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 (46-26) 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 at-bat, 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 four-seamer 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.”
Follow Andy McCullough on Twitter @McCulloughTimes