As Joey Gallo rounded third, calmly blowing a pink bubble, his Dodgers teammates tapped their heads in the dugout.
It was a season-long tradition that originated from a scene in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Dustin May, on his birthday, pounded his red hair with his right hand. Hanser Alberto took a two-handed approach, doing a little jig with his hips in the process. A normal celebration.
But the last time the Dodgers had faced San Francisco Giants left-hander Jarlín Garcia on Aug. 4, he mimicked the head-tapping gesture. Twice, actually — once after a strikeout of Cody Bellinger, once after he punched out James Outman, which he followed by pointing at Mookie Betts in the on-deck circle.
On Tuesday night, two hitters shook off rough spells to power the Dodgers to a 6-3 win over the Giants, sticking Garcia with five early runs in a bullpen game for San Francisco. This time, there would be no tapping and pointing. Just a wince and an empty gaze toward the stands.
“Everything good, got to celebrate,” Alberto said of his dance, “especially seeing Gallo doing good stuff.”
Gallo and Max Muncy, for the most part, have had immensely different careers. Gallo, the former top prospect who was traded by Texas and washed out with the Yankees. Muncy, the diamond in the rough and Dodgers mainstay.
But their seasons, down to the overall slash lines, could be practically mirrors. Gallo slumped for most of the season with the Yankees, suddenly found his stride after an August trade to the Dodgers, and quietly has cratered again in the last two weeks. Muncy struggled for most of the season with Los Angeles, suddenly found his stride in August, and quietly has cratered again in the last two weeks.
Their seasons met in a perfect juncture coming into Tuesday — both three for their last 27.
And they converged again in a glorious elimination of bad vibes against the Giants, both driving long home runs.
After a diving catch of a Bryan Johnson liner in the second inning to save a run, Gallo stepped to the plate against Garcia in the bottom of the frame, Muncy standing on second after a double to lead off the inning and Justin Turner waiting on first. On a 3-and-1 count, Garcia challenged Gallo.
Gallo crushed the 95-mph offering so hard it cracked his bat near the handle, the ball landing deep in the right-center stands to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.
“It’s good to see him smile,” Roberts said of Gallo.
The next inning, Muncy lined another Garcia fastball into the right-field bleachers, prompting a quick hook for the Giants reliever after 1 2/3 innings and five earned runs.
The reliever’s mimicry last month, Muncy said, didn’t motivate the lineup in any way. But the Dodgers piled on him nonetheless.
After Brandon Crawford narrowed the Dodgers’ lead to two runs with a sixth-inning homer off Dodgers starter Tyler Anderson, Muncy scorched his second big fly of the game later in the frame.
For much of the season, the mighty Muncy’s been but a blemish on a near-immaculate Dodger season, an elite hitter who couldn’t figure it out as his OPS hovered dangerously close to .600.
“Mechanically, my swing is identical to last year,” he said in May. “My bat speed is identical. I’m swinging at strikes. It’s just one of those things where the game can humble you.”
On Tuesday night, he turned around and humbled the game right back.