The most hilarious thing in Braves Country over the past few days has been reporters who cover the team acting as if it was a big mystery as to whether or not Jeff Francoeur would make the roster. Today was the deadline for the Braves to decide what to do with him — he was due a roster bonus at noon that they would not have wanted to pay if they planned to cut him — and as late as 9am there was some “will he or won’t he” afoot in the Atlanta media. Then, a few minutes ago, the Braves announced that he was going to be on the Opening Day roster. Congratulations, Frenchy.
In reality this was never in doubt. Barring injury, Francoeur was going to make this team. He’s popular in Atlanta and he’s one of the few guys casual Braves fans might actually be able to pick out of a lineup. And hey, he’s a nice guy and a good clubhouse presence who, unlike the Jeff Francoeur of a decade ago, knows where he stands in the universe. As I said when he made the Phillies last year, a team going nowhere is well-served to have dudes like Francoeur around. Limited rewards but no risk and, heck, he’ll throw an inning of relief for you. Better him than some injury prone dude or a two-year commitment to a guy who, while a bit better, wouldn’t be significantly better.
Last year I vowed to buy a Jeff Francoeur Phillies shirsey if he made their team. He did and I did. Now I have to buy a Braves Francoeur shirsey. I’m going to wait until Opening Day because there’s a slight chance his number changes between now and then, but it’ll be in-transit to me soon.
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.
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.