Fortunately for the Cardinals, Chris Carpenter got hurt in early March, rather than at the end of the month.
Manager Mike Matheny made the curious decision last month to have Lance Lynn, Kyle McClellan and Mitchell Boggs all prepare as relievers this spring, even though those three guys seemed to be his next best rotation options in case something happened to one of his top five. Sure enough, Carpenter went down with a neck injury, leaving the Cardinals with a decision to make. Now Lynn, who pitched a scoreless inning against the Marlins on Saturday, will transition back to the rotation.
Lynn was a starter in the minors, and he made his first two major league appearances in that role before shifting to the pen and coming up big for the Cardinals last summer and in October. He had a 2.22 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings of relief work.
With a few weeks to go before Opening Day, there’s still plenty of time for Lynn to get ready to throw five or six innings in a first-week start. That wouldn’t have been the case had Carpenter gone down on March 25 instead. So, while things have worked out okay for Matheny, one of his first decisions as Cardinals manager already looks like something of a rookie mistake.
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.