Bucs sweep: Crew's Pitt stop shakes up race

Pirates 3 games behind 1st-place Brewers; Cubs in 2nd, 1 game back

Bucs sweep: Crew's Pitt stop shakes up race

PITTSBURGH -- While the Brewers came out of the All-Star break holding a solid lead in the National League Central, the Pirates faced a steep uphill climb. Less than a week later, the division's balance of power has shifted. Pittsburgh finished off a four-game sweep of Milwaukee on Thursday afternoon, crawling back to .500 with a 4-2 win at PNC Park.

The Brewers' 5 1/2-game lead in the NL Central standings has evaporated to just one game over the Cubs, who reeled off six straight wins to begin the second half. Trailing by seven games at the break, the Bucs have won a season-high five straight games -- and 11 of their last 13 -- to pull within three games of the Crew. For the first time since April 16, Pittsburgh does not have a losing record.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Jonathan Toye is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh and covered the Brewers on Thursday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Suzuki, Braves stop Dodgers' win streak at 11

Suzuki, Braves stop Dodgers' win streak at 11

LOS ANGELES -- The Braves crashed the party at Dodger Stadium on Thursday night with a 6-3 victory, snapping the Dodgers' 11-game win streak. It was just Los Angeles' fifth loss in its last 36 games.

Freddie Freeman had two hits and two RBIs, while Kurt Suzuki added a two-run homer to back a strong start from Mike Foltynewicz, as the Braves ended their three-game skid. Foltynewicz allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings, striking out five. The Braves right-hander has gone 5-0 in his last nine starts, striking out 51 and walking 21, while posting a 3.33 ERA and limiting opponents to a .248 average.

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Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles and covered the Dodgers on Thursday.

Joshua Thornton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles and covered the Braves on Thursday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Severino brings heat to sink Mariners

Severino brings heat to sink Mariners

SEATTLE -- Brett Gardner's solo home run in the sixth inning helped lift the Yankees to a 4-1 victory over the Mariners on Thursday as flame-throwing Luis Severino outdueled Felix Hernandez in the opening game of a four-game series at Safeco Field.

"It shows you he understands what he needs to do," New York manager Joe Girardi said of Severino. "He has to get after it from the first hitter and that's exactly what he's doing because two runs could beat you when you're facing guys like that."

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

Josh Horton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. He covered the Yankees on Thursday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fantastic fours: Royals roll with 4 big innings

Fantastic fours: Royals roll with 4 big innings

KANSAS CITY -- Mike Moustakas had three hits and three RBIs, Brandon Moss drove in a season-high four runs, and every Royals starter had at least one hit as Kansas City cruised to a 16-4 victory over the Tigers on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals, who had season highs in runs and hits with 19, returned to .500 and pulled within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Indians in the American League Central. The Royals scored four runs in four innings for the first time in franchise history.

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Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Joe Posnanski

He played where? Majors' best 'irony jerseys'

From Babe with the Braves to Seaver with the Red Sox, we check off each team

He played where? Majors' best 'irony jerseys'

Every time you go to a baseball game, if you look closely, you will see a fan wearing a baseball jersey that doesn't make a lot of sense. If you go to an Astros game, for instance, you will see Jeff Bagwell jerseys, Craig Biggio jerseys, Nolan Ryan jerseys and jerseys of today's stars -- Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, etc.

But you will probably see one person wearing a Steve Lombardozzi jersey or a Danny Heep jersey or an Oscar Zamora jersey or something like that. And you will smile.

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Joe Posnanski is an executive columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mark Feinsand

It's Sonny at the top of Deadline Power Rankings

Hand, Nunez, Ramos also drawing interest from contenders

It's Sonny at the top of Deadline Power Rankings

Nothing shakes up the Trade Deadline Power Rankings like a bunch of deals.

That's what has taken place since our last installment as five relievers, a starter and a pair of power hitters traded in their uniforms for new ones, joining contenders as clubs try to fine-tune their rosters for the pennant race.

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Mark Feinsand, executive reporter for MLB.com, has covered the Yankees and MLB since 2001 for the New York Daily News and MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jon Paul Morosi

Cubs show interest in dealing for Darvish

Chicago among clubs monitoring market for rotation help

Cubs show interest in dealing for Darvish

The Cubs have inquired to the Rangers on the availability of ace Yu Darvish, according to sources, and a trade match between the teams is more plausible than it would've been entering the All-Star break.

Consider what has transpired since then:

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Jon Paul Morosi is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Judge plays catch with fan in Seattle

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Judge plays catch with fan in Seattle

The ninth inning is usually the most tense time in a ballgame. And indeed, the final score was still far from official entering the last frame of the Yankees' 4-1 win on Thursday in Seattle.

The moment didn't get to Aaron Judge, though. Just before the bottom of the ninth began, he passed the time by playing catch with a young Mariners fan in the right-field stands.

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Source: Garcia deal to Twins not done yet

Source: Garcia deal to Twins not done yet

ATLANTA -- The Braves and Twins have had extensive discussions about a trade that would send left-handed pitcher Jaime Garcia to Minnesota. But a Major League source said the two sides had not reached an agreement as of early Friday morning.

There is still a chance the teams could complete a trade, but it appears ongoing talks will be necessary to reach an agreement on the players and money that would be exchanged.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB Buzz: Trade talk, deals and rumors

MLB Buzz: Trade talk, deals and rumors

As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline nears, we'll keep you up to date with the latest news, buzz, rumors and more.

Yankees open to trade for first baseman
The Yankees' acquisition of Todd Frazier earlier this week appeared to solve their season-long problem at first base, as Frazier took over at third base, moving Chase Headley across the diamond to platoon with rookie Garrett Cooper at first.

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MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Statcast scouting: A look at top trade targets

Statcast scouting: A look at top trade targets

The scouts are out in full force this time of year, their presence at a particular ballgame purposefully reported as a potential tie-in to a non-waiver Trade Deadline deal. At no time of year is up-to-the-minute information on a player's performance more important than it is just ahead of July 31, so teams of course want to have eyes on potential targets.

But there's another, newer element of scouting taking place right here at this very website. At any point in the season, the Statcast™ data available at MLB.com provides an interesting way to put what we see with our eyes into proper context. But in the midst of some big, potentially season-shaping decision-making, Major League executives are using it as a significant supplement to traditional scouting.

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Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dodgers organist pays tribute to the late Chester Bennington by playing Linkin Park's 'Numb'

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Dodgers organist pays tribute to the late Chester Bennington by playing Linkin Park's 'Numb'

Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington passed away at the age of 41 on Thursday.

Linkin Park released seven studio albums including their well-known debut "Hybrid Theory," which sold millions of copies and was Grammy-nominated.

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A Giants fan in a Duane Kuiper jersey lost a foul ball, but then Kuiper himself came to give him one

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A Giants fan in a Duane Kuiper jersey lost a foul ball, but then Kuiper himself came to give him one

Although the Giants lost, 5-2, to the Padres on Thursday night, one fan at AT&T Park -- sporting a Duane Kuiper jersey -- had a chance at some foul ball-catching glory. Instead, he bobbled the souvenir and it fell down into another section. He was, of course, devastated.

Kuiper, the TV broadcaster for the Giants, noticed the crestfallen man sporting his jersey. He wanted to cheer him up, so the former Giant actually walked down to the fan's section and gave him an autographed souvenir. Really.

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MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

CBA compensation FAQ: Deadline edition

CBA compensation FAQ: Deadline edition

This can be a confusing time of year in the world of baseball transactions -- and not just because some of us are sure to be duped by the occasional phony Twitter account dispensing "fake news" on the trade front.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement has radically altered the free-agent Draft-pick compensation system, and that has a direct impact on the upcoming non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31. In the past, it made sense for some would-be sellers to hold onto certain pending free agents because of the Draft pick that could be recouped if he signed elsewhere. But now, that compensation varies according to the team's economic circumstances and the specific dollar amount the player earns elsewhere.

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Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

The Mariners traded for David Phelps almost exactly 29 years after trading away Ken Phelps

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The Mariners traded for David Phelps almost exactly 29 years after trading away Ken Phelps

Seattle acquired reliever David Phelps  from the Marlins on Thursday for four prospects. It's a move that should help solidify the team's bullpen as it chases an AL Wild Card spot.

It's also a move that may bring back memories of another certain Phelps -- one that the Mariners traded away to the Yankees 28 years and 364 days ago: Veteran first baseman Ken Phelps for a young, unproven outfielder named Jay Buhner.

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Scherzer faces former team, live on MLB.TV

Scherzer faces former team, live on MLB.TV

Some of the Major Leagues' top pitchers will take the mound today, with Max Scherzer's return to Chase Field leading the group.

Scherzer leads the National League in ERA (2.01), FIP (2.56), strikeout rate (35.7) and WHIP (0.80), giving him frontrunner status for the NL Cy Young Award, which he won in 2016. He'll try to continue that run at 9:40 p.m. ET as part of a full slate of games, streaming live on MLB.TV.

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Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Will rest of NL Central react to surging Cubs?

Will rest of NL Central react to surging Cubs?

Don't ask Jose Quintana about the Cubs' first-half problems. All they've done since acquiring him from the White Sox is win.

This 6-0 run for the Cubs since the Quintana trade is exactly what a president of baseball operations or a general manager hopes will happen when they make a trade.

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Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Luis Severino threw the fastest pitch by a starter in 2017

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Luis Severino threw the fastest pitch by a starter in 2017

Luis Severino and Felix Hernandez locked horns in a pitchers' duel on Thursday night in Seattle. They shut down the opposition and kept the game scoreless until Brett Gardner's sixth-inning homer put the Yankees in front, 1-0.

The youngster Severino prevailed in this tight matchup, but it wasn't easy. In the bottom of the fourth, he needed to dial back for a little bit extra. Severino had to maneuver around a leadoff double by Kyle Seager, and he faced Jean Segura with the bases loaded and two outs.

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MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Royals, O's, Rangers head trade bubble list

Royals, O's, Rangers head trade bubble list

The Dodgers, Astros and Nationals are in. The Red Sox are also buyers. Brother, can you spare a third baseman?

The Tigers, Athletics and Marlins are in sell mode, all looking to retool and get younger.

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Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Statcast of the Day: D-backs solve 99-mph heat

Marte, Lamb go deep, giving Arizona 3 of the 7 HRs hit off pitches that fast

Statcast of the Day: D-backs solve 99-mph heat

Baseballs have a way of finding the seats in a hurry during games at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park. That was true again Thursday, when the D-backs and Reds combined to hit six home runs in Arizona's 12-2 victory.

But the two most electric round-trippers of the day came when the game was well in hand, as the D-backs' Ketel Marte and Jake Lamb each took Reds reliever Ariel Hernandez deep in the ninth on two of the fastest pitches thrown across the Major League slate all day. They also happened to be two of the seven fastest pitches hit for a homer (Marte, second fastest; Lamb, tied for sixth fastest) by any Major League player this season.

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Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Spangy shows monster power vs. Bumgarner

Spangy shows monster power vs. Bumgarner

SAN FRANCISCO -- There's a 421-foot sign where the brick wall in right field meets the center-field fence at AT&T Park. On a cool night -- like Thursday -- only the mightiest of blasts escape that part of the yard.

Enter Cory Spangenberg. In the seventh inning of Thursday's 5-2 Padres victory, Spangenberg came to the plate against Madison Bumgarner with the game tied at 2. In no uncertain terms, it was a brutal matchup for San Diego's lefty-hitting third baseman. In eight career at-bats against the Giants ace, he was hitless with four strikeouts.

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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Turtle power: Dusty's namesake takes big step

Animal named after Nationals manager released into ocean after months of rehab

Turtle power: Dusty's namesake takes big step

PHOENIX -- Dusty the turtle faced a long recovery when he first arrived to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center this past February. He was thin and covered in barnacles and leaches when he was found about a mile off shore, and a bit lethargic.

He had just been rescued when Dusty Baker came across the center after an impromptu visit during the Nationals manager's drive home from the club's Spring Training facility in West Palm Beach, Fla. Baker left such an impression on the staff at the center that they decided to name the turtle after him.

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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Judge showing signs of pulling out of slump

Rookie has a big RBI single and walk in win over Seattle

Judge showing signs of pulling out of slump

SEATTLE -- Aaron Judge might be going through a tough stretch at the plate, but you could hardly tell in the Yankees 4-1 win over the Mariners at Safeco Field on Thursday.

Judge was still sporting a smile and even played catch warming up in the outfield with a child who was sitting in the front row of right field in the middle of the ninth inning.

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Josh Horton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. He covered the Yankees on Thursday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jon Paul Morosi

Morosi: Astros, A's talks heat up over Gray

Morosi: Astros, A's talks heat up over Gray

The Astros and White Sox have spoken about trade possibilities since last offseason, if not before. But when the White Sox made two major deals this month, they sent pitchers to other teams: Jose Quintana to the Cubs; David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to the Yankees.

So, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow is looking elsewhere to upgrade his rotation and bullpen -- and the available options are becoming clearer.

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Jon Paul Morosi is a reporter for MLB.com and MLB Network. He has also covered baseball for FOX Sports, the Detroit Free Press, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

O's 4 HRs secure 4-game sweep of Rangers

O's 4 HRs secure 4-game sweep of Rangers

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles completed a four-game sweep by overcoming the Rangers' four-run lead and rallying for a 9-7 victory on Thursday night at Camden Yards. The Orioles hit four home runs, including three off losing pitcher Cole Hamels.

The Rangers led, 5-1, going into the bottom of the fifth before the Orioles struck for three runs in that inning on home runs by Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo, and four more in the sixth to take the lead.

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T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

M's get Phelps from Marlins for prospects

M's get Phelps from Marlins for prospects

HOUSTON -- With the Mariners making a push in the American League Wild Card race, general manager Jerry Dipoto reinforced his bullpen Thursday by trading four Minor Leaguers to the Marlins for veteran reliever David Phelps.

The Mariners gave up 19-year-old outfielder Brayan Hernandez, who was their No. 6-ranked prospect, per MLBPipeline.com, as well as right-handed pitchers Brandon Miller, Pablo Lopez and Lukas Schiraldi. Miller was Seattle's No. 16 prospect and Miller was No. 22.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Thursday's best: White Sox prospects impress across Minors

Thursday's best: White Sox prospects impress across Minors

No organization currently features more high-end talent in its farm system than the White Sox. That was evident on Thursday, as a host of the South Siders' top prospects turned in big performances across three different levels.

Most notably, No. 8 overall prospect Eloy Jimenez (White Sox No. 2) went 3-for-5 with a solo home run and a pair of doubles for Class A Advanced Winston-Salem. It was the 20-year-old outfielder's ninth home run this season and his first as a member of the White Sox after he was acquired from the Cubs last week in the Jose Quintana trade. No. 68 overall prospect Zack Collins (White Sox No. 7) also went deep for Winston-Salem, giving him 13 homers through 82 games in his first full season.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Smoak swats pair as Jays fend off Red Sox

Smoak swats pair as Jays fend off Red Sox

BOSTON -- A stout Blue Jays bullpen was up to the task for seven-plus innings Thursday afternoon, helping Toronto escape Fenway Park with an 8-6 win over the Red Sox and a split of the four-game series.

Following a rough 1 2/3-inning performance from starter Francisco Liriano, the 'pen inherited a 3-1 deficit in the second. Right-hander Dominic Leone calmed the storm, striking out four in 2 1/3 scoreless innings.

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Evan Chronis is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston and covered the Red Sox on Thursday.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Qualifying offers for 2017 set at $18.1 million

Qualifying offers for 2017 set at $18.1 million

The qualifying offer for 2017 free agents has been set at $18.1 million, a source has confirmed to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi. That represents a $900,000 increase from the 2016 figure of $17.2 million. Each year's qualifying offer amount is set at the mean salary of the highest-paid 125 players in the game.

The qualifying offer is a competitive balance measure that was first implemented with the 2012-16 Collective Bargaining Agreement between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. It was restructured in the 2017-21 CBA.

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Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB. Manny Randhawa Reporter, MLB.com (720) 277-4079 Twitter: @MannyOnMLB This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Vintage Felix a promising sign for Mariners

Vintage Felix a promising sign for Mariners

SEATTLE -- If the Mariners are going to make a run in the second half, this was the Felix Hernandez they'll need to lead the way. Unfortunately for Seattle, however, a return of the old Felix yielded a familiar fate as lack of run support resulted in a 4-1 loss to the Yankees in Thursday's series opener at Safeco Field.

Hernandez did his part, as the 31-year-old fired seven innings of one-run ball with just three hits and set a season high with nine strikeouts.

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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.