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Saturday February 27th, 2021 5:29AM

LEADING OFF: Bieber faces Twins seeking 8-0 start

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

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NOT JUSTIN, SHANE

It hasn’t taken Shane Bieber long to become Cleveland’s ace — and maybe the best pitcher in baseball this season. The right-hander looks to stay unbeaten as the Indians open a three-game series in Minnesota. Bieber, who is 7-0 with a 1.25 ERA and leads the majors in numerous categories, is already 2-0 against the Twins this year. Bieber began last season as Cleveland’s No. 5 starter, but his ascension and the trades of Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger have solidified him as the Indians’ No. 1 starter.

HELP ON THE WAY?

Atlanta's beleaguered rotation took another hit when left-hander Tommy Milone was placed on the 10-day injured list Thursday with elbow inflammation. Milone hasn’t been the Band-Aid the Braves hoped they were getting when they acquired him in a trade with Baltimore, pitching to a 14.90 ERA in three starts for Atlanta. The Braves are playing without their entire projected rotation but still lead the NL East, largely because of an offense that trailed only San Diego for the major league lead in runs entering Thursday. Atlanta could get some help next week from veteran Cole Hamels, who has yet to pitch this season because of triceps tendinitis. Hamels threw Thursday at the alternate training site.

MOOKIE MOVES TO SECOND

Mookie Betts is already one of the best players in the big leagues and a front-runner for NL MVP at season’s end. Now he’s also a Dodgers second baseman. The 27-year-old made his first start at the position since 2014 on Thursday night against the Diamondbacks. Betts isn’t a total stranger to second, playing there in the minors and starting 14 games at the position during his rookie season with the Red Sox. Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said he wants to make sure the roster is as flexible as possible for the postseason and that Betts was excited about the opportunity.

FIRST PLACE AND FIRED UP

Oakland right-hander Mike Fiers (4-2, 4.93 ERA) starts for the AL West leaders when they begin a series at Texas. Fiers has gone 3-1 with a 3.22 ERA over his last four starts and the A’s are 6-2 in his outings. Oakland took a 6½-game lead on second-place Houston after beating the Astros in four of five at the Coliseum.

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