Brandon Barnes hits for the cycle


Astros outfielder Brandon Barnes doubled in the bottom of the eighth for his fourth hit in as many at-bats to complete the cycle. He homered in the second, tripled in the fourth, singled in the sixth, leaving himself a double short with one at-bat to go. The eighth-inning double also set up a rally as the Astros scored three runs in the inning (still in progress as of this writing), cutting the Mariners’ lead to 9-6.

The 27-year-old Barnes was only hitting .232 with a .623 OPS entering the night. The cycle is a bright spot on an otherwise bleak season for the 33-61 Astros, possessing MLB’s worst run differential at -143 entering the night.

Barnes becomes the eighth Astro to hit for the cycle. The last Astro to accomplish the feat was Luke Scott on July 28, 2006 against the Diamondbacks.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

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No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.