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Soto's clutch 2-run double carries Nats over O's

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals slotted Bryce Harper into the leadoff spot for Thursday's game against the Orioles in an effort to help him see more pitches and draw more walks. It was a change manager Dave Martinez employed earlier this season, when he was trying to get Harper more strikes to hit to break out of a slump. Certainly, it was a move Martinez felt comfortable making, because he could slot rookie phenom Juan Soto into the cleanup spot without worry.

Soto responded -- as he continues to do during this impressive start to his career -- with a two-run double in the eighth inning to break a tie game and lead the Nationals to a 4-2 victory over the Orioles at Nationals Park. Even as Washington continues to throw new challenges at Soto, 19, he continues to excel at them all.

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WASHINGTON -- The Nationals slotted Bryce Harper into the leadoff spot for Thursday's game against the Orioles in an effort to help him see more pitches and draw more walks. It was a change manager Dave Martinez employed earlier this season, when he was trying to get Harper more strikes to hit to break out of a slump. Certainly, it was a move Martinez felt comfortable making, because he could slot rookie phenom Juan Soto into the cleanup spot without worry.

Soto responded -- as he continues to do during this impressive start to his career -- with a two-run double in the eighth inning to break a tie game and lead the Nationals to a 4-2 victory over the Orioles at Nationals Park. Even as Washington continues to throw new challenges at Soto, 19, he continues to excel at them all.

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"He's got unbelievable poise," Martinez said. "No matter what the situation is."

The table was set for Soto's double thanks to a leadoff two-bagger from Harper that capped off one of his most productive nights at the plate in weeks. Harper went 1-for-1 with a pair of walks, a sacrifice fly and scored the go-ahead run.

Video: BAL@WSH: Harper rips a double to right in the 8th

This was a major positive for Harper at the plate, after he has especially struggled in his past nine games where he has gone 2-for-32 with nine strikeouts and four walks. Still, after the game he maintained he has been feeling great at the plate despite his struggles.

"My swing has felt great," Harper reiterated. "I've felt great the past month and a half or so, just chasing pitches. Trying to get a pitch over the plate that I can drive and do the things that I can to put the bat on the ball -- and not just 'pitcher pitches down and away, or up and in', or anything like that. Tonight, I tried to do the best I could to get a ball over the middle, and I was able to do that."

Video: BAL@WSH: Harper plates Difo with a sac fly to left

It was a positive breakthrough for the Nationals' offense, which has struggled to consistently score runs lately. Harper's sac fly and Anthony Rendon's solo homer were the only runs they scored against Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman, who gave up two runs in six innings.

Video: BAL@WSH: Rendon crushes a game-tying solo HR in 6th

But that was enough for Max Scherzer, who was not his usual dominant self, but still good enough to withstand some early hard contact from Orioles hitters. He surrendered a pair of home runs -- solo shots from both Colby Rasmus and Mark Trumbo -- to mark the first time this season he has surrendered multiple homers in an outing. Scherzer still responded to hold Baltimore to two runs over seven innings with nine strikeouts.

"Hey, we won the ballgame," Scherzer said. "That's what matters, That's my job as the starting pitcher: Pitch deep in the game, give my team a chance to win. Two solo home runs, turn the page. Move on from it and continue to pitch."

"That's kind of what I wanted to see," Martinez said. "Just him taking pitches, working counts. He had a 10-pitch at-bat the first at-bat, so that was awesome. 

Video: BAL@WSH: Scherzer K's 9 over 7 innings of 2-run ball

SOUND SMART
Soto's game-winning double came on a ball he drove to left field, another clutch hit for him going the opposite way. He entered this game batting 12-for-21 with an MLB-best 1.190 slugging percentage when hitting to the opposite field, a clear strength for him early on.

"I always hit it to the other way," Soto said. "I like to hit it there. It's better for me. I can see the ball better when I hit it over there."

HE SAID IT
"I think we're all amazed every single day. He's got some antics. He's got some flair. He's a great young player. He's just enjoying himself. He's the bat we kind of need in our lineup right now, that's hot. And teams are going to have to figure out how to get him out, cause it's tough right now. He's really locked into what he wants to do. And every time he steps to the plate, he competes. And he takes his walks. He understands, he has a great feel for the strike zone that he doesn't expand as much as you would think for a young guy. To have that type of eye, it's remarkable for him to be able to do that at this time, at this age and at this level." --  Scherzer, on Soto

UP NEXT
The Nationals will begin a three-game series with the Phillies on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. ET, with right-hander Tanner Roark set to take the mound at Nationals Park. He is trying to bounce back from his shortest outing of the season, a four-inning start against the Blue Jays. Right-hander Zach Eflin will be the opposing pitcher for Philadelphia.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals

Yanks bust out early, hold on for 50th victory

MLB.com

NEW YORK -- The Yankees did not waste any time in continuing their run at the all-time single-season homer record, cracking two big flies in the first inning Thursday afternoon. Combining offensive power with the bullpen's recent dominance, the Bombers topped the franchise that owns that very record and held on for a 4-3 win and a sweep of the Mariners at Yankee Stadium.

The sweep was New York's ninth of the year, a feat the team accomplished 10 times in the 2017 season. The Yanks have now won 17 of their past 21 games and reached the 50-win plateau, just before the rival Red Sox did the same vs. the Twins. The Astros were the first team to reach 50 wins Wednesday.

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NEW YORK -- The Yankees did not waste any time in continuing their run at the all-time single-season homer record, cracking two big flies in the first inning Thursday afternoon. Combining offensive power with the bullpen's recent dominance, the Bombers topped the franchise that owns that very record and held on for a 4-3 win and a sweep of the Mariners at Yankee Stadium.

The sweep was New York's ninth of the year, a feat the team accomplished 10 times in the 2017 season. The Yanks have now won 17 of their past 21 games and reached the 50-win plateau, just before the rival Red Sox did the same vs. the Twins. The Astros were the first team to reach 50 wins Wednesday.

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Since 1954, this Yankees team is the second-fastest to 50 wins (50-17 in 1998). The Yanks are 41-13 since April 21 - their best 54-game stretch since also going 41-13 from June 26-Aug. 22 in 1998.

Video: SEA@NYY: Boone on sweep, bullpen's recent success

"We've obviously played well and racked up a lot of wins, but you also realize every night how precious those wins are and how hard they are to come by, I don't care who we're playing," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "But when you look at it, it is, I think, gratifying to know that we've played pretty well against some of the elite teams and some of the hot teams. I think it just speaks to what we believe our team is capable of, and the confidence these guys have no matter who the opponent is."

In his first appearance in the leadoff spot, Clint Frazier worked a single to right field in the first that set up Aaron Judge for a two-run blast to center field, the slugger's team-high 19th homer of the season. It came on a full-count 95.8-mph fastball from Mariners starter James Paxton, and it rocketed off of Judge's bat at 107.8 mph, traveling 382 feet over the wall in right-center field, according to Statcast™.

The homer nudged Judge ahead of teammate Giancarlo Stanton, who launched his 18th in walk-off fashion on Wednesday night. Stanton was robbed of a homer on Thursday by Seattle center fielder Mitch Haniger in the next at-bat. Balls hit with Stanton's exit velocity and launch angle combination of 108.6 mph and 29 degrees were homers 41 out of 41 times from 2015-17; thanks to Haniger, it went as a loud out.

Video: SEA@NYY: Haniger leaps to rob Stanton of a home run

"It was a great play," Boone said. "[Haniger] made it look pretty easy. He got to the ball efficiently. It was kind of a bummer for G. He hit two balls on the nose today and gets a home run taken back. Just a tip of your cap to Haniger today, he made a great play."

Three batters after the robbery, Miguel Andujar squeaked out a two-run homer of his own just over the right-field fence to give the Yanks a 4-0 lead. It was the team's 122nd homer of the season as it targets the 1997 Mariners' record of 264. Andujar also became the seventh Yankee with at least 10 homers this year.

"When I go to home plate, I go with my plan and try to hit the ball hard," Andujar said. "I don't think home run or anything specially, I just try to hit the ball hard."

Video: SEA@NYY: Andujar drills a 2-run shot to right field

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Andujar is also the fifth Yanks rookie to hit 10 homers before the All-Star break; Judge hit 30 last season, Gleyber Torres has 14 this season, Joe DiMaggio hit 11 in 1936 and Nick Johnson cracked 11 in 2002. Andujar and Torres are the first Yanks rookies to accomplish the feat in the same season.

The Yankees' hot bats were silenced for the remainder of the game. Paxton recovered after giving up the two big flies and allowed just three more hits through the next four innings. Chasen Bradford and Nick Rumbelow finished out the game, throwing a combined three innings of one-hit, scoreless ball.

New York had to lean heavily on what's been an extremely dependable bullpen after starter Luis Severino grinded through 5 2/3 innings to pick up his 11th win of the year, but he allowed a two-run shot to Kyle Seager in the second and an RBI single to Ben Gamel that ended his day in the sixth.

Video: SE@NYY: Severino fans Haniger in the 1st inning

The 'pen threw a combined 3 1/3 innings, allowing just one hit from Andrew Romine in the seventh off David Robertson. The performance was highlighted by another stellar outing by Dellin Betances, who has now thrown 12 consecutive scoreless innings and allowed just one hit with 22 strikeouts.

Video: SEA@NYY: Betances K's 2 in scoreless 8th inning

"I feel really good," Betances said. "Obviously, I'm trying to do the best I can every time I go out there. You're different every time. I feel like mindset-wise, I'm good. My stuff is there, so I got to continue to do my job and hand the ball to [Aroldis] Chapman. He's the best at what he does, so that's what I try to do."

Chapman came on in the ninth to record his 22nd save.

Video: SEA@NYY: Chapman fans Gordon to secure a series sweep

"We're built, in a lot of ways, around that great bullpen," Boone said. "They continue to deliver."

SOUND SMART
Severino's 11th victory ties Cleveland's Corey Kluber atop the Majors' wins leaderboard. The Yankees have now won in 13 consecutive home starts with Severino on the mound. This is the longest winning streak in one pitcher's home starts since winning 16 consecutive David Cone home starts from Aug. 17, 1997, to Aug. 27, 1998.

HE SAID IT
"You come to expect just him to go out and dominate time and time again. It's cool when he has a little bump in the road like today -- it's still good enough to get us through the middle innings and leaving with a lead. I think it's a tribute to just how good of a pitcher he's become, when he doesn't have his good command and he's still able to go out there and get a win." -- Boone, on Severino's outing

Video: SEA@NYY: Judge, Severino talk victory over Mariners

UP NEXT
The Yankees will travel to St. Petersburg on Friday to open a three-game series against the Rays. CC Sabathia (4-2, 3.30 ERA) will take the mound in the opener. The left-hander is coming off his longest outing of the season, tossing 7 2/3 innings against the Rays last Sunday. Despite picking up the loss, Sabathia had a quality start, and he allowed three runs on 10 hits while recording a season-high 10 strikeouts. Right-hander Ryne Stanek (1-1, 2.21 ERA) will get the start for Tampa Bay. First pitch is slated for 7:10 p.m. ET.

Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com.

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar, Aaron Judge, Luis Severino

MLB Buzz: Will Mets deal their 2 aces?

MLB.com

As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, we'll keep you up to date with the latest news, buzz, rumors and more.

Mets more likely to trade Wheeler than deGrom, Syndergaard?
June 21: The Mets have been calling around to gauge other teams' trade interest in their players, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an article for FanRag Sports.

As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, we'll keep you up to date with the latest news, buzz, rumors and more.

Mets more likely to trade Wheeler than deGrom, Syndergaard?
June 21: The Mets have been calling around to gauge other teams' trade interest in their players, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an article for FanRag Sports.

While rivals are dubious the Mets will trade either Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, the club is finding interest in Zack Wheeler, per Heyman. Meanwhile, there hasn't been much chatter yet regarding Steven Matz.

MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported Monday that the Mets are "open for business" as it relates to prospective trade offers ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

• Non-waiver Trade Deadline explained

However, it will likely take a major haul to acquire either deGrom or Syndergaard. A Mets source told Heyman the club would need to get Gleyber Torres back to trade deGrom to the Yankees, which provides a sense of the asking price the club has placed on the ace. Of course, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has already nixed the idea of trading Torres, joking that he still has to "walk around this city."

Wheeler will surely cost teams less than it would take to acquire deGrom or Syndergaard. The righty owns a 4.82 ERA this season and has an extensive injury history, but his FIP is a promising 3.80. He was also hitting 99 mph with his four-seam fastball in his most recent start on June 17 against the D-backs.

Could Phils jump into Machado sweepstakes early?
June 21: The Phillies, who have been thought to be planning a pursuit of Orioles third baseman Manny Machado when he hits the free-agent market this offseason, are having problems on the left side of their infield: Not only have they been getting little production there, rookie shortstop/third baseman J.P. Crawford recently broke his left hand when he was hit by a pitch.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an article for FanRag Sports, Philadelphia -- with several front-office executives having been with Baltimore when Machado was drafted -- would love to add the superstar third baseman, but the question remains whether the Phillies will be a contender as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline nears.

Padres a potential trade suitor for Machado?
June 21: The list of potential trade destinations for Orioles shortstop Manny Machado could surprisingly include San Diego, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an article for FanRag Sports.

The Padres have certainly shown a willingness to make bold moves during general manager A.J. Preller's tenure, trading for Justin Upton, Matt Kemp and Craig Kimbrel prior to the 2015 season and signing Eric Hosmer to a club-record $144 million, eight-year contract in February 2018. And with the No. 1 farm system in baseball, per MLB Pipeline's preseason rankings, the Padres certainly have a prospect group that will entice the Orioles.

Video: Morosi discusses Machado trade possibilities and more

A trade between the Padres and Orioles remains unlikely, however, as San Diego is in last place in the National League West and would have little chance of re-signing Machado after this season, given their sizable commitment to Hosmer and Machado's preference to remain at shortstop long term. San Diego's top prospect is shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.

Per Heyman, a Padres source downplayed the possibility of a Machado deal and said the club is simply doing its "due diligence."

Phillies a potential landing spot for Beltre
June 21: With J.P. Crawford set to miss 4-6 weeks due to a fractured left hand and both Maikel Franco and Scott Kingery carrying sub-.700 OPS marks, the Phillies will likely look to acquire a veteran to upgrade the left side of their infield, according to MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi.

While the Phillies have long been linked to the Orioles' Manny Machado, Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre is another option the club could pursue, per Morosi.

Morosi: Hot market for hot corner

Beltre will be a free agent after this season, making him a prime candidate to be moved by the Rangers, who are in last place in the American League West and sit 15 games behind in the race for the second Wild Card spot.

Video: Phillies GM Klentak talks bullpen, Trade Deadline

Beltre has spent substantial time on the disabled list with various leg injuries over the past two years, but he remains a productive hitter. Over 45 games this season, the 39-year-old owns a .302/.357/.428 slash line.

And while the Rangers have used Beltre as the designated hitter more often lately, the five-time Gold Glove Award winner can still handle himself at the hot corner. In 32 games at third base this season, Beltre has recorded three defensive runs saved.

Of course, Beltre has a full no-trade clause, and it remains to be seen if he'll waive it to join a contender.

Red Sox looking to upgrade bullpen; Hand an option?
June 20: The Red Sox are interested in bolstering their relief corps, according to MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi, and Padres closer Brad Hand may be a target for the club.

However, San Diego's asking price for Hand could be prohibitive. Per Morosi, the Padres are expected to seek a young everyday player, such as Rafael Devers, in exchange for the left-hander.

Hand, who has a National League-leading 21 saves with a 2.43 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP this season, is signed through 2020 with a team option for 2021, so the Padres are in no rush to deal him.

Boston has the sixth-best bullpen ERA (3.17) in the Majors, but the club's 'pen lacks depth with Carson Smith out for the season following shoulder surgery and Steven Wright currently starting in place of the injured Drew Pomeranz (left biceps tendinitis).

Video: DeRo discusses his Top 5 trade candidates

O's, D-backs have talked Machado trade
June 19: The Orioles and D-backs have engaged in discussions regarding a potential trade for Manny Machado, according to MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi, and dialogue remains open between the two clubs.

Morosi described the trade talks as "due diligence on Arizona's part as the team's needs become clear." The two clubs also reportedly discussed a Machado trade this past offseason. Arizona currently holds the top spot in the National League West, but the second-place Dodgers narrowed the gap when they defeated the Cubs in Game 1 of a doubleheader Tuesday afternoon.

It's unclear whether the D-backs are interested in acquiring Machado to play shortstop or third base.

The 25-year-old would be an offensive upgrade over starting third baseman Jake Lamb and shortstop Nick Ahmed, as he's hitting .310 with 18 homers, 53 RBIs and a .945 OPS over 69 games for the Orioles in 2018 and owns a lifetime 118 wRC+.

But Machado has struggled defensively in his first season as the O's primary shortstop, recording -15 defensive runs saved (DRS). Ahmed, meanwhile, has notched six DRS. Machado has proven to be a stellar defender at the hot corner in the past, posting 81 DRS as a third baseman during his career and winning two AL Gold Glove Awards at the position.

Video: MLB Tonight on the D-backs' interest in Machado

Yanks, M's looking to acquire Happ
June 18: As the Yankees and Mariners have emerged as true contenders in the American League pennant race, so, too, have their roster voids -- specifically within their starting rotations. Both clubs are believed to be in the market for an available arm over the next six weeks, and MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported on Monday that each is interested in Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ.

In the midst of an All-Star-caliber season, Happ has a 3.48 ERA over 82 2/3 innings in 14 starts. He is in the final year of a three-year, $36 million contract, and due to his lingering free agency, he might not be as costly a return in what is shaping up to be a thin trade market for starters.

Both Seattle and New York have gotten above-average production from their starting staffs, though each has shown signs of vulnerability.

Video: Morosi on potential trade fits for J.A. Happ

Beyond AL Cy Young Award candidate Luis Severino, the Yankees have gotten inconsistent results from Sonny Gray and Masahiro Tanaka, Jordan Montgomery was lost for the season because of Tommy John surgery and Domingo German hasn't yet exhibited enough to warrant the fifth spot for good. CC Sabathia has been reliable, when healthy. To complement their elite offense and lights-out bullpen, the Yankees have long been speculated to retool their rotation ahead of the Deadline.

Morosi noted that the Yankees might have more incentive to go after a lefty given that the division-rival Red Sox have an MLB-best .813 OPS against righties but only a .672 mark against southpaws. In addition to their 13 regular-season meetings remaining, there's a strong chance the Yankees could go through Boston in the postseason.

The Mariners' rotation has also proven to be top heavy, with arguably the AL's best starter in James Paxton. However, No. 2 starter Felix Hernandez has struggled to a career-worst 5.44 ERA, and he has given up five or more earned runs in five of his 15 starts. No. 5 starter Wade LeBlanc has been a pleasant surprise, but at 33 years old, there have been questions about his sustainability.

In a loaded AL East, Toronto entered 2018 with its most realistic avenue to the postseason via an AL Wild Card berth, but it entered Monday 12 1/2 games back of the second AL's spot. The Jays are 32-38 despite winning seven of their last 10, including sweeps of the Nationals and Orioles.

Jays' Sanchez exits after 1 IP with apparent injury

MLB.com @gregorMLB

ANAHEIM -- Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez was removed after one inning during Thursday night's game against the Angels because of an apparent injury.

Sanchez allowed two runs on a pair of hits and a walk while throwing 25 pitches. It was not immediately clear what happened to Sanchez, but Joe Biagini started warming up toward the end of the first, which was an unusual sign.

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ANAHEIM -- Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez was removed after one inning during Thursday night's game against the Angels because of an apparent injury.

Sanchez allowed two runs on a pair of hits and a walk while throwing 25 pitches. It was not immediately clear what happened to Sanchez, but Joe Biagini started warming up toward the end of the first, which was an unusual sign.

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Sanchez was seen on TV replays looking at his finger following an RBI single by Albert Pujols.

The 25-year-old Sanchez missed almost all of last season because of a lingering blister issue. He has not admitted to experiencing similar problems this season and has made all of his scheduled starts.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Aaron Sanchez

Scherzer channels 50 Cent on weird wild pitch

Max Scherzer knows a thing or two about pitching -- well, he knows a lot more than that. He's a three-time recipient of the Cy Young Award and has a 13.6 K/9 rate on the season. The guy is ridiculous. Still, even he manages to throw a wild pitch every now and then.

Ozuna's attempted HR robbery goes awry

Marcell Ozuna has played left field in each of his 68 games this season for the Cardinals. He's definitely used to the position. 

But if there's one thing baseball reminds us of on a daily basis, it's that it isn't afraid to humble you at any time. The first inning of Thursday's Cardinals-Brewers game at Miller Park did just that to Ozuna when Jesus Aguilar clubbed a deep fly ball to left field.

Injury updates: Wacha, Acuna, Rosario

MLB.com

Here's a roundup of the latest injury news across the Majors.

Michael Wacha, Cardinals
After exiting Wednesday's start vs. the Phillies due to a left oblique strain, Wacha was placed on the 10-day disabled list Thursday. Wacha's outing came to an abrupt end with two outs in the fourth inning Wednesday when a velocity dip brought pitching coach Mike Maddux out to the mound.

Here's a roundup of the latest injury news across the Majors.

Michael Wacha, Cardinals
After exiting Wednesday's start vs. the Phillies due to a left oblique strain, Wacha was placed on the 10-day disabled list Thursday. Wacha's outing came to an abrupt end with two outs in the fourth inning Wednesday when a velocity dip brought pitching coach Mike Maddux out to the mound.

Injury report

"I went out there to slow him down, and we got more than we bargained for," Maddux said after the club's 4-3 loss. "You could see his last few pitches were a little sloppy. ... He's been our horse, our bell cow. Oblique strains are not good."

Wacha has dealt with shoulder troubles in the past, but an oblique strain is a first for the right-hander. Wacha is 8-2 with a 3.20 ERA in 2018, ranking second on the Cardinals with 84 1/3 innings. His outing against Philadelphia was his shortest of the season. More >

Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
Acuna is set to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday, the Braves announced.

The 20-year-old phenom, who has been sidelined since suffering a mild sprain of his left anterior cruciate ligament on May 27, hasn't experienced any problems with his left knee in recent days as he's taken live batting practice and completed a variety of running exercises that have forced him to make sudden motions he'll experience in games. More >

Eduardo Escobar and Eddie Rosario, Twins
Escobar exited Thursday's game vs. the Red Sox with a right elbow contusion after he was hit by a Rick Porcello pitch during the first inning.

Escobar, who is hitting .299 with a Major League-leading 32 doubles, fell to the ground and stayed down momentarily after being plunked by Porcello's 92.1-mph fastball. Escobar remained in the game and took another at-bat, but he was replaced at third base by Taylor Motter in the top of the fourth. He's day to day. More >

Video: BOS@MIN: Escobar hit by pitch, later leaves the game

The club was already without Rosario, who was scratched from the lineup due to right shoulder soreness. He said he expects to play Friday.

"Rosie's got a little bit of shoulder discomfort," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "After taking a look at him this morning, I think he really wants to play. I just think we're trying to keep the big picture in mind. So we're gonna back him off. It's just one of those things where you think what you're doing is best for the player for the long term." More >

Jeremy Hellickson, Brandon Kintzler and Matt Wieters, Nationals
Washington plans to send Hellickson (mild right hamstring strain) on a Minor League rehab assignment this weekend. The 31-year-old right-hander has posted a 2.28 ERA in nine starts as the fifth starter in the Nats' rotation this season.

Kintzler (right forearm flexor strain) is also nearing a rehab assignment after a bullpen session went well Wednesday.

Wieters (left oblique strain) caught another bullpen session and ran on the field Thursday, though there is no set timetable for his return to the lineup. More >

Jean Segura, Mariners
Dealing with an infection in his right forearm, Segura was sidelined for Thursday's series finale against the Yankees.

"It was some kind of scratch or bug bite or pimple or whatever you want to call it, but it got infected and is pretty swollen and was bothering him a little bit yesterday," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "He's on some antibiotics, so hopefully he'll be better in a day or two. But we have to be careful with it."

Entering Thursday, Segura ranked fifth in MLB among all batting-title qualifiers with a .334 average. More >

Drew Pomeranz and Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
Pomeranz has moved past the neck discomfort that stalled his throwing program, and he's moving closer to his first side session since going on the DL with left biceps tendinitis earlier this month.

"Yeah, that will be good," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "I think, honestly, the shoulder is not the issue. It was just the neck the last few days. He's feeling better, so it would be good if we can get that one out of the way."

It remains to be seen if Pomeranz will reclaim his rotation spot, however, as Steven Wright has posted a 0.44 ERA in three starts since replacing Pomeranz.

Cora also told reporters that Pedroia is feeling better and was able to take part in some baseball activities Wednesday. But the veteran second baseman, who is recovering from left knee inflammation, still has no timetable for a return. More >

Yu Darvish and Brandon Morrow, Cubs
Darvish threw 51 pitches in a three-inning simulated game at Wrigley Field on Wednesday.

"Really good. I'll take it," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after the workout. "That was outstanding, actually. Great command, great jump on the fastball. His slider was there, and I think he threw one or two splitters at the end. You can't ask for anything more, he looked that good. The delivery was easy, solid. He had a smile on his face, so that means he probably felt pretty good about it. We'll evaluate it again tomorrow."

Video: Darvish talks about his simulated outing

According to general manager Jed Hoyer, the next step could be a rehab start on Monday if Darvish passes all tests Thursday. The right-hander has been on the disabled list since May 23 with right triceps inflammation. More >

The Cubs placed Morrow on the 10-day disabled list Wednesday, retroactive to Sunday, with lower back tightness. Morrow hurt his back taking his pants off early Monday when he got home after the Cubs' road trip.

The Cubs will use a committee approach at closer in Morrow's absence, according to Maddon, with Steve Cishek, Pedro Strop and Justin Wilson the most likely options to receive save chances. More >

Video: Maddon on placing Morrow on the DL with back injury

Noah Syndergaard, Mets
Syndergaard is progressing toward a mid-July return from a strained ligament in his right index finger. He threw off flat ground this week with a modified splint on the finger, and may be cleared to throw without it when he's examined by doctors later this week in New York.

"The symptoms have completely subsided," Syndergaard said. "My arm feels great. I feel like I'm throwing rockets."

Syndergaard will likely need multiple bullpen sessions and a Minor League rehab stint before coming off the disabled list. He hasn't pitched since May 25 in Milwaukee and was scheduled to return June 10 against the Yankees, but was scratched from that start when pain in his finger resurfaced. More >

Video: NYM@COL: Syndergaard discusses progress on his injury

Andrew Miller, Carlos Carrasco and Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians
Miller will continue to throw bullpen sessions as he works toward game activity, but there is no timetable for his return from right knee inflammation. Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said that Miller, who has been on the DL since May 26, will need a Minor League rehab stint before he can rejoin the Tribe.

Antonetti also noted that Carrasco is doing well but won't be able to resume a throwing program until the swelling subsides in his right elbow. Carrasco was hit in the arm by a line drive on Saturday vs. the Twins and went on the DL the next day.

The Indians played Wednesday's game vs. the White Sox without Chisenhall, who was scratched from the starting lineup with bilateral calf soreness. More >

Chris Taylor, Dodgers
Taylor exited Wednesday's game against the Cubs in the sixth inning for precautionary reasons with left hamstring tightness. The shortstop had an eventful day before leaving the contest. He required the attention of a trainer after fouling a ball off his left ankle in the first inning and was later thrown out at the plate while trying to score from third base on Justin Turner's flyout to right field. More >

Video: LAD@CHC: Roberts on Taylor leaving game in 6th inning

24 hours of games underway in Alaska

Summer solstice brings 113th Midnight Sun Game to Fairbanks
MLB.com

Major League Baseball is celebrating the 113th Midnight Sun Game today by organizing an unprecedented 24 Hours of Play Ball events around this year's game in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Throughout the 24-hour period of daylight during summer solstice, MLB and its partners -- the American Legion, PONY Baseball and Softball, USA Baseball and USA Softball -- are hosting a number of baseball and softball activities for both adults and kids.

Major League Baseball is celebrating the 113th Midnight Sun Game today by organizing an unprecedented 24 Hours of Play Ball events around this year's game in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Throughout the 24-hour period of daylight during summer solstice, MLB and its partners -- the American Legion, PONY Baseball and Softball, USA Baseball and USA Softball -- are hosting a number of baseball and softball activities for both adults and kids.

During the "Open Session" Play Ball events, approximately 600 youth players, ages 6 to 12, will run through informal baseball and softball stations. The day's other activities include games featuring baseball and softball organizations -- including the Armed Forces Softball League, American Legion, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) and USA Baseball and USA Softball -- which culminates with the Midnight Sun Game.

The main event is between collegiate summer baseball teams, the Alaska Goldpanners and the Orange County Surf at Fairbanks' Growden Park. It's scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. local time and does not use any artificial light. The Midnight Sun Game was first played in 1906 and has been hosted annually by the Goldpanners since 1960, their first year of competition.

Billy Bean, a former big leaguer and MLB's vice president and special assistant to the Commissioner, will be in attendance. Bean was named the Goldpanners' Most Valuable Player in 1985.

Check back throughout the day for updates on this one-of-a-kind event.

Fairbanks, June 21 -- 2:30 p.m.
Play Ball is all about bringing the game to places it hasn't thrived traditionally, or perhaps in a long time. While you may not think of Alaska when you think baseball, the game is alive and well in America's north-most state. More than 300 kids came out for a Play Ball doubleheader event ahead of the Midnight Sun Game.

Fairbanks, June 21 -- 9 a.m
Based here in Alaska, these men and women serve our country in the Air Force and Army. Today, we salute them as they take the diamond.

Fairbanks, June 21 -- 8 a.m.
Little League is serious business up in Alaska. With limited months to play the game outside, two teams from the Anchorage Boys & Girls Club made the eight-hour bus trek up to Fairbanks to play with local PONY and RBI teams to celebrate a full day of sunlight. That's Fairbanks in red, with Anchorage in blue.

 

Fairbanks, June 21 -- 1:00 a.m.
How's this for a baseball sky at one o'clock in the morning?

Fairbanks, June 21 -- 12:01 a.m.
The first of many pitches on the day is thrown as American Legion Post 30 faces American Legion Post 11 in Game 1 of 24 Hours of Play Ball.

Video: Riccobono excited for 24 Hours of Play Ball in Alaska

Fairbanks, June 20 -- 11:56 p.m.
Bean, Rick Riccobono (chief development officer, USA Baseball) and David James (vice president, baseball and softball development, Major League Baseball) throw out the first pitch to begin the 24 hours of Play Ball in Fairbanks, Alaska in celebration of the summer solstice.

Shannon Ford is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Shannon__Ford.

Top 100 Prospects update: 15 rise, 8 fall, 5 enter

MLB.com @JimCallisMLB

Our annual midsummer overhaul of MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list is still a month away. Before we get to that, we're back with our second series of tweaks.

We now have two-plus months of Minor League performance to evaluate, compared to a month when we made our first series of adjustments in early May, so we were more aggressive this time around.

Our annual midsummer overhaul of MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list is still a month away. Before we get to that, we're back with our second series of tweaks.

We now have two-plus months of Minor League performance to evaluate, compared to a month when we made our first series of adjustments in early May, so we were more aggressive this time around.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

When we reconsidered the top 15 prospects on the list, we left only the top two guys (Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) in place. We also moved 15 players up and eight down by significant amount, and added five new prospects at the bottom of the Top 100:

The Top 15

green up arrow Juan Soto, OF, Nationals (No. 13 to No. 3)
Nineteen-year-olds aren't supposed to jump from Class A to the big leagues in six weeks and hit .326/.423/.596 with six homers in their first 27 games in the Majors.

Video: NYY@WSH: Soto smashes a 2-run shot to the second deck

green up arrow Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros (No. 14 to No. 10)
After selling out a bit for power while slamming a career-high 25 homers in 2017, he's showing more patience while continuing to drive the ball and looks like a perennial 20-20 player.

green up arrow Royce Lewis, SS, Twins (No. 18 to No. 13)
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 Draft has been everything expected offensively and better than anticipated at shortstop.

red down arrow Francisco Mejia, C, Indians (No. 11 to No. 17)
He didn't cross the Mendoza Line for good until June 3 and while he's starting to hit like his old self, there are increasing concerns that he lacks the receiving skills to be an everyday catcher.

Thirteen prospects in our previous top 15 moved at least slightly, so we're not going to break them all down individually. Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. leaped over Reds third baseman Nick Senzel and Nationals outfielder Victor Robles into our top five. Astros right-hander Forrest Whitley remained just ahead of White Sox righty Michael Kopech as the highest-ranked pitcher, though both slid out of the top 10.

Risers

green up arrow Mike Soroka, RHP, Braves (No. 26 to No. 16)
He's always had polish, his stuff seems to get better every year and he has looked at home in Atlanta at age 20.

Video: NYM@ATL: Soroka's no-hit bid ends on Conforto's knock

green up arrow Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Athletics (No. 31 to No. 22)
His pitchability and his changeup rank among the best in the Minors, and he's a rare southpaw who can hit 98 mph with his fastball.

green up arrow Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers (No. 48 to No. 32)
Regarded as the best pure hitter in the 2017 Draft, he has looked exactly like that while batting .335/.392/.534 and reaching Double-A in his first full pro season.

green up arrow Jesus Sanchez, OF, Rays (No. 49 to 37)
A natural hitter with the chance for solid tools across the board, he's thriving in his Class A as a 20-year-old.

green up arrow Jo Adell, OF, Angels (No. 53 to No. 38)
Questions about his ability to handle quality pitching dogged him as an amateur but didn't stop him from going 10th overall in the 2017 Draft, and he's dispelling them by hitting .318/.373/.617 with 14 homers and 11 steals in 50 games across two Class A levels.

Video: Top Prospects: Jo Adell, OF, Angels

green up arrow Dylan Cease, RHP, White Sox (No. 52 to No. 43)
He's making strides with his control and command, and his mid-90s fastball and hammer curveball are as good as ever.

green up arrow Dane Dunning, RHP, White Sox (No. 65 to No. 56)
While he doesn't have the sexiest stuff among White Sox starting pitcher prospects, he commands a solid arsenal and looks like a lock to be a mid-rotation starter.

green up arrow Austin Riley, 3B, Braves (No. 72 to No. 52)
He continues to improve at tapping into his considerable power potential and playing the hot corner, so it might not be long before Atlanta summons him.

green up arrow Tyler O'Neill, OF, Cardinals (No. 73 to No. 53)
With 46 homers in 171 Triple-A games, he has nothing left to prove in Triple-A but no path to immediate playing time in St. Louis.

Video: KC@STL: O'Neill homers in his third straight game

green up arrow Yordan Alvarez, OF/1B, Astros (No. 74 to No. 54)
Plucked from the Dodgers in a trade before making his pro debut, he has raked ever since and looks like he'll hit for plenty of average and power.

green up arrow Carter Kieboom, SS, Nationals (No. 79 to No. 66)
There may not be another shortstop prospect who can match his combination of hitting ability, power, patience and consistent contact.

green up arrow Sean Murphy, C, Athletics (No. 92 to No. 70)
Not only is his combination of arm strength and receiving ability as good as any catcher's in the Minors, but he's also improving as a hitter and making the most of his raw power.

green up arrow Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins (No. 98 to No. 71)
The Rookie-level Appalachian League MVP in his 2016 pro debut, he missed all of last season following Tommy John surgery and has reclaimed his all-around hitting ability this spring.

green up arrow Andres Gimenez, SS, Mets (No. 99 to No. 72)
He's more advanced offensively than Amed Rosario was at the same stage (age 19) and is no slouch with the glove either.

green up arrow Peter Alonso, 1B, Mets (No. 100 to No. 73)
He somehow hasn't gotten the acclaim that should come from hitting .301/.390/.543 in two-plus years as a pro.

Fallers

red down arrow Austin Hays, OF, Orioles (No. 32 to unranked)
The first player from the 2016 Draft to reach the Majors, he has battled shoulder and ankle injuries this year and batted .224/.259/.375 in Double-A.

red down arrow Heliot Ramos, OF, Giants (No. 54 to No. 74)
The five-tool ability and huge ceiling are still there, though he's going to need to cut down on his strikeouts.

red down arrow Jorge Mateo, SS/OF, Athletics (No. 62 to No. 76)
His approach at the plate has disintegrated, which makes it difficult to him to take advantage of his game-changing speed.

red down arrow Chance Adams, RHP, Yankees (No. 66 to unranked)
With his command regressing as he repeats Triple-A, he looks like he might be more of a reliever than a mid-rotation starter.

red down arrow J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, Astros (No. 67 to unranked)
He has wipeout stuff but can't always locate it where he wants, and he has made just two starts this year because of an undisclosed injury.

red down arrow Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Twins (No. 69 to No. 77)
After dominating at every previous level of the Minors, he hit the wall in Triple-A at the end of 2017 and again this year.

red down arrow Pavin Smith, 1B, D-backs (No. 81 to unranked)
The No. 7 overall pick in the 2017 Draft is controlling the strike zone, but an advanced college hitter should produce better than a .229/.337/.379 line in Class A Advanced.

red down arrow D.J. Peters, OF, Dodgers (No. 96 to unranked)
His power is jaw-dropping but his 32 percent strikeout rate in Double-A is worrisome.

New Additions

green up arrow Griffin Canning, RHP, Angels (unranked to No. 96)
Concerns about his pre-Draft MRI knocked him from the first round to the second in 2017, yet he has reached the mid-90s with his fastball and showed an array of solid secondary pitches while reaching Triple-A just 12 starts into his pro debut this year.

Video: Top Prospects: Griffin Canning, RHP, Angels

green up arrow Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, Pirates (unranked to No. 97)
He has shown the ability to put the bat on the ball and play a fine third base, and now he's starting to display the power scouts always believed he had.

green up arrow Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Twins (unranked to No. 98)
Two years removed from Tommy John surgery, he can hit 100 mph and also miss bats with both his slider and curveball.

green up arrow Zack Collins, C, White Sox (unranked to No. 99)
While his power and patience were evident in his first two pro seasons, he's hitting the ball with more authority in 2018.

green up arrow Christin Stewart, OF, Tigers (unranked to No. 100)
He's an all-bat guy, but his bat has produced 81 homers in 402 pro games.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

D-backs cruise past Pirates thanks to loud bats

MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PITTSBURGH -- The D-backs scored eight runs in the first three innings, thanks in part to homers by Ketel Marte and Alex Avila, as they cruised to a 9-3 win over the Pirates on Thursday night at PNC Park.

Marte capped a three-run first inning with a two-out, two-run homer off Pirates starter Chad Kuhl.

View Full Game Coverage

PITTSBURGH -- The D-backs scored eight runs in the first three innings, thanks in part to homers by Ketel Marte and Alex Avila, as they cruised to a 9-3 win over the Pirates on Thursday night at PNC Park.

Marte capped a three-run first inning with a two-out, two-run homer off Pirates starter Chad Kuhl.

View Full Game Coverage

A two-run double by Jon Jay and an RBI single by Paul Goldschmidt in the second extended the D-backs' lead to 6-0.

Avila snapped out of a season-long slump in the third with a two-run homer that gave the D-backs an 8-0 lead and signaled the end of Kuhl's night.

Video: ARI@PIT: Avila drills a 2-run shot to right-center

Avila, who was signed to a two-year deal this past offseason, had just two hits in his previous 49 plate appearances and was hitting .108 when he stepped to the plate in the third.

The run support was more than enough for Arizona starter Zack Godley (8-5). The right-hander allowed three runs (two earned) over six innings to earn his fourth road win.

Kuhl came into the game having thrown well in each of his last five starts, compiling a 2.45 ERA over that stretch.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks

'Remorseful' Strickland plans to work on emotions

Giants' closer broke hand by punching door after blown save Monday
MLB.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Hunter Strickland spoke with manager Bruce Bochy on Wednesday for the first time since the Giants' closer fractured his right hand punching a door after a blown save Monday night.

"We had a good conversation," Bochy said before Thursday's game against the Padres. "He feels horrible and remorseful for what happened. We talked about a couple things we could do different to help relieve that tension or pressure."

View Full Game Coverage

SAN FRANCISCO -- Hunter Strickland spoke with manager Bruce Bochy on Wednesday for the first time since the Giants' closer fractured his right hand punching a door after a blown save Monday night.

"We had a good conversation," Bochy said before Thursday's game against the Padres. "He feels horrible and remorseful for what happened. We talked about a couple things we could do different to help relieve that tension or pressure."

View Full Game Coverage

Strickland, who said he has received positivity and reassurance from his teammates, was planning to speak to the team Thursday.

"This is something that I'll always regret, but I don't have time to feel sorry for myself, because I'm the one that created this problem," Strickland said. "I have to move forward and bust my tail to get back on the field and help these guys win."

Strickland was contrite when addressing the media and acknowledged that he wants to work on his emotions.

"I don't want my little daughter growing up and seeing an angry side of anything," Strickland said. "I understand the perception that I've given off from this year, last year or 2014. I understand everybody's perception of me, because this is what they see. This is what I've given them, and I don't blame them for feeling that way. I know I'm a better person than that."

As for rehabbing his right hand fracture, Strickland said the plan is to get another X-ray in two weeks and take the two pins out of his hand then. The timetable for the right-hander's return remains at least 6-8 weeks.

Plenty of playing time coming for healthy Hanson
Alen Hanson exited Wednesday's game against the Marlins, appearing to be the latest Giants player stricken with an injury. But X-rays came back negative, revealing a left knee contusion, and the switch-hitter returned to the leadoff spot for Thursday's game.

"He's been a real spark," Bochy said. "The way he plays, where he plays, he's so versatile. The kid is an exciting player. That's why I'm going to try to keep him going and find a place to put him out there every day."

Video: MIA@SF: Hanson fouls pitch off leg, exits game in 1st

Left field has been a revolving door for Bochy, with Mac Williamson, Hunter Pence and Austin Jackson all getting time there. However, Hanson started in left Thursday. He has not played outfield since May 7.

"The players dictate who plays, when they play and how much," Bochy said. "Somebody steps up and takes the job and runs with it. That's where we're at right now. We're going to go with the hottest guy."

With Hanson's status uncertain after Wednesday, Bochy hinted that outfielder Austin Slater may have been on the Giants' taxi squad.

"We had to cover ourselves," Bochy said.

Slater, the Giants' No. 5 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is slashing .340/.416/.565 for Triple-A Sacramento.

Rehab updates
Right-hander Johnny Cueto will begin a rehab assignment this weekend, starting for Sacramento on Saturday and throwing around 40 pitches, Bochy said.

Bochy expects Cueto to make around three rehab starts.

"It's exciting to see the light at the end of the tunnel," Bochy said.

Jeff Samardzija was scheduled to make his second rehab start for Sacramento on Thursday. The right-hander was expected to throw "around 70 pitches," according to Bochy. Samardzija will be evaluated after the outing to see if he needs a third rehab start.

Martin Oppegaard is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.

San Francisco Giants, Hunter Strickland

Winker hits 1st career grand slam as Reds roll

MLB.com