CLEVELAND -- Cody Bellinger spent a lot of time studying the arsenal of Indians relief ace Andrew Miller ahead of Tuesday night's game. For any hitter, that can feel like cramming for an exam that is impossible to pass. There is either a high-octane fastball or a slider that has
CLEVELAND -- Cody Bellinger spent a lot of time studying the arsenal of Indians relief ace Andrew Miller ahead of Tuesday night's game. For any hitter, that can feel like cramming for an exam that is impossible to pass. There is either a high-octane fastball or a slider that has buckled countless ankles. Pick your poison.
In a 7-5 victory for the Dodgers, Bellinger aced the test in historic fashion. Not only did he turn one of Miller's slider's into a souvenir for a fan in the right-field stands, the rookie did the same against Cleveland lefty Boone Logan as well. Bellinger became the fastest player in Major League history to enjoy four multi-homer outbursts, doing so in just 45 career games.
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"He's got nasty stuff. I just tried not to do too much," Bellinger said of Miller. "He threw the slider. I just tried to get my barrel to it, and luckily it got out."
Luck has been on Bellinger's side a lot lately.
The rookie's two-homer showing gave him five home runs in his past three games, and he became the first Dodgers hitter to have consecutive multi-homer showings since 2004 (Adrian Beltre). Bellinger also joined former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz as the only left-handed batters in the Statcast™ Era ('15-17) to have two homers off left-handers in the same game with an exit velocity of 105 mph or greater.
Prior to Bellinger, Bob Horner was the fastest player in Major League history to four multi-homer games, having done so in his first 63 contests in 1978. Bellinger's two home runs upped his season total to 17 blasts, marking the second most for a player in baseball history within his first 45 career games.
In Dodgers history, Bellinger joined Mike Piazza (five in 1993) and Corey Seager (four in 2016) as the only rookies with at least four multi-homer games in one campaign.
"We all knew that he was great," Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw said. "He's confident, but you would never know it talking with him. He's very humble, goes about his business the right way. But, when he steps in the box, he thinks he's going to do damage, and he's done it lately."
Doing damage is one thing. Doing damage against Miller is rare.
The go-ahead shot off Miller in the eighth inning to put Los Angeles up, 3-2, came off one of baseball's elite pitches. Even including that home run, batters have posted a .217 slugging percentage against Miller's slider over the past three seasons combined. The mark for left-handed hitters (.340) is higher than the one for righties (.167), but the pitch is devastating across the board.
Bellinger became the first lefty to homer off Miller since Aug. 1 last season, when the Twins' Joe Mauer took the lefty deep. The home run was the first of the year yielded by Miller, who saw his season ERA rise to a still-miniscule 0.55 in 28 appearances.
Miller fell behind Bellinger, 2-1, and then spun a slider over the heart of the plate. The rookie sent it out of play at 107 mph.
"I felt like if I would've executed a good one, I like my chances," Miller said. "I left it in a spot where he can hit it pretty well. He's a hot hitter with a pretty good approach right now."
In the ninth inning, Bellinger victimized Logan -- a lefty specialist -- on a slider to a similar spot. On that 0-1 offering, the Dodgers' first baseman shot it out to right field at 110 mph. Bellinger sprinted around the bases as his L.A. teammates laughed, pumped fists and moved to the steps of the visitors' dugout to greet the rookie.
"[He's] exceeded all of our expectations," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "It's easy to say he's only going to get better, and he keeps getting better."
Even against a pitcher of Miller's caliber.
"I think it's more crazy before a game," Bellinger said. "Once you step in the box, it's nothing new."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.