Jeff Luhnow: “We will outperform the expectations”

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Danny Knobler spoke with Astros’ general manager Jeff Luhnow about the outlook for his rebuilding team:

Everyone is talking about the Astros, and the only topic is how bad everyone is convinced they’re going to be. “We will outperform the expectations,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said with some confidence, and also with a smile.

I’ve done a dozen or so radio spots in the past couple of weeks and the Astros have come up in five of them. Each time the host asks me “so, how bad are these Astros gonna be?” with his suggested answer being something like “historically awful, or rift-in-the-space-time-continuum awful?” I’ve had people suggest to me with a straight face that this could be a 120-loss team.

I don’t think the Astros are going to be good. Not even a little bit. But there’s no way on Earth they’re going to be as bad as a lot of people think they are because people are thinking they’re going to be one of the two or three worst teams of all time.

Just playing the odds here and suggesting that I’d take the under if you put the over/under on their losses at “1962 Mets” because that kind of thing just doesn’t happen very often.

 

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.