LEADING OFF: Dodger Stadium fans get Astros; Cole has virus

National Sports

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

NOW HEAR THIS

Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and the Astros have been heckled at Yankee Stadium, Cleveland, Phoenix and many other parks, the result of their sign-stealing scheme. Now, they’re about to hear it from the fans who feel Houston cheated them out of the 2017 World Series championship.

For the first time since their swiping scandal was revealed, the Astros will play in front of a crowd at Dodger Stadium when they open a two-game set. Houston won Game 7 of that 2017 Series by beating the Dodgers in LA.

”Our fans have waited a long time to have these guys at our place,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts over the weekend. ”And we’ll leave it at that.”

The Astros visited Dodger Stadium last year when crowds weren’t permitted because of the coronavirus pandemic. The ballpark is expected to be packed for these games.

Astros manager Dusty Baker can envision how the Dodgers crowd will greet his AL West leaders.

”Probably not good,” Baker said. ”It wasn’t bad here, but I’m sure it’s going to be a lot more hostile when we get to LA.”

Walker Buehler (11-1, 2.19 ERA) starts for the Dodgers against Lance McCullers Jr. (8-2, 3.23). McCullers started that Game 7 against LA in 2017 and was pulled during the third inning in Houston’s 5-1 win.

VIRUS WOES

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole has tested positive for COVID-19, the latest in a series of players to get the virus.

Cole had been set to start against Baltimore on Tuesday night. New York manager Aaron Boone said he found out about the positive test in the second inning Monday night.

The Brewers, meanwhile, are headed for a weekend matchup of first-place teams without All-Star closer Josh Hader in yet another COVID-19 setback for the NL Central leaders.

Hader has tested positive and will miss this week’s series against Pittsburgh. The left-hander will still be out for three more at home starting Friday against San Francisco.

Hader’s positive COVID-19 test will sideline him for at least 10 days. He joined Milwaukee star outfielder Christian Yelich and relievers Jake Cousins, Jandel Gustave and Hunter Strickland affected by virus concerns.

The Pirates put pitcher Chad Kuhl on the COVID-19 list after a positive test.

SNELL ON THE SPOT

After failing to land Max Scherzer at the trade deadline, San Diego general manager A.J. Preller put left-hander Blake Snell and the rest of the starting rotation on notice, saying the team isn’t going to get where it wants to go unless the starters pitch like they’re capable.

Snell (4-4, 5.44) is scheduled to start at Oakland for the Padres, who are third in the NL West but in control of the second wild-card spot. The 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner who was obtained from Tampa Bay on Dec. 29 has been up and down this year — mostly down.

Snell lasted only four innings — a recurring trend — in losing 10-4 to the A’s at home last week. It was the 11th time in 19 starts he failed to go at least five innings.

”Honestly, I’ve just got to think if I keep pitching this way, the chance we make the playoffs is not going to be there, and I don’t want to go home,” Snell said after his last start. ”I feel this, I’m aware of it and I know I need to start owning the zone and getting deep in the game and letting the bullpen rest instead of letting them cover 4-5 innings every time.”

CARDS NEWCOMER

Lefty Jon Lester makes his first start for St. Louis after being acquired last week in a trade with Washington.

The 37-year-old Lester (3-5, 5.02) faces Atlanta left-hander Max Fried (7-7, 4.32) at Busch Stadium. The five-time All-Star has pitched at least five innings in all 13 career starts against the Braves.

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