August 31, 2017

A look at what's happening all around the majors today:

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CLOSE TO HOME

Jose Altuve and the Astros wrap up a three-game series against Texas that was moved to the Tampa Bay Rays' home ballpark in Florida because of Hurricane Harvey. Then, the AL West leaders finally return home to flood-ravaged Houston to face the Mets this weekend. After an unscheduled day off Friday, the teams play a doubleheader Saturday and an afternoon game Sunday. Houston manager A.J. Hinch broke the news to relieved players at a meeting Wednesday. In addition to reuniting with family and friends, many of them plan to spend part of Friday assisting people affected by the storm. Returning to Minute Maid Park figures to be emotional. ''You never know how much home means to you until you're not allowed to go home,'' Hinch said. ''Our attention is still going to be centered around the city and all the devastation that's going on. If we can provide any sort of relief, or any sort of escape, or any part of a distraction away from what's going on, I think that's going to be part of it.''

PIVOTAL SERIES

Boston begins a four-game set at Yankee Stadium with a 5+-game lead in the AL East over second-place New York. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (left knee) is poised to come off the disabled list, and veteran lefty CC Sabathia (10-5, 3.82 ERA) starts the opener for the Yankees against Eduardo Rodriguez (4-4, 4.19). Sabathia is 7-0 with 1.44 ERA in nine starts this year after New York losses. Rodriguez is 4-1 with a 2.31 ERA in eight career starts against the rival Yankees. New York, which leads the wild-card race, dropped both ends of a doubleheader Wednesday, part of a three-game sweep by AL Central-leading Cleveland. Meanwhile, the Red Sox polished off a three-game sweep in Toronto.

FLYING HIGH

Surging up the wild-card standings, the Orioles try to extend their longest winning streak of the season to eight games when they host last-place Toronto in the opener of a four-game series. ''We've been able to dial up what was needed on a given day,'' Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. ''I think we kind of know it's, `OK, what do we need to do tonight to win?''' After dispatching Boston and Seattle, the Orioles are coming off their first set of consecutive three-game sweeps since June 1999 against Atlanta and Kansas City.

OLD FRIENDS

Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke (15-6, 3.14 ERA) has lost four straight to his former Dodgers teammates, a skid he'll try to end while Arizona seeks to become the first team to sweep a series against Los Angeles this season. Greinke spurned Los Angeles for a big-money deal in Arizona prior to the 2016 season, but since winning his first meeting against the Dodgers last June, Greinke has gone 0-4 with a 6.85 ERA in four starts against them. Kenta Maeda (12-5, 3.76) is up for NL West-leading Los Angeles, which has lost a season-high four straight, including the last two against the Diamondbacks.

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS

Cubs left-hander Jon Lester is scheduled to start Saturday against Atlanta following a successful 50-pitch bullpen session Wednesday. He's recovering from left lat tightness and shoulder fatigue. But shortstop Addison Russell was called back to Chicago to be examined after experiencing a setback in his recovery from a right foot injury. Russell was scratched from a rehab game with Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday after experiencing soreness. The 2016 All-Star has been sidelined since early August after straining the foot.

CAREER NIGHT

Mets ace Jacob deGrom (14-7) tries to set a personal high with his 15th win when he faces the Reds in the finale of their series at Cincinnati. He's fanned 201 batters, four shy of his career high from 2015.

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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