LEADING OFF: Homers in 3s, Goldy licks, Wheeler watch
Who will be the next player to hit three home runs in a game? Twins slugger Nelson Cruz did it for the first time in his career Thursday night during a 10-3 victory at the Chicago White Sox.
A look at what's happening around the majors today:
THREE FOR FOUR
Who will be the next player to hit three home runs in a game? Twins slugger Nelson Cruz did it for the first time in his career Thursday night during a 10-3 victory at the Chicago White Sox. His outburst followed three-homer games by Mets second baseman Robinson Canó on Tuesday night and Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong on Wednesday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the first time in major league history there's been a three-homer game on three consecutive days.
The 39-year-old Cruz, a six-time All-Star with 385 career homers, has six long balls in his last four games. Max Kepler and Miguel Sanó also connected as Minnesota totaled at least five homers for a major league-record ninth time this season, according to STATS.
Paul Goldschmidt looks to homer in his fifth straight game when the surging Cardinals host AL West-leading Houston in the opener of an interleague series. St. Louis has won five in a row and eight of nine to tie the Chicago Cubs atop the NL Central, grabbing a share of the division lead for the first time since early May. Goldschmidt had nine RBIs and four of the Cardinals' 12 home runs during a four-game sweep of Pittsburgh.
ALL EYES ON ZACK
Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler (6-6, 4.69 ERA) comes off the injured list to pitch against the skidding Pirates in his first start since July 7 after dealing with a shoulder impingement. Wheeler has been a hot name as the July 31 trade deadline nears, and contending teams are likely to be paying close attention to his health and performance.
A CALL TO ARMS
James Paxton (5-5, 4.20 ERA) tries to restore order to the Yankees' battered pitching staff at Fenway Park. New York starters have allowed 40 runs over their last five games, something they hadn't done since 1912. Boston's 19-3 victory Thursday night was its biggest victory over the Yankees in the 117-year history of the rivalry. Masahiro Tanaka (7-6) gave up 12 runs and 12 hits in 3 1/3 innings for the AL East leaders, the second-most earned runs ever permitted by a Yankees pitcher — Carl Mays gave up 13 in a complete game against Cleveland in 1923.
Boston has scored eight or more runs in four consecutive games against the Yankees for the first time since 1912, the year Fenway Park opened.
Paxton pitched eight innings of two-hit ball against the Red Sox on April 16, striking out 12. Andrew Cashner (9-5) seeks his first win for Boston since he was acquired from Baltimore in a trade. He's 2-5 with a 3.96 ERA in 10 starts against the Yankees.
Playoff-hopeful Washington welcomes the National League-leading Dodgers for a three-game series, with Los Angeles sending All-Star Game starter Hyun-Jin Ryu (11-2, 1.76 ERA) to the mound against Aníbal Sánchez (6-6, 3.80 ERA).