Belli hits walk-off HR, much to his surprise

August 23rd, 2020

hit a walk-off home run Saturday night. He just didn’t see it or know how to celebrate it.

He led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a solo home run off Cinderella Story reliever Daniel Bard for the Dodgers’ first walk-off win of the season Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, 4-3, over the Rockies.

It was Bellinger’s seventh home run of the year, but the first of his career that he lost off the bat. He didn’t know where it was going, couldn’t tell if it cleared the fence -- and the glove of leaping right fielder Sam Hilliard -- and wasn’t sure what the celebration protocols were when he finished his trot.

“I thought I hit it to left-center, up in the air, and then I saw the right fielder go back,” said Bellinger. “I was very confused. I thought I hit it up in the air. When I got halfway to second, I thought he caught the ball. I didn’t know what was going on at all.”

When he saw the umpire signal home run, Bellinger shrugged his shoulders. Then he got to the plate and was encircled by his teammates. But with social distancing mandates, there was no dogpile, no torn-off jerseys, a contactless gathering very different from celebrations of seasons past.

“It was weird,” he said. “The [piped-in] crowd noise was actually pretty good, but the celebration at the plate was weird. It felt like a Wii Sports game. We were jumping up and down with our hands in the air. That’s a good comparison. We saw the Braves celebrate -- it looked like a Mario celebration, everybody jumping up and down. We just copied them.”

Manager Dave Roberts, knowing he’s responsible for his players keeping their distance, was torn as the game ended.

“I was pulling for it to get up over the wall, and after it did, it was kind of awkward,” said Roberts. “I yelled out, ‘social distance,’ and tried to figure out what to do. With walk-offs, [we] used to jump on each other. It was very awkward with no fans. I was just trying to do my part. Certainly take the result, though.”

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With the win, the Dodgers have the best record in the game at 21-8, have won 10 of their last 11 and haven’t lost a series. The result further continued Colorado’s remarkable misery against the Dodgers in general and in Los Angeles in particular. The Rockies have lost 15 of their last 16 games at Dodger Stadium and are 4-22 in their last 26 games against the Dodgers.

“Obviously it felt good to give us the win and not go into extra innings and save the bullpen,” Bellinger said.

The ending wasn’t the only strange part of this game. While homered, the Dodgers also scored on a rundown play and a double-play grounder. Colorado got a Hilliard solo homer, but also scored on a Blake Treinen wild pitch and picked up an unearned run on a sacrifice fly after a throwing error.

Six Dodgers pitchers combined on a four-hitter, with five innings from starter . Closer struck out the only batter he faced and was credited with the win.