LEADING OFF: Local rivalries, Phils vs Mets for NL East lead
A look at what’s happening around the majors on Friday:
In-state interleague matchups take center stage in several locales as the Chicago White Sox play the Cubs in a Wrigley Field matinee, the Los Angeles Dodgers host the Angels, and the Kansas City Royals visit the St. Louis Cardinals.
Lance Lynn (10-3, 2.07 ERA), with the lowest ERA in the majors, pitches for the AL Central-leading White Sox against Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks (13-4, 3.71), who is tied for most wins.
CHANGE AT THE TOP?
First place in the NL East is on the line when Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies welcome the New York Mets for the opener of a pivotal three-game series.
“Can’t wait,” Harper said. “I hope that place is rockin’ all the way to the top.”
New York has been atop the division every day since May 8, but the surging Phillies are only a half-game behind and can overtake the scuffling Mets with a victory. Philadelphia is riding a five-game winning streak, the longest current run in the majors, and is three games over .500 for the first time since May 14.
Phillies newcomer Kyle Gibson (7-3, 2.86 ERA) pitches against Marcus Stroman (7-10, 2.80).
POTENTIAL PLAYOFF PREVIEW
New slugger Kris Bryant and the San Francisco Giants are at Milwaukee in a matchup of National League division leaders. Logan Webb (5-3, 3.33 ERA) starts against Brewers All-Star Corbin Burnes (6-4, 2.46).
Bo Bichette and the Toronto Blue Jays (57-49) have won six of seven since returning north of the border last week to move a season-best eight games above .500. Next up, they host AL East rival Boston in a four-game weekend series. Rookie right-hander Alek Manoah (3-1, 2.47 ERA) pitches the opener against Nathan Eovaldi (9-6, 3.71) and the Red Sox.
Blue Jays starting pitchers have a 1.25 ERA over 43 1/3 innings through the first seven games of their homestand. At the plate, Bichette has 15 RBIs in 13 games since moving into the cleanup spot.
Eovaldi is seeking his first win since July 1. He held the hard-hitting Blue Jays scoreless for 6 2/3 innings on June 14.
Toronto has 164 home runs, tied with San Francisco for the major league lead.
ALL OR NOTHING
Javier Báez has hit two big home runs for the Mets — both in victories — since the NL East leaders acquired the star shortstop in a trade-deadline deal with the Chicago Cubs.
In his other four games, all Mets defeats, Báez is a combined 1 for 16.
Báez reached a new low Thursday by striking out in all five plate appearances during a loss to the Miami Marlins.
“Javy is a free swinger. That’s something we know we can probably work on and get better at,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said.
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