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August 22, 2019

Image result for Justin Verlander
PHOTO: Detroit Free Press

The Houston Astros denied a reporter access to Justin Verlander after the team’s 2-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night.

At the pitcher’s request, Detroit Free Press writer Anthony Fenech was not allowed to attend Verlander’s postgame media availability, Astros vice president of communications Gene Dias told the newspaper. Verlander refused to speak to any reporters with Fenech in attendance.

Fenech was allowed to enter the Astros’ clubhouse when Verlander was done speaking, about six minutes after the general clubhouse opening.

Atlanta Braves right-hander Mike Soroka will attempt to keep his strong rookie season going in the right direction on Thursday when he faces the Miami Marlins, a team he’s dominated this year.

Soroka (10-2, 2.41 ERA) will be opposed by Miami’s Sandy Alcantara (4-11, 4.35) in the finale of a three-game series at Atlanta’s SunTrust Park.

The Braves won the first two games of the series and improved to 14-4 against the Marlins. It is the second straight season Atlanta has won 14 games against Miami.

Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson will join the Class-A Rome Braves on Thursday for a rehab stint, with rookie slugger Austin Riley joining him the following day. Swanson has been out since late July with a heel issue, while Riley has missed about two weeks with a partially torn right LCL.

The New York Mets have climbed back into playoff contention thanks to a much-improved bullpen. The Cleveland Indians are going to need a similar transformation by closer Brad Hand if they are going to hang on to a postseason spot.

The surging Mets will look to complete a three-game sweep of its interleague series with visiting Indians on Thursday night, sending Noah Syndergaard (8-6, 3.86 ERA) to the mound to face rookie Aaron Civale (1-2, 1.50) in a battle of right-handers.

The Mets surge into wild card contention has been aided by a hot streak from Amed Rosario, who has hit .367 over his last 181 plate appearances.  Long considered one of baseball’s best prospects, Rosario is breaking out in his third MLB season and establishing himself as a major cornerstone piece in the Mets’ present and future plans.

New York Mets starter Marcus Stroman left his Wednesday start against the visiting Cleveland Indians after four innings with left hamstring tightness, an MRI confirmed, but the team is not concerned about the injury, according to manager Mickey Callaway.

Right-hander Max Scherzer hasn’t been available much to help the past several weeks as the Washington Nationals have remained squarely in the hunt for a playoff spot.

That could change as early as Thursday, when he is expected to start in the finale of a four-game series against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

Scherzer (9-5, 2.41 ERA) has dealt with back and shoulder injuries, leading to two stretches on the injured list, and has started just once since July 6 — with no appearances since July 25.

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