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MLB NOTEBOOK

Despite 18 new faces, one last delay, Marlins shut out Baltimore in on-field return

Minnesota outfielders Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, and Max Kepler celebrate the Twins win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday, completing a series sweep and a 7-1 homestand for the defending AL Central champs. The game was briefly delayed in the fifth inning due to a drone flying into and hovering over Target Field.
Minnesota outfielders Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, and Max Kepler celebrate the Twins win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday, completing a series sweep and a 7-1 homestand for the defending AL Central champs. The game was briefly delayed in the fifth inning due to a drone flying into and hovering over Target Field.Jim Mone/Associated Press

After enduring one final delay in their effort to return from an eight-day, coronavirus-induced hiatus, the Miami Marlins found enough power and pitching within their vastly overhauled roster to beat the Baltimore Orioles, 4-0, on Tuesday.

Francisco Cervelli and Jesús Aguilar homered for the Marlins, who had their season halted after 18 players tested positive for COVID-19 following the opening series in Philadelphia. Pablo López threw five innings of two-hit ball and the bullpen allowed just one hit in Miami’s first shutout victory since Sept. 8 against Kansas City.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Marlins were still awaiting the result of further COVID-19 tests, a process that stalled their arrival at Camden Yards and pushed back the scheduled 7:35 p.m. start by 41 minutes.

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Once they finally got back on the diamond, the Marlins backed up the assertion of president of baseball operations Michael Hill, who said beforehand: “We expect to win games.”

Miami put a whopping 18 players on the injured list — the 10 pitchers including lefty Caleb Smith, who led the team in wins last year with 10, and Opening Day starter Sandy Alcantara — and showed up with an equal number of replacements on their 30-man roster. The only rookie in the starting lineup was highly touted prospect fielder Monte Harrison, who played center field and went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts in his major league debut.

Report: Rosters won’t drop below 28 players

As planned, Major League Baseball will reduce its active roster size from 30 players to 28 on Thursday, but will not cut down teams further, according to a report from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Under the initial agreement between MLB and the players association, teams would cut down two players on the 15th day of the season, then two more to 26 on the 29th day. According to Rosenthal, the union is telling players that last cut will be skipped, with 28-man rosters remaining through the regular season and postseason, and that each team’s taxi squad will be expanded from three players to five.

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Terry Francona not admitted to hospital, but still receiving tests, away from Indians

Indians manager Terry Francona has scheduled appointments with “a series of doctors” at the Cleveland Clinic on Tuesday and Wednesday for a gastrointestinal issue, and there remains no clear timetable for when he’ll return to the team.

Team President Chris Antonetti doesn’t believe Francona will be sidelined for a significant period.

“Our first priority will always be Tito’s health and well-being and whatever puts him in the best position to be healthy and feel better that will always take priority,” he said, noting Francona has not been admitted to the hospital. The Indians open a two-game series at home with the Reds on Wednesday.

Francona, 61, has been bothered by a stomach issue since spring training opened earlier this year. He was forced to miss a couple games because he wasn’t feeling well, and skipped the Indians’ two-game series in Cincinnati in order to get checked out.

“He’s not happy about it, but he understands it’s the right thing to do,” Antonetti said.

Without him, Shane Bieber overcame two solo home runs to pitch into the eighth inning and Franmil Reyes hit a tiebreaking two-run homer, Cleveland snapping a four-game skid with a 4-2 win. Bieber, who tied a major-league record by striking out 27 in his first two starts, had eight in 7⅔ innings and allowed a season-high five hits.

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Cardinals test clean, closing on end-of-week return

The Cardinals reported no new positive tests for the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, a critical step in their hopes of getting back on the field Friday in St. Louis following a week’s worth of postponements, after seven players and six staff members tested positive in the past five days.

The team revealed (with the players’ permission) that all-star catcher Yadier Molina and shortstop Paul DeJong are among the players who have tested positive, with Molina writing in Spanish in an Instagram post that his diagnosis came “even after following the recommended prevention methods.”

In a statement released through the team, DeJong said he, too, had “followed team protocols.”

“I will approach my healing as I do all other things in my life — with education, commitment and persistence,” he wrote.

Four other Cardinals players were identified among those testing positive: relievers Junior Fernandez and Kodi Whitley, and infielders Edmundo Sosa and Rangel Ravelo. Team are required to secure permission to identify players who have tested positive. One Cardinals player chose to remain unnamed.

Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak said five of the 13 members of the team’s traveling party who tested positive were asymptomatic, and the other eight had only mild symptoms. The infected individuals were sent back to St. Louis in rental cars, while the rest of the team remained under self-isolation at their Milwaukee hotel, awaiting additional test results.

The Cardinals announced later Tuesday that they had placed Molina, DeJong, Sosa, Fernandez, and Whitley on the injured list. They also put pitcher Carlos Martinez on the injured list and activated reliever Brad Miller (right ankle bursitis).

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Nats slugger Juan Soto activated, but still needs time to ramp up

Left fielder Juan Soto was reinstated by the Washington Nationals from the COVID-19 injured list after missing the team’s first seven games of the season, though Manager Dave Martinez did not put the slugger in the starting lineup against the New York Mets.

“I talked to him last night and he really felt like he probably could use another day or two. He said his legs felt a little heavy. His arm was a little sore,” Martinez said. “He tried to ramp it up. . . . We just got him back. He missed a lot of time.”

The 21-year-old, who had 34 homers and 110 RBIs during the 2019 regular season before becoming a postseason star, was sidelined on opening day, July 23, after testing positive for the coronavirus. He only was allowed to return to workouts on Saturday.

Braves confirm ace Mike Soroka lost for 2020 with Achilles tear

Suddenly, the Atlanta Braves rotation is in tatters, the latest blow losing ace Mike Soroka for the season to a torn right Achilles tendon suffered during a seemingly routine play Monday night against the New York Mets.

On a grounder to Freddie Freeman’s right, Soroka broke toward first to cover the bag. He made it only one step. Soroka, who turned 23 on Tuesday, tumbled to the ground in serious pain, got up for a few tentative steps, then dropped to his knees on the infield grass.

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“I heard him yell,” Freeman said. “If Mike Soroka can’t walk off the field, you know it’s pretty serious.”

Former ace Mike Foltynewicz was sent outright to minor league camp after one dismal start and seems unlikely to be of help anytime soon, considering his noticeable drop in velocity since returning from the nearly four-month shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Brockton’s Sean Newcomb has been roughed up in his two starts. Kyle Wright and Touki Toussaint have shown promise, but not nearly enough consistency to assure themselves permanent spots in the rotation.

Max Fried, a 17-game winner last season, is the only starter the Braves can really count on at this point.

“Somebody else is going to get an opportunity,” manager Brian Snitker said. “Things like that happen. These guys will regroup. Somebody is going to get an opportunity to do something really good. Our young guys are going to continue to get better. We’re going to be fine.”

Freeman sounded a bit more pessimistic, noting “there’s no sugarcoating it” for the two-time defending National League East champions.

The Mets lost three players in Monday’s game as well, with Robinson Cano ending up on the injured list with a left adductor strain. Both Jeff McNeil (right intercostal strain) and Amed Rosario (left quad tightness) are day-to-day.

Drone delays fifth straight Twins victory

José Berríos pitched six strong innings, Nelson Cruz had three hits, and the Minnesota Twins beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 7-3, in a game briefly delayed when an unauthorized drone flew over Target Field. The Twins won their fifth in a row, completed a 7-1 homestand and improved to 9-2 for just the second time in the team’s 60-year history, joining 2001. The game was delayed for nine minutes in the fifth inning and players were pulled off the field when the drone flew over center field. A few pitchers in the bullpen threw balls at the flying intruder, but missed. “Definitely a 2020 moment right there,” Twins Manager Rocco Baldelli said . . . Monday was not what Gerrit Cole had in mind for his debut in pinstripes, Yankee Stadium empty and wife Amy watching from home, but he extended his regular-season streak of victories to 19, leading New York over the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-3, for the Yankees’ seventh win in a row. “Mom and dad had a few of neighbors over in California,” Cole said. “They sent us some pictures as they were watching the game. My folks, they’re a little bummed that they couldn’t be here, to be honest.” Cole (3-0) allowed one run and five hits in six innings, struck out four and walked one on 91 pitches, leaving after a 1-hour, 7-minute rain delay ahead of the seventh. A month shy of his 30th birthday, the right-hander reached 99.3 miles per hour.