The Los Angeles Dodgers faced two prominent questions in their lineup for the Wild Card Game, and the answers wound up being Matt Beaty starting at first base and Cody Bellinger playing center field in the winner-take-all matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Although Bellinger endured a regular season marred by injuries and struggles at the plate, manager Dave Roberts highlighted his defense and Max Scherzer’s fly ball tendencies as reasons for the start in center field rather than first base in Max Muncy’s absence.
It turned out Bellinger’s biggest impact came offensively, as he went 1-for-2 with two walks and a pair of stolen bases in the Dodgers’ 3-1 walk-off win. He reached base three times in one game for the first time since June 11.
“I think at this point it’s time to forget the season and just move on to postseason and try to help this team win in any way you can; offense, defense, baserunning,” Bellinger said after the game.
“There’s a lot more aspects to the game. I feel good and I’m feeling healthy. Any way I can impact the game, I’m trying to impact it.”
Whereas Bellinger was susceptible to chasing pitches out of the strike zone during the regular season, he showed more discipline in the Wild Card Game. Particularly during an plate appearance against Cardinals lefty T.J. McFarland that kept the ninth inning alive for Chris Taylor.
“Like I said, I’ve been feeling good. In that moment right there, I got some swings off early, and at that point when you miss a pitch, you just try to work the count,” Bellinger explained. “I knew C.T. was behind me.
“I knew if I could get on base it would give us a good chance to win the game. Worked the count, and saw the 3-2 pitch pretty well and took my walk.”
Roberts’ message to Bellinger
The former NL MVP has maintained a positive throughout the year, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts expressed a belief Bellinger ultimately will benefit from some of his struggles.
“I’ve told Cody my thing is that he’s going to be better going forward as a ballplayer and as a person going through this adversity this year,” Roberts revealed.
“He’s getting to the other side, and the at-bats that he took, take the walk, base hit, a couple stolen bases, that’s what we need from him, to be that dynamic player, not that one-dimensional home run hitter. He’s embraced that, and he helped us win a ballgame.”
Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? Be sure to ring the notification bell to watch player interviews, participate in shows and giveaways, and more!