LEADING OFF: Ohtani coming off cycle, Giolito faces Yankees

Shohei Ohtani, Mike Zunino

Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, of Japan, watches his triple off Tampa Bay Rays’ Ryan Yarbrough during the fifth inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 13, 2019, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Catching for the Rays is Mike Zunino. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

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


Shohei Ohtani returns to Tropicana Field a night after becoming the first Japanese-born player to hit for the cycle. Ohtani hit a three-run homer in the first inning — his sixth in 11 games — and completed the feat with a single in the seventh as the Angels beat the Rays 5-3. Ohtani is the eighth Angels player to hit for the cycle and first since Mike Trout on May 21, 2013. That wasn’t the only good news Thursday for Ohtani — the two-way sensation might be on a mound in a rehab setting before the All-Star break as he recovers from Tommy John surgery last October. “I won’t say it’s probable, but it’s possible,” manager Brad Ausmus said. Ohtani still won’t pitch in a major league game until 2020.


White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito looks to continue his breakout season when he faces CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees. Giolito is 7-0 with a sparkling 0.88 ERA in his last seven starts. He has 59 strikeouts and only 10 walks during his dominant run. “Just pitching with confidence,” he said. “The game plan has been great. We’ve been changing things up.” Sabathia has dropped his last two starts, but is 19-7 with a 3.67 ERA against Chicago for his career.


A seven-game winning streak has propelled the Braves into first place in the NL East, 1½ games ahead of Philadelphia. The teams open a weekend series in Atlanta, with left-hander Max Fried (7-3, 3.75 ERA) pitching for the defending division champs against Bryce Harper and the Phillies. Nick Pivetta (4-1, 4.93) starts for Philadelphia in the first of 17 straight games against NL East opponents.


Before the Cardinals and Mets play their regularly scheduled game, they’ll finish what they started Thursday night. The series opener was suspended because of rain, moments after Harrison Bader hit an RBI double off New York closer Edwin Diaz with two outs in the top of the ninth inning that made it 4-all. The game will resume at 6:10 p.m. EDT beginning with the bottom of the ninth. The Mets top the majors with 15 blown saves, including three by Diaz in his last five chances.


Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (4-5, 2.83 ERA) starts for Washington, one night after Arizona ace Zack Greinke carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning of a 5-0 win over the Nationals. Scherzer has a 0.67 ERA with 39 strikeouts, five walks and zero home runs allowed over his past four outings. Robbie Ray (5-3, 3.54) goes for the Diamondbacks. He is 0-4 with a 6.26 ERA in five starts against Washington.


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