Sunday, April 12, 2015

Cards outlast Reds on Carpenter's 11th-inning homer

 Matt Carpenter's two-run home run in the top of the 11th inning gave the Cardinals a 7-5 win over the Reds on Sunday at Great American Ball Park. St. Louis completed a 3-2 road trip by taking two of three from Cincinnati, which ended its home stand 4-2 with back-to-back losses in the series.
Reds reliever Kevin Gregg worked a five-pitch, and perfect, top of the 10th inning but could not keep the game tied in the 11th. Two batters after Kolten Wong hit a leadoff single to right field, Carpenter attacked a 3-2 fastball that was belt-high and over the plate and deposited it into the right-center-field seats. It was Carpenter's first homer of the season.
Carlos Villanueva, the final reliever left in the Cardinals' bullpen, pitched two innings for the victory.
In 34 series vs. the Reds since the start of the 2003 season, the Cardinals are 29-3-2 and have won 13 of the past 15 series.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Frazier delivers clutch hit: A two-out rally for the Reds in the bottom of the seventh inning paid off when Todd Frazier lined a base-loaded single to right field that scored pinch-runner Kristopher Negron and Zack CozartBrandon Phillips followed with an RBI single to left field that scored Joey Votto for a 5-3 Cincinnati lead.
Jhonny be good:: The Cardinals erased Cincinnati's lead in a span of just three eighth-inning pitches. Matt Holliday singled to right off reliever Jumbo Diaz and Jhonny Peralta smashed a first-pitch home run into the left-field seats, pulling St. Louis into a 5-5 tie.
Price ejected: The inning got a little wilder following the Peralta homer. Mark Reynolds walked and Jon Jay was hit on the foot by a Diaz pitch. Reds manager Bryan Price appeared to argue with home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley that the ball was in the dirt. A lengthy exchange culminated with crew chief Joe West intervening and ejecting Price from the game. It was Price's third career ejection and his first this young season.
Hooray for Jay: Jay, the St. Louis center fielder, saved a run with a memorable first-inning catch. With Billy Hamilton at second base and two out, Phillips blasted a long fly ball that brought the crowd to its feet. Jay went into a full-out sprint to the gap in left-center, making a diving catch as he hit the warning track just behind left fielder Holliday.
QUOTABLE
"We started off in two cities that don't like us a whole lot, and now we get to go back to a city where everybody loves us." -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, on his team returning to St. Louis for its home opener on Monday vs. the Brewers.
INSTANT REPLAY
Also in the bottom of the eighth after Jay reached on the hit-by-pitch, Yadier Molina attempted a sacrifice bunt and appeared to hit into a 2-5-3 double play as catcher Devin Mesoraco attempted a tag on Molina before he fired to third base and Frazier then threw to first base. Matheny emerged from the dugout for a lengthy exchange with Danley, and then West, saying that Molina was tagged successfully by Mesoraco, meaning the force play was off and that Frazier needed to tag the runner at third base, pinch-runner Peter Bourjos. Following a four-minute, 46-second review, Bourjos was ruled safe.
WHAT'S NEXT
Cardinals: The Cardinals return to St Louis after a week on the road, hosting Milwaukee in their home opener at 3:10 p.m. CT. Adam Wainwright, who worked six shutout innings against the Cubs on Opening Day, will start a St. Louis home opener for the fourth time. The Brewers counter with Matt Garza.
Reds: The first road trip of the season is a three-city journey, covering 11 days and 10 games. It starts at Wrigley Field vs. the Cubs on Monday at 8:05 p.m. ET. Mike Leake will make his second start and face Chicago ace Jon Lester.

Miggy's monster day fuels Tigers' sweep of Tribe

Miguel Cabrera has tormented the Tribe throughout his career and that did not change during Cleveland's home-opening set against the rival Tigers. Cabrera launched two home runs, collected four hits and powered Detroit to an 8-5 victory over the Indians on Sunday at Progressive Field.
Cabrera's four-hit, four-RBI outpouring capped off an 11-for-14 showing in the three-game sweep of the Tribe, as the Tigers improved to 6-0 on the season. That marks the most hits the Tigers' first baseman has produced in a three-game series in his career. In the process, Cabrera's season average skyrocketed to .520 from .182 over the past three games.
Carlos Santana delivered an RBI single in the first inning and Ryan Raburncontributed a two-run double in the third, but that was not enough to erase the damage done by Indians starter TJ House (1 1/3 innings). That was all the damage Cleveland managed against Tigers lefty Kyle Lobstein in his five innings of work.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
House of pain: The Tigers went 6-for-10 with three walks against House in the lefty's first start of the season. Cabrera punctuated a three-run first inning with two-run homer that rocketed out to left field. In a three-run second, J.D. Martinez chased House from the game with a two-run single. It took House 28 pitches to record his first out in the first inning.
Cabreraland Rocks: While Cleveland celebrated the opening of Progressive Field's right-field social area this weekend, Cabrera claimed the rest of the ballpark as his own. He homered twice onto the left-field plaza -- a 410-foot drive for a two-run homer in the opening inning, then a 415-foot solo shot in the fourth. Add in a double off the center-field wall and an RBI single, and Cabrera posted his second straight four-hit game to go with four RBIs and three runs scored.
Yan's gone: In his first start after the loss of catcher Yan Gomes (out six to eight weeks with a right knee sprain), catcher Roberto Perez was put to the test by Detroit. Rajai Davis and Ian Kinsler pulled off a double steal in the first inning and Perez made a throwing error to third on the play, allowing a run to score. Detroit ended with three thefts on the day. In the fifth, Perez did cut down Nick Castellanos, who tried to advance to third on a ball in the dirt. At the plate, Perez contributed a sac fly as part of a two-run eighth inning for the Tribe. More >
Be-Lobbered start: Lobstein, wearing specs for the first time, had to labor to see his way through five innings in his fill-in start for injured Justin Verlander. Six of the 10 baserunners off the left-hander were left-handed hitters, includingMichael Bourn and Brandon Moss twice, as Lobstein struggled to locate his breaking ball. Yet he avoided disaster when he needed an out, stranding seven runners on base and allowing just two hits with runners in scoring position over five innings of three-run ball.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Cabrera leads all active players with 37 career home runs against the Indians. Torii Hunter and Alex Rodriguez rank second with 32 long balls apiece against Cleveland. Cabrera's 23 homers at Progressive Field are the most all time among players (retired or active) with no more than 100 games played at the ballpark.
WELCOME BACK
Prior to Sunday's game, Cleveland purchased the contract of veteran right-hander Shaun Marcum from Triple-A Columbus. When he took the mound in the fifth inning for the Indians, it marked the 33-year-old's first Major League appearance since July 6, 2013. Marcum spent the bulk of the past two seasons coming back from surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome. He returned with five solid innings, in which the lone hiccup was an eighth-inning leadoff home run to J.D. Martinez.
WHAT'S NEXT
Tigers: The Tigers will take part in their third home opener, this one belonging to Pittsburgh, with a 1:35 p.m. ET matchup against the Pirates on Monday at PNC Park. Anibal Sanchez, who tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings against the Twins last Wednesday in Detroit, has held Pirates hitters to a .204 average for his career, largely from his Marlins days.
Indians: Following an off-day on Monday, the Indians will host the White Sox in another American League Central clash on Tuesday. For the opener of the two-game set, right-hander Carlos Carrasco will take the ball for the Tribe. In his last outing, Carrasco struck out 10 and spun 6 1/3 shutout innings against Houston.

Ultimate MLB Show April 12, 2015


Tanaka vs. Buchholz to wrap up Sox-Yanks series

The most compelling pitching matchup of this three-game series will be on display in Sunday night's finale at Yankee Stadium. For the Red Sox, Clay Buchholz is trying to duplicate what he did on Opening Day, when he allowed three hits while striking out nine over seven shutout innings against the Phillies. Masahiro Tanaka, on the other hand, is trying to reverse course after laboring (4 innings, 5 hits, 4 ER) in his first outing against the Blue Jays.
This is the last game between the rivals until May 1, when the Yankees come to Fenway Park for a three-game series.
Things to know about this game
• Tanaka has added motivation to pitch a good game, as there's been a lot of chatter about his decreased velocity and questions about the health of his right elbow. Hall of Fame electee Pedro Martinez recently speculated that Tanaka is pitching at "65 percent" health. In Tanaka's outing against the Blue Jays, just 27 of his 82 pitches were fastballs.
• Alex Rodriguez has feasted against Buchholz over the years, going 10-for-25 with two homers and seven RBIs. Tanaka has held Xander Bogaerts to just one hit in eight at-bats.
• Though Opening Day was an exception, Tanaka has generally thrived at Yankee Stadium in his career, going 6-3 with a 2.44 ERA in 15 starts. Buchholz has performed well on the road in his career, posting a 37-23 record and a 3.82 ERA. Buchholz has earned a decision in all seven starts he's made at Yankee Stadium, going 4-3 with a 4.05 ERA.

Giants hope to find offense vs. Padres' Ross

Sunday is a day of rest for most people, but the Giants and Padres hope their hitters don't follow this custom. Before the Padres busted out offensively Saturday, runs had been scarce in this series, which began with a pair of 1-0 decisions.
Then again, the Giants' offense typically doesn't thrive at Petco Park. San Francisco has scored 23 runs in its 12 previous games at San Diego. The Giants did not score more than three runs in any of those contests.
Close games typically favor the Padres. They posted a 25-9 record in one-run games last year at Petco Park, helping them finish 48-33 at home overall.
Things to know about this game
• Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, who's trying to overcome a strained right groin and was available to pinch-hit Saturday, could start Sunday but more than likely won't return to the lineup until Monday at the earliest.
• Padres right-hander Tyson Ross, who makes his second start of 2015, was 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts against the Giants a year ago.
• Giants first baseman/left fielder Travis Ishikawa, recovering from a lower back strain, began his injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday.
• Padres left fielder Justin Upton has at least one hit in each of the team's first six games. He's tied with Nori Aoki of the Giants and Billy Butler of the A's for the longest hitting streak in the big leagues in 2015.

Greinke and Collmenter face off in series finale

The Dodgers should like the starting pitching matchup in Sunday's series finale against the D-backs.
Zack Greinke opposes Arizona's Opening Day starter Josh Collmenter. Greinke was 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA in four starts against the D-backs last year, while Collmenter is 4-7 with a 5.66 ERA in his career against the Dodgers.
Andre Ethier, who started Saturday night for the Dodgers in right field for Yasiel Puig, is expected to start in left field for Carl Crawford on Sunday, with Puig returning to the lineup. Also expected to return to the lineup is third baseman Juan Uribe, who got the night off before the day game.
Things to know about this game
• D-backs reliever Andrew Chafin has retired 16 consecutive batters since allowing a single to San Francisco's Brandon Crawford -- the first batter he faced -- on April 6.
• Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu, who's on the DL, made 40 tosses playing catch Saturday, will not throw on Sunday and plans to play catch back-to-back Monday and Tuesday as he slowly returns from a left shoulder impingement.
• The D-backs are considering placing catcher Gerald Laird (tight back) on the disabled list.

Lyles, Hendricks face off in Cubs-Rox rubber match

 The Rockies went 10 years without dropping a series to the Cubs at Coors Field before Chicago took two-of-three in Colorado last August. Sunday's rubber match is about seizing momentum as the Cubs look to climb above .500 and the Rockies seek to reclaim the form that led to their 4-0 start to the season.
What to watch for:
• Kyle Hendricks wasn't bothered by Coors Field in his first start there last Aug. 7, holding the Rockies to one run over eight innings. Said Cubs manager Joe Maddon: "I really believe he could pitch well in a phone booth, he's such a precision kind of pitcher with good stuff. Everybody looks at him as being a command guy, but his stuff is good too. When he's executing his pitches well, it doesn't matter where he's pitching."
• Jordan Lyles looks to continue a winning tradition at Coors Field, where he has established a 5-1 career record with a 5.00 ERA. But he's got an even longer tradition in facing the Cubs, having faced them in his Major League debut on May 31, 2011 at Wrigley Field, where he pitched seven innings and allowed two earned runs. He's got a 2-1 career record against the Cubs and beat them 13-4 when he last faced them at Coors Field, Aug. 6,2014.
• Carlos Gonzalez has been a Cubs killer throughout his career, hitting Chicago pitchers at a .351 pace (40-for-114) with nine homers and 20 RBIs, entering Saturday's play.

Felix aims to keep up dominance vs. A's, Hahn

 Mariners ace Felix Hernandez resumes his long-running rivalry with the A's on Sunday when the two American League West clubs close out their three-game series at the Coliseum.
Hernandez, 29, came out of the gate strong with seven innings of one-run ball in an Opening Day victory over the Angels, and he now faces an Oakland team that he's had more success against than other MLB franchise -- a 19-7 record and a 2.58 ERA in 35 starts. He'll square off against new A's right-hander Jesse Hahn in the 1:05 p.m. PT game.
Things to know about this game:
• Hernandez dominated the A's last year, going 4-0 with a 2.22 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings over six starts. The King seems to enjoy pitching at the Coliseum, where he's 10-2 with a 2.62 ERA in 18 starts and hasn't being the losing pitcher since Sept. 19, 2008.
• Hahn will be making his 16th career start and second with the A's after being acquired from the Padres in December in the Derek Norris trade. The 6-foot-5 right-hander lost his Oakland debut against the Rangers on Tuesday, allowing seven hits and three runs in six innings in the 3-1 defeat. He went 7-4 with a 3.07 ERA in 14 games for the Padres last year, including a 4-1 victory over Seattle in June when he allowed five hits and one unearned run in seven frames.
• Outfielder Josh Reddick is expected to make his season debut for Oakland as he returns from a strained right oblique that has sidelined him since March 6. Reddick went 1-for-7 in a pair of rehab outings for Class A Stockton. He returns just in time to face Hernandez, against whom he's put up a .158/.179/.211 slash line, going 6-for-38 with one walk and seven strikeouts in his career.

Wilson, Angels looking to ace Ventura, Royals

Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson, who quickly put his 2014 second-half struggles behind him with a strong opening start in Seattle, will try to build on that Sunday at Angel Stadium against young Kansas City right-hander Yordano Ventura, and the Royals team that eliminated the Angels in last season's playoffs.
Wilson threw eight shutout innings against the Mariners in a 2-0 victory on Tuesday, allowing just two hits. Ventura, 23, the youngest Opening Day starter in the Majors in 2015, also won, 10-1, over the White Sox. Ventura exited after 81 pitches and 6 1/3 innings because of a right thumb cramp.
In 17 career games (seven starts) against the Royals, Wilson is 4-0 with six saves, and a 3.20 ERA.
Ventura only started once against the Angels in the 2014 regular season, and it was cut short after four innings because of a long rain delay in Kansas City. But he faced the Angels in Anaheim in Game 2 of the American League Division Series, and he left in a 1-1 tie after seven innings. The Royals won in 11 innings, 4-1.
Three things to know about this game
• Ventura is 8-4 with a 3.33 ERA in 16 career road starts. He won his final three road decisions of 2014.
• Wilson didn't make it out of the first inning in ALDS Game 3 vs. the Royals, getting chased by Alex Gordon's three-run double.
• Kansas City DH (and ex-Angel) Kendrys Morales is batting .357 (10 for 28, with one home run) against Wilson. Outfielder Alex Rios has been even better against the left-hander, at .381 (8-for-21, with two homers).

Lewis, Keuchel look to build on strong opening starts

Colby Lewis will make his first home start of 2015 for the Rangers on Sunday, hoping to build on a strong first outing in Oakland in which he earned the win by allowing only one earned run on three hits in six innings.
The Astros counter with Dallas Keuchel, the left-handed Opening Day starter who threw seven scoreless innings in a season-opening victory over Corey Kluber and the Indians.
Things to know about this game
• The Rangers are hoping outfielder Shin-Soo Choo will return to the lineup soon, though his status is day-to-day after leaving the home opener Friday with back spasms. The addition of Carlos Peguero gives the Rangers another option in the outfield if Choo can't play; Delino DeShields and Jake Smolinski are also available to fill in.
• Keuchel has made four starts at Globe Life Park, his second-most of any ballpark besides Minute Maid Park. He's 1-1 with a 5.24 ERA in 22 1/3 innings in Arlington, with his most recent outing there a victory last July when he allowed four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings.
• Rangers manager Jeff Banister has not been afraid to mix things up this season. In six games, Banister has yet to use the same lineup twice, and Leonys Martin is the only player to hit in the same spot in every game having led off and played center all six times.

Lohse looks to rebound from slow start vs. Pirates

Pirates rookie Casey Sadler has no mixed feelings about the chance to make his first Major League start, opposite Milwaukee Opening Day pitcher Kyle Lohse, in the Sunday 1:10 p.m. CT finale of the teams' series.
Spot starters are usually called up to cover for an injury but Sadler steps in for Francisco Liriano, on paternity leave.
"Normally there's a different vibe when you come in. You're excited to be here but it stinks for the other guy," Sadler said. "But my congratulations to Francisco on the birth of his daughter, and I'm looking forward to it."
Lohse will be trying to bounce back from allowing Colorado eights runs and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings in a 10-0 loss on April 6.
Things to know about this game
• This will not be the 24-year-old Sadler's big league debut. He made six relief appearances with the Pirates last season, but his last 69 Minor League appearances have been starts.
• During their 88-win, playoff season of 2014, the Pirates suffered more losses on Sunday (16) than on any other day of the week.
• Adam Lind figures to remain in the cleanup spot after continuing his hot start in that role on Saturday, after slow-starting Aramis Ramirez volunteered to give up that four hole. Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said Ramirez told him, "Move me wherever it's best. I don't care. I want to win. I want the best lineup out there." Roenicke called the gesture "nice, because it frees me up."

Sale set to make season debut in series finale vs. Twins

 The White Sox and Twins wrap up their three-game series on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field. Chris Sale will make his season debut for the White Sox, while Phil Hughes (0-1, 6.00 ERA) will take the mound for the Twins. Sale, who was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list Sunday morning, is coming back from fracturing a bone in his right foot on Feb. 27.
Three things to know about this game
• Sale surprisingly has a career winning record against only one team in the American League Central, and that's his 6-1 mark with a 2.45 ERA over 16 appearances and eight starts when facing the Twins. Sale is 5-5 against the Tigers, 3-4 against the Indians and 7-8 against the Royals.
• Alexei Ramirez is the only current player on the White Sox roster to have gone deep against Phil Hughes. Ramirez enters Sunday needing one homer to reach 100 for his career.
• Hughes will be looking to bounce back from a less-than-stellar start on Opening Day. He allowed four earned runs in six innings against the Tigers. Hughes is 4-3 with a 2.98 ERA in 16 career games against the White Sox.

Phillies eye sweep as Nats turn to Scherzer

The Nationals and Phillies wrap up a three-game series on Sunday afternoon, with Washington looking to avoid a sweep in Philadelphia behind right-hander Max Scherzer. 
In his first start, Scherzer pitched 7 2/3 innings, allowed three unearned runs on four hits and struck out eight against the Mets. He retired 17 straight hitters at one point and had a no-hitter going with two outs in the sixth inning.
A four-pitch walk to Curtis Granderson and an error on a David Wright popup later, Scherzer allowed a two-run single to Lucas Duda to give the Mets a one-run lead. An inning later, Scherzer allowed an RBI triple to Travis d'Arnaud. The three runs were unearned because of two errors by shortstop Ian Desmond.
Phillies right-hander Sean O'Sullivan will make his season debut. He made three appearances (two starts) for the Phillies last season, and spent most of the year with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, going 6-10 with a 4.31 ERA.
Three things to know about this game
1. Of all the players on the Phillies' roster, Ben Revere has had the most success against Scherzer, going 5-for-15 (.333). Jeff Francoeur has faced Scherzer the most times, going 7-for-30 (.233) with 10 strikeouts.
2. The Phillies reassigned O'Sullivan to Minor League camp in Spring Training, but he remained their best option for a No. 5 starter with Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez underperforming in Spring Training -- and now injured -- and Kevin Slowey released at the end of last month.
3. It will be interesting to see if third baseman Cody Asche returns to the Phillies' lineup. Manager Ryne Sandberg has started Andres Blanco the past two games, but Asche is a player they want to develop for the future.

Opening Day starters square off for rubber match

The Orioles and Blue Jays will wrap up their three-game series Sunday at Camden Yards when Chris Tillman and Drew Hutchison take the mound in a matchup of Opening Day starters.
Toronto will be looking for its first series victory in Baltimore since April 11-13, 2014. The Blue Jays have lost 11 of their past 17 contests against the O's, and they haven't won a season series vs. Baltimore since 2011.
Three things to know about this game:
1. Tillman is coming off a strong season debut that saw him pick up a victory over the Rays. He allowed one run on four hits -- including a home run -- and three walks with four strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings.
2. One of the reasons Hutchison was named the Blue Jays' Opening Day starter was so he could also start the series finale in Baltimore. The 24-year-old has enjoyed a lot of success against the Orioles during his brief career. Last season, Hutchison faced them six times and posted a 3-1 record with a 2.54 ERA.
3. Two of Toronto's top hitters are dealing with minor injuries, but both are expected to play in the series finale. Shortstop Jose Reyes has been dealing with a mild sprain in his oblique, while Jose Bautista has been dealing with some cramping issues in his legs.

Unbeaten Braves go for sweep of Mets

Almost universally expected to finish near the bottom of the National League East, particularly after trading closer Craig Kimbrel to the Padres a day before their opener, the Braves are instead off to one of the best starts in franchise history (5-0). They'll look to make it even better Sunday versus a Mets team hoping to escape with a 3-3 record on their season-opening road trip. Mets right-hander Bartolo Colon will face Braves lefty Alex Wood in the Turner Field matinee.
Things to know about this game
• No Braves team started off hotter than the 1982 club, which opened the year 13-0 en route to an NL West title. The next-best Atlanta start came from the 1994 team, which began 7-0 and was in second place when a strike ended the season.
• Though Colon spent time this weekend encouraging rookie teammate Rafael Montero to throw fewer fastballs, he doesn't exactly practice what he preaches. Reinventing himself as a control artist late in his career, Colon threw 82.6 percent fastballs last season, the highest rate of any qualified pitcher in baseball. On Opening Day, only nine of his 86 pitches were offspeed.
• Look for John Mayberry Jr., who homered off left-hander Eric Stults in Friday night's game, to make his way back into New York's starting lineup. Mets manager Terry Collins has already said that lefty slugger Lucas Duda will play in the series finale, making outfielder Curtis Granderson a prime candidate to open the day on the bench. Collins is looking for ways to start Mayberry every time the Mets face a lefty.

Slow-starting Marlins, Rays meet for rubber game

 The Rays and Marlins will wrap up their three-game series Sunday afternoon at Marlins Park. A pair of right-handers go against each other in the rubber game, with Henderson Alvarez starting for Miami and Nathan Karns getting the call for Tampa Bay.
After using 21 players Friday night, the Rays got a seven-inning gem from Chris Archer on Saturday and should have their bullpen back up to full strength on Sunday. Jarred Cosart turned in six innings for the Marlins on Saturday, so their 'pen should be up to speed as well.
Both teams have gotten off to slow starts this season, which makes Sunday's game key, as the Rays head to Toronto for four games, while the Marlins take off for an 11-day, 10-game road trip to face the Braves, Mets and Phillies.
Things to know about this game
1. Karns got off to a rough start Tuesday night when he allowed six runs in the first two innings against the Orioles. To his credit, he bounced back and did not allow any further damage after manager Kevin Cash told him to "bow up." The rookie right-hander did not allow a hit or a run in his final 3 2/3 innings.
The outing "showed that I could make an adjustment," Karns said. "But I would have preferred it to be in the midst of that first inning rather than the third inning."
2. Evan Longoria has a career average of .538 with three home runs and six RBIs in 13 career at-bats against Alvarez. Desmond Jennings isn't far behind that mark with a .364 average, two home runs and four RBIs in 11 career at-bats against the Marlins right-hander.
3. Alvarez probably deserved a better fate on Opening Day. But the breaks didn't go the 2014 All-Star's way. Still, he gave up just two runs on six hits with two strikeouts in seven innings in a 2-1 loss to the Braves. This will be Alvarez's 90th big league start, and he holds a career 3.68 ERA to go along with a 27-31 record.
Alvarez faced the Rays once last year, and he went the distance, tossing an eight-hit shutout with five strikeouts.

Reds' Iglesias debuts vs. Cards' Martinez

Raisel Iglesias will make is Major League debut when he takes the mound for the Reds on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. ET in the three-game series finale against the Cardinals.
Iglesias was signed to a seven-year contract in June after pitching three seasons with Isla de la Juventud in one of Cuba's top baseball leagues, going 8-12 with a 3.47 ERA. He also was part of the Cuban team during the 2013 World Baseball Classic, where he saw action in five games and threw 4 2/3 innings.
The Cardinals will counter with Carlos Martinez, who will make his first start of the season. The righty has appeared in one game this season, a one-inning stint on April 5 against the Cubs.
The 23-year-old led the Cards with 21 strikeouts and 22 innings pitched during Spring Training. He is 2-1 with a 2.87 ERA career against the Reds.
Things to know about this game:
• Iglesias pitched in the Arizona Fall League in 2014 for Surprise. The 25-year-old right-hander threw seven scoreless innings, allowing one hit while striking out seven and walking three.
• A Cardinals victory would give them their 13th consecutive three-game series win, while the Reds will look to win their first three-game set against the Cards since July 2012.
• The Cards, much like the Reds, will play a National League Central-heavy schedule early on with 15 of the first 18 against division foes.

Young lefties close Tigers-Indians set in Cleveland

The Tigers and the Indians wrap up their first of six season series on Sunday at Progressive Field. TJ House starts for Cleveland, while Kyle Lobstein toes the rubber for Detroit, which will try to remain unbeaten (5-0) on the season. Both lefties are making their 2015 season debuts after making their MLB debuts in 2014.
Things to know about this game:
• Lobstein, a 24-year-old southpaw, was called up on April 8 when Justin Verlander was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Lobstein posted a 4.35 ERA in 39 1/3 innings in his MLB debut last year, and a 4.07 ERA in 146 Triple-A innings.
• House, 25, will make his first career start against Detroit. House is a deceptive lefty with a 90-mph fastball. Detroit's right-handed-heavy lineup led the American League last season in OPS against lefties (.789) and OPS against fastballs slower than 92 mph (.710).
• A couple of Indians lineup notes worth monitoring: All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley missed Saturday's game as he deals with lingering back soreness. With another lefty on the mound in Lobstein, he could again find himself resting, if his back doesn't feel better. Brandon Moss also sat against the lefty on Saturday, but he could return to the lineup Sunday. Victor Martinez (left knee) and Yan Gomes (right knee) both left Saturday's game with injuries and are day to day.

Royals roll to 5-0 with 5-run frame vs. Angels

 Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez homered in a five-run fourth inning to propel the Royals to their fifth straight win to open the season, a 6-4 victory over the Angels on Saturday night at Angel Stadium.
Moustakas' homer leading off the fourth inning was the Royals' first hit off Angels starter Jered Weaver, who was chased after 4 1/3 innings. Weaver allowed seven hits and six earned runs.
Kendrys Morales had three hits for the Royals, including a double, and he drove in a run.
"It's still early, but this team is very optimistic," Royals outfielder Alex Riossaid. "This is a team that goes all out on every play, and we play smart baseball. Very impressive."
Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie delivered seven serviceable innings, allowing six hits and four runs. Guthrie then turned it over to the bullpen shutdown duo of Wade Davis and Greg Holland, who finished off the win.More >
"I thought Jeremy gave us what we needed," manager Ned Yost said. "He had a little hiccup in the fifth, but he came back out and got through the sixth and seventh."
Kole Calhoun was the main nuisance for Guthrie. Calhoun had a homer and a two-run double.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Two-out clutch hit from Rios: With the score tied at 1 in the fourth, Rios ripped a two-out single to left, moments after Alex Gordon had struck out (with the infield back) with runners on second and third. That gave the Royals a 3-1 lead, and kept the inning going long enough for Perez to rip a two-run homer and make it 5-1.
"That hit by Rios was the difference in the game," Yost said.
Said Rios, "I got into a good hitter's count at 2-0, got a fastball and put a good swing on it."
Smart baserunning: With Mike Trout on deck, third-base coach Gary DiSarcina waved catcher Drew Butera home to score the second run on Calhoun's fifth-inning, two-out, two-run double. Butera had singled for his first Angels hit, and then alertly avoided being doubled off on Johnny Giavotella's liner to second.
Hurting his former team: Royals designated hitter Morales continued to hurt his old club. Morales, who homered on Friday night, doubled and scored in the fourth. And then he delivered an RBI single in the fifth that gave the Royals a seemingly commanding 6-1 lead. Morales also singled in the seventh.
"He's so good for us," Perez said. "He's good for us in the clubhouse, on the field, in the dugout. He gives us energy."
Breaking out: Angels right fielder Calhoun, who had struggled out of gate (2 for 16, one RBI), led off the bottom of the first with a home run. He added a two-out, two-run double off Guthrie in the fifth, then scored on Mike Trout's single, cutting the Angels' deficit to 6-4. More >
"It was nice to get some to fall in, that's for sure," Calhoun said, "but you wish the ballgame would go your way, as well."
REPLAY REVIEW
The Angels challenged a stolen base by Moustakas in the first inning. Moustakas was ruled safe because Angels second baseman Giavotella apparently missed the tag. The Angels lost the challenge, when the play was ruled to stand as called.
QUOTABLE
"He got off to a slow start last year, too, with a good wrist," -- Yost said of Gordon's early struggles. Gordon had right wrist surgery in December.
"We didn't see the best of him last year -- his elbow was bothering him. He's back throwing the ball really well, and has some versatility going for him." --Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of left-hander Jose Alvarez, who is being used in relief but might start down the road.
WHAT'S NEXT
Royals: Yordano Ventura, the Opening Day starter, takes the hill in Sunday's series finale in search of his second victory. Ventura faced the Angels only once in the regular season in 2014 and went four innings, giving up two runs. That was an abbreviated start due to a nearly four-hour rain delay.
Angels: C.J. Wilson, coming off eight shutout, two-hit innings in a 2-0 victory on Tuesday at Seattle, goes against a Royals team he's never lost to on Sunday. Wilson, who was a reliever when he broke in with Texas, is 4-0 with a 3.20 in 17 career games (eight starts) against Kansas City.