Going into Game 4, the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ rising star Cody Bellinger had not produced a stellar postseason. He had a batting average less than .100 and was coming off the bench to pinch hit for Dave Roberts‘ squad.
But in front of the energetic crowds of Dodger Stadium, Bellinger put on a show. In the top of the 10th inning, he denied Lorenzo Cain of a potential triple with a dive and slide catch in right field. And in the bottom of the 13th inning, the young star would generate the game-winning RBI, giving the Dodgers the win and tying the NLCS at two games apiece.
“It’s probably a feeling you won’t forget, seeing your guys chase after you,” said Bellinger after the game. “Honestly, I was surprised that they were throwing me, I thought they would pitch around me and get me to swing. Once I saw they were attacking me, it was just kind of grind mode and do what you can to put the ball in play and try to end this game.”
Bellinger Adds Legacy to Family Name
The last name “Bellinger” is well-known in the world of baseball. Cody’s father, Clay Bellinger, played professional baseball for the Los Angeles Angels and the New York Yankees. For Clay, despite only playing four seasons in the big leagues, he made an impact on the teams he played for. He would be involved in three World Series teams, two with the Yankees and one with the Angels. It brings the senior Bellinger great joy to see his son doing so well at such a young age.
“It’s been fun to watch, obviously. You always hope, but you don’t ever expect him to do quite this well so fast,” states Clay Bellinger. “He’s been handling it the best he can. He keeps working hard, and when he’s not doing well, he tries to battle through it.”
Like his father, Cody started out playing in the minor leagues before moving his way up to the Dodgers. When he was promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers, he recorded six hits in 11 at-bats (.545 average) with three home runs. The Los Angeles Dodgers organization knew they had struck gold with this versatile player.
Dodgers fans have reveled in Bellinger’s success when he made his major league appearance in 2017. He broke a National League record for rookies that was previously held by Wally Berger and Frank Robinson, generating 39 home runs in one season. He would win the NL Rookie of the Year unanimously, generating a .267 batting average, 39 home runs, and 97 RBI. But as papa Bellinger states, Cody, displays tremendous humbleness, not liking to boast about his individual success.
“He knows he’s good, but he’s not arrogant or cocky about it,” says Clay Bellinger. “Some players can be standoffish when they’re that good, but he’s never been like that. Every time I talk to reporters and TV people, and most importantly his teammates and the coaching staff, they say he’s doing a great job and handling himself well and going about his business. As parents, that’s what my wife Jen and I love to hear.”
Bellinger Displays Postseason Magic When Needed Most
Bellinger’s sophomore season was a decline from his epic rookie debut. This year, he hit .260/.343/.470 with 25 home runs and 76 RBI. He was hitting a measly 1 for 21 this postseason, often being a position player that Roberts would call up off the bench to try and provide some support. For Bellinger, relying on previous experience pays dividends in big game situations. Take the remarkable defensive play in the outfield. Bellinger played in the outfield as a minor league so making a diving catch was no big deal to him.
“I played right field in the minor leagues a lot before I started playing center field. I haven’t been there much lately,” Bellinger said. “But it’s kind of like riding a bike. I saw it hanging up there, and ran as fast as I could and dove for it.”
With the game-winning hit, Bellinger used his hitting instincts to attack the pitch, hitting the opposite way to right field. After over five hours of unwavering perseverance, it doesn’t matter how poorly a player is hitting. For Bellinger, the most important hit was the game-winning one, to even the series at 2.
“It’s rewarding to see how our guys persevered through that game,” stated manager Dave Roberts. “Understanding and seeing what Cody has been going through and really just wearing it and the weight of the world on him. And for him to come through in that big spot, I just felt for him and all of our guys.”
It is a quick turn around for both the Dodgers and the Brewers. Both teams drained out their bullpens. As history has shown, winning Game 5 as a home team increases your likelihood of winning the series by 19.9 percent. Losing Game 5 to the away team decreases your odds of winning to the series to 16 percent. For Bellinger and the Dodgers, they have been able to conquer adversity to advance the series back to Milwaukee. And for a player often modest about his accomplishments, Bellinger wasn’t afraid to state the obvious when it comes to the team’s confidence heading into a pivotal Game 5.
“We’ve got Kershaw on the mound tomorrow, we like our chances,” says Bellinger. “Got to show up in a few hours and compete tomorrow. It’s going to be another fun game.”
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