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HOUSTON – Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier made his impact felt defensively in his return from the disabled list on Tuesday. There will be changes in playing time moving forward as well.
With Kiermaier Adidas Mike Green Jersey , who missed 57 games with a torn ligament in his right thumb, back in the fold, Mallex Smith shifted to left field while Johnny Field claimed a reserve role. While Smith appears a likely bet to maintain regular at-bats, Field could see a decline in his. Field could potentially share time in right field with veteran Carlos Gomez, whose defense played a part in the Rays’ 2-1 victory Tuesday that ended Houston’s 12-game winning streak and set the stage for the rubber match of this three-game series on Wednesday night.
“Mallex is going to play a lot,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s done a good job; I think he’s deserving to play. He’s probably back in the spot that benefits us the most in left or right when he goes over there at certain times. I like that he can rove to all three of (the outfield slots) and back up K.K. in center. But now it’s like the infield thing: I’m just going to have to do a good job of making sure that everybody gets some consistency and also rest at the same time.
“I don’t think it’s going to hurt Carlos Gomez to get an extra day here and there. Same with Johnny. You see with really good teams that have a full roster the ability to rest their so-called regulars. So, we’ll take that approach.”
The Rays designated outfielder Rob Refsnyder for assignment to make room for Kiermaier.
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (1-2, 4.63 ERA) will start the series finale for the Rays (34-39). He is 1-0 with a 2.52 ERA over four career starts against Houston but hasn’t faced them since April 7, 2016, while pitching for the Yankees.
Eovaldi has faced the Astros once in Houston, earning a 3-2 win on June 26 Adidas Frans Nielsen Jersey , 2015, after allowing two runs on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts over six innings.
Wednesday will mark his fifth start since returning from a second Tommy John surgery.
The Astros (49-26) will counter with right-hander Charlie Morton (8-1, 2.94 ERA), who is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA over three career starts against the Rays. Morton went 1-1 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts against the Rays last season, allowing seven runs on 10 hits and five walks over 11 innings.
He picked up the win in his last start, the 200th of his career, limiting the Royals to three runs on four hits and four walks with nine strikeouts over six innings in a 7-3 victory on June 15.
Major League Baseball released the second update of the American League All-Star voting results on Tuesday, and Astros second baseman Jose Altuve leads all players in fan balloting with 1,572,101 votes. Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts is just behind Altuve at 1,568 Adidas Dylan Larkin Jersey ,417.
“I think it’s remarkable, and I think it’s well deserved for someone who represents our game in exceptional fashion,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch, who will manage the AL All-Stars in Washington, D.C., next month. “I think the voters are getting it right. He’s every bit what’s right about baseball. I love the guy and I’m happy that he’s getting the recognition that he should.”
CHICAGO — The Los Angeles Dodgers have been hitting home runs and scoring runs at enough of a prodigious clip this month that it is rare to see their bats go quiet.
The Dodgers will enter this week’s three-game series against the Chicago Cubs having won seven of their past 10 games. Before they managed just one run in a loss to the San Francisco Giants on Sunday, the Dodgers had averaged 7.15 runs per game and had hit a major-league best 34 home runs in the first 13 games of June.
Although the Dodgers were unable to finish off a series sweep of the Giants in the first game in their past 13 without at least one homer, manager Dave Roberts doesn’t believe that his team has become too homer-happy.
Instead, the Dodgers managed just four hits on Sunday and scored their lone run on an error and they will be looking to rebound Monday at Wrigley Field in the opener of a three-game series with the Cubs in a rematch of last year’s National League Championship Series.
“I don’t think we were over-swinging,” Roberts told reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t think we’re sitting back and just trying to slug. We’re trying to take good swings Adidas Leon Draisaitl Jersey , and today the balls didn’t go out of the ballpark.”
Sunday’s loss snapped a five-game winning streak but didn’t in any way diminish the Dodgers’ confidence as they prepare to face the Cubs for the first time since clinching the pennant last fall.
Kenta Maeda will start Monday’s series opener. He is coming off a no-decision in his first start since returning from a hip injury.
Maeda (4-4, 3.61 ERA) had been pitching extremely well before the hip injury on May 29. He had thrown 14 2/3 scoreless innings with 20 strikeouts in his two previous starts before the injury.
Maeda threw 76 pitches in his return on June 13 against the Texas Rangers when he allowed two runs and five hits in five innings. He will make his first career start against the Cubs on Monday.
Like the Dodgers, the Cubs were unable to finish off a series sweep of the rival St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night. After scoring 19 runs in the first two games of the series, the Cubs were shut down in a 5-0 loss. But the Cubs have won six of their past 10 games and remain 12 games above .500.
The Cubs will have to wait to know the availability of infielder Javier Baez, who left Sunday’s game with a left elbow contusion after being hit by a pitch. According to the Cubs’ official website, Baez will undergo an X-Ray to confirm there is no further damage.
Baez started Sunday’s game at shortstop in place of Addison Russell.
“(The pitch) got him right in the elbow,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said in an in-game interview with ESPN. “Your hand, it does feel numb at that particular time. He just could not get the feel back. I don’t think it’s anything serious, but for right now it’s going to hurt all night and maybe into tomorrow.”
Tyler Chatwood (3-5. 4.12) will attempt to get on track Monday against the Dodgers. He is seeking his first win since May 11. In his last outing, he allowed four runs in five innings against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Chatwood has struggled with walks all season and has at least four in four of his past five outings. He is 5-9 with a 4.07 ERA in 15 career starts against the Dodgers.
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