LEADING OFF: Harper returns to Phillies, Ramírez has surgery

National Sports
Bryce Harper

Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryce Harper stretches before batting during the second inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019, in Philadelphia. Harper left after the fifth inning because of dehydration. The Padres won 3-2. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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

DADDY’S HOME

Bryce Harper is expected to return from paternity leave as the Phillies open a home series against struggling Pittsburgh. Philadelphia dropped two of three at last-place Miami without him, managing only four hits and never batting with a runner in scoring position during Sunday’s defeat. Harper had been on a tear before taking a few days to be with his wife, Kayla, and their newborn son — the couple’s first child. Harper has nine homers in his past 17 games, batting .290 with a 1.139 OPS.

BAD BREAK

Cleveland third baseman José Ramírez is set to have surgery on his broken right hand. It’s a potentially devastating injury for the Indians’ playoff chances as they try to catch first-place Minnesota in the AL Central or capture a wild card. Ramírez went on the injured list Sunday with a fractured hamate bone, an injury that typically takes more than a month to heal. There is no clear timetable for his return, but it’s safe to assume Ramirez — who has been on a tear at the plate — won’t be around down the stretch in September.

FLYIN’ HIGH

The first-place Cardinals visit Milwaukee in another matchup between these NL Central contenders. St. Louis took two of three from the Brewers at home last week. Veteran right-hander Adam Wainwright (9-9, 4.51 ERA) is 7-2 with a 2.60 ERA in 19 career starts at Miller Park.

Coming off a four-game sweep of Colorado, the streaking Cardinals (71-58) have won seven of eight and 13 of 16 to move a season-high 13 games over .500. They are 2½ games ahead of the second-place Cubs, their largest division lead since holding a three-game cushion on May 1.

Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 3.64) goes for the Brewers. Ryan Braun has hit safely in each of his last 17 starts, but Milwaukee placed reliever Jeremy Jeffress on the 10-day injured list Sunday with a strained left hip.

SHORT STORY

The Yankees play at last-place Seattle and will check on the status of shortstop Didi Gregorius, who left Sunday’s game at Dodger Stadium a couple of innings after getting hit by a pitch from Clayton Kershaw. Gregorius sustained a bruised right shoulder and was set to have X-rays taken at the ballpark.

HAVE STREAK, WILL TRAVEL

Josh Donaldson and the NL East-leading Braves, coming off a three-game sweep of the Mets in New York, look to extend their winning streak to a season-high nine games when they make a quick pit stop in Colorado for the makeup of an April snowout. Julio Teheran (8-8, 3.53 ERA) pitches at Coors Field against Tim Melville (1-0, 1.29). Teheran is 6-1 in 11 career starts vs. the Rockies. Right after that, the Braves head to Toronto to begin an interleague series with the Blue Jays. Donaldson has three homers in the past two games to give him 32 in his first season with Atlanta.

HELLO AGAIN

A’s right-hander Homer Bailey (11-8, 5.06) faces the Royals for the first time in his career — not that he’s unfamiliar with Kauffman Stadium. Bailey opened the season with Kansas City, where he got himself back on track after going 1-14 with a 6.09 ERA with Cincinnati in 2018. The 33-year-old was 7-6 with a 4.80 ERA before being traded to Oakland in July, and he’s allowed one run in 12 2/3 innings over his past two starts.

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