LEADING OFF: Giants vs Dodgers, Nola and Means back on mound

Sports

San Francisco Giants Buster Posey, right, hits a two-run home run as Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith, left, and home plate umpire Jeremie Rehak watch during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, July 19, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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

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WESTERN STARS

Buster Posey and the surprising San Francisco Giants continue their pivotal four-game series against the rival Dodgers. The star catcher hit a two-run homer his first time up Monday night after missing two weeks with a bruised left thumb, and San Francisco won the opener 7-2 in Los Angeles after putting All-Star shortstop Brandon Crawford on the 10-day injured list due to an oblique strain.

The Giants, in first place since May 31, lead the NL West by two games over the defending World Series champion Dodgers. Alex Wood (8-3, 3.67 ERA) pitches for San Francisco against his former team. The funky left-hander is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA this month.

ALL CLEAR

Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola returns to the mound in New York against the Yankees after missing his last scheduled start because of COVID-19 contact tracing.

Nola never tested positive for the coronavirus but was sidelined after teammate Alec Bohm did July 10 in Boston.

Nola is 6-5 with a 4.53 ERA in 18 starts for the Phillies, who entered Monday’s play two games behind the first-place New York Mets in the NL East. Domingo Germán (4-5, 4.72) pitches for the Yankees.

HOME GAME

The Oakland City Council is expected to vote at its meeting on whether to preliminarily approve the Athletics’ new ballpark project at Howard Terminal in Jack London Square.

In May, Major League Baseball instructed the club’s front office to explore relocation options if no ballpark agreement could be reached.

“Hopefully it goes in our direction,” manager Bob Melvin said. “I’d love to stay in Oakland. I hope the team stays in Oakland. We have a long, rich history here. I think that’s the case with anybody who’s either grown up here or lives here or is an Oakland A’s baseball fan or a player.”

The A’s are the last professional franchise in the city after the Golden State Warriors relocated to San Francisco and the NFL’s Raiders to Las Vegas.

MEANS ON THE MEND

The American League-worst Baltimore Orioles get their top pitcher back when John Means returns from the injured list to start at Tampa Bay.

Means looked like an early contender for the AL Cy Young Award before he was sidelined by a shoulder injury in early June. He is 4-2 with a 2.28 ERA in 12 starts, including a no-hitter at Seattle on May 5 that was a dropped third strike from being a perfect game.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said he would “closely monitor” Means during the left-hander’s first couple of starts back.

Shane McClanahan, born in Baltimore, will face the Orioles for the first time. The left-hander had a Cal Ripken growth poster on his wall growing up.

“Cal is the reason I love the game,” McClanahan said.

SERVING HIS TIME

The NL East-leading New York Mets continue their series at Cincinnati without manager Luis Rojas, whose outburst after a bizarre play Sunday in Pittsburgh led to a two-game suspension.

Rojas was livid at umpires for calling a ball fair that starting pitcher Taijuan Walker swatted toward the dugout, thinking it was foul. The gaffe led to three Pirates crossing the plate when no Mets player went to retrieve the ball.

The play wasn’t reviewable, but Rojas wanted the umpires to talk about it anyway. He was suspended and fined an undisclosed amount for “excessive arguing.”

“I still firmly believe it was foul. I would love for a play like that to be reviewable,” Rojas said.

Rojas began his suspension Monday night, when the Mets hit seven homers for a wild 15-11 win over the Reds in 11 innings. Bench coach Dave Jauss is managing the team in his absence.

Michael Conforto has hit three homers in the past two days and connected in three of his last five games overall after going a career-long 30 games without one.

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