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.

Tigers, Royals to play a regular season game in Omaha next year

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Major League Baseball announced today that the Kansas City Royals and the Detroit Tigers will play a regular season game in Omaha, Nebraska next year to open the festivities for the College World Series.

The game will be played on Thursday, June 13, 2019 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha two days before the first game of the Series. It will be televised nationally by ESPN. TD Ameritrade Park has a seating capacity of 24,000, with the ability to expand to 35,000 spectators. Which, um, probably means this will be one of the larger crowds for the Royals next year if the club’s current trajectory continues.

This will be the fourth small-park, special occasion regular season game for Major League Baseball in recent years. hIn July 2016 the Atlanta Braves and the Miami Marlins played at Fort Bragg, North Carolina for service members. Last August the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals played in the inaugural Little League Classic, which took place at Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. There will be a second Little League Classic in Williamsport this August between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets.