LEADING OFF: Mariners hit by virus, Mikolas back with Cards

MLB Baseball

By The Associated Press (AP)A look at what’s happening around the majors today:

DEPLETED MARINERS

Fernando Tatis Jr. and the Padres try for their eighth win in a row when they host the virus-stricken Seattle Mariners.

The Mariners lost their fourth straight Friday night, 16-1 at San Diego. Before the game, they put four relievers on the COVID-19 injured list after reporting a positive test within the team.

The Mariners did not identify who tested positive. Placed on the IL were right-handers Robert Dugger, Will Vest and Drew Steckenrider and left-hander Anthony Misiewicz.

In corresponding roster moves, lefty Aaron Fletcher and right-handers Wyatt Mills and Yohan Ramirez were recalled from Triple-A Tacoma. The trio of relievers all pitched Friday night were tagged for a total of eight runs in four innings.

DELAYED DEBUT

Miles Mikolas returns to the majors for the first time since starting the opener of the 2019 NL Championship Series for St. Louis. He’ll start for the NL Central leaders when they play the Cubs at Busch Stadium.

The 32-year-old Cardinals right-hander missed last season after surgery to repair a flexor tendon in his pitching arm. He has been on the injured list this year with a sore right shoulder.

Mikolas went 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA and 11 strikeouts and two walks in 12 1/3 innings during three injury rehabilitation outings with Triple-A Memphis.

Mikolas was an All-Star in 2018 when he tied for the NL lead with 18 victories. In 2019, he tied for the NL lead with 14 losses.

RAYS ROLL

Tampa Bay has won eight in row and looks to extend its streak with another unusual road game.

The Rays kept rolling Friday night when Francisco Mejia hit a grand slam in the 12th inning to beat Toronto 9-7. Tampa Bay has hit three or more homers in five straight games, one shy of the major league record set by the 1987 Baltimore Orioles.

Tampa Bay’s home stadium, Tropicana Field, is about 25 miles from TD Ballpark in Dunedin, where the Blue Jays are playing their third and final homestand at their spring training facility before relocating to Buffalo, New York. It means the Tampa Bay players can stay home during the four-game series.

”It’s awesome,” Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan said. ”It beats any hotel. It’s always great to stay home, that sense of comfort.”

The Blue Jays are not allowed to play in Toronto due to COVID-19 travel restrictions in Canada.

McClanahan faces Blue Jays lefty Robbie Ray.

AFTERNOON DELIGHT

Gerrit Cole (5-2, 2.03 ERA) is on the mound for a Yankee Stadium matinee against AL MVP Jose Abreu and the Chicago White Sox, who arrived in town with the best record in the American League.

”Obviously, this is a tremendous offensive club,” Cole said. ”It’s going to be a challenge for us. We’ll get a good measuring stick of I guess where we’re at.”

The $324 million right-hander is coming off a 5-2 loss Monday at Texas, where he allowed a season-high five earned runs in five innings. His 85 strikeouts are the most by a Yankees pitcher through the first nine starts of a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Abreu returned to the lineup Friday night after missing three straight games in Minnesota with left ankle inflammation. Dylan Cease (2-0, 2.41) makes his first career appearance against New York.

BIEBER BOUNCE-BACK?

Indians ace Shane Bieber (4-3, 3.17) starts at home against Minnesota after lasting a season-low 4 2/3 innings in a 3-2 loss at Seattle in his previous start.

The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner fanned seven against the Mariners. That ended his major league record streak of 20 straight games with at least eight strikeouts.

Kenta Maeda (2-2) starts for the Twins.

CALIFORNIA CRUISIN’

Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler (2-0, 2.98) is unbeaten in 17 consecutive regular-season starts since a loss to Colorado on Sept. 21, 2019.

Buehler pitched seven innings of one-hit ball in his last start to beat Arizona.

Buehler now faces the Giants on the road. He is 4-0 in seven games against San Francisco.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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