Two big offseason acquisitions will square off Saturday with both looking to improve on disappointing performances last week in San Francisco. Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir allowed six earned runs each last Sunday at AT&T Park as the Giants won, 9-6.
While the runs allowed were identical, the two pitchers had very different outings. Five of the first six batters to face Cueto ended up reaching home plate, but it was much smoother for the Giants right-handed from there. He eventually threw seven innings and only gave up one run for the rest of the outing.
Kazmir took the mound with a five-run lead and a seemingly simple job for the Dodgers, but the Giants scored runs in three of his four innings pitched. While he was taken out with game tied, the Dodgers' bullpen gave up three runs in the sixth.
Three things about this game
• Both teams will enter the game with an extra reliever and a short bench after the Dodgers optioned catcher/infielder Austin Barnes and reinstated right-handed pitcher Chris Hatcher on Friday. The Giants had opened the season with a similar roster composition and have stayed that way since, even after a flurry of roster moves Friday.
• Kazmir sported a strong platoon split against left-handers last season, holding them to a .645 OPS, but that hasn't helped him against Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, who is 4-for-8 with three home runs against him.
• Cueto has a problem of his own on the Dodgers, as Chase Utley carries an 11-for-27 line with a 1.115 OPS against the right-hander.
Saturday's game between the Orioles and Rangers will feature old friends and teammates turned adversaries … for one night, at least.
Baltimore's Yovani Gallardo returns to his hometown to pitch against his former team, the Rangers, who have Colby Lewis going for a third time this season.
"I have nothing but respect for the guys over in that clubhouse," said Gallardo, who grew up in Fort Worth and attended Trimble Tech. "I had a great time [last] year … a fun year.
"But that year is over. Now we're in opposite sides. It gets competitive once again. Obviously, I want to do everything I can to help the Baltimore Orioles win."
Gallardo will be making his third start, coming off a no-decision at Boston, which roughed him up for five runs on seven hits and three walks over five innings.
Said Lewis of Gallardo: "He's a great guy, a great teammate."
"He's wearing the different uniform now," Lewis said. "At the end of the day, you want to win for the name on the front of the jersey. That's what it's all about."
Lewis is seeking to build off his first victory of 2016. The 36-year-old was efficient in limiting Seattle to one run on four hits and a walk while striking out six over six innings and 90 pitches.
After giving up a run in a 34-pitch first inning, Lewis retired the next 13 hitters and 16 of his last 18.
Things to know
• Opponents are hitting .444 and have scored three runs in the first inning off Lewis, who has gotten stingy after that, limiting foes to a .182 average and having allowed only one run after the first through two starts.
Two of the best right-handers in the American League face off on Saturday, when the Tigers and Astros play the middle game of a three-game set in Minute Maid Park.
Justin Verlander gets the ball for Detroit needing a bounceback effort. The Pirates rocked the former Cy Young Award winner for seven runs on 10 hits in Detroit's 7-4 loss last Sunday. Manager Brad Ausmus attributed the struggles to poor movement on Verlander's pitches.
"I thought his slider was flat," Ausmus said.
Verlander might need his 'A' stuff, because Collin McHugh will take the bump for the Astros, four days removed from his own rebound start.
McHugh, following a one-out, five-run 2016 debut in New York, looked like the 20-game winner he was in 2015 during a seven-inning shutout performance against Kansas City in Houston's home opener.
McHugh entered that game against the Royals with a hefty 135.00 ERA and lowered it all the way to 6.14, below Verlander's current 8.71 mark.
Things to know about this game:
• Ausmus, a beloved former Astros catcher, is now 7-8 against his former team as Detroit's manager. Friday's loss broke his .500 mark vs. Houston through his first two seasons at the helm.
• With Verlander on the mound, the Astros will face a right-handed starter for the 12th straight game to open the season.
• Tigers DH Victor Martinez enters Saturday's game just three RBIs shy of 1,000, with 997 in 1,588 career games. He'd be the fifth Venezuelan-born player in MLB history to reach that milestone.
Tom Koehler takes the hill for the Marlins in the second game of a three-game series with the Atlanta Braves, who notched their first win of the season Friday. It's the first start of the season at Marlins Park for Koehler, where he is 15-16 lifetime with a 3.63 ERA. Bud Norris goes for the Braves. In two previous starts this season, both vs. Washington, Norris is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA.
In approaching the Braves, Marlins manager Don Mattingly isn't getting caught up in their slow start. He notes Miami's priority is taking care of its own business.
"We've got to play well," Mattingly said. "That's what it really comes down to. It's about us executing and us taking care of ourselves as far as playing the kind of baseball we're capable of. It's really about us playing well."
Three things to know • While Koehler has been one of the more consistent starters for the Marlins this young season with a 2.84 ERA, he has struggled against Atlanta over his career. Current Braves players are hitting a collective .341 against Koehler.
• Norris hasn't faced Miami since the 2012 season and has only pitched in five previous games against the Marlins during his career and has only faced four (Dee Gordon, Martin Prado, Giancarlo Stanton and Ichiro Suzuki) of the current players on their roster.
• Nick Markakis and A.J. Pierzynski have fared well against Koehler over their careers. Markakis is hitting .545 (6-for-11) against the Marlins starter while Pierzynski holds a .467 (7-for-15) mark against the righty, with two homers and five RBIs.
Aaron Nola has pitched well in his first two starts of 2016 (14 IP, 17 Ks, 0 BB, 3.21 ERA), but has no wins to show for it. His opponent on Saturday, Nationals starter Max Scherzer, has a higher ERA (4.21), fewer strikeouts (13) and more walks (five), but a 1-0 record.
Washington's run support for Scherzer also trumps that of what the Phillies have provided Nola. Through two starts each, Washington has scored 10 runs in two wins for their ace, while the Phillies have combined for half that in Nola's first two outings.
The two match up in the second of three games at Citizens Bank Park.
Things to know about this game
• In his first career start against the Nationals, Nola allowed the most home runs in a game he has in his brief Major League career: three, accounting for all six runs the right-hander surrendered in five innings, including a fifth-inning grand slam to Jayson Werth.
• Bryce Harper became the eighth-youngest player to hit 100 career home runs when he slugged his first career grand slam on Thursday. His 92nd was one of the three Washington hit off Nola last September.
• Nola's 14 innings with no walks ranks as the Phillies' sixth-longest such streak to begin a season. With 4 1/3 more innings without a walk Saturday, Nola would move to third, passing Kevin Gross (14 1/3 in 1982), Cliff Lee (16 2/3 in 2013) and Ken Raffensberger (18 in 1944).
Brewers right-hander Taylor Jungmann aims to bounce back from a rough outing and help Milwaukee secure a series win against lefty Jonathon Niese and the Pirates on Saturday night at PNC Park.
The 26-year-old Jungmann will be making his third start of the season, having posted an 0-1 record and an 11.57 ERA. He suffered a 10-1 loss to the Cardinals on Monday in an outing that saw him give up a career-high eight runs in two-plus innings.
Jungmann has had success against the Pirates since making his Major League debut against them last season, going 3-0 in four career starts with a 2.42 ERA.
"That's just how the game works," Jungmann said. "Sometimes you throw a little better against some teams, but every day is a new day, so you've got to come out the same way that you have been."
Niese will make his third start with the Pirates after a pair of outings in which he allowed a combined seven earned runs over 11 innings. Niese's peripheral numbers are better than his 5.73 ERA might suggest, as he's given up only 10 hits and two walks while striking out 12 batters.
The lefty is 2-1 with a 2.58 ERA in his last six starts against Milwaukee.
Things to know about this game
• Jungmann is 1-0 at PNC Park in two career starts with a 3.46 ERA.
• Brewers first baseman Chris Carter currently ranks eighth in the Major Leagues in home runs since 2013, with 93.
• In their first 11 games, the Pirates put together a .407 on-base percentage in the first inning but scored only four runs. They've stranded 17 runners this season in the first inning alone.
Rays right-hander Erasmo Ramirez will make his first start of the season Saturday when Tampa Bay hosts the Chicago White Sox at 6:10 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field.
The Rays opted for a four-man rotation, which included right-handers Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi and lefties Matt Moore and Drew Smyly, through the season's first 10 games. Ramirez posted an 11-6 record with a 3.75 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 34 appearances (27 starts) for Tampa Bay last season. He has made three appearances from the bullpen this year, allowing two runs and five hits in six innings.
Left-hander John Danks will take the mound for the White Sox, as he looks to rebound from his rough debut against the Indians last Friday at U.S. Cellular Field. He allowed seven runs (five earned) and eight hits in five innings in a 7-1 loss. He has lost eight of nine decisions dating back to last August.
Things to know about this game
• It will be interesting to see how Ramirez handles his first start of the year. His move to the bullpen was somewhat of a surprise, given that he asserted himself as one of the Rays' top arms last season. Still, Tampa Bay already has had two off-days and a postponement last Saturday in Baltimore due to inclement weather, so the bullpen assignment was logical.
• Danks has enjoyed success against Evan Longoria in their previous meetings. Longoria is 4-for-25 with one RBI and seven strikeouts against the left-hander.
• The White Sox early schedule includes plenty of time of the road. Seventeen of their first 27 games are away from U.S. Cellular Field, and 33 of their first 42 contests are outside the American League Central.
Matt Harvey will look to shake off a sluggish start to the season when the Mets return to Progressive Field on Saturday for the second of three games against the Indians.
Harvey gave up three earned runs in each of his first two starts of the season against the Royals and Phillies, producing a 4.63 ERA and only five strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings. With Jacob deGrom battling injury and Steven Matz coming off the worst start of his career in his season debut last Monday, the Mets need Harvey to be at his dominant best.
Harvey will oppose Indians starter Josh Tomlin, who will be making his first start of a disjointed April. Cleveland's fifth starter, Tomlin has been the odd man out due to three weather postponements and a couple of off-days. As a result, he'll be starting on 17 days of rest.
Things to know about this game
• Tomlin threw a simulated game on Tuesday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg in an effort to stay sharp, in light of his long layoff between starts. Manager Terry Francona believed the experience was not only good for Tomlin, but for the batters who stood in to face the right-hander.
"There's no guarantees what's going to happen tomorrow," Francona said on Friday. "But he has a really good way of handling whatever. ... We came out early on Tuesday and had him throw a simulated game. And I think, again, the way Josh does things, I think he got a lot out of it.
• Looking to spark a lagging offense, Mets manager Terry Collins bumped left fielder Michael Conforto up to third in his lineup Friday for the first time this season, and the fifth time in Conforto's career. He responded with a home run in his first plate appearance, making Conforto a good bet to remain in the No. 3 spot Saturday against the right-handed Tomlin.
• Veteran third baseman Juan Uribe -- a former Met, who could receive his National League championship ring as soon as this weekend -- snapped an 0-for-18 slump with a second-inning single on Friday against New York. Francona said he has not been overly concerned about Uribe's slow start due to the number of hard-hit outs he has recorded.
No one understands the power of the Blue Jays' lineup more than David Price. The left-hander, who was sent to Toronto at last year's Trade Deadline and played a pivotal role in its postseason run, faces his former club for the first time as a member of the Red Sox on Saturday at Fenway Park.
"It's something I've talked about being in this division, facing the lineups I have throughout my career, you can never take that off, you never have that inning where, 'Oh, I only have six, seven, eight,' that's never the case with the Blue Jays," Price said. "You have to be locked in from pitch to pitch, and that's a good thing."
Price will look to redeem himself with the Fenway faithful after a rough outing on Monday against the Orioles in his Red Sox home debut. He allowed five runs on five hits in five innings for a no-decision. Although he lacked command at times, he did strike out eight batters.
"I'm looking forward to it," Price said. "It's a tough team to pitch against, and I know I haven't thrown the baseball the way I know that I can thus far. To be able to go out tomorrow and be able to throw the way I know I can, that'll be a good step in the right direction."
Right-hander Marco Estrada gets the nod for the Blue Jays. He faced the Red Sox in his first start this season, dominating the club during seven scoreless innings. He allowed five hits and struck out eight batters for the win.
Things to know about this game
• Jose Bautista has had his fair share of success against Price. He's a career .327 hitter against the left-hander with five home runs and 11 RBIs.
• Price leads active starters (minimum 10 games) in winning percentage vs. Toronto and ranks second with a 2.41 ERA.
• David Ortiz holds the all-time record for doubles (65), home runs (59) and RBIs (182) against the Blue Jays.
Right-hander Sonny Gray will attempt to end his losing streak against Kansas City, while the Royals will counter with Chris Young when the two teams play the second game of this three-game series Saturday.
Gray (1-1) pitched well in his last outing except for a hiccup in the sixth when he gave up three runs, including a towering two-run home run to the Angels' Mike Trout. Oakland's ace also had control problems and has walked seven batters in 13 1/3 innings.
The Royals are one of two teams in the American League that Gray has not defeated. He is 0-2 with a 3.15 ERA in three career appearances against Kansas City.
Young (0-2) is trying to get a win, period. The 36-year-old right-hander hasn't made it past the fifth inning in either of his previous two starts and was tagged for six earned runs over 4 2/3 innings in his most recent outing against Houston.
Things to know about this game
• Young is 3-1 lifetime at the Coliseum, but just 4-4 overall in 11 appearances against the A's. He has a career 3.48 ERA against Oakland.
• Outfielder Billy Burns is the only A's player without a strikeout. He has 26 plate appearances, the most in the Majors without a strikeout.
• The Royals have been the winningest road team in the Majors since 2013 and are putting another solid streak together away from Kaufman Stadium in their first road trip this season.
When the Cubs are scheduled to play, their fans can expect a quality start -- six or more innings pitched, three or fewer earned runs -- which has happened in nine of the 10 games they've played this year. When Jake Arrieta doesn't provide such an effort, it qualifies as a major upset. The 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner, who's 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA this season, will take the hill in his '16 home debut on Saturday afternoon against right-hander Christian Bergman and the Rockies.
Arrieta has won 13 straight regular-season decisions dating to last Aug. 4. Unless the Rockies' strong offense does what no one else has done in a while, it could be another day in which the Cubs' bullpen can join the rest of the spectators at Wrigley Field.
"A good bullpen is normally the residue of a really good starting rotation," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We don't have to overuse these guys."
Three things to know about this game
• Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez's sixth-inning leadoff single on Friday gave him a 20-game hit streak, dating back to last season.
• The Cubs are in the fifth game of a stretch during which they play 22 of 32 at Wrigley through May 15.
• Bergman (0-1, 12.00 ERA), making a spot start, gave up four runs and four hits in one inning against the D-backs in his first relief outing, but threw two scoreless innings against the Padres in his second game.
After the Cardinals slugged six homers to win the series opener with the Reds, the clubs will meet Saturday afternoon for the middle matchup of a three-game set at Busch Stadium. The game will feature a young arm coming off arguably the best start of his career against an ace still finding his way back from injury.
Reds lefty Brandon Finnegan (0-0, 2.84 ERA) carried a no-hitter into the seventh during his last start against the Cubs, until David Ross broke it up with a two-out single. The 23-year-old is 0-1 with a 7.04 ERA in three appearances (one start) against St. Louis.
Cardinals righty Adam Wainwright (0-1, 6.55 ERA) has struggled with his control after missing most of 2015 with an Achilles injury. He has walked eight hitters in 11 innings this season after walking 85 batters in 468 2/3 total innings across the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
Three things to know about this game
• Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter is 2-for-5 in his career against Finnegan, and both hits were home runs.
• Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco is still bothered by some upper leg stiffness, manager Bryan Price said. Mesoraco could return in the next couple of days.
• Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton is 10-for-11 in stolen-base attempts against Platinum and Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina, including 8-for-9 the past two seasons.
Two veteran pitchers will try to show their strong opening outings were the start of bounce-back seasons when Angels ace Jered Weaver faces Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco in the middle game of the weekend series on Saturday at Target Field.
Weaver is coming off his first losing season for the Angels, going 7-12 with a 4.64 ERA in 26 starts last season. The right-hander started his 2016 campaign with a win against Texas, logging six innings and giving up just one earned run.
Nolasco allowed just one run on three hits in seven innings against Kansas City, but ended up with a no-decision after the Twins' bullpen blew a lead. Nolasco is 11-14 with a 5.49 ERA for Minnesota since signing a four-year, $48 million contract before the 2014 season, and he held on to his rotation spot over Tyler Duffey despite a 5.71 spring ERA.
Things to know about this game • Brian Dozier is expected back in the lineup for the Twins after Eduardo Nunez made the start at second base on Friday. Dozier is hitting .152 this season with one home run and one RBI.
• With 584 career doubles, Angels slugger Albert Pujols is one shy of tying Rafael Palmeiro for the 18th all-time in Major League history.
• Left-handed reliever Ryan O'Rourke is expected to join Minnesota for Saturday's game after Fernando Abad was placed on the bereavement list.
Former American League Cy Young Award winners CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez, two of baseball's premier pitchers for more than a decade, will square off against each other Saturday afternoon in the middle game of a three-game series between the Yankees and Mariners at Yankee Stadium.
Sabathia, 35, ranks second among active pitchers in wins with 215, four behind Bartolo Colon. Hernandez, 30, is sixth on that list with 143.
The two are on the verge of milestones for their franchises. Hernandez needs five strikeouts to pass Randy Johnson's career record of 2,162 in a Mariners uniform. Sabathia will be making his 200th start for the Yankees, which will make him the 10th pitcher since 1900 to make at least 200 starts for more than one team.
Sabathia, who started 237 games for the Indians, will be the 17th Yankees pitcher to reach 200 starts.
Sabathia won his 2016 debut at Detroit when he allowed three runs and four hits over six innings in an 8-4 victory. He's 12-5 in his career against Seattle with a 2.61 ERA in 24 starts.
Hernandez is still seeking his first win this year despite posting a 0.69 ERA in two outings. The Mariners' ace lost to Texas on Opening Day despite allowing just one hit and one earned run in six innings, then took a no-decision in his last outing against the A's when he threw seven scoreless innings on three hits with 10 strikeouts.
This will be the third time the two veteran hurlers have pitched against each other, with neither earning the decision in two prior meetings at Yankee Stadium in 2013 and '15. Both pitched six innings of one-run ball last year in a game the Yankees won, 2-1, with a run in the eighth. Hernandez held a 3-1 lead over Sabathia in the 2013 meeting when he again allowed one run in six frames, but the Yankees scored three times in the seventh in a 4-3 win.
Things to know about this game
• Mark Teixeira has a history of success against Hernandez, posting a .319 average with six homers and 13 RBIs in 69 at-bats. Brett Gardner has also bothered King Felix, posting a .333 average and a .429 on-base percentage in 30 at-bats.
• While first baseman Adam Lind has hit .467 (7-for-15) against Sabathia in his career, Mariners manager Scott Servais has used right-hander Dae-Ho Lee in a first-base platoon against most southpaw starters, and the 33-year-old Korean slugger is coming off a walk-off homer in Wednesday's 4-2 win over Texas. Sabathia figures to be the only lefty the Mariners see in the next four games, as the Yankees will start right-hander Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday before Seattle heads to Cleveland, where the Indians have an all-righty rotation.
• Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez will get the start against the lefty Sabathia as part of Seattle's right-field platoon. Gutierrez didn't start Friday (he went 1-for-1 with a sac fly and an RBI double after entering as a pinch-hitter), but his .400 average at the new Yankee Stadium ranks third among active players with at least 25 at-bats. The 33-year-old is 18-for-45 with three doubles and two homers in 15 games in the Bronx since 2009.
Brad Ziegler pitched out of a first-and-third, no-out jam in the bottom of the ninth by striking out Alexi Amarista and getting Jon Jay to hit into a double play as he nailed down the D-backs' 3-2 win over the Padres on Friday night at Petco Park.
"Relief, for sure," Ziegler said when asked his emotions after the double play. "I tried to just keep focused because I knew with the defense I had behind me, all I had to do was get the ball on the ground, hopefully it's at somebody and if it is, they're going to turn it."
Both team's aces -- Zack Greinke for the D-backs and James Shields for Padres -- were locked into a pitcher's duel for much of the game. The D-backs took a 1-0 lead on aWelington Castillo homer in the second, but the Padres answered in the bottom half of the frame with Alexei Ramirez's RBI single and took a 2-1 lead on Amarista's RBI single in the fourth.
The D-backs tied the game in the seventh on Nick Ahmed's RBI double down the right-field line that barely stayed fair. Arizona then scored the game winner in the ninth without hitting the ball out of the infield as Lamb singled to short, stole second and moved to third where he scored on a tapper by Phil Gosselin that was fielded by first baseman Wil Myers, whose throw home was late.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Fortune smiled on them: Lamb beat the shift with his infield single to short in the ninth, but he was not trying to do that, the pitch hit off the end of his bat. Then on his steal of second, the throw sailed into center allowing him to go to third and he was only able to score because he was running on contact on Gosselin's dribbler.
"It's not the pretty way," Lamb said. "But it's a run and we needed a run in that situation and it ended up being the winning run so it was big."
Put it on the board: The Padres doubled the run output from their previous three games when Amarista drove in Derek Norris with his fourth-inning single, giving San Diego a 2-1 advantage. Amarista, who had two hits, has swung a hot bat since being summoned from Triple-A El Paso on Sunday.
Improvement: After not pitching well in his first two starts of the year, Greinke showed flashes of his old self. Though he still missed some spots and appeared frustrated at times, Greinke managed to allow just two runs over 7 1/3 innings. Greinke had some nervous moments after he left the game watching Daniel Hudson work out of a jam in the eighth and Ziegler do likewise in the ninth. More >
"Two really tough situations, especially Ziegler's," Greinke said. "It worked out, but it wasn't easy."
Alexei answers back: It took the Padres 28 1/3 innings but they finally scored a run this season at Petco Park on Ramirez's second-inning single which allowed San Diego to tie the score, 1-1. Melvin Upton Jr., was cut down at the plate earlier in the inning to keep the scoreless streak alive.
"I'm not too big into moral victories, personally. The job is to win baseball games.'' -- Padres manager Andy Green, on the offense improving in Friday's loss
Upton was called out attempting to steal third base in the second inning, but the call was overturned after the Padres issued a challenge. Upton was later cut down at the plate onCory Spangenberg's grounder to first, but the aggressive play led to San Diego's first run at Petco Park this season. Spangenberg was able to reach second while Upton was in the rundown, and that allowed him to scamper home on Ramirez's single one batter later.
WHAT'S NEXT D-backs:Shelby Miller (0-1, 8.18 ERA) will get the start for the D-backs on Saturday night as the series continues at Petco Park beginning at 5:40 p.m. MST. Miller is still looking for his first win in an Arizona uniform after coming over from Atlanta in a five-player deal in December. .
PADRES:Andrew Cashner (0-1, 8.00 ERA) seeks his first win of the season on Saturday in the second outing of this three-game series, with first pitch at 5:40 p.m. PT. Cashner is making his second start this year at Petco Park, after allowing five runs in four innings in a 7-0 loss to the Dodgers on April 6.