Clayton Kershaw was the main story in Wednesday’s Dodgers win over the Twins, and was fully on board with the decision to pull him after seven perfect innings. But the Dodgers offense found its footing in more ways than one in Minnesota, too.
Cody Bellinger and his ever-changing batting stance carousel has been an attempt to find comfort at the plate. But during that quest, opposing pitchers have pounced with a very specific plan of attack.
After falling behind 3-0 in the count to Bellinger with the bases loaded in the first inning, Chris Paddack threw three straight fastballs to Bellinger, one taken for a strike, and the other two foul tipped into the catcher’s mitt. That followed a pattern, with Bellinger facing the highest percentage of fastballs in MLB this season (79.7 percent of pitches entering Wednesday, with a hat tip to Mike Petriello of MLB.com).
Bellinger saw 13 more fastballs on Wednesday, but after the strikeout in the first inning was able to turn around a few. He fouled off three fastballs in the third inning before doubling on a changeup from Paddack. In the eighth inning, Bellinger homered off a Dereck Rodríguez fastball, for his second two-hit game in three games.
It’s a start for Bellinger, who last year didn’t have a game with two extra-base hits until July 23 and only had two such games all season.
Top from the bottom
Bellinger’s home run was the first of three consecutive longballs for the Dodgers in the eighth inning, breaking open what was a relatively close game before then. He was followed by homers by Gavin Lux and Austin Barnes, the latter reclaiming sole possession of his team lead in home runs, now with two, after only being tied for a few minutes.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t trying to hit one too after Luxy and Belli,” a smiling Barnes told Kirsten Watson on SportsNet LA after the game.
Those three hit seventh, eighth, and ninth on Wednesday, which was the most effective part of the order on the road trip.
Dodgers lineup on the road trip
Wednesday did provide arguably the best game from the top of the Dodgers order as well. Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman both doubled, Trea Turner singled, walked, scored and drove in a run, and Max Muncy homered.
After an up-and-down offense on the road trip, the Dodgers come home on a high note and a 3-2 record. That will play.
The Dodgers head back to Los Angeles for a seven-game homestand at Dodger Stadium, beginning with a four-game series against the Reds. Walker Buehler, who won on opening day, starts the home opener as well (7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA). The Reds originally listed left-hander Reiver Sanmartin to start on Thursday, but have since changed plans. Right-hander Luis Cessa will start the series opener for Cincinnati.