The Phillies may have been the first team to punch their ticket to the postseason earlier this week, but the Tigers became the first team to wrap up their division late last night.
Behind yet another strong performance by Doug Fister, the Tigers defeated the Athletics 3-1 to clinch the American League Central. Detroit is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2006, when they won the American League Wild Card and lost to the Cardinals in the World Series. This is their first division title since 1987, when they played in the American League East.
Fister allowed three hits over eight innings of one-run ball in the victory, striking out five and walking none. Jose Valverde pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his 45th save in 45 chances.
Fister is now 6-1 with a 2.12 ERA and 46/5 K/BB in 59 1/3 innings over nine starts since being acquired from the Mariners before the trade deadline. We all know Justin Verlander has been out of his mind this season, but the Tigers suddenly have themselves a pretty formidable one-two punch for the playoffs.
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.