“It’s just hard to imagine a bigger hit” – Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers in awe of Cody Bellinger – .

“It’s just hard to imagine a bigger hit” – Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers in awe of Cody Bellinger – .

LOS ANGELES – Dodgers manager Dave Roberts best summed up the gravity of the moment: “It just turned everything upside down. ”
It was just one way for Roberts to describe a three-run Cody Bellinger homerun that more than tied a game late in the eighth inning. Perhaps that would have saved the reigning champions’ offer to win it all again.

Bellinger electrified a tense crowd at this point in Dodger Stadium with that blast, erasing a 5-2 lead in Atlanta and establishing a double go-ahead for Mookie Betts hitters later. Facing the abyss of a 3-0 series deficit, the Dodgers instead beat the Braves 6-5 on Tuesday and can now even play in the National League Championship series in Game 4 Wednesday.

“Man, pure elation, joy,” said Roberts. “I mean, it’s just hard to imagine a bigger hit. “

The sudden turnaround, when the Dodgers appeared to be on the verge of a nearly insurmountable series deficit, was swift and staggering.

“It’s impossible not to be aware (of the deficit),” Betts said. “But I think it’s a weak way of thinking about things. I think our mindset has been, why are we going to focus on this when we’re here now, we can win the game now. “

Yet Bellinger’s home run was, in context, abrupt. The 2019 MVP was beating better after a few mechanical tweaks at the end of the season. Nonetheless, he is a player who has reached 0.165 out of 350 home plate appearances during the regular season.

Even more breathtaking? The related blast came from a 96 mph fastball from Braves reliever Luke Jackson who was well above the strike zone. It was, in short, almost impossible terrain for Bellinger to get out of the park. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the ground crossed the plate at 4.12 feet from the ground. No one since at least 2008 has turned on such ground at this speed during the playoffs.

In addition, Bellinger hadn’t scored on ground outside the strike zone all season.

“Yeah, that’s not a batter’s pitch over there,” Bellinger said. “But at the time, whatever happened, I saw it and I just tried to put the cannon on it and keep passing the baton. “

Indeed, this is what happened. Right after Bellinger’s homerun had the crowd on fire, Chris Taylor hit a single, knocking Jackson out of the game. He stole second base, which was key because pinch hitter Matt Beaty failed on what could have been a double play ball. And Betts hammered a practice towards the fence for a brace, scoring Taylor.

The sequence unfolded at lightning speed. And when it was over, it was hard to distribute the energy around the stadium with the sense of impending doom hovering over Chavez Ravine moments earlier.

“We were dead in the water,” Roberts said. “You could see it. “

The Dodgers were five strikeouts from losing 3-0 in the series, a deficit that only the 2004 Red Sox overcame in the playoffs – a team Roberts played for. Los Angeles became the first team behind 2-0 in a series to come back by at least three points after the fifth inning.

All of this conjures up some relatively fresh bad memories for the Braves. It wasn’t until last year that Atlanta took a two-game lead over the Dodgers. Game 3 at that time was very different – a 15-3 loss to LA – but Atlanta took Game 5 to go up 3-1. Then the Dodgers recovered to take three straight and advance to the World Series, a place Atlanta hasn’t reached since 1999.

Still, Braves manager Brian Snitker didn’t seem concerned with his club’s state of mind, even after last year’s collapse.

“Hell, I don’t even remember how I felt last year,” Snitker said with a laugh. “Our guys are more and more tested in combat every year. We played a really good game there today.

The Dodgers will look to 20-game winner Julio Urias in Game 4, while Snitker’s club will go with a parade of relievers, the order of which has yet to be determined. After last season, even a Braves win might not completely restore the momentum they built up with two late-inning wins in Atlanta.

And it’s all due to a Cody Bellinger outburst that resuscitated the defending champions’ weakened hopes, a blow so unlikely even the player who punched him was still trying to figure out in the post-match press conference. . That is, until Betts clarifies it for himself and for everyone else.

“Honestly, strange as it may be, I saw it,” Bellinger said. “I saw it and just tried to give it a good swing. It’s just one of those things. “

At this point, Betts, a former MVP, cut him off to remind his teammate that the likely explanation is that he’s just very good.

“Tell them, Belli,” Betts said. “They’re good, but you also drive a (Mercedes) Benz. ”


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