A lot of people were wrong about Brandon Beachy

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I was one of them.

Rookie right-hander Brandon Beachy came off the disabled list on Wednesday to strike out a career-high 11 batters in six innings against the Blue Jays.  The only run off him came courtesy of Jose Bautista’s major league-high 22nd homer.

Beachy, who missed a month with a strained left oblique, moved to 2-1 with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP in nine starts this season.  In 12 starts since debuting last year, he has a 3.17 ERA.

Now, one doesn’t have to dig very hard to come up with pitchers who have started off their careers with a handful of good starts and quickly faded from there.  Some guys have just enough deception in their deliveries or a tricky enough breaking ball to excel once around the league and then fall apart soon thereafter.

Still, most of those guys weren’t striking out batters like Beachy has so far.  He has 72 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings as a major leaguer.  This year, he has a 57/14 K/BB ratio in 50 1/3 innings.

That’s exceptionally encouraging, and it suggests that Beachy is here so stay.  His fastball isn’t outstanding at 90-94 mph, but he has four legitimate pitches and very good command.  Since I didn’t see a true outpitch, I viewed him as maybe a fifth starter and more likely a middle reliever entering this season.  Now he looks much more like a legitimate No. 3.

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.