AP Photo

Bellinger hits for cycle as Wood, Dodgers beat Marlins 7-1

1 Comment

MIAMI — Cody Bellinger became the first Dodgers rookie to hit for the cycle and Alex Wood became the first Dodgers pitcher in more than a century to win his first 11 decisions in a season, helping the NL West leaders beat the Miami Marlins 7-1 Saturday night for their eighth straight victory.

Bellinger singled in the first inning, hit a two-run homer in the third, added an RBI double in the fourth and hit his second career triple on the first pitch of the seventh. His triple off Nick Wittgren barely cleared the glove of right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who tried to making a running backhanded catch.

Wood (11-0) struck out 10 in six scoreless innings, allowed only four baserunners and lowered his ERA to 1.56 in 16 games this year.

An angry Yasiel Puig took several steps toward the mound after he was nearly hit by a pitch from Miami’s Jose Urena in the first inning. Puig hit two home runs in Los Angeles’ win Friday, including a go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth inning.

The Dodgers (63-29) climbed 34 games above .500 for the first time and have won 28 of their past 32 games. Their bandwagon included an entire section at Marlins Park, where a group that follows the team on the road unfurled its enormous blue flag with the Dodgers logo during the sixth inning.

Los Angeles took a 5-0 lead in the third when Bellinger hit his 26th homer and Yasmani Grandal added a three-run shot, his 12th.

Bellinger’s cycle – his first four-hit game – was the fifth in the majors this year, and came against three pitchers. He became the third Dodger to hit for the cycle since the team moved to Los Angeles, and the first since Orlando Hudson on April 13, 2009.

Bellinger is the ninth player in the Dodgers’ 128-year history to hit for the cycle. They improved to 54-18 (.750) since he was promoted from the minors.

Urena (7-4) allowed all five runs and needed 82 pitches to get through three innings, his shortest start of the year.

CONFRONTATION

Urena’s first pitch to Puig was a 96 mph fastball that just missed the slugger’s left thigh. Puig shouted at Urena and took several steps as some players and both managers ran onto the field.

Catcher J.T. Realmuto stepped in front of Puig, and after some yelling the confrontation quickly ended. Puig then flied out.

Benches cleared when the teams met in Los Angeles in May, prompting the ejections of Marlins manager Don Mattingly, Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling and Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren.

BATTING ORDER

Puig remained in the No. 8 in the order even though he’s second on the Dodgers with 18 homers.

“You look at the numbers and the production he has had, and the easy thing is to put him right in the middle of the order,” manager Dave Roberts said before Saturday’s game. “But I think the right thing at this moment is to stay the course. It puts him in a good spot in the order, and the results are there.”

The Dodgers improved to 31-6 (.838) when Puig bats eighth.

MISMATCH

Stanton went 0 for 2 with a walk against Wood and is 3 for 25 lifetime (.120) against the left-hander.

UP NEXT

LHP Rich Hill (5-4, 3.69) is scheduled to start the series finale Sunday for the Dodgers. Hill made his most recent appearance at Marlins Park last September, when he threw seven perfect innings before Roberts pulled him, mindful the lefty had been sidelined by a blister earlier in the season. Three relievers completed a two-hit shutout.

RHP Tom Koehler (1-4, 8.00) will start for Miami as a replacement for RHP Edinson Volquez (left knee tendinitis).

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Yasiel Puig is still a free agent

Yasiel Puig
Jason Miller/Getty Images
4 Comments

Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.

There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.

The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.