If you remove the names from the back of the jerseys, and the faces from underneath the shiny helmets, the story of the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-1 win over the San Francisco Giants is quite simple. One team capitalized on their opportunities, and the other team did not.
Both teams got their initial runs on solo home runs — a leadoff drive by Mookie Betts and a fourth-inning moonshot by Wilmer Flores.
What followed those home runs is where the difference was made.
Consider what the Dodgers did. In the third inning Betts and Freddie Freeman had back-to-back singles, the latter of which could have been an inning-ending double play had Logan Webb fielded it cleanly. But he didn’t, and then Brandon Crawford made an ill-advised throw, and suddenly LA had runners at the corners with just one out. Even after Webb got what should have been the fourth out when he struck out Will Smith, the Dodgers capitalized on the opportunity with a three-run home run.
In the seventh inning, James Outman led off with a walk and stole second. The Giants got to two outs without Outman leaving his post at second, but Betts capitalized on the opportunity with an RBI single. Then the Dodgers capitalized on the opportunity with two more singles to load the bases. Then the Dodgers capitalized on the opportunity with a grand slam.
Now consider what the Giants did. In the second inning, David Villar became the first hitter this season to draw a walk off of Julio Urías, then stole second. There was only one out. He never made it to third. The Giants did not capitalize on the opportunity.
In the fourth inning, J.D. Davis had a one-out single, and Crawford had a two-out walk. Then Joey Bart struck out. The Giants did not capitalize on that opportunity.
In the seventh inning, Crawford, Bart, and Heliot Ramos had back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases with no outs. Then Bryce Johnson struck out, and then Thairo Estrada struck out, and then Wilmer Flores did something that resulted in an out. The Giants did not capitalize on that opportunity.
That was the story, but the story also had a name: Max Muncy.
Muncy was the player who hit the three-run home run, and then he was the player who hit the four-run home run. He added a single and a walk when he wasn’t mashing balls over the fence, just because.
This is who Muncy is. None of this was surprising. With the career-best seven ribeye day, here’s what Muncy’s career against the Giants looks like:
73 games, 67-246, 23 home runs, 12 doubles, 2 triples, 51 RBI, 42 walks.
Those are legitimate MVP numbers, made all the wilder when you consider that Muncy is a lefty who is playing roughly half of those games at Oracle Park.
The Giants lost to the Dodgers because they didn’t capitalize on their opportunities and the Dodgers did, yes, but the also lost to the Dodgers because the Dodgers have Max Muncy and the Giants do not. And when the Dodgers don’t have Max Muncy they have Julio Urías, or Clayton Kershaw, or Mookie Betts, or Freddie Freeman, or, if you want to go back further, Cody Bellinger, or Justin Turner, or Corey Seager, or ... let’s just stop, shall we?
There’s always someone. A tormentor. A star shining extra bright to accentuate the rivalry. A slugger slugging extra mightily to punctuate the talent gap between these two teams.
On Monday it was Max Muncy. It’s been him so many times before. It will be him so many times again.