BEGINNING: Astros aim to tie team mark of 12 straight wins

A glimpse of what’s happening around the majors today:

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ASTRO RISING

Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros go for their 12th straight win, which would tie the team record.

Altuve hit the first pitch of the game Friday night as the Astros won their 11th straight, beating Washington 6-1.

Houston, which began play in 1962 as a National League expansion team called the Colts .45, has won 12 straight on three occasions – in 1999, 2004 and 2018.

The Astros won the series opener in manager Dusty Baker’s first game at Nationals Park since being fired as Washington skipper after the 2017 season – that was the year the Nats won their second consecutive NL East title.

This series marks the first games that matter between the franchises — which share a spring training facility — since Washington beat the Astros in the 2019 World Series.

Cristian Javier (2-0, 0.83 ERA) starts for Houston against Erick Fedde (2-2, 3.90).

2B OR NOT 2B

Robinson Canó found another job with the majors, signing with San Diego less than a week after being released by the Mets.

The Padres plan to use Canó, 39, as a left-handed bat off the bench. Interim manager Ryan Christenson said he could get occasional starts at second base and designated hitter.

“I have a lot left in the tank,” Canó said. “I know I can still play this game and just come out on top.”

The Mets owe Canó nearly $45 million remaining on his original contract signed with Seattle. He will earn a prorated share of the $700,000 minimum.

Canó hit .195 with a home run and three RBIs in 43 plate appearances for the NL East-leading Mets. He took time off last season to serve a second suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

The eight-time star second baseman had a career batting average of .302 with 335 homers in 17 seasons when the Mets cut him.

Christenson took over the Padres while manager Bob Melvin recovers from prostate surgery.

The Padres said Friday that no cancer was discovered during the operation two days earlier. Melvin, 60, had said he hoped to miss only the first six games of the team’s nine-game road trip, which kicked off in Atlanta this weekend and continues in Philadelphia and San Francisco.

AS SICK

Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw is out with inflammation in a pelvic joint, the seventh straight season he has gone on the injured list. Los Angeles moved the roster several hours before it was set to face the Phillies at Dodger Stadium.

Kershaw, 34, was hampered by pitching arm pain for the entire second half of last season and missed the Dodgers’ playoffs.

Kershaw (4-0, 1.80 ERA) is off to a stellar start to his 15th season with the Dodgers. Three-time NL winner Cy Young has 32 strikeouts and just three walks in five starts since signing a one-year, $17million deal in March to return to his only professional club.

Kershaw also became the Dodgers franchise leader in strikeouts on April 30.

RETURN GAME

The Mariners’ prized pitching prospect George Kirby had a vocal cheering section in the Seattle stands for his impressive major league debut on Mother’s Day and thinks he’ll have another when he faces the Mets in his second career start.

Kirby grew up in Rye, New York, about 22 miles north of Citi Field. He was drafted by the Mets out of high school in the 32nd round, but went to Elon College in North Carolina and was selected by Seattle with the 20th overall pick in 2019. The 24-year-old right-hander , ranked among baseball’s top new pitchers, pitched six shutout innings with seven strikeouts and no walks Sunday against Tampa Bay after being called up from Double-A Arkansas.

KB COMES BACK

Kris Bryant could return to Colorado’s roster shortly after a cortisone injection relieved pain in his aching back.

The Rockies outfielder got the shot Monday, then played catch-and-hit into a batting cage Friday for the first time since being sidelined nearly three weeks ago. He is expected to increase his workload on Saturday and could begin a short minor league rehab assignment next week.

Bryant, who signed a seven-year, $172 million free agent contract with the Rockies in March, is still looking for his first home run with Colorado. The four-time All-Star and 2016 NL MVP is batting .281 with four RBIs. He was struck out 12 times in 57 at bats.

500 STRAIGHT

Royals outfielder Whit Merrifield is set to play his 500th consecutive game, extending the longest streak in the majors, when Kansas City plays Colorado.

Merrifield’s run began June 25, 2018 and is the longest in the majors since Prince Fielder played 547 straight from September 14, 2010 to May 16, 2014. Merrifield played six positions during the stretch: first base, second base , left field, center field, right field and DH.

To beat Cal Ripken Jr.’s record of 2,632 games? The 33-year-old is expected to play over 13 more seasons.

RYU READY

Blue Jays left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu, sidelined since April 16 with a forearm problem, will be activated to start in Tampa Bay.

The 35-year-old allowed 11 runs in 7 1/3 innings in his first two starts before going on the disabled list. After a quick visit to Triple-A Buffalo for a rehab start last Saturday, he’s ready to join the rotation. He will face Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough (0-0, 6.14).

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