LEADING OFF: Scherzer? Trade deadline looms after big moves

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Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Thursday, July 29, 2021, in Philadelphia in the first game of a doubleheader. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

A look at what’s happening around the majors on Friday:

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CLOCK IS TICKING

Time is running out for playoff contenders to bolster their rosters through a trade, and there likely will be more players changing teams before the 4 p.m. EDT deadline.

Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer was among those still on the trading block. The right-hander made what might have been his last start for the Washington Nationals, allowing one run and three hits in six innings to win the the opener of a doubleheader Thursday. He then watched the second game against Philadelphia from the dugout.

There was a lot of movement Thursday, with the selling Nationals sending closer Brad Hand to Toronto. Shortstop Trea Turner, currently out because of COVID-19 protocols, could also be headed out of Washington.

The New York Yankees acquired Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo after completing another trade to get All-Star slugger Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers.

Already with an eight-game lead over Cleveland in the AL Central, the Chicago White Sox acquired second baseman Cesar Hernandez from the Indians, and then got reliever Ryan Tepera from the Cubs.

Left-hander Danny Duffy went from Kansas City to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Seattle got right-hander Diego Castillo from Tampa Bay Rays, and he likely will take over the closer role vacated when the Mariners traded Kendall Graveman to the Houston Astros earlier in the week.

BACK HOME IN CANADA

The Toronto Blue Jays finally get to play a real home game, 22 months and a day after they last played at Rogers Centre in their 2019 season finale.

In the 670 days since the last game in their own stadium, because of COVID-19 restrictions on travel into Canada, the Blue Jays played home games in Buffalo, New York, and at their spring training complex in Dunedin, Florida.

The Blue Jays recently got approval from the Canadian government for an exemption on border restrictions. Major League Baseball needed the exemption for games to be played in Canada because not all players and team staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

It will be the 100th game this season for the Blue Jays when they host Kansas City to open an 11 game, 10-day homestand. It will be the 45th “home” game for the Blue Jays, who went 22-22 combined in Buffalo and Dunedin.

INDIANS WITHOUT TITO

The Cleveland Indians will finish the season without manager Terry Francona, who is going to address some lingering health issues.

The 62-year-old Francona has been wearing a boot on his right foot all season after undergoing toe surgery for a staph infection in February. The toe issue has exasperated a hip problem, which will require surgery.

“I didn’t feel like I was doing my job appropriately,” Francona said Thursday on a Zoom call. “I wanted to manage this year and I got as far as I could. “I gave it my best shot.”

Francona will have his left hip replaced Monday at the Cleveland Clinic. He will have a rod inserted into his foot after recovering the hip replacement, and said he can’t think about whether he’ll be back managing next season.

Bench coach DeMarlo Hale will serve as the interim manager the rest of the season.

CARRASCO DEBUT vs. BOOMING VOTTO

Right-hander Carlos Carrasco is set to make his first start for the Mets, six months after being acquired from the Cleveland Indians in the deal that brought shortstop Francisco Lindor to New York.

Carrasco will face Cincinnati and big-hitting Joey Votto, the 37-year-old first baseman who has gone deep eight times while setting a Reds franchise record with homers in six consecutive games.

Votto hit six homers in a four-game series at Wrigley Field against the Cubs, giving him 20 for the season.

The 34-year-old Carrasco tore his right hamstring running sprints in March.

STICKY SANTIAGO

Turns out Héctor Santiago was using more than sticky stuff.

The Seattle Mariners pitcher was suspended for 80 games by Major League Baseball following a positive test for external testosterone, exactly one month after he was banned for 10 games when he became the first player penalized under the sport’s crackdown on grip-enhancing substances.

A 33-year-old left-hander, Santiago is 1-1 with a 3.42 ERA in 13 relief appearances this season.

WEST LEADERS

The two West Division leaders — the AL’s Houston Astros and the NL’s Giants — play an interleague weekend series in San Francisco.

San Francisco has the best record in the majors at 64-38. The Astros are 63-40.

All-Star right-hander Kevin Gausman (9-4, 2.21 ERA) starts for the Giants, though he is 0-1 while allowing eight runs over 7 1/3 innings in his two starts since the break. Astros lefty Framber Vadez (6-2, 2.97) pitched six no-hit innings in his last start at home against Texas last Saturday.

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