Saturday, April 11, 2015
The Royals and Angels square off in Game 2 of their three-game set at Angel Stadium with right-hander Jeremy Guthrie on the mound for the Royals against Angels right-hander Jered Weaver. It is Guthrie's first start of the season after a solid spring (2-1, 2.63 ERA), while Weaver pitched the Angels' opener, allowing four runs in six innings in a loss to the Mariners.
Things to know about the game
• Guthrie's last meaningful outing came in Game 7 of the World Series -- a 3-2 loss to Madison Bumgarner and the Giants. Guthrie, however, did win Game 3 of that series.
• Albert Pujols' next home run will move him into sole possession of 18th on the all-time home run list. He's currently tied with Ted Williams, Willie McCovey and Frank Thomas at 521 big flies. Next up would be Jimmie Foxx at 534.
• Angels second baseman Johnny Giavotella, a former Royal, got his American League Championship Series ring on Friday. The Royals gave the ring to Angels skipper Mike Scioscia, who called for him to come into his office. Giavotella groaned, "Oh, no, this can't be good." But Johnny G was thrilled to learn he would be getting a ring. Scioscia then instructed Giavotella to put it on immediately because it "was bad luck if he didn't."
Madison Bumgarner and James Shields have to stop meeting like this.
Bumgarner and Shields will face each other Saturday in the third game of a four-game series at Petco Park. They met twice in last year's World Series won by the Giants, and also last month during Spring Training.
Even though this Giants lineup looks dramatically different than the one he faced last October, Shields is still wary of what the Giants can do offensively.
"It's definitely different for sure, and Hunter Pence isn't there, either," Shields said. "But there are still some good hitters, too. You can't take them lightly."
Things to know about this game
• With pitcher Ian Kennedy going on the disabled list, the Padres added lefty reliever Chris Rearick and also righty Brandon Maurer to give them fresh arms after Thursday's 12-inning loss. Rearick gives the team two lefty relievers along with Frank Garces. That could help neutralize Giants left-handed batters Nori Aoki, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford, Gregor Blanco and Brandon Belt.
• It's worth pointing out that only four of the Giants who collected World Series hits off Shields have a chance of being in Saturday's lineup: Buster Posey, Gregor Blanco, Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford. Hunter Pence (three hits off Shields) and Travis Ishikawa (two) are on the disabled list, Pablo Sandoval (two) plays for Boston and Michael Morse (one) is now with Miami.
• Odrisamer Despaigne will step into the rotation for Kennedy and start Tuesday against the D-backs. He has thrived in his short career at Petco Park, posting a 0.55 ERA in 32 2/3 innings with 28 strikeouts. On Thursday, he retired all 14 hitters he faced after entering the game for Kennedy.
• Madison Bumgarner faced San Diego only once last year, allowing five runs and seven hits in a 6-4 loss on April 28.
Arizona rookie Archie Bradley makes his Major League debut Saturday and all he has to do is beat the defending NL MVP and Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw.
In some ways, the assignment is the reverse of a September game in 2003, when Dodgers prospect Edwin Jackson was called up to start on his 20th birthday against Cy Young winner Randy Johnson. Jackson allowed one run in six innings and won the game.
Kershaw went 3-1 in four starts against Arizona last year, but is "only" 10-7 with a 2.45 ERA in 21 starts against the D-backs in his career.
Things to watch for
• Bradley, who was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, was ranked as the D-backs' No. 1 prospect by MLB.com.
• Dodgers manager Don Mattingly doesn't want to say it, but it looks as if A.J. Ellis is, indeed, the personal catcher for Kershaw, as that successful battery is teamed again Saturday, as they were on Opening Day. Yasmani Grandal caught the other three games.
• Veteran backup catcher Gerald Laird will be behind the plate for Bradley's debut, if his back allows. Laird, who has had some tightness in his back, built a bond during the spring with Bradley.
Jason Hammel pitched for the Rockies from 2009-11 but has never faced them. On Saturday, Hammel will do just that, when he starts for the Cubs in the second game of their three-game series at Coors Field.
This will be Hammel's season debut, and the right-hander has a career 13-14 record and 4.95 ERA at Coors Field.
The Cubs went 5-2 last season against the Rockies, but they didn't have Troy Tulowitzki, who was sidelined with an injury. In the series opener Friday, Tulowitzki delivered a tiebreaking two-run double.
Three things to know for this game
1. The Cubs' bullpen took a hit when Justin Grimm went on the disabled list Friday with a strained right forearm. Grimm led the team in appearances last year, pitching in 73 games. The Cubs called up right-hander Brian Schlitter from Triple-A Iowa to take Grimm's place.
2. Rockies right-hander Kyle Kendrick enjoys a hitter's park. In eight years with the Phillies, he was 39-36 with a 4.39 ERA at Citizens Bank Park. Making the switch to Coors Field in free agency didn't daunt Kendrick. In seven games (six starts) as a visitor at Coors, Kendrick is 1-1 with a 5.26 ERA.
3. Expect Justin Morneau back in the Rockies' starting lineup at first base. Against Hammel, he's batting .455 (5-for-11), and all the hits were doubles.
Right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who started on Opening Day in Oakland, makes his Globe Life Park debut for the Rangers in Saturday's game against the Astros at 7:05 p.m. CT. Gallardo, a native of Fort Worth, threw four innings against the A's on Monday.
Veteran right-hander Roberto Hernandez will make his debut for the Astros, entering his 10th Major League season. Hernandez went 8-11 with a 4.10 ERA for the Phillies and Dodgers in 2014.
Things to know about this game
• Keep an eye on the Rangers' bullpen, which had to pick up some major slack on Friday when starter Derek Holland left the game after only one inning because of stiffness in the back of his left shoulder.
• After opening the season with three games against the Indians, the Astros are in the midst of 15 consecutive games against American League West foes. Houston will see each AL West club over the next two weeks. It was 35-41 in the division last year.
• Rangers right-fielder Shin-Soo Choo is considered day to day after leaving Friday's game after only two innings with upper back spasms. He started the first four games of the season.
Neither the Pirates nor the Brewers expected to be still seeking their first victory when the teams met at Miller Park this weekend, but that was exactly the situation entering Friday's series opener. Now one team is looking to get hot in a series that continues Saturday night.
"I hope we're both better than what we've been so far," Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. "You never want to start off poorly. Coming out of Spring Training thinking you're ready, which I believed we were ready, and things don't go well. I'm sure they feel the same way we do.
"They're a good team. At the end of the year, they're going to be a good team."
Things to know about this game:
• The last time Pirates starter Vance Worley faced Milwaukee, he twirled a gem. The right-hander scattered four hits over eight scoreless innings of a 1-0 win at PNC Park on Sept. 21, at the tail end of the Brewers' collapse. It was Worley's first victory against the Brewers in four career decisions.
• Since the Wild Card was instituted in 1995, only five teams have started the season 0-4 and still reached the postseason: The '95 Reds, '99 Diamondbacks, 2011 Rays, '11 Brewers, and '12 Braves. That Brewers team, in Roenicke's first season as manager, rebounded to set a franchise record with 96 regular season wins.
• Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said he was looking for a spot this weekend for first baseman Corey Hart and/or second baseman Jung-ho Kang to start a game in this series. Since neither was in the lineup Friday night, Saturday could be the day. Hart and Kang are each awaiting his first start of the season.
The festivities of their home opener come and gone, the Braves will return to Turner Field on Saturday for another National League East clash against the Mets. This one features Atlanta's ace, Julio Teheran, against New York's fifth starter, Dillon Gee. But Gee has had plenty of success against the Braves over the years, with a 2.79 ERA in 14 starts, making the pitching matchup more even than it might seem on paper.
Things to know about this game:
1. With trade rumors swirling throughout the offseason and Spring Training, Gee waited until the final days of camp to rent an apartment in New York. He snagged one about 10 days ago, finally convinced that he was going to be a member of the Mets. For now, at least, Zack Wheeler's elbow injury means Gee will serve in the rotation, bringing his 6-4 career record against the Braves into Saturday's start.
2. Teheran has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of his past six starts against the Mets. Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Adam Wainwright are the only NL pitchers who have produced a better ERA than Teheran (2.84) while making at least 50 starts since the start of the 2013 season.
3. Keep an eye on both shortstops. While two-time Gold Glove Award winner Andrelton Simmons starred in Friday night's game, making a spectacular play on defense and doubling on offense, Wilmer Flores struggled with two errors. If those trends continue, shortstop play could become a key to the series.
The Nationals are looking to stop a two-game losing streak as they face the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night. Nationals right-hander Doug Fister will face Phillies ace Cole Hamels.
To Nationals fans, Hamels is best remembered for hitting Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper with a pitch on purpose on May 6, 2012.
With two outs in the first inning, Cole Hamels hit Harper with a pitch. Harper then advanced to third on a single by Jayson Werth. Harper was then able to pay Hamels back by stealing home while the pitcher tried to pick off Werth at first base.
Harper was the second player in Nationals history to steal home, and the first to do so on a straight steal. Ian Desmond stole home as part of a double steal on April 20, 2011, against the Cardinals.
Things to know about this game:
1.Fister is known to induce groundball outs. In fact, 50 percent of his outs came in the groundball variety. Fister also led the Nationals in wins with 16 last year, which ranks third on the Nationals' single-season list behind Gio Gonzalez (21 in 2012) and Jordan Zimmermann (19 in 2013).
2. Hamels, who lost in Monday's opener against the Red Sox, has had his share of success against the Nationals, going 15-8 with a 2.63 ERA against them. Harper has been consistent against the left-hander, going 8-for 25 with an RBI. At the same time, Dan Uggla has 22 strikeouts in 62 at-bats against Hamel.
3. Fister will face the Phillies for the fifth time in his career. He is 2-2 with a 2.60 ERA against them. Fister has to be careful with Ben Revere, who is 8-for 25 (.320) and Grady Sizemore, who is 4-for-9 with a homer and three RBIs.
4. Ryan Howard should return to the lineup Saturday after sitting Friday against Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez. Howard went 1-for-12 with one double and three strikeouts in three games this week against the Red Sox.
Prized prospect Aaron Sanchez will make the first start of his big league career when the Blue Jays face Ubaldo Jimenez and the Orioles on Saturday night at Camden Yards.
The pitching matchup features a pair of right-handers with a lot to prove. Sanchez will look to show that his future belongs in the rotation following last year's success in the bullpen, while Jimenez is trying to bounce back after a disappointing 2014 campaign.
Three things to know about this game:
1. Jimenez was taken out of Baltimore's rotation down the stretch last year, but the Orioles are encouraged by his new simplified delivery. Jimenez, in the second year of a four-year, $50-million contract, is 3-3 with a 4.63 ERA in nine career games (eight starts) against Toronto.
2. Sanchez's success in the second half last season came primarily with one pitch, but if he's going to excel at a starter, he'll need more than his sinker. A big key this year for Sanchez likely will be a slider that he began throwing during Spring Training. Even though the pitch is still relatively new, he has shown an ability to throw it for strikes more consistently than his curveball.
3. David Lough (hamstring) could rejoin the Orioles as early as Saturday. The outfielder played in another intrasquad game at the team's spring facility in Sarasota, Fla., on Friday, and the O's are trying to decide between activating Lough or having him go out on a rehab assignment.
The Rays and Marlins will play the second game of a three-game series on Saturday afternoon at Marlins Park.
The game will feature a quality pitching matchup between Rays right-hander Chris Archer and right-hander Jarred Cosart of the Marlins.
While the Marlins have not hit their offensive stride just yet, they are healthy and have the players in place to put up big numbers. At the other end of the spectrum are the Rays, a team fighting to remain afloat while not having their best team.
Currently the Rays' 25-man roster has 10 players who are making/have made their Rays debut in 2015 and seven rookies.
Saturday will see a team on the brink of finding itself pitted against a team in survival mode.
Things to know about this game
• Archer will be making his second start of the season after taking the loss in Monday afternoon's Opening Day assignment against the Orioles. He allowed two home runs and committed a critical throwing error during the game, but threw the ball well. He's not planning on making any changes Saturday afternoon.
"If I go out there and command the strike zone like I did and get ahead of hitters and have the same stuff, I'm going to have a very, very successful season," Archer said. "...When you're that efficient with your pitches and you have that kind of stuff, usually the outcome's not going to be like that."
Archer is winless in six career Interleague starts, compiling an 0-4 mark despite a 3.12 ERA.
Given the nature of Archer's throwing error against the Orioles, it should be interesting to see if the Marlins exploit his ability to field and throw the ball.
• If not for a blister, Cosart likely would have been Miami's No. 2 starter. But the blister to his right middle finger set him back a bit late in Spring Training. In preparation for this outing, Cosart threw a 90-pitch simulated game on Monday against Miami's low-Class A Greensboro team in Jupiter, Fla. Cosart was 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA against the Rays last year. Both those wins came when he was with Houston.
• Dee Gordon has hit safely in each of the first four games. The Marlins second baseman singled to center off Steve Geltz in the first inning on Friday. He had a single in each game against the Braves.
The Indians will again face a tough lefty with their ace, Corey Kluber, on the mound. It was Houston's Dallas Keuchel for the season opener. On Saturday at Progressive Field, it will be Detroit's David Price. Kluber pitched well on Opening Day, striking out seven and allowing two earned runs over 7 1/3 innings. Price was even sharper in Detroit's Opening Day victory over the Twins, striking out five over 8 2/3 scoreless innings.
Three things to know about this game:
• Kluber and Price faced off last year, too, but it didn't go so well for the Indians' ace. In what was arguably Kluber's poorest start of the season, he was unable to make it out of the third inning, allowing five earned runs and three homers. And it wasn't necessarily just that start. Throughout Kluber's career, he's struggled against the Tigers. Through 11 appearances and 63 innings against Detroit, Kluber holds a 5.00 ERA and .859 OPS against -- each the highest by any team Kluber's faced at least five times.
• Price, on the other hand, has fared quite well against the Indians in his career. His 2.64 career ERA, in nine starts and 58 innings pitched, is his third-best against any team he's faced at least five times -- his current club excluded.
• A left-handed-heavy lineup and struggles in the season opener against a tough lefty make it worth seeing how the Indians fare against one of the game's toughest lefties in Price. Ryan Raburn (career .793 OPS vs. southpaws) figures to find his way into the lineup, and recently promoted Jerry Sands could make his Indians debut as well.
A's right-hander Sonny Gray will be striving to carry on his outstanding start to the season on Saturday, while Mariners southpaw J.A. Happ will be looking to make a good first impression on his new club as the two American League West rivals square off in the middle game of a three-day set in a 1:07 p.m. PT contest at the Coliseum.
What to watch for:
• Gray became the first Major League pitcher since the Indians' Bob Lemon in 1953 to throw eight or more innings and allow one hit or fewer on Opening Day when he nearly no-hit the Rangers before giving up his lone base hit in the eighth on Monday. The 25-year-old owns a career-best 18 inning scoreless streak dating back to Sept. 23 of last season and is 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA in seven career starts against Seattle.
• Happ makes his Mariners debut after being acquired from the Blue Jays for outfielder Michael Saunders in December. The eight-year veteran is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in four outings against Oakland, including two starts. In his lone meeting with the A's last year, he fired seven shutout innings while allowing four hits in a 3-1 win on May 25 in Toronto.
• Former A's outfielder Seth Smith is expected back in Seattle's lineup after sitting out the past three games with a tight groin muscle. The Mariners traded for Smith in the offseason and the 32-year-old went 3-for-3 with two doubles, a triple and two RBIs in Seattle's 4-1 Opening Day victory over the Angels, but hasn't played since feeling sore the following morning. Smith was part of Oakland's AL West-champion teams in 2012 and '13 before being dealt to the Padres last year.
The White Sox and Twins continue their three-game series on Saturday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field. Jeff Samardzija will start for the White Sox against the Twins' Mike Pelfrey.
While the Twins (1-3) got their first win of the season on Friday, while the White Sox (0-4) are still trying to put one on the positive side of the ledger.
Things to know about this game:
• Samardzija was not sharp in his first start. He walked three, struck out one and hit two over six-plus innings in a loss at Kansas City on Opening Day. The right-hander will be pitching on regular rest, thanks to Tuesday's off-day.
• Pelfrey will make his season debut after moving into the rotation's fifth spot when right-hander Ervin Santana was suspended. Pelfrey missed most of last season after undergoing elbow surgery on June 10. He was 0-3 with a 7.99 ERA before he went on the disabled list.
• Look for Conor Gillaspie to be back in the White Sox lineup Saturday with Pelfrey on the mound. Manager Robin Ventura has not declared a pure platoon, but he has gone with the lefty/right split with Gillaspie and Gordon Beckham at third base.
The Reds will send ace right-hander Johnny Cueto to the mound Saturday at 1:10 p.m. ET for his second start of the season.
Cueto worked seven shutout innings in Cincinnati's 5-2 victory over Pittsburgh, his fourth consecutive Opening Day start.
Cueto was 1-2 in three starts against St. Louis last season, allowing one earned run over 15 innings in two of those starts.
The Cardinals hope right-hander Michael Wacha carries the positive momentum he got from spring training into his first start of the regular season.
Wacha dominated Grapefruit League hitters (1-0, 1.77 ERA in five starts) and hopes to put last year's shoulder issues in the rear-view mirror for good.
He was limited to 107 innings last summer due to a right shoulder stress reaction after being named MVP of the 2013 National League Championship Series. Wacha is 1-1, 2.30 in five career starts and one relief appearance against the Reds.
Three Things to Know
• Great American Ball Park is known as a hitter-friendly venue, but not so for the Cardinals when Cueto is pitching. St. Louis has hit .206 in nine games against Cueto in Cincinnati.
• Cincinnati and St. Louis will play 13 of their 19 games against each other after the All-Star break. The teams do not face each other from April 19 through July 26.
• The Cardinals have won 12 consecutive three-game series against the Reds.
After the Red Sox and Yankees combined to use 17 pitchers and toss 268 pitches Friday night, the rivals complete their first turn through the rotation Saturday afternoon, with right-handers Joe Kelly and Adam Warren getting the ball at Yankee Stadium.
Red Sox manager John Farrell announced Friday night that Kelly, who missed time in Spring Training with a right biceps issue, will come off the disabled list to start the second game of the three-game series. The Red Sox were encouraged enough by Kelly's bullpen session on Wednesday to give him the start, even though he may not be able to throw as many pitches as he normally would.
Warren easily won the job as the Yankees' fifth starter in a Spring Training competition after Chris Capuano went down with an injury. A starter in the Minor Leagues, Warren has started just three times in 104 Major League games, and last season he was used entirely out of the bullpen.
What to watch for:
• Kelly won both his starts against the Yankees last year, after coming to the Red Sox at the non-waiver Trade Deadline in the John Lackey deal with the Cardinals. Kelly pitched into the seventh inning in a 9-4 win at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 2, and he then pitched into the eighth in a 10-4 win on the next-to-last day of the regular season at Fenway Park.
• Warren was outstanding against the Red Sox while pitching out of the bullpen last year, giving up just one run on four hits in 12 1/3 innings, with 13 strikeouts. While Warren hasn't started a regular-season game since Sept. 27, 2013, and has never pitched more than five innings in a big league game, he was stretched out as a starter this spring.
• Yankees manager Joe Girardi said there's a chance he'll give Alex Rodriguez the day off. Rodriguez has been the Yanks' designated hitter for each of the first four games of the season. Girardi hasn't yet decided when he'll use A-Rod at a defensive position.