On Sunday, he popped his shoulder out of its socket. On Tuesday, he popped a critical home run to help win Game 1 of the World Series. And, after circling the bases, he controlled his youthful enthusiasm when his teammates greeted him.
The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, who injured his right shoulder celebrating his go-ahead home run in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, spoiled what was shaping up to be a classic pitchers’ duel Tuesday night.
Before a pandemic-limited crowd of 11,388, the 2019 NL MVP hit a towering, fourth-inning shot over the wall in right-center as LA beat the American League champion Tampa Bay Rays 8-3 in Arlington, Texas.
The starting pitchers–the Rays’ Tyler Glasnow and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw–had been locked in a scoreless battle until Bellinger connected with a 98-mph Glasnow fastball for a two-run blast.
More important for his longevity in the World Series, Bellinger celebrated responsibly. He and teammates Max Muncy and Chris Taylor exchanged–how to put this – low-fives with their feet as Bellinger made his way back to the dugout.
Kershaw, who spent much of the summer locked down at his offseason home in Dallas, threw simulated games in May and June, he said, and wondered whether he and his team could ever get to this point.
The future Hall of Fame left-hander struck out eight in six innings of work, pushing his well-chronicled postseason struggles to the background for now.
The Dodgers last won the World Series in 1988, but one game hasn’t changed anything.
“It’s hard not to think about winning,” Kershaw said after Game 1. “It’s hard not to think about what that might be like. But I think that’s what I have to do.”