LEADING OFF: Greinke back, Vladdy & daddy, Brewers pitch in

Sep 13, 2021, 1:07 PM | Updated: Sep 14, 2021, 1:11 am
Houston Astros starting pitcher Zack Greinke throws against the Texas Rangers during the first inni...

Houston Astros starting pitcher Zack Greinke throws against the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

(AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

              New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole, center, leaves during the fourth inning of the team's baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
            
              Fireworks go off behind the scoreboard at Oracle Park after the San Francisco Giants defeated the San Diego Padres in a baseball game to clinch a postseason berth in San Francisco, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
            
              San Francisco Giants players celebrate after defeating the San Diego Padres in a baseball game to clinch a postseason berth in San Francisco, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
            
              Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Aaron Ashby delivers the final pitch, striking out Cleveland Indians' Franmil Reyes, during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Cleveland, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Phil Long)
            
              New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole delivers the ball to a Toronto Blue Jays batter during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
            
              The Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate a win over the Arizona Diamondbacks during a baseball game Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
            
              Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. celebrates victory over the Tampa Bay Rays following a baseball game in Toronto on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. (Jon Blacker/The Canadian Press via AP)
            
              Houston Astros starting pitcher Zack Greinke throws against the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

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

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ZACK IS BACK

Houston Astros right-hander Zack Greinke makes his first start since testing positive for COVID-19 last month.

Greinke (11-5, 2.66 ERA) is scheduled to pitch at Texas, the same team he lost to on the road in his last start 16 days earlier.

The 37-year-old Greinke gave up nine hits and six runs in four innings at Texas on Aug. 29, two days before he was put on the COVID-19 injured list while the Astros were in Seattle.

Greinke had also lost his previous start against Kansas City, marking the only time in his 27 starts this season he has dropped consecutive games. AL West-leading Houston has lost five of his past six starts overall.

BIG BIRDS

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the power-packed Blue Jays are averaging 13 runs per game while winning four straight over the past three days. They’ll take on AL East-leading Tampa Bay again after outhitting the Rays 17-2 in an 8-1 rout Monday night that gave Toronto a 12-1 record in September.

Guerrero socked his major league-leading 45th home run, moving one ahead of Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani. Guerrero also surpassed the season high set by his Hall of Fame father with Montreal in 2000.

Toronto sits atop a tightly contested AL wild-card race and leads the majors with 232 home runs.

PLAYOFF TICKETS

Kenley Jansen and the Los Angeles Dodgers can clinch their ninth consecutive playoff appearance with a win at home over last-place Arizona and losses by two of the following teams: Cincinnati, St. Louis, San Diego.

The defending World Series champions are 2 1/2 games behind first-place San Francisco in the NL West. The rival Giants (94-50) became the first team to secure a 2021 postseason berth by beating San Diego 9-1 on Monday night for their season-high eighth straight victory. They’ll try to make it nine in a row when Anthony DeSclafani (11-6, 3.33 ERA) faces Jake Arrieta (5-12, 7.04) and the struggling Padres.

LEG WORK

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole (14-7, 2.78 ERA), pushed back because of left hamstring tightness, is set to start on six days’ rest at Baltimore.

Cole will have a new shortstop behind him, too, after New York moved error-prone Gleyber Torres to second base Monday. Torres will spend the rest of the season at second, manager Aaron Boone said.

DJ LeMahieu switched from second to third, and Tyler Wade played shortstop during Monday’s comeback win over Minnesota. Boone said Gio Urshela will move from third and likely become the regular shortstop starting Tuesday night against the major league-worst Orioles.

Andrew Velazquez, a shortstop optioned Sunday to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, could be recalled when eligible.

Torres, 24, was primarily a second baseman during his first two seasons with the Yankees in 2018 and 2019. He filled in at shortstop when Didi Gregorius got hurt and was moved there for 2020 after Gregorius left as a free agent to sign with Philadelphia.

Torres made nine errors last year and has 18 this season, second-most in the American League behind Toronto’s Bo Bichette (24).

New York has lost 12 of 16 following a 13-game winning streak and is in a tight race with AL East rivals Toronto and Boston for the league’s two wild cards.

HERE’S THE PITCH

Closing in on the NL Central title, Milwaukee tries to extend its run of dominant pitching when Freddy Peralta (9-4, 2.69 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game series in Detroit.

Eric Lauer held Cleveland hitless into the sixth inning Sunday in an 11-1 victory — a day after Brewers ace Corbin Burnes and closer Josh Hader combined on the record ninth no-hitter in the majors this season. Milwaukee allowed only seven hits in a three-game sweep of the Indians.

Off on Monday, the Brewers have won five in a row overall and their magic number is five for clinching the division crown.

PROGRESS REPORT

Cleveland ace Shane Bieber (strained right shoulder) is slated to throw 40-45 pitches on a minor league rehab assignment at Triple-A Columbus. The 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner has been sidelined since June 13.

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LEADING OFF: Greinke back, Vladdy & daddy, Brewers pitch in