SAN FRANCISCO — They were partying in the stands, waving their orange towels, and laughing as they changed their traditional chant of “Beat LA!’ to “Sweep LA!”
Oracle Park attracted 42,275 people who were happy to live in the present. They mocked the Los Angeles Dodgers and looked forward to the day they would slay the dragon.
But they had one fatal mistake.
The Dodgers were actually awakened by them.
The lights came on and the music stopped.
The Dodgers, who looked lifeless since their arrival to town, became the life of their own party Saturday night, dancing home with a 9-2 win over the San Francisco Giants. Los Angeles will host the best-of-5 NL Division Series. It is tied at 1 game each.
While there are many Dodger heroes to be proud of, Cody Bellinger is the greatest and most unlikely.
This is a guy who won the National League MVP award two years ago, and looked like an imposter this year, hitting .165 with a woeful .542 OPS (on-base-plus) slugging percentage.
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Giants took advantage more of his vulnerability than anyone else this season.
Bellinger was able to hit only.038 in this game against the Giants, and struck out 25 times in 53 at bats.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was forced to retain Max Muncy, All-Star second baseman, because of a dislocated right elbow. He was playing in center field but the Dodgers scored just four runs their first two postseason games. They moved him to first base to accommodate Chris Taylor.
Bellinger, having struck out his two first at-bats in the fifth inning, took the field with the Dodgers holding a 2-1 lead. The bases were loaded, and he faced right-handed reliever Dominic Leone. The Giants’ scouting reports showed that Bellinger is susceptible to the high fastball, so Leone threw a 96-mph fastball.
Bellinger hit it to the left-center gap, No. 8 hitter A.J. Pollock followed with a two-run double and the rout was on. The Dodgers outscored Giants 7-1 over the last four innings. This reminded everyone that Los Angeles is still the main road to the World Series.
It’s impossible to predict what will happen the rest of this series, but the Dodgers have three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer on the mound Monday for Game 3, and they suddenly have a confident Bellinger in the lineup.
Bellinger said that the experience was good. It felt good. (Chris Taylor) really set the table in front of me with a really, really good at-bat to really simplify my plan and just try to get the run in right there.”
Given that the Giants have won more games in baseball than the Dodgers’, knocking them out in the division series might open the door to possible back-to-back World Series championships.
All that is important for now is that Dodgers are alive, which the Giants have rudely found out.
Roberts stated, “It’s fascinating how the narrative shifts from game to play and right now.” “It is a three-game series. Home field advantage gives us the edge and Max Scherzer takes over on the mound. It’s a good place to be.”
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