A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
TIME FOR A SALE
Red Sox lefty Chris Sale is set to make his season debut when he starts against Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field.
Sale has been out with a fracture in his right rib cage. He’s made four minor league rehab starts, allowing three earned runs in 11 1/3 innings and striking out 19.
The 33-year-old Sale is a seven-time All-Star and could be a big key to Boston’s push for a playoff spot.
All-Star third baseman Rafael Devers also is likely to return for the Red Sox after missing three starts because of back discomfort. He’s hitting .327 with 19 home runs and 51 RBIs.
Two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber (4-5, 3.62 ERA) starts for the Rays.
The Philadelphia Phillies will be without J.T. Realmuto, Alec Bohm, Aaron Nola and Kyle Gibson during a two-game series in Toronto due to Canadian restrictions on unvaccinated travelers.
Nola started on the mound Monday night at St. Louis and was not scheduled to pitch against the Blue Jays. Bohm, an infielder, came out of Monday’s game with an apparent hand injury.
President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters before the game that the four players will be placed on the restricted list and forfeit two days of pay and major league service time in accordance with the terms of MLB’s collective bargaining agreement.
Several teams have put players on the restricted list this year before trips to Toronto.
New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso will try to become the first player to win the All-Star Home Run Derby three straight times, and his competition is likely to be announced in the coming days.
Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. and Cardinals great Albert Pujols also confirmed Monday they’ll be among the eight participants in the July 18 competition at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
”It’s a really fun event, and it’s going to be super exciting,” Alonso said before the Mets beat Atlanta on Monday night. ”I have a really good plan to go into it and, again, I have just so much fun. I don’t think anyone has more fun than I do, especially when it comes to this event.”
Alonso hit 74 total home runs in last year’s Derby at Denver’s Coors Field and beat Baltimore’s Trey Mancini 23-22 in the final round. Alonso joined Ken Griffey Jr. (1998-99) and Yoenis Cespedes (2013-14) in winning consecutive titles. Griffey also won in 1994 and is the only three-time champion.
There was no Derby in 2020, when the All-Star Game scheduled for Dodger Stadium was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Alonso won the 2019 Derby at Cleveland as a rookie when he defeated Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
After winning the final seven games of a 10-1 homestand, Trea Turner, Mookie Betts and the Los Angeles Dodgers look to extend their winning streak when they hit the road. They visit Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener of a star-studded series between two of the National League’s most successful franchises.
Mitch White (1-1, 3.38 ERA) pitches for the NL West leaders against rookie left-hander Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 4.74).
ON THE RISE
A couple of under-the-radar American League teams are quietly riding eight-game winning streaks.
Jordan Lyles (5-7, 4.50 ERA) and the Baltimore Orioles (43-44), last in the loaded AL East, can reach .500 for the first time since opening 4-4 last year with a road win at Wrigley Field over the Chicago Cubs, who have dropped four straight.
The Orioles had not won eight consecutive games in a season since 2005, though they won 12 straight across two seasons in late 2015 and early 2016.
”We’re just having a really good time in here,” designated hitter Trey Mancini said.
All-Star rookie Julio Rodriguez and the Mariners go for their ninth victory in a row when they begin a two-game series at last-place Washington with Chris Flexen (5-8, 4.00 ERA) trying to win his fourth consecutive start.
Seattle is 16-3 for its best 19-game stretch since 2003. Right back in the wild-card race, the Mariners (45-42) are looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
”You can’t celebrate anything. We’re not there,” manager Scott Servais said. ”But everybody knows the drought. It rains a lot in Seattle, so we’ve got to end the drought.”
Already depleted by injuries, the Tampa Bay Rays will now be missing shortstop Wander Franco and center fielder Kevin Kiermaier for a while.
Franco is set for surgery on his right wrist and expected to be sidelined for five to eight weeks. The 21-year-old Franco is hitting .260 with five homers and 23 RBIs in 58 games in the first season of a $182 million, 11-year contract.
Franco missed a month earlier this season because of a quadriceps injury.
The 32-year-old Kiermaier is dealing with left hip inflammation. He will see a hip specialist in Tennessee after the All-Star break.
”KK’s going to be down for some time,” manager Kevin Cash said. ”We need to let the hip calm down and let the expert give his recommendation. KK might have a decision to make at that point.”
Kiermaier is batting .228 with seven homers and 22 RBIs in 63 games this season.
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