SEA­GER’S NIGHT TO BE SLUG­GER

He swats three home runs as Dodgers romp, and Bellinger also launches a shot.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Andy McCul­lough

DODGERS 12 N.Y. METS 0

Corey Sea­ger turned 23 in April, which makes him, in this year of Cody Bellinger, a sage veteran. Bellinger will not turn 22 un­til July 13. By then, his home run to­tal should well ex­ceed his age. Bellinger blasted his 22nd homer of the sea­son in the Dodgers’ 12-0 drub­bing of the New York Mets on Tues­day night, and ap­peared set to stand be­neath the spot­light yet again.

Ex­cept that Sea­ger, the reign­ing Na­tional League rookie of the year and a ver­i­ta­ble MVP can­di­date in 2016, of­fered a re­minder of his own gifts. Steady but un­spec­tac­u­lar in 2017, Sea­ger staged a re­mark­able dis­play of power, de­liv­er­ing a trio of home runs for the sec­ond time in his ca­reer. The ex­hi­bi­tion at Dodger Sta­dium pushed Bellinger, ever so briefly, to the side of the

stage — a dif­fi­cult feat so far in June, as the Dodgers (4626) have won for the fifth time in a row and the 11th time in 12 games, and Bellinger has been blast­ing base­balls out of sight seem­ingly on a daily ba­sis.

“What­ever Bellinger’s do­ing, I don’t un­der­stand,” start­ing pitcher Bran­don McCarthy said. “I think Sea­ger got mad, and de­cided to give some balls away. It’s re­ally fun to watch those guys hit right now.”

The rest of the Dodgers have be­gun to join in. A night af­ter hang­ing 10 runs on their guests, the Dodgers pum­meled Mets starter Robert Gsell­man and bounced him from the game in the fifth in­ning. The lineup mashed four homers and scored eight runs against Gsell­man. Sea­ger ex­tended the mis­ery to re­liever Josh Ed­gin by tak­ing him deep in the fifth.

The of­fense cre­ated a siz­able cush­ion for McCarthy (6-3, 2.87 earned-run av­er­age). McCarthy per­mit­ted four sin­gles dur­ing six score­less in­nings. He did not al­low a Met to stand on third base. And the of­fense in­sured he would never have to worry about run sup­port.

“It’s fun to watch, it’s fun to be around,” Bellinger said. “We’re just click­ing on all cylin­ders.”

The Dodgers did not wait long to start the bar­rage. Lo­gan Forsythe led off the first with a sin­gle. Four pitches later, Sea­ger blasted a flat changeup from Gsell­man be­yond the fence in cen­ter field. Even so, Sea­ger looked merely like a pre­lude to Bellinger.

From here, the Mets com­mit­ted two sins. They made an er­ror to al­low Justin Turner to reach base. Then Gsell­man hung a curve­ball to Bellinger, a young man who crushes mis­takes. The curve hung at Bellinger’s belt. The ball landed just be­yond the right-field fence.

In­side the Dodgers’ dugout, looks of as­ton­ish­ment ex­tended across the rail­ing as the homer took flight. Clay­ton Ker­shaw and Chase Utley locked eyes and broke up with laugh­ter. Austin Barnes raised his arms sky­ward. En­rique Hernandez bugged his eyes and spun his cap around his head.

“What he’s do­ing is spe­cial,” Sea­ger said. “Set­ting records. There’s no deny­ing what he’s do­ing right now.”

Each homer cre­ates a new mile­stone. No rookie has hit this many homers in this short a span of games to start his ca­reer. Bellinger be­came the first rookie to hit 10 homers in 10 games ever, and the first Dodger to do it since Shawn Green in 2002. The clamor for Bellinger to ap­pear in next month’s Home Run Derby will only in­crease.

An in­ning later, the Mets de­vised a handy sys­tem for fac­ing Bellinger: They walked him in­ten­tion­ally. The Dodgers could not cap­i­tal­ize, as Yas­mani Gran­dal grounded out with the bases loaded, but the de­ci­sion of­fered a hint of what may await Bellinger. Sea­ger needed to adjust to vary­ing strate­gies from op­pos­ing pitch­ers af­ter he proved his worth at the big league level.

In the fourth in­ning, Sea­ger fouled off a se­ries of fast­balls, curve­balls and slid­ers. On the eighth pitch of the at­bat, Gsell­man fed Sea­ger a fast­ball on the in­ner half. Sea­ger redi­rected the pitch to­ward the op­po­site field, rac­ing on a line out to left. The solo shot gave him five multi-homer games in his ca­reer.

Sea­ger cred­ited a re­cent im­prove­ment in his tim­ing for his per­for­mance. “Stuff ’s start­ing to come to­gether,” he said.

Gsell­man would not last much longer. Gran­dal added

an op­po­site-field solo homer. Yasiel Puig and Joc Ped­er­son sup­plied dou­bles to pro­duce a run. With Ped­er­son at sec­ond, Mets man­ager Terry Collins showed mercy on Gsell­man. Collins as­signed Ed­gin to com­plete the in­ning.

The Dodgers did not oblige. Forsythe took a walk to bring up Sea­ger. Ed­gin spot­ted a curve­ball for a strike. The pitch was ad­mirable, but it did not dis­suade Sea­ger from hunt­ing a fast­ball. One ar­rived on the next pitch, a 92-mph fourseamer that drifted over the mid­dle. Sea­ger smashed another

op­po­site-field drive to com­plete the tri­fecta.

Sea­ger came close to a fourth homer, un­leash­ing a long drive with the bases loaded in the sixth. He ended the eighth in­ning in the on-deck cir­cle, happy to set­tle with a ca­reer-best evening.

“With Corey, we’ve grown to ex­pect great­ness ev­ery sin­gle night,” man­ager Dave Roberts said. “When he’s throw­ing out hits and not slug­ging, we want more. It was a mat­ter of time. It was a spe­cial night.”

Jae C. Hong As­so­ci­ated Press

COREY SEA­GER hits a fifth-in­ning homer, his third blast of the night.

Jae C. Hong As­so­ci­ated Press

CON­GRAT­U­LA­TIONS for Corey Sea­ger, right, are of­fered by Lo­gan Forsythe and Joe Ped­er­son af­ter Sea­ger’s three-run shot in the fifth in­ning. The Dodgers’ of­fense pro­vided a cush­ion for starter Bran­don McCarthy.

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