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Nationals call up Soto, youngest player in MLB

19-year-old outfielder is club's first teenage player since Harper
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto has completed a meteoric rise through the Nationals' system. After beginning the season at Class A Hagerstown and skyrocketing through two different promotions, Soto was promoted to the Majors on Sunday.

Soto -- the Nats' 19-year old outfielder and No. 2 prospect, and the No. 15 Major League prospect overall, as rated by MLB Pipeline -- has joined the club in Washington for Sunday's series finale vs. the Dodgers.

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto has completed a meteoric rise through the Nationals' system. After beginning the season at Class A Hagerstown and skyrocketing through two different promotions, Soto was promoted to the Majors on Sunday.

Soto -- the Nats' 19-year old outfielder and No. 2 prospect, and the No. 15 Major League prospect overall, as rated by MLB Pipeline -- has joined the club in Washington for Sunday's series finale vs. the Dodgers.

Video: Top Prospects: Juan Soto, OF, Nationals

Soto has already earned two promotions this season in Washington's farm system and excelled at each level. He started the season at Hagerstown before it became clear he was not being challenged when he posted a 1.300 OPS and five home runs in 16 games. So, he was bumped up to Class A Advanced Potomac, where he continued to rake to the tune of seven home runs and a 1.256 OPS in 15 games. A little more than a week ago, he was promoted to Double-A Harrisburg, and in eight games he had a .981 OPS and a pair of home runs.

Soto's next challenge comes in the Majors, where he will become the youngest player on a Major League roster. Soto does not turn 20 until Oct. 25. He will become the first teenager to appear in a game for the Nationals since Bryce Harper in 2012, and the third in franchise history -- Tim Raines for the Expos was the other, in 1979.

Soto's rapid rise also coincides with the Nationals being depleted by injuries, the most recent of which came Saturday afternoon when Howie Kendrick ruptured his Achilles while making a play in left field vs. the Dodgers in the first game of a doubleheader, ending his season. Kendrick now joins the list of injured outfielders that includes starting left fielder Adam Eaton (ankle), Brian Goodwin (wrist), top prospect Victor Robles (elbow) and Rafael Bautista, who will undergo season-ending knee surgery next week. Other injured Nationals include second baseman Daniel Murphy, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and catcher Matt Wieters.

So the future has come a little bit sooner than everyone expected. And Soto will have his chance to prove he belongs in the Majors.

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

Washington Nationals

Here are the 10 biggest surprises this season

MLB.com @RichardJustice

Once when Theo Epstein was being grilled by a couple of us hard-hitting and smart reporters about a variety of topics, he interrupted the whole thing to offer a thought that rings true today.

"You're going to have surprises."

Once when Theo Epstein was being grilled by a couple of us hard-hitting and smart reporters about a variety of topics, he interrupted the whole thing to offer a thought that rings true today.

"You're going to have surprises."

He said plenty more that day, some of it way more colorfully than that. Boiled down, his point seemed to be twofold:

1. Sometimes the more you know, the more you realize all that you don't know.

2. Stuff happens.

We've been reminded of that wisdom virtually every day of a season that hasn't played out the way we thought it would.

If the season ended today, the Braves, Phillies, Pirates and Brewers would make the playoffs while last season's three National League division winners -- Cubs, Dodgers, Nationals -- would not.

How did we get here? Actually, that's the easy part. If we'd known then what we know now…

Let's check out 10 things that have surprised us:

1. Braves' offense

The Braves were tied for 10th in the NL in runs last season. They're first in 2018, averaging almost a run per game more. Raise your hand if you saw this coming. Sure, that's partly because of the kids -- Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies -- but it's also veterans Nick Markakis and Freddie Freeman having great years. In addition, infielder Ryan Flaherty and outfielder Preston Tucker have been smart acquisitions by GM Alex Anthopoulos.

Video: CHC@ATL: Albies, Acuna Jr. combine to put Braves up

2. Aaron Judge, Yankees RF

How would he follow up a season in which he led the American League in homers, runs, walks and strikeouts? Surely, there would be some regression as opposing scouting reports exposed the weaknesses in his swing. That has not happened. His OBP is up. His batting average is way up. He's on a pace for more walks (and strikeouts) and slightly fewer home runs. Judge just celebrated his 26th birthday and is showing that he's going to do things in this game others simply can't do.

Video: OAK@NYY: Judge skies 2-run homer to left field in 5th

3. D-backs' bullpen

This has been the best bullpen in the Majors thanks to a couple of tweaks by GM Mike Hazen in adding setup man Yoshihisa Hirano and closer Brad Boxberger. Also, there's the continued emergence of Archie Bradley as one of baseball's best relievers. The thing is, the D-backs had the NL's second-lowest bullpen ERA last season at 3.78. This season, they've lowered that by more than a run to 2.52. 

Video: MIL@ARI: Boxberger freezes Villar to earn the save

4. Gerrit Cole, Astros RHP

Having watched Justin Verlander get even better and Charlie Morton get dramatically better, we probably should not have been surprised by Cole's improvement in his first season after being traded from the Pirates to the Astros in the offseason. His repertoire has changed some, and his strikeouts are way up and baserunners way down. This seems to be the case of a really smart and really talented player taking advantage of the Astros' deep reservoir of data to take advantage of his own strengths and to exploit the weaknesses of opposing hitters. At this point, Verlander, Cole and Morton might finish one-two-three in AL Cy Young voting.

Video: HOU@LAA: Cole whiffs Kinsler for 7th strikeout

5. Angels' rotation

We just knew that one of these seasons the Angels would be able to keep enough of those talented arms healthy to create a first-rate rotation. So far, so good. Garrett Richards, Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano have all done exactly what the Angels hoped they would do, and rookie Shohei Ohtani has been every bit as good as advertised.

Video: MIN@LAA: Ohtani K's Kepler for 6th straight strikeout

6. Josh Hader, Brewers reliever

He dropped his changeup to throw more sliders, but he's still about as basic as they come, throwing a 94-mph fastball more than 70 percent of the time. With a whip-like delivery, the ball is hard to pick up and has some wicked movement. The result has been video game-like numbers: 56 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings and a 0.51 WHIP (seven hits, seven walks). The Brewers are back in the middle of the playoff race for a lot of reasons, including arguably baseball's most unhittable reliever.

Video: MIL@MIN: Hader strikes out Morrison to complete win

7. Aaron Nola, Phillies RHP

He has emerged as a true ace in his fourth season with the Phillies. He's throwing fewer fastballs and curves and more changeups to give opposing hitters a different look. Beyond the Xs and Os, we're probably simply watching the final emergence of a 24-year-old who was projected to do just that from the moment the Phillies used the seventh pick of the 2014 Draft on him.

Video: NYM@PHI: Nola gets Conforto to strand bases loaded

8. Pirates' offense

We were so focused on the trade of franchise icon Andrew McCutchen that it was easy to overlook how much talent the Pirates still had. That has shown up in an offense that has gone from 13th (4.1 runs per game) to third (4.89 per game). Colin Moran and Corey Dickerson have been terrific additions, and Starling Marte is having his best season. Catcher Francisco Cervelli is one of the most underrated players in the game.

Video: SF@PIT: Marte belts a 2-run homer to left-center

9. Mookie Betts, Red Sox RF

He finished second in AL MVP voting in 2016, sixth in 2017. He's a two-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner. So how does Betts qualify as a surprise? How much better can a very good player get? Turns out, lots. He has taken pretty much every part of his game to a new level. He's leading the AL in an assortment of offensive departments, and if the season ended today, he'd probably be the MVP.

Video: BOS@BAL: Betts jacks 14th homer over the Monster

10. Trevor Bauer, Indians RHP

For most of his career, he has been that wild stallion, immensely talented who had been unable to fully harness all his gifts. He appears to have taken that final step this season and emerged as one of baseball's most dominant starters after adding a slider to his arsenal that seems to have made all his other stuff better.

Video: CLE@DET: Bauer fans season-high 10 over 8 scoreless

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Kenley saves the day twice in DH sweep in DC

Bullpen gets 27 outs as Dodgers overcome dominant Scherzer in Game 2
Special to MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- The Dodgers know plenty of work remains to fix their 42-game start. With Kenley Jansen saving both ends of their doubleheader sweep, Saturday was a very good two steps in the right direction.

Pinch-hitter Matt Kemp delivered a two-run double in the ninth as the Dodgers rallied past the Nationals, 5-4, on Saturday night at Nationals Park.

View Full Game Coverage

WASHINGTON -- The Dodgers know plenty of work remains to fix their 42-game start. With Kenley Jansen saving both ends of their doubleheader sweep, Saturday was a very good two steps in the right direction.

Pinch-hitter Matt Kemp delivered a two-run double in the ninth as the Dodgers rallied past the Nationals, 5-4, on Saturday night at Nationals Park.

View Full Game Coverage

"It felt good," Kemp said about his go-ahead hit off Nationals closer Sean Doolittle. "It's a buildup. We haven't been playing as good as we're capable of playing. Today we beat two good pitchers in one day. That's a pretty big day for us."

Video: LAD@WSH: Kemp gives Dodgers lead with double in 9th

Jansen, one of seven Dodgers relievers used in the nightcap after starter Rich Hill left following two pitches because of a blister, retired all six batters he faced in both contests. The final three earned him his eighth save; No. 7 came in the opening 4-1 victory. Jansen became the second pitcher this season to save both ends of a doubleheader, following Pittsburgh's Felipe Vazquez on April 1.

The Dodgers (19-26) trailed, 4-2, after Washington scored four in the sixth but came up with three runs after Nationals starter Max Scherzer left in the seventh. Cody Bellinger homered in the eighth.

Video: LAD@WSH: Bellinger crushes a solo homer to center

Rain washed out Friday's opener, remained in the area until shortly before the doubleheader began and reappeared briefly in the second game.

Hill also appeared briefly in the second game. It's not that Hill didn't record an out. It's that he technically never faced a batter. He left due to a blister on his left middle finger. Los Angeles won its first game without the starting pitcher recording out since May 31, 1981. The last MLB team to have its bullpen get all 27 outs in a win was the Tigers on Sept. 5, 2017, against the Royals.

From there, manager Dave Roberts sent a parade of relievers to the mound. Washington didn't have a hit through five innings. Los Angeles had the big knocks late in its third consecutive win after losing six in a row.

Video: LAD@WSH: Muncy opens the scoring with an RBI single

"I honestly had a really good feeling about tonight," Roberts said. "Obviously, we couldn't have predicted Rich's stint. ... Just the way we were preparing for today, I just had a good feeling. To the last out, our guys fought. The guys in the 'pen did a fantastic job."

Erik Goeddel (1-0), activated for the second game after being claimed off waivers Friday from Seattle, pitched a scoreless eighth in his Los Angeles debut.

Max Muncy had an RBI single in the first and a solo home run in the fifth off Scherzer, who struck out 13 and allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings.

Video: LAD@WSH: Muncy lifts a solo home run to right

Two other pitchers not on the Dodgers' active roster 24 hours prior -- Yimi Garcia and Tony Cingrani -- were charged with all four runs. Garcia, added for the second game of the doubleheader as the 26th man, allowed Trea Turner's leadoff double. Turner scored on Mark Reynolds' double off Cingrani, who was activated off the disabled list Saturday after dealing with left shoulder inflammation.

The third reliever in the inning, Daniel Hudson, allowed two-out singles by pinch-hitter Matt Adams and Scherzer. Washington had four hits, an intentional walk and hit batter in the inning. In the other eight innings, zero hits.

"They did a tremendous job," Hill said of the relievers. "Unfortunately, I don't have answers at this time for the blister issue."

Video: LAD@WSH: Hill leaves after 2 pitches with blister

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Kemp's double off Doolittle (1-2) came after Austin Barnes and Logan Forsythe led off the ninth with singles.

SOUND SMART
The first innings of both games were eerily similar. Joc Pederson led off both games with an extra-base hit -- triple in the opener, double in the finale -- and scored the first run. In the bottom of the inning, the Dodgers retired the side with three strikeouts. Trea Turner was caught looking twice.

Video: LAD@WSH: Alexander strikes out Harper, the side

UP NEXT
Left-hander Alex Wood (0-4, 3.35) closes out the series for Los Angeles against Washington's other All-Star starter, right-hander Stephen Strasburg (5-3, 3.28). Wood received a no-decision in a 4-3 win over the Nationals on April 22 after allowing three runs (two earned) and six hits in six innings.

Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Cody Bellinger, Kenley Jansen, Matt Kemp, Max Muncy

J-Hay activated from DL; Kingham to Triple-A

MLB.com @adamdberry

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' sparkplug second baseman is back.

The Bucs activated Josh Harrison from the 10-day disabled list before Sunday's series finale against the Padres at PNC Park. To make room for Harrison on the roster, Pittsburgh optioned right-hander Nick Kingham -- Saturday's starter -- to Triple-A Indianapolis.

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PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates' sparkplug second baseman is back.

The Bucs activated Josh Harrison from the 10-day disabled list before Sunday's series finale against the Padres at PNC Park. To make room for Harrison on the roster, Pittsburgh optioned right-hander Nick Kingham -- Saturday's starter -- to Triple-A Indianapolis.

View Full Game Coverage

Harrison has been sidelined since April 15 by a fractured left hand, which he sustained when he was hit by a Jose Urena fastball at Marlins Park. The Pirates went 15-15 during his absence -- using Adam Frazier, Sean Rodriguez and Max Moroff at second base, while experimenting with a number of different leadoff hitters.

Harrison hit .263/.328/.351 with a home run and five RBIs in 14 games before the injury. After a brief Minor League rehab assignment with Double-A Altoona, he rejoined the Pirates at PNC Park on Saturday.

"The first couple of at-bats are always like Spring Training. Just trying to see as many pitches as I can to make up for the time lost," Harrison said on Saturday. "That's why I was standing in on [teammates' bullpen sessions], anything I could try to get me ready. As my games progressed, I felt like I got better."

Sending out Kingham was surely not an easy decision for the Pirates, especially after he showed his stuff and resiliency in a quality start against the Padres on Saturday night. Kingham carried a perfect game into the seventh inning of his Major League debut on April 29, earned another start and beat the Brewers in Milwaukee on May 4. Kingham went to Triple-A and down to Double-A to stay in line for Saturday's start, only to be optioned back to Indianapolis.

"I got a little bit of everything, man," Kingham said on Saturday night. "Top of the world [in my debut], then giving up three [on Saturday] in the top of the first, and you're just like, 'OK, this can go sour really quick.' I'm getting exposed to everything, right now. Just along for the ride."

The Pirates will likely fill Kingham's spot in the rotation with right-hander Joe Musgrove, who is in line to come off the disabled list and join Pittsburgh's staff soon -- possibly on Friday against St. Louis. Musgrove has not pitched for the Bucs this season due to a muscle strain in his right shoulder.

To make room for Musgrove, the Pirates will have to make another move in the coming days. With Harrison back and Kingham sent down, they are carrying a five-man bench and an eight-man bullpen to complement their four-man rotation. When Musgrove returns, they could drop a reliever or use a short bench as they did earlier this season.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Josh Harrison, Joe Musgrove

Mookie's MLB-best 15th HR propels Red Sox

Killer B's hit consecutive homers, combine for 5 RBIs
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Perhaps Mookie Betts will cool off at some point this season. But it hasn't happened yet. As if Betts doesn't prevent enough of a problem to Boston's opponents as the leadoff man, No. 2 hitter Andrew Benintendi is now getting hot also.

The 1-2 punch supported a strong pitching performance by Rick Porcello in leading the Red Sox to a 6-3 victory over the Orioles on Saturday night at Fenway Park.

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BOSTON -- Perhaps Mookie Betts will cool off at some point this season. But it hasn't happened yet. As if Betts doesn't prevent enough of a problem to Boston's opponents as the leadoff man, No. 2 hitter Andrew Benintendi is now getting hot also.

The 1-2 punch supported a strong pitching performance by Rick Porcello in leading the Red Sox to a 6-3 victory over the Orioles on Saturday night at Fenway Park.

View Full Game Coverage

Betts and Benintendi changed the momentum of the game by smashing back-to-back homers in the bottom of the fifth to snap a 1-1 tie. For Betts, it was his MLB-leading 15th homer of the season, passing Baltimore's Manny Machado.

"It's incredible," Porcello said of what Betts is doing. "It's a lot of fun to watch. I don't even know what to say. It's pretty incredible. When he gets his pitch, he's not missing it. When he doesn't get his pitch, he's not missing it. I'm sure as hell glad I don't have to face him."

Video: BAL@BOS: Cora on Betts, Benintendi in win

And when the Orioles drew close again on Pedro Alvarez's two-run homer in the sixth, Benintendi opened up breathing room again with a two-run single up the middle.

The Killer B's at the top of the order provided the Red Sox with five of their six RBIs in the game. This was what Red Sox manager Alex Cora envisioned when he decided well in advance of Spring Training that the lineup would start with Betts-Benintendi.

After an unspectacular start, Benintendi has eight hits in his last 18 at-bats with a double, two homers and six RBIs.

"I'm starting to feel a little better," said Benintendi. "I wouldn't call it a groove or anything, but I'm starting to make contact -- harder contact more often."

Hard contact is what it seems like Betts does in just about every at-bat. Benintendi knows better than anyone from watching him from the on-deck circle.

"It's awesome," Benintendi said. "He's always on the basepaths scoring runs. He's doing everything to help the team win. He's in a groove right now, but it's not like he's hot-hot. I feel like he can get hotter than he is right now. It seems like he squares up the ball every at-bat. He's doing everything right."

For the season, Betts is slashing .368/.439/.767 and has 18 doubles and 32 RBIs to go with all the homers.

"We like everything about the player," said Cora. "What he brings on a daily basis and him hunting pitches in the strike zone, that's the key."

Video: BAL@BOS: Devers belts an opposite-field home run

While Betts and Benintendi made most of the impact at the plate, Rafael Devers was responsible for the other run by belting an opposite-field solo shot over the Green Monster to tie it at 1 in the fourth.

Betts got all of his homer to untie it, ripping his blast a projected distance of 406 feet, according to Statcast™, against Orioles righty Dylan Bundy.

"I think about how I'd pitch him, and I have no idea," Porcello said. "A lot of times, you get power hitters that, if you make a mistake, they're going to hurt you, but there's holes. I don't see a hole."

Video: BAL@BOS: Porcello fans 9 over 6 solid innings

Other than the blast by Alvarez, Porcello (6-1) turned in an effective start. The righty went six innings and scattered six hits while striking out nine.

The setup crew of Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes provided a clean handoff to closer Craig Kimbrel, who earned his 13th save of the season.

Video: BAL@BOS: Kimbrel gets 1-2-3 inning to notch the save

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Bradley's hustle pays off: Though Jackie Bradley Jr. (0-for-2, .161 average) continues to be mired in one of the worst slumps of his career, he worked a key walk against lefty Tanner Scott in the seventh and made a heads-up play tagging up from first on a fly ball by Betts that didn't even reach the warning track in right. That set up runners at second and third with one out, enabling Bradley to score on Benintendi's single up the middle.

Video: BAL@BOS: Benintendi hits a 2-run single in the 7th

"Outstanding job," said Cora. "I mean, he walks against a tough lefty. Then he's able to read the outfielder [Mark Trumbo]. He was flat-footed and actually kind of like, drifting back, and he took advantage of it. Second and third, he did a good job."

SOUND SMART
After ranking last in the American League with 168 homers last season, the Red Sox are second so far this season with 65, and are tied with the 1977 squad with the most long balls through the first 46 games in team history.

HE SAID IT
"Not really. His hands are so quick, and he makes good contact it seems like every at-bat, so it doesn't really surprise me." -- Benintendi, asked if he is surprised by the power Betts is displaying

UP NEXT
Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez will try to get the Red Sox a win in the finale of this seven-game homestand when he pitches Sunday against the franchise he was originally signed by as an international free agent -- the Orioles. Rodriguez has struggled to be consistent this season, and last time out in a loss to the Athletics, his main issue was the inability to put hitters away with two strikes. David Hess starts for Baltimore, and first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 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, Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, Jackie Bradley Jr., Rick Porcello

Reliever Romo to start 2nd straight game today

Veteran reliever to start 2nd consecutive game in series finale
Special to MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- For starters, Sergio Romo was just fine. And until the end, the Rays had their way with the Angels, prevailing 5-3, to extend their winning streak to six games on Saturday night.

Tampa Bay once again flexed its muscles, as Daniel Robertson slugged a second-inning grand slam, the Rays' seventh home run in the last three contests. Tampa Bay climbed to .500 (22-22) for the first time since it was 1-1, and moved into third place in the AL East.

View Full Game Coverage

ANAHEIM -- For starters, Sergio Romo was just fine. And until the end, the Rays had their way with the Angels, prevailing 5-3, to extend their winning streak to six games on Saturday night.

Tampa Bay once again flexed its muscles, as Daniel Robertson slugged a second-inning grand slam, the Rays' seventh home run in the last three contests. Tampa Bay climbed to .500 (22-22) for the first time since it was 1-1, and moved into third place in the AL East.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's impressive in what they have done. And it's the guys in the dugout,'' said manager Kevin Cash, noting that the Rays started the year 1-8 and 3-12.

Romo, after 588 career relief appearances, started his first game in the Majors. According to STATS, only three players have had more career relief appearances before their first start -- Troy Percival (638), Todd Jones (632) and Chuck McElroy (603).

Following a pristine first inning in which Romo struck out the side, Cash summoned Ryan Yarbrough.

"Once we got the lead we wanted to get, [take Romo] out and hand the ball to Yarbrough,'' Cash said. "As soon as [Robertson] hit that home run, we were on the phone.''

Cash made another call after the game: Romo will start again on Sunday when he faces Shohei Ohtani in the matinee finale of this four-game series in which the Rays have already clinched.

"It did go really, really well,'' Cash said of the experiment of deploying Romo early in the contest. "He opened the game with a slider just like he was pitching the eighth or ninth inning. So, we're going back to Sergio because it worked so well.''

Romo is even getting the benefits associated with a starter. He was sent home early after punching out to prepare for Sunday's start.

"Sergio is pumped,'' Cash said. "He's treated himself as a starter. He's left to get his rest and throw his one or two innings.''

Yarbrough provided 6 1/3 solid innings, touched for a run on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts. The left-hander then handed the baton to Chaz Roe for two outs.

Video: TB@LAA: Yarbrough tosses 6 1/3 to earn win vs. Halos

"It was kind of a nice feeling where you just get ready and go out there,'' Yarbrough said. "You don't overthink things by having so much time out there. It was a really cool experience. The main goal today was really being aggressive and getting that first pitch strike and it worked for me to get deeper in games.''

Ryne Stanek wasn't as sharp, as Mike Trout burned him for a two-run homer, with Alex Colome securing the final three outs for his 10th save.

Video: TB@LAA: Colome records the save in the 5-3 win

That was once a role reserved for Romo. But his work came in the front end of the game.

"I was really impressed with Sergio in the way he handled everything,'' Cash said. "He may not admit to it, but it is totally different than anything he has been accustomed to and he adjusted to it and threw strikes."

Now the rest of the baseball world gets used to the Rays' unconventional ways. After 11 seasons without a start, Romo will have them on consecutive days less than 24 hours apart.

"I'm sure it will be talked about,'' Cash said. "Hopefully it works."

The Angels are charged up for a win before the Rays leave town. If they're going to do it, they'll have to overcome Tampa Bay's innovative thinking.

"It's a little odd,'' Trout said, "But that's what they are doing."

Andrew Heaney (2-3) went six innings, allowing four runs (all unearned), three hits and five walks. He struck out seven as he lost for the second time in three outings.

Heaney was coming off his best performance of the season. But he was ambushed by a patient Rays hitting approach and some shaky defense which produced a four-run second inning.

Robertson's first career grand slam was the key, but the Angels helped the Rays' cause. Heaney walked Johnny Field and Jesus Sucre, and in between the free passes was a throwing error by first baseman Jefry Marte.

That set the stage for Robertson, and he didn't disappoint when offered an 83-mph changeup. Robertson put the blast near the rock pile in left-center for an early 4-0 lead.

Video: TB@LAA: Robertson launches a grand slam to left

It was special for Robertson, who was raised in nearby Upland, Calif., rooted for the Angels growing up and was able to rattle off the names of the 2002 World Series title team in rapid fashion.

"I've never hit a grand slam, and to do it in a ballpark where I grew up watching games in front of family and friends was pretty incredible," he said. "I was actually laughing around the bases, it was too good to be true almost. You can't make this stuff up. It is crazy.'' 

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Slowly but surely: C.J. Cron proved his baseball IQ in the seventh inning, and it helped the Rays plate a run. With the bases loaded, Wilson Ramos hit a one-out grounder to shortstop Andrelton Simmons for what appeared to be a routine, inning-ending double play. But en route to third base, Cron slowed down briefly to shield Simmons from the ball. That split-second of heads up baserunning might have been the difference when Ramos just beat Ian Kinsler's relay to first -- he was originally ruled out -- allowing Robertson to score.

SOUND SMART
Before Romo, 35, toed the rubber, the Rays had gone 603 consecutive games in which their starter was under the age of 30.

HE SAID IT
"It's a testimony to our team and the group we have. We just show up every day and we are ready to roll. To get back square to .500 is awesome for us and it's good starting point for us to build off of. But we are not done." -- Robertson, on the Rays shaking off their rough start to reach .500

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Rays went ahead 5-0 in the seventh, when scratching across a run on Ramos' bases-loaded fielder's choice. Initially, the play was ruled an out on the field, giving the Angels what would have been an inning-ending double play. After review, Ramos was ruled safe, giving him his 22nd RBI of the year.

Video: TB@LAA: Robertson scores after call overturned

UP NEXT
Romo goes for his second start in as many games with the Rays sticking to their unconventional method of beginning contests with a reliever. Romo's first career start on Saturday produced three strikeouts in his only inning of work. After Romo, the Rays could turn to lefty Anthony Banda, or right-handers Matt Andriese or Austin Pruitt. Romo faces Ohtani, with first pitch at 4:07 p.m. ET.

Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com.

Tampa Bay Rays, Sergio Romo, Ryan Yarbrough

Braves release Bautista; Camargo to play third

MLB.com @mlbbowman

ATLANTA -- The Braves ended the Jose Bautista experiment when the veteran third baseman was released before Sunday afternoon's game against the Marlins.

With Bautista gone, executive vice president and general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Johan Camargo will be the everyday third baseman.

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ATLANTA -- The Braves ended the Jose Bautista experiment when the veteran third baseman was released before Sunday afternoon's game against the Marlins.

With Bautista gone, executive vice president and general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Johan Camargo will be the everyday third baseman.

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Bautista, 37, hit the free-agent market following a disappointing 2017 season with the Blue Jays and remained unsigned until the Braves gave him a Minor League deal in April. The two-time American League Hank Aaron Award winner was hoping to establish himself as Atlanta's third baseman for the remainder of this season.

Bautista's bid steadily fizzled, as he hit .143 (5-for-35) with two home runs and 12 strikeouts. He has batted .136 against right-handed pitchers dating back to last year's All-Star break.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Jose Bautista

Hader fans 6 in relief as Crew pulls out win

Josh Hader has been absolutely electric out of the Brewers bullpen since coming to the Majors in 2017. Not content to sit on his laurels, though, he has somehow found an even higher level this season.

Ohtani in HR Derby? Scioscia won't stop him

Two-way player to start Sunday's series finale on mound
MLB.com @mi_guardado

ANAHEIM -- Shohei Ohtani regularly flaunts his impressive raw power during pregame batting practice, but he created some buzz on Friday after crushing a ball off the new right-field scoreboard at Angel Stadium.

The official estimate on Ohtani's moonshot was 513 feet, according to the Angels.

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ANAHEIM -- Shohei Ohtani regularly flaunts his impressive raw power during pregame batting practice, but he created some buzz on Friday after crushing a ball off the new right-field scoreboard at Angel Stadium.

The official estimate on Ohtani's moonshot was 513 feet, according to the Angels.

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"I'm not sure if it was the farthest ball I've hit," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "But I think that kind of proves that I'm improving in all aspects of my game."

Manager Mike Scioscia, for his part, had little interest in discussing Ohtani's batting practice exploits.

"BP is BP," Scioscia shrugged. "Shohei has a lot of power."

Ohtani, of course, also put on a memorable show during batting practice at Coors Field earlier this month, hammering a ball into the third deck and leaving a mark on one of the stadium railings.

His big power would seem to make him a logical candidate to participate in the Home Run Derby during the All-Star Game at Nationals Park in July, though the field won't be set for a while. Ohtani competed in Japan's Home Run Derby in 2016, and won the event while playing for the Nippon-Ham Fighters. His six home runs this season are tied with the Yankees' Tyler Austin for the most among American League rookies.

Scioscia said he would leave the decision up to Ohtani if he were invited to participate in the Home Run Derby this year.

"That's a player's decision," Scioscia said. "I'm sure there's going to be a lot of things that come into what a player decides, but it's always been the prerogative of a player if he wants to participate in things like that."

Ohtani was not in the Angels' lineup on Saturday, as he is slated to make his seventh pitching appearance in Sunday's series finale against the Rays. Ohtani has logged a 3.58 ERA with 43 strikeouts over 32 2/3 innings this season.

Ohtani said that he thinks being able to see the Rays' hitters in person for three games will help prepare him for his start on Sunday.

"Rather than seeing it on video, actually seeing it in person like this, I think it's a lot more information to digest," Ohtani said. "I think it's going to help me out."

Upton returns

Justin Upton returned to the Angels' lineup on Saturday, batting third and starting in left field. Upton missed Friday's game after being struck on the left hand by a 95-mph fastball from Chris Archer on Thursday.

Video: TB@LAA: Upton day-to-day after getting hit in hand

Worth noting

• The Angels called up left-handed reliever Ian Krol and optioned Eduardo Paredes to Triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday. To clear a spot for Krol on the 40-man roster, the Angels transferred Matt Shoemaker (right forearm strain) to the 60-day disabled list.

The Angels needed a fresh arm after their bullpen was forced to pitch 6 1/3 innings in relief of Nick Tropeano on Friday. Krol, 27, has logged a 1.71 ERA over 21 innings with Triple-A Salt Lake this season.

"I don't think Ian threw the ball in the spring that poorly, but it certainly wasn't quite where he is right now," Scioscia said. "He needed some time, I think, to work on some things, and to go out there and just find his pitches on a consistent basis, and he's done that. He's been throwing the ball very well down there."

• Reliever Blake Wood (right elbow impingement) will need at least one more rehab appearance before being activated from the disabled list, Scioscia said. Wood, who has been sidelined since April 23, has allowed two runs over 2 1/3 innings in three outings for Class A Advanced Inland Empire this week. He made his third rehab appearance on Saturday, and allowed one run on two hits in 2/3 of an inning.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani

Scherzer strikes out 13 to surpass 100 for year

Scherzer fans 13, fastest ever to 100 K's in a season
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- Sean Doolittle blamed himself for mixing up the sign on the pitch that ultimately led to the Nationals' 5-4 loss to the Dodgers on Saturday night. He believed he and catcher Spencer Kieboom were on the same page with where they wanted to locate a fastball to Matt Kemp, but as Doolittle turned to deliver a pitch to the plate, Kieboom was on the opposite side.

Doolittle tried to adjust and threw a pitch he felt lacked commitment, and Kemp swatted it down the left-field line for a two-run double to lead Los Angeles to a come-from-behind victory and sweep Saturday's split doubleheader at Nationals Park.

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WASHINGTON -- Sean Doolittle blamed himself for mixing up the sign on the pitch that ultimately led to the Nationals' 5-4 loss to the Dodgers on Saturday night. He believed he and catcher Spencer Kieboom were on the same page with where they wanted to locate a fastball to Matt Kemp, but as Doolittle turned to deliver a pitch to the plate, Kieboom was on the opposite side.

Doolittle tried to adjust and threw a pitch he felt lacked commitment, and Kemp swatted it down the left-field line for a two-run double to lead Los Angeles to a come-from-behind victory and sweep Saturday's split doubleheader at Nationals Park.

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"I didn't have conviction behind that pitch because I messed it up," Doolittle said. "I feel terrible. It's frustrating when you go down on something other than your best bullet. If I hit my spot and he turns it around, I can live with that. But that's a tough one to swallow, because that would've been such a big win for us."

Video: LAD@WSH: Kemp gives Dodgers lead with double in 9th

It was Doolittle's first blown save of the season and just his second since joining Washington last summer. It spoiled a dominant effort from Max Scherzer, who collected a run-scoring single and struck out 13 in seven innings, and spoiled any chance at solace after the Nationals learned Howie Kendrick would be done for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

The Nationals were able to play a whole game Saturday for the first time in five days, but they were handed a pair of losses.

"It's been a very long day," manager Dave Martinez said. "But the boys battled ... when you go to the top of the ninth inning with your closer, you feel pretty good."

Video: LAD@WSH: Martinez talks Kendrick's achilles injury

With more than a week between starts, after rain pushed back his outing an extra three days, Scherzer knew he could push himself on the mound. He gave up a run-scoring single in the first inning and a solo home run in the fifth to Max Muncy, but Scherzer did not yield any more through seven innings. Even though he finished the sixth with more than 100 pitches, he walked off the mound and told the Nationals' dugout he was "1,000 percent good to go" for the seventh.

"It was like a college start, I'm pitching once a week," Scherzer said. "Plus, I checked the schedule and was going to be on six days' [rest the next time], so I knew I was going to have the ability to throw a lot of pitches tonight. And when I came out in the sixth -- put me back out there, I still have a lot left in the tank."

Video: LAD@WSH: Scherzer punches out Barnes for his 13th K

At that point in the game, the Nats had not even collected a hit. The Dodgers lost starting pitcher Rich Hill after just two pitches when a blister on his left middle finger forced him to leave the game. However, three Los Angeles relievers combined to carry a no-hitter into the sixth inning.

Then, the Nats offense finally broke out of its slumber. Trea Turner started the sixth with a double and scored on a double from Mark Reynolds. Matt Adams gave the Nats the lead with a two-run single. And then Scherzer drove in a run of his own with a run-scoring single up the middle and celebrated by slapping the hand of first-base coach Tim Bogar.

Scherzer talked his way into the seventh inning and finally retired Muncy by forcing him to bounce into an inning-ending double play to complete his outing. Scherzer threw a season-high 121 pitches to navigate through seven innings, the third most pitches thrown in baseball this season.

But his extended effort and the Nats' rally ultimately fell short on a rare blown save from Doolittle.

"I just messed it up," Doolittle said.

SOUND SMART
Scherzer recorded his 100th strikeout of the season in just his 63rd inning. That's the fewest innings to ever reach 100 strikeouts in a season (Kerry Wood needed 65 2/3 in 2001).

Scherzer is also batting .308 on the season after going 1-for-2.

Video: LAD@WSH: Scherzer helps himself with an RBI single 

UP NEXT
The Nationals wrap up this series of three games in two days against the Dodgers with Sunday's 1:35 p.m. ET finale. Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the Nats after winning his past three starts with a 2.61 ERA during that span. He will face off against left-hander Alex Wood, who held Washington to three runs (two earned) in six innings April 22 in Los Angeles.

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

Washington Nationals, Sean Doolittle, Max Scherzer

Mesoraco, Flores rally Mets to walk-off victory

Catcher hits tying 2-run HR in 8th; Wilmer wins it with sac fly in 9th
Special to MLB.com

NEW YORK -- The Mets finally have a winning streak. The Force is with them.

Wilmer Flores lofted a sacrifice fly to left field with none out in the ninth to give the Mets a 5-4 walk-off victory over the D-backs on Saturday before 39,515 on Star Wars Night at Citi Field. It is the first time the club has won consecutive games since an April 13 victory over the Brewers gave the Mets an 11-1 start and a nine-game winning streak.

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NEW YORK -- The Mets finally have a winning streak. The Force is with them.

Wilmer Flores lofted a sacrifice fly to left field with none out in the ninth to give the Mets a 5-4 walk-off victory over the D-backs on Saturday before 39,515 on Star Wars Night at Citi Field. It is the first time the club has won consecutive games since an April 13 victory over the Brewers gave the Mets an 11-1 start and a nine-game winning streak.

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"Right before we came up in the ninth we made it clear that we hadn't won, in over a month, back-to-back games," manager Mickey Callaway said. "So that was big for us."

Brandon Nimmo opened the ninth against reliever Andrew Chafin with a double off the fence in right-center, and Asdrubal Cabrera's perfect bunt down the third-base line went for a single to put runners at the corners and set the table for Flores, who said he'd heard Callaway's reminder.

It was Flores' second walk-off RBI this season and eighth of his career.

Video: ARI@NYM: Flores on walk-off sac fly, comeback win

"I'm not thinking about the walk-off. I am thinking about how to bring the run in, what the pitcher's throwing," Flores said. "You can't think about the walk-off. I think like it's the first inning or the fifth inning."

Devin Mesoraco tied the score at 4 in the eighth inning by taking Arizona reliever Archie Bradley over the left-field fence for a two-run home run. Mesoraco was an All-Star in 2014 before years of injuries reduced him to a backup role this season, but he has become rejuvenated since the Mets acquired him in the May 8 trade for Matt Harvey.

Video: ARI@NYM: Mesoraco drives a game-tying 2-run homer

"I wasn't playing and it makes things a lot tougher," Mesoraco said. "Coming to a new team when you've been somewhere your whole career [where] maybe you got comfortable? You're hearing different voices. We have a good club, a better club than what was there in Cincinnati. It definitely pumps you up. I want to play games that are important. We have a capable group here, so to help them out is great."

The late-inning heroics took starter Steven Matz off the hook for allowing four runs over just four innings, including a three-run fourth that put Arizona up, 4-2, after Michael Conforto's second-inning homer gave the Mets a 2-1 lead.

Video: ARI@NYM: Conforto launches a 2-run homer to right

Paul Goldschmidt tied the game at 2 with a leadoff homer in the fourth. But Matz, who has struggled dealing with in-game adversity, looked irked when a 3-2 pitch to Jarrod Dyson was called ball four for a two-out walk.

Dyson successfully stole second base on a pickoff attempt, and the Mets challenged the bang-bang play, but the umpires ruled that the call on the field would stand after a replay review. Dyson then also stole third before John Ryan Murphy hit a full-count changeup for a two-run homer and a 4-2 lead.

Video: ARI@NYM: Dyson swipes second base and the call stands

It was the second time in the game that the Mets had opted to pitch to No. 8 hitter Murphy with two outs instead of going after pitcher Patrick Corbin. In the second, Murphy laced a run-scoring single for a 1-0 lead.

"I made a couple bad pitches and they made me pay for it," Matz said. "The two-out walk to a lefty there is unacceptable. [Then] I've got the pitcher on deck and I made a mistake. I can't let that happen."

"He probably went with the wrong pitches in that case," Callaway said. "You don't throw changeups to pitch around guys. You throw a fastball because you know you can get it where you want to."

Video: ARI@NYM: Callaway on walk-off win, Matz's outing

SOUND SMART
Flores' eighth walk-off RBI in his Mets career ties him with Kevin McReynolds for second on the franchise list. He trails only David Wright, who has nine.

Video: ARI@NYM: Flores smacks a walk-off sacrifice fly

HE SAID IT
"If you're a starting pitcher, you have to be able to get that eight-hole hitter out and be able to pitch around him when that's called for." -- Callaway, on Matz giving up two run-scoring hits to Murphy with two outs

UP NEXT
Asdrubal Cabrera will be looking to again dominate Arizona starter Clay Buchholz in the series finale against the D-backs on Sunday. Cabrera is 8-for-16 with two home runs and two doubles in 19 career plate appearances against the right-hander, who signed a Minor League deal with the D-backs earlier this month. Noah Syndergaard will start for the Mets, who are going for a three-game sweep. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. ET.

Roger Rubin is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.

New York Mets, Michael Conforto, Wilmer Flores, Steven Matz, Devin Mesoraco

Kluber 1st in AL to 7 wins with gem vs. Astros

Ace fans 10 to move into fifth place on Indians' all-time strikeout list
MLB.com @alysonfooter