Yankees find their platoon bat in Marcus Thames

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For much of the offseason the assumption has been that the Yankees would sign a right-handed bat to platoon with Brett Gardner or Randy Winn in left field, and now SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports that they’ve found their man in Marcus Thames.
Thames actually came up through the Yankees’ farm system after being a 30th-round pick in 1996, but New York traded him to Texas for Ruben Sierra in mid-2003 and then Detroit signed him off the scrap heap a short time later.
He’s spent the past six seasons as a part-time player for the Tigers, getting around 350 plate appearances per year against primarily left-handed pitching. Thames has elite raw power, averaging 33 homers per 500 at-bats, but has hit just .234 with an ugly .291 on-base percentage against right-handers during his career.
However, the Yankees have plenty of left-handed bats to plug into the lineup against righties and will simply need Thames to knock around left-handed pitching, which he’s done to the tune of .256/.329/.516. Right now it looks like Winn and Gardner will compete for the left field job, with the winner forming a platoon with the 32-year-old Thames and the loser serving as fourth outfielder.

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.