What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s action

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The Rangers and Yankees, Dodgers and Brewers, as well as the Twins and White Sox kicked off Thursday’s schedule with some afternoon games. Eight evening games are left on the schedule, highlighted by the Giants and Athletics. As mentioned earlier, the Giants are intentionally giving up the DH to allow Madison Bumgarner to hit for himself. The Indians will go for their 13th consecutive win.

The Orioles will not just try to win their eighth consecutive game on Thursday, but also to match or surpass the all-time record for home runs in a single month. The 1987 Orioles and the 1999 Mariners both hit 59 home runs. The 2016 O’s have belted 55 dingers, so they’ll need four to tie and five to set the new record. The Orioles, who lead the majors in homers with 124 as a team, have hit four-plus home runs 10 times in 77 games, and five-plus homers four times. So, as powerful as the Orioles are, it’s still not likely they’ll be setting the new record. If it’s any consolation, they have already tied the June record for home runs with 55, matching the 1996 Athletics.

Taijuan Walker will toe the slab for the Mariners while Chris Tillman goes for the Orioles in a 10:10 PM EDT start at Safeco Field. Walker has never given up more than three home runs in a start.

The rest of Thursday’s action…

Cincinnati Reds (Brandon Finnegan) @ Washington Nationals (Gio Gonzalez), 7:05 PM EDT

Cleveland Indians (Carlos Carrasco) @ Toronto Blue Jays (R.A. Dickey), 7:07 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs (John Lackey) @ New York Mets (Steven Matz), 7:10 PM EDT

Detroit Tigers (Jordan Zimmermann) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Jake Odorizzi), 7:10 PM EDT

Miami Marlins (Wei-Yin Chen) @ Atlanta Braves (Mike Foltynewicz), 7:10 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Chris Young) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Mike Leake), 7:15 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants (Madison Bumgarner) @ Oakland Athletics (Dillon Overton), 10:05 PM EDT

MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.