Mike Scioscia was so frustrated following the Angels’ extra-inning loss to the Rays last night that Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times describes how “his voice filled with ire … the longer the postgame interview went on.”
In losing for the fifth straight game and falling to 30-34 overall the Angels struck out 11 times and went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position, which caused Scioscia to remark that having today off wasn’t even a positive thing:
I wish we were playing tomorrow, because we need to put our nose to the grindstone and start getting after it. We need to get those tough at-bats, to put the barrel on the ball and play better baseball. This has gone far too long. We need to right this ship. It doesn’t matter if we have Salt Lake coming in, Altoona coming in, or Orem coming in; we’ve got to play better baseball, that’s the bottom line. These guys are better players than this.
Scioscia’s criticism was aimed mostly at the offense, and rightfully so, as the Angels’ pitching staff ranks third in ERA while the lineup ranks 11th in runs. Howie Kendick is the only hitter on the team with an OPS above .800 and the Angels uncharacteristically lead the league in strikeouts after ranking no higher than eighth in any of the previous 10 seasons. And right now they’re on pace for back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1993 and 1994.
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.
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.