LEADING OFF: Cooperstown calling, moonshots and revved Yanks
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
HALL OF A DAY
Will closer Mariano Rivera rattle? Will clutch hitter Edgar Martinez choke up? We’ll see whether the baseball greats get overwhelmed by emotion when they’re enshrined at the Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremonies in Cooperstown include another full class, with six new members. Rivera, the only unanimous selection in Hall history, will be joined by Martinez, Mike Mussina, Lee Smith, Harold Baines and the late Roy Halladay.
A sizable contingent of Yankees fans is expected to cheer Rivera — and Mussina — in the upstate New York village, which sees its population swell for this annual event.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Jackie Bradley Jr. were among the many players hitting moonshots on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. A couple ballparks took note of the date Saturday to remember the moment.
At Yankee Stadium, former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino threw a ceremonial first ball to former pitcher Jack Aker before New York hosted Colorado. Aker was on the mound at the old Yankee Stadium on July 20, 1969, when a game against the Washington Senators was stopped for the announcement that the spacecraft had touched down.
At Comerica Park, the stadium PA played “Rocket Man” by Elton John as the seventh-inning sing-a-long as the Tigers hosted Toronto.
DJ LeMahieu and the major league-best Yankees (64-33) go for their sixth straight victory and ninth series sweep this season when they face the plummeting Rockies in the finale of a 10-game homestand. LeMahieu has been as hot as the New York weather, with five hits in two weekend games against his former team to raise his AL-leading batting average to .334. “It’s a little weird,” said LeMahieu, who spent his first eight seasons with the Rockies. “I’ll be excited not to play them anymore.”
Colorado has lost six in a row and 13 of 15 while getting outscored 127-64, leaving the Rockies in a last-place tie with San Diego in the NL West.
The top two teams in the NL East wrap up a four-game series as Freddie Freeman and the first-place Braves host Washington in prime time. Nationals slugger Anthony Rendon is 7 for 17 (.412) with three extra-base hits in his career against Atlanta starter Kevin Gausman (2-5, 6.21 ERA).
Miami rookie Jordan Yamamoto (4-0, 1.59 ERA) gets a tough test in his seventh major league start when he pitches at Dodger Stadium against Cody Bellinger and the top team in the National League. Acquired from Milwaukee in the Christian Yelich trade, the 23-year-old Yamamoto is limiting opponents to a .134 batting average, lowest in the majors since June 12. All-Star right-hander Walker Buehler (8-1, 3.44) is on the mound for Los Angeles.
A NEW START
Drew Smyly is expected to start for the Phillies, a couple days after they signed him. The 30-year-old lefty was 1-5 with an 8.42 ERA in 13 games with Texas before getting released.
Smyly missed the past two seasons because of Tommy John surgery before returning to the majors with the Rangers this year. He will take the place of Nick Pivetta, who was moved to the bullpen.