LEADING OFF: Rays rookie Franco slumping, Harper plunked

Sports

Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper celebrates as he runs the bases after hitting a home run during the sixth inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets Friday, June 25, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

A look at what’s happening around the majors on Sunday:

IT’S NOT EASY

Wander Franco got off to a smashing start this week, hitting a home run and double in his major league debut for Tampa Bay. Since then, the 20-year-old rookie infielder has struggled.

Franco is hitless in 16 at-bats since his first game, dropping his batting average to .105. He went 0 for 4 with a bases-loaded walk in a 13-3 win over the Angels on Saturday.

“Nothing that we’re concerned about,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “Yesterday he just misses a ball. He smoked a ball that the right fielder made a nice play on. If he keeps hitting balls like that, they’re going to find holes.”

CHECK HIM

The Phillies will see how slugger Bryce Harper is feeling, a day after he was hit by a pitch from Mets ace Jacob deGrom.

Harper was plunked with a changeup, ran the bases and exited after the inning ended Saturday.

“Got him, like, at the lower part of the calf,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I’m not sure what I’ll have tomorrow. Just have to wait and see.”

LET’S TRY THIS AGAIN

Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw faces the Cubs in the Sunday night game, hoping for improvement against Kris Bryant, Javier Báez and the Chicago crew.

The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner pitched at Wrigley Field on May 4 and lasted just one inning, the shortest start of his decorated career. He gave up four runs and was pulled after 39 pitches, allowing four hits and two walks.

“It’s embarrassing,” Kershaw said after the loss. “No excuses. I was horrible.”

Kershaw (8-7, 3.43 ERA) goes against Cubs rookie Adbert Alzolay (4-6, 4.19) at Dodger Stadium.

KEEP COOL

Max Scherzer starts for the Nationals at Miami, and no doubt all sides are hoping to avoid the sideshow that developed the last time he pitched.

Scherzer was inspected by umpires three times during his five-inning outing at Philadelphia. The first two were initiated by umpires under Major League Baseball’s new crackdown against sticky substances used as grip enhancers.

The third time, however, came after Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi requested an inspection. Scherzer tossed his hat and glove to the ground and some back-and-forth hollering between the benches resulted in Girardi being ejected.

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