Don Mattingly has the Midas touch

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Jerry Hairston Jr. played in 1,289 major league games leading up to Sunday. In none of them was he ever penciled into the third spot in the lineup.

Well, of course, Don Mattingly did it today after never hitting him higher than fifth previously this season. And all Hairston did was respond with his first career five-hit day in the Dodgers’ 5-1 victory over the Astros.

Hairston hadn’t had as much as a four-hit game since 2008 before today’s outburst. He ended up with four singles and a double, and he now has a .381 average in 63 at-bats on the season. Today’s game was just his third back from a DL stint caused by a hamstring strain.

Hairston is certainly playing way over his head at the moment, but that goes for a number of Dodgers. Chris Capuano picked up win No. 7 today, tying him for the major league lead. Catcher A.J. Ellis is playing like an All-Star, and his backup, the normally light-hitting Matt Treanor, homered in his second straight game today. Even Elian Herrera, whom no one had heard of three weeks ago, is batting .342. It’s looking like a charmed year for the team in L.A., and Mattingly will skate to NL Manager of the Year honors if this keeps up.

Anibal Sanchez accepts optional assignment to Triple-A

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The Tigers announced on Monday that pitcher Anibal Sanchez has accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Pitcher Warwick Saupold was recalled from Toledo to take Sanchez’s roster spot.

Sanchez, 33, continued to struggle this season pitching out of the bullpen. He gave up 26 runs (21 earned) on 34 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. Nine of those 34 hits were home runs. Sanchez finished the 2015 season with a 4.99 ERA and last season with a 5.87 ERA, so he’s had a rough go of it in recent years.

The decision to go to Triple-A was Sanchez’s, Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reports. Sanchez wants to be stretched out as a starting pitcher again.

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.