Teams are inquiring about Alfonso Soriano for some reason

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Ken Rosenthal says that teams are “kicking the tires” on Alfonso Soriano. I can only assume this means that they are kicking in anger, like you might kick the tires of your car when it breaks down on the side of the road. Not like you would when you were considering an investment in a quality used automobile.

Which leads me to ask: what, if anything, does kicking the tires on a car actually do? Is the car supposed to fall over if it’s no good? Is there a certain satisfying sound you’re supposed to get, not unlike when you plunk a melon in the grocery store?  Also: if I ask to look under the hood but I know nothing about cars, is there something specific I should pretend to do so the salesman doesn’t take me for the rube I am?  So many questions.

Back to Soriano: he’s owed $54 million over the next three years. People say stuff like “if the Cubs were to eat most of his salary …” but, really, even then, who wants Soriano?  He’s probably a DH at best now, and even then he’s a bit-of-power/no-OBP skills option.

Which of course means that the Braves will probably get him and stick him in left field. God, why do I bother to think these things through?

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.