NEW YORK -- If Cody Bellinger hadn't been such a sensation last year, hadn't set the bar of expectations so high, he probably wouldn't be getting so many questions about his "sophomore jinx" this year.Bellinger landed another blow to the notion of a disappointing 2018 on Friday night with his
NEW YORK -- If Cody Bellinger hadn't been such a sensation last year, hadn't set the bar of expectations so high, he probably wouldn't be getting so many questions about his "sophomore jinx" this year.
Bellinger landed another blow to the notion of a disappointing 2018 on Friday night with his second career grand slam, powering the Dodgers to a 5-2 win over the Mets at Citi Field.
With Yasiel Puig adding an insurance solo shot in the ninth inning, the support was enough for Alex Wood's second consecutive win.
Grand slams mean 40% off pizza
Wood and Bellinger were both National League All-Stars a year ago. Wood (3-5) won't be returning this year, and Bellinger will need help, despite his 13th home run.
He's on pace to hit 28 homers, nothing to be ashamed of, unless his NL-rookie-record 39 of last year is the benchmark. But his average is down from .267 to .232, the OPS down from .933 to .782 and with 36 RBIs he'll have trouble matching last year's 97. He was hitting .167 with runners in scoring position entering Friday's game.
"It's been difficult," said Bellinger. "But it's been a good learning lesson, I guess. The guys in the clubhouse keep me even-keeled. It hasn't been too hard. The game's hard. Maybe I've tried too hard. When you don't start off, you want to help the team and you try too hard."
Bellinger isn't using excuses, but he's carrying a heavy load in the lineup for a second-year player. Corey Seager is gone for the season. Justin Turner missed six weeks and hasn't really driven the ball since returning from a broken wrist. Chris Taylor hasn't duplicated last year's breakout season.
Manager Dave Roberts said Bellinger has adjusted with a wider stance at the plate.
"It was still a short swing, but the results were a 500-foot homer," said Roberts. "It was a really good swing."
Bellinger said he hasn't tinkered much with his swing because it worked for him last year. The adjustments he said he's trying are in mental approach.
The home run came on a Zack Wheeler 0-2 pitch. Wheeler and Wood had been locked into a scoreless duel, but Joc Pederson worked an eight-pitch walk and Player Page for Max Muncy followed with a four-pitch walk. Turner was robbed of a hit by left fielder Brandon Nimmo's diving catch, but Matt Kemp loaded the bases with a flare single.
Statcast™ projected the home run at 401 feet, although it arced into the upper deck. Bellinger said he wasn't swinging for the fences.
"I was just thinking of hitting the ball and I got it on the barrel," he said. "Good things can happen when you don't try too hard. Obviously, pitchers are making adjustments and they made them quick. I'm trying to do it back to them now. It's a cat and mouse game. One of the hardest games to play."
The Mets answered right back with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, when Michael Conforto singled and Jose Bautista slugged his first Mets homer.
Both defenses pulled off run-saving gems to keep the game scoreless through five. In the top of the third with two out and Enrique Hernandez on third base, Pederson's drive to left-center was snagged with a lay-out dive from Conforto.
And in the bottom of the fifth, with two out and Mets on first and second, Turner short-hopped Todd Frazier's sharp grounder to third and threw him out at first.
Wood (3-5) also escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the second inning for his second consecutive winning start. Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth inning for his 19th save.
"The last two [starts] I've made steps forward," said Wood. "The previous three-start stretch, I've never had a stretch like that my whole career. Three in a row like I had was something I've never dealt with. You start thinking, 'What do I do? Where do I go? What do I throw?' -- the list goes on and on. To see light at the end of the tunnel, you feel good about it."
"He's back for me," said Roberts.
The Dodgers have won their past 10 games against the Mets.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Dodgers tend to forget to cover third base against the Mets (remember the 2015 postseason?), and they did it again in the eighth inning. Again it came in a defensive shift, when Muncy dropped a Conforto double-play grounder. Asdrubal Cabrera was safe at second and just kept going to third because, well, Turner was in right field. The Dodgers quickly regrouped and halted the rally when Bautista grounded into a double play.
HE SAID IT
"I missed my flight." -- A pleased Clayton Kershaw, after maneuvering his way out of a rehab start and into Saturday night's Dodgers-Mets game
Kershaw will come off the disabled list and start Saturday night's game against Jacob deGrom and the Mets in a 4:15 p.m. PT start, forgoing a previously scheduled Minor League rehabilitation assignment. It will be Kershaw's second Dodgers start since May 1, having been sidelined by biceps and back issues.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.