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MLB • Saturday Service Plays • 4/23/16

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    Preview: Twins at Nationals

    GAME: Minnesota Twins (5-12) at Washington Nationals (12-4)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 23 – 1:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia

    The Washington Nationals are one win away from achieving the best start in franchise history. Including their time as the Montreal Expos, the Nationals can become the first team in franchise annals to start 13-4 if they can beat the visiting Minnesota Twins on Saturday.

    Washington matched its best ever start with an 8-4 triumph against Minnesota on Friday as Jayson Werth hit a home run and robbed another in left field. The Twins have lost three of their last four overall in addition to dropping eight of nine road games this season. Minnesota is tied with Houston for the worst record in the American League, while Washington owns the second-best mark in the National League. Saturday’s matchup features Twins veteran Phil Hughes against Nationals righty Tanner Roark.

    TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), MASN (Washington)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Phil Hughes (1-2, 4.42 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Tanner Roark (1-2, 3.71)

    Hughes has been the epitome of consistent this year, allowing three earned runs in each of his three outings while recording 18 or 19 outs in each. His 17-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio is stellar, as are his numbers against Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy (0-for-8). He must be wary of the first pitch of each at-bat, as hitters are 6-for-12 with three doubles and a home run against Hughes when facing an 0-0 count this season.

    Roark has bookended two disappointing starts against one terrific outing as he seeks to lower his surprisingly high WHIP (1.65). He gave up five runs over six innings his last time out, absorbing the loss in a 6-1 affair with Miami. Roark’s lefty-righty splits could not be more different, as right-handed batters are hitting .424 against him while lefties have only mustered a .171 clip.


    1. The Nationals have won six straight home games.

    2. Washington OF Michael Taylor is hitting .161 after an 0-for-5 on Friday and has struck out at least twice in seven of his last eight games.

    3. Minnesota has only secured one victory by more than three runs this season.

    PREDICTION: Nationals 4, Brewers 2


    Preview: Rays at Yankees

    GAME: Tampa Bay Rays (7-9) at New York Yankees (6-9)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 23 – 1:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York

    After seeing many of their sleepy studs receive a wake-up call in the opener, the New York Yankees hope those same players aren’t quick to hit the snooze on Saturday afternoon when they continue their three-game series with the visiting Tampa Bay Rays. Mark Teixeira had three hits in Friday’s 6-3 win to match his previous 10-game total and Brian McCann had a two-run homer among his two hits on the heels of a 1-for-18 slump.

    The offensive display certainly was a welcome one for New York, which entered the series having mustered 18 runs during a woeful 1-7 stretch. Tampa Bay’s Logan Forsythe isn’t in need of a wake-up call, as the 29-year-old is 9-for-20 with seven runs scored during a five-game hitting streak. Forsythe might benefit from a cup of coffee against Saturday starter Masahiro Tanaka, having gone 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in his career versus the New York right-hander. Southpaw Blake Snell likely won’t need any java to get going on Saturday as the prized prospect will make his major-league debut at Yankee Stadium.

    TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Tampa Bay), YES (New York), MLB Network

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays LH Blake Snell (major-league debut) vs. Yankees RH Masahiro Tanaka (1-0, 3.06 ERA)

    Selected in the first compensation round of the 2011 draft, Snell was originally slated to pitch for Triple-A Durham on Friday before being summoned to New York. The 23-year-old enjoyed a scintillating year across three levels of minor-league ball in 2015, during which he posted a 15-4 mark and struck out 163 batters in 134 innings. Snell continued where he left off this season, brandishing a 1-1 mark in 2016 with 21 punchouts in 14 1/3 frames.

    Tanaka allowed two earned runs for the third straight outing on Sunday, but walked away with his first decision of the season. The 27-year-old Japanese star didn’t issue a free pass in his seven innings of work versus Seattle after permitting four in his previous trip to the mound. Tanaka has only walked one batter in 20 innings versus Tampa Bay, posting a 2-0 mark while limiting the Rays to a .222 batting average.


    1. New York CF Jacoby Ellsbury had been mired in a 1-for-15 slump before going 6-for-11 in his last three games, highlighted by his straight steal of home on Friday.

    2. Tampa Bay 3B Evan Longoria has multi-hit performances in each of his last two contests and has eight hits total in his last six.

    3. The Yankees recalled Nick Goody from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and placed fellow RHP Branden Pinder on the 15-day disabled list with a strained elbow.

    PREDICTION: Yankees 4, Rays 2


    Preview: Athletics at Blue Jays

    GAME: Oakland Athletics (10-7) at Toronto Blue Jays (8-10)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 23 – 1:07 PM EST
    WHERE: Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario

    Chris Coghlan has provided an unexpected power surge to keep the Oakland Athletics undefeated on the road. After belting a homer in each of his last two contests, Coghlan looks to extend the Athletics’ season-high winning streak to seven games on Saturday afternoon when they play the second of three contests versus the host Toronto Blue Jays.

    Coghlan has made the most of his additional playing time in the wake of Danny Valencia’s hamstring injury, extending his hitting streak to five games with a three-run homer in Oakland’s 8-5 triumph on Friday. The 30-year-old Coghlan has six RBIs and five runs scored during the stretch and is 2-for-6 versus Saturday starter J.A. Happ. While the Athletics are vying for their first 8-0 start on the road since 1990, the Blue Jays dropped the opener of their six-game homestand and fell to 3-4 at the Rogers Centre. Josh Donaldson went 1-for-4 in the opener and is 8-for-29 in seven meetings against his former team.

    TV: 1:07 p.m. ET, CSN California (Oakland), SNET-1 (Toronto)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Athletics RH Chris Bassitt (0-0, 2.79 ERA) vs. Blue Jays LH J.A. Happ (2-0, 1.89)

    Bassitt has yet to record a decision despite tossing seven strong innings in each of his last two outings. The 27-year-old has allowed just two earned runs and eight hits in his last two trips to the mound, but a lack of run support has proven to be the primary culprit. Bassitt will be making his 22nd career start and first versus Toronto.

    Happ turned in his third consecutive quality start on Monday afternoon, allowing just one run on four hits in seven innings in a 4-3 victory at Boston. The 33-year-old has permitted just four runs on 11 hits in 19 frames this season while striking out four in each outing. Happ has handcuffed the Athletics in his career, posting a 3-0 mark while yielding just one homer in seven appearances (35 2/3 innings).


    1. Toronto 1B Chris Colabello was suspended 80 games on Friday after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

    2. Oakland CF Billy Burns has four runs scored during his six-game hitting streak.

    3. The Blue Jays signed free-agent OF Michael Bourn to a minor-league contract on Friday and will send him to extended spring training.

    PREDICTION: Blue Jays 4, Athletics 2


    Preview: Indians at Tigers

    GAME: Cleveland Indians (7-7) at Detroit Tigers (8-7)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 23 – 1:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan

    The Cleveland Indians look to continue their success on the road when they visit the Detroit Tigers on Saturday afternoon for the second of a three-game series. Carlos Santana and Marlon Byrd belted solo homers and the Indians rode solid pitching to their fourth victory in six decisions away from home in the early season after a 2-1 win over the Tigers on Friday.

    Cleveland has struggled in the bullpen during the first few weeks of the campaign, but received 2 1/3 innings of hitless relief in the series opener to back Josh Tomlin’s strong start. The Indians will turn to Corey Kluber to try and win the series Saturday against Anibal Sanchez. Two-time American league MVP Miguel Cabrera has struggled to a .220 batting average in the first month of the season, but the Tigers standout has had plenty of success against Kluber while recording 19 hits – five homers – in 35 at-bats against the hard-throwing right-hander. Detroit second baseman Ian Kinsler has hit in 10 straight games and 14 of 15 to start the season.

    TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland), FSN Detroit

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RH Corey Kluber (0-3, 6.16 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Anibal Sanchez (2-1, 4.60)

    Kluber has yet to find his top form through the first three starts of the season, giving up six runs and nine hits over six innings against the New York Mets last time out. The 30-year-old had one quality start against Tampa Bay and has struck out 19 in 19 frames. Victor Martinez is also 9-for-25 with three homers versus Kluber, who is 2-6 in 13 games (12 starts) with a 4.71 ERA against Detroit.

    Sanchez has struggled with control (eight walks, 15 strikeouts, 15 2/3 innings) in the early going, which has limited the lengths of his performances. The 32-year-old Venezuela native has surrendered three homers in three starts – two last time out in a loss against Houston. Yan Gomes is 4-for-9 with a homer against Sanchez, who is 4-3 with a 2.73 ERA in nine career outings versus the Indians.


    1. Martinez has hit safely in six straight contests overall and is hitting .334 against the Indians — his former team.

    2. Cleveland’s rookie OF Tyler Naquin is 7-for-21 over the last eight contests.

    3. Tigers OF Justin Upton notched his first RBI in nine games Friday with a run-scoring double to tie the game.

    PREDICTION: Indians 4, Tigers 3


    Preview: Rangers at White Sox

    GAME: Texas Rangers (10-7) at Chicago White Sox (11-6)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 23 – 2:10 PM EST
    WHERE: U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago, Illinois

    The Chicago White Sox pulled off the major league’s first triple play of the season in the series opener and attempt to defeat the visiting Texas Rangers a second straight time on Saturday. The White Sox got out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the seventh inning with the triple play en route to a 5-0 win on Friday.

    The triple play began with right fielder Adam Eaton catching Mitch Moreland’s liner and throwing to first to retire Ian Desmond, who overran the bag while trying to get back. A wild rundown ensued with the other two runners before Prince Fielder was tagged out between third base and home. The White Sox scored more than three runs for only the second time in 10 games while the slumping Jose Abreu went hitless to drop to 2-for-30 over his last eight contests. The Rangers scored 24 runs during a four-game winning streak, but their bats were silent on Friday as they recorded just five hits and had only two at-bats with runners in scoring position.

    TV: 2:10 p.m. ET, FSN Southwest (Texas), CSN Chicago

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Rangers RH Colby Lewis (1-0, 4.00 ERA) vs. White Sox LH Carlos Rodon (1-2, 4.73)

    Lewis served up three homers in his last outing against Baltimore and received a no-decision after allowing four runs and 10 hits in six innings. He is 7-3 with a 3.89 ERA in 13 career appearances (11 starts) against Chicago and has thrown two of his three career shutouts versus the White Sox. Lewis has struggled to retire Austin Jackson (13-for-31, one homer) while faring well against Brett Lawrie (1-for-14, seven strikeouts) and Eaton (2-for-14, five strikeouts).

    Rodon was torched in his last outing, retiring only one batter while giving up five runs, six hits and two walks in a loss to the Los Angeles Angels. “Listen, he wasn’t finishing his pitches. That was the big thing,” White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper told reporters. “He wasn’t standing up at the end, basically. He had a bad one. That’s it. That’s all I got on it.” Rodon is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two career starts against the Rangers and has controlled Moreland (1-for-6, four strikeouts).


    1. Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre notched two hits on Friday and is 9-for-18 over his last five contests.

    2. Chicago DH Avasail Garcia is 1-for-19 in his last six games and didn’t play in the series opener.

    3. Texas RHP Keone Kela (elbow) will be sidelined approximately three months after undergoing surgery on Friday.

    PREDICTION: White Sox 4, Rangers 2


    Preview: Red Sox at Astros

    GAME: Boston Red Sox (8-8) at Houston Astros (5-12)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 23 – 4:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas

    Clay Buchholz doesn’t have a victory this season, but the Boston Red Sox hurler has enjoyed remarkable success against the Houston Astros in four career outings. Buchholz is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA and has tossed two complete games against the Astros entering Saturday’s road start in Houston.

    Buchholz will be attempting to pitch the Red Sox to their second straight win over Houston after the club racked up 15 hits in Friday’s 6-2 victory. Mookie Betts went 4-for-5 with two triples and scored three runs as part of a torrid three-game run during which he has gone 8-for-14 with two homers, eight runs scored and five RBIs. The Astros have dropped four straight games and eight of their last 10 as they are tied with Minnesota (5-12) for the worst record in the American League. Houston has been outscored 22-12 during its four-game skid.

    TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, FS1, NESN (Boston), ROOT (Houston)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox RH Clay Buchholz (0-1, 5.74 ERA) vs. Astros RH Mike Fiers (1-1, 6.48)

    Buchholz has registered 39 strikeouts and issued just four walks in 32 2/3 career innings against Houston. Among the Astros he has shut down are Jose Altuve (2-for-16) and Colby Rasmus (3-for-24, eight strikeouts). Buchholz scattered six hits over 6 2/3 scoreless frames in his last outing against Toronto but did not figure in the decision.

    Fiers defeated Detroit in his last start despite allowing four runs and seven hits – three homers – in 5 2/3 innings. He has served up six homers in just 16 2/3 frames this year, but his control has been splendid as he has issued just one walk. The slow start continues a career trend for Fiers, who is 1-5 with a 6.54 ERA in 10 career appearances (eight starts) in April.


    1. Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts is 7-for-11 over his last three games but left Friday’s opener in the ninth inning after being plunked on the right wrist by Astros RHP Luke Gregerson and underwent a postgame MRI.

    2. Houston rookie 1B Tyler White is just 3-for-28 over his last eight games.

    3. Boston 3B Travis Shaw has recorded three straight two-hit performances and five in his last seven contests.

    PREDICTION: Red Sox 8, Astros 2


    Preview: Phillies at Brewers

    GAME: Philadelphia Phillies (8-9) at Milwaukee Brewers (7-10)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 23 – 7:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Miller Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    The Philadelphia Phillies can match a season high with their third straight victory when they visit the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday. The Phillies took Friday’s series opener 5-2 behind a pair of home runs from Maikel Franco and a solid outing from Aaron Nola.

    Philadelphia, which had lost seven straight meetings with Milwaukee, has a chance to climb back to the .500 mark for the season on Saturday. The Phillies’ offense has posted double-digit hits in each of the last two games and scored more than three runs in back-to-back contests after failing to surpass three in any of their previous nine outings. The Brewers, meanwhile, have scored a total of three runs in their last two games and could be challenged by veteran Charlie Morton, who has been effective of late. Milwaukee will counter with Chase Anderson, who is aiming to rebound from his worst start of the young season.

    TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, CSN (Philadelphia), FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Phillies RH Charlie Morton (1-1, 3.86 ERA) vs. Brewers RH Chase Anderson (1-1, 2.25)

    Morton has been terrific in his last two starts, allowing one run over 12 2/3 innings. Among the Brewers with good career numbers against Morton are Ryan Braun (.348 average in 23 at-bats), Martin Maldonado and Aaron Hill — each 4-for-7. Morton has been particularly effective against right-handed hitters this season (5-for-28, no extra-base hits).

    Anderson dazzled in his first two starts of 2016, allowing only three runs – all unearned – in 11 innings. He came back to reality in his last outing, yielding five runs and 11 hits in five innings as he gave up his first two home runs of the year. Andres Blanco is the only Phillie who has ever homered against Anderson, who has surrendered six runs in 10 1/3 innings in two previous starts versus Philadelphia.


    1. The Brewers have won only two games all season in which they’ve scored fewer than six runs.

    2. Milwaukee C Jonathan Lucroy currently has a seven-game hitting streak but enters Saturday 1-for-16 against Morton.

    3. Before going 3-for-4 with two home runs Friday, Franco had been 3-for-29 with no homers over his previous seven games.

    PREDICTION: Brewers 9, Phillies 5


    Preview: Mets at Braves

    GAME: New York Mets (8-7) at Atlanta Braves (4-12)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 23 – 7:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia

    The homer-happy New York Mets play the middle contest of a three-game set at the Atlanta Braves on Saturday looking to continue launching opposing pitches into the outfield seats. Right fielder Curtis Granderson blasted two homers – including a grand slam – in Friday’s series-opening 6-3 victory, giving New York 21 homers through the first seven contests of its current nine-game road trip.

    The Mets have hit multiple homers in each of their past four games, 14 during that stretch, and Granderson finished 3-for-5 with five RBIs and two runs scored Friday as the Mets improved to 5-2 on the road swing. Atlanta has lost three in a row following a four-game winning streak, and the Braves offense is struggling to score. The Braves have totaled just seven runs in their past three games after recording 26 during their winning streak, and a taxed bullpen was forced to cover five innings Friday. Daniel Castro did extend his hitting streak to four games, and Adonis Garcia and A.J. Pierzynski each finished with three hits.

    TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, WPIX (New York), FSN South (Atlanta)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Mets LH Steven Matz (1-1, 7.27 ERA) vs. Braves Jhoulys Chacin (0-0, 2.38)

    Matz shook off a dreadful season debut in his last outing Sunday at Cleveland, firing seven shutout innings and striking out nine while allowing just three hits. The 24-year-old lasted just 1 2/3 innings in his first start on April 11 against Miami, surrendering seven earned runs. Matz, who made his major-league debut June 28 last season and went 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in six starts, held the Braves to one run on six hits in five innings in a victory Sept. 11 in Atlanta.

    Chacin has been great thus far for the Braves, striking out 14 with no walks and only nine hits allowed in 11 1/3 innings across two starts. He gave up three runs on four hits with six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings Sunday against Miami, after firing six shutout frames with eight strikeouts in his Braves’ debut April 12 at Washington. The 28-year-old Chacin is 1-2 in five career appearances (four starts) against the Mets with a 2.88 ERA, but has not faced New York since 2014.


    1. Pierzynski’s big night brought him within one hit of reaching 2,000, and raised his season average from .200 to .256.

    2. New York CF Yoenis Cespedes doubled Friday, extending his streak of games with at least one extra-base hit to a career-high seven.

    3. Atlanta has hit just three homers all season (two on Opening Day), and has not hit one in its past 11 games.

    PREDICTION: Braves 3, Mets 2


    Preview: Cubs at Reds

    GAME: Chicago Cubs (13-4) at Cincinnati Reds (8-9)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 23 – 7:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio

    The season isn’t even a month old but the Cincinnati Reds already have seen enough of the Chicago Cubs to last all year. The Cubs look to continue their dominance over their National League Central rivals when the teams continue a four-game series Saturday in Cincinnati.

    Chicago has won all five meetings this season – outscoring the Reds 46-7 in the process – and eight straight dating to last year. The Cubs have won the first two games in Cincinnati by a combined 24-1 margin after cruising to an 8-1 win Friday. Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez each hit home runs Friday as Chicago continued to beat up on Reds pitching, leaving Cincinnati in need of a deep outing from right-hander Dan Straily to give its bullpen a break. Cubs right-hander John Lackey looks to beat the Reds for the second time in 10 days after limiting them to two runs and six hits over 6 2/3 innings in a victory April 13 at Wrigley Field.

    TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago, FSN Ohio (Cincinnati)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH John Lackey (3-0, 3.66 ERA) vs. Reds RH Dan Straily (0-0, 2.70)

    Lackey had a rocky debut with the Cubs, allowing six runs over six innings at Arizona, but has been progressively better in each start since. The 37-year-old was dominant last time out, holding the Cardinals to four hits over seven scoreless innings and racking up 11 strikeouts. Lackey is 4-2 with a 2.74 ERA in 10 career starts against the Reds.

    Straily pitched fairly well in three appearances out of the bullpen before being pressed into the rotation. His first start of the season was solid, as the 27-year-old held the Rockies to one run and two hits over five innings in a no-decision. Straily, who pitched for the Cubs briefly in 2014, gave up two runs in 2 1/3 innings of relief against his former team April 13.


    1. Rizzo has homered in three consecutive games for the third time in his career and the first since doing so in four straight from July 29-Aug. 1 last season.

    2. The Reds have surrendered 30 home runs this season – most in the majors – including 20 in the past eight games.

    3. Cincinnati SS Zack Cozart homered Friday and has hit safely in 11 of his 12 games this season, the exception being Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter Thursday.

    PREDICTION: Cubs 7, Reds 3


    Preview: Orioles at Royals

    GAME: Baltimore Orioles (10-5) at Kansas City Royals (11-5)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 23 – 7:15 PM EST
    WHERE: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

    Mike Moustakas is warming up and his defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals are starting to take off as they host the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday in the middle contest of a three-game series. Moustakas is 9-for-20 with three homers in his last five games while the Royals have won three of four to take over first place in the American League Central.

    Kansas City has been victorious in seven of nine home contests to start the season and first baseman Eric Hosmer is working on a 12-game hitting streak while reaching base in 24 straight, dating back to 2015. The Orioles lead the American League East despite Friday’s 4-2 loss in the series opener and send Tyler Wilson to the mound against Royals right-hander Kris Medlen. Manny Machado homered Friday for Baltimore to extend his career-high hitting streak to 15 games. Shortstop J.J. Hardy is also off to a solid start after recording two hits Friday and notching his eighth RBI in 14 contests during April.

    TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, MLB Network; MASN, WJZ (Baltimore); FSN Kansas City

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Orioles RH Tyler Wilson (0-0, 1.13 ERA) vs. Royals RH Kris Medlen (1-0, 2.38)

    Wilson gets his first start of the season and sixth of his career after making three appearances out of the bullpen in the first month of the season. The 26-year-old Virginia product permitted one run on six hits in eight innings of work in 2016 after going 2-2 with a 3.50 ERA last season. Wilson, a former 10th-round pick by the Orioles, is facing Kansas City for the first time in his young career.

    Medlen won his first start of the season before allowing two runs (one earned) over 6 1/3 innings against Oakland without being involved in the decision. The 30-year-old Californian, who is 7-2 in two seasons with the Royals, has walked eight batters in 11 1/3 innings. Adam Jones is 3-for-4 with a homer against Medlen, who gave up three runs in six innings to beat Baltimore last year.


    1. Baltimore will activate LHP Brian Matusz (back) from the disabled list for Saturday’s game to add depth to the bullpen.

    2. Royals OF Jarrod Dyson is 4-for-12 with a pair of stolen bases in his first four games after returning from the disabled list.

    3. Orioles DH-1B Mark Trumbo is 8-for-26 during a seven-game hitting streak and is batting .362 in the early season.

    PREDICTION: Royals 7, Orioles 4


    Preview: Pirates at Diamondbacks

    GAME: Pittsburgh Pirates (9-8) at Arizona Diamondbacks (9-9)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 23 – 8:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona

    The Arizona Diamondbacks attempt to turn around their fortunes at home when they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday in the middle contest of their three-game series. Arizona went 2-5 on its season-opening seven-game homestand before embarking on a 7-3 road trip that concluded with five consecutive victories but had the winning streak snapped Friday as it suffered its third straight home loss.

    Welington Castillo hit a pair of solo shots in the 8-7 setback and has belted all five of his home runs this season over his last six games. Pittsburgh has scored a total of 19 runs in its last two contests to even its record at 2-2 on its 10-game road trip. John Jaso got the night off on Friday but is expected to return to the lineup for the chance to extend his career-high hitting streak to 12 games. Josh Harrison also has been tearing it up at the plate for the Pirates, recording six multi-hit performances over his last eight contests.

    TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), FSN Arizona

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates RH Juan Nicasio (2-1, 4.80 ERA) vs. Diamondbacks Rubby De La Rosa (1-3, 8.44)

    Nicasio is coming off a victory over Milwaukee on Sunday in which he allowed three runs and five hits over six innings. The 29-year-old Dominican lasted only three frames in his lone road start of the season, surrendering four runs on six hits and five walks in a loss at Detroit. Nicasio is 3-2 lifetime against Arizona but has given up 33 runs – 31 earned – over 43 1/3 innings (6.44 ERA) in 17 games (seven starts).

    De La Rosa has made two relief appearances since his last start, yielding two runs in two-thirds of an inning at San Diego on April 16 to take the loss before striking out three around a walk in a scoreless frame at San Francisco two days later en route to a victory. The 27-year-old Dominican failed to work five frames in either of his previous two starts this season – including his season debut on April 7, when he was tagged for seven runs – six earned – and six hits in 3 1/3 innings. De La Rosa settled for a no-decision in his only career outing against Pittsburgh on April 25, 2015 despite allowing just one run and four hits in seven frames.


    1. Pirates SS Jordy Mercer’s first homer of the year on Friday was projected at 466.1 feet, eclipsing his previous career high of 411 feet.

    2. Arizona RF David Peralta has reached safely in 17 of his 18 games this season.

    3. Pittsburgh recalled Jason Rogers, who went 0-for-2 with a walk, from Triple-A on Friday and optioned fellow INF Cole Figueroa to Indianapolis.

    PREDICTION: Pirates 7, Diamondbacks 4


    Preview: Dodgers at Rockies

    GAME: Los Angeles Dodgers (10-7) at Colorado Rockies (9-7)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 23 – 8:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Coors Field, Denver, Colorado

    The Colorado Rockies look to extend their home winning streak to four games as they host the Los Angeles Dodgers in the middle contest of their three-game series on Saturday. Colorado broke even on its six-game road trip before continuing its recent success at Coors Field by posting a 7-5 triumph in the opener on Friday.

    Nolan Arenado went 2-for-3 with his seventh home run and has not gone more than two contests without a hit this season. Los Angeles fell to 2-2 on its six-game road trip after squandering a 3-0 first-inning lead and a 5-4 advantage after 6 1/2 frames. Adrian Gonzalez has excelled on the trek, going 8-for-15 with two homers and five RBIs over the first four contests. The 33-year-old is hitting .465 (20-for-43) overall on the road and has recorded all seven of his multi-hit performances this season away from home.

    TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, SportsNet LA (Los Angeles), ROOT (Colorado)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers RH Kenta Maeda (2-0, 0.47 ERA) vs. Rockies RH Tyler Chatwood (2-1, 2.79)

    Maeda will face the stiffest test of his brief major-league career, which has gotten off to a tremendous start, as he attempts to continue his outstanding run in the high altitude of Coors Field. The 28-year-old from Osaka, Japan worked six scoreless innings in each of his first two starts before allowing his first run over seven frames in a 3-1 triumph over San Francisco on Sunday. Maeda has posted a 0.95 WHIP and is limiting his opponents to a .206 batting average.

    Chatwood bounced back from a rough outing versus the Giants in a big way on Sunday, yielding only two hits over seven scoreless innings in a victory over the Cubs in Chicago. The 26-year-old Californian was battered for five runs and 11 hits by San Francisco on April 12 in his first home start of the season. Chatwood has posted a 3-4 record with one complete game and a 3.38 ERA in seven career turns against Los Angeles.


    1. The Rockies made a number of changes to their pitching staff Friday, activating Jon Gray from the 15-day disabled list, recalling Carlos Estevez from Triple-A and selecting the contract of fellow RHP Gonzalez Germen from Albuquerque while placing RHP Miguel Castro (shoulder) on the DL, optioning LHP Jason Gurka to the minors and designating RHP David Hale for assignment.

    2. Los Angeles is expected to activate OF Carl Crawford (back) from the DL on Monday.

    3. Colorado C Nick Hundley is eligible to be activated from the 7-day concussion list and is expected to play over the weekend.

    PREDICTION: Dodgers 8, Rockies 3


    Preview: Cardinals at Padres

    GAME: St. Louis Cardinals (8-8) at San Diego Padres (7-10)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 23 – 8:40 PM EST
    WHERE: Petco Park, San Diego, California

    Wil Myers has been swinging a hot bat, recording hits in seven consecutive games, as the San Diego Padres enter Saturday’s contest against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals. Myers went 3-for-3 with a homer, a double and three RBIs in Friday’s series-opening 4-1 victory and is 13-for-31 during his hitting streak.

    Myers helped the Padres win for the fourth time in six games as they continue to rebound from a 3-8 start. San Diego has belted just 14 homers, with Matt Kemp (five) and Myers (four) combining for 64.3 percent of them. St. Louis has dropped four of its last six games to fall to .500 on the season and has scored just seven runs over the last four contests. The hot-hitting Yadier Molina was 1-for-4 on Friday and is 15-for-34 with six RBIs over his last 10 games.

    TV: 8:40 p.m. ET, FSN Midwest (St. Louis), FSN San Diego

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Cardinals RH Michael Wacha (1-0, 2.76 ERA) vs. Padres RH Cesar Vargas (NR)

    Wacha has allowed just one earned run over 12 innings in his last two starts and has walked just one batter in each of his three outings. He performed well in two starts against San Diego last season, going 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. Wacha won his lone appearance at Petco Park on Aug. 23, when he gave up one run and five hits in six innings.

    Vargas will be recalled from Double-A San Antonio to fill the rotation spot of Robbie Erlin (elbow) and was stunned at his promotion despite being scratched from his start on Thursday. “I had no idea. Nobody really knew, everyone told me to stay calm,” Vargas told reporters in San Diego. “I thought maybe it could have been that it’s my first year as a starter and they were resting me there, but, really, I had no idea.” The 24-year-old Vargas signed with the Padres in the offseason after being a reliever for most of his seven years in the minor-league system of the New York Yankees.


    1. Cardinals 3B Matt Carpenter was hitless in four at-bats on Friday and is 4-for-25 over his last seven games.

    2. San Diego RHP Fernando Rodney converted his third save in the opener and hasn’t allowed an earned run in 6 1/3 innings this season.

    3. St. Louis INF Jedd Gyorko – acquired from the Padres in the offseason — is 3-for-20 over his last nine games.

    PREDICTION: Cardinals 5, Padres 4


    Preview: Marlins at Giants

    GAME: Miami Marlins (5-10) at San Francisco Giants (8-10)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 23 – 9:05 PM EST
    WHERE: AT&T Park, San Francisco, California

    San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy has experimented with several different lineups early this season, but his latest version may stick for a while. The Giants head into Saturday’s game against the visiting Miami Marlins looking to build on their breakout performance in Friday’s series opener, when they recorded 14 hits and snapped a five-game losing streak with an impressive 8-1 victory.

    Bochy moved Matt Duffy back into the No. 3 spot in the batting order Friday after watching his underachieving lineup struggle to hit with runners in scoring position. “Let’s try what worked last year, because right now, it’s not working,” Bochy told reporters. “We’re just going back to what worked for us for a while last year. Matt is swinging the bat well. I think it’s fair to say that guys are trying to find their swings.” The same could be said for the Marlins, who have lost seven of their last nine games and need more production from players such as Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna, who has two extra-base hits in his last 29 at-bats and is batting .203 overall. The offense would be an even greater concern if not for Christian Yelich, who is hitting .400 after belting three doubles in Friday’s loss.

    TV: 9:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FSN Florida (Miami), CSN Bay Area (San Francisco)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins RH Jose Fernandez (1-1, 3.78 ERA) vs. Giants RH Jake Peavy (0-1, 9.00)

    Fernandez battled control issues again on Monday against Washington but earned his first win after yielding one run in six innings. The 23-year-old has allowed a total of two runs over 11 innings in his last two starts with seven walks on that stretch. “I’m just trying to come out of the gate throwing strikes and getting early contact, that’s my goal,” Fernandez told the Miami Herald. “The Giants have some tough hitters. I’m just trying to not overthrow and give my boys a chance to win.”

    Peavy’s early-season struggles continued against Arizona on Monday as he allowed four runs and seven hits over five innings. The three-time All-Star has yielded a total of 28 hits over 14 frames in his first three starts. Opponents are batting .431 against the 34-year-old, who owns a 5-4 record with a 2.83 ERA in nine career starts against the Marlins – including a complete-game effort while pitching for the Chicago White Sox on May 25, 2013.


    1. San Francisco optioned OF Mac Williamson to Triple-A Sacramento and purchased the contract of INF Conor Gillaspie.

    2. Miami is 15-8 at AT&T Park since 2010.

    3. The Giants have been held scoreless in the first inning in 14 of their first 18 games.

    PREDICTION: Marlins 7, Giants 2


    Preview: Mariners at Angels

    GAME: Seattle Mariners (8-8) at Los Angeles Angels (7-10)
    DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 23 – 9:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, California

    The Seattle Mariners hope to have ace Felix Hernandez on the mound Saturday as they aim for their fourth straight win against the host Los Angeles Angels, who have lost six of their last eight games. Hernandez was scratched from Friday’s series opener due to illness and was replaced by Hisashi Iwakuma, who worked eight strong frames in the Mariners’ 5-2, 10-inning victory.

    Hernandez is 7-2 with a 1.37 ERA over his last 14 starts against the Angels, but Seattle manager Scott Servais has a backup plan in place if the six-time All-Star isn’t cleared to pitch Saturday. “We’ll see how he is. Fingers crossed, hopefully he’s okay,” Servais told “If not, we’ve got to go to Plan B, which we’d probably look at Mike Montgomery or somebody like that. But hopefully, he’ll be able to go.” If healthy, Hernandez would give the Mariners a definite edge over the Angels, who rank last in the AL in runs scored with 49 and have been limited to four runs or fewer in 14 of their first 17 games. Albert Pujols is batting .138 after going hitless in his last 23 at-bats, while Carlos Perez (.162) has gone 15 at-bats without a hit.

    TV: 9:05 p.m. ET, ROOT (Seattle), FSN West (Los Angeles)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Mariners RH Felix Hernandez (1-1, 1.00 ERA) vs. Angels LH Hector Santiago (1-0, 2.61)

    Hernandez overcame a career high-tying six walks and earned his first win last Saturday by holding the New York Yankees to one run over five innings. The 30-year-old is 14-14 with a 3.30 ERA in 46 career starts against the Angels, but he’s struggled to contain Mike Trout, who is batting .354 (23-for-65) with four home runs and 13 RBI against Seattle’s all-time leader in starts and innings pitched. Kole Calhoun is 4-for-33 versus Hernandez, who is 4-5 with a 2.90 ERA in 23 outings at Angel Stadium.

    Santiago continued his strong start on Monday with a stellar outing against the White Sox as he tossed seven scoreless innings and matched a career high with 10 strikeouts. “That was the best stuff I’ve seen Hector have since he’s been with us,” manager Mike Scioscia told reporters. The 28-year-old is 2-2 with one save and a 3.28 ERA in 12 career games (four starts) against Seattle, and he’s held Robinson Cano to three hits in 16 at-bats.


    1. Seattle LF Nori Aoki has hit safely in all nine games he has played against the Angels.

    2. The Angels have won each of Santiago’s last nine starts dating back to last season.

    3. Cano is three RBI shy of 1,000 for his career.

    PREDICTION: Mariners 4, Angels 2

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