For now at least Koji Uehara remains with the Rangers, but he seems destined to be traded before Opening Day and has already blocked a potential deal that would have sent him to the Blue Jays.
T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com asked Uehara why he vetoed a move to Toronto and the 36-year-old reliever replied:
The weather is an issue. I also know how hard it is to compete in that division.
Uehara is certainly right about the AL East being incredibly difficult, but the fact that he’s reportedly been pushing for a trade that would return him to Baltimore–where he played from 2009 to mid-2011–makes it clear that wouldn’t hold up a trade. Which leaves … well, the weather. I’ve been to Toronto in the summer and it was perfectly lovely with a retractable roof on the ballpark, so that seems a little flimsy to say the least, but the Blue Jays were one of six teams on his no-trade list.
Sullivan speculates that once the Rangers unload Uehara’s $4 million salary they could use that money and the bullpen spot to re-sign left-hander Michael Gonzalez. As for which teams are in the mix for Uehara, the A’s were said to be close to a deal for him last week and Sullivan says the Orioles are still a possibility.
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.