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Cody Bellinger sets major league record with 21 home runs through first 51 games

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Cody Bellinger boosted the Dodgers’ lead from 1-0 to 4-0 with a three-run home run against Mets starter Zack Wheeler in the first inning. In doing so, he tied the major league record as the fastest to reach 20 home runs. Bellinger, Gary Sanchez (2016), and Wally Berger (1930) each needed 51 games. Bellinger set a new record in the second inning, belting a solo homer off of Wheeler to boost the Dodgers’ lead to 7-0.

Bellinger didn’t make his major league debut until April 25. Still, Monday’s first-inning homer moved him into a tie with the Brewers’ Eric Thames for the National League lead in home runs at 20. His second-inning blast moved him into the NL lead and tied him with Logan Morrison for second-most overall. Aaron Judge leads with 23.

Bellinger entered Monday’s action batting .261/.333/.628 with 43 RBI, 37 runs scored, and four stolen bases in 210 plate appearances. Pretty good numbers from a guy the Dodgers expected to send back to the minor leagues once their other outfielders got back to full health.

Dodgers plan to tab Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of World Series

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MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the Dodgers plan to tab ace Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 of the World Series. Nothing is set in stone yet ahead of Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series. In the event Kershaw can’t start Game 1, Rich Hill would start. Otherwise, Hill would start Game 4.

Kershaw, started Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLCS against the Brewers, then closed out Game 7 with a flawless inning. He was hit around to the tune of five runs (four earned) over three-plus innings in Game 1, but rebounded for seven innings of one-run ball in Game 5. He struck out two en route to sending the Dodgers to the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 7.

Kershaw also tossed eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS. Overall, he has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings this postseason. There was no doubt who would be the Dodgers’ first choice to start Game 1, but it’s a relatively recent situation where the ace of a team also closed out the final game of the previous series.

Hill has put up a 2.61 ERA in 10 1/3 innings this postseason. While he doesn’t have Kershaw’s pedigree, the Dodgers would be confident having him lead off the series. Hill was excellent down the stretch last year, helping the Dodgers reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.

The Red Sox plan to start Chris Sale in Game 1 now that he’s recovered from a brief stint in the hospital due to a stomach ailment. The lefty has a 3.48 in 10 1/3 innings in the playoffs this year. He’s among a handful of candidates for the AL Cy Young award after posting a 2.11 ERA in the regular season, but his lack of innings (158) may hurt him.