Bellinger dazzles with bat, glove in hometown

Rookie, 22, youngest Dodger to homer in postseason

October 10th, 2017

PHOENIX -- Back in his hometown, Dodgers rookie did it all.

Gear up for the National League Championship Series

The slugging first baseman launched a slump-busting solo home run in the top of the fifth inning Monday night, making him the youngest Dodger in history to go deep in the postseason. For an encore, Bellinger made one of the postseason's best catches, going head-over-heels into the Dodgers' dugout for a brilliant grab on a Jeff Mathis foul ball.

NLCS Game 1: Saturday, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on TBS

:: NLDS schedule and coverage ::

With his bat and with his glove, the 22-year-old product of Chandler, Ariz., played a huge part in the Dodgers' 3-1 victory over Arizona, which sent Los Angeles to a sweep of the National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile and its third appearance in the NL Championship Series presented by Camping World in the last five years.

"In a place like this, where a bunch of family and friends were here, it was really cool," Bellinger said.

The NL Rookie of the Year favorite, Bellinger was off to a rough start to his postseason. Entering the fifth inning on Monday night, he had recorded one hit and six strikeouts over 12 at-bats. He knocked in a run with a soft RBI groundout in the first, but still hadn't squared up a baseball in the series.

When he popped up with men in scoring position in his second at-bat, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled Bellinger aside and had some advice: "Don't do too much."

"I was pressing a little bit, trying to do too much with every pitch," Bellinger said. "They were pitching to my aggressiveness. It's hard to hit like that."

Sure enough, Bellinger was patient enough to work himself a 3-1 count against Zack Greinke, who left a pitch on the outer half of the plate. Bellinger crushed it to the opposite field, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.

It was the first postseason dinger for Bellinger, who set the NL rookie record with 39 home runs during the regular season. At 22 years, 88 days old, Bellinger is 75 days younger than was when he set the franchise mark in Game 1 of the NLDS last season.

"In the box, he struggled a little bit so far in the postseason, but put a good swing on that 3-1 fastball away," Roberts said. "It was a big hit for us. But thing is, even when he was struggling with the bat, he was still making great plays defensively and keeping us in baseball games."

He did just that Monday.

In the bottom of the frame, the D-backs pulled one run back on 's solo shot. But Bellinger made certain the lead held, ranging into foul ground and falling over the railing to make the third out. He landed lightly on his back on the dugout steps and promptly lifted the ball in the air, showing it to first-base umpire Alan Porter.

"I just tried to get back to the railing as fast as I could," Bellinger said. "The ball was tailing to me. I jumped and kind of hit the ground. ... I don't know how [I landed]. I think I grabbed the railing."

opened the next inning with a solo shot, and from there, the D-backs didn't mount much of a threat.

After the game, amidst a champagne-soaked visiting clubhouse at Chase Field, and noticed the celebratory beverages had been emptied from one of the buckets. Only water and ice remained.

They lifted the bucket and Jansen yelled "roooo-kie" as they approached Bellinger. He looked up and noticed the bucket's contents were bound for him. Bellinger didn't flinch, instead standing frozen with a grin on his face as his teammates drenched him.

His own way of soaking in the moment.

"I'm just trying to enjoy it as much as I can," Bellinger said. "Everything is happening so fast for me. I'm going to enjoy this."