LEADING OFF: Springer back for Astros vs A’s; Puig suspended
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
HOW THE WEST IS WON
All-Star outfielder George Springer is expected to come off the disabled list for the Houston Astros when the defending champions visit Oakland for the opener of a pivotal three-game series between AL West contenders. Last year’s World Series MVP has been sidelined with a sprained left thumb. Charlie Morton (12-3, 2.88 ERA) pitches for the banged-up Astros, who have a two-game lead in the division over the surprising Athletics. Edwin Jackson (4-2, 2.48) gets the ball for Oakland.
Unless he appeals, Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is scheduled to begin a two-game suspension when Los Angeles plays at Seattle in an interleague clash between playoff contenders. Puig also was fined Thursday by Major League Baseball for fighting and inciting a bench-clearing fracas against San Francisco. The penalties were announced two days after Puig took a swing at Giants catcher Nick Hundley, who also was fined. ... MLB also suspended Marlins pitcher Jose Urena for six games and fined him an undisclosed amount for intentionally hitting Braves rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. with his first pitch Wednesday night. Unless appealed, Urena’s ban is slated to start Friday at Washington.
San Francisco turns to right-hander Casey Kelly to start in Cincinnati after placing standout rookie Dereck Rodriguez on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring. Kelly is the son of Reds bench coach Pat Kelly. Rodriguez, the son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, is 6-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 14 outings this season. The Giants have gone 9-3 in his starts. He was injured during the scrum between the Giants and Dodgers on Tuesday night in Los Angeles. The team says he sustained a Grade 1 strain. Casey Kelly (0-1, 1.42 ERA) pitched five scoreless innings of relief Saturday against Pittsburgh in his first major league appearance since 2016, then took the loss Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.
Yadier Molina and the Cardinals host Milwaukee in a matchup of NL Central contenders chasing the first-place Cubs. Rookie right-hander Jack Flaherty (6-6, 3.22 ERA) starts for St. Louis, which had its eight-game winning streak snapped Thursday night with a 5-4 loss to Washington. Flaherty struck out a career-high 13 in his last start against the Brewers on June 22. Freddy Peralta (5-3, 4.47) goes for Milwaukee. ... Cole Hamels looks to keep it going when the Cubs face Pittsburgh. Hamels is 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA since Chicago acquired him from Texas at the trade deadline. Trevor Williams (10-8, 3.66) starts for the Pirates.
MARQUEE MOUND MATCHUP
After setting a franchise record by scoring 24 runs Thursday in the first game of a doubleheader at Philadelphia, the Mets send Noah Syndergaard (8-2, 3.22 ERA) to the mound against Phillies ace Aaron Nola (13-3, 2.28). With the help of 11 unearned runs, New York became the first NL team since the 1933 New York Giants to score 15 runs in consecutive games. The Mets routed Baltimore 16-5 on Wednesday night. They also are the only team since 1900 to have a win and a loss by at least 20 runs in the same season.