And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Padres 3, Dodgers 2:
Oscar Salazar had a pinch-hit walkoff single. During the game they
traded for Miguel Tejada and got $1 million in the deal from Baltimore.
Tejada is “meh” but I hope they went out for a party on that million
bucks after the game. I also hope they continued to wear the awesome
throwback mustard and brown jerseys after the game ended, because that
would make the party really hop.

Marlins 5, Giants 0: Anibal Sanchez was almost untouchable: CG, SHO 1 H, 1 BB, 8K.  Buster Posey’s hitting streak ends. The Giants should totally protest this one, though. Jorge Cantu reached twice and scored twice even though he was basically traded already as the game was going on. Let’s create an unwritten rule about that, in fact, shall we?

Nationals 5, Braves 3: I only made up that rule above so we can somehow include Adam Dunn and Matt Capps in it. I mean, sure, I know they weren’t traded during the game or anything, but Capps was traded a mere seven or eight hours after the game ended and there have been a moderate amount of rumors about Dunn, so the Nationals should have sat them out of an abundance of caution. Why no, it has nothing to do with the fact that Dunn hit a homer and Capps got the save in a game in which my rooting interest was on the losing end. Why do you ask?

Mets 4, Cardinals 0: R.A. Dickey shuts down the Cards. Where the hell has this season come from for this guy?  He couldn’t get anyone out in his previous big league stints and wasn’t even all that sharp in the minors, and now he’s 7-4 with a 2.32 ERA. I love guys like this.

Phillies 3, Diamondbacks 2: On a day they get Roy Oswalt for a song in terms of both talent and cash, they get a walkoff win in the 11th inning too. Phillies get everything they want [kicks at stuff, pouts]. For the Dbacks, Joe Saunders had a better start than any Dan Haren has had since July 4th.

Yankees 11, Indians 4: It’s pretty telling when your most effective pitcher of the night is an infielder. That was the case for Cleveland, who pressed Andy Marte into service in ninth inning of a rout. Dude threw a scoreless inning, striking out Nick Swisher. He’s had about 100 chances to stick as a third baseman in various places. Why not try to make a career out of being a mop-up man?

Rays 4, Tigers 2: The Tigers are skidding out of control. David Price gets his 14th win.

Rockies 9, Pirates 3: Ubaldo Jimenez gets his 16th win to help the Rockies snap their eight-game skid.  One more win and he ties the Rockies’ franchise record.

Orioles 6, Royals 5: Kansas City has lost 14 of 17. This bad stretch began at almost the exact moment everyone started talking about how Ned Yost had the team turned around and flying right and all that jazz. Damndest thing.

White Sox 9, Mariners 5: I was on 950 KJR in Seattle last night as this game was going on. Before they called me, I did a quick brushup on the Mariners because, hey, you never know. As soon as my spot started the host said “Mariners are playing the White Sox, but we are NOT going to talk about them because no one wants to hear anything that depressing,” or words pretty close to that. I can see that.  Two home runs for Raul Castro, by the way.

Rangers 7, Athletics 4: The Rangers complete a nice 5-2 homestand against the two teams who think they can challenge them. Only disappointment: Jorge Cantu didn’t hop a flight and pull the “two games in one day for two different teams” stunt. Because that woulda been cool.

What in the heck is Derek Jeter doing with the Marlins?

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Last night we linked the Miami Herald story about the Marlins firing special assistants Jeff Conine, Andre Dawson, Tony Perez and Jack McKeon. Let’s talk about that a little bit.

The firings themselves are eyebrow-raising inasmuch as “special assistants” like that are rarely key front office personnel. Former players, Hall of Famers and former managers like those guys are really ambassadors for the team and, particularly in the case of Jeff Conine, who is known as “Mr. Marlin,” why would new ownership want to kick its ambassadors to the curb? It’s not like you can just hire a bunch of new franchise legends for he role. Who ya gonna call? Dan Uggla?

Sure, I can see an argument for changing their responsibilities. If they actually had say in baseball operations, I can see new ownership wanting to relieve them of those duties. It’s also possible that Jeff Loria paid them too much money for guys who are only team ambassadors. So, sure, if the job is too cushy by the standards of the gig, I could see Jeter cutting their pay or their duties to make it conform to what other clubs do with their former stars. Maybe that makes them want to quit. If so, that’s OK I suppose.

Beyond that, however, it’s hard to see why you would NOT want guys like Conine, Dawson, Perez and McKeon to represent your club in the community and in the service of impressing prospective season ticket holders. The franchise’s first star player, a Hall of Famer who ended his career with the club, another Hall of Famer who is from Cuba (which is kind of a big deal in a place like Miami) and the manager who brought the club its last World Series championship are exactly who you want to represent your team. Especially when nearly everything else about your team has, for so very long, alienated the very public you want supporting it.

But let’s say, for the moment, that there was a good reason to fire those guys. Let’s say they’re all flaming jackwagons who have secretly poisoned the franchise from within. Let’s say that, despite his grandfatherly charm, Jack McKeon is a ruthless Machiavellian. Let’s say that Conine, Dawson and Perez beat up copy boys in the stairwells and microwave leftover fish in the break room every day. Even if that’s the case, how does this happen?

And here’s the twist: Jeter asked Marlins president David Samson to fire those four Marlins luminaries for him, because Jeter didn’t want to do it.

Even more strange, Jeter made the request after telling Samson what he already knew: that Samson would not be returning as team president.

It seems that Samson did carry out the firings. Unless some handsome severance package was being held hostage over it, I’m not sure how Samson doesn’t tell Jeter, “Hey Captain RE2PECT, know what? Up yours, you do it yourself.” Of course, one can only project one’s own sensibility on a guy like David Samson so much, so let’s cut him a bit of slack here. We don’t know how the conversation went. Maybe Samson was happy to tell those guys to hit the bricks.

But really, how doesn’t Jeter man-up and handle this himself? It’s not because he’s not yet officially the owner, because if he has the power to fire Samson, he has the power to fire Conine and his friends. Maybe there is more to this than the Herald story lets on, but as it stands now, it comes off as cowardice on Jeter’s part. It’s a really bad look.

I’ll be curious to see how this plays in the baseball establishment over the next couple of days. Everyone — particularly the press — loves Derek Jeter an credits him with a class, smoothness and media savvy matched by few others. This, though, was either (a) a failure of class and an act of disrespect to baseball luminaries; or (b) a complete bungling of public relations, serving to make what was, in reality, a reasonable move appear classless. It has to be one or the other.

Derek Jeter has been a teflon star for more than two decades, but two of the few things the media loves more than Derek Jeter are (a) old Baseball Men like McKeon, Dawson, Perez and Conine; and (b) “classiness.” It’ll be interesting to see if, for the first time in his professional life, the media gets its knives out for Derek Jeter for seeming content to dispense with both.

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.