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Cubs to face Red Sox, Yankees in back-to-back weeks as part of Sunday Night Baseball slate

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A pair of Chicago Cubs interleague games against the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees will feature on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball 2020 first-half slate, as announced by the network Monday.

The Cubs are hosting the Red Sox and visiting the Yankees in back-to-back weeks in June, with games on June 21 and June 28 being set as part of Sunday Night Baseball’s 31st season.

The Yankees lead the way with five Sunday Night Baseball appearances through July 19, followed by the Cubs, Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals with four each and the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets with three each.

After July 19, Sunday Night Baseball selections will be made at least two weeks in advance.

The Sunday Night Baseball slate opens March 29 with the Cubs visiting the Brewers, who officially eliminated Chicago from the postseason in 2019.

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Dodgers’ Mookie Betts hits 3 home runs in a game for record-tying sixth time

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Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts hit three home runs within the first five innings on Thursday night, giving him a record-tying six three-homer games in his career. The only other players with six three-homer games throughout baseball history are Sammy Sosa and Johnny Mize.

Betts, signed to a 12-year, $365 million contract extension right before the start of this shortened season, began with an opposite-field two-run home run on an outside-corner fastball from young San Diego Padres phenom Chris Paddack in the second inning. He added a solo shot on an 0-2 sinker from Luis Perdomo in the fourth and another two-run homer on a 3-1 splitter from Perdomo in the fifth, lifting his slash line to .310/.372/.690.

Thursday marked the third time Betts has hit three home runs in the first five innings of a game, the most such occurrences in baseball history, according to research from ESPN Stats & Information. Sosa notched his sixth career three-homer performance in his 2,354th career game. Mize got there in his 1,884th game. Betts accomplished the feat in his 813th.

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Cardinals-White Sox opener postponed until Saturday

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CHICAGO — The St. Louis Cardinals‘ series opener against the Chicago White Sox has been postponed to Saturday, giving the Cardinals an extra day to recover from a coronavirus outbreak.

The Cardinals, who haven’t played since July 29, were set to resume their season Friday night in Chicago. But the series opener was pushed back to a straight doubleheader Saturday afternoon, the beginning of an extended stay in the Windy City for the Cards.

There was no word from Major League Baseball on the postponement, but John Mozeliak, the president of baseball operations for the Cardinals, confirmed the move in a conference call with reporters. Mozeliak also said the team is going to play doubleheaders Monday and Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field after the National League Central rivals saw a series postponed last weekend. The Cardinals will be designated the home team for two of the games at Wrigley.

The Cardinals’ season has been derailed by the coronavirus. Star catcher Yadier Molina and infielder Paul DeJong are among the players who have tested positive.

St. Louis, the defending NL Central champion, has played just five games, winning two. It seems unlikely that it will be able to make up every one of its games that have been postponed during the pandemic-delayed season.

While announcing Sunday night that St. Louis’ series against the Pittsburgh Pirates had been postponed, MLB said the league and the Cardinals believed it was “prudent to conduct additional testing while players and staff are quarantined before the team returns to play.”

The Associated Press and ESPN’s Jesse Rogers contributed to this report.

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Kris Bryant held out of Chicago Cubs’ lineup due to soreness

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CHICAGO — Slugger Kris Bryant was held out of the surging Chicago Cubs‘ starting lineup against Milwaukee on Thursday night because of a sore left wrist and ring finger.

Manager David Ross didn’t disclose if Bryant would be available off the bench, but said he made the move out of “an abundance of caution.”

Bryant was injured trying to make a diving catch in left field Wednesday in the fifth inning of the Cubs’ 7-2 win at Cleveland. He remained in the game and hit a home run in the sixth inning before being pulled in the eighth.

“We’re trying to be extra cautious,” Ross said. “I don’t think there’s a great deal of concern. We just want to make sure he’s good to go.”

Kyle Schwarber was listed to start in left field and David Bote at third base Thursday for the Cubs, who entered leading the majors at 12-3.

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