ARLINGTON, Texas – Cody Bellinger would take the homer-robbing catch over the home run he hit if he had to pick from the two. The Los Angeles Dodgers needed both from their MVP center fielder.
Bellinger nearly went to a knee to hit his long home run, and later made a spectacular, leaping catch at the center-field wall to take away a go-ahead shot from Fernando Tatis Jr. as the Dodgers barely held off the San Diego Padres 6-5 Wednesday night.
Los Angeles took a 2-0 lead in the NL Division Series when Joe Kelly finally got the last out with the bases loaded in a tension-filled ninth inning.
“It’s going to take a while to wind down from that one,” said Bellinger, the 2019 NL MVP. “That’s postseason baseball right there.”
Kelly retired Eric Hosmer on a routine grounder to earn the save after Dodgers All-Star closer Kenley Jansen wobbled in the ninth. Los Angeles can sweep the best-of-five set from its NL West rival Thursday night.
The Padres were down one with a runner on and two outs in the seventh when Tatis, the 21-year-old budding superstar, hit a towering drive to center. Bellinger ran nearly 100 feet while watching the ball, then jumped and extended his gloved right hand above the 8-foot wall to make the grab.
“I just kind of turned around as fast as I could, got to the fence and saw that it was probable, so I decided to try to time up the jump, and it’s how it worked out,” Bellinger said. “I didn't know if it was a homer or not, but I knew I caught it.”
Brusdar Graterol, the second Dodgers reliever after starter Clayton Kershaw, slung his glove and cap away and thrust both arms into the air to celebrate. Graterol also appeared to wave goodbye and blow a kiss at Padres star Manny Machado, who shouted curses back from afar in a heated verbal exchange that included other Dodgers as well.