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

    NATIONAL DECLINE

    The Nationals could use a spark before the July 4 fireworks go off in D.C. Washington is at risk of falling below .500 for the first time since May 2 as it continues a series against Boston at 11 a.m. EDT. The Red Sox thumped the Nationals 11-4 on Tuesday [url=http://www.philadelphiaeaglesteamonlines.com/richard-rodgers-jersey]Authentic Richard Rodgers Jersey[/url] , giving Washington its fourth straight loss and 16th in 21 games to fall to 42-42. That slide has the preseason NL East favorites chasing the Braves and Phillies in the division. Erick Fedde (1-3, 6.00) tries to stop Washington’s skid against Boston left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (9-3, 4.11).

    THE SHO GOES ON

    Shohei Ohtani is back from the disabled list, albeit without full use of his electric right arm. The Japanese two-way sensation has been cleared to hit and was in the Angels’ lineup as a designated hitter Tuesday night, but he won’t be pitching anytime soon due to a Grade 2 sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament suffered more than three weeks ago. Ohtani has received stem cell therapy and a platelet-rich plasma injection on his right elbow. The Angels say they’ll re-evaluate Ohtani for pitching in three weeks.

    ROTATION RESET

    Gerrit Cole (9-2) will pitch on regular rest for the Astros after a slight tweak to their rotation. Lance McCullers Jr. was initially scheduled to start at Texas, but Cole will pitch instead. Justin Verlander (9-4) will follow Thursday at home against the White Sox and McCullers goes Friday. Manager A.J. Hinch said the switch keeps Cole and Verlander pitching every fifth day, and provides extra rest for McCullers (9-3) and Charlie Morton (10-2). The reset rotation means likely All-Star selection Verlander is scheduled for the final game before the break. ”This is always going to be the priority,” said Hinch, the All-Star manager who then won’t have Verlander available to pitch for the AL team on July 17 in Washington D.C.

    BAUER POWER

    Trevor Bauer tries to carry over an outstanding June when the Indians play at Kansas City. Bauer (7-6 [url=http://www.losangelesramsteamonline.com/joseph-noteboom-jersey]Authentic Joseph Noteboom Jersey[/url] , 2.45) was 3-3 with a 2.18 ERA last month, striking out 62 batters in 41 1/3 innings. He gets probably his easiest test of the year against the Royals, who scored a major league-low 58 runs in June – the second-lowest output was Tampa Bay at 87.

    Facing a run of starting pitching that included two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Chris Sale and David Price, the Minnesota Twins could have seen their fledgling playoff hopes fade toward another long summer.

    Instead, Minnesota’s been rejuvenated by beating some of the best pitching in the American League.

    Robbie Grossman and Max Kepler homered to back an effective start by Lance Lynn as the Twins beat the Boston Red Sox 4-1 on Wednesday night.

    Grossman led off the bottom of the first with a solo home run and Kepler added a two-run shot off Boston starter David Price (8-5). Brian Dozier added a pair of doubles to help Minnesota win for the fourth time in five games.

    The Twins beat Kluber and Carrasco in taking two of three games at Cleveland before returning home and winning the first two games against the Red Sox with Sale and Price starting.

    ”Yeah, after the game when you acknowledge who’s on the mound,” Kepler said when asked if Minnesota can take something away from beating the recent competition. ”I feel like we go into games and we’re kind of blind to who’s on the mound and we grind together [url=http://www.losangelesramsteamonline.com/brian-allen-jersey]Authentic Brian Allen Jersey[/url] , which is awesome about this team.”

    Lynn (5-5) again struggled with command, issuing five walks, but he surrendered just one unearned run and three hits in five innings.

    Four relievers combined for four scoreless innings, retiring 12 of the final 13 batters, with Fernando Rodney securing his 16th save in 19 chances.

    ”If you can find a way to battle every at-bat, wait for something to break, try to build pitch-count when you can, and if you’re holding them down as our starting pitching has been doing, you know you’ve got a chance late [url=http://www.losangelesramsteamonline.com/john-kelly-jersey]Authentic John Kelly Jersey[/url] ,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.

    The Red Sox were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and are 2 for 22 in the first two games of the series. They’ve stranded 18 baserunners in the two games and lost for the fourth time in five games.

    ”Pitching-wise, we’ve been great,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. ”I’ll take that. If we keep throwing the ball the way we’ve been throwing we’re going to win a lot of ballgames. We know the offense, you know how it is.”

    Lynn has had an uncharacteristic wild season in his first year with the Twins. He walked at least five batters for the fifth time in 14 starts. But the veteran right-hander has limited the damage and allowed less than three runs in five of his last six starts.

    ”Command was really not there,” Lynn said. ”But I was able to make pitches with runners in scoring position and not give up a bunch of runs. With this offense we have, you keep them to one run, we’re going to win the games more times than not.”

    Boston’s lone run scored in the second as Lynn couldn’t catch first baseman Logan Morrison’s high throw to first for the final out of the inning, allowing Mitch Moreland to score from second base on an error charged to Morrison.

    ”We’ve been through stuff like this in the past, even this year early on [url=http://www.packerscheapstore.com/kentrell-brice-jersey-cheap]Kentrell Brice Jersey[/url] ,” Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts said of the offense. ”The pitching has been doing great. It’s up to us now to come through.”

    PAYING THE PRICE

    Price was hurt by the home run but allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk. He had given up just one home run in his previous five starts and seven total in 14 starts this season coming into Wednesday.

    ”Not so much that he could hit it like he did, but to keep it fair, that’s pretty impressive,” Price said of Kepler’s home run.

    SHOWING SIGNS

    Dozier had just one extra-base hit in his previous 13 games while hitting .068. His double off the left-field wall in the eighth plated Eddie Rosario.

    Kepler hit his first home run in 22 games and the fifth of his eight this season against left-handed pitching. Kepler was hitting .158 over his previous 21 games with just four RBIs.

    TRAINER’S ROOM

    Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz is getting closer to having his first throwing session since he went on the 10-day disabled list on June 5 for left biceps tendonitis. Cora said Pomeranz was dealing with soreness in his neck but has recovered.

    Twins: Molitor said OF Byron Buxton’s first rehab game in Triple-A on Tuesday went well and that his left foot with the broken toe is ”in a good place and we haven’t said that for about seven weeks or so.” There is no timetable for Buxton’s return.

    UP NEXT

    Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (8-3, 3.70 ERA) will start the series and road trip finale on Thursday afternoon. Porcello pitched six innings and gave up four runs in a no-decision at Seattle in his last start.

    Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (2-4, 3.27) counters for Minnesota. Gibson has allowed five total runs over his last four starts, spanning 26 2/3 innings.

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