LEADING OFF: NL contenders square off, Britton joins Yankees


A look at what’s happening around the majors today:


Several top teams in the National League are matched up against fellow playoff contenders. Arizona wraps up a four-game series at Wrigley Field versus the Cubs. Max Muncy and the Dodgers host Atlanta. And it’s Milwaukee in San Francisco to face rookie Dereck Rodriguez. The son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan ”Pudge” Rodriguez is 5-1 with a 2.72 ERA, and the Giants have won his last six starts.


Khris Davis and the surging Athletics go for a four-game sweep at Texas. Davis homered two more times and had five RBIs during Wednesday night’s 6-5 victory, including a two-run shot in the ninth inning as Oakland rallied again to beat the Rangers. Davis hit a three-run homer in the seventh to pull the A’s to 5-4 and has gone deep in six consecutive games against Texas. He has 25 homers and 57 RBIs in 49 career games vs. the Rangers – 15 homers and 31 RBIs in 26 road games. Oakland has won five straight and 26 of 33 overall.


Newly acquired reliever Zach Britton joins the Yankees as they open a homestand against last-place Kansas City. New York manager Aaron Boone said Britton will fill a variety of roles but emphasized that Aroldis Chapman remains the closer. The Yankees acquired Britton, a two-time All-Star, from the rebuilding Orioles for three pitching prospects late Tuesday. He bolsters an imposing bullpen that also includes David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, Jonathan Holder and Adam Warren. ”Having so many quality guys, that allows us to really preserve and protect them,” Boone said. ”We’re certainly as capable as anyone.” New York is 5 games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox, who obtained starter Nathan Eovaldi from Tampa Bay less than 12 hours after the Britton deal.


Stephen Strasburg (6-7, 3.90 ERA) is back on the mound for the Nationals in Miami, making his second start since coming off the disabled list. After getting pulled from his last outing on his 30th birthday, when he allowed six runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings during a loss to Atlanta, Strasburg had a heated exchange in the dugout with teammate and fellow ace Max Scherzer. Strasburg has lost three straight starts and four of five. But he is 7-0 in his last seven starts against the Marlins.


Bartolo Colon faces one of his 10 former teams in his fourth attempt to break a tie with Dennis Martinez for the most major league wins by a pitcher born in Latin America. Colon and Martinez each have 245 career victories. Colon, the portly 45-year-old right-hander now with the Texas Rangers, starts against Oakland. He was 28-15 with a 2.99 ERA in 54 starts for the Athletics from 2012-13, and has gone 10-6 with a 3.36 ERA in 22 career starts against them.


Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb (2-13, 6.17 ERA) takes on his former team when the struggling Orioles begin a four-game series with Tampa Bay. Cobb is 0-2 in two career starts against the Rays. He left them to sign a $57 million, four-year contract with Baltimore last offseason.

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