LEADING OFF: Scherzer's All-Star tuneup, Brewers visit Bronx
A look at what's happening all around the majors today:
Max Scherzer makes his final start for the Nationals before possibly starting Tuesday's All-Star Game in Miami. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner leads his league in strikeouts (163) and ERA (1.94), and he's a strong candidate to pitch first for the NL next week, especially with Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw holding out because he's pitching Sunday. Scherzer (10-5) is slated to pitch for Washington against Atlanta knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (6-5, 4.44).
FIRST-PLACE BREWERS IN THE BRONX
Ryan Braun and the surprising Brewers (48-40) arrive at Yankee Stadium with a four-game winning streak and a 4 1/2-game lead in the NL Central over the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. ''Certainly, we're not taking anything for granted,'' Braun said. ''We understand how great they are, how talented they are, but the deeper we get in this thing and remain in the same position, the more confident we become as a group.'' Junior Guerra (1-3, 4.93) pitches for Milwaukee against rookie left-hander Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.62) and the struggling Yankees, who have dropped 16 of 22.
No. 2 overall draft pick Hunter Greene and the Cincinnati Reds are coming down to the wire on a deal. Teams have until 5 p.m. EDT to sign their picks from last month's draft, and Greene is among a handful of first-rounders yet to announce an agreement. Greene could get the biggest bonus since pool restrictions were instituted in 2012, surpassing the $7,005,000 given to Rays pitcher/first baseman Brendan McKay this year. Greene was a pitcher and shortstop at a California high school, but his future is likely on the mound, where he can hit triple digits from the right side.
Ichiro Suzuki is one hit shy of tying Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson for 23rd place in major league history as the Marlins begin a three-game series in San Francisco. Suzuki had two hits against St. Louis on Thursday, upping his total to 3,054 and passing Rod Carew on the career list. That made Suzuki the all-time hits leader for foreign-born players. Carew is from Panama.
Jacob deGrom (8-3, 3.55) looks to extend his recent run of dominance for the Mets when he faces All-Star righty Carlos Martinez (6-7, 3.15) and the Cardinals in a marquee matchup. The 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom is 4-0 with a 0.84 ERA in his last four starts. He was scheduled to pitch Wednesday against Washington, but that game was postponed by rain and the Mets were off Thursday. New York has lost three straight.
Aaron Sanchez comes off the disabled list to start for Toronto at home against Jose Altuve, George Springer and the major league-leading Astros. Sanchez, who was sidelined by a blister, made his second minor league rehab start Sunday, allowing four runs in 4 1/3 innings for Triple-A Buffalo. He threw 76 pitches. Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman left his most recent outing with a blister as well, prompting him to point a finger at Major League Baseball. ''I feel like it's an epidemic that's happening across the big leagues now, a bunch of pitchers getting blisters, guys who have never had blisters before. So for MLB to turn their back to it, I think that's kind of crazy,'' a frustrated Stroman said at Yankee Stadium. ''I have no theory. But obviously, I mean, it's not a coincidence that it's happening to so many guys all of a sudden.'' Asked if he was implying all the blisters have something to do with an altered baseball, he would only repeat: ''It's not a coincidence.''
The Red Sox are hoping for a quick recovery for shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who has a bruised right hand after being hit by a pitch Thursday from Tampa Bay's Jake Faria. Bogaerts has had a tough week - he also sat out Monday with tightness in his left groin and came up short in the final fan vote Thursday for next week's All-Star Game. The 24-year-old Bogaerts is batting .308 with six homers and 41 RBIs this season.
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