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Yanks top Nats…Nats lose Soto…Dodgers dump Giants

WASHINGTON (AP) — The New York Yankees took the major league season opener as they earned a 4-1 win over the Nationals in Washington, a game called because of rain in the top of the sixth. Giancarlo Stanton put the Yanks ahead to stay with a two-run homer in the first inning of Max Scherzer, who struck out 11 over 5 1/3. Gerrit Cole allowed just one hit over five frames, a first-inning blast by Adam Eaton.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Nationals opened the season without slugger Juan Soto. The outfielder tested positive for COVID-19 and was put on the injured list hours before Thursday’s game. Soto was a breakout star of last October after producing 34 homers and 110 RBIs during the regular season, will be sidelined until he can come up negative on two consecutive coronavirus tests.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kike  Hernandez was the hitting star in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 8-1 trouncing of San Francisco, going 4-for-5 with a two-run homer and five RBIs. Hernandez delivered a two-run single while Los Angeles scored five times in the seventh. Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts was 1-for-5 with two strikeouts in his first game since signing the second-richest contract in major league history.

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball and the players’ union have agreed to expand the playoffs from 10 teams to 16 for the pandemic-delayed season. According to MLB, each of the 16 teams will participate in a best-of-three first round before heading into a best-of-five Division Series. A person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that MLB agreed to guarantee a postseason pool that would be $50 million if the entire postseason is played.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Denny Hamlin raced to his series-leading fifth NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season by passing Kevin Harvick in the closing laps and holding off Brad Keselowski to make it back-to-back victories at Kansas Speedway. Martin Truex Jr. came across third, Harvick wound up sliding to fourth and Erik Jones rounded out the top five to cap a banner night for Joe Gibbs Racing. JGR made all the right calls during a crash-filled final stage to win in front of empty grandstands.

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