Dee Gordon back with Dodgers, but mostly as pinch-runner

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Dee Gordon was the Dodgers’ starting shortstop from Opening Day through early July, when a torn thumb ligament sent him to the disabled list.

While he was out Los Angeles traded for Hanley Ramirez, leaving Gordon without a job now that he’s finally healthy. He was activated from the 60-day disabled list yesterday, but manager Don Mattingly explained to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that Gordon is unlikely to do much beyond pinch-running down the stretch.

Gordon wasn’t exactly thriving before injuring his thumb, hitting just .229 with a .280 on-base percentage and .282 slugging percentage in 79 games. He did steal 30 bases at a 79 percent clip and made some highlight-worthy plays defensively, but the jury is still out on whether he can be a top-of-the-lineup asset offensively and his overall defensive numbers aren’t pretty.

Or as Mattingly put it:

This is a guy that needs to get on base better. He’s got to make better decisions, as far as the speed of the game, when do I try to make a great play, making that bread-and-butter double play.

Mattingly went on to say that “personally I think Dee’s going to be a great player” because “he brings something that no one else can bring.” That vote of confidence doesn’t mean much for the rest of this year, but if the Dodgers shift Ramirez to third base next season Gordon could be back as the primary shortstop.

Braves clinch NL East title

Ender Inciarte
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So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.

The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.

Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.

With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.