Playoff weather in Minnesota: what are we dealing with here?

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It took less than ten hours from the time the Twins clinched last night until I saw the first blogger make a joke about how funny it will be to see World Series games snowed out in Minnesota.  And really, we’ve been hearing that ever since the first roofless ballpark plans were drawn up for Target Field.

Is there reason for concern? Does Joe Mauer have to worry more about snowblindness than his wonky knee? Will Delmon Young be able to field his position with a North Face Summit Series 800-fill goose down jacket under his jersey?

We’ve covered this before, but let me reiterate: No. There’s no reason to worry. No reason over an above the worry we should always have about such things, anyway. Sure, freak weather can happen in the fall in the upper Midwest, but it can happen anywhere, as the Phillies and Rays learned a couple of years ago.  But the average highs and lows in Minneapolis for late October and early November — while a tad chillier than we’re used to in the playoffs — are not so far removed from the norms in New York or Philly that we should make a big deal about it.

National Weather Service data from 1971-2000 reveals the average highs in Minneapolis range between 57 and 46 degrees for the period covering October 20th through November 5th. Average lows: 32-37.  Average precipitation of any kind .07 inches. The same numbers in Philly: highs 64-58; lows 47-43, precip .08-.10. New York: highs 63-57; lows 49-45, precip..10-.12. Denver: highs 64-56; lows 34-27, precip .03-.04.

Yes, it’s colder in Minneapolis than it is in New York and Philly, but it’s not so extreme that we should freak out about it. If the Rockies make it in we should worry about the Denver weather far more, I think. Partially because of the cold, but also because we all can remember some October Denver Broncos Monday Night Football game going on in a blizzard.

Snow could happen, because snow can always happen. But there’s a decent chance that we’ll get some run of the mill nice fall days turning into chilly, but not unpleasantly chilly, fall nights, even if the Twins make the World Series.

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.