LEADING OFF: Bregman crushing in the clutch, Kershaw vs Cubs

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

CLUTCH CITY

Alex Bregman is red-hot at the plate as the Astros travel to Tampa Bay for a four-game series, and he’s been especially good late in games. Bregman has homered in three straight, including a game-ending two-run shot Wednesday to cap Houston’s rally from five runs down against Toronto. That was the second walk-off hit this month for Bregman, who also had a game-ending single in Game 5 of last year’s World Series. Bregman is 9 for 17 with three homers and five doubles since shaving his mustache midway through a game Sunday.

TAKE TWO

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw looks to sharpen his stuff against the Cubs in his second start since ending a DL stint for a lower back strain. Kershaw stumbled through three innings against the Mets last Saturday after surprisingly nixing a scheduled minor league rehab assignment, though Los Angeles beat New York 8-3 that day behind stellar relief work from rookie Caleb Ferguson. The 21-year-old left-hander is set to follow Kershaw again against Chicago. Kershaw acknowledged feeling some rust at Citi Field, when he was limited to 55 pitches. He’s hoping to go deeper and pitch more effectively this time at Dodger Stadium.

BOSIO FIRED

The Tigers fired pitching coach Chris Bosio on Wednesday, saying he made insensitive comments to another employee of the team. General manager Al Avila said Bosio made the comments recently and they were brought to Avila’s attention Tuesday. Avila decided Wednesday to terminate Bosio’s contract after the team investigated the situation and spoke to all of the people involved. Detroit promoted bullpen coach Rick Anderson to replace Bosio. Roving pitching instructor A.J. Sager will be the team’s bullpen coach until Triple-A Toledo pitching coach Jeff Pico takes his place next week. The Tigers are set to wrap a four-game series against Oakland.

ANOTHER SHOT AT NOLA

The Nationals try to solve the Phillies’ Aaron Nola five days after the right-hander won a 5-3 decision in Washington. Nola (9-2, 2.58) allowed two runs, four hits and three walks over six innings while striking out five in that game. Nola is fifth in the NL in ERA, and only Mets ace Jacob deGrom has allowed fewer home runs per nine innings than Nola (0.53) among qualified NL starters.

More AP baseball: Hometeaminsider.com

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