Blast living in the eastern time zone. For, because I went to bed at a reasonable hour, I missed an unreasonably good pitching matchup: Cliff Lee vs. Matt Cain, each of whom shut the other side out for nine innings. Those nine innings took only one hour and fifty-minutes, by the way.
The difference: Cliff Lee went on to do it for a tenth inning. And he needed only 102 pitches to do it. In completing the tenth inning, Lee was only the fourth guy to do it in the 21st century. Aaron Harang did it once. Mark Mulder did too. Roy Halladay did it twice, naturally. And now Lee.
But sadly it was not enough as the Giants got two more innings of shutout relief while Antonio Bastardo allowed a single, then had a base runner reach on an error and then surrendered a walkoff single to Melky Cabrera, ending the game.
I suppose one could do a half-empty, half-full thing here. The half-empty crowd has to ask how both of these offenses struggled so mightily. Even against a couple of aces, one would hope that hitters would see more pitches than they did (each side needed only 114 pitches to get through 11 innings). One would also have to seriously question Charlie Manuel’s decision to have Freddy Galvis bunt in the tenth inning and then send Jim Thome and John Mayberry to bat when contact was key (there was a runner on third, after all). A strikeout and a flyout ended the threat.
Since I have no vested interest in either team’s offense, however, I’m content to go with the half-full of a a pitching orgy. And, actually, that glass is overflowing, because based on the box score alone this looked awesome. I will spend a good bit of my morning watching the game on replay.
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.