Saturday, April 9, 2016

Pedroia, Hanley lead charge vs. Blue Jays

 Dustin Pedroia had three hits and Hanley Ramirez added a two-run triple as the Red Sox continued to score early and often in an 8-4 victory over the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
Pedroia finished his day 3-for-5 with a double, a run scored and a pair of RBIs. Xander BogaertsTravis Shaw and Rusney Castillo also doubled as Boston scored at least six runs for the fourth consecutive game. Right-hander Rick Porcello picked up the victory after he allowed four runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out seven over six innings.
"The biggest thing is the trust they're developing with one another," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Nobody feels like they have to be the guy within a given inning where they have to expand. Pass the baton, get on base and I think that's one of the primary reasons we're scoring the number of runs we are."
Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey took the loss, after he suffered through a rough afternoon at the ballpark. His specialty pitch was moving a lot but Boston didn't seem to have any difficulty with it whatsoever as he allowed seven runs -- six earned -- on eight hits and two walks.
"If you wallow in it, it doesn't help anybody," Dickey said. "So if there's one thing that experience has taught me, it's that you've got to turn the page quickly. Take what you can -- bad and good -- out of the outing and turn the page quickly. That's what we need to do."
Jose Bautista provided the lone bright spot for the Blue Jays with a pair of home runs. He hit a two-run shot in the first and another two-run shot in the third to represent all four runs that were charged to Porcello. It was the 29th multi-homer game of his career but that did little to salvage an otherwise frustrating day for the Blue Jays.
Offense relentless through four games: The offense has been the catalyst early on for the Red Sox, scoring six runs or more in all four games. The last time Boston scored six or more in the first four games was 1995, a season that saw the Red Sox win the American League East. On a day manager John Farrell rested star slugger David Ortiz, eight of the nine starters had at least one hit.
The Red Sox trailed 2-0 after two, but scored three in the third, one in the fourth, three in the fifth and another run in the sixth. There was some good fortune involved when Ramirez hit what looked to be a line single in the fifth, only to have the ball take a high hop over Bautista and turn into a two-run triple.
"This is kind of how we felt like we finished the year last year. Just that kind of grind you out, everybody contributes, everybody has their role type of thing," said Shaw. "Right now, it seems like everybody is settling into their roles in that lineup. To me, personally, it seems like it's a long, dangerous lineup."
Down day for Dickey: The Blue Jays had a pair of leads at various points of Saturday afternoon's game, but Dickey was unable to keep the Red Sox off the scoreboard. He had allowed four runs through four and had even more trouble in the fifth. Bautista misplayed a ball in right field, which turned a would-be single by Ramirez into a triple. Brock Holt also added an RBI double in the frame as Boston chased Dickey from the game and took a 7-4 lead it would not relinquish.
"Some of this is that you're dealing with guys who are the best in the world at what they do and you've got to tip your hat, but some of it is poor execution and I've just got to be a little more consistent," Dickey said. "I think if I am then I'll pitch in the seventh inning of that game pretty easily." 
Bautista bombs: Bautista single-handedly put the Blue Jays on his back early in the game with a pair of two-run homers. In the first inning, he went deep on a 1-0 pitch from Porcello that he lined over the wall in left for his first of the year. Two innings later, Bautista once again went deep with a two-run shot for the 29th multi-homer game of his career. Bautista's 175 home runs since 2011 are the most in the Major Leagues over that timeframe.
Porcello settles down: After requiring six innings from the bullpen on Friday, the Red Sox could ill afford another abbreviated outing from a starter. Things looked a little dicey for Porcello when he threw a 26-pitch first. But the righty settled down and gave his team six innings. Aside from Bautista's second two-run homer in the third, Porcello didn't allow any damaging hits after the first.
Josh Donaldson has at least one hit in all of Toronto's six games this season. He also has three home runs and eight RBIs and is performing well at the plate despite a strained right calf that has been lingering for a couple of weeks.
Red Sox: After winning the fifth spot in the rotation late in Spring Training, knuckleballerSteven Wright makes his first start of the season in the finale of this six-game road trip on Sunday at 1:07 p.m. ET. The righty had a dependable stint in the rotation for the Red Sox last year, going 3-4 with a 3.96 ERA before suffering a season-ending concussion when he was struck by a line drive during batting practice.
Blue Jays: Right-hander Marco Estrada will make his season debut when the Blue Jays close out their three-game series with the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon at 1:07. Estrada had a delayed start to the season because of a sore lower back that sidelined him for the first several weeks of Spring Training.

Ultimate MLB Show April 9, 2016

Karns set for Mariners debut against A's, Hill

Right-hander Nathan Karns is set to make his Mariners debut Saturday with a start against the visiting A's, who will counter with veteran left-hander Rich Hill at Safeco Field.
Karns was acquired by trade from the Rays during the offseason, after he went 7-5 with a 3.67 ERA for Tampa Bay last year. He's faced the A's just once, taking the loss while allowing two runs on seven hits across 5 2/3 innings on May 23 last season.
Saturday will mark the first time the righty has pitched at Safeco Field.
"I've been here, but never played here yet, so I'm excited," Karns said. "I'm really excited for my turn. I'll definitely be enjoying it and looking around [Friday], then [Saturday] it's all business."
Things to know
• Hill, signed by the A's as a free agent to a one-year, $6 million deal in November, struggled in his Oakland debut, lasting just 2 2/3 innings and allowing four runs (two earned) on three hits in a loss against the White Sox on Monday in place of scheduled Opening Day starter Sonny Gray, who had the flu.
• Hill is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in nine career appearances, but just two starts, against Seattle.
• Facing back-to-back left-handed starters to begin the series, Mariners manager Scott Servais had Nelson Cruz in right field and Franklin Gutierrez at designated hitter in the series opener but plans to flip those two Saturday.

Aces in Anaheim: Richards, Hamels square off

Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels is back in his home base and Angels right-hander Garrett Richards is going up against a team he has had much success against the past two years. Hamels and Richards will face each other on Saturday night in the third of a four-game series at Angel Stadium.
Hamels is from San Diego and -- outside of Interleague play - the trips to Anaheim will be the closest he gets to pitching near his hometown while he is in the American League. He has never pitched at Angel Stadium before and this will be just his third start against the Angels.
"I'm not complaining," Hamels said. "One of the reasons Texas was high on the list was the division they were playing in and getting back home, getting the opportunity to play in Anaheim three times and Oakland three times."
Hamels won his first start on Monday against the Mariners, allowing two runs in seven innings. Richards lost his Opening Day start, allowing three runs in five innings in a 9-0 loss to the Cubs.
Richards is 7-1 with a 2.38 ERA in eight starts against the Rangers over the past two years and 9-2 with 3.20 ERA in 14 starts and four relief appearances in his career. His .818 winning percentage against the Rangers is the highest by an active pitcher with at least 10 starts against them.
"They're an aggressive team, but you can kind of feel what they're trying to do," Richards said. "They're very fundamental. They'll hit to the situation. It's a tough challenge facing them. It definitely is. I'm honestly surprised [that I have good numbers against them]. It's one of those quirky stats just kind of is, I guess."
Worth noting:
• Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre are both 10-for-37 off Richards. The 37 at-bats are the most by an opponent against Richards. Prince Fielder is 8-for-20 off Richards. His .400 batting average is the highest by an opponent with at least 15 at-bats against him.
• Only three Angels have more than 10 at-bats in their career against Hamels. Albert Pujols is 5-for-27 with three home runs, Yunel Escobar is 5-for-29 and Andrelton Simmons in 1-for-19.
• The Angels platoon situation in left means Craig Gentry will be in the lineup on Saturday against his former team. Gentry played for the Rangers in 2009-13, but is 6-for-44 against his former team.

Story aims for more history vs. Pomeranz, Padres

Pardon the pun, but the craziest story in baseball this season has been, without a doubt, Rockies shortstop Trevor Story. The 23-year-old rookie has homered in each of his first four games (five times overall), and he'll get a chance to grow that legend Saturday afternoon when Colorado hosts the Padres in the second game of a three-game set.
With a home run Saturday, Story would become the first player in Major League history to go deep in each of the first five games of a season. He already became the first player to tally six homers in his first four games.
He'll be facing Padres left-hander Drew Pomeranz, who makes his debut after earning a rotation spot in Spring Training. Pomeranz, who came over from Oakland in an offseason trade, spent the first three years of his career in Colorado, where he posted a 5.20 ERA.
Meanwhile, Jorge De La Rosa takes the hill for the Rockies, following a rough first start. He allowed five earned runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings in Monday's opener, but the Rockies won anyway.
Three things to know about this game
• No active player has more at-bats against De La Rosa than Matt Kemp -- and Kemp has had plenty of success against the veteran right-hander, posting a .458/.491/.938 career slash line with five homers in 48 at-bats.
• The Rockies and Padres have combined to score more than 10 runs in six of their last seven meetings at Coors Field.
• De La Rosa's start on Saturday will be the 28th appearance of his career against the Padres, more than any other club. He's 8-6 with a 4.87 ERA in those outings.

Greinke seeking bounce-back start vs. Cubs

So, what will Zack Greinke do in his second outing with the D-backs?
The right-hander, who signed a six-year, $206.5 million contract in December, will start Saturday in the third game of Arizona's series against Chicago. Greinke served up seven runs on nine hits over four innings in his D-backs debut on April 4 against the Rockies. He has had success against the Cubs, compiling a 4-2 record and 3.78 ERA in eight career starts.
"[Greinke] was just up in the zone," Arizona manager Chip Hale said of Greinke's first start. "You have to give credit to their hitters."
The Cubs, who have been doing quite a bit of hitting of their own, will counter with starter Kyle Hendricks, who quietly secured his spot as the fifth starter this spring. The right-hander was 8-7 with a 3.95 ERA last season, including a no-decision against the D-backs on Sept. 6, when he gave up one run on three hits over five innings.
Three things to know about this game
• With Kyle Schwarber out for the season because of a severe knee injury, Cubs manager Joe Maddon will rotate players in left field, taking advantage of the versatile roster. Among the options are Jorge Soler, Matt Szczur, Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist.
• The D-backs made a roster move Friday, adding pitcher Matt Buschmann after Kyle Drabek was designated for assignment. Buschmann played 10 years in the Minor Leagues, throwing more than 1,300 innings before the promotion.
• Maddon now has 100 regular-season wins with the Cubs, and he picked up the milestone in his 165th game. He's the third-fastest manager to reach the mark in franchise history and quickest in more than 100 years. Cap Anson reached his 100th win in his 139th game in 1880 and Frank Chance notched his 100th victory in his 154th game in 1906.

Milone to make season debut vs. Royals

Twins left-hander Tommy Milone is set to make his first start of the season, against the Royals on Saturday, one day later than originally planned. Milone was slated to make his debut on Friday, but Ervin Santana saw his start pushed up by two days because he threw two innings on Opening Day because of a rain delay. But Milone said he's ready, and he'll be going up against right-hander Ian Kennedy, who will be making his Kansas City debut after signing a five-year, $70 million deal this offseason.
"There's always that added anticipation before your first start, so I'm eager to get out there again," Milone said. "But once you get out there and throw a few pitches, it's like getting back to what you were doing in Spring Training."
Things to know about the game
• Milone had to compete for a spot in the rotation in Spring Training, but pitched so well he earned the club's fourth-starter role. He was one of their more dependable pitchers last year, going 9-5 with a 3.92 ERA in 24 outings.
• Kennedy will be making his return to the American League, as he last pitched in the Junior Circuit in 2009 with the Yankees. He pitched for the D-backs for four seasons before heading to the Padres the previous three years. Kennedy had a down year in 2015, going 9-15 with a 4.28 ERA in 30 starts, but the Royals signed him hoping he'll be able to keep the ball in the park more at spacious Kauffman Stadium. Kennedy allowed a career-high 31 homers last season, but struck out 174 batters in 168 1/3 innings.
• Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario was held out of the lineup on Friday because of his struggles in Minnesota's three-game sweep to the Orioles, but will return to action on Saturday, manager Paul Molitor said.

Martinez-Teheran showdown on tap Saturday

 A pair of offenses that gained some traction on Friday won't have an easy task sustaining it Saturday, when Braves ace Julio Teheran faces off against Cardinals righty Carlos Martinez in the second of a three-game series at Turner Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
This will be the season debut for Martinez, who lines up as St. Louis' No. 5 starter, even if he doesn't pitch like one. Martinez had a sensational spring -- striking out 16 batters over 15 2/3 innings -- and remained in Florida longer than the rest of the team to stretch himself out further in a Minor League start last Saturday. 
In his only previous start against Atlanta, Martinez outdueled former teammate (and former Brave) Shelby Miller with eight scoreless innings in July 2015.
Teheran began his season on Monday, allowing two runs over six innings for a no-decision on Opening Day against the Nationals. Now in his fourth season as a full-time member of the Braves' rotation, Teheran has made three career starts against the Cardinals. His most recent came last October, when Teheran shut out St. Louis in six innings.
• Neither of these clubs has been especially sound defensively to open 2016. Combined, the Cardinals and Braves have already committed nine errors. That included two by Cardinals shortstop Jedd Gyorko in the first inning on Friday.
• Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte exited Friday's game with left hamstring tightnessand is listed as day to day. If he is not able to return on Saturday, Drew Stubbs, who replaced Inciarte in the series opener, is a candidate to draw the start in center field.
• The Cardinals' pitching staff has not allowed a home run in the team's first four games, the first time that has happened for the club since 1990. The only other team that has not yet served up a homer this season is the Mets.

Set for first start of '16, Colon eyeing Pedro's mark

Mets fans love some Bartolo Colon. The right-hander received one of the loudest ovations Friday afternoon during pregame introductions at Citi Field. Colon will start Saturday night against the Phillies. The 42-year-old pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen Sunday.
He went 4-1 with a 2.81 ERA in five starts last season against the Phillies.
It will be a battle of contrasting styles against Vincent Velasquez, who makes his Phillies debut. The hard-throwing right-hander joined the organization in December, when the Phillies shipped Ken Giles to the Astros. Velasquez's fastball sits in the 94-95 mph range. Colon's fastball averaged 88.3 mph last season, according to FanGraphs.
Things to know about this game
• Colon can tie Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez for the second-most wins among Dominican-born pitchers. Martinez won 219 games in 476 appearances (409 starts). Colon has won 218 games in 476 appearances (467 starts).
• Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco could return to the lineup. He rested Friday after a pitch hit him on his left elbow in the ninth inning Thursday against the Reds.
• Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard has 44 home runs in his career against the Mets, the most of any active player.
• Mets third baseman David Wright will sit Saturday, his first scheduled day of rest this season. Manager Terry Collins gave Wright the choice to rest Saturday or Sunday; the two decided on the former because of a nasty weather forecast that could bring snow to the region. He and the Mets will be cautious throughout Wright's first full season since receiving his spinal stenosis diagnosis last May.

Fister to make Astros debut vs. Peralta, Brewers

Wily Peralta, the Brewers' Opening Day starter, will make his second start Saturday night at Miller Park against the Astros at 6:10 p.m. CT.
Peralta, who allowed six hits and five runs (four earned) in four innings Monday against San Francisco, and Astros outfielder Carlos Gomez, formerly of the Brewers, are good friends and will be eager to face each other.
"Oh man, I know he's going to do something crazy," Peralta said. "He's going to smile, for sure. I've never faced him in live BP or anything. This is going to be the first time. You know you have to be careful because he's a good hitter. It doesn't matter if you're a friend or not. When he goes out there, you want to get him out."
Peralta is looking forward to a more routine outing on Saturday, without the hoopla of Opening Day. "First time I was a little shaky, but I feel pretty good," he said. "I told you, I haven't felt this good for a year and a half. It's going to be a good year."
Veteran right-hander Doug Fister will be making his first start for the Astros. He spent the last two seasons with the Nationals and has posted a 3.42 ERA over the past five seasons with Washington, Detroit and Seattle. His lone career start against the Brewers came in 2010 when he was with the Mariners.
Things to know about this game:
• Astros rookie first baseman Tyler White set a franchise record by getting nine hits -- including a 3-run homer on Friday night -- in his first four career games, breaking the previous mark sent by Ken Caminiti (seven hits in 1987).
• Brewers first baseman Chris Carter has two homers so far this year, giving him 111 in his career. His 92 homers since the start of the 2013 season ranks eighth for most in the majors over that span.
• The Brewers' Scooter Gennett is off to a solid start in his bid to shed platoon status at second base. He has a hit in each of Milwaukee's first four games, including a home run in Friday's series opener, after batting .424 (14-for-33) in Spring Training.

Smyly faces Wright in second game of Rays-O's series

 Drew Smyly is fresh off facing the Blue Jays in his first start of the season. While the Blue Jays are considered to have the best offense in the American League, facing the Orioles is no picnic.
"Another tough test tomorrow night," Smyly said. "Another good lineup. Just go out there and compete, throw my pitches and see what happens."
The Orioles can load their lineup with power-hitting right-handers, including Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo and Nolan Reimold along with switch-hitting Matt Wieters.
Smyly, who had thrown a fastball, slider and curveball in the past, now has a changeup that he trusts.
The left-hander said he was pleased with how the pitch played against the Blue Jays in his last outing.
"[Josh] Donaldson got me [for a home run] on 3-1, but I also threw some really good ones," Smyly said of the changeup. "Got a couple of strikeouts on it. I think it's going to be a good pitch for me this year. Just have to continue to progress and get my command on all those pitches as sharp as I can."
Orioles right-hander Mike Wright will make his first start of the season, after the Orioles pushed Chris Tillman to Friday night due to Monday's rain.
Things to know
• Adam Jones continued to rest on Friday as the center fielder -- who didn't play Thursday due to rib soreness -- is trying to be smart about an early April injury.
"[I feel] a lot better than yesterday. Just going to make sure that it's right," Jones said on Friday afternoon. "Take another day and see how it feels. It's April 8. Obviously, I want to be out there with my men, but [Joey] Rickard and [Nolan] Reimold looked really good last night, so let this thing heal up right, and I think tomorrow or Sunday I should be a lot better."
• Chris Davis has two hits in 16 at-bats vs. Smyly, both of which were home runs.
• The Rays have homered in 19 consecutive games dating back to Sept. 20 vs. the Orioles.

Nats' Ross, Marlins' Koehler meet in '16 debuts

The Nationals' Joe Ross and the Marlins' Tom Koehler will face off Saturday at Nationals Park in a matchup of right-handers whose performances are vital to their teams' success in 2016.
After being called up last June, Ross submitted a 3.64 ERA in 76 2/3 innings as a 22-year-old rookie. Now, with Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister gone, the Nationals will rely on Ross to be a reliable presence in the rotation.
Despite entering only his third full season, Koehler is the Marlins' second most experienced starter (535 career innings), behind recent signing Wei-Yin Chen (711 2/3 innings). The 29-year-old Koehler was 11-14 with a 4.08 ERA in 2015.
Koehler said he is excited heading into his first start and confident with where he is with his delivery.
"I feel good, strong, healthy, that's the most important thing," Koehler said. "I like where my stuff is right now. I feel like if I go into those games with a good mix, and a good plan, we should be successful."
Things to know about this game
• Koehler struggled against Washington last season, with a 5.33 ERA in four starts.
• The 12 home runs Koehler has given up to Washington are twice as many as he has allowed to any other team. The righty's toughest Washington nemesis has been Bryce Harper, who has homered five times in 26 plate appearances against Koehler, including three times last May 6. Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman have gone deep off Koehler two times apiece.
• Saturday will mark Ross' first start against the Marlins. He faced Miami twice in relief last year, ceding two hits and no runs in 1 2/3 innings.
• With his first-inning single Thursday, Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich has hit safely in six straight games at Nationals Park.

Bumgarner, Kershaw renew ace showdown

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and his San Francisco Giants counterpart, Madison Bumgarner, denied that extra adrenaline floods their bodies when they face each other.
That's OK, as long as the rest of us get to enjoy their confrontations.
Kershaw and Bumgarner will meet for the eighth time in their distinguished careers Saturday at AT&T Park as the Dodgers and Giants continue their four-game series. If their rematch approaches the quality of their previous encounters, it'll be riveting -- and low-scoring.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts recalled that last September, when he coached for San Diego, he noticed on the scoreboard that a Kershaw-Bumgarner matchup was unfolding. Roberts said he told his fellow coaches, "That's a game I'd pay money to go watch. Tomorrow, I get that chance in April.
"These are two great, great competitors in our game and to see them go head-to-head raises everyone's level for sure."
Bumgarner holds an edge over Kershaw, winning four of six decisions when the left-handers share the mound. But Kershaw's ERA in these games is 2.12 to Bumgarner's 2.58. Moreover, Kershaw has dominated the Giants overall, posting a 16-7 record with a 1.54 ERA in 31 games -- the lowest career figure among all active pitchers against any team. In Kershaw's previous appearance against the Giants last Sept. 29, he spun a one-hit shutout, walking one and striking out 13, to help the Dodgers defeat Bumgarner, 8-0, and clinch the National League West title.
By comparison, Bumgarner has been merely excellent against the Dodgers, compiling a 13-7 mark with a 2.45 ERA in 22 games.
Downplaying the notion that opposing Bumgarner heightens his motivation, Kershaw acknowledged he derives a special feeling whenever he pitches at AT&T Park. He's 9-3 with a 1.16 ERA in 15 appearances at San Francisco.
"I really enjoy pitching out here, but I think that's more about the atmosphere here, the fans, the rivalry itself," Kershaw said Friday. "It's always sold out - 400 something in a row. Anytime there's a lot of excitement, the atmosphere and energy, it's more fun to pitch. It's like going from a Spring Training game to a regular-season game."
Bumgarner pointed out he must try to subdue the Dodgers, not solely Kershaw.
"It might be fun to watch for you [reporters] and for the fans, but I don't get to do that," Bumgarner said. "I have to try to get every guy in that lineup out. [That goes] for me and for him, I'm sure. When you're going up against him, you know that runs are going to be at a premium. But, at the same time, you know that the results are going to be that way no matter who you face."
Kershaw and Bumgarner share a certain kinship. After all, they can easily identify with each other. Hours before Friday's game, they paused during their regimen of running in the AT&T Park outfield for an amicable chat.
"I think we're friends," said Kershaw, who surrendered a homer to Bumgarner last May. "Doesn't mean I don't want to beat him. I just think it's because we've been on the same teams for a long time."
Asked whether he and Kershaw were friends or acquaintances, Bumgarner replied, "Somewhere in between those." Quizzed on what he might admire about Kershaw, Bumgarner said of the three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL Most Valuable Player, "He's the best pitcher in baseball and he seems like a pretty good guy. So what wouldn't you admire? Except his looks. They're bad."
Saturday, the joking and mutual admiration will yield to competition.

Sale aims to tame Tribe in '16 home debut

White Sox ace lefty Chris Sale will take the mound at U.S. Cellular Field for the first time this season Saturday, when Chicago plays host to the rival Indians in an afternoon contest.
Sale, who has finished in the top five in American League Cy Young Award voting in each of the past three years, was a thorn in the side of the Tribe last year. As part of a stellar overall showing, the lefty had a 2.17 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 20 innings against Cleveland. Sale beat the A's on Opening Day this year, improving to 3-0 in season openers.
The Indians will counter with right-hander Cody Anderson, who was named the fourth starter to begin this season after a standout showing as a rookie a year ago. Anderson went 7-3 with a 3.05 ERA in 15 starts for Cleveland last season and impressed the club again this spring. The righty was initially slated to make his season debut Friday, but postponement in Cleveland on Thursday pushed Danny Salazar back to Friday and Anderson back to Saturday.
Three things to know
• Indians manager Terry Francona wants to find ways to keep utility man Jose Ramirez in the lineup, considering how well he has swung the bat. Ramirez hit .313 (.937 OPS) in 64 Spring Training at-bats and has looked good in the season's first few games. He got the nod in left field in each of the past two games: against a righty Wednesday and a lefty Friday.
"I'd like to try to keep Jose [in the mix]," Francona said. "Jose's been swinging the bat pretty good. I'd like to give him a chance to kind of continue that."
• White Sox slugger Jose Abreu has had considerable success against Cleveland. Through 35 games against the Indians, the first baseman had a .312 (43-for-138) average with 11 home runs and 25 RBIs.
• Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis -- a Chicago native -- loves hitting in his hometown. Heading into this series, Kipnis had turned in a .321 (45-for-140) career average with 16 extra-base hits, 12 stolen bases and 25 RBIs at U.S. Cellular Field.

Cole, Bucs to square off vs. Iglesias, Reds

Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole makes his 2016 debut Saturday as the Pirates and Reds play the second of their three-game set at Great American Ball Park. While Cole had his way with most teams last season en route to going 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA in 32 starts last season, the Reds weren't one of them.
Cole started four times against Cincinnati in 2015, going 0-3 with a 5.95 ERA, and is 0-4 with a 5.23 ERA in six career starts against them. Raisel Iglesias will make his second start of the season for the Reds. He received a no-decision after allowing two runs on six hits in six innings in a 6-2 win over Philadelphia on Opening Day.
Three things to know
• Joey Votto is one Reds player who hasn't had success against Cole. He's just 2-for-12 with two walks and six strikeouts against him.
• Of the current Reds, Brandon Phillips has had the most success against Cole. He's 6-for-14 with two RBIs. While the Reds have a team slash line of .313/.364/.511 against him, he hasn't allowed a home run to any current Reds player.
• Andrew McCutchen loves playing in Cincinnati. In 57 previous games at GABP entering this series, McCutchen has a slash line of .275/.393/.541 with 15 home runs. That doesn't include last year's All-Star Game when he also homered.

Seconds: CC, Pelfrey to have upstarts at back

A pair of second basemen off to good starts at the plate with their respective clubs will lock up again on Saturday afternoon, with the Yankees' Starlin Castro and the Tigers' Ian Kinsler going head to head in the second game of three at Comerica Park. New York is looking to even the series after Detroit won its home opener.
The Yankees are toying with the idea of promoting Castro in the batting order after he joined Babe Ruth (1932) and Bill Dickey (1934) as the only Bombers with as many as eight RBIs in the team's first three games of a season -- although Castro went 0-for-4 on Friday. Kinsler, meanwhile, who had a double among two hits Friday, continues to look comfortable as a sparkplug at the top of Detroit's batting order.
CC Sabathia, who won the fifth starter's job over Ivan Nova after posting a 5.51 ERA in five spring starts, makes his first start of the year for New York. The Tigers will counter with Mike Pelfrey, who's making his first start as a member of the organization after signing a two-year, $16 million deal in December.
Three things to know about this game
• Brian McCann is expected to return to the Yankees' lineup after getting the day off on Friday. McCann has hit Pelfrey very well in his career: the left-handed-hitting catcher is 19-for-42 (.452) with eight doubles, two homers and 11 RBIs against the right-hander.
• Miguel Cabrera (11-for-37, three homers) has had his share of success against Sabathia, but there are plenty of pitchers who have had trouble with Cabrera. Sabathia has had an even tougher time with Jose Iglesias (6-for-13, .462), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (7-for-21, .333) and Mike Aviles (9-for-25, .360).
• The bullpens could very well decide this series. Yankees relievers had worked 12 2/3 innings without permitting an earned run (Dellin Betances allowed three unearned runs on Opening Day) before Luis Cessa served up a solo homer to Cabrera on Friday. In the season-opening series against the Marlins at Miami, Tigers relievers allowed five runs in nine innings.