LEADING OFF: Angels' dual threat Ohtani starts at Astros

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Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17) throws during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Sep. 3, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

A look at what's happening around the majors on Friday:



Big league home run leader Shohei Ohtani is unbeaten in his last 13 starts going into this outing for the Los Angeles Angels against the AL West-leading Astros in Houston.

Ohtani (9-1, 2.97 ERA) is 8-0 since his last loss. Considered by many the leading candidate for AL MVP, he has struck out 135 and allowed just 79 hits in 112 innings. He’s also hit 43 homers and ranks among the MLB leaders with 23 stolen bases.

Ohtani got a no-decision in a start at Houston on May 11, striking out 10 in seven innings. The only run he gave up in that game came on Kyle Tucker’s homer.

Lefty Framber Valdez (9-5, 3.08 ERA) starts for Houston in the opener of the three-game series.


Blue Jays lefty Robbie Ray leads the AL in ERA at 2.60 and innings at 166. He’ll pitch the opener of a series for wild card-chasing Toronto at Baltimore.

Ray (11-5) has struck out at least 10 batters in four consecutive starts, amassing 45 strikeouts and five walks over 28 2/3 innings. He recently reached 1,000 career innings with 1,241 strikeouts, surpassing Yu Darvish’s major league record of 1,222 for that point in a player’s career.

Ray is the all-time MLB leader with an average of 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings.


Joey Votto and the Cincinnati Reds visit St. Louis for a big weekend series in the race for the second NL wild card. The Reds and Cardinals are trying to chase down San Diego.

The Reds trail the Padres by one game, and the Cardinals are three games back.

Tyler Mahle (11-5, 3.76 ERA) starts the opener for Cincinnati against Jon Lester (5-6, 4.89 ERA). The sputtering Reds have dropped eight of 11, and the Cardinals are coming off two straight wins against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

While the Reds and Cardinals face off in St. Louis, Fernando Tatis Jr. and the Padres are in Los Angeles to take on the World Series champions. The Padres are 7-6 against the Dodgers so far this year, with each team scoring 51 runs.


The New York Yankees visit the Mets for the second and final Subway Series of the season. The Yankees have struggled since their 13-game winning streak, hurting their playoff positioning. The Mets are trying to rally into a postseason spot.

Jordan Montgomery (5-5, 3.47 ERA) pitches for the Yanks against Tylor Megill (2-4, 4.20 ERA).

The series opener also serves as a reunion for Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Mets infielder Javier Báez, who played together with the Cubs for years before they were traded in July.


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