'We're ready': Belli, LA show no rust in rout

July 20th, 2020

LOS ANGELES – With another team finally across the field, the Dodgers on Sunday night flashed back to their 106-win season a year ago and pounded the D-backs, 9-2, as the exhibition slate resumed, led by reigning National League MVP .

He slugged a first-inning grand slam, added a pair of singles, finished with five RBIs and afterward summed up the only real challenge for the Dodgers as they played with cardboard cutouts instead of fans, piped-in sound effects and extra players socially distancing in the stands.

“We felt really good as a team,” said Bellinger. “Obviously, we’re a deep lineup. I think the only thing we’ve got to work on is our end-of-the-game celebrations. We don’t know what to do.”

“That was probably the most awkward thing,” agreed manager Dave Roberts. “I expect a lot of winning, so I guess we better figure that one out.”

Bellinger’s break-out game should soothe those panicking at the news that the clean-up hitter tinkered with his setup in the batter’s box during Summer Camp after being disappointed with his second half last year and the way he felt during Spring Training.

“It’s not my swing. It’s more a pre-set,” said Bellinger, who has noticeably turned his left toe inward in his stance. “Feeling really good with it. Today I was really comfortable with it and hopefully I can continue to do that.

“We’re ready. It was good to play another team, so we’ve got two more, then Opening Day and we’re ready for it.”

Bellinger homered off Taylor Widener with no outs after walks to and and a single off Widener’s glove.

“Early on, Cody was a little closed off, so the hitting guys got to him and squared him off a bit,” Roberts said, referring to a more exaggerated pigeon-toed stance Bellinger used in the first few intrasquad games. “He’s just seeing the ball better.”

Arizona had taken a lead in the top of the first inning on a Ketel Marte home run off Dodgers starter . White retired the other 15 batters he faced in five innings.

“A lot of credit to Mitchell,” said Roberts. “It was fun to watch him and a great experience for him.”

Muncy, who missed a week with an injured left ring finger, doubled twice, walked and scored three runs for the Dodgers. The Dodgers outhit Arizona, 13-4.

“We just took good at-bats all through the night,” Roberts said. “Mookie walked and it snowballed from there. To see Cody break out was a lot of fun for all of us.”

The Dodgers even escaped disaster when catcher left the game after being hit by a 92 mph Widener fastball on the left hand in the fourth inning. X-rays were negative and Roberts said Barnes will rest on Monday and might play on Tuesday.

Four Dodgers relievers pitched the final four scoreless innings, with closing it out. Although his cutter hovered around 90 mph, it showed the late life the club is looking for. Jansen reported late to Summer Camp after recovering from COVID-19.

Jansen said he missed the shot of adrenaline he gets from a live audience, but he was pleased with his lower-body mechanics driving straight to the plate and his progress in keeping his fingers behind the ball through release instead of leaking to the side.

The teams agreed to end innings after 25 pitches. The bottom of the first inning ended with no outs.

“We just came to an agreement if a team gets past the 25-pitch threshold, we can choose to roll it over to build the pitcher up and not put him in harm’s way,” Roberts said.