The chants were not sustained, but they were loud, and they were joyous.
“M-V-P,” the Dodger Stadium crowd chanted. On the day the Dodgers put the last player to win a most-valuable-player award for them on the disabled list, the kid who rescued their summer did it again.
On the first day of life without Clayton Kershaw, rookie Cody Bellinger put the Dodgers on his shoulders. With the Dodgers five outs from a defeat, Bellinger hit his 28th home run, a three-run shot that powered the team to a 6-4 victory Monday over the Minnesota Twins.
The crowd chanted for a curtain call. Bellinger obliged, with a nudge from Enrique Hernandez.
“They don’t do that very often in L.A.,” Hernandez said.
And does it really make sense that a 22-year-old who started the season in the minor leagues should be in the MVP conversation?
“It doesn’t make sense to me why they don’t talk about it more often,” Hernandez said. “People talk about how the MVP should come from a winning team. We’re a winning team, and he’s been our X factor.”
And, really, Bellinger might not have even had the best story on this night. The winning pitcher was Edward Paredes, making his major league debut at 30, in his 12th professional season.
Paredes posed for pictures at his locker afterward, holding a game ball and wearing a wide smile. He said he heard the announcement that it was his debut. “Other than that, I didn’t hear anything,” he said through an interpreter.
Paredes played in the independent Atlantic League for three years, a fact that belies the national label that the Dodgers’ success is all about the money. The Dodgers acquired Paredes in December, in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. The price? $24,000.
It is difficult to imagine that the Dodgers could lose Kershaw and still not list starting pitching as their greatest need on the eve of the trade deadline, but it might well be true.
Manager Dave Roberts told The Times last week that he had no preference as to whether the Dodgers should trade for a starter or a setup man, but he did have one request. “Wipeout lefty,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers had nursed Hyun-Jun Ryu through five innings, and they had taken a 3-2 lead. The Twins had left-handed batters lined up for the sixth, so the Dodgers turned to left-hander Grant Dayton. The first left-handed batter, Eddie Rosario, hit a home run, tying the score 3-3. The second left-handed batter doubled.
That made the eighth inning one of the most intriguing. Paredes, a left-hander, said he did not believe it when his minor league pitching coach told him he was getting called up.
“Now I have the opportunity to show the world what I can do,” he said.
Paredes retired three batters in order. He got the victory when Bellinger, who has worked with Justin Turner on recognizing and hitting breaking balls, got a hanging breaking ball from Taylor Rogers and crushed it, one pitch after getting a hanging breaking ball from Rogers, pulling it foul and showing frustration.
“Fortunately for us,” Roberts said, “he threw the same pitch.”