Cody Bellinger hits grand slam as Dodgers score 11 in first inning to rout Cardinals
And now we resume our regularly scheduled programming, with the Dodgers laying waste to the National League West.
That might be a bit of hyperbole, considering the team currently occupies third place in the division. But it might not.
The Dodgers could move back into first place by the end of the weekend and, if they keep playing like this, they might never leave.
Mookie Betts? Back hitting. Cody Bellinger? Back, and back hitting. AJ Pollock, Tony Gonsolin, Brusdar Graterol and Jimmy Nelson? Back soon.
Back at reasonably full strength, what might the Dodgers do?
“It really doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “If we’re lined up and playing good baseball, we’re going to go on a run.”
They spooked the rest of the West on Wednesday, putting up the biggest inning in Los Angeles history in the very first inning.
Eleven runs in the inning, their most in a regular-season game since a 1954 afternoon when they played in Brooklyn and their cleanup batter was Jackie Robinson.
Bellinger hit a grand slam and drove in six runs in the inning, the most RBIs for any Dodgers player in any single inning, whether based in Brooklyn or Los Angeles. Betts, who had one hit in 16 at-bats in the previous series, had two hits in the first inning.
Pitcher Trevor Bauer said he will do a deep dive into advanced statistics and video to determine the reasons for the high percentage of long balls.
The final score? The Dodgers routed the St. Louis Cardinals 14-3.
“When you’re playing our ballclub and you see Bellinger in there, you see Betts in there, it matters,” Roberts said. “For these guys to post, to be in there, to be healthy, just makes everyone better around them.”
Betts had three hits in the game, and he went six for 11 in the three-game series, lifting his batting average from .240 to .264. Bellinger lifted his from .161 to .200 on this one night alone, and his RBI total in his injury-interrupted season from two to eight.
“I’m kind of feeling like a ballplayer again,” Bellinger said.
Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler, who had never doubled in the majors and had never driven in more than two runs in a season, delivered a two-run double.
“Just kind of a blind-squirrel-finds-a-nut thing for me,” Buehler said.
He delivered a quality start, too, holding the Cardinals to three runs in six innings.
The Dodgers closed the homestand one-half game behind the San Diego Padres and 11/2 games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants. They have a day off Thursday, another day off next week, and another day off the following week, allowing them to put a stop to their run of bullpen games and get their relief corps fortified and rested.
The Padres just got swept by the Cubs, the hottest team in the major leagues. Chicago, the leaders of the NL Central and winners of 11 of their past 13 games, play their next four games against the Giants.
The Padres play their next four games against the New York Mets, the leaders of the NL East. The Padres then play three more against the Cubs, then four more against the Mets.
The Dodgers play their next 15 games against teams with losing records.
Buehler chuckled at the thought that the Dodgers could be set to go on a big run now.
“We’re certainly not out of it,” he said. “I think we were, what, two games behind coming in [to Wednesday’s game]?
“It’s a little early to be super worried about that. We’re just trying to play good baseball. Obviously, we had that little lull in the middle of the year, but we’ve played really well outside those 20 games or so.
“We’re in it. We’re talented. We feel good about our team. Now, it’s about going out and doing it more than anything.”
The Cardinals have a winning record, but you wouldn’t have known it from the first inning.
The Dodgers sent 14 men to the plate, with 11 scoring. Carlos Martinez, the Cardinals’ starting pitcher, got two outs. He gave up 10 runs, seven hits and four walks. In the big inning, his earned-run average jumped from 4.22 to 5.83.
He did not pitch well, or even adequately, but neither did he get any help from his teammates. The Dodgers scored six runs before Martinez got an out, but the Cardinals should have gotten an out before the Dodgers scored even a single run.
Mike Marshall, who won the Cy Young Award for the Dodgers in 1974 when he pitched in a major league-record 106 games, died on Tuesday.
With two on and none out in the first inning, Justin Turner singled to left field. Betts, running from second base, was beaten on the throw home from left fielder Tyler O’Neill. But catcher Andrew Knizner dropped the perfectly placed one-hop throw, and Betts scored on the error.
Later in the inning, again with two on and none out, Gavin Lux drove a ball deep to center field. Bellinger, running from second base, retreated to tag up. Chris Taylor, running from first base, took off.
Cardinals center fielder Dylan Carlson played the carom off the wall, and the bases were clogged, with Bellinger trapped off third base and Taylor trapped off second. No matter as shortstop Edmundo Sosa heaved a relay throw toward the Dodgers’ on-deck circle, closer to the high-priced seats than to any actual baseball players. Bellinger scored on the error, and all the Dodgers were safe.
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