Cody Bellinger, Ryan Zimmerman shine in offensive-heavy night of baseball

Wednesday June 14th, 2017

Tuesday’s slate of highlights focuses heavily on hitters, from one breakout rookie to a rejuvenated veteran. Here’s a run through of the day’s top stories and a selection of videos you need to see.

What you missed

1. Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger might not be lighting up highlight reels with 496-foot home runs like the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, but the NL rookie has almost been equally as explosive. In a 7–5 Los Angeles win over the Indians Tuesday, Bellinger smashed a pair of home runs to put the game out of reach and close in on the National League home run lead. His 17 bombs put him two behind current NL leader Ryan Zimmerman, and don’t forget he spent the first three weeks of the season in the minor leagues.

Indians reliever Andrew Miller was Bellinger’s first victim, yielding his first regular-season home run since Sept. 7 of last season. The Dodger rookie then crushed a ninth-inning delivery from Boone Logan, depositing it 421 feet and into the right-field seats. Naturally, Bellinger has as many singles (17) as he does home runs through the first 45 games of his major league career.

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2. Speaking of Zimmerman, he’s doing everything possible to make sure a troubled Nationals bullpen doesn’t have to pitch in any close games. He matched Bellinger with a two-homer game against the Braves in a 10–5 win. As noted by Mark Zuckerman of MASN, Zimmerman’s on pace to finish the season hitting .372 with 48 home runs and 134 RBI.

A scorching last 11 games have helped fuel those numbers as he’s hitting .400 (18-for-45) with six home runs and 13 RBIs. He’s leading two-thirds of the National League triple crown categories, only trailing RBI leader Jake Lamb by five. Zimmerman’s renaissance in his age 32 season has come completely by surprise. He hasn’t eclipsed 26 homers in a season since 2009, which is also the last time he knocked in 100-plus runs. With two more guaranteed years on his contract, the Nationals certainly aren’t complaining about a resurgence they couldn’t have seen coming.

3. Sticking with an offensive theme, the Twins dropped a 20-spot on the Mariners Tuesday night. Minnesota scored seven runs in both the third and seventh innings, setting a franchise record with 28 hits. Funny enough, Seattle actually led the game 3–0 before the Twins’ barrage began.

Four Minnesota players picked up four or more hits, which as SI’s Joe Sheehan pointed out, hasn’t happened since the 2005 Red Sox did it with a group consisting of David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek. The Twins’ 7-8-9 hitters combined to knock in more than half (11) of the team’s runs. Longtime catcher Carlos Ruiz even pitched the eighth inning for the Mariners.

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What you shouldn’t miss

4. Former Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez sounded off about his middle relief role to The Detriot News before Tuesday’s game, complaining about his usage since being unseated as Detriot’s closer last month.

“Am I being judged on 10 outings? What about the other 400-plus saves? What about the almost 1,000 appearances?” Rodriguez asked. “I made my living in tough, pressure situations. I have not made my living being a mop-up guy.”

K-Rod is still sitting on a 6.23 ERA after throwing a scoreless seventh inning, but Tigers manager Brad Ausmus did throw the veteran into a 6–6 game. Current closer Justin Wilson certainly didn’t boost his stock, allowing the Diamondbacks to score the go-ahead run in the ninth of a 7–6 Arizona win. The Tigers’ bullpen situation is certainly worth keep an eye on going forward as the team sits four games out of first in the AL Central.

5. The Astros feature one of baseball’s most dynamic lineups, anchored by middle infielders Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. It’s expected the team’s two most consistent hitters would bat third and fourth, but it’s definitely more unorthodox to have a power-hitting guy like George Springer atop the lineup. He blasted another leadoff home run in Houston’s 4–2 loss to the Rangers, giving him 16 in the last three seasons.

Since he started batting leadoff semi-regularly in 2015, only Charlie Blackmon’s 17 leadoff home runs trump Springer.

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6. Adding injury to a six-game losing streak, the Orioles expect to be without slugging first baseman Chris Davis for the time being while he heals a Grade 1 oblique strain. The Orioles fell 6–1 to the last-place White Sox Tuesday, dropping their runs per game to 2.83 during this six-game skid. Davis might only be hitting .226, but he still remains one of the game’s most threatening sluggers while consistently hitting in the middle of the order. The Orioles now sit a game below .500 and eight games behind the AL East-leading Yankees.

What you need to watch

7. Charlie Blackmon scored from first on a bloop single.

8. In so many ways, this play reflected the state of the Phillies: Miss a home run by inches, get thrown out at home.

9. Manny Machado’s toss across the diamond got an assist from Trey Mancini.

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