Cody Bellinger, Dodgers Could Finally Have Awakened Thanks to Walk-Off Home Run

Before Saturday night’s walk-off win, the Dodgers had one key ingredient missing in the 2021 season, a walk-off win. Thanks to Cody Bellinger’s “Belli Bomb” hit to right-center field in the 9th inning against Cubs reliever Keegan Thompson, the defending World Champions finally got to celebrate this special type of victory that adds excitement to a team’s season.

It doesn’t matter how good a team is at any level; every team has an identity. The Dodgers teams in the past few seasons were known as cardiac kids who could will themselves back from any deficit. Now crowned as baseball’s champion and juggernauts of the diamond, the 2021 team, up until Saturday night, not once showed any resiliency, posting a 9-14 record in one-run games. Anything that has gone to extras — don’t count on it, they’re 2-8.

It sounds like a case to blame the bullpen; but when you think about it, it now makes sense. The team didn’t have a puncher’s chance to fight back because it didn’t believe it could, until Saturday night. That’s when Bellinger walked off on Thompson, and excitement filled the clubhouse and the team ran out and celebrated a well-deserved win on a night Julio Urías struck out a career-high 12 but didn’t get to taste victory as a result.

Now, relive the excitement (mind Joe Buck’s voice) and let’s agree that this is just what the doctor ordered:

Ahead of the count 3-1, any professional hitter knows that he’s earned a pitch to hit — but a former MVP is going to crush a 90 mph breaking pitch left over the plate, and that’s what Bellinger did.

Here’s the homer called in Spanish. Excitement is a language of many tongues.

The Dodgers’ Twitter account got it perfectly correct. Nothing is as sweet as walking off on your opponent, and it’s even sweeter knowing that it’s a very different script than the one we shall not mention that happened just two nights ago.

Like previously mentioned, going back to previous seasons, the Dodgers had made a habit of walking off on teams. Here’s a look at how many times the Dodgers have walked off Dave Roberts took over as manager in 2016:

  • 2020: 2
  • 2019: 12
  • 2018: 6
  • 2017: 10
  • 2016: 7

Those 2019 Dodgers sure were special, winning 106 games before running into the speeding bullet that was the Nationals.

So the saying goes, “better late than never,” and the team has 85 games remaining beginning with tonight’s series finale with the Cubs before welcoming in the Giants for two and going on the road to Washington and Miami. They have the third-best record in baseball at 46-31 and the third-best run differential at +97. Without a spark the team was pretty good. Did Bellinger show signs of a sleeping giant waking up?

How good can this Dodgers team be when at full strength? Don’t forget, it’s still not completely healthy yet, and Corey Seager is expected back in early July, which could be a little over a week from now.

The trade deadline is a month away as well. Great things could be in store for the Dodgers over the next 85 games and another potential playoff run after that.

For now on this Sunday morning, here’s a walkoff memory. The time when Justin Turner walked off on John Lackey and these same Cubs in Game 2 of the NLCS on the way to a 4-1 series win and their first World Series berth since 1988 in 2017. Check out the tweet Vance is replying to. The Dodgers in 2017 could do this to any pitcher. Should they regain that ability in 2021, look out.

https://twitter.com/DodgerFanVance/status/1247371272574689280