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Thursday December 5th, 2019 10:10PM

LEADING OFF: Nats-Mets open series, Price down for Red Sox

By The Associated Press
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A look at what's happening around the majors Friday:

UNEXPECTED IN THE EAST

The Nationals and Mets begin a three-game series in Queens with surprising significance considering both teams have been more than 10 games below .500 this season. Washington now leads the NL wild-card race, and New York is only 2 1/2 games behind. The Mets have won 13 of 14 after stunningly deciding to be buyers at the trade deadline, and former Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman (6-11, 3.07) will make his second start since being acquired last month. Right-hander Stephen Strasburg (14-5, 3.72) is up for the Nats, who recently swept a three-game set at San Francisco.

PRICE DOWN

The Red Sox will try to remain relevant to the AL playoff picture without left-hander David Price, who was placed on the 10-day IL on Thursday after an MRI revealed a cyst on his left wrist. The team announced the 33-year-old Price was treated with a shot of cortisone in the wrist. Price is 7-5 record with a 4.36 ERA over 21 starts this season. Cora noted that the cyst, classified as a TFCC cyst, was not cancerous or related to any other serious illness.

NET POSITIVE

The Astros will extend the protective netting at Minute Maid Park to cover more of the seating area, joining other teams that have taken safety measures after foul balls injured fans. The team announced Thursday the extended netting would be installed before the homestand starting Aug. 19. It will run farther down the left field and right field lines to better protect fans from foul balls and bats that fly out of hitters' hands. A 2-year-old girl suffered a skull fracture when she struck by a foul ball during a May game in Houston. Last month, the Chicago White Sox became the first major league team to extend protective netting from foul pole to foul pole.

BAUER POWER

Right-hander Trevor Bauer is slated to make his first appearance in front of his new home fans as Cincinnati continues a series against the Cubs. Bauer was acquired from Cleveland ahead of the trade deadline and labored at Atlanta in his first start with the Reds, a 5-4 loss. Bauer hasn't faced the Cubs since May 22, 2018, when he pitched six scoreless innings in a 10-1 victory.

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