Orioles move struggling Jake Arrieta to the bullpen

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Jake Arrieta got the nod as the Orioles’ Opening Day starter this year, but now he’s bullpen-bound.

The Orioles made the decision after Arrieta gave up a career-high nine runs over four innings in a loss to the Phillies last night. There was talk about sending him down to Triple-A Norfolk, but the O’s want him to work through his struggles at the major league level. At least for now.

Arrieta has only made one relief appearance in pro ball, but he told Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun that he’s on board with the plan.

“I think it’s going to allow me to get a lot of the thoughts and emotions out of my head and when I come into the game just pitch,” Arrieta said shortly after finding out about the move. “My thought process has been way too in depth, and I’ve got way too much going on in my head right now to tweak so many things mechanically rather than going out there and feeling comfortable and executing pitches. That’s what I’m going to be able to do out of the bullpen.”

Arrieta opened this season with a 2.66 ERA across his first three starts, but he has an unsightly 7.71 over his last 10 starts and has lost six straight decisions dating back to May 2. While his velocity is up this year and his peripheral numbers have improved, he has allowed more runs than any pitcher in baseball. His unusually low 56.3 percent strand rate is a big reason for that, but that he’s given up line drives 24 percent of the time suggests opposing batters haven’t had much trouble squaring him up.

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.