MLB SPORTS: Belli brings LA bats to life in Game 2 win

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

MLB SPORTS:

7: 23 AM UTC

SAN FRANCISCO — Three hours before Game 2 of the National League Division Series, Cody Bellinger sat down at the podium inside the interview room at Oracle Park to answer questions about a season that, up to that point, had been a disappointment.

Bellinger walked through the multiple injuries he suffered this year, as well as his recovery from arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder during the offseason. Bellinger said that despite his poor season, he still feels confident and good about his ability to play at the plate.

On the surface, that might not make much sense, given that Bellinger finished the regular season with a . 165 batting average. He believed that he was only one hit away from returning to his previous form.

On Saturday night, Bellinger backed up those words, smacking a two-run double to left-center field off right-hander Dominic Leone to anchor a four-run sixth inning. Bellinger’s hit helped the Dodgers create some separation, and the rest of the offense proceeded to pile on in a dominant 9-2 win over the Giants. The best-of-5 series is tied at one game each.

In Division Series with the current 2-2-1 format, teams that have split the first two games in their opponent’s home ballpark, before returning home for Game 3, have gone on to win the series 23 of 36 times (64%). This excludes 2020 (DS played at neutral sites).

“[Giants right-hander Logan] Webb got us yesterday, after the game, tipped our cap,” said Bellinger. “We have been down 1-0 before and knew that we needed to get out there today and execute our plan more than ever. … We executed our plans today.”

As they looked for a spark heading into Game 2, the Dodgers elected to start NL Wild Card Game hero Chris Taylor in center field. This move saw Bellinger moved to first base, and Matt Beaty placed on the bench. The All-Star started Taylor immediately and recorded their first hit, a two-run double in the second. Taylor also had a big sixth-inning walk to ignite another rally. The Dodgers first major hit was scored by Julio Urias, the Dodgers starting pitcher.

Urias, who recorded nine RBIs during the regular season, has become one of the best hitting pitchers in the Majors. On Saturday, he proved his worth again by putting a Kevin Gausman splitter in right field for an RBI double to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. Urias was also impressive on the mound, giving up just one run in five innings.

“I think the adrenaline kicks in,” Urias said. Urias stated that after the [intentionally] team walked [No. 8 hitter AJ] Pollock you feel like you can do better and you try harder. And I think that opportunity kind of pushed me a little bit more to try to get a hit in that spot, and it worked out.”

Once Urias broke the seal, the Dodgers were able to put their Game 1 struggles behind them. Five runs were scored by the bottom of the order, which saw seven to nine hitters drive in the most. This part of the lineup was hitless Friday.

Bellinger, batting seventh and 2-for-53 against the Giants this year, and Pollock each recorded a two-run double in the four-run sixth inning. This is the kind of production that the Dodgers will need from the bottom of their order, with Max Muncy (injured right elbow) out.

“I think Cody Bellinger has not, he hasn’t been at his best. Gabe Kapler, Giants manager, said that he believes he has acknowledged this. “At the same time, he’s incredibly talented and gifted as an athlete, and you know that he’s always dangerous.”

The top of the Dodgers’ order did plenty of damage, too. Justin Turner was the only one who had at least one hit. Eight of nine starters were able to record at least one hit. Seven players in Los Angeles recorded at least one hit and one RBI. This was a franchise record. They last had seven players with a hit and RBI in Game 3 of the 1947 World Series, when the Brooklyn Dodgers defeated the Yankees, 9-8.

Los Angeles was also much better with runners in scoring position, finishing 6-for-15 in Game 2. In Game 1, the Dodgers were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

“I think we are always pretty confident,” said Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, who cut short a Giants rally in the sixth with an amazing throw. “We have a good group of guys here, play the game hard, play the game the right way.”

The Dodgers feel like Saturday’s performance is a better representation of the team they are. Just 24 hours after the disappointing Game 1 loss, they now head home — where they posted a Majors-best 58-23 record during the regular season — in the driver’s seat of a series that is now essentially a best-of-three.

They’ll also have three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer on the mound in Game 3. The Dodgers are likely to be beaten if Scherzer receives similar run support.

“That’s a good feeling,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. It’s fascinating to see how the narrative shifts from one game to another. It’s a 3-game series right now, with home-field advantage, Max on the mound, and it’s a three game series. So I like where we’re at.”

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