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McCullers, Brantley help Astros beat White Sox 7-1

McCullers, Brantley help Astros beat White Sox 7-1

Lance McCullers Jr. pitched seven sparkling innings, and the Houston Astros beat the Chicago White Sox 7-1 in the opener of a weekend series between AL division leadersBy JAY COHEN AP Baseball WriterJuly 17, 2021, 4:23 AM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleCHICAGO — Lance McCullers Jr. and the Houston Astros have played their best against baseball’s best teams this year.Just ask the Chicago White Sox.McCullers pitched seven crisp innings, and the Astros beat the White Sox 7-1 on Friday night in the opener of a weekend series between AL division leaders.Michael Brantley homered and Myles Straw drove in three runs as the Astros improved to a big league-best 43-22 against teams with a .500 or better record — including a 5-0 mark against the White Sox. Yuli Gurriel added three hits and two RBIs.“It seems like they rise to the occasion,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “They know that we’re facing good teams, and they love the competition, especially the good pitchers.”McCullers (7-2) surrendered hits on each of his first two pitches: a leadoff triple for Tim Anderson that extended his hitting streak to 13 games, and an RBI double for Yoán Moncada. But that was it for Chicago against the right-hander, who struck out 10 and walked two.“He was nasty tonight,” Baker said.McCullers said he thinks he found something with his breaking ball during the All-Star break. He also showcased his confidence in his slider, especially against lefty batters.“It’s just become something for me. I honestly feel like I could throw it at will for strikes,” he said.The White Sox won five in a row before the All-Star break, closing out a 6-3 road trip. But they were outplayed again by the Astros, who rolled to a four-game sweep in their first meeting of the season last month in Houston.While the Astros have played well against baseball’s best teams, the White Sox dropped to 16-25 against opponents that currently have a .500 or better record.“I think they outpitched us, but I think we pitched better than seven runs,” manager Tony La Russa said. “You come out tomorrow and compete again.”Dylan Cease (7-5) struck out 10 in 5 2/3 innings for Chicago. The right-hander permitted three runs and six hits in his first loss in nine home starts this season.“It was solid. I kept us in it,” Cease said. “I don’t want to say I handed them two runs, but I felt like I pretty much gave them the first two runs.”Cease caught a bad break when Anderson looked to second on Jose Altuve’s two-out grounder to shortstop with a runner on first in the third. Second baseman Leury García wasn’t on the bag and Altuve was credited with an infield single.After Brantley was hit by a pitch, Gurriel lined a two-run double into right field.Brantley added a two-out solo drive in the fifth, and the Astros broke it open with four more two-out runs in the seventh. Straw had the big blow, a three-run double to right that made it 7-1.“We had some guys have big nights,” Baker said.MAKING MOVESThe White Sox reinstated reliever Aaron Bummer from the 10-day injured list and recalled right-hander Reynaldo López from Triple-A Charlotte. They also optioned relievers Matt Foster and Jace Fry to their top farm club.Bummer, who had been sidelined by a strained right hamstring, recorded two outs in the seventh and was charged with four runs. López worked two scoreless innings.TRAINER’S ROOMAstros: All-Star SS Carlos Correa was activated from the injured list. Correa was placed on the IL last week due to health and safety protocols. … RHP Austin Pruitt was activated from the 60-day IL. Pruitt was acquired in a January 2020 trade with Tampa Bay, but he missed last season with an elbow injury. … Baker said 3B Alex Bregman (strained left quadriceps) is progressing and could start a minor league rehabilitation stint soon. … RHP Josh James (hip surgery) got two outs in a rehab appearance for Triple-A Sugar Land.White Sox: INF/OF Jake Lamb (strained right quadriceps) was sent to Triple-A Charlotte to begin a rehab assignment.UP NEXTRight-handers Jake Odorizzi (3-4, 3.61 ERA) and Lucas Giolito (7-6, 4.15) pitch on Saturday night. Odorizzi is 2-1 with a 1.04 ERA over his last five appearances for Houston. Giolito struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings in Chicago’s 8-3 win at Baltimore last Saturday.———Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Braves acquire OF Joc Pederson in trade with Cubs

Braves acquire OF Joc Pederson in trade with Cubs

The Atlanta Braves have acquired Joc Pederson in a trade with the Chicago Cubs, bolstering their outfield after losing Ronald Acuña Jr. to a season-ending knee injuryBy JAY COHEN AP Baseball WriterJuly 16, 2021, 1:25 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleCHICAGO — The Atlanta Braves acquired Joc Pederson in a trade with the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, bolstering their outfield after losing Ronald Acuña Jr. to a season-ending knee injury.Atlanta sent minor league first baseman Bryce Ball to Chicago for Pederson, who is batting .230 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs in 73 games. The 29-year-old Pederson spent his first seven seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers before signing with the Cubs in free agency in February.The Braves are looking to return to the playoffs, but their pursuit of a fourth straight NL East title took a hit when Acuña tore the ACL in his right knee during Saturday’s 5-4 victory over Miami.Atlanta hit the All-Star break in third in the division, four games back of the first-place New York Mets.Pederson could be in the lineup when the Braves return to the field Friday night against Tampa Bay. The lefty-batting slugger played in the postseason in each of the previous six years with Los Angeles, batting .382 with two homers in 16 games in the Dodgers’ run to the World Series title in 2020.Atlanta assumes the $1,935,484 remaining of Pederson’s $4.5 million salary. The deal includes a $10 million mutual option with a $2.5 million buyout and allows Pederson to earn $125,000 each for 500, 525, 550 and 575 plate appearances.The Pederson deal could be the first of many for Chicago before the July 30 trade deadline. The Cubs dropped 13 of 15 before the break, moving the team into sell mode after it was once on top of the NL Central.All-Stars Kris Bryant and closer Craig Kimbrel, along with slugging infielders Javier Báez and Anthony Rizzo, are among the top names that could be headed out of Chicago. Báez, Bryant and Rizzo are eligible for free agency after this season.Ball, 23, was selected by Atlanta in the 24th round of the 2019 amateur draft. The 6-foot-6 Ball batted .207 with six homers and 30 RBIs in 53 games for High-A Rome this year.———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Gavin Sheets delivers in debut, White Sox beat Twins 7-6

Gavin Sheets delivers in debut, White Sox beat Twins 7-6

Gavin Sheets had two hits and two RBIs in his major league debut, helping Lucas Giolito and the Chicago White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 7-6By JAY COHEN AP Baseball WriterJune 30, 2021, 3:50 AM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleCHICAGO — Gavin Sheets had two hits and two RBIs in his major league debut, helping Lucas Giolito and the Chicago White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 7-6 on Tuesday night.Leury García also drove in two runs as Chicago increased its AL Central lead to 2 1/2 games over Cleveland after the Indians’ matchup with Detroit was postponed by rain. The White Sox had dropped seven of nine.Giolito (6-5) pitched six-plus innings of three-run ball in his first win in a month. The right-hander went 0-1 with a 3.96 ERA over his previous four outings.Giolito surrendered a two-run drive to Josh Donaldson on his fifth pitch of the game. But he quickly settled down in his 100th career start.After crossing the plate following his 12th homer, Donaldson rubbed his hands together and appeared to yell, “Not sticky anymore,” as he made his way to the Twins’ dugout.Donaldson has been one of baseball’s most outspoken sluggers when it comes to pitchers using sticky substances, something the league recently started cracking down on.The Twins had won seven of nine. They scored three times in the seventh, including RBI doubles by Nelson Cruz and Max Kepler, and then pulled within one on Jorge Polanco’s run-scoring groundout in the ninth.But Liam Hendriks earned his 21st save when he retired Alex Kirilloff on a fly ball to center, stranding a runner at third.Sheets, the son of former big league outfielder Larry Sheets, lined an opposite-field single to left in the second for his first hit. He tied it at 2 when he drove in a run with an infield out that went off the glove of Kenta Maeda (3-3) in the third.The White Sox opened a 7-2 lead with four runs in the fifth. Sheets had a bloop RBI double, and García followed with a sacrifice fly. Danny Mendick and Tim Anderson capped the inning with run-scoring singles.Maeda was charged with seven runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. He issued five walks, matching a career high, and struck out four.BRIEFLYThere was a 10-minute rain delay in the third. The grounds crew started to get the tarp out, but it stopped raining before it even pulled it over the infield.TRAINER’S ROOMTwins: 2B Jorge Polanco was shaken up after he was caught stealing in the fifth, colliding with SS Anderson at second base. But Polanco stayed in the game. … Manager Rocco Baldelli said C Mitch Garver (groin contusion) could return around the All-Star break. Garver hasn’t played since he left a June 1 game at Baltimore following a first-inning foul tip. Baldelli said they will be conservative in bringing Garver back. “Some of this is stuff that we do need to make sure for his quality of life going forward and his general health, we do need to make sure he is completely healed up before we start any strenuous baseball activity,” Baldelli said. … RHP Michael Pineda (elbow inflammation) is scheduled for a rehab start with Triple-A St. Paul on Thursday.White Sox: 3B Yoán Moncada was out of the starting lineup because of a “barking” right shoulder, manager Tony La Russa said. … RH reliever Evan Marshall departed with an apparent injury in the seventh. … CF Luis Robert has been cleared to increase his level of baseball activities at the team’s complex in Arizona. Robert tore his right hip flexor on May 2. … OF Jake Lamb (strained right quadriceps) was placed on the 10-day injured list, and OF Billy Hamilton was reinstated from the IL. Hamilton had been sidelined by a strained right oblique. … RHP Michael Kopech (strained left hamstring) threw a simulated game on Monday, and the team said it went well.UP NEXTRight-handers Bailey Ober (0-0, 4.64 ERA) and Dylan Cease (6-3, 3.81 ERA) pitch on Wednesday night. Ober made his big league debut against the White Sox on May 18, allowing four runs in four innings. Cease is 0-2 with a 9.18 ERA in four career starts versus the Twins.———Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Kikuchi, Torrens star as surging Mariners beat White Sox 9-3

Kikuchi, Torrens star as surging Mariners beat White Sox 9-3

Yusei Kikuchi pitched into the sixth inning and Luis Torrens homered twice, leading the Seattle Mariners to a 9-3 victory over the Chicago White SoxBy JAY COHEN AP Baseball WriterJune 26, 2021, 4:49 AM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleCHICAGO — Pitching on a wet, humid night in Chicago, Yusei Kikuchi delivered once again.The Japanese left-hander is good everywhere he goes these days.Kikuchi turned in another road gem and Luis Torrens homered twice, helping the Seattle Mariners beat Carlos Rodón and the White Sox 9-3 on Friday.Led by Kikuchi and Torrens, Seattle opened a six-game trip with its ninth win in 11 games. Jake Fraley also went deep for the Mariners, and Jake Bauers had a run-scoring single.“It seemed like almost every inning we had guys out there on base or in scoring position,” manager Scott Servais said. “So, really like what we’re doing offensively.”Kikuchi allowed one run and two hits in 5 2/3 innings while improving to 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA over his last six starts. Kikuchi (5-3) has been one of the AL’s best road pitchers this year with a 3-1 record and a 2.89 ERA in eight such starts, but it seems as if he is enjoying success in all situations at the moment.“I don’t necessarily think that I do feel more comfortable or pitch better on the road or anything like that,” he said through a translator. “I feel like my recent outings at home have been pretty solid as well.”Torrens hit a two-run shot in the second and another two-run drive in the seventh for his first career multihomer game. The 25-year-old Torrens is batting .429 (9 for 21) with five homers and nine RBIs in six games since he was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on June 14.“My mindset is attack every pitch,” he said.AL Central-leading Chicago welcomed a crowd of 32,189 for what it dubbed “Reopening Night” — its first home game without COVID-19-related attendance restrictions since the 2019 season. But Carlos Rodón (6-3) struggled with his location, and the White Sox lost for the sixth time in seven games.Yasmani Grandal’s second-inning homer accounted for Chicago’s only run against Kikuchi (5-3), who struck out six and walked four.“It was a struggle. I do think their starter pitched well, and I think their relievers threw the ball well,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “Didn’t make it any easier for us.”Grandal’s 12th homer trimmed Seattle’s lead to 2-1, but Bauers drove in Ty France with his two-out single in the third and Fraley connected for a two-run homer in the sixth.Rodón labored through five innings in his first loss since May 26. The lefty allowed three runs and five hits, struck out eight and walked four.“Definitely made it tough today to put them away. They battled,” said Rodón, who pitched five scoreless innings at Seattle in his first start of the year on April 5.TRAINER’S ROOMMariners: RHP Justin Dunn is going to see a specialist about the strained muscle in his right shoulder. Servais said he thinks the meeting was Friday, and the team could get an update on Dunn this weekend. … Servais said 1B Evan White is still trying to determine a plan of action after he had a setback in his recovery from a hip flexor injury while on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Tacoma. … CF Kyle Lewis (right knee surgery) got his stitches removed and is picking up his rehab. “Positive feedback from Kyle, but still a long ways away from picking up any baseball activity,” Servais said.White Sox: 3B Yoán Moncada rolled his left ankle late in the game, but he stayed in. … RHP Michael Kopech (strained left hamstring) threw 26 pitches during a simulated game. “Saw exciting progress. Arm had that life,” La Russa said. Kopech is expected to throw another simulated game on Monday. He could be activated once the team thinks he is ready, or he could head to Triple-A Charlotte for a rehab stint.UP NEXTMariners rookie Logan Gilbert (2-2, 4.50 ERA) and White Sox right-hander Lance Lynn (7-3, 2.14 ERA) start on Saturday. Gilbert, a 6-foot-6 right-hander, is 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA in three June starts. Lynn was tagged for six runs and eight hits in four innings during a 7-3 loss at Houston on Saturday.———Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Indians beat Cubs 4-0, lose Civale to finger injury

Indians beat Cubs 4-0, lose Civale to finger injury

CHICAGO — When it comes to all the pitching injuries for the Cleveland Indians, manager Terry Francona doesn’t have time to feel sorry for himself.He has to figure out the next step for his team.Cleveland lost another starter when Aaron Civale exited with a finger injury Monday night, but Bobby Bradley and Josh Naylor homered to lead the Indians to a 4-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs.Civale, who leads the majors with 10 wins, left with two out in the fifth inning because of a right middle finger injury. The right-hander had a 3-2 count on Eric Sogard when he was visited by Francona and a trainer.“The tip of his finger was bothering him, so we didn’t mess around with that,” Francona said. “We just got him out of there.”Francona said the team wants to have Civale see hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham as soon as possible. Any prolonged absence for the 26-year-old pitcher would be a big blow for Cleveland, already missing ace Shane Bieber and right-hander Zach Plesac due to injuries.“Rather than feel sorry for ourselves, we’ll just try to figure it out the best we can,” Francona said.Naylor finished with two hits as the Indians improved to 2-2 on a nine-game road trip. They moved within two games of the idle White Sox for the top spot in the AL Central.Chicago lost for the sixth time in eight games, and Javier Báez was pulled by manager David Ross after the shortstop made an embarrassing mental mistake. Adbert Alzolay (4-6) permitted three runs over 4 2/3 innings in his return from the 10-day injured list after being sidelined by a blister on his right middle finger.With one out in the fourth and Báez aboard after a fielder’s choice, Anthony Rizzo hit a fly ball to left field. Báez thought there were two outs and was almost to third when he was doubled off first base, leading to a round of boos from the crowd of 32,934 at Wrigley Field.“We’ve just got to make sure we’re focused and locked in during the game,” Ross said, “and sometimes our frustrations can distract us a little bit. We had a good conversation and I think that’s behind us.”Báez said he respects Ross’ decision.“I blame it on myself. I lost the count of the outs,” he said. “We talked about it. We are on the same page, and I’ll be there tomorrow to help the team.”Sergio Alcántara replaced Báez in the field and was unable to throw out Harold Ramirez on an infield single leading off the fifth. After Bradley bounced into a fielder’s choice, Naylor hit a drive to right-center for a two-run homer on the ninth pitch of his at-bat, making it 3-0.“I was just trying to be as patient as I could and foul off as many as I could just to get ready for that right one,” Naylor said.Bradley connected in the second, and the Indians added another run in the eighth when Cesar Hernandez scampered home on a wild pitch by Tommy Nance.After Civale was removed, Bryan Shaw (2-2) got four outs for the win. Nick Wittgren worked out of a jam in the seventh before Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak each pitched an inning, finishing a six-hitter.“The bullpen came in, and it was just kind of like a regular day for them,” Naylor said. “They just came in and did business.”MAKING MOVESCubs reliever Kyle Ryan was optioned to Triple-A Iowa to make room for Alzolay.TRAINER’S ROOMIndians: DH Franmil Reyes (left oblique strain) is scheduled to begin a rehab stint with Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday. Francona said Reyes will be re-evaluated when the team returns home after its road trip. … Plesac (broken right thumb) threw fastballs, changeups and sliders during a 30-pitch bullpen. He did not throw any curveballs. … Cs Roberto Perez (broken right ring finger) and Austin Hedges (concussion list) ran the bases and hit on the field before the game. … 3B José Ramírez (bruised left foot) returned to the starting lineup for the first time since he was hit by a pitch during Friday night’s 11-10 loss at Pittsburgh. He popped out in a pinch-hit appearance on Sunday.Cubs: LHP Justin Steele (right hamstring strain) will throw another bullpen pretty soon, according to Ross. “Things are good,” the manager said. “He’ll be off on a kind of rehab soon.” … RHP Trevor Williams (appendectomy) will travel with the team to Los Angeles when it heads out on a 10-game trip this week. “If everything’s going well, he’ll be off to build up some innings soon, too,” Ross said.UP NEXTCubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks (9-4, 4.13 ERA) goes for his eighth straight win Tuesday night. Hendricks is 4-0 with a 2.96 ERA in June. Rookie right-hander Eli Morgan (0-1, 12.79 ERA) makes his third big league start for the Indians.———Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports