Jorge Soler
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Video: Jorge Soler takes AL lead with home run no. 47

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With Mike Trout ruled out for the season, the only American League player left to challenge his spot on the AL home run leaderboard was Royals designated hitter Jorge Soler. Entering Saturday’s game, Soler was tied with Trout at 45 homers apiece, still a significant number above the second-place Alex Bregman, with 41, and third-place Nelson Cruz, with 40.

He rectified that during the Royals’ 4-3 loss to the Twins, however, not only snapping the tie with his 46th blast of the season, but moving ahead with his 47th as well. In the bottom of the first inning, he worked a 2-2 count against Minnesota right-hander Cody Stashak, then punched a 93-m.p.h. fastball out to deep center field for a 1-0 lead:

Several innings later, against a 3-1 deficit, Soler pounced on a first-pitch slider from reliever Tyler Duffey and returned it to the left field stands to tie the game — and all but cement his place as the 2019 AL home run leader.

With home run no. 47 under his belt, Soler moves into third place in the league, tied with Cody Bellinger (47) and just a hair below Eugenio Suárez (49). The overall league leader is still Mets’ rookie Pete Alonso, who broke the all-time rookie home run record with his 52nd blast against the Braves on Friday.

Although he’s unlikely to capture the league title at this point, the Royals’ slugger still hit an impressive — and career-best — mark. Prior to Saturday’s contest, he boasted a .263/.352/.555 batting line with 113 RBI, a .907 OPS, and 3.3 fWAR through 671 plate appearances. His 47 home runs still stand as the single-season franchise record.

Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife gives birth

Zack Wheeler miss starts
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife goes into labor and gives birth to their first child, expected to be later this month. Wheeler, in fact, is not sure if he will return to play at all once their child is born.

Wheeler said, “We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”

Wheeler, 30, inked a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. He is slated for the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Aaron Nola. Last season, with the Mets, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks over 195 1/3 innings.

The No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is currently up for grabs between Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suárez, and prospect Spencer Howard. One of the remaining three could fill in for Wheeler when he needs time off, temporarily or otherwise.