Cole Hamels will probably think twice before fishing on Roy Oswalt’s property again

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Cole Hamels has allowed four runs across 20 innings over his last three starts, lowering his ERA from 2.51 to 2.40 for the year. The unlikely secret to his recent success? Poison oak.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, Hamels contracted poison oak on both of his legs while fishing on teammate Roy Oswalt’s property in Unionville, Missouri during an off-day on June 20. While Oswalt had the presence of mind to wear long pants, Hamels paid the price for wearing shorts.

“It didn’t work out too well for me,” Hamels said, smiling. “I don’t know if I’ll be fishing on (Oswalt’s) property without (long) pants on anytime soon.”

Hamels described the pain as “razor blades on the back of my legs every time I’d take a step.” The 27-year-old southpaw took quite a bit of ribbing from his teammates, but was able to pitch through the condition for subsequent starts against the Athletics on June 25 and the Red Sox on June 30 before his symptoms finally began to ease this past Tuesday against the Marlins.

Hamels, who was just named to his second All-Star team, is 10-4 with a 2.40 ERA over 18 starts this season. His 0.95 WHIP is the lowest in the National League.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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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.

Report: Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman initiate Marlins’ staff cuts

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A report from Barry Jackson and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reveals that prospective Marlins’ owners Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman have already initiated several key firings within the organization. While the sale of the team is still pending final approval next month, Jeter reportedly pushed club president David Samson to remove four special assistants this week: Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, Jack McKeon and Jeff Conine.

Hall of Fame infielder Dawson, outfielder Perez and Marlins’ legend Conine served as special assistants to the president. McKeon, who served as team manager from 2003-2005 (and briefly in 2011), was terminated from a 12-year post as special assistant to owner Jeffrey Loria.

The move didn’t come as a big surprise to Dawson and McKeon, Jackson and Spencer noted. It’s part and parcel of dealing with new ownership. But it was disappointing news nonetheless, especially as the long-tenured McKeon might lose an opportunity to return next September to manage one game and cement his status as the oldest manager in MLB history.

Should the Marlins’ sale go through in October as expected, this figures to be the beginning of several cuts. Per Jackson and Spencer:

Jeter also is expected to fire some people on the baseball side of the operation, though it’s believed president/baseball operations Michael Hill will be retained, at least indefinitely if not permanently.

Any replacements for those already released from the team have yet to be announced.