Jim Tracy on Ian Stewart: “He’s either going to play his way in or play his way off the team”

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Demoting their starting third baseman of the past two seasons to Triple-A because of a bad first two weeks was a pretty strong indication that the Rockies have soured on Ian Stewart and yesterday manager Jim Tracy made that even more obvious.

When asked why Stewart batted eighth in the Rockies’ lineup, Tracy told Troy Renck of the Denver Post:

I don’t want Ian to hit eighth. But unfortunately he’s not giving me much choice. We are getting to the point with him that’s it time for him to fish or cut bait. He’s either going to play his way in or play his way off the team.

There’s no spinning how bad Stewart has been this season, going 3-for-41 (.073) with 17 strikeouts, but 41 horrendous at-bats are still just 41 at-bats and he came into the season as a 26-year-old with a .782 OPS in 1,282 plate appearances.

At this point it might be best for everyone involved if the Rockies find a trade for Stewart.

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.