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Saturday June 19th, 2021 5:36AM

LEADING OFF: Cole vs Donaldson gets sticky, Texas cuts Davis

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

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STICKY SITUATION

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole has found himself in a sticky situation.

Days after Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson off-handedly alleged that Cole had been using foreign substances to sharpen his stuff, the pair will go head to head with Cole on the mound for New York at Minnesota.

The pitches Cole threw in his previous outing didn’t rotate as much as usual, and Donaldson casually wondered aloud last week whether Cole had suddenly stopped using substances that could spike his spin rates, fearing an MLB crackdown.

Cole said the spin issues were due to mechanical flaws.

“I understand this topic is important to everybody that cares about the game,” Cole said. “In regards to Josh, I kind of felt like it was a bit of a low-hanging fruit, but he’s entitled to his opinion and to voice his opinion, so I just have other things that I need to keep my focus on.”

HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT

Burly, bearded right-handers Lance Lynn and Alek Manoah are set to square off as the White Sox host the Blue Jays.

Lynn — listed at 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds — has allowed one run or fewer in five of his past six starts for Chicago. During that span, Lynn (7-1, 1.23 ERA) allowed three earned runs, all via solo homer.

Manoah (1-0, 3.86) will make his third big league start for Toronto. After blanking the Yankees over six innings in his debut, the 6-foot-6, 260-pound righty gave up four runs to the Marlins in a 6-5 win last week.

LET’S TRY THAT AGAIN

Matt Harvey (3-6, 6.62 ERA) gets another shot at his old team when Baltimore hosts the New York Mets in the finale of a two-game interleague series at Camden Yards.

The former Mets star was 3-2 with a 3.60 ERA when he took the mound May 12 at Citi Field and received three standing ovations. Pitching against New York for the first time, he gave up eight hits and a season-high seven runs in 4 1/3 innings, the second of five straight losses for the right-hander.

Taijuan Walker (4-2, 2.17) starts for the Mets.

STRUGGLING SLUGGER

Former major league home run leader Khris Davis is available after being cut by the Texas Rangers.

Texas designated the 33-year-old Davis for assignment on Tuesday. Acquired in the February trade that sent shortstop Elvis Andrus to Oakland, Davis missed the first 34 games of the season because of a left quad strain, then hit .157 with two homers and five RBIs in 22 games.

“It’s less about Khris Davis’ performance and more about the club in general, the state of our group and where we are and what aligns with our goals for this year,” general manager Chris Young said.

“This was really, really hard in a lot of ways because we love having him around and the influence that he’s had on our group. But unfortunately, the performance has been probably a little less than we expected, and certainly we need to take a look at our younger guys," he said.

Texas had lost 11 of 12 and was last in the AL West when it made the move.

Davis topped the majors with 48 home runs in 2018 for Oakland. That season marked the fourth straight year he oddly finished with exactly a .247 batting average.

EASY DOES IT

Skipped over in his last turn, Zach Eflin returns to Philadelphia’s rotation to face the visiting Braves.

Eflin (2-5, 4.10) has lost his last four outings. He’s already pitched 68 innings in 11 starts, passing the 59 innings he threw last year in the pandemic-shortened season.

Eflin last pitched on May 30. Phillies manager Joe Girardi seemed to be giving Eflin some extra rest when he held him out for a turn.

The 27-year-old righty has never pitched more than 161 1/3 innings in a big league season.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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