NEW YORK – Mookie Betts, Gerrit Cole and a pair of high-profile matchups are set for opening day as Major League Baseball begins its shortened 60-game season on July 23 in ballparks without fans amid the coronavirus pandemic.
MLB released the schedule Monday, and it starts with two games. Cole and the New York Yankees visit the World Series champion Washington Nationals at 7:08 p.m. EDT, then Betts and his new Los Angeles Dodgers teammates host the San Francisco Giants at 10:08 p.m.
There are 14 games on July 24, including the first matchup at new Globe Life Field in Texas when the Rangers take on Colorado. The same day, Anthony Rendon and the Los Angeles Angels visit Oakland and the Cincinnati Reds host Detroit.
“Seeing the schedule makes it a little more real,” Reds manager David Bell said. “We can all start to plan a little better, have an idea what our life is going to be like and where we’re going to be the next several months.
“It will make it more realistic: Hey, this is about to happen in just over two weeks now.”
The season ends on Sept. 27, with all 30 teams starting their games at 3 p.m. EDT to possibly make for a final-day playoff scramble. Most games this season, however, are at night.
Teams will play 40 games against their division opponents. The other 20 will be interleague games, including six against a natural opponent, taking on clubs in their corresponding geographic region — East vs. East, for example.
Games planned for London, Mexico City and Puerto Rico already have been canceled.
Among the schedule highlights:
— The St. Louis Cardinals take on the Chicago White Sox next to the “Field of Dreams” cornfield outside Dyersville, Iowa, on Aug. 13.
— Jackie Robinson Day, usually celebrated on April 15, will be held Aug. 28 — that’s the date the Rev. Martin Luther King led the March on Washington in 1963, and also the date Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey talked to Robinson in 1945 about a future in the majors.
— Roberto Clemente Day will be held Sept. 9.
— The 100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues will be celebrated on Aug. 16.
— Oakland pitcher Mike Fiers will get his first look at his former Houston teammates on Aug. 7 at the empty Coliseum. Fiers blew the whistle on the Astros’ sign-stealing scam, which dominated baseball talk throughout the winter before the virus shut down the sport.
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