Royals could go to Kendall in No. 2 spot

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Not that manager Trey Hillman’s lineup is going to make or break the Royals offense this year — it’s already obviously broken — but Jason Kendall has hit second the last two days and could be an option there in the regular season.
For what it’s worth, Hillman told the Kansas City Star that no one had an early lead on the spot, but he’s clearly considering his light-hitting backstop.
“I know his numbers have gone down the last three years, but we’re trying to get him to focus on keeping the ball out of the air,” Hillman said. “He can still handle the bat, and he’s pretty efficient in his bunting game. So that’s one thing we’re looking at.”
Kendall, as everyone knows, has been one of the game’s worst hitters the last three years. He batted .246/.327/.324 and .251/.331/.305 in his two years with the Brewers, and those OBPs were aided by 13 intentional walks, presumably all of which came with the pitcher on deck. He also tends to ground into a lot of double plays when he gets the chance, something that’s a terrible quality for a No. 2 hitter. He led the AL in that category in 2005 with 26.
It should be obvious that Kendall is a No. 8 or No. 9 hitter if he has to be in the lineup at all. Yet all indications are that Hillman hasn’t learned his lesson. The Royals last year got a disgusing .236/.278/.329 line out of their No. 2 hitters, with Willie Bloomquist and Mitch Maier receiving much of the time there. Having David DeJesus bat second and Billy Butler third seems like the Royals’ best option this year.

Zach Britton receives stem cell injection, likely done for the season

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Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.

The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.

Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.

Dodgers can clinch NL West on Friday

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The Dodgers staved off a four-game series sweep at the hands of the Phillies, winning 5-4 on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. The win reduced their magic number in the NL West to one, meaning that a win against the Giants at home or a Diamondbacks loss to the Marlins on Friday will result in clinching the division.

Of course, the Dodgers winning and the Diamondbacks losing hasn’t exactly been a sure thing lately. The D-Backs rattled off a 13-game winning streak from August 24 through September 6. The Dodgers lost 11 games in a row from September 2-11 and were on a four-game slide before Thursday’s win.

The Dodgers will send Rich Hill to the mound to start opposite Jeff Samardzija. The Diamondbacks have Zack Greinke opposing Adam Conley.