LEADING OFF: The Yankees open the series vs. the Rays without Stanton

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SALAM MUSIM

Minus injured slugger Giancarlo Stanton, the sick New York Yankees open a four -game series in Tampa Bay – the first meeting this year between AL East rivals heated up.

From a good start, New York led the division in the Rays number two. But manager Aaron Boone said the Yankees knew Tampa Bay “will be there.”

“They’re a very complete team,” Boone said. “You have to play well if you’re going to have a chance to beat him. And he’s tested the fight.

Nestor Cortes (3-1, 1.80 ERA) pitches for the Yankees, who hope to have All-Star infielder DJ LeMahieu back from a sore left wrist that kept him out of the starting lineup two days ago.

Third baseman Josh Donaldson remained on the COVID-19 injury list Wednesday, and Stanton was placed in IL 10 days with right ankle inflammation.

Tampa Bay went 11-8 against the Yankees last season, outscoring them 98-50 on their way to its second successful AL East title.

GOD ALONE?

The Braves remain vigilant with star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. while returning from reconstructive right knee surgery, and will monitor the All-Star for the second time after he was scratched Wednesday with a sprained right quadriceps.

Atlanta pulled Acuña about 90 minutes before against Philadelphia. He woke up feeling sick, tried his leg in the stadium and decided to skip the game. Acuña was diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain and is unlikely to play in the final of a four -game series against the Phillies.

Acuña reached .292 with two homers, eight RBIs and eight stolen bases at 65 bats since returning on April 28 from a torn right ACL that ended the 2021 season.

ORA JOE

Twin rookie Joe Ryan will not play against Kansas City as scheduled after signing on the COVID-19 injury list Wednesday. The surging starter is 5-2 with a 2.28 ERA in eight starts this year. He will be replaced by left-back Devin Smeltzer, who is remembered from Triple-A St. Louis. Paul.

Twin manager Rocco Baldelli said Ryan was “not good.”

FRONT AND MIDDLE

The Brewers and Cardinals open the NL Central showdown in St. Louis. Adam Wainwright (5-3, 2.87) is expected to pitch for Cardinals battery Yadier Molina for the 313th time as they close out on a major record of 324 set by Detroit Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan.

Louis (24-19) formerly Milwaukee (28-16) is in the standings a year after finishing second for the Brewers, who only took two of three from San Diego.

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