In lineup return, Belli hits 1st HR of season

August 3rd, 2020

Reigning National League MVP , benched on Saturday after a slow start, returned on Sunday with a first-inning two-run homer that lifted the Dodgers to a 3-0 win over the D-backs in Clayton Kershaw’s first start of the year.

Bellinger, homerless coming into the game, had nine home runs against Arizona last year en route to 47 on the season. His two-out homer off a 3-2 Merrill Kelly changeup followed a two-out single up the middle by Justin Turner. Bellinger also lined out sharply while going 1-for-4.

“It felt great, but I know it’s still going to be a grind, it’s not going to come easy just because I clicked those two balls,” he said.

In the home run at-bat, Bellinger had the green light on a 3-0 pitch but fouled it off, took a 3-1 changeup for a strike and lined the next pitch into the Dodgers' bullpen down the right-field line, with an exit velocity of 109.6 mph.

“I actually felt really good yesterday, and today felt really good as well,” said Bellinger. “Nice to see results in a game. Sometimes, it doesn’t always translate. But overall, I’ve felt really good the past few days.”

Bellinger came into the game with a .139/.205/.167 slash line and two RBIs in 36 at-bats and, on Saturday, sat in the stands watching his teammates slug four home runs in an 11-2 win.

“I’m certain [the home run] was a weight off his shoulders after the mental day yesterday and his next at-bat, he found another barrel,” said manager Dave Roberts. “I think we’re heading in the right direction. Even after the second at-bats, you could tell on the takes that he was seeing the ball better. Not only because of the homer, today was a good step in the right direction for Cody.”

Bellinger briefly implemented a new setup in the batter’s box during Summer Camp after being uncomfortable with those mechanics during last year’s second half and this year’s Spring Training. In the past week, he has gone back to last year’s setup.

“I’ve been back to last year’s for a while, it’s just now getting the timing down,” Bellinger said. “It’s go time. But I’m not too worried about it. Hopefully, I can keep it rolling.”

For good measure, Bellinger made a nice running catch at the warning track in the bottom of the ninth to seal the win.