Friday, June 17, 2016

D-backs crush six dingers in rout of Phillies

The D-backs tied a franchise record with six home runs -- including two each from Peter O'Brien and Yasmany Tomas -- and got a solid start from Robbie Ray to beat the Phillies, 10-2, on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.
"There's no way to sugarcoat that," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. His team, for the second night in a row, allowed at least 10 runs, 16 hits and committed three or more errors.
Arizona catcher Welington Castillo and Paul Goldschmidt also homered for the D-backs, who pounded out 16 hits. It was the first time Arizona hit six homers in a game since June 20, 2012. Ray, meanwhile, allowed two runs on seven hits over six innings to win his second straight start.
"You know if you get the barrel of the bat on the ball in this ballpark, you've got a chance," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "One thing, when you get some runs, we preach it, 'Let's keep the line moving. Don't let the other team feel like they can come back in the game.'"
The Phillies grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Cameron Rupp's two-out triple off the wall in right-center scored Cody Asche and Tommy Joseph. Philadelphia committed three errors, however, which led to three unearned runs.
"More times than not, they're going to make those plays," Morgan said. "That's no excuse for how the ballgame went."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hits that count: O'Brien entered Friday's game with just one hit in 15 big league at-bats this year, a home run June 12 against the Marlins. When the night was done he was 3-for-20 with three home runs. O'Brien hit a three-run homer to right-center in the fifth and a solo shot to left in the seventh. O'Brien had 17 home runs in Triple-A Reno before being called up.
"Let's mix in some singles, huh?" O'Brien joked. "I'll mix them in when they come, but I'll keep taking the homers." More >
Errors cost Phils ... again: Two Cesar Hernandez errors in the second extended the inning and allowed the first two D-backs to cross the plate. First, Hernandez couldn't grab a slow roller that got past Morgan, putting Ray on first and Jake Lamb high-fiving teammates in the dugout. On the next play, Hernandez let a Jean Segura grounder roll under his glove and through his legs into the outfield grass, bringing home Nick Ahmed. The Phillies' seventh error in the last two games came after Morgan caught Michael Bourn in a rundown between second and third, but Joseph dropped the ball on a tag. Bourn came around to score on an O'Brien home run the next at-bat.
"I'm not going to criticize guys for making physical errors," Mackanin said. "Mental mistakes I have a problem with, but physical errors I don't. I don't like them, but it's part of it. You strike out, I'm not gonna criticize you. You make an error, I'm not gonna criticize you. I wish you didn't strike out or make an error, but it just is what it is."
Hernandez was unavailable to comment after the game. His seven errors at second base trail only the Reds' Brandon Phillips, who has nine.
Homer (not so) happy: The Phillies have allowed 23 runs over their last two games. Of those, 15 have come off the long ball. The D-backs left the yard six times Friday, marking the second straight game the Phillies have allowed at least five home runs. They're the first team since the 2012 Cubs to allow such a feat. Over their last four games, the Phillies' opponents have 17 blasts -- a franchise record for most home runs allowed over a four-game span. More >
Philly fanatic: Something about playing the Phillies brings out the best in Tomas. Last year, he hit his first Major League home run at Citizens Bank Park and was 8-for-15 with two homers against the Phillies. Friday, he picked up where he left off, going 2-for-5 with a pair of homers, the second multi-homer game of his career.
"Every time I go out at a park, this one or any other, I feel good, with good confidence," Tomas said. "For me, I never will forget that here was my first home run, so that's why I believe I have more confidence here than in other parks."
QUOTABLE
"So much for my team meeting." -- Mackanin, on the meeting he called after Thursday's 13-2 loss
WHAT'S NEXT
D-backs: Zack Greinke (9-3, 3.75 ERA) starts for the D-backs on Saturday at Citizen Bank Park 12:05 p.m. MT. The right-hander is riding a six-start winning streak and has a 2.05 ERA over that stretch with 35 strikeouts and six walks. He is 6-1 with a 2.68 ERA in his career against the Phils.
Phillies: Jerad Eickhoff (4-8, 3.40) will look to continue a roll of his own in Saturday's matinee at 3:05 p.m. ET. He owns a 1.37 ERA over his last three starts. The Phillies are in need of another strong outing from Eickhoff, having lost 21 of their last 27 games. Their starters have an ERA of 8.45 over their last eight.

Arrieta continues Bucs mastery with 11-K gem

Jake Arrieta wasn't perfect Friday afternoon, but he was characteristically stingy when it mattered most. Arrieta worked his way out of two key jams and struck out 11 over six scoreless innings as the Cubs beat the Pirates, 6-0, at Wrigley Field. The victory was Arrieta's 11th of the season -- tying him with crosstown ace Chris Sale for the Major League lead -- as he improved to 9-1 in his career vs. Pittsburgh.
"He's really good," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "His command still isn't what it can be. When it is, look out."
The Cubs bounced back quickly from just their fifth series loss of the season, jumping out to a 2-0 lead as Matt Szczur homered on Francisco Liriano's second pitch of the game. Chicago tacked on three more runs in the sixth after Arrieta left the game, beating Pittsburgh for the sixth time in seven meetings this season. Arrieta has a 1.46 ERA in 12 career starts against the Pirates.
"I think it's fairly similar every time out," Arrieta said. "Execution is the most important aspect when you're facing a team multiple times, especially in a short time frame against a division rival who you see a lot. … I think when you face a team multiple times like that, you just have to minimize the amount of mistakes."
The Pirates, meanwhile, were shut out for the first time this season as they continued to slide further away from the division-leading Cubs. Though their bats were silenced by Arrieta andtheir offense continued to scuffle along, the Pirates' pitching remains their most glaring problem. Liriano walked five batters and couldn't get out of the sixth inning, and the Opening Day starter -- 1-6 with a 6.34 ERA over his last seven starts -- saw his ERA climb to 5.03. Pittsburgh has lost 15 of its last 20 games, falling below .500 for the first time since beginning the season 7-8.
"For a long time off the mound, it's looked easy for us because we've done so well," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It just goes to show you there is a large degree of difficulty up here. When you don't get consistency, it shows up."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Master of escape: Arrieta walked the bases loaded with one out in the sixth. With his pitch count nearing its logical limit, Arrieta came back from 3-0 to strike out David Freeseswinging. Then, with the Wrigley Field fans on their feet, he came back from 3-1 and struck out Matt Joyce looking to end the inning and preserve his scoreless outing. Arrieta also worked out of a jam in the third when Jordy Mercer and Chris Stewart started the inning with back-to-back singles. Arrieta struck out the side.
"[The sixth inning] is the game-changer," Maddon said. "Nearly every ballgame has a seminal moment, one that stands out. That obviously was it." More >
High-wire act: Liriano didn't allow a run between the first and sixth innings, but he flirted with disaster all day. The Cubs loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth, and Liriano got Szczur to ground out. A two-out walk to Addison Russell loaded the bases in the fifth, butMiguel Montero lined out to right. The trouble finally caught up to Liriano in the sixth. Pinch-hitter Chris Coghlan led off with a double, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Ben Zobrist's two-out single to center field. Liriano said he has struggled to find a rhythm on the mound, which has affected his delivery and the execution of his pitches.
"Trying to find a way to get in a rhythm, get better location with the fastball," Liriano said.
Hail, Szczur: Szczur's first-inning homer came on a first-pitch Liriano fastball that Szczur lasered into the left-field bleachers. The home run gave Arrieta an early lead to work with and also continued Szczur's excellent contribution off the bench this season. Szczur is hitting .333 and has driven in 15 runs in 60 at-bats.
Fanning the flame: Liriano left after 5 2/3 innings, and left-hander Cory Luebke entered with a man on first and two outs. But Luebke did more harm than good, walking three batters -- one of them intentionally and another to drive in a run -- without recording an out.Arquimedes Caminero, the Bucs' third pitcher of the inning, finally got them out of the sixth by retiring the first batter he faced.
QUOTABLE
"We're aware. We're working on things. We're trying to get better. We're not getting better as quickly as we need to."
--Hurdle, on the Pirates' high walk totals
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
In his last 10 starts against the Pirates, including the National League Wild Card Game, Arrieta has allowed six earned runs -- and no homers -- in 72 innings.
The Cubs are 19-6 against NL Central opponents this season and 26-6 since Sept. 27. During that stretch, they've outscored their division rivals by a combined score of 189-78, good for a run differential of 111. Arrieta has done his part, going 11-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his last 13 starts against the NL Central.
STRANGE COLLISION
The Cubs scored their sixth run on a strange play in the seventh inning, one that resulted inAnthony Rizzo and Josh Harrison colliding and falling to the ground. With the bases loaded and two outs, Albert Almora Jr. grounded to shortstop Mercer, whose toss to second caused Harrison to reach over the bag. Rizzo was running from first and, as Harrison came across the base, Rizzo collided with him and both players tumbled to the dirt. Dexter Fowlerscored from third on the play because Rizzo beat the throw to second but was tagged out after overrunning the base. The Pirates challenged, but the ruling was confirmed.
"It's a play that [coach] Dave McKay put in my head years ago," Rizzo said. "Two outs, if you can beat that throw to second, why slide? Run through the base, and if you're safe, the run scores."
Rizzo was hit by two pitches in the game, but Harrison said he didn't think the play was retaliation, understanding Rizzo's logic on running through the base. Harrison did take a tough hit on the play, but said postgame he was fine.
"Reminded me of football back in the day, getting a helmet in the hip flexor area," Harrison said. "After a couple minutes, I gained the feeling back. It just went dead for a minute, like a charley horse."
WHAT'S NEXT
Pirates: The Pirates will try to crack reigning NL Player of the Week Jon Lester on Saturday night at Wrigley Field, with first pitch at 8:15 p.m. ET. Pittsburgh will start left-handerJonathon Niese, whose run of solid starts came to an end Sunday, when he allowed eight runs on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings against the Cardinals.
Cubs: Lester will try to stay in prime form in Game 2 against the Pirates at 7:15 p.m. CT. Lester is 4-0 with a 0.59 ERA over his past four starts, and 3-3 with a 1.52 ERA in six career starts against the Pirates.

Ross battles former team in faceoff with Friedrich

Joe Ross takes the mound for the Nationals against the Padres on Friday night, marking just the second time Ross has thrown against his former team since being traded at the end of 2014. Christian Friedrich will take the ball for San Diego.
Ross threw six innings of one-run ball against the Padres last season and has been solid for the Nationals in 12 starts this year, posting a 3.01 ERA. However, his numbers month-by-month might indicate some cause for concern. In April, Ross posted a 0.79 ERA and followed that up with a 3.32 ERA in May. In his two starts in June, he's allowed a eight earned runs in 11 innings -- a 6.55 ERA.
Friedrich, on the other hand, has been solid since his start against the Dodgers on May 20 when he lasted just 3 1/3 innings. Since then, Friedrich has allowed just five earned runs in 24 2/3 innings over four starts for a 1.82 ERA.
The 28-year-old lefty will look to be more efficient with his pitches and work deeper on Friday, though, as he's thrown seven full innings just once this season.
Things to know about this game
• Entering Thursday, the Padres had a .281 team batting overage over their last 20 games. That mark is the fourth-best in the Majors over that period and comes in contrast with the .240 team batting average San Diego posted over the first month.
• The last time Ross pitched against the Padres, he faced Yangervis Solarte, Melvin Upton Jr., Alexi Amarista and Travis Jankowski. Those four combined to go 0-for-9 against him with four strikeouts.
• Bryce Harper has had success in Petco Park -- a .476 average with three home runs -- but has struggled in his six at-bats against Friedrich. He has just one hit (a .167 average) with three strikeouts in those matchups.

LIONS LOOK TO SEND STAMPS A MESSAGE IN PRE-SEASON FINALE

The BC Lions and Calgary Stampeders will try and show each other as little as possible on Friday night, as they finish off pre-season with a preview of their Week 1 matchup at BC Place.
It’s not often you face the same squad in the final exhibition game and Week 1 of the regular season, but that’s the scenario these West Division foes are facing a week before their June 25 matchup when they kick things off for real.
Still, while the usual questions come up about schemes and not wanting to reveal any secrets, Lions receiver Marco Iannuzzi sees it as less of a dilemma than an opportunity.
“We have to send a message to Calgary,” Iannuzzi told BCLions.com. “We want to show them we’ve had a productive camp and that we’re here to smash heads.”
The Canadian Press
The Lions and Head Coach and General Manager Wally Buono maintain camp has been very productive thus far, but there’s still work to be done. That’s especially the case for a few positions in particular, where Buono must figure out who’s going to start on top of who will make his 46-man roster when cut-down day arrives Sunday.
Jonathon Jennings and Travis Lulay will get the bulk of the playing time at quarterback, Buono acknowledged going into Friday’s game, but while Jennings is the projected regular season starter, the biggest question on either side of the ball for BC comes at the running back position.
Former Roughrider Anthony Allen will dress after missing the Lions’ pre-season-opening 28-16 win over Saskatchewan, meaning he’ll get the chance to battle with fellow rushers Jeremiah Johnson and rookie J.C. Coleman for the starting job.
“I’m just trying to show that I am consistent and can take what I do on the practice field and take that to the game field and help the team out,” said Allen.
The third-year veteran who rushed for 930 yards and five touchdowns in his rookie season in 2014 finds himself playing catch-up after missing some time and watching his closest competitor Johnson average 7.5 yards per carry last weekend.
But as he returns from a knee injury, Allen says he’s just happy to have a chance and won’t put any extra pressure on himself.
“When you put extra pressure on yourself then you’re trying to overcompensate,” said Allen. “I have never worn orange before so it’s definitely exciting to wear a new colour. I’m so excited that I hope I don’t pull a hamstring trying to run so fast.”
The diminutive speedster Coleman is the dark horse in the competition and has also put in a strong camp so far, including a strong pre-season effort with 32 yards on seven carries.
While all eyes will be on the running backs, Buono will continue to keep a close eye on his re-structured O-line. The Lions moved some pieces around this training camp, including franchise tackle Jovan Olafioye to the left side where he’ll protect either Jennings or Lulay’s blindside.
Cody Husband, meanwhile, continues to take reps at centre, while 2016 fifth overall pick Charles Vaillancourt is listed as the starting right guard.
“Playing different positions is something I’ve always had to do,” said Husband, previously a guard. “It’s just about making sure I know the offence more than I usually do.
“It’s been nice because we’ve had mostly the same guys throughout the whole camp so we’ve been able to mesh and learn together.”
The Lions will line up almost all of their projected Week 1 starters and so will the visiting Stampeders, meaning for at least a short time Friday’s matchup will closely resemble the following week’s affair. How long they’ll remain in the game is another question, but if the Stampeders take the same approach as last week then their starters won’t play long.
The Stamps turned the ball over six times and failed to score an offensive touchdown in a 23-13 loss to the Eskimos last weekend at McMahon Stadium, but the result isn’t indicative of how Calgary’s starters played.
Bo Levi Mitchell played only one drive and went 5-of-6 through the air for 56 yards, showing good chemistry with Joe West and capping the drive off with one of two Rene Paredes field goals on the night.
Head Coach Dave Dickenson said the effort was strong but there were too many mistakes from the Stampeders’ group as a whole, but it was no discredit to the starters.
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Shane Bergman returns to action as the Stamps’ left guard while rookie Roman Grozman continues to get reps at centre in the absence of Pierre Lavertu, but other than that it’s mostly status quo for Dickenson’s bunch. It sounds like Lavertu is likely to return for the opener but cannot suit up on Friday night.
“We’ve got a pretty healthy group now,” said Dickenson in an interview with Stampeders.com. “They know that we made some cuts but there are still a few spots that are competing and certainly a lot of starting spots up for competing jobs, so the urgency hopefully will be there and we’ll play well.”
Recent roster additions in quarterback G.J. Kinne and receiver Josh Harper are expected to make their CFL debuts after signing with the Stamps this week. Kinne has spent time with the NFL’s New York Jets, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. Harper was with the Stamps at the start of camp before his release in late May.
Veteran fullback Rob Cote is also expected to get some work for the first time in 2016 after sitting out last weekend’s game at McMahon.
While the Stampeders aim for their first pre-season win, the Lions hope to improve to 2-0 in the pre-season after last week’s road win. T.J. Lee, Ronnie Yell and rookie Anthony Thompson each recorded an interception for the Lions, while Shawn Gore hauled in the team’s lone touchdown on the evening.
The Stampeders ended BC’s 2015 campaign with a playoff win at McMahon Stadium in the Western Semi-Final with a 35-9 victory. The Stamps didn’t surrender a touchdown while the defence didn’t allow a 100-yard rusher or 100-yard receiver in the game.
Having also faced off in pre-season action the last two years, Calgary claimed a 20-6 victory at McMahon in 2015 while the Lions held their ground in the Den in 2014 with a winning edge of 37-13.
The Stampeders will head back home for a short time before quickly returning to Vancouver, as the teams will do it all again one June 25 with a whole lot more riding on it.

Young pitchers face off at Dodger Stadium

Zach Davies, 23, has started opposite a pitcher younger than he before, but his opponent Friday is on a whole other level. Julio Urias, just 19 years of age, will make the fifth start of his career as he continues trying to get comfortable in the Majors.
Davies, who started against the months-younger Aaron Nola on April 22, has been on a tear lately. The right-hander has allowed just two earned runs across 21 innings in June and has lowered his ERA in five straight outings. It now sits at 3.88.
Urias' path through the Majors has so far been significantly rockier, as the southpaw currently has a 5.98 ERA and is averaging 4.25 innings per start. That's due both to pitch limits imposed by the Dodgers (Urias hasn't thrown more than 86 in game this season) and some struggles to generate efficient outs. He's improved lately, reaching the sixth inning for the first time in his career on Sunday at San Francisco.
Even if he continues to progress and delivers career-best starts against the Brewers then the Nationals on Wednesday, Urias probably won't be seeing too many starts after the Dodgers' seven-game homestand. Manager Dave Roberts said before Thursday's game that the southpaw will be given two more starts before the team makes a decision on what to do with him in order to limit his innings.
Things to know about this game
• Kenley Jansen tied Eric Gagne for the Dodgers' all-time record for saves on Thursday with 161. His next save will make him the sole owner of the record.
• Native son Ryan Braun loves LA. The Malibu resident has hit safely in 19 of his 23 games at Dodger Stadium, with six home runs. He had a large contingent of family and friends on the field for batting practice before the series opener, including younger brother Steve, a former Milwaukee Minor Leaguer. 
• Justin Turner should be back in the lineup after missing a start Thursday and will look to continue his recent, and much-needed, power surge. After entering June slugging just .343, the Dodgers third baseman has six extra-base hits and four multi-hit games in his last 11 games, along with a game-tying, pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the sixth inning Thursday night.

Shoemaker on a roll for Oakland opener

Matt Shoemaker matches up against Kendall Graveman when the Angels and A's start a weekend series in Oakland on Friday, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. PT.
The Angels have won five straight games at the Coliseum and 11 of their last 14 overall against the A's.
Shoemaker (3-7, 4.76 ERA) is in the midst of a dominant five-start stretch, giving up only eight runs in his last 38 1/3 innings, issuing one walk and striking out 48 batters. The 29-year-old right-hander previously struck out 49 batters between walks, which went down as the third-longest stretch in the Majors since 1974.
Graveman (2-6, 5.28 ERA) pitched around nine baserunners to give up only one run in four innings against the Reds on Sunday and has a 6.00 ERA since the start of May, giving up 26 runs on 56 hits and 18 walks in 39 innings. The 25-year-old right-hander has a 2.12 ERA in three career starts against the Angels, however.
Things to know
• Switch-hitting outfielder Daniel Nava (left groin) could be activated off the disabled list for this series. Angels left fielders have a combined OPS of .568 that was on track to be the second-lowest in history. Power-hitting corner infielder Jefry Marte has been used there recently to try to bring some power to the position.
• Tim Lincecum, immortalized in nearby San Francisco, is expected to make his Angels debut in Oakland on Saturday. The 32-year-old is coming off September hip surgery and was signed to an incentive-laden $2.5 million contract last month.
• The A's placed Sean Manaea on the shelf on Tuesday and have now used the DL 16 times this year. Eleven of their players are currently on the DL, a list that also includes Henderson Alvarez, Chris Bassitt, Mark Canha, Felix Doubront, Sam Fuld, Liam Hendriks, Rich Hill, Jarrod Parker, Josh Reddick and Eric Sogard.

Rangers, Cards play at Busch for first time since 2013

The Rangers don't have good memories of playing at Busch Stadium in the 2011 World Series, as they include Jason Motte pointing to the sky and the Cardinals in a dogpile on the field at the end. The 2016 rosters are vastly different, but the memories remain fresh as the two teams meet on Friday in St. Louis for the first time since the Rangers swept the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in 2013.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was watching from home with an analytical eye during Game 6 of that 2011 Series, which David Freese ended with a walk-off home run to send the set to its final game. Then a catching instructor in the organization, he was taking notes on how Yadier Molina performed. As extra innings came along, he changed his tone.
"I was a fan at that point," Matheny said. "I was like, 'You've got to be kidding me, to witness what we just witnessed?' It was amazing. My first thought in my mind when [Freese] hit that home run was, 'This is life-changing stuff.'"
Cole Hamels beat the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies in the 2011 National League Division Series. His most recent start against St. Louis came on April 27, 2015, when he went seven innings and gave up one run on four hits at Busch. He's coming off a victory against the Mariners in which he put up those same numbers.
Michael Wacha, who wouldn't be drafted until eight months after the 2011 World Series, will make his first career start against the Rangers. His six straight losses are the longest by a Cardinals pitcher this season. He had his best start since May 3 in his previous outing, against the Pirates on Friday, when he went seven innings and gave up two runs on three hits.
Things to know about this game
• The Rangers have five players remaining from 2011: shortstop Elvis Andrus, first baseman Mitch Moreland, third baseman Adrian Beltre and pitchers Colby Lewis and Derek Holland. Lewis and Holland are not scheduled to pitch in St. Louis. Josh Hamilton is still with them but out for the year recovering from left knee surgery.
• The Cardinals had an off-day on Thursday prior to the series, but the extra rest favors the Rangers. St. Louis is 2-8 this season following an off-day.
• Wacha went 3-0 with a 3.09 ERA in four starts against Interleague opponents last season. Rangers batters only have 12 plate appearances against him.
• Hamels has struggled in Interleague Play, with an 8-16 record and 4.85 ERA in 34 starts, but Cardinals hitters are hitting only .244 lifetime against him. Hamels, who was with the Phillies from 2006-15, has more plate appearances as a hitter than any other active Major League pitcher, with 694. He has a career .174 batting average with one home run, which came off of Matt Cain of the Giants on July 21, 2012, in Philadelphia.

Fulmer rides historic streak into matchup vs. Royals

The Tigers have lost J.D. Martinez for 4-6 weeks with a fractured right elbow. They may or may not have Cameron Maybin in their outfield as he deals with right quad tightness and a balky left wrist. But they still have Michael Fulmer, who doesn't have a run on his pitching line since May 21. And as the rookie right-hander readies for his first meeting with the defending World Series-champion Royals on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium, he gives the shorthanded Tigers a chance to take a 2-0 lead in this four-game series.
Fulmer enters Friday's start with a scoreless streak of 28 1/3 innings, one out shy of John Hiller's Tigers rookie record from 1967, and longest by a Major League rookie starter since Orel Hershiser in 1984. Fulmer is the first rookie pitcher with scoreless performances in four straight starts since Grover Alexander in 1911. He's one of two pitchers since 1893 to throw four consecutive starts of six or more shutout innings with three hits or less, joining Cubs ace Jake Arrieta.
He'll get a test with the Royals, who have been dominant at home despite losing Thursday's series opener in a home run slugfest. Kansas City's nine-game home winning streak was snapped on Thursday, but the Royals have still won 12 of their last 14 at Kauffman Stadium and own a 22-8 home record that leads the American League.
Royals starter Yordano Ventura has been better at home than on the road, holding opponents to a .233 average and three home runs in 29 2/3 innings to go with a 4.55 ERA in five starts.
Things to know about this game
• The Tigers will call up Steven Moya, who batted .281 (9-for-32) in his brief Major League stint last month, to replace Martinez on the 25-man roster.
• Royals catcher Salvador Perez is batting 7-for-15 this week with a double, two home runs and five RBIs. He's hitting 26-for-64 (.406) with 10 extra-base hits and 11 RBIs in his last 17 games.
• Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias has a 14-game hitting streak, and has hit safely in 17 of his last 19 games.

Dean draws Tanaka when series continues at Target Field

The Twins and Yankees will meet for the second of a four-game series at Target Field on Friday night, with rookie southpaw Pat Dean set to take the mound for Minnesota opposite Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka.
Tanaka was ineffective in his last start, a loss to the Tigers, in which he allowed five runs in 6 1/3 innings to snap a streak of four consecutive quality starts. The right-hander gave up two home runs, with a three-run shot by Ian Kinsler in the fifth doing the brunt of the damage.
Dean struggled with his control against the Red Sox in his last outing, walking four and throwing just 57 percent of his pitches for strikes. However, he only scattered three hits and allowed one run through 6 1/3 innings to bounce back from two rough starts and spur the Twins to a 7-4 victory.
Things to know about this game
• The Twins have not won a season series against the Yankees since 2001, when Minnesota posted a 4-2 record against the Bronx Bombers. The Twins were 5-16 all-time against the Yankees at Target Field coming into the series.
• Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez has 5,790 career total bases, needing just four to pass Babe Ruth for sixth place on the all-time list.
• Twins first baseman Joe Mauer, who got the night off in Thursday's series opener, has reached base in an MLB-best 27 consecutive games.

Astros host Reds for Interleague series

A pair of former National League foes meet for the first time in three years when the Astros and Reds open a three-game Interleague series on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros will start right-hander Lance McCullers Jr., whose three-game win streak was snapped last Friday by Tampa Bay. He's 6-2 with a 2.00 ERA in 13 career starts at Minute Maid Park. Fourteen of the 17 earned runs he's allowed have come in the first two innings.
The Reds will start John Lamb, who followed quality outings against the Rockies and Cardinals by giving up four runs and seven hits in four innings against the A's last weekend. Cincinnati is 2-6 in games Lamb has started.
Three things to know about this game
• The Astros' Jose Altuve, the leading vote-getter at second base in the American League in All-Star balloting, has hit safely in 20 of his last 21 games.
• The Reds are 2-8 in games against AL teams this season. This will be the 843rd meeting between the Reds and Astros. The Reds went 10-5 against the Astros in 2012 -- the last year the Astros were in the NL -- and have won 41 of their last 58 games against Houston.
• Reds slugger Jay Bruce, who grew up about 50 miles from Houston, in Beaumont, has a 10-game hitting streak against the Astros (.421 in that span, with four homers and 20 RBIs), including a seven-game streak at Minute Maid Park.