LEADING OFF: Cubs lose their closer, Indians try to clinch

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


The Cubs will try a closer-by-committee approach down the stretch after learning Pedro Strop is out for the rest of the regular season because of a strained left hamstring. Strop, who had posted 11 saves since closer Brandon Morrow went on the disabled list in July, hurt himself trying to beat out a double-play grounder this week.

On Friday night, Jorge De La Rosa worked around a double and walk in the ninth inning for his first career save, preserving a 3-2 win over Cincinnati at Wrigley Field. Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he envisions calling on veterans including Steve Cishek, Justin Wilson and Jesse Chavez to finish games.

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Mike Clevinger starts at Progressive Field as Cleveland tries to clinch its third straight AL Central title. The Indians have a magic number of one — they can wrap up the division with a win over Detroit, or a loss by Minnesota at Kansas City.


The New York Mets had an unwelcome visitor to their dugout as their series opened at Fenway Park: a rat that sent the players scurrying away. No word on whether it was the same one that rattled the Red Sox in their dugout on Tuesday night. Boston players paid tribute to their guest Friday night with a (presumably fake) rat skeleton on their dugout railing.


Injured Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman is set to throw a bullpen session, then will pitch a simulated game on Monday. If all goes well, he could be activated in the middle of next week. The New York lefty hasn’t pitched in a game since Aug. 21 because of left knee tendinitis.

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All during the month, a lot of September call-ups from the minors will be getting their first hit in the majors. It happened for Mitch Walding of the Phillies on Friday night when he homered — off Miami catcher Bryan Holaday, who was pitching in a blowout. Walding had been 0 for 14 with 10 strikeouts in the big leagues.

“I was speechless,” Walding said. “Probably one of the happiest moments I’ve ever had in my life. “It was very special and something, obviously, I’ll never forget the rest of my life.”


The A’s and Rays, two of the primary teams using relievers as openers to start games, will employ the strategy against each other for the first time. Tampa Bay will go with Ryne Stanek (2-3) while Oakland counters with Liam Hendriks (0-1) at Tropicana Field.

“It’s just trying to take advantage of what you have,” Athletics manager Bob Melvin said.


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