LEADING OFF: Cubs close in, Big Papi ties The Mick
A look at what's happening all around the majors today:
THEY CAN ALMOST TASTE IT
Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and the Cubs can keep closing in on the NL Central crown with a win over the rival Cardinals in St. Louis. Jason Hammel (14-8) starts for Chicago against lefty Jaime Garcia (10-12).
MICKEY & PAPI
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz hit his 536th home run Monday night, tying Yankees great Mickey Mantle for 17th on the career list. Ortiz connected for the AL East leaders against Baltimore. The series continues at Fenway Park when Drew Pomeranz and Boston take on Dylan Bundy and the contending Orioles.
READY TO RETURN?
Josh Donaldson could be back at third base for Toronto, a day after he was out of the lineup. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said the reigning AL MVP was ''banged up'' and needed a day to regroup. Donaldson is hitless in a career-worst seven games, going 0 for 23 with seven strikeouts in that span for the AL playoff contenders.
In a tight race with St. Louis and San Francisco for two NL wild cards, the Mets and their injury-plagued rotation could use a long outing from All-Star ace Noah Syndergaard (13-8) in Washington. Fill-in starter Rafael Montero lasted only 1 2/3 innings against the NL East leaders in the series opener Monday night. Syndergaard ranks second in the majors with a 2.48 ERA.