In hopefully the first of many occurrences, Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts each homered in a game for the Dodgers as they wrapped up their six-game trip away from California with a 5-1 record after beating the Diamondbacks 3-0 Sunday afternoon.
A day after taking a break with his OPS under .400 after 39 PAs this season, Bellinger’s first at-bat of the game ended in a two-run homer into the Dodgers’ bullpen.
While the end result was obviously good to see, Bellinger did so on a pitch he really needed to punish, as Merrill Kelly left an 89 mph changeup right down the middle of the plate for the second consecutive pitch.
The early runs meant the Dodgers never trailed en route to the victory, as Clayton Kershaw looked fantastic in his season debut.
Hitting 93 mph twice in the first inning, Kershaw struck out the first two batters of the games and sat down the first 10 batters of the game. A pair of one-out singles in the fourth, followed by a groundout, put Arizona’s first runner on third base with two away. However, Kershaw put down Kole Calhoun with a 1-2 slider that the Dodger tormentor swung through.
When he wasn’t striking out D-backs, finishing his 5 2/3 IP with 6 Ks, he was keeping the ball on the ground as he recorded nine groundouts to just one flyout.
Sitting at about 92 mph on average with his fastball, well ahead of the 90 mph he has been at in the past couple seasons, Kershaw’s velocity was obviously great to see. Just as importantly, he produced it while walking no one, landing in just one three-ball count (with 70% of his pitches strikes) and also inducing 11 whiffs (32.3%), according to Dustin on Twitter.
Kershaw’s day came to an end after 81 pitches and with Christian Walker coming up in the sixth, who has four career home runs off of Clayton.
Meanwhile, Kershaw got a little more help on the offensive side as Betts deposited a ball into the pool at Chase Field to extend the lead to 3-0 in the 5th.
In that at-bat, Betts appeared to do something to his hand and left the game after a 2-for-3 day with the homer and a double.
Betts has five extra-base hits in his past three games, so hopefully the sore middle finger isn’t anything too serious.
Pedro Baez was the first man out of the bullpen today, retiring Walker on a groundout in the 6th and returning for the 7th. He then struck out Eduardo Escobar to lead off the next inning, and worked around a single to keep the D-backs off the board.
Naturally, Kenley Jansen took over for the 9th. After grazing Starling Marte with a pitch, he struck out Walker and Escobar. Calhoun followed with a nine-pitch at-bat, fouling off five pitches before sending Bellinger to the track for a nice catch to end the game.
With Kershaw allowing just three singles, Dodgers pitching pretty much shutdown the D-backs’ offense as a whole, as the bullpen put just two others on base.
Justin Turner made clear how serious the Dodgers would be taking the safety precautions a few days ago after baseball continued to see positive tests pop up on more and more teams. That helped provided this photo that I probably find funnier than anyone should.
And with that, thankfully my losing streak is over.