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Acuna debuts, flies out in first 2 at-bats

MLB.com @basebollie

The highly anticipated Major League debut of MLB Pipeline's No. 2 overall prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. is here.

Acuna is in the Braves' lineup Wednesday versus the Reds and left-hander Brandon Finnegan. Batting sixth and playing left field, Acuna hit a long fly ball to the warning track in right-center to end the top of the first inning. He then flied out to right field with runners on second and third to end the third inning.

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The highly anticipated Major League debut of MLB Pipeline's No. 2 overall prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. is here.

Acuna is in the Braves' lineup Wednesday versus the Reds and left-hander Brandon Finnegan. Batting sixth and playing left field, Acuna hit a long fly ball to the warning track in right-center to end the top of the first inning. He then flied out to right field with runners on second and third to end the third inning.

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Tweet from @Braves: It���s happening! #ChopOn pic.twitter.com/wK9JQIqJNl

The 20-year-old phenom tore up Major League Spring Training, batting .432/.519/.727 with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 16 games with Atlanta.

Widely regarded as the top hitting prospect in the game, Acuna has struggled out of the gate in the Minors in 2018. He is batting .232/.321/.304 with one home run and two RBIs in 17 games for Triple-A Gwinnett. However, he has 11 hits -- including a double and homer -- over his last 33 at-bats.

He is a career .305/.374/.475 hitter with 30 homers and 121 RBIs in 253 games at the Minor League level and was named MLB Pipeline's Hitter of the Year in 2017 after batting .325 with 21 homers and 44 stolen bases as he worked his way up the organizational ranks last season.

Acuna will be the youngest player to appear in a big league game in 2018 when he takes the field, surpassing teammate Ozzie Albies.

With a record of 12-10, the Braves are just 3 1/2 games out of first place upon Acuna's arrival. Atlanta has scored a National League-best 122 runs and should only get a boost from its top prospect.

Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @basebollie.

Atlanta Braves

Mookie launches yet another leadoff home run

Right fielder has three homers to open game in week span
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

TORONTO -- Mookie Betts got the Red Sox off to yet another fast start on this road trip by belting his third leadoff homer in the span of a week.

The star right fielder smashed the third pitch of Wednesday night's game from Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez -- a 95.9-mph fastball -- over the wall in left.

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TORONTO -- Mookie Betts got the Red Sox off to yet another fast start on this road trip by belting his third leadoff homer in the span of a week.

The star right fielder smashed the third pitch of Wednesday night's game from Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez -- a 95.9-mph fastball -- over the wall in left.

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According to Statcast™, the homer, No. 7 on the season for Betts, had an exit velocity of 103.8 mph and traveled a projected distance of 402 feet.

Betts extended his own club record with the 14th leadoff homer of his career.

It was Betts who started out this three-city, nine-game trip with a homer against the Angels on April 17. He did it again two nights later to help the Sox cap a sweep.

And by hitting the trifecta of leadoff homers on one road trip on Wednesday, Betts hoped to help get the Red Sox out of a three-game losing streak, which came on the heels of the team's historic 17-2 start.

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

Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts

Verlander (9 K's) electric as Astros best Angels

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- Entering a series in which they were slated to face the top three starters in the American League in terms of ERA, the Angels pulled out wins in games started by Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton. Besting Justin Verlander proved to be a more difficult challenge.

Verlander allowed two runs and four hits while striking out nine batters over seven innings to remain unbeaten with the Astros in the regular season in a 5-2 win over the Angels on Wednesday afternoon at MInute Maid Park.

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HOUSTON -- Entering a series in which they were slated to face the top three starters in the American League in terms of ERA, the Angels pulled out wins in games started by Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton. Besting Justin Verlander proved to be a more difficult challenge.

Verlander allowed two runs and four hits while striking out nine batters over seven innings to remain unbeaten with the Astros in the regular season in a 5-2 win over the Angels on Wednesday afternoon at MInute Maid Park.

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Video: LAA@HOU: Verlander freezes Trout for ninth strikeout

"You don't ever want to be the guy starting on the last day of the series and your team is facing a sweep, but my job's to end it," Verlander said. "We are tough to sweep because of our pitching matchups, our 1-5, and our rotation. The old adage, 'You're only as good as the next day's starting pitcher,' and I think we like our chances every day."

Verlander (4-0) retired 20 of the first 21 batters he faced before Albert Pujols hit a line-drive homer into the left-field seats with two outs in the seventh to spoil the shutout bid. It was Pujols' 64th career homer against the Astros -- the most by an opponent against Houston, including the postseason. Verlander gave up another run -- a run-scoring double by Zack Cozart -- but finished the inning at 97 pitches.

Video: LAA@HOU: Pujols lines a homer for 2,994th career hit

"I feel like I say this every time he pitches, but what a great job of dominating and controlling the game," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "Even in the inning he wobbled a little bit, it never gets away from him."

Verlander improved to 9-0 with a 1.33 ERA in 11 regular-season starts with the Astros and has won 11 consecutive regular-season decisions, which is the longest active streak in the Major Leagues. He was locked into his mechanics early in the game and had terrific fastball command, executing pitches at what Hinch called an elite level.

Video: LAA@HOU: Hinch on Verlander's dominant outing in win

"I felt fantastic," Verlander said. "I ran into a little bit of trouble there in the last inning. Pujols gave me a great at-bat, [Andrelton] Simmons hit a good pitch up the middle. I was letting it fly a little bit and got a little erratic there, but other than that, pretty much the rest of the game I was right where I wanted to be. I'm just trying to stay consistent at this point."

Angels starter Nick Tropeano, facing his former team, sent down the first 11 batters he faced before loading the bases on a pair of walks and a hit-by-pitch in the fourth. Alex Bregman followed with a three-run double to put the Astros ahead, 3-0. Jose Altuve's first homer of the season, to lead off the sixth, gave Verlander a 4-0 lead.

Video: LAA@HOU: Altuve gets silent treatment after first HR

"I got a fastball over the middle of the plate and was fortunate enough to put a good swing on it," Bregman said. "The guys did a great job getting on base in front of me. … When we get people on base we've got to lock it in and come through for the team."

Video: LAA@HOU: Bregman clears bases with three-run double

SOUND SMART
Verlander's 1.36 ERA is his lowest through the first six starts of a season in his career.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Verlander got his two highest-spin four-seam fastball strikeouts Wednesday since Statcast™ began tracking the statistic in 2015 -- Kole Calhoun in the sixth (95.7-mph/2,806 rpm) and Mike Trout in the seventh (96.4-mph/2,771 rpm).

Video: LAA@HOU: Statcast™ tracks Verlander's elite spin rate

HE SAID IT
"That was spectacular. He came in and shut the door. He looked fantastic -- good life on his fastball, slider was disgusting, the one he threw [Justin Upton]. If that guy's on, it's trouble." -- Verlander, on closer Ken Giles, who retired Trout, Upton and Pujols in order in the ninth inning

Video: LAA@HOU: Giles retires Pujols to nail down the save

UP NEXT
Lefty Dallas Keuchel, coming off his first win of the season, gets the ball in Friday's 7:10 p.m. CT series opener against the A's at Minute Maid Park. He's 13-6 with a 2.42 ERA in his career in 29 games (25 starts) in April -- his best ERA of any month. Keuchel will face Sean Manaea, who threw a no-hitter in his last start.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros, Justin Verlander

Will Senzel be next phenom to debut?

Reds want top prospect to be fully ready before promotion; Hughes happy to stretch limits
MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- The Braves made big news on Wednesday by calling up left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr., their No. 1 prospect and the second-ranked prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. For those who follow the Reds, it raises the question: When will it be time for infielder Nick Senzel to be called up from Triple-A Louisville?

Senzel is the Reds' top prospect and No. 7 overall, and general manager Dick Williams has noted that the club wants to make sure the 22 year old is fully ready when he does get the call. Williams also wants the promotion to be dictated by performance and not big league club need.

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CINCINNATI -- The Braves made big news on Wednesday by calling up left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr., their No. 1 prospect and the second-ranked prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. For those who follow the Reds, it raises the question: When will it be time for infielder Nick Senzel to be called up from Triple-A Louisville?

Senzel is the Reds' top prospect and No. 7 overall, and general manager Dick Williams has noted that the club wants to make sure the 22 year old is fully ready when he does get the call. Williams also wants the promotion to be dictated by performance and not big league club need.

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"For me, I'd just listen to [player development director] Jeff Graupe, his staff," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "Right now, [manager] Dickie Schofield and [hitting coach] Leon Durham are down there with him. They can give you a lot of information about how close he is and all that. Certainly, necessity will create certain things. Assuming everyone's healthy and all that, it gives you a chance to let the people dealing with it to make the decision."

Riggleman has had Senzel's first Louisville manager, Pat Kelly, as his bench coach since Cincinnati replaced Bryan Price last week. But Riggleman said he didn't ask Kelly about how Senzel was playing.

"I see reports. I cherish the opportunity to manage the 25 I have," Riggleman said. "If the decision is made to bring on someone else, that's great. If not, I don't want to interfere with Dick and [front office members] Sam [Grossman] and Billy Doran, Jeff Graupe, what their schedule is for Nick."

Senzel has mostly played second base for Louisville this season, along with his natural position of third base. He went 0-for-4 Tuesday afternoon and is batting .231/.315/.338 in 16 games. Acuna, 20, had similar numbers for Triple-A Gwinnett before he was given his much-anticipated promotion.

While Riggleman, who spent a large part of his coaching career in player development -- including 2012-15 with the Reds -- believes in getting input from a player's Minor League manager and trusting his opinion on a callup.

"Do you have a magic point there to get it just right? Certainly, not always," Riggleman said. "I remember Keith Hernandez, a great prospect in the Cardinals' organization. He went up and hit about .170. They sent him back. The next time up, he took off. It's not an exact science."

Hughes, Riggleman not concerned about stretching limits
During Tuesday's 9-7 win over Atlanta in 12 innings, reliever Jared Hughes threw 42 pitches over the final 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the victory. It was his longest outing since he threw three innings for the Pirates against the Cubs on July 9, 2016.

Video: ATL@CIN: Hughes gets Swanson looking to escape jam

Before Hughes, Riggleman used Amir Garrett for 2 1/3 innings. Garrett gave up three runs in the ninth before the game went into extras. Although he didn't expect to emulate what managers did in the last couple of postseasons -- such as the Indians with Andrew Miller and the Dodgers with Kenley Jansen -- the new Reds skipper is showing he doesn't worry about extending his relievers.

"What Jared did last night, that used to be fairly routine. I know it's not routine anymore and I'm taking him out of his comfort level," Riggleman said. "I think we can raise the bar a little bit about how much more we can get out of guys. This thing of 65 innings for a reliever and that's enough -- you wished that's all you needed because your starters are going that far, but I think we can get a lot more out of them. We don't want to get anybody hurt. But it looks like, to me, that they all get hurt anyway."

Hughes, who was signed to a two-year contract during the offseason, didn't mind stretching his usual limits.

"You look at my track record, it was definitely a different thing for me," Hughes said on Wednesday. "But it's only different in recent memory. When I first got called up and later in the Minors, I threw long relief. I was a starter at times. I was a swing guy in Double-A. I have a history of knowing how to handle it. But for me, it's always just about forcing contact and keeping the pitch count down."

UMPS Care Auction
Major League Baseball umpires will offer up more than 300 items that include priceless autographed sports memorabilia, one-of-a-kind VIP experiences, and upgraded ticket packages during its 10th Annual UMPS CARE Charities Online Auction. The auction is currently underway at mlb.com/UmpsCare and closes at 10 p.m. ET on Monday, April 30. Some of the items up for bid include signed bats, cleats, jerseys, photos and baseballs from some of the biggest stars in baseball. There are also opportunities to watch batting practice on the field at many MLB ballparks, hotel stays with game tickets, opportunities to have lunch with an MLB umpire, suites and tickets from Minor League Baseball clubs, golf foursomes and more.

All proceeds from the Online Auction support UMPS CARE Charities youth programs to provide Major League Baseball experiences for children awaiting adoption, Build-A-Bear Workshop® experiences for hospitalized children coping with serious illnesses, college scholarships for deserving young adults who were adopted as children and financial assistance for families in need.

"Each year, thanks to the support from our friends in Major League Baseball and throughout the sports world, we get some fantastic items for our auction, and this year is no exception," said Gary Darling, former MLB umpire and Board President for UMPS CARE Charities. "This is the biggest fundraising initiative that we have to help so many children in need, and we can't thank everyone enough for all of the support. Please tell all of your friends, bid early and bid often to help this great cause."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Jared Hughes

Jose Altuve hit his first homer of 2018 and got the dugout silent treatment … and he loved it

Through his first 25 games this season, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was his usual self at the plate -- slashing .333/.396/.770 and generally being a pest for pitching staffs.

However, he hadn't connected on a home run prior to Wednesday's 5-2 win over the Angels at Minute Maid Park. Yes, that's right ... the man who's totaled 24 homers in each of the past two seasons had not yet picked one up through the first three-plus weeks of the new campaign.

Sano takes Gray deep for his hardest-hit HR

MLB.com @RhettBollinger

NEW YORK -- Twins third baseman Miguel Sano connected on the hardest-hit homer of his career in the first inning against the Yankees on Wednesday, crushing a two-run shot off right-hander Sonny Gray that had an exit velocity of 114.6 mph, per Statcast™.

Sano, who has 76 career homers since debuting in 2015, jumped all over a 1-0 changeup from Gray, delivering it a Statcast-projected 440 feet to left-center. It was more of a line drive than a majestic blast, as it had a low launch angle of 19 degrees.

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NEW YORK -- Twins third baseman Miguel Sano connected on the hardest-hit homer of his career in the first inning against the Yankees on Wednesday, crushing a two-run shot off right-hander Sonny Gray that had an exit velocity of 114.6 mph, per Statcast™.

Sano, who has 76 career homers since debuting in 2015, jumped all over a 1-0 changeup from Gray, delivering it a Statcast-projected 440 feet to left-center. It was more of a line drive than a majestic blast, as it had a low launch angle of 19 degrees.

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Sano's previous highest exit velocity on a homer was 114.2 mph, set on Aug. 7, 2016, against Rays right-hander Ryan Garton. Wednesday's homer also tied for the hardest-hit ball in Sano's career, as he also had a single with an exit velocity of 114.6 mph on April 30, 2017.

Since Statcast™ debuted in 2015, only Kennys Vargas has hit a homer harder than Sano's blast on Wednesday. Vargas owns the two hardest-hit homers for the Twins since then, with an exit velocity of 116 mph on June 10, 2017, and 114.7 mph on May 9, 2017.

The homer was Sano's team-leading fifth of the season and his second career homer off Gray.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Miguel Sano

Nats' offense awakens in big way by the Bay

MLB.com @JamalCollier

SAN FRANCISCO -- Difficulty scoring runs had been the biggest trademark of the Nationals' four-game skid heading into Wednesday's game against the Giants, as they entered hitting .179 with eight runs scored during that span.

That made Wednesday afternoon's series finale at AT&T Park feel like a sort of catharsis for Washington, as its offense erupted for season highs in runs and hits (18) and Max Scherzer turned in a gem en route to a 15-2 victory over the Giants. Matt Adams hammered a three-run home run in the fourth and collected six RBIs, and Andrew Stevenson went 4-for-5 with four RBIs in one of the best games of his young career. Trea Turner went 5-for-6 on the afternoon, raising his batting average from .232 to .267.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Difficulty scoring runs had been the biggest trademark of the Nationals' four-game skid heading into Wednesday's game against the Giants, as they entered hitting .179 with eight runs scored during that span.

That made Wednesday afternoon's series finale at AT&T Park feel like a sort of catharsis for Washington, as its offense erupted for season highs in runs and hits (18) and Max Scherzer turned in a gem en route to a 15-2 victory over the Giants. Matt Adams hammered a three-run home run in the fourth and collected six RBIs, and Andrew Stevenson went 4-for-5 with four RBIs in one of the best games of his young career. Trea Turner went 5-for-6 on the afternoon, raising his batting average from .232 to .267.

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The Nats' 15 runs scored set a new season high and helped them avoid a three-game sweep and close out this nine-game road trip with a 4-5 record. The win snapped a four-game losing streak.

Video: WSH@SF: Turner rips five hits, swipes his 10th base

Scherzer continued his excellent start to the season by notching his fourth double-digit strikeout game in six starts. But rarely has he had the backing from his lineup like he enjoyed Wednesday.

The Nats have scuffled recently while losing three of their best hitters in Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy and Adam Eaton to the disabled list. Ryan Zimmerman and Howie Kendrick were both out of the starting lineup Wednesday with scheduled days off.

Video: WSH@SF: Scherzer K's 10 over six innings vs. Giants

But the Nationals received key contributions from their reserves, something they have not gotten consistently this season. Stevenson reached base five times, collecting hits in his first four at-bats, including a pair of doubles, while scoring two runs. Adams, in the lineup in part because of his career success against Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija -- he is now 9-for-17 in his career against the right-hander -- got the scoring started with a run-scoring single in the first and capped it in the eighth with a two-run double.

The Nationals hadn't scored at least six runs since their 8-6 win over the Mets on April 16.

Video: WSH@SF: Stevenson tallies four hits and four RBIs

UP NEXT
The Nationals return home after a long road trip and send right-hander Stephen Strasburg to the mound hoping to set the tone for the start of a 10-game homestand, beginning Friday night against the D-backs. Strasburg's fastball was electric in his last start as he posted his first double digit strikeout game of the year. Arizona will counter with right-hander Zack Godley. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. ET.

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

Washington Nationals, Matt Adams, Max Scherzer, Andrew Stevenson, Trea Turner

Thames goes on DL with torn UCL in left thumb

MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- Slugging Brewers first baseman Eric Thames faces an extended absence after an MRI scan on Wednesday revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb.

The Brewers placed Thames on the 10-day disabled list and recalled right-hander Brandon Woodruff from Triple-A Colorado Springs to serve as an extra bullpen arm. While Thames is sidelined, hot-hitting Jesus Aguilar is the leading candidate to play regularly at first base, with Ryan Braun as the backup.

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KANSAS CITY -- Slugging Brewers first baseman Eric Thames faces an extended absence after an MRI scan on Wednesday revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb.

The Brewers placed Thames on the 10-day disabled list and recalled right-hander Brandon Woodruff from Triple-A Colorado Springs to serve as an extra bullpen arm. While Thames is sidelined, hot-hitting Jesus Aguilar is the leading candidate to play regularly at first base, with Ryan Braun as the backup.

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Similar injuries sustained by MLB stars Bryce Harper and Mike Trout in recent seasons suggest Thames will miss at least six to eight weeks. Harper, a left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower like Thames, tore the UCL in his left thumb sliding headfirst into third base on April 25, 2014, underwent surgery and returned to the Nationals' lineup on June 30 after missing a little more than two months.

Thames said he didn't feel a pop, but he "knew something was up."

Trout's comeback in 2017 was quicker. He tore the UCL in his left thumb last May 28, also sliding into a base. Trout underwent surgery, and he returned to the Angels about six weeks later on July 14.

Thames will undergo additional tests in Milwaukee before the parties make a decision about surgery as soon as Thursday evening.

"Personally, I feel like I let everybody down, but it's something I really couldn't control," Thames said. "I'll just be cheering from the side for a few weeks."

"It's an injury that we've seen in baseball before, an injury that has a very good recovery rate, and an injury that we know how to treat," Brewers GM David Stearns said. "We still have some tests and exams to go. Surgery is probably likely at this point. It's not a definite, but it is likely.

"Once he has the surgery, if that's where this goes, we'll have a more concrete timeframe for return. But it's obviously going to be a little while. We do fully anticipate him playing again this year, playing a significant portion [of the season] for us this year. But his season is going to be on pause for a little bit."

Thames leads the Brewers with seven homers this season. He went 1-for-4 on Tuesday night, and he was injured diving for a grounder in the eighth inning before Aguilar entered as his defensive replacement in the ninth.

The right-handed-hitting Aguilar has been a force in limited opportunities, batting .429 with a 1.116 OPS in his first 39 plate appearances. He has had a relatively even split so far between left-handed pitchers (17 plate appearances, 1.145 OPS) and righties (22 plate appearances, 1.091 OPS).

Braun has not appeared at first base since starting the Brewers' first two games of the regular season. But he got experience there in Spring Training in anticipation of playing some first to help ease a logjam in the outfield.

"It's certainly bad news," Counsell said. "Eric is an important part of what we've been doing. He's a big left-handed bat that is really not replacable. But [first base] is a position where we have multiple players. Right now, it'll be Aguilar and Braun getting most of the at-bats there."

"We do think we've got some pretty good depth in that area," said Stearns, who mentioned Triple-A first baseman Ji-Man Choi in addition to Aguilar and Braun. "We've got guys who are swinging the bat pretty well who can play first base. So Eric is certainly going to be missed, but it's an opportunity for other guys to step up and play more regularly."

Last call
• There was better news on Brewers catcher Stephen Vogt, who left the team Wednesday and traveled to extended spring training camp in Phoenix to get at-bats and continue his throwing program. Vogt will be there for a week or so, Stearns said, before the Brewers re-evaluate whether it's time to send him to an affiliate.

• There are currently no plans to use Woodruff as a starter, Stearns said. Instead, he will provide length in the bullpen while left-handers Boone Logan (triceps) and Wade Miley (groin) complete rehab assignments. At some point, the Brewers will need roster spots for both, and Woodruff is one of the Brewers pitchers who can be optioned. Miley's next Double-A start is scheduled for Friday. "There's probably a conversation that needs to happen after the outing on Friday," Stearns said. "I don't know that there's a definitive timeframe. Wade and his representatives and myself, we have a good understanding that everyone is working towards the same goal."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com based in Kansas City.

Milwaukee Brewers, Eric Thames

Leonys Martin fouls one off groin, then homers

How is your pain threshold? Can you handle pretty much anything that comes your way, or do you jump into bed and hide under the covers after stubbing your toe?

These questions do not apply to Leonys Martin. The Tigers outfielder made it clear to everybody just how tough he is during the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader with the Pirates. He's very tough.

M's 'pen picks up for Felix with 6 scoreless IP

Zunino delivered deciding blow while Hernandez held serve through 6
Special to MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Twice, the Mariners' players found themselves behind, and on both occasions, they battled to catch up. But once Mike Zunino gave them their first lead, the bullpen made sure it held up.

Zunino delivered a solo home run on the ninth pitch of his sixth-inning at-bat, and the Mariners used six innings of blue collar work by Felix Hernandez to hold off the White Sox 4-3 on Wednesday at Gauranteed Rate Field.

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CHICAGO -- Twice, the Mariners' players found themselves behind, and on both occasions, they battled to catch up. But once Mike Zunino gave them their first lead, the bullpen made sure it held up.

Zunino delivered a solo home run on the ninth pitch of his sixth-inning at-bat, and the Mariners used six innings of blue collar work by Felix Hernandez to hold off the White Sox 4-3 on Wednesday at Gauranteed Rate Field.

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But a trio of relievers were the real stars as they combined to retire the final nine White Sox hitters in order. Combined with Hernandez, the Mariners retired the final 13 in a row.

Hernandez, who allowed two runs in the first -- including a leadoff home run to Yoan Moncada -- scattered seven hits and allowed three runs over six innings. Hernandez also struck out six and walked two before Mariners relievers James Pazos and Juan Nicasio were perfect in the seventh and eighth innings. Edwin Diaz worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 10th save as the White Sox failed to manage a hit after Matt Davidson singled with one out in the fifth.

Video: SEA@CWS: Nicasio strikes out the side in the 8th

"If you have a great bullpen, that's how you win games," Hernandez said.

Wade LeBlanc's 4 2/3 innings on Monday kept manager Scott Servais from going deeper into his bullpen after starter Mike Leake gave up eight runs in 3 1/3 innings in the 10-4 loss to the White Sox.

"Obviously, that back half of the bullpen is throwing the ball really well," Zunino said. "We're just hoping that we can keep giving them some leads and marching them out there."

Zunino's solo shot gave the Mariners a 4-3 lead after Nelson Cruz tied the game in the fifth inning with an RBI single. Cruz, who went 3-for-5, also drove in a run in the third inning with an RBI single when the Mariners scored a pair of runs to tie the score at 2. Jean Segura also drove in a run with a two-out single, which scored Zunino, who led off the third with a double.

Video: SEA@CWS: Cruz plates Segura with an RBI single

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Zunino's decisive homer came after he fell behind 0-2. Zunino also homered in Monday's loss after going hitless in nine at-bats after coming off the disabled list. 

"I knew I barreled it," Zunino said of Wednesday's home run that drifted into the right-field seats. "With the height and stuff and how the wind was -- it swirls pretty weird here sometimes -- I knew I hit it well, but was just happy I got it high enough it was able to clear [the fence]."

Video: SEA@CWS: Zunino belts a go-ahead solo homer to right

HE SAID IT
"I don't know what I was thinking, but really? This is how it's going to happen? But after that, I just made my adjustments." -- Hernandez, on settling in after giving up a home run and double on the first two pitches he threw

UP NEXT
Left-hander James Paxton looks to rebound from a rough outing in his last start, when he allowed five runs in just four innings against the Rangers, in Thursday's 3:10 p.m. PT series opener against the Indians. Cleveland will counter with Mike Clevinger, who is coming off a two-hit shutout against the Orioles.

Jeff Arnold is a contributor to MLB.com and is based in Chicago.

Seattle Mariners, Mike Zunino

Injury updates: Beltre, Bogaerts, Bryant

MLB.com

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

Adrian Beltre, Rangers
Beltre strained his left hamstring in the eighth inning of the Rangers' loss to the A's on Tuesday, and he underwent an MRI on Wednesday before being placed on the 10-day disabled list.

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

Adrian Beltre, Rangers
Beltre strained his left hamstring in the eighth inning of the Rangers' loss to the A's on Tuesday, and he underwent an MRI on Wednesday before being placed on the 10-day disabled list.

Texas seems to be ready for Beltre to miss a lengthy period of time with the ailment.

"Obviously disappointed because we already have other key players hurt," Beltre said. "It's no secret we have been struggling offensively and trying to find a way to get through it. I'm supposed to be one of the guys who is getting better, and now this happens." More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox
Bogaerts' ankle injury doesn't appear to have slowed his hot bat. The shortstop homered in his first rehab appearance with Triple-A Pawtucket. He also hit an opposite-field double and played six innings at shortstop.

Bogaerts, who suffered a small crack in the talus bone in his left ankle on April 8, will start for Pawtucket on Wednesday, weather permitting. It's likely he will come off the DL for the start of Boston's homestand Friday against the Rays.

He was hitting .368/.400/.711 with two homers and nine RBIs prior to the injury. More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Kris Bryant, Cubs
Bryant was out of the Cubs' lineup for a second straight game Wednesday after he was struck in the head by a fastball from Rockies starter German Marquez on Sunday. The third baseman passed concussion tests, but suffered a small laceration above his left eye from his sunglasses. Tommy La Stella replaced Bryant at third in Chicago's lineup against the Indians on Wednesday, batting fifth.

"I think he's fine," manager Joe Maddon said before Tuesday's game. "He just has to work through some things." More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Eric Thames, Brewers
Thames underwent an MRI on his left thumb Wednesday after injuring it while diving for a ball Tuesday night against the Royals. Thames was placed on the 10-day disabled list after the MRI revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb, dealing a major blow to the Brewers' lineup. The first baseman leads Milwaukee with seven homers this season.

"We're a little concerned about his thumb," manager Craig Counsell said prior to the club placing Thames on the DL. More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Byron Buxton, Twins
Buxton remains sidelined after fouling a ball off his left foot on Sunday, as he hit off a tee on Wednesday, but he didn't feel good enough to play in an extended spring camp game.

Buxton underwent a procedure where a drill was inserted into his left big toenail to relieve pressure in his toe, but he remains sore and is day to day. He's currently on the 10-day disabled list with migraines, but that issue has subsided. He became eligible to return on Wednesday, but he's not likely to return until this weekend at the earliest. 

"Once his feet are ready to play, I'm not going to be worried about how they're going to work," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It's one of those questions where more at-bats would probably be better, but there's something about his presence being here. Him patrolling center field has value, and he's unique in that way. We might have a little bit more of a desire to get him back sooner than later. I think everyone feels a little void when he's not around." More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Greg Bird, Yankees
Bird could rejoin the Yankees next month. He's scheduled to report to the team's Spring Training complex in Tampa, Fla., for additional work on Friday, manager Aaron Boone announced Tuesday.

Bird began the year on the disabled list after undergoing surgery to remove a bone spur in his right ankle. He's still on track with the initial 6-to-8-week timetable. The first baseman has missed considerable time in the last few years, including all of 2016 with a right shoulder injury and the majority of 2017 with another ankle surgery. -- This report was first posted on April 25

Hunter Pence, Giants
Pence tested his sprained right thumb in batting practice Tuesday at AT&T Park and could be nearing a return to the active roster. With Mac Williamson's emergence, it's unclear what role the left fielder will have once he does return, however.

Pence hit just .172 with three RBIs in 17 games before his injury, while Williamson has hit .316 (6-for-19) with three home runs and six RBIs in five games since he was called up to the big leagues. More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Eugenio Suarez, Michael Lorenzen, David Hernandez, Devin Mesoraco, Reds
Suarez hit 1-for-2 with a double, two walks and a strikeout in a rehab appearance with Triple-A Louisville. He's recovering from a fractured right thumb suffered when he was hit by a pitch on April 8 against the Pirates. Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said he doesn't expect Suarez to need many more games before returning to the big leagues.

"He's such a baseball rat," Riggleman said. "He's been out here working his tail off right here. He feels like he's really close."

Lorenzen and Hernandez has each been out of action since March, but both relievers took steps toward a return this week. Lorenzen (strained right teres major muscle near his shoulder) was scheduled to throw a bullpen session prior to Wednesday's game, pitching off the mound for the first time since Spring Training.

Hernandez, meanwhile, is closer to a return. He made his second rehab appearance Monday, throwing 17 pitches and allowing one earned run and two hits with one strikeout. Riggleman said Hernandez is likely to make one more rehab appearance before rejoining the Reds.

Mesoraco was scratched 90 minutes prior to Tuesday's game against the Cardinals with neck stiffness. It's unclear how long the issue will keep the Reds catcher out, but the club has just one other backstop, Tucker Barnhart, on the 40-man roster. More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Jason Vargas, Mets
Vargas is coming off the disabled list to make his season debut Saturday against the Padres in San Diego. The left-hander made one rehab start Monday with Triple-A Las Vegas and joined the Mets in St. Louis on Tuesday. Vargas underwent surgery to remove a broken bone from his right hand in late March. More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Adam Eaton, Nationals
Eaton continues to test his ankle with baseball activities as he works his way back from a bone bruise on his left ankle. He was eligible to come off the disabled list Friday, but the Nationals have not revealed how close he is to returning.

"When you see him in the lineup, he'll be ready," manager Dave Martinez said Monday. "He's coming along. When we get him back, he's a force to reckon with and he helps our lineup out." More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Avisail Garcia, Miguel Gonzalez, Carlos Rodon, White Sox
The White Sox placed outfielder Garcia on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday after he strained his right hamstring running to first base in Monday's win over the Mariners.

Garcia, hitting .233 with one homer, four RBIs and five runs scored this year after an All-Star campaign last season, is not expected to miss an extended amount of time. He could miss more than the designated 10-day period, however.

The club also placed Gonzalez on the 10-day disabled list with right rotator cuff inflammation.

"We are going to take our time a little more just to make sure that everything is all right," Gonzalez said. "Nothing serious. Give it time to get better."

Rondon threw 34 pitches over three innings in an extended spring camp game Monday as he continues his rehab in return from arthroscopic surgery in his left shoulder. More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Ian Kennedy, Royals
Kennedy took a line drive off the bat of Ryan Braun to his right foot in the third inning of Tuesday night's loss to the Brewers. The right-hander finished the third inning, but could not put pressure on his foot while in the dugout and exited the contest.

X-rays were negative, but the Royals are not yet sure if Kennedy will make his scheduled start on Sunday. More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Ryon Healy, Mariners
Healy, who has been out with a right ankle injury, is expected to return to the Mariners over the weekend as they take on the Indians.

Healy went 1-for-3 with a two-run single for Double-A Arkansas on Tuesday and is 5-for-15 in four games with the Travelers.

"He needs to come in and contribute -- he knows that," manager Scott Servais said. "He was off to a slow start. Giving him the extra days of at-bats and playing time on the rehab assignment hopefully helps him, but facing Minor League pitching vs. Cleveland pitching is a little bit different." More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Martin Prado, Elieser Hernandez, JT Riddle, Dan Straily, Marlins
The Marlins have a quartet of players nearing returns from injury, as Prado, Hernandez, Riddle and Straily all played in Minor League rehab assignments Tuesday.

"We're still kind of biting our tongue and continuing to hope that these guys keep progressing," manager Don Mattingly said Monday. "We'll keep taking it one day at a time, for the starters one start [at a time], and evaluate, see where we're at. Dan's pitching tomorrow. Prado, Riddle, Elieser, they'll all play tomorrow."

Prado is recovering from right knee surgery, Hernandez is making his way back from dental surgery, Riddle is working back from a shoulder ailment and Straily has been on the DL with a right forearm strain. More > -- This report was first posted on April 25

Gray K's 11 as Rockies down Padres

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- To the Rockies' delight and the Padres' chagrin, right-hander Jon Gray on Wednesday afternoon turned his clock back to Sept. 17, 2016.

Gray racked up 11 strikeouts while throwing 101 pitches through six innings of the Rockies' 5-2 victory, which clinched the three-game series. It was reminiscent of his Rockies and Coors Field-record 16-strikeout game two seasons ago.

View Full Game Coverage

DENVER -- To the Rockies' delight and the Padres' chagrin, right-hander Jon Gray on Wednesday afternoon turned his clock back to Sept. 17, 2016.

Gray racked up 11 strikeouts while throwing 101 pitches through six innings of the Rockies' 5-2 victory, which clinched the three-game series. It was reminiscent of his Rockies and Coors Field-record 16-strikeout game two seasons ago.

View Full Game Coverage

It was the Rockies' first series win at Coors, where they generally have to dominate to contend because of a long tradition of road struggles. The home record improved to 5-7. They're 9-5 on the road, but will embark on their longest road trip to date -- against the Marlins, Cubs and Mets starting Friday.

Before Wednesday, Gray had struggled. He entered with a 7.09 ERA, and in his last three starts -- which included a loss to the Padres at Coors on April 9 -- Gray had given up 18 earned runs (19 total) and 26 hits in 15 2/3 innings, and took a losing decision each time.

On Wednesday, Gray fanned the side in the first inning. He used 20 pitches to do so, but he needed just 26 more pitches to clear the first time through the order, and struck out seven of the nine. After winning just one of the first four games of the just-completed homestand, the Rockies won the final two behind strong starting efforts from Kyle Freeland (seven innings, eight strikeouts in Tuesday's 8-0 victory) and Gray.

Most of Gray's support came during the third inning, when David Dahl delivered a two-run triple off Padres starter Tyson Ross (2-2) and scored on Trevor Story's sacrifice fly. Dahl tripled in each of the final two games in the series.

A key Gray K came with one out in the fourth. Gray went from a 1-2 count to walk Carlos Asuaje, and yielded a Wil Myers single to put runners at first and second. Gray trailed Franchy Cordero 3-1 -- with manager Bud Black barking from the dugout at plate ump Hunter Wendelstedt on the third ball. But he ended up working a swinging strikeout, then forced Chase Headley to fly out to left to end the frame.

Gray established the fastball up in the zone. Through five, according to Statcast™, he had thrown 48 fastballs that included nine called strikes and 10 swings. His slider, which had eluded him for the most part this year, he threw 21 times with six swings and misses and one called strike.

Righty reliever Bryan Shaw walked two and threw a wild pitch while giving up a run in the seventh, and Adam Ottavino, with a three-run lead, struck out two in the eighth and has fanned 26 in 13 2/3 innings. Tony Wolters, who singled in a run in the second while deftly executing a hit-and-run, added an eighth-inning sacrifice fly for a four-run lead.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Jon Gray