Don’t sleep on Clayton Kershaw for the NL Cy Young Award

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Some assumed that R.A. Dickey wrapped up the National League Cy Young Award when he got his 20th win Thursday against the Pirates, but Clayton Kershaw is making things interesting.

Kershaw absolutely dominated the Rockies last night by striking out 10 over eight shutout innings as part of an 8-0 victory. The defending Cy Young Award winner was skipped in the rotation earlier this month due to a nagging hip injury, but he has allowed one run in 13 innings over two starts since returning.

Kershaw is just 13-9 on the year, so he isn’t getting as much attention as Dickey and Gio Gonzalez, but he currently ranks first in the National League with a 2.58 ERA. Dickey is at 2.69. Kershaw also has 221 strikeouts on the year, just one behind Dickey for the National League lead. Meanwhile, Gonzalez and Dickey are second and 14th respectively among qualified NL starters in run support while Kershaw ranks 35th.

Dickey has some really strong numbers to go along with an outstanding story and Gonzalez has the edge in wins to go along with a 2.89 ERA and 207 strikeouts, so they still probably deserve to be the favorites, but Kershaw isn’t giving up the Cy Young Award — or the Dodgers’ flickering playoff hopes — without a fight.

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.