LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger yelled, frustrated moments after he fouled a 78-mph curveball from Twins lefty Taylor Rogers down the right-field line, upset that he missed a chance at a home run.
"It was a good pitch to hit and I pulled off it," Bellinger said after the Dodgers' 6-4 win on Monday. "I was kind of mad at myself."
What made Bellinger more furious are the hours he's spent with teammate Justin Turner every day before games working on elevating curveballs and making solid contact. Rogers made the mistake of serving Bellinger with another curveball, and this time Bellinger didn't miss, depositing Taylor's offering 403 feet to center for a game-sealing homer in the eighth.
Bellinger is accustomed to coming through in the clutch in pressure situations, with 17 of his 28 home runs coming in the seventh inning or later. Monday was also the third time Bellinger gave the Dodgers a lead with an eighth-inning homer.
"There's no panic," manager Dave Roberts said. "He hits right-handed pitching, left-handed pitching. He doesn't scare off in the moment. It seems like every night he seems to do something. This team -- whether it's Cody or anybody else -- when we need the big hit it seems like somebody always comes through."
The 22-year-old tied White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu for second most homers through their first 80 career games, trailing Rudy York, who hit 30 in 80 games spread over four seasons from 1934-37.
Bellinger's latest homer was met with cheers, as usual, but this time demanded a curtain call as the 47,754 at Dodger Stadium rained down "MVP" chants.
"I didn't hear it at the time," Bellinger said. "Kikè [Hernandez] told me to go, I was kind of confused. I heard it after that, though, so it was pretty cool."
To Roberts, it's a little early to think about postseason awards.
"I know he's having a heck of a year," Roberts said. "I can't look at the comparables to potential candidates, we have a long way to go. But each night, again, he's doing some good things."