Giants non-tender midseason pickup Ryan Garko

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San Francisco acquired Ryan Garko from Cleveland at midseason in an effort to boost one of the league’s worst lineups, but Garko hit just .235/.307/.330 in 40 games and tonight the Giants non-tendered him rather than pay what likely would have been around $2 million via arbitration.
Garko is mediocre against right-handers and crushes left-handers, so he’s a better fit as a platoon player than an everyday starter, but he certainly could have done a passable job for the Giants in 2010 at a modest salary. Based on his .313/.392/.495 career line against lefties alone he’ll have no trouble finding regular work and by letting him go the Giants essentially get zero value out of Scott Barnes, the solid mid-level pitching prospect traded to the Indians.
Pablo Sandoval’s ability to play either first base or third base gives the Giants some flexibility when it comes to bringing in another veteran bat, with Chris Haft of MLB.com reporting that they’re interested in Mark DeRosa, Nick Johnson, and Adam LaRoche. All three figure to be more expensive than Garko, perhaps by quite a bit, and only Johnson is likely to be significantly better at the plate.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.