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LEADING OFF: Indians try for 1st place, Sanchez amps Astros

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Jose Ramirez

Cleveland Indians’ Jose Ramirez, left, scores on a double by Franmil Reyes off Minnesota Twins pitcher Devin Smeltzer during the second inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 9, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

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

CLEVELAND CLOSES IN

The Indians can take over the AL Central lead with another win at Target Field. After trailing the Twins by 11½ games on June 3, Cleveland has gone 41-16 to tie them for the division lead.

José Ramírez and the Indians have won the first two in a four-game series at Minnesota. His slow start was one reason they faced a large deficit — the two-time All-Star was hitting .201 as of June 20, but has hit .338 with 17 doubles, 11 home runs and 33 RBIs since. He has an extra-base hit in eight straight games.

Adam Plutko (4-2, 4.55 ERA) tries to pitch Cleveland into first place when he faces All-Star Jake Odorizzi (12-5, 3.61). The Twins have lost four in a row for the first time this season.

SANCHEZ STRING

Aaron Sanchez (4-14, 5.76 ERA) makes his second start for Houston, facing the Orioles at Camden Yards. Acquired from Toronto on July 31, he had quite a debut for the Astros, going the first six innings in a combined no-hitter against Seattle.

The Astros have won seven in a row and 17 of 20 to open a 10-game lead over Oakland in the AL West. They’ve also tied the Yankees for the best record in the league at 76-40 — the team with the top mark gets home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

METS MOVIN’

Noah Syndergaard (8-5, 3.96 ERA) tries to keep the Mets surging when he starts at Citi Field against Washington. New York has won seven in a row and 14 of 15 — New York rallied for four runs in the ninth inning Friday night to beat the Nats 7-6, pulling within 1 1/2 games of them for the top NL wild-card spot.

Syndergaard has a 1.78 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break, striking out 39 over 35 1/3 innings. He has not allowed a homer since July 6.

Patrick Corbin (9-5, 3.43 ERA) will make his fifth start against New York this season. He is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in those games.

ON THE WAY

The AL East-leading Yankees could get a couple of their big hitters back in the lineup this weekend.

Catcher Gary Sanchez, who’s been sidelined by a strained left groin, is expected to be activated off the injured list for the game at Toronto. Infielder Gleyber Torres, who’s missed three straight games with a core injury, might return during this series, manager Aaron Boone said.

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