Change of plans: Dirk Nowitzki to throw out Game 3 first pitch

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Marc Stein of ESPN Dallas reported yesterday that MLB rejected the Rangers’ request to have Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki throw out the ceremonial first pitch once the World Series moves to Texas.

That led to a lot of angry fans, particularly since MLB’s attempted explanation didn’t really make much sense, and now they’ve changed their mind. Stein reports that MLB has invited Nowitzki to throw out the first pitch before Game 3 on Saturday.

MLB spokesperson Pat Courtney told Stein that commissioner Bud Selig was not involved in the original denial of the Rangers’ request and “ordered the reversal” once he found out. Nowitzki had already taken to Twitter to comment on the rejection, writing that “MLB is too old school” and “I will still be there to support our boys.”

All of which makes MLB’s original decision and initial attempts to explain the rejection all the more confusing, but better late than never I suppose. Sources told Stein that MLB was hesitant to let an NBA player throw out the first pitch because they’re supporting the NBA in the ongoing lockout, but Courtney denied that. Of course, he also said that Nowitzki lacked the “good broad-base national appeal” to be a first-pitch candidate, so who knows.

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.