Finance — July 16, 2017 at 5:43 am

Cody Bellinger becomes first Dodgers rookie to hit for the cycle in 7-1 win over Marlins


To hit for the cycle — a single-game compendium of a single, double, triple and home run — a baseball player requires a diversity of skills. Enough brawn to go deep. Enough agility to sprint 270 feet safely into third. Enough consistency to collect four hits in one night. Players like that usually only exist in dreams.

The cycle is a rare feat, one that occurred only three times in 2016, only four times in 2017 before Saturday. Barry Bonds never did it. Neither did Hank Aaron, nor Ken Griffey, Jr., nor Babe Ruth. The Dodgers have played 60 seasons since moving to Los Angeles. Across those six decades, only two players produced a cycle. When considering this, of course, it is worthwhile to remember that the Dodgers played 59 of those seasons without Cody Bellinger.

In a 7-1 victory over the Marlins, two days after his 22nd birthday, Bellinger added another line to his resume for rookie of the year, and perhaps more postseason hardware. He singled in his first at-bat. He smashed a two-run homer, his 26th of the season, in his second. He thumped an RBI double in his third at-bat.

And then, in his fourth at-bat, in the seventh inning of a blowout, Bellinger laced a slider from Marlins reliever Nick Wittgren into right field. Miami outfielder Giancarlo Stanton lunged for the baseball, but his 6-6 frame was not tall enough to bring it down. It ticked off his glove and rolled behind him.

Bellinger was already on the move. He is considered the fastest player on these Dodgers (63-29), winners of eight in a row, and so he barreled around the bases. He slid into third, even though it wasn’t necessary, to join Wes Parker (1970) and Orlando Hudson (2009) in franchise lore. He grinned at third-base coach Chris Woodward. Inside the dugout, Clayton Kershaw curled his fingers into a claw, making the signal to collect the baseball.

Bellinger can add the memento to an ever-growing collection. Most rookies celebrate their first hit, their first homer. Bellinger hit 21 home runs faster than any player in big-league history. He was the youngest position player to ever represent the L.A. Dodgers in the All-Star game. He serves as part of the reason why Dodgers fans hope they can celebrate so much more this October.

Bellinger overshadowed an otherwise leisurely evening for his club. He paired with Yasmani Grandal to swat two homers in the third. The duo combined to drive in five runs, which sank Marlins starter Jose Urena.

Alex Wood (11-0, 1.56 earned-run average) spun six scoreless innings and did not permit a flyball until the sixth. Wood became the first Dodger to open the season with an 11-0 record since at least 1913.

The second inning contained intrigue. After a leadoff double by Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig came to the plate with one out. Urena fired a 97-mph fastball near Puig’s chest. Puig jumped back from the plate. He walked toward the infield grass and pointed at Urena. The Marlins bench emptied, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts climbed his own dugout steps to intercede.

After a lengthy interlude, in which members of both relief corps half-heartedly filtered out of the bullpen, the game resumed. Puig popped out. The fans at Marlins Park showered him with hearty jeers.

Puig’s teammates waited an inning to answer. Bellinger came to bat with a runner at third base and two outs. Five days earlier, competing in his first Home Run Derby here, Bellinger instructed his father to feed him pitches up and in, so he could pull pitches over the right-field fence. Urena was far less cooperative — but still far from effective.

With the count at 1-1, Urena slopped a slider over the middle of the plate. Bellinger whacked it into the bullpen in right for his first homer of the second half.

Urena struggled to escape. He walked Logan Forsythe. Pederson hit a single. Urena tried to handcuff Grandal with another slider. Grandal smacked this one off the pillar just inside of the right-field pole.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly did not subject Urena to a fourth inning. He called upon a rookie reliever named Drew Steckenrider. The Dodgers treated him like his predecessor. When he hung a slider, Bellinger thumped it off the wall for a double. Justin Turner lugged his creaky legs all the way from first base to score.

And so Wood, a pitcher who had given up six runs in his previous nine starts, received a six-run lead. Through five innings, Wood scattered three singles and did not permit a Marlin to reach second base. He induced the Marlins to hit the ball on the ground for 12 of the 15 outs. The other three were strikeouts. It was a masterful, efficient performance — and still it could not steal the spotlight from Bellinger.

Comments are closed.