Diamond Digest: Major League Baseball’s top story lines this week

Juan Uribe of the Cleveland Indians celebrates his solo home run off Justin Verlander in the fifth inning of Sunday’s 9-3 win over the Tigers in Detroit.
Juan Uribe of the Cleveland Indians celebrates his solo home run off Justin Verlander in the fifth inning of Sunday’s 9-3 win over the Tigers in Detroit. The Associated Press

Here are five interesting stories in Major League Baseball this week:

Good year for Cleveland

It’s a good year to be a Cleveland fan. First, the Cavaliers storm back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Warriors in the NBA Finals. Now, the Indians are rolling. They chase their 10th straight victory Monday when they open a three-game series against the Braves in Atlanta. The Indians are 44-30, five games up on second-place Kansas City in the American League Central. Their opponents Monday, the Braves, are a National League worst 26-49, and are 17 1/2 games out of first place in the N.L. East. On Sunday, the Indians beat the Tigers 9-3, hitting four home runs off starter Justin Verlander in the fifth inning. Cleveland is 9-0 against Detroit.

Welcome back?

Troy Tulowitzki returns to Coors Field in Denver on Monday for the first time since being traded to Toronto last season. The Blue Jays open a three-game set against the Rockies. Tulowitzki was dealt last July after requesting a trade to a contender. The reaction Rockies fans give him will be interesting. The success of rookie shortstop Trevor Story (19 home runs) has softened the blow of losing Tulowitzki.

Big East

The Mets and Nationals open a three-game series in Washington Monday. New York took advantage of the Nationals’ seven-game losing streak, which they snapped Sunday, to climb within three games of first in the N.L. East. Noah Syndergaard (8-2, 2.08 ERA) gets the call Monday against Washington’s Joe Ross (6-4, 3.11). The Mets aren’t the only team on Washington’s tail – the Miami Marlins are also just three games out. They go to Detroit for three starting Tuesday.

Tampa Bay fading away

The Tampa Bay Rays climbed within one game of .500 (31-32) with a 3-2, 13-inning victory over Seattle at home on June 15. They were just 3 1/2 games behind first-place Baltimore in the A.L. East. They haven’t won since. That’s 11 losses in a row. The Rays, 31-43, are now 13 1/2 games behind Baltimore. It doesn’t get any easier for Tampa Bay, which opens a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox on Monday. The Rays have been outscored 72-29 during the skid. “It’s going south. Something new every game. We’re just not clicking as a team,” pitcher Drew Smyly told the Associated Press after Sunday’s 12-5 loss to the Orioles.

Bay Bridge Series

The A’s and Giants square off for the first time this season on Monday. Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija (8-4, 3.59 ERA) will face A’s right-hander Daniel Mengden, who has a 3.00 ERA despite an 0-3 record, at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The teams play in S.F. Tuesday before moving to Oakland for a pair. The Giants are 49-28, eight games up on the second-place Dodgers in the N.L. West, while Okland is 32-43, 16 1/2 games off the pace in the A.L. West. The Giants are coming off a walk-off win over the Phillies on Sunday. The A’s were victims of an Angels walk-off win in Anaheim.

Compiled by Chris La Marr and the Associated Press