Yankees pitchers return
TORONTO — Pitchers Dellin Betances and Jordan Montgomery made their season debuts for the Yankees after lengthy layoffs, and New York finished its longest road trip of the season with a 6-4 loss to Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.
Betances, a 31-year-old right-hander, was diagnosed with an impingement in his pitching shoulder after his fourth spring training appearance on March 17. His rehabilitation stopped when the team said June 11 that he had strained his right latissimus dorsi muscle, and Betances did not start a minor league injury rehabilitation assignment until September.
After three minor league outings, he entered to start the fourth inning against the Blue Jays and faced two batters, throwing seven of eight pitches for strikes. He struck out Reese McGuire on a 95 mph fastball and got Brandon Drury to take three straight strikes, the last an 84 mph curveball. Betances hopped off the mound after the second out, mistakenly thinking it was the end of the inning.
New York hopes Betances will be a factor in the playoffs, joining an already strong bullpen that includes Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle and Chad Green. Betances also hopes to show he is at or close to full strength going into an offseason in which he is eligible for free agency.
Ace starter Luis Severino, also sidelined since spring training by a lat strain, is slated to make his first big league outing this season when the Yankees open their final homestand Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels.
Green pitched the first inning against the Blue Jays and Montgomery followed in his first major league appearance since May 1 last year, when he left a start at Houston after one inning. The 26-year-old had Tommy John surgery on June 7, 2018.
Showing a velocity in the low 90 mph range, Montgomery allowed three runs and four hits in two innings. He threw 26 of 41 pitches for strikes.
Aaron Judge’s 23rd homer had put New York ahead in the first against Wilmer Font, but Montgomery gave up an RBI single in the second to former Yankee Billy McKinney, who scored on a double by Richard Urena before Montgomery struck out Bo Bichette to end the inning.
DJ LeMahieu hit an RBI double and scored on Didi Gregorius’ single for a 3-2 lead in the third against T.J. Zeuch (1-0), but Randal Grichuk tied the score in the bottom half with the first of his two homers, then hit a three-run drive in the fifth off Nestor Cortes Jr. (5-1). Grichuk has a career-high 28 homers this season.
New York headed home with a 98-53 record, and its magic number for clinching a postseason berth remained at two.
The Cubs are sending star slugger Anthony Rizzo for an MRI after he sprained his right ankle Sunday, hoping the first baseman can still help with their postseason push. Rizzo was injured fielding a bunt at first base in the third inning during a 16-6 win over Pittsburgh. He had to be helped off the field and could not put pressure on the leg. X-rays taken at Wrigley Field showed no fractures, but Chicago will get a clearer prognosis from the MRI. Chicago’s postseason pursuit has already been hindered by an injury to shortstop Javier B·ez, who is out for the rest of the regular season with a hairline fracture of his left thumb.
Eugenio Suarez takes aim at the major league home run lead as the Reds open a series at Wrigley Field. Suarez connected twice Sunday and has 47 for the season, tying him with Mets slugger Pete Alonso for best in the majors. The 28-year-old Suarez has eight homers this month.
The last Cincinnati hitter to lead the majors in home runs was George Foster, who hit 52 in 1977.
STILL STEADY HANDED
Even in a late-season slump, Ryan Braun has been a timely hitter for the Brewers. The 35-year-old hit a go-ahead grand slam to sink St. Louis on Sunday, a few days after hitting a tiebreaking homer against Miami. The six-time All-Star entered Sunday with a .133 average in September. “I’m not as good as I was,” he said. “But in big moments, I’m the guy still.” With Christian Yelich done for the season, the Brewers need a clutch Braun for their postseason push. They enter a home series against San Diego trailing the Cubs by one game for the second NL wild card.
The A’s return home after a 6-1 trip with a 1 1/2-game lead over Tampa Bay for the top AL wild card and a series on deck with the struggling Royals. Right-hander Tanner Roark (4-1, 3.40) starts the opener against Kansas City. Since being acquired from Cincinnati on July 31, Roark has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of his seven starts. With the Rays taking Monday off, Oakland can stretch its lead before Tampa Bay opens a two-game set at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday.
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