Let’s play a game. I’ll give you a real-life baseball scenario, you tell me where it took place:
A 23-year-old third baseman hits a walkoff three-run home run in front of a raucous sellout home crowd.
Gotta be a place like Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, New York, or St. Louis, right? Where sellouts are commonplace and top prospects perform like they’re supposed to. No, that was a scene from PNC Park in Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Pedro Alvarez, 23, has blasted 10 home runs in his first 163 major league at-bats and played the hero on Saturday evening in front of a massive crowd that was aided by the promise of a George Thorogood post-game concert. Dejan Kovaceivc of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote this morning that it was “one of the great finishes in PNC Park history,” and there’s no doubting that.
The Pirates have struggled through some really rough seasons in the past decade and they’re going to finish 2010 with a losing record for the 18th straight year. But Alvarez and players like Andrew McCutchen have allowed the fans in Pittsburgh to imagine a light at the end of the tunnel.
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.
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.