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'Getting dialed in': Seager can't be stopped

@kengurnick
June 9, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- Corey Seager is finally looking like Corey Seager at the plate and just in time, as Cody Bellinger is finally being pitched to like he’s Barry Bonds. While the Giants intentionally walked Bellinger three times on Saturday, the batter behind him, Seager, answered with a huge game,

SAN FRANCISCO -- Corey Seager is finally looking like Corey Seager at the plate and just in time, as Cody Bellinger is finally being pitched to like he’s Barry Bonds.

While the Giants intentionally walked Bellinger three times on Saturday, the batter behind him, Seager, answered with a huge game, picking up four hits and four RBIs in a 7-2 Dodgers win at Oracle Park.

Box score

“I think they probably won’t do that tomorrow,” said Bellinger. “That probably was the game plan today, but Seager made them pay. It was only a matter of time.”

With Justin Turner adding three hits, the Dodgers kept the game close against San Francisco starter Jeff Samardzija until they could get in the Giants’ bullpen, and not the way Chris Taylor did on Friday night (face first). They blew the game open with a four-run eighth inning that included three of their six walks.

Although Bellinger has tailed off lately (his average slipped from .409 on May 18 to .362 now), he joined Mike Scioscia as the only players in franchise history with multiple games of three intentional walks. Bellinger has been intentionally walked 10 times this year. That’s 110 shy of Bonds’ ridiculous record set in 2004 at the age of 39.

Meanwhile, Seager at the plate has shaken off the rust from last year’s elbow and hip operations, raising his average from .227 on May 12 to .270, with eight doubles in his last 10 games.

Seager said he doesn’t take the Giants’ strategy as disrespecting his ability.

“With what [Bellinger]’s been doing, it’s called for,” Seager said. “It’s a baseball move. It puts some guys on base for you and locks you back in. I’m just looking for the big part of the field.”

Rich Hill was credited with the win despite struggling through five innings. The Dodgers broke a 2-2 tie with a sixth-inning run scored by Kyle Garlick after he doubled for his first MLB hit.

Hill said he could relate to the dilemma opponents face with Bellinger and a hot Seager back-to-back in the lineup.

“It’s tough to navigate through,” said Hill, who allowed 10 baserunners and was followed by four scoreless innings from the bullpen. “If I was on the other side doing game planning and going over the lineup, it’s something that’s challenging and speaks to how good we are and how good this lineup is.”

Manager Dave Roberts sounded like he was glad mentor Bruce Bochy, and not him, faced the decision of which former Rookie of the Year to pitch to.

“Now you’ve got the best player in the National League, as [Bochy] understands that, with Corey getting untracked and an open base, you totally understand it,” Roberts said. “Going into a series, there are certain guys you don’t want to beat you. It’s nice with Seager hitting behind him. In a vacuum, you’d take either one of them.”

The Dodgers weren’t surprised Seager started slowly, as he spent most of Spring Training on a rehab schedule. If anything, Roberts said before the game, Seager’s defensive capabilities returned quicker than expected. Now they have the total package.

“Now that he’s got his legs under him, his mechanics are getting dialed in,” said Roberts. “He hadn’t played baseball in eight months. Right now, he’s in a good place. No one knows how long it’s going to take. He’s a threat in the box now.”

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.