Dodgers 5, Cardinals 4: Gavin Stone impresses & Max Muncy finds late offense in comeback win

The Dodgers (4-2) secured their first series win of the 2024 season over the Cardinals (1-3) after a late-inning rally and comeback win on Easter Sunday.

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Gavin Stone opened his first start of the season against the Cardinals with an exclamation point. Although the offense ultimately failed to provide Stone any run support while he was the pitcher of record, the potential from the 25-year-old right-hander was evident in his 2024 season debut for the Dodgers.

Stone now brings a cutter, sinking fastball, four-seam fastball, slider and his devastating changeup into the season. He set a career high with six strikeouts and induced a plethora of swings and misses against his impressive arsenal of pitches against the Cardinals. Stone struck out the side in the first to open the game.

The Cardinals got things going against Stone in the top of the third with back-to-back singles to open the frame. Paul Goldschmidt continues to torment the Dodgers in 2024 after years of success against them when he was still with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Goldschmidt was the Cardinals’ entire offense in the first game of the series with three hits including a home run, and Goldy’s RBI single against Stone gave the initial lead to the Cards at 1-0.

On the other end there was nothing doing. Enrique Hernández picked up his first hit of the year, a two-out single in the bottom of the fourth, but the Dodgers continued to struggle with men in scoring position, and James Outman stranded two runners to waste a scoring opportunity.

St. Louis took advantage of the quiet and doubled their score on a Brendan Donovan RBI single off Stone’s four-seamer in the top of the fifth. Alex Vesia replaced Stone after he walked Willson Contreras, the St. Louis leadoff hitter, in the top of the sixth. Stone allowed three runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and a walk on 85 pitches (55 strikes).

One of those runs was due to Vesia, who made me start to question the Dodgers’ middle relief after he issued consecutive walks to Jordan Walker and Victor Scott II to load the bases for the Red Birds. Vesia came back and struck out Masyn Winn, but things didn’t get much better from there. Vesia proceeded to hit Donovan with a pitch to bring in the third run of the game for the Cards, then a catcher’s interference from Goldschmidt’s bat brought in the second run of the inning to make it 4-0.

In the bottom of the sixth, Shohei Ohtani‘s bat finally woke up with a leadoff ground-rule double with an exit velocity of 115.8 mph. Hitting is contagious, or so they say. Teoscar Hernandez broke up the shutout with an RBI double to left field which also chased Matz from the game. Andrew Kittredge entered and walked Taylor, and Max Muncy‘s single loaded the bases for the Dodgers with one out. Outman’s little dribbler in front of the mound allowed Teoscar Hernandez to score and the lead was cut in half to 4-2.

Prior to the game, the Dodgers announced the selection of Nabil Crismatt‘s contract. His first relief appearance was another bright spot on the night, as he pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts out of the bullpen for the Dodgers. That hold in score proved important.

Teoscar Hernandez made it more interesting with a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth to make it a one-run game.

The Dodgers kept chipping away at the Cardinals’ pen, which has been extremely shaky so far this season. Eventually, Muncy came up clutch with a game-winning two-run home run, and off a left-hander at that. The Dodgers took the 5-4 lead to stun the Cardinals.

Daniel Hudson got the ball for the ninth and struck out two in a scoreless inning to secure the 5-4 victory and 3-1 series win over the Cardinals for the Dodgers.

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On the ESPN broadcast with Enrique Hernández mic’d up at third base, we were able to hear the PitchCom and every changeup that was coming.

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The Boys in Blue are now 4-2 overall on the young season.

The San Francisco Giants (2-2) come into town for a three-game series at Dodger Stadium starting Monday night at 7:10 PM PST. James Paxton makes his Dodger debut in the series opener. The 35-year old left-hander was signed to a one-year, $7-million contract with the Dodgers in late January in order to fill out the backend of the rotation. Right-hander Keaton Winn makes his season debut for the Giants.

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.