And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 3, Braves 1: If, before last night, you said “on Monday the Braves are going to start a minor league swingman who has never thrown a pitch in the bigs against the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park and Philly will only score three runs,” I would have been fairly shocked and ultimately pleased, as far as it goes. But it could have been Greg Maddux v.1995 and it wouldn’t have made a difference because the Braves bats were just terrible. Not to take anything away from Cole Hamels, who was excellent, but Atlanta had its chances, but just hit into double plays and stranded guys and made bad errors and that’s pretty much the story of the last month.

By the way, I was amused at all of the “LoL! Braves suck!” sentiment from Philly fans on Twitter last night. Yes, my friends; the two-time defending National League Champions hung three whole runs on something called “Brandon Beachy” and the second string of the Braves bullpen. Clearly, your rooting interest was fearsome in its triumph. But hey, at least you Philly people have your own version of The Gimp.

Yankees 8, Rays 6: Curtis Granderson hit two homers, but each time the ball was devoured by the giant, insatiable head of the horrible, mammoth Steinbrenner Monument, which — due to its sheer mass — violated multiple laws of thermodynamics, came to life and sought something on which to feed. Just looking at it I can hear that “Xanadu: the costliest monument a man has built to himself!” voice-over running though my head over and over.

Marlins 4, Cardinals 0: Chris Volstad with the five-hit shutout. All the scoring came on a Brad Davis grand slam in the second. This one only lasted one hour and fifty-two minutes, allowing those in attendance to catch the whole game and still make it to the early bird special to steal Sweet N Low packets or whatever it is people who like to eat dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon to save a couple of bucks do in Florida.

Orioles 4, Red Sox 2: When Daisuke Matsuzaka dies, they’ll reprint a box score like this one instead of writing an actual obituary, because it pretty much captures his entire essence as a pitcher (6.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 4K, 109 pitches). I got simultaneously bored and annoyed just reading that which, again, captures the essence of Dice-K.

Tigers 7, Royals 5: Yuniesky Betancourt was 4 for 4 with a homer and three RBI in a losing cause, blah, blah, blah . . . I’m more interested in the game story notes: “Brandon Inge’s two strikeouts gave him 1,094 in his career, leaving him five short of Lou Whitaker’s franchise record.”  Lou Whitaker? Really? I know he had longevity on his side but I would have guessed Willie Horton first and then maybe Norm Cash. Seems that they’re fifth and third, respectively, with Al Kaline coming in fourth. Never would have guessed Inge to even be top ten. Then again, if you had asked me before I looked, I never would have said that he’s played for the Tigers since 2001. Someone, please: where in the hell did the last decade go?

Astros 8, Nationals 2: The smallest crowd in the Nats brief history paid to watch the hometown nine throw/drop the ball all over the field, allowing four unearned runs to score in the fifth.

Twins 9, Indians 3: Danny Valencia hit his third homer in the last four games, this one an upper deck shot. But by far the coolest thing going for the Twins last night was that people were sending around this link to this week’s Sports Illustrated cover. I’m not a Twins fan by damn sight and it got me goin’. I’m guessing Aaron will have to take the day off to recover.

Reds 5, Brewers 2: Back-to-back homers by Votto and Rolen break a 2-2 tie and put the Reds back up by seven games. Zee magic number, she is six.

Athletics 3, White Sox 0: That’s seven straight losses for Chicago who, if I let my imagination run wild, I envision all working together to get their manager that job down in Miami that he seems to want. And hey: Boof Bonser sighting: he pitched the seventh and picked up the win, his first in over two years.

Angels 7, Rangers 4: David Murphy went 5 for 5, but it wasn’t enough as the Angels finally gave Jered Weaver some run support. The Rangers can’t clinch in this series, but they can when they move on to Oakland next.

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.