LEADING OFF: Braves await word on Acuna, Verlander vs. Yanks
A look at what's happening around the majors Monday:
The Braves are awaiting a diagnosis on standout rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. following a frightening injury at Fenway Park on Sunday. Acuna's left leg buckled and he fell hard on his back after running through a groundout at first base, and he was in significant pain before walking slowly off the field. Atlanta would only say the 20-year-old outfielder has knee and lower back pain, and manager Brian Snitker said Acuna is "being looked at, so we'll know more." Atlanta is set to open a home series against the Mets with a doubleheader.
Baseball's best offense gets a showdown with perhaps baseball's best pitcher when the Yankees host Justin Verlander and the Astros. The Aaron Judge-led Baby Bombers entered Sunday leading the majors with 284 runs, 83 home runs and an .811 OPS. Verlander, meanwhile, has the top ERA (1.08) among qualified starters and tops all pitchers with 3.1 wins above replacement, per Fangraphs.
Boston will probably still be without Mookie Betts a day after he was scratched with tightness in his left side. Betts felt the tightness during batting practice Sunday, and manager Alex Cora wasn't optimistic about Betts returning for the opener of a series against Toronto. Cora moved Andrew Benintendi to the leadoff spot and shifted him to center field Sunday in Betts' absence, with Jackie Bradley Jr. going from center to right and Blake Swihart playing left.
Good news for the Mets' bullpen: it's Jacob deGrom's day to pitch. New York's relievers allowed 12 runs over the final two games of a series in Milwaukee -- the Brewers took three of four. Some length from deGrom would help. He's 4-0 with a 1.54 ERA and has pitched at least seven innings in five of seven starts. The bad news for that same bullpen: deGrom is starting Game 1 of a doubleheader at Atlanta, and there was no Game 2 starter announced as of late Sunday night.
Is Bryce Harper ready to bust out of his recent hitting funk? Nationals manager Dave Martinez thinks so, certainly after seeing the long home run Harper hit in a 5-2 victory Sunday at Miami. Harper pulled a pitch from lefty Jarlin Garcia inside the foul pole leading off the sixth inning, sending customers scurrying at the Metro Grill behind right field. Harper was batting .211 in his 10 games previous to Sunday. "That was a bomb," Martinez said. "To hit a ball like that against a left-handed pitcher, that's a good sign."
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