LEADING OFF: Mets try to sweep D-Backs, Twins ailing

A look at what’s happening around the majors today:


The Mets will try for a four-game sweep over Arizona amid a crowded NL wild-card race. The Diamondbacks had won 11 of 13 entering the series, but New York has shut them down completely, outscoring them 15-3 through the first three games. Right-hander Marcus Stroman (7-13, 3.42) will try to keep that domination going, although he hasn’t been sharp since a July trade from Toronto.

Arizona will start lefty Alex Young (7-3, 3.38) in the finale. He gave up two hits and struck out 12 over eight innings in a 2-0 win over Cincinnati in his previous outing.


Justin Verlander can enhance his Cy Young Award credentials when he starts for the AL West-leading Astros at Minute Maid Park against Oakland. Verlander tries for his major league-leading 19th win — he tops the AL with a 2.52 ERA and leads the majors with 200 innings. His 264 strikeouts are second to teammate Gerrit Cole’s 281 for most in the big league.

Homer Bailey (12-8, 4.87 ERA) has gone 3-0 with a 2.35 ERA over his last five starts. The A’s hold a half-game edge over Cleveland for the second AL wild-card spot.


Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and the Red Sox hitters will try to bust a miserable slump against an old friend. Toronto’s Clay Buchholz (1-4, 5.31) went 81-61 over 10 seasons with Boston, and he’s slated to face his former teammates for the first time.

The Red Sox have dropped five straight and been shut out in two of their past three games since firing president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. The skid includes a meager two-hit effort against four Blue Jays pitchers Wednesday night. Buchholz has a 3.57 ERA in three starts since ending a 3 1/2-month stint on the injured list with a sore shoulder.


The Twins were missing first baseman C.J. Cron (thumb), third baseman Miguel Sano (back), outfielder Max Kepler (shoulder) and infielder/outfielder Marwin Gonzalez (abdominal area) in their 6-2 loss to Washington on Wednesday night.

The AL Central leaders are continuing a cautious approach toward injuries, with outfielder Byron Buxton (shoulder) done for the season and Jake Cave (groin) still working his way back.


Dodgers lefty Rich Hill (4-1, 2.55 ERA) pitches in the majors for the first time since June 19. He’s been out because of a forearm strain.

Hill starts for the NL West champions as they take on Baltimore at Camden Yards.


More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

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