LEADING OFF: Nationals look to stay hot versus Royals


Washington Nationals’ Trea Turner, right, comes home to score on a double by Gerardo Parra against Miami Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro (38) during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, July 4, 2019, in Washington. The Nationals won 5-2. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

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


The Washington Nationals go for their ninth win in 10 games when they host the Kansas City Royals in the opener of a weekend series. Washington has gone 26-10 since May 24 to move a season-high four games above .500 at 45-41. Anthony Rendon hit his 20th homer to lead the Nationals to a 5-2 victory over the last-place Marlins on Thursday, completing a three-game series sweep. Kansas City, another last-place club, has dropped four in a row and seven of eight overall. Brad Keller pitches for the Royals after he went 1-3 with a 4.76 ERA in six starts in June. Rookie right-hander Austin Voth gets the ball for the Nationals.


Brendan McKay makes his second career start when the Tampa Bay Rays host the New York Yankees in the second of a four-game series between the AL East’s top two teams. McKay, one of baseball’s top prospects, pitched six scoreless innings in a 5-2 victory over Texas in his major league debut Saturday. McKay, a two-way player, was selected by Tampa Bay with the fourth overall pick in the 2017 amateur draft. Masahiro Tanaka pitches for division-leading New York. Tanaka was hit hard in his last start against Boston in London, recording just two outs and allowing six runs and four hits.


Two of baseball’s best are expected to face off when Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander pitches against Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels. Trout is batting just .132 (5 for 38) with two homers and 11 strikeouts against Verlander. But Trout, who turns 28 in August, is in the middle of another big year. Verlander is coming off a so-so June, going 2-1 with a 4.02 ERA in six starts for the AL West leaders. He is 13-9 with a 3.10 ERA in 26 career starts versus the Angels.


Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw struggled in a loss at Colorado on Saturday, but he gets to face one of his favorite opponents on this turn through the rotation. Kershaw is 19-6 with a 2.02 ERA in 36 career starts against San Diego. He went 1-0 with a 4.15 ERA in two May starts versus the Padres. Eric Lauer pitches for San Diego. The lefty is 3-0 with a 1.46 ERA in four career starts against the Dodgers.


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