What’s been a disappointing 2018 season for the Los Angeles Dodgers may have hit rock bottom in Saturday’s loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Making matters worse, Cody Bellinger and manager Dave Roberts again weren’t on the same page.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth and the Dodgers trailing, 5-3, Bellinger attempted to reach on a bunt single that would beat the shift. Instead, Reds relief pitcher Jared Huges came off the mound to make the easy play.
On the surface, the general strategy and attempt can be understood. Bellinger reaching would mean Chris Taylor represented the tying run at the plate. But Bellinger had already hit a home run on the night, and was ahead 3-0 in the count.
After the loss, Roberts said he was surprised by Bellinger’s attempt considering he was given the take sign by third-base coach Chris Woodward.
Bellinger confirmed he ignored the sign that was given and expressed some regret over his decision, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“I had the take sign,” confirmed Bellinger. “Knew the fastball was coming. I’ve done it so many times before I thought it was going to be an easy bunt. Just didn’t execute. Just bad luck. If I could do it again, I wouldn’t. At that moment, I thought it was a good play. Knew a heater was coming and those are the easiest pitches to bunt.”
After consecutive games in which he was held hitless, Bellinger is a combined 2-for-8 with one triple, one home run and three strikeouts the past two nights. Roberts acknowledged a night off for a struggling player can be beneficial but said Bellinger’s defensive skills were still valued.
Nearly two weeks ago, Bellinger was benched during a game against the San Francisco Giants for ending up with a double on a ball hit to the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, or “Triple’s Alley.”
Roberts felt Bellinger didn’t run hard out of the box, though the 22-year-old respectfully disagreed.