LEADING OFF: Angels, MLB community mourn death of Skaggs
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
Angels teammates and the entire Major League Baseball community are mourning the stunning death Monday of Los Angeles pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who was found unresponsive in his Texas hotel room. He was 27. Police said they were investigating, but no foul play was suspected.
“Words cannot express the deep sadness we feel right now,” Angels star Mike Trout posted on Twitter.
The club’s scheduled game against the Rangers was postponed, and Rangers officials said there had been no discussions on the status of Tuesday’s game or the rest of what was supposed to be a four-game series. They said only that Monday’s game would not be made up this week.
“Real life takes precedence here,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “Some things are a lot bigger than baseball.”
Philadelphia slugger Bryce Harper has 199 career home runs and 999 hits going into an NL East showdown at first-place Atlanta. Harper hopes to reach 200 homers and 1,000 hits with one swing, even though it would mean just one souvenir instead of two.
“I’ll take that — one less ball to carry,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll hit a ball into the bullpen in the next couple of days and my guys can grab it.”
Dallas Keuchel (1-1, 5.06 ERA) makes his third start for the Braves, who lead the second-place Phillies by 5½ games. Aaron Nola (6-2, 4.22) goes for Philadelphia.
Back from their slugfests in London, where they piled up 29 runs in a two-game sweep of Boston last weekend, the Yankees visit the New York Mets in a Subway Series opener. James Paxton (5-3, 4.34 ERA) pitches for the AL East leaders against Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler (6-5, 4.51). The crosstown rivals split a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium last month following a rainout. This time, the Bronx Bombers (54-28) seek their sixth straight victory and 14th in 15 games. They’ve homered in a major league-record 31 in a row, although sluggers Gary Sánchez (left thumb) and Luke Voit (left abdomen) got nicked up in Europe. Meanwhile, the Mets (38-47) snapped a seven-game slide Sunday with a comeback win over Atlanta.
HOME RUN DERBY
Baseballs keep flying out of ballparks all around the majors. A month after setting a record for most home runs in a month, big league batters did it again and were on pace to shatter the season mark. The Elias Sports Bureau said there were 1,142 home runs in June, seven more than in May. A total of 3,421 home runs were hit in 1,255 games through Sunday, an average of 2.73 per game. That is up 19% from the 2.28 average through June last year. Batters were on pace to hit 6,624 home runs — well above the record of 6,105 set in 2017 and up from 5,585 last year.
Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks (7-5, 3.36 ERA) comes off the injured list to start against a Pirates team that racked up a season-high 23 hits Monday night in an 18-5 rout of Chicago. All-Star slugger Josh Bell smashed three homers for Pittsburgh as he tunes up for the Home Run Derby next week in Cleveland. The scuffling Cubs fell out of first place in the NL Central, a game behind Milwaukee. They are 16-24 away from Wrigley Field and 7-11 over their last 18 games.
“We’ve got to play better in all facets,” infielder Daniel Descalso said. “I don’t think the product we’ve put out on the field recently is indicative of the team we have in here and the talent we have in here.”
Hendricks was sidelined with shoulder inflammation.