Cody Bellinger appears to have found his long-lost hitting stroke.
Bellinger, who has struggled for much of this season, homered twice and knocked in four runs in Wednesday’s 8-2 win for the Los Angeles Dodgers over the host Philadelphia Phillies. Bellinger is still hitting just .183 on the season, but has homered four times in his last four games.
The Dodgers will now be searching for their fifth straight win and a series sweep on Thursday afternoon.
“He’s grinding. He’s been grinding,” manager Dave Roberts said, referring to offseason shoulder surgery for Bellinger. “It’s been a difficult time for him trying to perform at this level and still trying to get that front shoulder strength when you’re recovering from a surgery.”
In addition to Bellinger’s offense, the Dodgers continued to receive strong production from their bullpen. Four relievers combined to toss five shutout innings with eight strikeouts.
Despite some injuries in the bullpen, the Dodgers are still thriving.
“I’m still kind of learning these guys,” Roberts said. “I’m happy to have them; they’ve been great for us. … With what we’re going through, it’s just crazy. Talking about the guys that are on the injured list on our roster, it’s crazy. But it creates opportunities for guys, and guys are stepping up.”
The Dodgers have yet to announce a starter for Thursday’s finale.
One player the Dodgers won’t have is outfielder Mookie Betts, whose right hip is still sore. They don’t know how long Betts will be sidelined.
“We’ve given it days, and it almost seems like when he comes off the off-day, it’s worse,” Roberts said. “I think everything’s on the table right now. We’re having conversations, tests, and I think we’ll know more later.”
The Phillies entered this series as the hottest team in the National League with eight straight wins. All of a sudden, they’re hoping to avoid a three-game sweep to the defending World Series champion Dodgers.
Rhys Hoskins landed on the 10-day injured list with a groin injury on Tuesday, sidelining him for the three-game set. During the first inning Wednesday, All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto left the game after being hit in the mask by two foul balls. Realmuto was replaced by Andrew Knapp.
Phillies manager Joe Girardi was unsure if Realmuto would be back in the lineup Thursday.
“We’ll have to wait and see,” Girardi said.
The Phillies will send left-hander Ranger Suarez (5-3, 0.98 ERA) to the mound. Suarez, a converted closer, is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three career relief outings against the Dodgers.
“It was something that I wanted at some point,” Suárez said of starting. “I think I’m going to be able to do this.”
“Ranger’s not a power guy. He’s a command guy,” Girardi added. “So the important thing is that his command holds up. And I think it will.”
Suarez has steadily been working on extending his outings, but it’s unlikely he’ll last beyond five innings. And that might even be a stretch.
“I have done that before,” Suárez said of changing his mindset as a starter. “So I know I have to change it up a bit and do different things against hitters.”
The Phillies managed only seven hits on Wednesday, two each by Jean Segura and Didi Gregorius. They have been outscored 13-2 in the series.
–Field Level Media
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