Brewers just barely pretending that Livan Hernandez is still a pitcher

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There’s a long story about all the things Livan Hernandez brings to the Brewers in today’s Journal-Sentinel.

There’s an extended bit about how he’s jovial and well-liked and can help hitters figure out how pitchers pitch them and stuff. Normally such a person is called a coach, but that’s OK.  But really, Doug Melvin, tell us about Livan’s pitching prowess:

“He’s a veteran guy who can take the ball,” said general manager Doug Melvin. “He can take the abuse if he has to on certain nights, but we also think he can get people out. He gives you a little bit different look for our bullpen, too.”

Parsing:

He’s a veteran guy: “That’s a factual statement. I would technically be lying if I claimed Hernandez to be a rookie.”

Who can take the ball: “He is not insubordinate and has at least one hand.”

He can take the abuse if he has to on certain nights: “On other nights he can’t take the inevitable abuse he will receive. Really, it’s about coping for him.”

But we also think he can get people out: “It’s a bonus if he does the one job the pitcher is supposed to do. Gravy, really.”

He gives you a little bit different look for our bullpen, too: “Indeed, we haven’t had anyone with his distinct look since we sent Bob Wickman away in the Richie Sexson deal.”

After the interview, Melvin found the media relations guy and fined him $50 for making him actually answer questions about the value a castoff mopup man brings to the team.

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.