LEADING OFF: Astros head home to face red-hot Red Sox

A look at what’s happening around baseball Thursday:

TEST OF THE CHAMPION

After wrapping up a series at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night, Jose Altuve and the World Series champion Astros return home to face another 2017 playoff opponent in Boston. Including a four-game series at Cleveland last weekend, that makes three straight foes for Houston that participated in last year’s postseason. Lance McCullers Jr. (6-3, 3.98 ERA) starts the opener of a four-game set against Red Sox lefty Drew Pomeranz (1-2, 6.75 ERA).

BACK ON THE MOUND

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to return to the rotation at home against the Philadelphia Phillies. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner has been on the disabled list for nearly a month with left biceps tendinitis. He is 1-4 with a 2.86 ERA this season. Aaron Nola (6-2, 2.27 ERA) pitches for the Phillies.

BEASTS OF THE NL EAST

The Nationals and Braves, in a tight race with the Phillies for the top spot in the NL East, begin a four-game series in Atlanta. Tanner Roark (2-4, 3.17 ERA) starts for Washington against Atlanta’s Sean Newcomb (5-1, 2.75 ERA).

`ROCK BOTTOM’ IN QUEENS

The New York Mets have been reeling, and first-year manager Mickey Callaway is looking for a way out. Almost nothing has gone right since New York won its fourth straight game on May 21. It began Wednesday’s game against the Atlanta Braves having lost seven of nine and in danger of falling under .500 for the first time this season. ”We’ve hit rock bottom the last few days and we have to come out of it,” Callaway said. The bullpen is 1-5 with an 8.51 ERA in its past six games. New York has 11 players on the disabled list, including sluggers Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier, reliever Anthony Swarzak and catcher Travis d’Arnaud.

STILL NOT MILLER TIME

Andrew Miller has been cleared to start a throwing program as the Indians‘ All-Star reliever battles inflammation in his right knee. Miller, who is on the disabled list for the third time in the past year because of soreness in his knee, visited a specialist in New York on Tuesday. The club said Dr. David Altchek confirmed a previous diagnosis and the left-hander can ”begin a gradual progression back to mound activity.” While there is no timetable for Miller to return, the fact that he doesn’t need surgery and can resume throwing is good news for the Indians.

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