Friday very much was about Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Dustin May making his MLB debut against the San Diego Padres, but he wound up sharing the spotlight with Cody Bellinger after he reached 100 career home runs.
Bellinger became the fastest player in Dodgers franchise history to reach the benchmark, doing so in 401 career games. He beat the mark that was previously held by Mike Piazza, who needed 422 games to reach 100 homers.
Bellinger’s two-run home run off Eric Lauer gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning. Lauer had been perfect through three innings before allowing a one-out single to Max Muncy in the fourth.
The home run additionally was Bellinger’s second in his last five at-bats, and his 36th on the season. That pulled him even with Milwaukee Brewers right fielder Christian Yelich and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim center fielder Mike Trout for the MLB lead.
Bellinger previously broke a franchise record of Piazza’s this season when he reached 69 career home runs in the first 300 games of his career. “It feels pretty special,” Bellinger said at the time.
“It’s crazy that I already have 300 games under my belt. It feels like it happened yesterday. Feeling good and just trying to carry it on.”
In 2017, Bellinger’s 36th home run broke the Dodgers rookie record that Piazza held. Bellinger finished with 39 homers en route to being named National League Rookie of the Year.
Also during his first season, Bellinger had six multi-home run games, breaking yet another of Piazza’s rookie records. The breakout campaign was followed by some regression, as Bellinger reached just 25 home runs last season and often found himself sitting against lefties.
An offseason spent refining his mechanics with a focus on replicating 2017 has paid off immensely. Bellinger all the while has played steady defense in right field, though he may soon begin receiving more time at first base as the Dodgers are moving away from using Joc Pederson at the position.