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A's tie MLB record: HR in 24th straight road game

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- With Stephen Piscotty's two-run blast in the second inning Saturday against the White Sox, the A's have hit home runs in 24 straight road games to tie a Major League record.

The Orioles also homered in 24 straight games, from Aug. 3 to Sept. 15, 1996.

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CHICAGO -- With Stephen Piscotty's two-run blast in the second inning Saturday against the White Sox, the A's have hit home runs in 24 straight road games to tie a Major League record.

The Orioles also homered in 24 straight games, from Aug. 3 to Sept. 15, 1996.

View Full Game Coverage

The A's also have hit an MLB-best 66 road homers in 37 road games this season. They have 36 homers in 40 home games this season.

John Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago.

Oakland Athletics, Stephen Piscotty

MLB's No. 6 overall prospect Senzel out for year

MLB.com

The Reds on Saturday announced that infielder Nick Senzel -- the club's No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- will have season-ending surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right index finger on Tuesday.

Senzel suffered the injury in the first inning of Triple-A Louisville's 16-1 loss to Norfolk on Friday night.

The Reds on Saturday announced that infielder Nick Senzel -- the club's No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- will have season-ending surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right index finger on Tuesday.

Senzel suffered the injury in the first inning of Triple-A Louisville's 16-1 loss to Norfolk on Friday night.

The 22-year-old infielder was batting .310 with 12 doubles, two triples, six homers, 25 RBIs and eight stolen bases through 44 games with Louisville this season. He also missed time earlier in the year with vertigo, a condition that causes loss of balance and dizziness.

Senzel is rated as baseball's No. 6 overall prospect, per MLB Pipeline, and was likely to reach the big leagues in 2018. He's in his third year in the Reds' organization after the club made him the second overall selection in the 2016 Draft out of the Univeristy of Tennessee.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.

Cincinnati Reds

Solid alternatives to big-name trade options

Ross, Lucroy, others could be vital for contender, may be had for lower cost
MLB.com @castrovince

The trade market has heated up earlier than usual, with this week's trade of Kelvin Herrera serving as evidence of the active discussions taking place well in advance of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The market is deep with star-caliber talent in some places and woefully shallow in others. But as is the case every year, you don't have to be a big name to have a big impact.

With that in mind, here are five areas in which lower-profile names might be worthwhile targets for contending teams.

The trade market has heated up earlier than usual, with this week's trade of Kelvin Herrera serving as evidence of the active discussions taking place well in advance of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The market is deep with star-caliber talent in some places and woefully shallow in others. But as is the case every year, you don't have to be a big name to have a big impact.

With that in mind, here are five areas in which lower-profile names might be worthwhile targets for contending teams.

1. Starting pitchers Tyson Ross (Padres), Marco Estrada (Blue Jays) and Francisco Liriano (Tigers)
Alternatives to: J.A. Happ (Blue Jays) and Cole Hamels (Rangers)

Happ and Hamels front a predominantly weak starting-pitching market (that is, unless the controllable likes of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Blake Snell are actually dealt). But these guys rate as more affordable and, therefore, possibly more attractive options.

Ross, viewed as a reclamation project the past couple years, has been outstanding for the Padres, boasting a 3.34 ERA and 117 ERA+ in 15 starts. He actually has better numbers away from pitcher-friendly Petco Park than in it. And though he doesn't get as many ground balls or swings and misses as he did in his rising-star turn in 2014 and '15, before injuries set in, he has been a dependable weapon on a very reasonable (and expiring) contract, so he could augment a contending rotation right now. By and large, Estrada's 2018 numbers resemble the numbers from his 2017 decline. In fact, he entered Friday's start with an ERA+ of 91, identical to his '17 mark. But his string of quality starts this month are a positive step in the right direction, and it's worth noting that his hard-hit percentage allowed (31.7) and barrel percentage allowed (7.0) are more similar to his 2016 campaign (30.4, 7.1), when he was an All-Star, than 2017 (36.5, 10.7). So this might be the right time to buy in.

Video: SD@SF: Ross K's 3 over 7 innings of 1-run ball

And if clubs are dead set on a left-handed starting rental, Liriano has once again established himself as worthy of consideration. He's returning this weekend after missing several weeks due to a hamstring issue, but prior to the injury, he had a respectable 112 ERA+ in 10 starts for the Tigers.

2. Relief pitchers Craig Stammen and Kirby Yates (Padres)
Alternatives to: Brad Hand (Padres)

As is the case every summer, there are loads of interesting options in the relief market, and there could be opportunities for clubs to uncover an unexpected gem. I'm singling out the Padres only because their closer, Hand, has been a known trade commodity for what feels like forever, yet he's surrounded by other, less discussed but very interesting relief assets.

Stammen is a veteran pitching well (2.04 ERA, 0.93 WHIP) on a two-year deal that runs through 2019, and Yates has been fantastic (0.93 ERA, 0.90 WHIP) on a cheap one-year contract. Rookie Adam Cimber is also an attractive bullpen option here, but with so much contractual control attached to him, the price tag would be extremely high -- as it is with Hand, who signed an extension with the Padres not long after they were unable to find a team to meet their asking price for him last summer.

Video: SD@PIT: Stammen retires Cervelli, escapes jam

3. Lefty reliever Jake Diekman (Rangers)
Alternative to: Zach Britton (Orioles)

Britton is another guy with huge name recognition who is also worth singling out in this discussion. He's still working to build up strength and trade value in his return from a ruptured Achilles, and it probably shouldn't be surprising that his velocity is down slightly following his injury.

Diekman, a fellow lefty relief rental, might be the safer pickup. He's not having an extraordinary season (1.39 WHIP, 5.3 walks per nine), but the Rangers feel he has become more comfortable with the 40 pounds he has added since surgery to remove his colon, and he has thrown the ball very well in recent weeks. The Blue Jays' Aaron Loup is another lefty rental worth consideration here.

Video: DET@TEX: Diekman strikes out Jones to escape trouble

4. Catcher Jonathan Lucroy (A's)
Alternative to: Wilson Ramos (Rays) and J.T. Realmuto (Marlins)

Ramos, like Lucroy, is a rental, and the Marlins' Realmuto is the big Fish (pun intended) behind the dish. But while both of those guys are having All-Star-caliber campaigns and Lucroy's value is nowhere near what it was two years ago with the Brewers, don't lose sight of what an impact acquisition Lucroy can be. His help in developing the young A's pitching staff has been profound.

Lucroy might not give a club as much offensive thunder as he showed when he joined the Rockies in the second half last year (including a 1.016 OPS at Coors Field), but this is still a guy who can help a pitching staff reach its ceiling down the stretch.

Video: Must C Comeback: A's tie it in 9th, win it in 11th

5. Infielder Yangervis Solarte (Blue Jays)
Alternative to: Manny Machado (Orioles), Mike Moustakas (Royals), Josh Donaldson (Blue Jays), Adrian Beltre (Rangers), Brian Dozier (Twins), Starlin Castro (Marlins), Josh Harrison (Pirates) and Scooter Gennett (Reds)

As you can see, there is a healthy inventory of high-profile names available in the infield. (Not long ago, I would not have considered Gennett a "high-profile" guy, but he's third in the National League All-Star voting at his position, leading the league in batting average and has double-digit homers, so he certainly has earned the label.) Long story short: A buyer's market could develop here.

Video: WSH@TOR: Solarte smashes 2 homers in a 3-hit game

Solarte has never been an All-Star or anything close to it, but he has been a really valuable piece for a Blue Jays club in transition. He can play anywhere in the infield and has done a decent job filling in at third when Donaldson has been hurt. After an offseason trade from the Padres, he has made the adjustment to the AL with a solid wRC+ mark of 112 (or 12 percent better than league average). He's under control through 2020 with two affordable team options. Because of that last point -- and the wealth of infield options in this market -- I tend to doubt he'll get dealt. But he's a worthwhile trade target worth mentioning in a market loaded with more recognizable names.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Jake Diekman, Marco Estrada, Francisco Liriano, Jonathan Lucroy, Tyson Ross, Yangervis Solarte, Craig Stammen, Kirby Yates

Yonder Alonso's son pumped for dad's grand slam

The Indians bats were hot on Friday night. And the team's 10-0 win over the Tigers was only part of the reason Yonder Alonso was celebrating. It was his son's reaction to his hitting that will bring a huge smile to your face.

MLB Buzz: O's star Jones holds 'all the cards'

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.

O's star Jones 'holds all the cards'
June 23: Five-time All-Star Adam Jones has been stellar for the Orioles, batting .291 with a 109 OPS+ through Friday's action. But Jones told Baltimore Sun reporter Jon Meoli on Friday that the Orioles had not approached him in any capacity about a potential trade, even as the team likely pivots to a rebuilding phase in these weeks leading up to the Trade Deadline.

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

O's star Jones 'holds all the cards'
June 23: Five-time All-Star Adam Jones has been stellar for the Orioles, batting .291 with a 109 OPS+ through Friday's action. But Jones told Baltimore Sun reporter Jon Meoli on Friday that the Orioles had not approached him in any capacity about a potential trade, even as the team likely pivots to a rebuilding phase in these weeks leading up to the Trade Deadline.

"I can't let it bother me," Jones told the Sun. "I'm in a different part of my life to where I'm not anticipating a $150 million, $200 million, $300 million offer this offseason. I'm more just, 'Let me go be a pro, do what I do best,' and that's play the game hard and live with the result."

Jones can veto any trade opportunity by virtue of his 13 years of Major League service time and 11 consecutive seasons in Baltimore. Telling the Sun that he "holds all the cards" in a trade scenario, Jones was realistic about his role in the marketplace as he plays through his age-32 season.

"What I'm trying to do is maintain my value and continue the path that I've been on of consistency and performing year-in and year-out," Jones said. "I'm just basically doing me, and not worrying about everybody else."

Jones represents a potentially valuable veteran presence should teams need an outfielder near the Deadline. He is one of a handful of Orioles players including Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Brad Brach and others that make Baltimore arguably the most intriguing potential seller this summer. Jones has hit at least 25 home runs in each of his past seven big league seasons, and he has recorded an OPS below league average just once since 2009.

Nats say asking price on Realmuto too high
June 22: The Nationals could be among the most aggressive teams in making significant roster upgrades these next few weeks, but the cost for Marlins backstop J.T. Realmuto remains prohibitive, at least in the eyes of Nats general manager Mike Rizzo.

Here's what Rizzo said in a candid interview on Friday with MLB Network Radio about potentially acquiring Miami's backstop:

"[The Marlins] are not going to sell him cheap. We know what the return has to be on Realmuto, and we're not willing to meet that price. So unless something changes there, on their end, we're going to go with [Matt] Wieters when he gets healthy and a combination of [Pedro] Severino and [Spencer] Kieboom to back him up."

Feinsand: 10 players whose trade stock is on the rise

The Nats were very publicly linked to Realmuto throughout the winter, but -- as appears to still be the case -- the asking price was too high. Many reports over the offseason alluded that Miami, in the midst of a major overhaul, was asking for at least one of its top two prospects, Victor Robles or Juan Soto, both of whom have excelled in brief MLB stints.

Realmuto, 27, remains under club control through 2020, which assuredly would be one of the many enticing returns for Washington, which has many significant contributors hitting free agency this winter. Realmuto is batting .297/.355/.524 with nine home runs and 27 RBIs in 54 games this season for a Marlins club that entered Friday with a 29-46 record.

Video: Mike Lowell breaks down J.T. Realmuto, his value

Astros remain interested in acquiring Britton
June 22: After nearly trading for Orioles closer Zach Britton last season, the Astros remain interested in the left-hander, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an article for FanRag Sports.

Houston and Baltimore agreed on a deal sending Britton to the Astros for multiple players before the non-waiver Trade Deadline in 2017, but it was reportedly vetoed by Orioles owner Peter Angelos after physicals were exchanged.

• Non-waiver Trade Deadline explained

Britton has allowed only one hit over 4 1/3 scoreless innings since he returned from right Achilles tendon surgery, and he's walked just one batter after issuing three free passes in his season debut.

The bullpen arguably remains the Astros' biggest weakness, and yet, the club's relief corps has performed incredibly well lately, posting the third-best ERA (2.03) in the Majors during June.

Hector Rondon has emerged as the Astros' primary closer this month, notching four saves in four chances, and Chris Devenski (1.57 ERA), Collin McHugh (1.13 ERA) and Brad Peacock (2.30 ERA) have also excelled this season. Even Ken Giles, who posted a 7.88 ERA in May and allowed three runs in his first two June appearances, has found a groove, tossing four straight scoreless outings.

Morning Lineup Podcast talks third-base trade market

Rangers willing to pay part of Choo's contract in trade
June 22: The Rangers have made Shin-Soo Choo available and are willing to pay part of the veteran's salary to get a deal done, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an article for FanRag Sports.

The 35-year-old is owed $42 million over the 2019-20 seasons as part of the seven-year, $130 million contract he signed with Texas in December 2013.

Choo has reached base in 34 straight games and owns a stellar 134 wRC+ this season. However, his defensive capabilities in the outfield are limited at this point, and he's spent much of the year as the Rangers' designated hitter. That, along with his contract, could reduce that number of teams interested in acquiring him.

"No chance" Pirates trade Taillon
June 22: Even if the Pirates decide to sell, Jameson Taillon is not expected to be one of the players available, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an article for FanRag Sports.

A source told Heyman there is "no chance" Pittsburgh moves its 26-year-old right-hander, who has posted a 4.03 ERA with a 1.22 WHIP this season.

Taillon won't be arbitration eligible for the first time until the 2019-2020 offseason and has four seasons remaining after this one before he reaches free agency.

Pirates players who are more likely to be dealt include Jordy Mercer, Josh Harrison, Corey Dickerson and Ivan Nova.

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.

Video: Morning Lineup: Teams that could trade for deGrom

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.

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.

Duquette: 7 potential trade destinations for Machado

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.

Royals shift focus to trading Moustakas after Herrera deal
June 21: After a trade that sent closer Kelvin Herrera to the Nationals, the Royals are now shifting their focus to moving third baseman Mike Moustakas, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman in an article for FanRag Sports.

Moustakas is on a one-year deal with Kansas City that includes a mutual option for 2019. He's having a solid season, slashing .263/.319/.480 with 14 home runs after belting a career-high 38 in 2017, though he has been slumping of late. Moustakas has played his entire eight-year career with the Royals.

Video: MLB Tonight on Herrera being traded to the Nats

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.

Yankees evoking memories of 1998 juggernaut

MLB.com @MikeLupica

The modern Yankees team against which you measure all others is the one from 1998 -- which won 114 games plus 11 more in the playoffs -- during a time when the Yankees won four World Series in five seasons. They nearly made it five out of six before a series of unfortunate events occurred one night in Phoenix in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 in 2001.

That Yankees team didn't win five Series in a row, the way the old Yankees did from 1949-53. I believe Joe Torre's Yankees were better than those vintage teams because it was harder for Torre's clubs to win it all -- since they needed to win what Reggie Jackson calls, "those 11 in October."

The modern Yankees team against which you measure all others is the one from 1998 -- which won 114 games plus 11 more in the playoffs -- during a time when the Yankees won four World Series in five seasons. They nearly made it five out of six before a series of unfortunate events occurred one night in Phoenix in the bottom of the ninth of Game 7 in 2001.

That Yankees team didn't win five Series in a row, the way the old Yankees did from 1949-53. I believe Joe Torre's Yankees were better than those vintage teams because it was harder for Torre's clubs to win it all -- since they needed to win what Reggie Jackson calls, "those 11 in October."

But the best of them, the best the Yankees have had in 90 years, were those 1998 Bombers. The old Yanks of legend -- the ones of Ruth and Gehrig in '27 -- had a winning percentage of .714 over 154 games, which was kind of perfect, because that's how many career home runs "The Babe" had. The '98 Yankees, in a different world, posted a .704 mark over 162 contests.

Now comes this current Yankees team, moving up on the halfway point of the season, which it will effectively reach next weekend at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox. It is on pace to win 111. And, as they say, that's not nothing.

We love to do that in baseball, of course, talk about players and teams being on a pace to do this or that. It's part of the magic of the sport, one more connected to the past than any of our other team sports. But even if these Yankees -- who have been largely blessed with good health and good fortune, especially since a 9-9 start -- don't get to 114, they could come close. I think as good as they've been so far, they can get better and play better. And if you don't think Brian Cashman, their general manager, will get reinforcements at the Trade Deadline, well, think again.

Could these young Yankees, who seem to be just imagining their own possibilities, produce a regular season like the '98 Yankees did? They might. So I asked one of the stars of that team, and one of the most popular Yankees of all time, to compare his team to this one.

I framed the question by telling Paul O'Neill that I thought the starting pitching was way better in 1998; that as deep and talented as the bullpen was, this Yankee bullpen might turn out to have better arms; and that this Yankee batting order is even more dangerous than the one that produced those 114 wins.

O'Neill began this way: "We won the World Series."

Video: WS1998 Gm4: Yankees sweep Padres, win World Series

They sure did. And when they were in the only real trouble they would face, down to the Indians, 2-1, in the American League Championship Series, they not only came back, they never lost another game. When they were 0-3 that season, I asked Yogi Berra if he had any advice for Torre.

"Yeah," Yogi said, "tell him to win some games."

From that point until they swept the Padres in the World Series, their record was a fast 125-47 (.727). After 73 games that season, they were 54-19 (.740). The current Yankees are 50-23 (.685), four games behind.

"So let's wait and see the end result," O'Neill said. "But these guys are really talented!"

Then: "Bullpen, I would say even. Hitting, theirs [is better]. But our starters were really good."

And better than that. If there is any decided edge -- even with the way these current Yankees can mash, it is with the starters. David Cone was 20-7 that season, David Wells was 18-4 and Andy Pettitte was 16-11. Hideki Irabu won 13 games, while Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez was 12-4. Of the current Yankee starters, Luis Severino gets to play with those cool kids. Once El Duque was with them, the 1998 team could put its Top 4 guys against anybody else's.

They had Tino Martinez at first, Chuck Knoblauch at second, Derek Jeter at short, Scott Brosius at third, O'Neill, Bernie Williams and Tim Raines in the outfield, and Jorge Posada and Joe Girardi behind the plate. The bullpen, with the great Mariano Rivera as its star, also included Jeff Nelson, Mike Stanton, Graeme Lloyd and Ramiro Mendoza. It was, from start to finish, a wonderful team to watch play baseball -- one made for Yankees history and all of baseball history.

Now come the new guys, seven of whom already have 10 or more home runs. "All Rise" Judge. Giancarlo Stanton. Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, the kids at the bottom of the order. Neither Judge nor Stanton have been the home run stars of the season, and they still had 37 homers between them entering Saturday. Do I honestly believe -- and this is before Cashman gets them another starter -- that they could win 110 or more? I do. Since that 9-9 start, they have been playing over -- wait for it -- .700 ball for nearly 60 games.

Video: Must C Comeback: Stanton's walk-off homer caps rally

There is a lot more left for this Yankee team to do -- much to prove, maybe make history of its own. But one thing is verifiable at this point: Yankees fans have waited since Torre's team for another group with which to fall in love. Now, they have it.

Final word from Mr. O'Neill, Yankee right fielder in 1998, comparing these Yankees to his:

"[The 2018 Yankees] have a much better right fielder!"

Mike Lupica is a columnist for MLB.com. He also writes for the New York Daily News.

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres

Shin-Soo Choo has World Cup fever!

On Saturday, Mexico and South Korea battled in the World Cup, an important match for both teams and one that Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo was particularly excited about.

How excited was he? Well, Choo, a man who's demonstrated before that he's very proud of his heritage, was spotted at Target Field before Saturday's Rangers-Twins game in a full South Korea soccer kit -- complete with his baseball jersey number, 17. 

Remember Felix's slam ... off Johan Santana?

Felix Hernandez has accomplished a lot over his storied Major League career: an American League Cy Young Award, six All-Star appearances, a perfect game and even an entire fan section in his honor. But all of that came as a result of his pitching. We're here today to remind you that King Felix is also one of the game's most feared sluggers. 

History for Crew: No-no, game each end with HRs

Aguilar's 2 solo shots carry Brewers after Cards rookie deals
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- After barely making the team out of Spring Training, Jesus Aguilar was the Brewers' third-string first baseman. Now, he's been welcomed by teammates at Miller Park's home plate with a walk-off shower twice this season and is arguably his team's most feared hitter.

In their 2-1 win over the Cardinals on Friday night at Miller Park, the Brewers had three hits: an eighth-inning single from Eric Sogard and two solo home runs from Aguilar. In the victory, Aguilar became the first player in the Expansion Era (since 1961) to break up a no-hit bid of five-plus innings with a home run and hit a walk-off homer in the same game, per Elias Sports.

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MILWAUKEE -- After barely making the team out of Spring Training, Jesus Aguilar was the Brewers' third-string first baseman. Now, he's been welcomed by teammates at Miller Park's home plate with a walk-off shower twice this season and is arguably his team's most feared hitter.

In their 2-1 win over the Cardinals on Friday night at Miller Park, the Brewers had three hits: an eighth-inning single from Eric Sogard and two solo home runs from Aguilar. In the victory, Aguilar became the first player in the Expansion Era (since 1961) to break up a no-hit bid of five-plus innings with a home run and hit a walk-off homer in the same game, per Elias Sports.

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"I'm confident," Aguilar said. "I'm confident in myself. When I get a chance to go there, I'm going to give my 100 percent. That's how I think."

Aguilar's team-leading 15th homer broke up Jack Flaherty's no-hit bid with one out in the seventh inning. His 16th won it in the ninth off of Bud Norris. Add five-plus one-run innings from Junior Guerra, a lights-out bullpen and the benches clearing in the eighth and Milwaukee is above .500 (17-16) in the National League Central this season with its NL-best 45th win, extending its lead over the Cubs to two games.

But Brewers manager Craig Counsell was zeroed in on Aguilar carrying the team in his fifth-consecutive multi-RBI performance.

"It's again, it's putting together at-bats, smart at-bats, knowing what's going on," Counsell said. "[Aguilar has] really improved on that. He knows what he's looking for. I think that's the best way to say it. Able to use a good swing and the strength and be a really dangerous player."

Video: STL@MIL: Counsell on Aguilar's two home runs in win

The Brewers' offense scored 11 runs off two-time All-Star Carlos Martinez and the Cardinals' staff in a series-opening romp on Thursday night, yet they were anything but dangerous for most of Friday.

Flaherty had no-hit stuff for 100 pitches, but it was his 101st pitch when Aguilar connected for the Brewers' first hit -- a game-tying homer in the seventh.

Video: STL@MIL: Aguilar homers to break up no-hitter in 7th

Behind in the count 0-1, Aguilar said he was "just trying to hit the ball. [Flaherty] was dominating the strike zone tonight, and I think we got lucky. We tied the game in the moment, it's a new game, and we're moving forward, thinking we're going to win this game."

Flaherty pitched seven innings and tied a career-high with 13 strikeouts, blowing by the nine he had against the Brewers on April 3. Yet the rookie's one mistake to Aguilar -- who didn't have a home run this season until April 21 -- denied him of his fourth career victory.

Jordan Hicks hurled a scoreless eighth, allowing the single to Sogard, which led to the benches clearing after Sogard slid into Cardinals shortstop Yairo Munoz at second base.

Video: STL@MIL: Benches clear after force play in Milwaukee

Norris came on in a tie game in the ninth, and retired Travis Shaw before getting ahead of Aguilar in the count, 0-2. Then came another slider, one that Aguilar sent into the right-field bullpen.

"Well, I mean, it was just outstanding," Counsell said. "He hit two sliders. First one, guy's pitching a heck of a game, it's a ball out of the zone, it's just kind of strength and a good baseball swing gets it out of there. The last one, Norris has got a very good slider, it was a little up I think, but to get to that ball with two strikes was absolutely amazing. Yeah, he put us on our back tonight and carried us."

Video: STL@MIL: Aguilar clubs 2nd homer to walk off Brewers

Aguilar's recent tear, which included a first-inning RBI double on Thursday off Martinez, is also earning respect from his opposition.

"Great hitter, he's hot right now," Norris said. "I got ahead, which was my focus. Then I got to expand him. I'm trying to throw a fastball up. I yanked it. He put a barrel on it, ball went over the fence. Not happy about it, that's for sure. "

With Eric Thames back in the lineup after thumb surgery and Ryan Braun healthy following a short cryotherapy procedure in Los Angeles earlier this week, Counsell certainly has several options for first base and left field.

Aguilar is making his best argument for earning the starting first-base job, just months after even making the team was in flux.

"When [Counsell] puts me there," Aguilar said, "he knows I'm going to battle and do what I'm supposed to do."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hader puts out fire with 3 K's: With no outs and runners on first and second in the sixth inning, Josh Hader relieved Guerra, and finished the inning by striking out the Cardinals' 7-8-9 hitters to keep the deficit at one run.

Video: STL@MIL: Hader K's Flaherty, the side in the 6th

"I was just attacking them," Hader said. "Using my strengths, and for me, that's not giving them anything they can put in play to score those runs."

The Brewers and Cardinals combined for 30 strikeouts over nine innings, and Milwaukee's bullpen -- Hader, Jacob Barnes, Jeremy Jeffress and Corey Knebel -- had eight over four innings.

Video: STL@MIL: Barnes strikes out Martinez in the 7th

Some of those strikeouts led to disputes with home plate umpire Tim Timmons, including an ejection to Tommy Pham in the first inning after arguing with Timmons from the Cardinals' dugout. Thames threw his bat and slammed his helmet after his second strikeout of the game in the third.

"There was good pitching on both sides tonight," Counsell said. "When the pitchers keep putting the balls on the corners, there's going to be some disagreements. There were a lot of balls put on corners tonight."

Video: STL@MIL: Pham tossed for arguing from Cards' bench

SOUND SMART
Aguilar's walk-off home run not only made him the first Brewer with multiple walk-off homers in a season since Corey Hart in 2010, but helped him match Jeromy Burnitz's club record (1999) with multiple RBIs in five straight starts.

HE SAID IT
"Never. Never. Never. Don't strike out. That's why I was overaggressive trying to hit that pitch in front." -- Aguilar, who said he has never been on a team that was no-hit at any level of baseball and that his only game plan against Flaherty before the home run was to not strike out

Video: Must C Clutch: Aguilar hits tying, then walk-off HR

UP NEXT
Right-hander Chase Anderson (5-6, 4.54 ERA) will look to rebound in the third game of the Brewers' four-game series with the Cardinals on Saturday at 3:10 p.m. CT at Miller Park. Anderson allowed a season-high six runs on only five hits in a loss to the Phillies on Sunday. Right-hander Miles Mikolas (7-2, 2.69) will start for the Cardinals.

Stephen Cohn is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen__Cohn.

Milwaukee Brewers, Jesus Aguilar

Red Sox outslug Mariners behind J.D.'s 23rd HR

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Just when you thought Nelson Cruz was going to be too much for the Red Sox on Friday night, J.D. Martinez went off on the Seattle Mariners.

Backed by a late-game surge from Martinez, who belted a two-run homer and a two-run single to cap a wild comeback, the Red Sox emerged with a 14-10 victory in a classic slugfest at Fenway Park.

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BOSTON -- Just when you thought Nelson Cruz was going to be too much for the Red Sox on Friday night, J.D. Martinez went off on the Seattle Mariners.

Backed by a late-game surge from Martinez, who belted a two-run homer and a two-run single to cap a wild comeback, the Red Sox emerged with a 14-10 victory in a classic slugfest at Fenway Park.

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Video: SEA@BOS: Red Sox erase early deficit with 5-run 1st

Martinez went 4-for-5, scored three times, drove in five and was a triple shy of the cycle. His home run was No. 23 on the season, tying him with Mike Trout for the MLB lead.

"Good at-bats the whole day," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "The two doubles, he just missed the second one, and the home run, he hit a missile to center field and you saw what happened. This guy, he's that good. It's good that we had traffic in front of him. Everybody from top to bottom did an outstanding job staying in the game, just believing."

Thanks to the mashing of Martinez, the Red Sox were able to offset the monster performance by Cruz, who hammered two three-run homers off of knuckleballer Steven Wright as part of a 4-for-5, seven-RBI performance.

"He was off in the first inning, and he made some adjustments," Cora said. "It's one of those that he was getting close to getting back, and then [Cruz] happened. That's basically what happened."

But Martinez -- who is off to an MVP-caliber start to the season -- happened for the Red Sox.

"When we went down 10-5, I remember just thinking and talking in the outfield to the guys during the pitching change that we were down 10-5, but it didn't feel that way," said Martinez. "I felt we were really still in this game. And that's kind of how I felt the environment was in the dugout during the game today."

For the second straight day, the Sox established a season high in hits. The 20-hit onslaught came a day after Boston banged out 16 hits in a getaway-day win over the Twins.

Video: SEA@BOS: Benintendi ties game with a single to center

"It's 162 games, and we're going to go through stretches like we did in Minnesota that we felt like we had no chance offensively, and then all of a sudden, this happened," said Cora.

This game was wild from the outset. The Red Sox rallied back from a deficit of 4-0 in the top of the first to take a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the first. And when they trailed 10-5, they again didn't flinch, scoring one in the fifth, three in the sixth and five in the seventh.

Martinez's two-run homer in the sixth came off a 1-2 fastball from Mariners reliever Nick Vincent to get the Red Sox back within striking distance at 10-8. Mitch Moreland followed with a triple, and Xander Bogaerts -- who later left the game with a left index finger sprain -- made it a one-run game with an RBI single.

Video: SEA@BOS: Martinez rips a go-ahead 2-run single in 7th

In the seventh, Andrew Benintendi made it 10-10 with an RBI single. And it was Martinez who put Boston in front for good with his two-run single up the middle.

"It was a weird game," said Benintendi. "It was one of those, when you're down 10-5, there was a lot of game left. The way it was going, it was like, 'We're going to come back.' We just put good at-bats together, took our walks, and got those big hits."

Wright endured one of the worst starts of his career, surrendering four runs in the top of the first and a total of 10 earned runs over 3 1/3 innings. In one start, Wright's ERA went from 1.23 to 3.38.

Yet the Red Sox won anyway with a batting barrage against Wade LeBlanc and several Seattle relievers.

The game couldn't have played out any differently than last week's LeBlanc-Wright matchup at Safeco Field, which the Mariners won, 1-0.

"He pitched a great game against us last time," Martinez said. "It was one of those things where we all had a little chip on our shoulder coming into today. We were just like, 'Let's go. Let's get this guy.' I think everyone was just a little more focused."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Martinez's first strike: Down 4-0 early, the Red Sox struck back quickly against LeBlanc in the bottom of the first, and the hit that seemed to change the momentum was Martinez's RBI double to left that brought home Mookie Betts to make it a three-run game with nobody out.

Video: SEA@BOS: Martinez rips an RBI double off the wall

"Yeah, I mean I just think bouncing back the way we did in that first inning was probably the biggest thing," said Moreland. "Coming back out and scoring some runs and getting back into the ballgame there was a big one for us."

SOUND SMART
This marked the first time the Red Sox won a game in which their starter allowed 10-plus runs since May 8, 1946, when Mickey Harris allowed 10 runs (seven earned) against the White Sox.

HE SAID IT
"To get down by a pretty good many early and battle back, take the lead, lose it again, get down big again, and then come back and win, that's some fight. We've got a great group in here. You know, that was a good one for us." -- Moreland

UP NEXT
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (9-1, 3.59 ERA), who has won his last six starts, will try to stay hot when he takes the mound in Saturday's middle game of this three-game series. Rodriguez beat the Mariners last time out with a strong start, as he gave up two runs over six innings while striking out nine. The Red Sox are 13-1 in his starts this season. Seattle counters with righty Mike Leake (7-4, 4.47). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. ET.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, J.D. Martinez

Machado's homer in 15th lifts O's over Braves

MLB.com

ATLANTA -- As Friday night transformed into Saturday morning, Manny Machado stepped into the box after more than five hours had ticked by since the first pitch was thrown at SunTrust Park. Machado said he was only looking for one thing and, surprisingly, it wasn't the perfect pitch to hit. All he wanted was "to go home," he joked.

But there must have been a little truth in the jest because Machado got what he wanted. The Orioles beat the National League East-leading Braves, 10-7, when their shortstop sent a shot into the visiting bullpen in left field for a two-run homer in the 15th inning. Jonathan Schoop later added a two-out RBI single as insurance.

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ATLANTA -- As Friday night transformed into Saturday morning, Manny Machado stepped into the box after more than five hours had ticked by since the first pitch was thrown at SunTrust Park. Machado said he was only looking for one thing and, surprisingly, it wasn't the perfect pitch to hit. All he wanted was "to go home," he joked.

But there must have been a little truth in the jest because Machado got what he wanted. The Orioles beat the National League East-leading Braves, 10-7, when their shortstop sent a shot into the visiting bullpen in left field for a two-run homer in the 15th inning. Jonathan Schoop later added a two-out RBI single as insurance.

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But it took a lot of fight for the Orioles to get to that point. Down 3-1 in the ninth, the Orioles' bats came alive in a six-run frame as four of the first five batters reached. Danny Valencia cut the deficit with an RBI single before Schoop followed with an RBI double to tie the game at 3. Chris Davis scored the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to left field. A trio of two-out RBI knocks capped the O's scoring.

Video: BAL@ATL: Orioles erupt for 6 runs in the 9th inning

But the Braves would not go quietly after the O's ninth-inning rally. Down 7-3 with no outs and the bases loaded in the bottom half of the frame, the heart of the Braves' order rallied to score two runs on a Freddie Freeman single to center field and another two on a Nick Markakis game-tying double.

All of the excitement came after a stellar start from Alex Cobb, whom Orioles manager Buck Showalter said was as good as he has been all year. Friday night's game was laced with a little redemption for Cobb, who gave up 14 runs through 10 2/3 innings over his past two starts.

Cobb was taken out after the seventh inning, allowing just one run on four hits while striking out six along the way.

"I can't even really recall what took place [after I came out]," Cobb joked, "but I know there were some pretty good back and forth."

Video: BAL@ATL: Cobb K's 6 over 7 innings of 1-run ball

The key takeaway from the right-hander's performance on Friday night was his ability to get soft contact from the Braves' lineup. Up until Dansby Swanson's two-out triple in the seventh, no Braves player had been able to get a good barrel on the ball.

"It was one of those days where you throw a pitch and the ball is actually coming out better than it feels," Cobb said. "... Getting ground balls on mistake pitches I think really tells me that my delivery is in line and the ball is coming out the right way."

Video: BAL@ATL: Swanson hits a two-out triple to right

Along with Cobb, Davis also made his presence known in Friday night's win in his return to the Orioles' lineup after an eight-game hiatus. After walking in his first plate appearance, he hit a solo homer to open the fifth inning to give the O's a 1-0 lead.

Davis had been struggling offensively throughout much of the 2018 season, with a .150 average and 14 strikeouts in June. The last time Davis knocked a home run was on May 9 against the Royals. Friday's was his fifth of the season.

"Him hitting a home run, that's kind of the least of it for me," Showalter said. "It's about having him back and getting a chance to be back engaged in the competition."

Video: BAL@ATL: Davis opens the scoring with a solo homer

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
While there were many singular moments that mattered for the Orioles in the 15-inning game, none were quite as nerve-racking as when the Braves had a chance to cap off a four-run, ninth-inning rally with the walk-off win. Atlanta gave Freeman the green light from third to attempt to score on Markakis' double to right field. If Freeman scored, the Braves would win. The O's defensive arms, however, proved too quick for Freeman as a relay from Jace Peterson in right to Schoop at second to Caleb Joseph at the plate prevented the winning run from scoring with a close play at the plate.

"In that situation, you are just trying to do whatever," Machado said. "You got to fight back, and we fought back to get back in that game."

Video: BAL@ATL: Markakis hits game-tying double in 9th

SOUND SMART
Since making his debut in 2011, Cobb has posted a 2.67 ERA in Interleague play, which is the fifth-best mark among all active pitchers.

Friday night's 15-inning, five-plus-hour game was the longest bout of the season for both the Orioles and Braves. Both clubs had previously gone to 14 innings. 

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Called up from Triple-A Gwinnett earlier in the day, Danny Santana fueled Atlanta's ninth-inning rally with a double and nearly ended the game with two outs in the 12th. The outfielder drilled Miguel Castro's 3-1 sinker and then watched Craig Gentry snare it with his glove at the top of the center-field wall.

Video: BAL@ATL: Gentry makes catch at wall to end the 12th

WILKERSON'S FIRST HIT
Steve Wilkerson notched his first Major League hit with an RBI single during the six-run ninth inning. The Orioles selected his contract from Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday. A Georgia native, Wilkerson attended Pope High School in Marietta, less than 10 miles from SunTrust Park.

Video: BAL@ATL: Wilkerson drills RBI single for 1st MLB hit

HE SAID IT
"That's why people come, because things happen that aren't supposed to happen on paper… You can't hand the ball to your best shooter or your best running back. You have to wait your turn in the order, and that's why it's such a team game." -- Showalter, on the wild ninth inning

UP NEXT
Dylan Bundy gets the start as the Orioles go for the series victory over the Braves on Saturday at SunTrust Park. After holding opponents to no runs on three hits in back-to-back appearances to open June, the O's right-hander gave up four runs in his last start against the Marlins. But a strong offensive surge assured a win for Bundy. The Braves will counter with Julio Teheran. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. ET.

Tori McElhaney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta.

Baltimore Orioles, Chris Davis, Manny Machado

Kershaw back on mound tonight vs. deGrom

MLB.com @kengurnick

NEW YORK -- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will come off the disabled list and start Saturday night's game against the Mets, forgoing a previously scheduled Minor League rehabilitation assignment, manager Dave Roberts announced before Friday night's series opener at Citi Field.

Kershaw has been limited to one start since May 1. He first went on the DL with left biceps tendinitis, was activated for one five-inning start on May 31, then went back on the DL with a strained lower back. Kershaw will be opposing Mets ace Jacob deGrom and his Major League-leading 1.51 ERA. deGrom has posted a 0.90 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings over his last 11 starts.

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NEW YORK -- Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will come off the disabled list and start Saturday night's game against the Mets, forgoing a previously scheduled Minor League rehabilitation assignment, manager Dave Roberts announced before Friday night's series opener at Citi Field.

Kershaw has been limited to one start since May 1. He first went on the DL with left biceps tendinitis, was activated for one five-inning start on May 31, then went back on the DL with a strained lower back. Kershaw will be opposing Mets ace Jacob deGrom and his Major League-leading 1.51 ERA. deGrom has posted a 0.90 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings over his last 11 starts.

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After bullpen sessions and a simulated game, Kershaw was to make a rehab start on Saturday night for Triple-A Oklahoma City in Omaha, Neb. But with rain expected in Omaha, as it is in New York on Saturday, Dodgers management was convinced (in large part by Kershaw) to call an audible.

"We're going to keep him here with us," Roberts said. "With the weather uncertainty in Omaha, to make his start is probably the best thing for him and for us. We don't know how much he's going to pitch. Obviously, there is a limitation with him.

"Yeah, there's weather [expected in New York]. As I understand it, there's a potential delay, but we'll be mindful of it. We're not going to do anything to put him in harm's way."

Video: ARI@LAD: Kershaw K's 12 over seven dominant innings

Caleb Ferguson, originally announced as Saturday's Dodgers starter, will remain active and serve as a long reliever to take over if Kershaw's start is cut short. That means Kershaw's return will force the removal of another player from the active roster.

"He did play a little weatherman," Roberts confirmed of Kershaw's role.

Roberts had initially expressed concerns about Kershaw's readiness for Major League competition, with the lefty having pitched only five innings in the past six weeks.

"The thing is, we're going to obviously monitor the length for tomorrow," Roberts said. "We feel comfortable and confident."

Kershaw, a three-time National League Cy Young Award winner, began the year with some tough luck, going 1-4 despite posting a 2.76 ERA and a 3.46 FIP. Eyes will likely be on the radar gun on Saturday, as the southpaw was recording the lowest fastball velocities of his career before landing on the DL.

Rich Hill will start for the Dodgers on Sunday, and Kenta Maeda will start on Monday.

Worth noting

Chris Taylor, removed from Wednesday's game due to a tight left hamstring, was not in the starting lineup on Friday night, but he said he would probably be available off the bench to pinch-hit. Roberts said he will be re-evaluated on Saturday. Enrique Hernandez started at shortstop.

Video: ATL@LAD: Buehler K's Camargo, leaves with injury

• Rookie right-hander Walker Buehler is still experiencing some pain in his microfractured rib, but he'll throw a bullpen session to determine if he's close to being activated off the DL. Buehler made three starts before the injury was diagnosed. It was caused by a 108-mph line drive that drilled him on May 21, but Buehler wasn't placed on the DL until he had to be removed from a June 8 start with pain and difficulty breathing.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw

Young fan will only throw 1st pitch from mound

The ceremonial first pitch can be a nerve-wracking time for a person. What if they don't get it over the plate? What if they slip? What if it bounces? What if I become the next 50 Cent-inspired pitch? It's a lot of pressure. Often times, they take the more safe approach and throw out the pitch from in front of the mound. But not this little Reds fan -- he wanted the full experience.