Ichiro a ratings hit; a fashion liability

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From the Seattle Times comes word that from midnight to 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day, Japanese TV ran an Ichiro marathon.  But it wasn’t a highlights package per se, it was video of each and every one of his 2,030 Major League hits.  And it got pretty darn good ratings too. Not sure how such a thing would do here, but if they ran, say, every one of Wade Boggs’ or Rod Carew’s hits here I’d probably watch the whole damn show.  I’d certainly tune it in before I’d watch Ryan Seacrest and the corpse of Dick Clark rockin’ in the new year.

The Times’ article, however, brings us some less-happy Ichiro news: he and his wife Yumiko Fukushima are on the outs. Well, that’s not actually “news” — indeed such a thing has not been reported anywhere by anyone — but based on what he was photographed wearing while taking BP in Japan last month, I can only conclude that he no longer has a woman around to tell him when he dresses like a fool:

Ichiro Pants.jpg

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.