C.J. Wilson gets nod as Opening Day starter for Rangers

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Since the site has been overtaken by Opening Day starter announcements, here’s one more: C.J. Wilson will get the Game 1 assignment for the Rangers.

A year ago at this time Wilson was a reliever trying to convince the Rangers he should get a chance to join the rotation and now he’s the Opening Day starter for the defending American League champs, which speaks to just how impressive he was last season (and also to Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies, of course).

Wilson went 15-8 with a 3.35 ERA in 33 starts despite being exclusively a reliever since mid-2005. He struggled to consistently throw strikes at times, leading the league with 93 walks in 204 innings, but racked up 170 strikeouts and held opponents to a .217 batting average while serving up just 10 homers in 850 plate appearances.

Wilson gets the nod over Colby Lewis, with Brandon Webb, Tommy Hunter, and Derek Holland expected to fill out the rest of the rotation (assuming that Webb is healthy by Opening Day). Texas’ starter on Opening Day last season is actually still on the roster, but Scott Feldman went 7-11 with a 5.48 ERA and is struggling to come back from knee surgery.

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.