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LEADING OFF: Yanks slump to Subway Series, LA visits Biden

July 1, 2021 GMT
New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman hands the ball to manager Aaron Boone as he is removed during the ninth inning of the team's baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels early Thursday, July 1, 2021, in New York. The Angels won 11-8. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman hands the ball to manager Aaron Boone as he is removed during the ninth inning of the team's baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels early Thursday, July 1, 2021, in New York. The Angels won 11-8. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

A look at what’s happening around the majors Friday:

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SUBWAY SERIES

The Yankees are in an unusual position entering their weekend series against the crosstown Mets — struggling underdog.

The Bronx Bombers are coming off a stunning 11-8 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night, when All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman allowed a tying grand slam to Jared Walsh during a seven-run ninth inning. New York had powered ahead with a seven-run first inning against Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani. The Yankees are 41-39, fourth in the AL East, nine games behind first-place Boston.

Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenne r vowed Thursday to keep manager Aaron Boone, general manager Brian Cashman and the core of his team, but he did place the “majority of the responsibility” for the supbar play on the players.

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Left-hander Jordan Montgomery (3-2, 4.06) is set to pitch for the Yankees against Mets righty Taijuan Walker (6-3, 2.38). Gerrit Cole is slated to throw Saturday, while Jacob deGrom will miss the Subway Series after pitching Thursday night in Atlanta.

HEY JOE

The Los Angeles Dodgers will visit the White House to celebrate their first World Series championship in 32 years.

President Joe Biden will welcome the team for a ceremony in the East Room. Los Angeles defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in six games last year in Texas. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Series was played at a neutral site for the first time.

It will be the Dodgers’ first visit to the White House since 1988, when President Ronald Reagan welcomed them after their championship season.

Los Angeles is in Washington for a four-game set against the Nationals. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Thursday that Trevor Bauer is still expected to pitch Sunday while police and Major League Baseball investigate an assault allegation made against the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner.

UNSTUCK

The major league batting average jumped to .246 in June amid a crackdown by the commissioner’s office on foreign substances utilized by pitchers, raising the season average to .239.

The season average is the lowest through June since it was .233 in 1968, the Elias Sports Bureau said Thursday. That was the last season before the pitcher’s mound was lowered.

Hitters batted .232 in April and .239 in May. The June average was closer to recent levels, down from .245 in 2018.

Major League Baseball officials began saying on June 3 that they intended to start stricter enforcement against the use of sticky substances used by pitchers to improve grips and spin rates, and umpires started checking all pitchers on June 21.

BACKED OUT

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Atlanta is hoping for good news on star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. after he was a late scratch with mid-back tightness from their game Thursday against the New York Mets.

Acuña was taken out of the lineup less than 20 minutes before first pitch, replaced in the leadoff spot and in right field by Ehire Adrianza. Acuña showed no signs of injury a night earlier, hitting a 447-foot homer during a 20-2 rout of the Mets. He leads the NL in runs, ranks second in stolen bases and third in homers.

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