Royals ace Bruce Chen placed on DL with lat strain

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And just after Aaron suggested they start printing up playoff tickets.

Bruce Chen, who is 4-1 with a 3.59 ERA in seven starts to open the year, was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a left lat strain.

Vin Mazzaro will be called up to start in his place Wednesday.

Chen has been a big success with his 10th major league team, going 16-8 since the beginning of 2010.  The Royals were 6-1 when he started this year, with Chen’s lone defeat coming at the hands of the Rangers.  He had one of his better starts last time in a 9-1 win over the Orioles.

Replacing him will be Mazzaro, who was all set to be the Kansas City’s fifth starter coming out of spring training.  The Royals sent him down at the end of March because they didn’t need a No. 5 during the first week of the season, but a funny thing happened in his Triple-A tuneup, as he walked seven and allowed five runs in 2 1/3 innings against Albuquerque.  The nightmare performance caused the Royals to bypass him and go to Sean O’Sullivan at the back of the rotation.

Mazzaro, though, has gotten batter lately.  Over his last three starts, he has a 3.00 ERA and a 20/3 K/BB ratio in 18 innings.  He’ll take on the Yankees on Wednesday and likely make at least one additional start before Chen return.

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.