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BASEBALL NOTEBOOK

With baseball under attack, MLB tries to standardize preparations around the league

The state of the actual baseballs has become a hot topic around the league the last few seasons.Bryan Woolston/Associated Press

Major League Baseball is standardizing procedures for rubbing baseballs and their removal from humidors in an effort to establish more consistency amid complaints about slickness that followed last summer’s crackdown on sticky substances.

MLB has been working on standards over the course of the season in response to feedback from players and sent a memorandum outlining the changes on Tuesday to general managers, assistant GMs and clubhouse managers. Titled “Updates to Baseball Storage & Handling,” a copy of the memo was obtained by The Associated Press.

Scrutiny of baseball preparation — a minimum 13 dozen are readied for each game — has increased in recent years. Use of a humidor, began by Colorado in 2002, expanded to Arizona in 2019, three additional teams (including the Red Sox) in 2020, then a total of 10 last year and all 30 this season.

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MLB is mandating a ball be stored in a humidor for at least 14 days before game use, and ball storage must be recorded by the home team’s gameday compliance monitor and then certified in a signed form by the clubhouse manager.

“All baseballs projected to be used in a specific game must be mudded within three hours of all other baseballs being used in that game, and must be mudded on the same day that they are going to be used,” the memo states. “Baseballs should not be out of the humidor for more than two hours at any point prior to first pitch, and if it will take club staff longer than two hours, the baseballs should be pulled out of the humidor in smaller batches.”

The memo followed review of video of each team’s rubbing procedures, and stressed “the process should apply mud in a uniform manner, ensuring the same mud-to-water ratio is applied to each ball. Rubbing mud should be applied to each baseball for at least 30 seconds, ensuring that mud is rubbed thoroughly and consistently into the entire leather surface of the ball.”

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Following a crackdown on use of sticky substances as grip aides last June 21, New York Mets pitcher Chris Bassitt complained about the baseballs in April and Los Angeles Angels pitcher Michael Lorenzen last weekend after a pitch he threw hit Seattle’s Justin Upton in the head. Yet overall, hit batters are averaging 0.40 per team per game, down from 0.43 last year and 0.46 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, which was the most since a record high 0.47 in 1899.

Paredes’s three homers lift Rays over Yankees

Isaac Paredes homered in his first three at-bats as the Rays beat the visiting Yankees, 5-4, handing New York only its third loss in 20 games.

Isaac Paredes was the offensive hero for Tampa Bay Tuesday night.Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

Paredes, who had four RBIs, combined with Harold Ramirez for back-to-back homers in the first off Nestor Cortes, then put the Rays ahead, 3-2, in the third, and added a two-run drive in the fifth on the first pitch after Clarke Schmidt relieved.

Tampa Bay acquired the 23-year-old first baseman from Detroit on April 4 for outfielder Austin Meadows. Paredes is hitting .209 with eight homers and 16 RBIs, and 10 of his last 13 hits have been for extra bases.

The Rays led 5-2 before Marwin Gonzalez hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth off Colin Poche, who got his fifth save when pinch-hitter Aaron Judge flied out to the left-field warning track.

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Cortes (6-3) allowed four runs and six hits in 4⅓ innings, giving up three homers for the first time in his major league career. His ERA has risen from 1.50 to 2.31 in his last three starts.

Before the game, relief pitcher Albert Abreu returned to the Yankees, two months after he was traded to Texas as part of the deal that brought catcher Jose Trevino to New York. The 26-year-old righthander was claimed off waivers from Kansas City, and has a 3.46 ERA this season for the Rangers and Royals, allowing 10 hits — three of them homers, in 13 innings with 12 strikeouts and 16 walks.

Gonsolin the first to nine wins

Tony Gonsolin became the first pitcher in the majors to win nine games, Freddie Freeman drove in five runs, and the Dodgers beat the host Reds, 8-2.

Gonsolin (9-0) gave up two runs and three hits through five innings and 87 pitches, relying mostly on a four-seam fastball and mixing in a splitter and slider. The 28-year-old righty has a 1.58 ERA.

Of the three hits Gonsolin surrendered, two were solo home runs, by Jonathan India leading off the Reds first and Albert Almora Jr. in the second.

Four Dodgers relievers threw scoreless innings to wrap it up.

Freeman put the Dodgers ahead in the third after back-to-back singles by Gavin Lux and Trea Turner, hitting a two-run double into the right-field corner.

Freeman delivered a bases-loaded triple off the center-field wall off in the eighth.

Turner had a season-high four hits and extended his hit streak to 13 games.

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Before the game, the Dodgers added outfielder Trayce Thompson to the active roster after acquiring him from the Tigers for cash. The injury-plagued Dodgers needed another outfielder after star Mookie Betts cracked a rib in a collision with Cody Bellinger last week. Thompson pinch-hit in the eighth inning and struck out. He is the brother of Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson.

Astros show Mets who is tops

Yordan Alvarez hit a two-run homer and Kyle Tucker had three RBIs to give the Astros an 8-2 win over the visiting Mets in an interleague matchup between two of the top teams in the majors.

It was the first of nine straight games against the Mets and Yankees for the Astros, with visits to both New York teams on deck during their road trip that follows Wednesday’s series finale.

The Astros trail only the Yankees in the American League, and the Mets top the National League standings.

Yordan Alvarez helped pace the Houston attack with this two-run homer.Carmen Mandato/Getty

Jose Altuve and José Siri added solo home runs for Houston in the first meeting between the teams since the Astros swept a three-game series in September 2017.

Houston led 3-0 after Altuve and Alvarez, who missed Sunday’s game with a hand injury, connected off Trevor Williams in the third inning. Tucker’s three-run double highlighted a four-run fifth that extended the lead to 7-0.

Pete Alonso hit his NL-leading 20th home run in the sixth and Eduardo Escobar added a solo shot in the seventh for the Mets, who went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.

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Martín Pérez leads Rangers again

Nathaniel Lowe and Jonah Heim hit consecutive homers off former teammate Kyle Gibson and Martín Pérez went six innings in his fifth scoreless start this season as the host Rangers beat the Phillies, 7-0.

Marcus Semien and Kole Calhoun each connected on a two-run homer against Jeurys Familia in the eighth. Semien had three hits, including a double, before Corey Seager’s RBI single when Gibson was still around in the sixth.

Old friend Martín Pérez picked up his fifth win of the season Tuesday against the Phillies.Ron Jenkins/Getty

Pérez (5-2) outdueled Gibson in the matchup of a lefty well on his way to a first All-Star nod in his second stint with the Rangers and a righthander who was Texas’s Opening Day starter last year and a first-time All-Star.

Gibson (4-3), who allowed three runs and seven hits in 6⅓ innings, was sent to the Phillies at the trade deadline last year, less than three weeks after throwing a scoreless inning in the midsummer classic.

It was just the fourth loss in 19 games for the Phillies, while interim manager Rob Thomson lost for the first time in six series openers since taking over after Joe Girardi was fired.

Gorman, Cardinals bop Brewers

Nolan Gorman went 4 of 4 with two solo homers and four RBIs as the visiting Cardinals beat the Brewers, 6-2, to regain a share of the NL Central lead. The Cardinals and Brewers are both 39-31 after splitting the first two matchups of this four-game series. St. Louis stopped the Brewers’ four-game winning streak. Since making his major-league debut May 20, Gorman has six homers in 29 games. His first five all traveled at least 400 feet, including his 428-foot shot in the fourth. The streak ended when his seventh-inning homer went 396 feet . . . Andrés Giménez had an RBI single in the 11th inning and the visiting Guardians beat Minnesota, 6-5, to move atop the AL Central Division. Bryan Shaw, Sam Hentges, and Trevor Stephan each tossed a scoreless inning of relief before Emmanuel Clase earned his 16th save in 18 chances for the Guardians. With Oscar Gonzalez on second, Giménez singled to center field with one out and the Guardians improved to 10-2 in their last 12 games and 16-4 since May 30. The Cleveland bullpen has a 1.80 ERA since May 23.

Back sits Paul Goldschmidt for Cardinals

St. Louis first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, the reigning National League Player of the Week, was out of the lineup against Milwaukee due to what manager Oliver Marmol described as back tightness.

“He’ll experience it from time to time,” Marmol said. “Usually he takes a day, it loosens up, he’ll get treatment and be back at it. That’s our hope.”

The Cardinals switched Goldschmidt from first base to designated hitter just before Monday’s game; he went 0 for 4. Marmol said they made the move to try to keep the six-time All-Star off his feet as much as possible.

“He tried to play through it yesterday,” Marmol said. “It made sense to give him a day today.”

Goldschmidt leads the NL in batting average (.339), on-base percentage (.417) and OPS (1.031).

Atlanta, Max Fried go to arbitration over $250,000

Pitcher Max Fried became the fifth member of the World Series champion Atlanta Braves to go to salary arbitration, asking for $6.85 million while the team argued for $6.6 million. A decision is expected Wednesday. Teams have a 9-3 advantage in decisions. Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is the only player still scheduled for a hearing. Fried, a 28-year-old lefthander, was 14-7 with a 3.04 ERA last year and was 2-2 in the postseason. After losing Game 2 of the World Series against Houston, Fried pitched six shutout innings in Game 6 as the Braves won their first title since 1995. Fried made $3.5 million last year and is eligible for free agency after the 2024 season. Shortstop Dansby Swanson ($10 million) won his case against the Braves, while outfielder Adam Duvall ($9,275,000), third baseman Austin Riley ($3.95 million) and injured reliever Luke Jackson ($3.6 million) lost.