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LEADING OFF: New guy Pederson could lead off for Braves

July 17, 2021 GMT
Chicago Cubs' Joc Pederson hits an RBI double off Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, July 6, 2021, in Chicago. Sergio Alcantara scored on the play. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Chicago Cubs' Joc Pederson hits an RBI double off Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola during the third inning of a baseball game Tuesday, July 6, 2021, in Chicago. Sergio Alcantara scored on the play. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

A look at what’s happening around the majors on Saturday:

JOC AT THE TOP

Joc Pederson’s first start with the Atlanta Braves could come Saturday night, and it likely will be as his new team’s leadoff hitter.

The Braves acquired Pederson from the Chicago Cubs on Thursday for minor league first baseman Bryce Ball. Pederson was activated shortly before Friday night’s game against Tampa Bay but wasn’t in the lineup.

The Braves moved to acquire Pederson two weeks before the July 30 trade deadline after losing right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL in his right knee on July 10. Acuña had been the team’s leadoff hitter.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said Pederson could fill that spot in the lineup.

“Right now that’s kind of where I see him,” Snitker said. “It’s get our better hitters up there more often.”

The 29-year-old Pederson was batting .230 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 73 games with the Cubs. He spent his first seven seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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EXTRA REST

The Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers had their All-Star break extended by a day when their doubleheader was rained out Friday, making them the only major league clubs to get a five-day midsummer respite.

The teams will now play a doubleheader Saturday at Detroit and make up the other postponed game on Aug. 30.

Minnesota swept Detroit in a four-game series at Target Field before the break, but both teams have plenty of work to do become relevant in the second half of the season. Although the Tigers are percentage points ahead of the Twins in the AL Central, both entered Friday’s play 15 games behind the first-place Chicago White Sox.

Detroit will start José Ureña (2-8, 6.43 ERA) in the first game Saturday and throw a bullpen game in the nightcap. Minnesota’s Charlie Barnes will make his major league debut in Game 1 and Kenta Maeda (4-3, 4.66) is set for Game 2.

WORTH WATCHING

The Houston Astros send Jake Odorizzi to the mound against Lucas Giolito and the Chicago White Sox as the AL division leaders continue their weekend set. Odorizzi is 2-1 with a sparkling 1.04 ERA over his last five appearances. He is 3-4 with a 3.15 ERA in 11 career starts against Chicago.

Giolito struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings in an 8-3 win at Baltimore last Saturday. The 6-foot-6 right-hander is 1-3 with a 4.68 ERA in four career starts versus the Astros.

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