Bartolo Colon is delivering for the Yankees

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I laughed when the Yankees signed Bartolo Colon. A lot of people did. I figured that he’d come to camp, not make the team, get assigned to extended spring training in Tampa and — as he has done a couple of times in recent years — decide that he’d prefer to be back home doing whatever it is he does with his free time rather than playing baseball.

I certainly couldn’t have been more wrong about something than I was about that. Colon thrived in spring training. Despite out-pitching Freddy Garcia, he willingly and seemingly happily accepted his role as a long reliever when the season began.  Each time he came in — usually for the faltering Phil Hughes — he was effective.  And yesterday, making his first start on the year he was effective again: he allowed two runs and five hits in six and two-thirds innings, picking up his first win in nearly two years.

Overall on the year Colon has struck out 20 batters in 18 innings against five walks.  The only question about him at the moment is his durability, but so far he’s done everything he’s been asked to do and he’s done it well. If his season ended tomorrow for some reason he has already provided a valuable boost to the Yankees.

Not bad, Bartolo.  Please, accept my apologies for the laughter.

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.