Friday, April 17, 2015
The D-backs and Giants will square off in the second of a four-game series Friday night at AT&T Park with Arizona Opening Day starter Josh Collmenter taking on veteran Jake Peavy.
Collmenter has taken the loss in both of his starts, the first coming against the Giants in the opener in Phoenix when he allowed five runs on 10 hits over 4 2/3 innings, and the second when he gave up three runs in five innings to the Dodgers.
Peavy was supposed to face the D-backs in that season-opening series, but was scratched due to back stiffness and made his first start of the season against the Padres last Sunday, allowing four runs in four innings.
What to watch for:
• Facing Collmenter on Opening Day, the top of the Giants' batting order -- Nori Aoki, Joe Panik and Angel Pagan -- went 8-for-9 in five innings.
• D-backs third baseman Jake Lamb figures to be back in the lineup after sitting out Thursday against left-hander Madison Bumgarner. Lamb has reached base via a hit or a walk in all seven games in which he's appeared this season.
• Third baseman Casey McGehee would love to recover from his left knee injury sometime during this series. He went 4-for-12 (.333) during the season-opening, three-game set at Arizona.
• D-backs outfielder Mark Trumbo, who has a six-game hitting streak, smacked his first home run of the season Thursday night off Bumgarner.
A couple of power hitters face off against their former teams when Nelson Cruz and the Mariners host Carlos Peguero and the Rangers on Friday night at Safeco Field.
Cruz, who was with the Rangers from 2007-13, signed a four-year, $57 million contract with the Mariners in the offseason and is starting to heat up. He hit six home runs in a five-game stretch on the Mariners' just-concluded road trip. He has yet to hit a home run in three games at Safeco.
Peguero is a former top Mariners prospect. He played with the Mariners for parts of 2011-13, but never hit well enough to stick in the big leagues. After a year with Kansas City's Triple-A team, he signed a Minor League contract with the Rangers in the offseason. He has changed his approach at the plate, becoming more selective and patient. The Rangers are giving him a chance to play left field with Ryan Rua on the disabled list and he has hit .417 (5-for-12) with three doubles, four walks and four strikeouts in four games.
Things to know about this game
• Veteran left-hander J.A. Happ gets the start for Seattle as the Mariners open a nine-game homestand. Happ threw well in his Mariners debut, but took a no-decision against the A's. He's 1-1 with a 6.23 ERA in two starts against the Rangers, whom he hasn't faced since 2012. He'll square off against right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who is 1-1 with a 5.59 ERA after being acquired from the Brewers via trade last winter.
• Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager has a career .331 average against the Rangers. That ranks third among 92 active players with at least 100 at-bats against them. His .572 slugging percentage ranks fifth.
• Rangers closer Neftali Feliz has never allowed a run to the Mariners. He is 3-0 and 11-for-11 in save opportunities in 21 career appearances against them. In 26 innings, he has allowed seven hits, with seven walks and 26 strikeouts.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has given up nine hits in 12 1/3 innings and a .320 batting average in two starts this season. Kershaw is 13-5 with a 3.17 ERA in 26 starts against the Rockies. The Rockies, off to a strong road start, will hope to tame Kershaw as the three-game series begins Friday night.
What to watch for:
• Rockies righty Kyle Kendrick walked five and gave up eight hits and eight runs in his last start, a home loss to the Cubs. After throwing first-pitch strikes to 19 of the 27 hitters he faced in seven scoreless innings at Milwaukee on Opening Day, he showed what happens when he falls behind hitters.
• Rockies catcher Nick Hundley is 9-for-29 (.310) with a double and three RBIs in his career against Kershaw, and second baseman DJ LeMahieu is 8-for-27 (.296) with one double against the lefty.
• LeMahieu has hit safely in all nine games and has eight multihit games.
Interesting subplots often surface when National League Central rivals like the Reds and Cardinals square off. There will be another one Friday night, when the teams open a three-game series at Busch Stadium.
Just after the Cardinals notched their second win in three games Sunday at Great American Ball Park, Reds manager Bryan Price complained that St. Louis right fielder Jason Heyward made "a dirty slide" into third baseman Todd Frazier trying for a triple. The commentscaught the Cardinals by surprise, and Price also indicated there could be a response from his team because of that play.
Reds ace Johnny Cueto will start the series opener against Michael Wacha.
THINGS TO KNOW IN THIS GAME
1. The Reds are 1-20-1 in their last 22 series played at St. Louis, with the Cardinals taking the last eight in a row.
2. Wacha has made more starts against the Reds than any other team in the Majors and has had impressive success against them. He's allowed two or fewer runs in five of his six starts against Cincinnati and has posted an overall ERA of 2.15.
3. Cueto has not historically fared well at Busch Stadium, where his 5.80 ERA in nine games is his worst in any ballpark where he has at least 10 innings pitched.
4. Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco (sore left hip) missed all three games in Chicago and could return for the start of this series. Mesoraco is listed as day to day.
A big homecoming awaits Billy Butler in Kansas City on Friday, when the A's designated hitter makes his return to Kauffman Stadium, this time in the visitors' dugout opposing the club that selected him in the first round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft.
Butler and the A's will engage in a three-game series with the Royals, marking their first matchup since last year's dramatic 12-inning American League Wild Card Game that ended in a 9-8 Kansas City victory, propelling the Royals all the way to the World Series.
Ace Sonny Gray will be on the mound for Oakland for Friday's opener, with right-hander Jeremy Guthrie getting the nod for Kansas City.
Things to know about this game
• Butler brings with him a 10-game hitting streak, having become the first player to begin his Oakland A's career with a hit in each of his first 10 games.
• Gray is 0-2 in two career starts against Kansas City, both last year, despite posting a 1.93 ERA. Guthrie has made 12 career appearances against the A's, including 11 starts, and he is 4-5 with a 4.55 ERA in that span.
• A's veteran Ben Zobrist is expected to return to the starting lineup Friday, after being held out of Wednesday's game in Houston with a bruised right heel.
The Angels begin their first series in Houston on Friday, following an off-day for both clubs, with Jered Weaver on the mound against Astros right-hander Roberto Hernandez.
Weaver gave up four home runs in his first start at Minute Maid Park last year, and he is hoping to take a step in the right direction on Friday, after giving up 10 runs on 15 hits in 10 1/3 innings in his first two starts this year. Hernandez, who owns a 2.28 ERA in 67 career innings against the Angels, gave up five runs (one earned) on five hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings against the Rangers on Saturday.
The Angels won 12 of their 19 games against the Astros last season, but Houston won five of nine at home.
Three things to know about this game
• Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun has been out of the starting lineup for the last four games because of a strained right calf. The 27-year-old leadoff hitter hit a pinch-hit RBI single on Monday, and he is hopeful of returning to the lineup on Friday.
• Astros second baseman Jose Altuve has only three hits in 16 career at-bats against Weaver, but shortstop Jed Lowrie is 6-for-22 with a home run. Albert Pujols' 45 regular-season home runs against Houston are the second most all time against them. Hank Aaron hit 46.
• Friday will mark the seventh of 15 straight games against American League West opponents for the Astros, who will see their division rivals over the next couple of weeks. Houston went 35-41 against AL West foes last season.
Reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber will take the mound for the Indians on Friday, seeking his first win of the 2015 season. Kluber has pitched well through two starts (2.63 ERA), but has yet to notch a victory.
For the opener of the three-game set, the Twins will hand the ball to righty Mike Pelfrey, who will be making his first start at home since last May 1 after undergoing season-ending surgery on his throwing elbow last May.
Things to know about this game
• With team off-days on Monday and Thursday this week, the Indians rested All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley for the team's two-game series against the White Sox on Tuesday and Wednesday. Brantley, who has been fighting stiffness in his lower back, might be cleared to return to the lineup on Friday.
• The Twins have a couple hitters who have enjoyed facing Kluber. Designated hitter Kennys Vargas has hit .364 (4-for-11) with a homer off the righty, while third baseman Trevor Plouffe has posted a .360 average (9-for-25) with two homers and seven RBIs against Cleveland's ace.
• Indians outfielder Brandon Moss is off to a rough start with his new team, posting a .100 (2-for-20) average through his first seven games. Moss will hope that seeing Pelfrey will give his swing a lift, considering that he is batting .500 (5-for-10) in his career against the Minnesota right-hander.
The Rays and Yankees will open a three-game series on Friday at Tropicana Field, with Tampa Bay right-hander Nathan Karns taking the ball against New York right-hander Adam Warren.
Karns will be making his third start of the season, having recorded his second big league victory on Sunday with seven innings of two-run ball against the Marlins in Miami. He said that seeing the Yankees in Spring Training should give him "more of an idea than just going off paper."
Warren is making his second start of the season and the fifth of his career, working on extended rest. He took the loss against the Red Sox on Saturday despite permitting just two runs (one earned) over 5 1/3 innings, the longest start of his career.
Things to know about this game
1. Trips to Tropicana Field used to be easy pickings for the Yankees, but it has not worked out that way of late. The Rays have defeated the Yankees in 14 of their last 22 meetings and in 21 of their last 33, going 4-0-1 in their last five season series since 2010. Tampa Bay was 11-8 vs. New York in 2014.
2. Brett Gardner is expected to return to the Yankees' lineup after being drilled on the right wrist by the Orioles' Wei-Yin Chen on Monday. Gardner had an X-ray on the wrist, which was negative, and was limited to pinch-running or defensive duty for the final two games of the series in Baltimore.
3. Kevin Kiermaier has been a bright spot for the Rays early in the season. Through his first 10 games, Kiermaier was hitting .344 (11-for-32) with two home runs and eight extra-base hits. The outfielder is 0-for-1 against Warren.
The Mets and Marlins continue their four-game series Friday at Citi Field. Mets starter Bartolo Colon looks for his third win, while David Phelps makes his first start for Miami after two relief appearances.
Things to know about this game:
• It's been a hectic, yet eventful, week for Phelps. The right-hander moved into the rotation, sliding into the spot vacated when Henderson Alvarez (right shoulder inflammation) went on the disabled list.
On Monday, Phelps' wife gave birth to a boy, Jack, at their home in Pittsburgh. Phelps was on MLB's paternity list, and he actually threw a bullpen session at a Division III school on Tuesday. He reached out to a friend, former Pirates strength coach Frank Velasquez, and it was set up for him to throw at La Roche College.
• The Mets tagged Phelps in his only previous career start against them. That was on May 29, 2013, when Phelps allowed five earned runs in one-third of an inning as a member of the Yankees.
• Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto started the past two games and is being given a shot at regular time ahead of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the Opening Day starter. Realmuto is rated Miami's No. 2 prospect.
• Mets first baseman Lucas Duda is turning into a doubles machine. On Thursday, the slugging Duda, who was third in the National League with 30 home runs last season, became the first Met since Carlos Beltran in 2006 to collect multiple extra-base hits in three consecutive games. He has five doubles in the last three games.
After claiming a series win in their 2015 return to Fenway Park, the Red Sox continue their current homestand on Friday by welcoming the division-rival Orioles for the first of a four-game set. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET, while the pitching matchup features a clash between Boston's Joe Kelly and Baltimore's Ubaldo Jimenez.
Three things to know about this game:
• After a disappointing performance last season, Jimenez earned the role of No. 5 starter coming out of Spring Training and looked to be in fine form during his season debut. The right-hander worked seven innings of shutout baseball, struck out eight and allowed just one hit and one walk on Saturday vs. the Blue Jays. His last two starts against Boston were forgettable ones, however, as he posted a combined 7.45 ERA and allowed three home runs.
• The Red Sox acquired Kelly via trade last season, and the right-hander went 4-2 with a 4.11 ERA in 10 starts. His 2015 season debut at Yankee Stadium proved to be even more fruitful, as he surrendered one run and fanned eight over seven strong innings. Kelly owns a lifetime 3.26 ERA when pitching at home.
• The Orioles got the better of this American League East matchup in 2014, going 11-8 against the Red Sox while recording 10 hits or more in nine of those contests.
On the heels of their first losing streak and first series loss of the young season, the Braves head north of the border to Toronto to begin a nine-games-in-10-days road trip on Friday at Rogers Centre. It'll be the third time in four years that the teams will get together, with the Braves holding a 7-3 advantage, although the last time in Toronto, they split a two-game set in 2013.
It's a matchup of Opening Day starters, as Atlanta hands the ball to 24-year-old right-hander Julio Teheran (2-0, 1.50 ERA), while the Blue Jays start Drew Hutchison (1-0, 6.97 ERA). Teheran has looked like an ace in both of his starts, allowing one earned run in six innings in each start, beating the Marlins in Miami and the Mets at Turner Field. He has something of an axe to grind with the Blue Jays, as his one career start against them on June 10, 2012, saw him go 4 1/3 innings and allow four runs on four hits. It was only the fourth start of Teheran's career.
Hutchison has had mixed results in his two starts this season. He beat the Yankees at Yankee stadium on Opening Day, allowing a run and three hits over six, but he allowed seven runs (all earned) on seven hits in 4 1/3 against Baltimore in his next start, receiving a no-decision. Like Teheran, Hutchison has a bone to pick with the Braves after his one career appearance against them, a loss on June 9, 2012, in which he allowed five runs (all earned) and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings of a 5-3 loss at Turner Field.
Three things you need to know:
1. Atlanta, which had apparently shed its home run approach for small ball, rediscovered its power stroke against the Marlins. The Braves mashed four homers in the final two games of the series, the same number they had in their first seven games. Of course, they might want to return to the little stuff, as the home runs accounted for all of their runs in back-to-back losses. They were 6-1 over their first seven games.
2. The Braves combo of National League Gold Glove Award-winning shortstop Andrelton Simmons and rookie second baseman Jace Peterson have anchored a defense that has turned 14 double plays in nine games. That's second in the Majors only to San Francisco's 15.
3. One is the loneliest number, and least favorite, for the Blue Jays, who have had a real tough time in close games. Toronto is 0-3 in one-run games and dating back to last season, the Blue Jays have been on the short end in 10 of their last 12 one-run contests.
The Nationals and Phillies will meet for the fifth time in this young season on Friday in the second game of a four-game weekend series between the National League East rivals.
Max Scherzer starts for the Nationals, taking a 0.66 ERA -- and a losing record (0-1) -- into the outing after two starts this season. Phillies starter Sean O'Sullivan is looking for his first Major League win in four years.
Things to know about this game
• Scherzer has given up just one earned run in 13 2/3 innings this season. He's also struck out 16, but the Nationals have scored a total of four runs in Scherzer's two starts.
• It will be interesting to see where Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg puts first baseman Ryan Howard in the lineup. The struggling slugger was dropped down to seventh in Thursday's contest, a move that raised a few eyebrows, as the skipper is trying to get Howard started.
• Jayson Werth got his first extra-base hit of the season, a double, in Thursday's game. Werth missed the first six games of the season while rehabbing from offseason right shoulder surgery.
After meeting last weekend at Miller Park, the Pirates and Brewers will reconvene for a three-game series beginning Friday night at PNC Park. Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson will look to repeat his dominant 2015 debut, while Pirates righty Vance Worley looks to rebound from his first start.
Things to know about this game
• Carlos Gomez won't play in this game or any other game for some time. Just as the Brewers departed Busch Stadium on Thursday, word came that the center fielder would be placed on the disabled list with a right-hamstring injury. A corresponding roster move is expected before Friday's series opener at PNC Park. Gerardo Parra and Logan Schafer will fill in in center field for Gomez, who will be evaluated next week to determine how much time he'll miss.
• Nelson silenced the Pirates' bats Saturday thanks in large part to his new curveball, allowing two ground-ball singles and setting a career high with nine strikeouts over seven innings. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle remarked that Nelson was not the same pitcher they'd seen on tape. So how do the Bucs prepare for Nelson this time around?
"I don't know of any way to prep other than to prep for the best guy you've ever seen, to count on him having his 'A' game," Hurdle said. "I think our guys, they're definitely looking forward to the challenge of seeing him again."
• Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli saw his 19-game on-base streak, the longest active mark in the Majors, come to an end Wednesday.
Cubs top prospect Kris Bryant, who hit .425 with a Major League-leading nine home runs in Spring Training, is set to make his big league debut in Friday's series opener with the Padres at Wrigley Field.
Bryant belted a Minor League-leading 43 homers last year while moving up the ladder from Double-A to Triple-A, continuing an expected rise to prominence for the 6-foot-5 third baseman who was picked No. 2 overall in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. He will bat cleanup against San Diego.
For the Padres, new ace James Shields will reach another personal milestone. The right-hander, signed as a free agent after years in the American League, will pitch at the legendary Chicago ballpark for the first time after debuting at Dodger Stadium in his last start.
Not only will Shields see his former manager with the Rays, Joe Maddon, who is in his first year at the helm of the Cubs, but he'll oppose former Tampa Bay teammate Jason Hammel.
Things to know about this game
• Matt Kemp has always enjoyed visiting Wrigley Field, if for no other reason than he's managed to make the Friendly Confines look small. He's a career .323 hitter at Wrigley, with six home runs and 20 RBIs in 104 plate appearances.
• The Padres took two of three games from the Cubs at Wrigley Field a year ago. After being shut out in the opener on July 22, they scored a combined 21 runs over the next two games, as Will Venable had three hits and knocked in two runs in the series finale, a 13-3 victory.
The White Sox continue their trek around the American League Central, heading to Detroit for the first of three consecutive games.
Jeff Samardzija gets the start for Chicago, facing his new division rival in Detroit for the first time in his career. David Price looks to build upon his 14 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run to begin the season.
Things to know
• Price's streak is the longest run of innings without allowing an earned run to start a year in his career. In each of Price's previous seven seasons, he allowed at least one earned run in his first start of the season.
• Samardzija's season hasn't started quite as hot. He had a tough White Sox debut, allowing five earned runs in six innings with three walks and a strikeout vs. Kansas City. He made some improvements in his next start, against Minnesota, striking out six without a walk, but still allowed four earned runs in seven innings.
• The Tigers have stolen 13 bases, the highest total in the American League. The White Sox, meanwhile, have had trouble stopping runners from stealing, throwing out just one of 11 runners on steal attempts. Controlling the running game could be key to the series for Chicago.