And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Dodgers 6, Phillies 4: Six straight wins for the Dodgers as Yasiel Puig singled home the tying and go-ahead runs in the seventh inning. Puig also smacked into the scoreboard in right field, so he’s basically Bryce Harper in multiple respects. That seventh inning rally was occasioned by the bases being loaded on a walk, a bunt which Ryan Howard muffed to allow the bunter to reach and then another walk. Then Puig did his stuff.

Cubs 7, Brewers 2: Series like Cubs-Brewers are, at this point, primarily scouting combines in anticipation of the trade deadline. And Matt Garza was the equivalent of that defensive end wearing Under Armor spandex while creepy dudes like Mel Kiper talk about their “long-bodies” and “great wingspan.” He struck out ten in seven innings while allowing one run on eight hits with a walk.

Diamondbacks 3, Nationals 2: Remember that scene in “The Natural” where Roy Hobbs’ winning blast caused the light tower to explode in spark and flame? Well, that happened at Nats park yesterday except (a) the road team won; and (b) the winning hit in the ninth 11th was a bunt. Two bunts actually won it. Miguel Montero hit a ground rule double, Cody Ross bunted his pinch runner to third and Didi Gregorius “knocked” in the go-ahead run with a bunt single. Then he was transported to a wheat field where he played catch with his illegitimate son as Glen Close watched over them lovingly. Or something.

Angels 3, Tigers 1: Albert Pujols with an RBI double in the tenth that provided the winning margin. The Angels have beat the Tigers for the ninth straight time. Guys Tigers fans love to hate did well. Jeff Weaver — who got all plunky with Tigers hitters last year — allowed one run in seven innings. Mike Trout — who many Tigers fans have decided to hate because how dare someone suggest Miguel Cabrera have competition for the MVP last year?! — was 4 for 5 yesterday and 8 for 16 in the series with a homer, two doubles and five RBI.

Orioles 7, Indians 3: Down 3-2 in the fifth the O’s scored five of their own. Manny Machado was ejected arguing that a third strike was really a foul ball. That ended a streak of 1,206 innings played, which was the longest active streak in the bigs. Lonnie Chisenhall on the O’s quick strike for five:

“It happened so fast, same thing last night,” said Chisenhall. “It’s the way the AL East plays. Runs just show up on the board.”

Damndest thing, that.

Mets 3, Rockies 2: The makeup game from a snow-out back in April. Marlon Byrd hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning and threw out a runner from right field in the ninth. The guy he nailed on the base paths? Michael Cuddyer, who was trying to stretch a single into a double. He still had three hits on the day, though, and extended his hitting streak to 24 games. That’s a Rockies record.

Rangers 2, Yankees 0: Derek Holland with the Maddux, shutting out the Bombers — if we can call this lineup the “Bombers” — on 92 pitches.

Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 4: John Lester got a much-needed win — only his second in eight starts — but left the game in the eighth when he jammed his hip. A seven-run second inning for the Sox pretty much sewed this game up early, however.

Twins 3, Royals 1: Samuel Deduno allowed one run over seven innings, walking only one. Which is a big deal for him, because he’s usually walktastic.

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.