LEADING OFF: Votto can match HR mark, Tatis hurt again

Sports
Joey Votto

Cincinnati Reds’ Joey Votto, right, watches his solo home run in the sixth inning of the baseball game against the New York Mets, Friday, July 30, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

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

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EIGHT IS ENOUGH

Joey Votto has homered in seven straight games and the Cincinnati Reds slugger can match a major league record by going deep against the New York Mets.

Votto connected for a solo shot off Mets reliever Drew Smith during Cincinnati’s 6-2 victory Friday night at Citi Field.

The six-time All-Star and 2010 NL MVP became the eighth player to homer in at least seven straight games and first since Kendrys Morales did it for the Toronto Blue Jays in August 2018. Dale Long (1956), Don Mattingly (1987) and Ken Griffey Jr. (1993) are the only players to go deep in eight consecutive games.

Votto has nine homers and 15 RBIs during his streak, which began last Saturday and includes just one hit that wasn’t a home run — an infield single against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.

FINGERS CROSSED

The Padres are hoping for good news on star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who left Friday night’s loss to Colorado in the first inning with a partially dislocated left shoulder following an awkward slide at third base.

It was the third time the 22-year-old Tatis exited a game this year due to a left shoulder injury. San Diego manager Jayce Tingler said this one is similar, and the team will know more on Saturday.

“I don’t know how to compare them. They’ve all been a little bit different,” Tingler said. “We’re of the understanding that this was a possibility, the shoulder coming out and then back in. The good thing is it slid back in. It’s so tough to predict, especially without a lot of information at this point. I will say, for whatever reason, he’s had a phenomenal ability of getting back in there, honestly sooner than we’ve expected. But again, it’s tough to say without having a lot of information.”

BACK ON TOP?

Defending American League champion Tampa Bay has an opportunity to move back atop the AL East standings alone for the first time in more than a month.

The Rays are a half-game behind Boston following a 7-3 win Friday night in the opener of a three-game series matching the division’s top two teams. With another victory Saturday, a week after the teams were tied for first place for one day, Tampa Bay would pull ahead of the Red Sox for the first time since June 26.

Nathan Eovaldi (9-5, 3.49 ERA) pitches for Boston against lefty Ryan Yarbrough (6-4, 4.38). When those two faced each other April 7 at Fenway Park, Eovaldi allowed one run over seven innings in a 9-2 victory. Yarbrough gave up a season-high nine runs (six earned) in five innings.

ON THE MOVE

Plenty of big-name players are changing teams this weekend after a whirlwind of activity before MLB’s trade deadline Friday.

Max Scherzer and Trea Turner will be wearing Dodger blue, while Kris Bryant is headed to San Francisco. Javier Báez joins the Mets, Craig Kimbrel crosses town to the Chicago White Sox, and José Berríos moves north of the border to Toronto.

It truly was an All-Star deadline day, capping a wild flurry that had already seen the likes of Nelson Cruz, Anthony Rizzo, Joey Gallo and Adam Frazier get dealt recently.

While contenders tried to upgrade, the disappointing Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals went into full rebuild mode and became shells of their former championship selves.

Less than two years after winning a World Series crown, the Nationals sent eight players to six different playoff contenders, including two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Scherzer and All-Star shortstop Turner to the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

The complete teardown of that title team from baseball’s last full 162-game season came even swifter than that of the Cubs. In their own selloff before the deadline, the Cubs traded away two of the biggest pieces remaining from their 2016 team that ended a 108-year title drought — Bryant, the NL MVP that season, and popular first baseman Rizzo, who homered in his Yankees debut Friday night.

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