LEADING OFF: Cole vs Bieber, A’s aim for 13th straight win

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Shane Bieber

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Shane Bieber delivers in the first inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

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

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MARQUEE MATCHUP

As pitching matchups go, this one is aces.

Two of baseball’s best arms square off in Cleveland, with New York’s Gerrit Cole starting against Shane Bieber.

The All-Star right-handers met last October in the wild-card round and the Yankees teed off on Bieber, tagging the 2020 AL Cy Young Award winner for seven runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. Cole struck out 13 in New York’s 12-3 win.

“I wouldn’t mind it unfolding like that again,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said with a smile.

Bieber has 48 strikeouts and is the first pitcher to fan 10 or more in his first four starts of a season. He’s aiming to match Hall of Famer Randy Johnson’s record of 17 straight starts with at least eight Ks.

ROLLING A’S

The Athletics try for their 13th straight victory when they face Baltimore at Camden Yards.

Oakland’s string is its best since it won a franchise-record 20 in a row in 2002. This is the longest winning streak in the majors since Houston’s 12-game run in June 2018.

“It’s tubular right now,” winning pitcher Cole Irvin said after a 3-1 victory at Camden Yards on Friday night.

The A’s improved to 13-1 since dropping their first six games. Chris Bassitt (1-2, 4.43 ERA), who is 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA in three career starts against Baltimore, gets the nod as the three-game series continues.

CHECK HIM

The Cardinals will see how star catcher Yadier Molina is feeling, a day after he left a game because of soreness in his right foot.

Molina homered and doubled, raising his batting average to .339, as St. Louis beat Cincinnati. He exited after batting in the fifth inning and manager Mike Shildt didn’t have a report on the severity of the injury postgame.

“We noticed it looked like he favored something after his swing, and then he came in and we got him treatment and made the decision to get him out of there and get him looked at,” Shildt said.

TROUT OUT

The Angels hope star outfielder Mike Trout is ready to return from a bruised left elbow

Trout was hit by a fastball from Houston’s Cristian Javier on Thursday night and exited an inning later. The three-time AL MVP was scratched from the starting lineup Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

Los Angeles manager Joe Maddon said he expects Trout to be OK to play Saturday. Trout is off to a great start this season, leading the American League with a .393 average and six home runs.

REMATCH

Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer and 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell match up for the second time in seven days when the Padres play at Dodger Stadium.

Snell is seeking his first win of the season in five starts since being traded to San Diego. He’s 0-0 with a 4.11 ERA, striking out 24 in 15 1/3 innings.

Bauer is 2-0 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts for Los Angeles, fanning 36 in 26 innings.

Last Sunday at Petco Park, Bauer limited the Padres to one run in six innings. Snell held the Dodgers to two hits in five innings.

San Diego has won three straight early matchups between the NL West rivals, including the first two in this four-game series.

CUBS CLUB

Willson Contreras, Anthony Rizzo and the Cubs have won four in a row — and twice have scored at least 15 runs in a win.

Chicago routed the Mets 16-4 on Wednesday and roughed up the Brewers 15-2 on Friday at Wrigley Field.

Milwaukee right-hander Freddy Peralta (2-0, 2.00 ERA) goes on Saturday, making his third start this month against the Cubs. Right-hander Adbert Alzolay (0-2, 6.10 ERA) pitches for Chicago.

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