LEADING OFF: Cards back in action, Yanks seizing AL East

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

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BACK IN THE SHUFFLE

The Cardinals are set to resume their season by hosting the Cubs. St. Louis has been off since last Friday, when two players returned positive coronavirus tests. Seven players in total have tested positive, including star catcher Yadier Molina. Ace Jack Flaherty (1-0, 2.57), who said he kept his arm fresh this week by throwing baseballs into a hotel mattress, is set to pitch against Chicago veteran Jon Lester (1-0, 0.82)

PULLING AWAY

The season is only two weeks old, but the New York Yankees could have a commanding lead on AL East-rival Tampa Bay by the end of the weekend. The reigning AL East champions Yankees are 9-3 to start this 60-game season and four games ahead of the Rays entering their four-game weekend series. Tampa Bay was supposed to be New York’s biggest obstacle to a repeat but already has work to do. Yankees righty Masahiro Tanaka (0-0, 3.38) faces Rays lefty Blake Snell (0-0, 5.40).

RED-HOT RAMIREZ

Indians slugger José Ramírez seems to have found his vintage form after a down 2019. The switch-hitter has homered from both sides of the place twice in the first 15 games of this season, a first in major league history, according to STATS. Coming off three straight wins against Cincinnati, Cleveland is set to open a three-game series in Chicago against the AL Central-rival White Sox.

LET’S TRY THAT AGAIN

MLB announced changes to the regular season schedule Thursday to account for 21 games postponed in the first two weeks by coronavirus issues, and a few clubs are looking at unusual finishes. The Phillies and Marlins are set to play seven times in five days next month, and Miami will finish the season playing 27 games in 23 days, a stretch featuring no days off and four doubleheaders in a 10-day span. Philadelphia — which has not even had a player test positive since opening day — is slated for six doubleheaders in 60 games, meaning 20% of their games this season will be just seven innings long.

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