The SoftBank Hawks are interested in Kenshin Kawakami

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The Braves took Kenshin Kawakami out of their rotation last year, and last week they demoted him to Double-A. The hope was that they could find someone — possibly an NPB team — to take him and pick up some of his $6.67 million salary for 2011.  They may have a sucker — er, I mean a taker — for Kawakami: The SoftBank Hawks of the Pacific League.

I’m not terribly knowledgeable about Japanese baseball, but I do remember that the Hawks were the team — managed by the great Sadaharu Oh — who went out of their way to keep American Tuffy Rhodes and Venezuelan Alex Cabrera from breaking Oh’s single-season home run record by refusing to throw them strikes down the stretch.

While Oh is no longer the Hawks’ manager, if the team ever finds a need to not throw strikes again for some reason, Kawakami should come in handy.

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.