A look at what’s happening around the majors Thursday:
BRAVE NEW WORLD
Rookie phenom Ronald Acuna Jr. will try to get the first-place Atlanta Braves off to another fast start when they visit Arizona in a matchup of NL playoff contenders. Acuna hit his eighth leadoff homer Wednesday, setting a club single-season record, but the Braves blew a late six-run lead in an excruciating 9-8 loss to Boston at home. Brandon Phillips’ two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning of his long-awaited season debut capped the biggest comeback by the Red Sox this year. On the heels of a three-game sweep, Anibal Sanchez (6-5, 2.98 ERA) looks to get Atlanta back on track when he faces Zack Greinke (13-9, 2.97) and the Diamondbacks in the opener of a four-game series. Acuna has 24 homers, including 17 since the All-Star break.
With their magic number in single digits, the Cleveland Indians attempt to move closer to a third consecutive AL Central title when they play at Toronto. Lefty reliever Andrew Miller (sore shoulder) is expected to throw a bullpen before the game. He’s been on the disabled list since Aug. 29.
No telling who the Chicago Cubs will use as their closer when the NL Central leaders open a series at Washington. Brandon Morrow held the job through the All-Star break, but hasn’t pitched since then because of a biceps injury. He hasn’t thrown off a mound during his recovery. Pedro Strop has gotten the ball in the ninth inning lately, but has never been a full-time closer. Steve Cishek and Justin Wilson also could perhaps fill in. Manager Joe Maddon says even if Morrow heals, it’s hard to say how he’d be used.
Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco has returned to Philadelphia to have his sore right wrist examined by a specialist. He didn’t play in the three-game series at Miami this week. Franco is expected to rejoin the team later this week. The Phillies, who have lost four of five while trying to catch Atlanta in the NL East, play this weekend vs. the Mets in New York.
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