LEADING OFF: Mets manager Callaway faces former Indians boss

National Sports

New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway watches from the dugout against the Miami Marlins in a baseball game, Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

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

OLD FRIENDS

Pete Alonso and the resurgent Mets face Cleveland in the opener of a pivotal nine-game homestand against a trio of playoff contenders: the Indians, Braves and Cubs. All-Star Game MVP Shane Bieber (12-5, 3.27 ERA) starts for Cleveland against Steven Matz (7-7, 4.33). Mets manager Mickey Callaway was the Indians’ pitching coach under skipper Terry Francona before getting the top job in New York. Cleveland begins the second leg of a weeklong visit to New York City after splitting a four-game series at Yankee Stadium last weekend.

Back in Ohio, the Indians got encouraging news about Carlos Carrasco, who returned to the mound Monday two months after being diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a treatable form of cancer. Carrasco, who hopes to pitch for Cleveland again this season, threw one inning of relief for Double-A Akron against Harrisburg. When he jogged in from the bullpen, Carrasco received a standing ovation. He got another one after striking out his final batter to end the inning.

“It was really special,” Carrasco said. “It feels great.”

The 32-year-old is scheduled to pitch again Thursday for Akron. He and the Indians will then determine his next step.

ON HIS WAY

Oakland is expected to call up top pitching prospect A.J. Puk before its series opener against the New York Yankees, a potential postseason preview. The 6-foot-7 Puk is a hard-throwing lefty with long hair who was drafted sixth overall in 2016 out of the University of Florida. He could provide a new weapon out of the bullpen for the A’s, in a tight race with Cleveland and Tampa Bay for the two AL wild cards.

BEER MAN

One night after nearly getting no-hit, the Brewers face another tall order in Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha (6-6, 5.44 ERA). He is one of three pitchers to have a perfect career winning percentage against Milwaukee with 10 or more starts. Wacha is 6-0 and has held the Brewers to two or fewer runs in each of his last four starts against them. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 3.81) goes for Milwaukee in a matchup of NL Central contenders.

In the series opener, Dakota Hudson and two Cardinals relievers combined on a one-hitter Monday night as St. Louis won 3-0. Yasmani Grandal’s ground-rule double with two outs in the eighth inning off Giovanny Gallegos was Milwaukee’s only hit.

MAD MAX IS ALMOST BACK

The Nationals are looking forward to Thursday, when ace Max Scherzer is expected to come off the injured list to start against Pittsburgh. The three-time Cy Young Award winner threw a bullpen Monday and said “See you Thursday” with a smile as he walked by a group of reporters. Scherzer has been on the injured list for most of the past six weeks because of a strained muscle in his back. His lone start in that span was on July 25. The right-hander is 9-5 with a 2.41 ERA in 20 starts. His 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings lead the NL.

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS

If the Red Sox are still going to make a serious playoff push, they’ll have to do it without ace lefty Chris Sale. The seven-time All-Star is receiving treatment for inflammation in his pitching elbow that will shut him down for the rest of the regular season — another blow to the defending World Series champions. Dr. James Andrews gave Sale an injection of platelet-rich plasma Monday and said he’ll be re-evaluated in six weeks. Looking beyond this frustrating season, the treatment could be good news for the club, which feared Sale might need Tommy John surgery. That would likely have cost him the 2020 season.

NEW WHEELS

Speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton has a new team after the NL East-leading Braves claimed him off waivers from Kansas City to bolster their injury-plagued roster. Hamilton is a five-time Gold Glove finalist and switch-hitter who gives Atlanta some defensive options and speed off the bench. He played in 93 games for the Royals, hitting .211 with 18 stolen bases. He has 295 career steals, including four straight seasons with more than 50 for Cincinnati. Atlanta is short-handed because of injuries to outfielders Nick Markakis, Austin Riley and Ender Inciarte, as well as shortstop Dansby Swanson.

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