Bobby Valentine goes to pinch-hitter with 2-2 count

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Bobby Valentine’s quotes and actions have gotten more erratic by the day. If he isn’t complaining about Alfredo Aceves and the rest of his “weakest roster ever,” he’s making a bizarre in-game choice, like inserting pinch-hitters mid-at-bat.

That’s what he did in the seventh inning of a scoreless game today against the Blue Jays. Valentine opted to stick with a .071-hitting Jose Iglesias with a man on first and two outs in the top of the frame. However, after Pedro Ciriaco stole second base, Valentine had a change of heart, inserting Daniel Nava into the game with a 2-2 count on the hitter.

Nava, predictably, grounded out to end the frame, and the Red Sox went on to lose 5-0.

Now, the Red Sox were 66-80 anyway. They’re certainly at the point of the season at which they should be evaluating youngsters. No, that one at-bat isn’t going to tell us much more about Iglesias than we already know (he’s not ready to hit in the majors), but if you’re going to let him start it, then you sure as hell ought to let him finish it.

Instead, Valentine chose to embarrass his young shortstop nationally. Make no mistake: he knew when he made that move that the Boston media was going to take it and run with it. No, maybe it won’t make Sportscenter, but everyone in the baseball community was going to notice it. Blown out of proportion or not, the Red Sox manager made a statement that he has no faith at all in Iglesias’ ability to hit.

At this point, it’s really a sick joke that the Red Sox haven’t fired Valentine. Everyone assumes it’s coming as soon as the season ends anyway, so why keep up the charade?

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.