Category Archives: MLB

Miller hits 3 HRs, Phillies rout reeling Cubs 8-0

Brad Miller hit three home runs in a match for the first time in his career, and the Philadelphia Phillies routed the sinking Chicago Cubs 8-0 on Thursday night.

Miller hit a solo drive in the third inning and added two-run homers in the fifth and seventh innings.

With a chance at joining the other 18 players who have hit a record four home runs in a game, Miller popped up in the ninth. He grounded out in his first at-bat.

Manager Joe Girardi wanted to get the left-handed batting Miller, a utility man and pinch-hitting specialist, in the lineup versus Cubs right-handed starter Adbert Alzolay. Miller started at first base while Rhys Hoskins got the night off.

“We just liked the matchup and he came up really big for us,” Girardi said. Miller hadn’t homered since June 6 and began the day with six home runs this season. The 31-year-old infielder broke out with his 14th career multi-homer game and his parents in the stands at Wrigley Field — he now has 104 homers in nine big league seasons.

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“It was really special,” Miller said. “I felt like I was dreaming.”

Miller has been working with the Phillies hitting coaches after a tough June when he had just two hits and walked nine times in 43 plate appearances over 20 games.

“To turn the page and being able to contribute was really nice,” Miller said. “I need to take that mindset in there to do damage and drive the ball.”

And drive the ball Miller did.

“None were cheap shots,” Phillies starter Zach Eflin said. “He crushed all of them.”

Eflin (4-6) settled into pitch six solid innings as the Phillies took three of four games at Wrigley. Didi Gregorius added a two-run shot and All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto scored on a double steal.

The Cubs lost for the 12th time in 13 and dropped to 43-45 as they struggled at the plate without injured stars Kris Bryant and Javier Báez.

It was 24th time a Phillies batter hit three homers in a contest and the first since Jayson Werth tagged Toronto for three in May 2008.

Miller homered early to left-center off Alzolay (4-9), who lost his fifth consecutive start.

Cubs manager David Ross said Alzolay’s lack of execution, not lack of stuff did in the righty — especially against Miller.

“A little bit of command issues, especially fastball command from my view,” Ross said.

Miller turned on Alzolay’s 0-2 pitch the next time up for a drive deep down right field line that made it 4-0. Miller launched the first pitch he saw from reliever Cory Abbott in the seventh off Wrigley’s right-field message board.

Eflin scattered five hits while striking out five and walking one.

Chicago couldn’t muster much against Eflin after ending an 11-game losing streak, its longest since 2012, on Wednesday with an 8-3 win. The Cubs were in a first-place tie in the NL Central on June 24 when starter Zach Davies front-ended a combined no-hitter over the Dodgers.

The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the second when Realmuto plowed home on a double steal.

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Altuve, Tucker homer to lead Astros over Athletics 4-3

Jose Altuve hit a three-run homer and Kyle Tucker’s tiebreaking solo shot in the seventh inning lifted the Houston Astros to a 4-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night.

The triumph is Houston’s sixth consecutive and moves the team to a season-high 21 games above .500 at 54-33.

Altuve’s home run gave the Astros the lead in the third, but the A’s scored two in the sixth to tie it.

There was one out in the seventh when Tucker connected off Sean Manaea (6-6) on his home run to right-center to put Houston on top again.

Blake Taylor (2-2) wriggled out of a a jam in a scoreless seventh for the victory. Ryan Pressly pitched a perfect ninth to collect his 16th save and lower his ERA to 1.46.

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Matt Olson and Elvis Andrus had solo homers for the Athletics, who lost for the fifth time in six games.

Manaea permitted four hits and four runs — three earned — in 6 2/3 innings to extend his losing streak to a career-long four decisions.

Oakland had a chance to take the lead in the seventh after a pair of errors by Altuve and a wild pitch by Taylor left the Athletics with runners on second and third with no outs. But Taylor retired Andrus and Olson to end the threat.

Houston starter Luis Garcia permitted two hits and a run with seven strikeouts in five innings.

Cristian Javier replaced him to start the sixth and was greeted by the home run from Andrus, which bounced high off the wall above the seats in left field to cut the lead to 3-2.

There were two on and no outs when Jed Lowrie tied it on an RBI single to right field. The A’s tied it on a wild pitch by Javier.

Sean Murphy then hit a fly ball to left field which Michael Brantley caught before throwing home just in time for catcher Martín Maldonado to tag Ramon Laureano as he slid into him.

There were two outs in the first when Olson smacked his 21st homer of the season into the seats in right field to give the A’s an early lead.

Abraham Toro reached and advanced to second to start Houston’s third on an error by third baseman Chad Pinder before a single by Myles Straw.

Altuve hit his homer to left field with one out in the inning to put the Astros on top 3-1.

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Shohei Ohtani launches 31st home run in victory, tying Hideki Matsui’s record for most in MLB season by a Japanese-born player

Shohei Ohtani hit his major-league-leading 31st homer of the season for the Los Angeles Angels, tying Hideki Matsui’s record for the most homers in a Major League Baseball season by a Japanese-born player.

Ohtani crushed a 459-foot solo shot off Baltimore’s Thomas Eshelman in the third inning Sunday, clearing the ficus trees behind the center-field fence.

Ohtani finished 1-for-4 as the Angels won 6-5. Juan Lagares doubled to deep center in the ninth inning, scoring two runs as Los Angeles rallied past the Orioles.

With his 14th homer in the past 17 games, the Halos’ two-way sensation tied the MLB homer record for Japanese-born players set by Matsui in 2004. Matsui needed 159 matches to hit his 31 homers for the Yankees, while Ohtani has done it in just 81 games for the Angels while also making 12 starts on the mound.

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“I’m really excited to be at the same level with somebody I looked up to since I was young,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “However, it’s still the first half, so like I’ve said before, I want to continue to build up one hit at a time.”

Ohtani also extended his own major league record for the most homers in a campaign with at least 10 games pitched.

With his 29th and 30th home runs on Friday, Ohtani tied and passed Babe Ruth’s record of 29, set in 1919.

Ohtani passed Mike Trout on Friday for the most homers in Angels history before the All-Star break. He is also the first player in American League history to record 30 homers and 10 stolen bases in his team’s first 81 games of a season.

Ohtani was voted to his first major league All-Star team last week. Ohtani’s next mound start is Tuesday night versus Boston. It will be his final pitching performance before the All-Star Game in Denver.

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Slater hits late 2-run homer, Giants beat Diamondbacks 6-5

San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler opted to have Austin Slater to pinch hit for Alex Dickerson to lead off the fifth inning.

Slater ended up grounding out, but he made up for it with a big blast at a crucial moment.

Slater hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning, Mike Yastrzemski also had a two-run shot and the Giants rallied to defeat the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks 6-5 on Saturday night.

“We depend on Slater and I thought that was an important enough at-bat to get him into the game,” Kapler said. ”Obviously, he got the biggest hit of the night for us.”

The Giants hit three homers to end a season-long four-game losing streak in an 11-4 victory Friday and again took the Diamondbacks down with the long ball.

Arizona went up 5-4 on David Peralta’s bloop single in the fifth inning, but Slater fouled off a couple of good pitches from Ryan Buchter (0-2) before hitting a 463-foot homer to center.

San Francisco has scored 214 of its 405 runs (52.8%) of its runs this season on homers.

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Dominic Leone (2-0) struck out two in the seventh inning and Jake McGee worked a perfect ninth for his 16th save in 18 chances, improving the Giants to a majors-best 52-30. San Francisco overcame a season-high three errors and Thairo Estrada getting picked off first in the eighth.

“I don’t think we played our crisp brand of baseball defensively or on the bases,” Kapler stated. “We weren’t at our best and are going to need to be better than that.”

Nick Ahmed hit a two-run homer to help Arizona rally from an early four-run deficit, but the bullpen had another letdown.

The last-place Diamondbacks have lost six of seven.

“We fell down four runs, fought back and tied it, and took the lead,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “We just got clipped. We just have to do a better job on the mound.”

Diamondbacks starter Jake Faria permitted a run in four innings versus St. Louis on June 28 in his first big league start since 2018. The right-hander escaped a jam in the first inning against the Giants, but couldn’t wriggle out of trouble in the third.

San Francisco wore red caps as part of Major League Baseball’s Fourth of July promotion, a glaring change from the Giants’ usual black.

Yastrzemski hit his 12th homer, a two-run shot, followed by Brandon Crawford’s run-scoring triple and Donovan Solano’s RBI single.

“He was OK,” Lovullo said of Faria. “I think the line score was little worse than what it was. He attacked the zone, had real good spin on his secondary pitches and he competed.

Giants starter Sammy Long couldn’t hold the lead.

Asdrubal Cabrera and Christian Walker each had run-scoring singles in the third inning, and Ahmed tied it at 4 with a two-run homer just over the wall in right in the fourth.

“I was just trying to stay through the middle of the field and got just enough of the barrel on it,” Ahmed said.

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Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., Shohei Ohtani lead way for All-Star Game starters

Shohei Ohtani, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. are heading to their first All-Star Game — as starters.

The three headline stars of 2021 dominated the second phase of fan voting at their respective positions to earn starting spots for the 91st All-Star Game programmed for July 13 at Coors Field in Denver.

Guerrero and Tatis were the leading vote-getters in each league, while Ohtani finished with the second-highest percentage in the American League.

Ohtani, voted in as the AL’s designated hitter, has thrilled fans all season with his two-way performance, long home runs and electrifying speed on the bases. He leads the majors with 28 home runs, including an MLB-leading 12 of 425 feet or longer.

He’s hitting .277, leads the majors with 49 extra-base hits and ranks third in the majors with 63 RBIs. Ohtani is also tied for the AL lead with four triples and has stolen 11 bases.

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While Ohtani had a disastrous start pitching Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium when he failed to finish the first inning, he is still 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA, 83 strikeouts and a .194 batting average allowed over 60 innings. Not since Babe Ruth in 1919, and briefly with Ohtani in 2018 before he underwent Tommy John surgery, has the sport seen such a dominant two-way player.

“He’s a joy for this,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said after Ohtani hit two home runs on Tuesday. “He’s what baseball needs as both a player and as an example.”

Ohtani was on fire at the plate in June, hitting .309 with 13 home runs, including 11 homers in 13 games from June 15 to June 29.

“He’s a generational talent, that’s for sure,” said fellow All-Star starter Aaron Judge of the Yankees.

Ohtani has also committed to participate in the Home Run Derby on July 12, with Pete Alonso of the Mets defending his title.

The runner-up in the Home Run Derby as a rookie in 2019, Guerrero makes his first All-Star team after securing 75% of the vote among the three AL finalists at first base. The 22-year-old is in pursuit of a Triple Crown, leading the AL with 66 RBIs, ranking second to Ohtani with 26 home runs and trailing Michael Brantley in batting average, .340 to .336.

He gets to his first All-Star Game two years earlier than his Hall of Fame father did, as Vladimir Guerrero Sr. made the first of his nine All-Star appearances at age 24.

Tatis has had a roller coaster of a campaign, missing nine matches early on after partially dislocating a shoulder on a swing on April 5, hitting .163 through his first 12 games and then later missing another 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19. When he has played, however, he has crushed the ball, leading the National League with 26 home runs in just 63 games while hitting .300/.387/.705 for an MLB-leading 1.092 OPS.

Tatis beat out Javier Baez of the Cubs and Brandon Crawford of the Giants at shortstop with 64% of the vote, matching Guerrero as a first-time All-Star at 22. After an initial round of fan voting, the top three at each position entered the second phase.

Ohtani beat out J.D. Martinez and Yordan Alvarez at designated hitter with 64% of the vote, while Guerrero outdistanced Yuli Gurriel and Jose Abreu with 75%.

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Milwaukee Brewers rally from 7-run deficit in first inning to beat Chicago Cubs 15-7, sweep series

The stage was set for the Chicago Cubs to break a five-game losing streak and gain a game on the first-place Milwaukee Brewers, but after taking an early 7-0 lead on Wednesday, the Cubs became just the second team since 1900 to score seven or more runs in the first inning, only to lose by at least that many.

“A bad ending to not our best road trip,” Cubs manager David Ross said after the 15-7 loss.

The Brewers scored a run in the first, five more in the second and then put up eight in the fourth — the final four of those runs coming on a Willy Adames grand slam. Luis Urias then added another home run in the sixth — his second of the game.

“I don’t know what to say,” Adames said. “This one was crazy.” Cubs veteran pitcher Jake Arrieta couldn’t hold on to the lead and was pulled after just 1⅔ innings. The loss dropped the Cubs six games behind the Brewers after the two teams were tied for first in the NL Central just a week ago.

Milwaukee has won eight in a row, while Chicago has dropped its past six games after throwing a combined no-hitter versus the Los Angeles Dodgers last Thursday.

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“I think first place can go up and down before September,” Cubs shortstop Javier Baez said. “I’m not worried about that. Javy Baez is not worried about that. I’m not paying attention to that. We’re playing against pretty good teams.”

The Cubs completed a brutal month in terms of both travel and playing elite opponents.

The result was a 12-16 record and a franchise-worst (since 1900).1875 batting average in a calendar month. They hit .188 in April 1944.

Their current position in the standings might determine the direction of the front office with a month to go before the trade deadline. Ross knows the Cubs have something to prove to team brass. They have more than 10 players set to become free agents after this season.

“The key is for us to represent a winning product and something that can win a division and go into the playoffs and do something special,” Ross said.

The Brewers, meanwhile, have opened up the largest lead of any first-place team in baseball this campaign.

The Cubs find themselves in rare company. On April 26, 1976, the Giants scored seven runs in the first inning and also lost 15-7.

Over the past 20 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, there have been 8,691 instances of a team leading by seven runs at any point in a game. Entering Wednesday, only two of those teams had lost by eight-plus runs. Now there are three.

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Schwarber’s 12th homer in 10 games helps Nats over .500

Kyle Schwarber led off the first inning with his 12th home run in 10 matches, and the Washington Nationals defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 Tuesday night to move above .500 for the first time since the opening week of the season.

Schwarber tied Albert Belle in 1995 for the most home runs over a 10-game span since at least 1901. He has 16 home runs in 18 games since being moved into the leadoff spot in the Nationals’ batting order on June 8.

Schwarber drove Rich Hill’s first pitch, an 83 mph fastball, 434 feet off the upper-deck facade in right for his major league-leading seventh leadoff home run — all in June. Schwarber’s 16 home runs this month are the second-most in any June behind Sammy Sosa’s 20 in 1998.

The 28-year-old Schwarber is batting .253 with 25 homers and 53 RBI. He is tied in home runs with San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr., three shy of the major league-leading total of the Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani and one back of Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

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Schwarber became a free agent Dec. 2 when the Chicago Cubs failed to offer a 2021 contract.

He agreed in January to a $10 million, one-year contract with the Nationals calling for a $7 million salary, a deal that contains an $11.5 million mutual option for 2022 with a $3 million buyout.

Juan Soto followed two batters later with a two-run drive, and Victor Robles added a solo homer in the second for a 4-0 lead off Hill (6-3).

Washington has won three consecutive and 12 of 15 and at 39-38 has a winning record for the first time since beating Atlanta on opening day.

Joe Ross (5-7) gave up two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings for his third victory in his four outings.

Brad Hand allowed Mike Zunino’s 17th homer leading off the ninth, then got three straight outs for his 18th save in 20 chances.

Brandon Lowe hit his 16th homer in the fifth, and Kevin Kiermaier doubled in a run in the sixth. Hill gave up four runs and eight hits in six innings.

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Ohtani’s 26th homer starts Angels past reeling Yankees 5-3

Shohei Ohtani pounded his hardest-hit home run of the season in another dismal first inning by Michael King, starting the New York Yankees to yet another distressing loss in a season overflowing with them.

“That definitely sent the message,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said after Los Angeles beat the troubled Yankees 5-3 on Monday night. “It was just the right way for him to start his trip to New York.”

Left-hander José Suarez pitched 5 1/3 innings of one-run relief against the heavily right-handed Yankees after Dylan Bundy threw up on the mound because of heat exhaustion.

Ohtani was 0 for 9 in his previous appearances at Yankee Stadium, all three years ago. The two-way sensation connected for a 117.2 mph drive to right on a hanging curveball from King (0-4) in a two-run first that also included Jared Walsh’s RBI double.

The home run was the ninth in 12 games and 26th this season for Ohtani, who is slated to pitch Wednesday night. He tied Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the major league lead, one ahead of San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr.

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New York, meanwhile, leads the league in is regrouping.

“We just haven’t showed up every night. A lot of spurts of it, but this game, these seasons, this uniform isn’t about spurts. It’s about showing up every night,” said Giancarlo Stanton, who hit his 14th home run in the sixth. “We’re just collectively as a group not performing the way we should.”

Suarez (3-1) entered in the second after Bundy permitted Gio Urshela’s tying home run and Miguel Andújar’s single. With sweat dripping off the bill of his cap, Bundy stepped back off the mound, bent over and vomited on the 90-degree night.

“He told me even after the first inning he did not feel that good but went out in the second and he knew he might get ill and he did. I mean, this guy is as tough as they come,” Maddon said. “He’s fine right now. Everything’s groovy.”

Suarez allowed two hits, struck out five and walked one in his longest big league outing in two years. He kept the Yankees off balance with 22 fastballs, 22 changeups, nine curveballs and three sinkers.

“He is looking like a major league starting pitcher,” Maddon said.

Steve Cishek pitched a one-hit eighth, and Raisel Iglesias struck out the side for his 14th save in 17 chances, helping Los Angeles win its second straight following a five-game skid.

New York lost three matches in Boston last weekend, getting swept for the third time in four weekends, and is on its fourth four-game losing streak this season.

“Our season’s on the line,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before the game. “Too many ups and downs, and we’re in too good a division to have those ups and downs. We can’t afford to play great for two weeks and struggle for a week — not if we’re going to make up ground. We’ve dug ourselves a little bit of a hole in the division. Obviously, the good news is we still are in complete control of the script.”

New York is in danger of falling out of contention before the All-Star break.

“We can throw out all the sayings. Talk is cheap. We got to go do it,” Boone said after the game.

King has a 15.00 ERA in the first inning of six starts and a 1.88 ERA over the rest of his outings.

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Astros club 4 HRs, beat Orioles 13-0 for 10th straight win

José Altuve silenced the booing fans at Camden Yards with a two-run homer, José Urquidy pitched seven innings of three-hit ball and the Houston Astros stretched their winning streak to 10 matches by breezing past the Baltimore Orioles 13-0 Wednesday night.

Yordan Alvarez, Abraham Toro and Chas McCormick also homered for the Astros, who outscored the lowly Orioles 26-3 during a three-game sweep. Houston’s 10-game run is its longest since May 2019 and two short of the club record.

“To me, we’re doing what we’re capable of doing and I still think we’ve got a couple of guys who can get better,” Astros manage Dusty Baker said. “The guys are feeling good about themselves and that’s what you want.”

Altuve was greeted with jeers every time he stepped to the plate during the series, mostly because he was the Most Valuable Player during a 2017 campaign in which the Astros won the World Series but were later found to have been stealing signs.

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The Astros leadoff man has heard boos from opposing fans in almost every stadium this season, but Altuve has nevertheless hit 17 home runs, including a drive in the fourth inning off Thomas Eshelman (0-1) that made it 6-0.

“They spoiled some good pitches and put some good swings on some balls that were in the zone,” Eshelman said.

Alvarez and Toro connected in the seventh off knuckleballer Mickey Jannis and McCormick added a solo shot in the eighth.

Urquidy (6-3) didn’t need to be dominant on a night in which the Astros banged out 17 hits, but the right-hander nevertheless struck out six, walked one and permitted just one runner past second base. He’s won six of his last seven decisions and gone seven innings in three consecutive starts.

“He had outstanding control,” Baker said. “He always has control, but tonight he had command. He threw some quality strikes. He’s getting better and better each outing.”

Baltimore has lost 13 of 14 and Thursday will seek to snap a 19-game skid on the road in Buffalo versus the Toronto Blue Jays.

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New York Mets lose Marcus Stroman to hip injury, Joey Lucchesi to Tommy John; Michael Conforto’s IL return delayed

Marcus Stroman has a sore hip, Michael Conforto’s return was delayed due to coronavirus concerns and Joey Lucchesi is out for the campaign.

The hits just keep on coming for the injury-riddled New York Mets.

Stroman, the team’s most durable starting pitcher this season, exited Tuesday night’s outing versus Atlanta in the second inning due to an aching left hip.

Conforto is on deck to come off the injured list, but the right fielder wasn’t activated Tuesday after Triple-A Syracuse’s scheduled match was postponed to allow for more COVID-19 testing and contact tracing within the organization.

Conforto spent last weekend on a rehab assignment with Syracuse, so the Mets said they decided not to reinstate him Tuesday “out of an abundance of caution.” The team said Conforto tested negative Tuesday night and it plans to activate him before Wednesday’s game against the Braves. He has been sidelined since straining his right hamstring on May 16.

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Lucchesi, however, is headed for Tommy John surgery, the Mets confirmed Tuesday.

The left-hander had solidified a spot at the back of the rotation by posting a 1.19 ERA over his previous five starts.

Stroman threw 18 pitches in a hitless first inning and fell behind Austin Riley 2-1 leading off the second before manager Luis Rojas and an athletic trainer visited the mound.

With the entire infield and plate umpire Pat Hoberg gathered around Stroman, the right-hander consulted with Rojas and the trainer while making throwing motions. Stroman threw one warmup pitch to catcher James McCann before another extended consultation.

Stroman then threw two more warmup pitches and kept talking with everyone at the mound — this time in a group that included first base umpire Ron Kulpa — before walking off .

Prior to Tuesday, Stroman had lasted at least six innings in eight consecutive starts. He and left-hander David Peterson are the only Mets pitchers to take every scheduled turn this year.

Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom spent two weeks on the injured list with tightness in his side — and exited two starts this month with arm ailments — while Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard have yet to pitch this season because of injuries.

Rojas stated before the game he didn’t know who would start in Lucchesi’s place Wednesday night.

“We have guys that can go long in our bullpen if they get another day of rest tonight,” Rojas said.

Yennsy Diaz relieved Stroman and completed a walk to Riley — which was charged to Stroman — and then loaded the bases with none out before striking out three straight batters. Rojas said on June 8 that Conforto was still a couple of weeks from starting a rehab assignment. But he was able to resume baseball activities at Citi Field during the previous homestand and hit .182 in three rehab games for Syracuse last weekend.

“He’s actually exceeded our expectations,” acting general manager Zack Scott said Tuesday. “Hit all the kind of objective markers on his strength of his hamstring. He’s ready to go.”

Conforto is hitting .230 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 33 games.

Lucchesi’s injury was another blow to a rotation that was already thin behind deGrom, Taijuan Walker and Stroman. Still, the unit has been splendid all season, a big reason the depleted Mets lead the NL East. Lucchesi was placed on the injured list Saturday, one day after he threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings against Washington. An MRI revealed a significant tear of his left UCL and a second opinion Tuesday confirmed the diagnosis. He is arranged  to undergo surgery Thursday.

“Tough break for Joey and for the club,” Scott said. “He’s got a full tear, so it’s pretty cut-and-dry.”

Lucchesi’s injury leaves just Peterson behind deGrom, Walker and Stroman. With Carrasco (right hamstring) and Syndergaard (elbow) still several weeks from returning, Scott said he would “explore all options” for rotation reinforcements.

Before the game, the Mets recalled reserve catcher Patrick Mazeika from Syracuse and optioned infielder-outfielder Brandon Drury to their top farm club. Right-hander Robert Stock was claimed from the Chicago Cubs and optioned to Triple-A.

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