barnes, who applied the tag just before Margot’s hand could touch the plate.

Replay of the sequence showed both Justin Turner and Max Muncy beginning to shout at Kershaw to alert him of Margot’s attempted steal. “That’s just Kersh. He’s been doing that delivery for a long time now, so he’s obviously aware of people possibly attempting to do that,” Muncy said.

“He knew right away just to step off. I was fortunate enough to see one or two guys in the past maybe break hard — not necessarily try to steal — but they broke hard, so I knew what to expect when I saw him.

“As soon as I saw him break, I sprinted toward Kersh and said, ‘Home, home home,’ and he knew what to do from there.”

For Kershaw, it was a repeat of when Carlos Gomez attempted the play during a regular-season game in 2015. “I wasn’t really anticipating it but I have talked to first baseman in the past, and Muncy, I talked with him about it,” Kershaw explained.

“Just like, ‘Hey, I look at him originally, but when I come set, I don’t really see the runner, so you’ve got to yell if they start going.’ He was yelling at me, ‘Step off! Step off! Step off!’ So instinctually I just kind of did it. That was a big out for us.”

Margot’s failed attempt not only ran the Rays out of the inning but seemingly swung momentum. Muncy connected for a solo home run to double the Dodgers’ lead in the fifth and Kershaw wound up retiring the final seven batters faced in his 5.2 innings of work.

Muncy producing in key moments

After sustaining a fracture in his finger as a result of being hit by a pitch during Summer Camp, Muncy had an uneven performance throughout the regular season and failed to reach the standard he’d set in previous years.

Though, Muncy has been one of the Dodgers’ most disciplined hitters in the postseason, working 20 walks through 17 games thus far. He’s also hit four doubles, three home runs and collected 14 RBI.

“I say all the time that stats and all that stuff doesn’t matter to me, except for maybe walks because that means I’m getting on base and giving my team a chance to score runs,” Muncy said. “All I care about is winning in the postseason.

“That’s all any of us care about. I say it all the time: we don’t matter, the team matters.”

Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in our shows, and more!