Cody Bellinger has hit 118 home runs thus far in his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Saturday saw Bellinger hit his second ever walk-off home run, yet it marked the first of any of his long balls that he had no idea where the ball was.
Bellinger hit a 99 mph line drive to right field that just cleared the fence and outstretched arm of Sam Hilliard. Bellinger initially wasn’t sure if he had hit the ball to left-center field or straight up in the air.
“It was weird,” he said.
Confusion remained even as the reigning National League MVP began to run down the first-base line and shift into a home run trot. “Because then I thought he caught the ball, so I didn’t know what was going on at all,” Bellinger added.
The setting was all the more surreal considering it occurred in an empty Dodger Stadium because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Normally, tends of thousands of fans would have provided Bellinger with an audible cue that he’d delivered a game-winner.
That, however, was not the strangest part of the whole sequence. “The crowd noise was actually pretty good, the celebration at home plate was weird,” Bellinger said.
The Dodgers danced around Bellinger as he crossed home plate, toeing the line between celebrating the walk-off home run and remaining compliant with MLB health and safety protocols. They technically broke social distancing guidelines, but it was much more subdued than normal.
“It kind of felt like a Wii Sports game. Just jumping up and down, throwing your hands up in the air. I think it’s a good comparison,” Bellinger laughed.
“I definitely tempered it,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of his enthusiasm. “It was a topspin line drive and apparently Cody didn’t know where the ball was at. I was pulling for it to get up over the wall and after it did, it was kind of awkward. I yelled out, ‘Social distance!’ and I’m trying to figure out what to do.
“We’re used to with walk-offs, jumping on each other. And it was very awkward with no fans. Certainly take the result, though.”
Bellinger gaining traction
More important is the production the Dodgers are beginning to receive from Bellinger. He’s on a modest five-game hitting streak and has one double, six home runs and nine RBI over his last 10 contests.
“More just focusing on the feel of myself as opposed to the results,” he reiterated. “As long as you’re feeling good, you’ve got to trust the results will come.”
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