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MLB • Sunday Service Plays • 4/17/16

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    Preview: Mariners at Yankees

    GAME: Seattle Mariners (5-6) at New York Yankees (4-6)
    DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 17 – 1:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York

    With their offense laboring to produce in the clutch, the skidding New York Yankees will be looking for a big effort from ace Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday in the finale of a three-game series against the visiting Seattle Mariners. The Yankees saw their losing streak reach four games with Saturday’s 3-2 setback to the Mariners.

    New York has scored a total of seven runs during the four-game skid and has gone 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position in each of the first two games versus Seattle. “You’ve just got to ride it out and you’ve got to turn it around tomorrow,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of the offensive struggles after Saturday’s loss. Tanaka could help ease any concerns if he can continue his domination of the Mariners, having won all three career starts against them while striking out 27 and giving up six runs over 23 innings. Seattle has won three in a row following a five-game slide and is riding a four-game winning streak away from home.

    TV: 1:05 p.m. ET, ROOT (Seattle), YES (New York)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Mariners RH Hisashi Iwakuma (0-1, 4.09 ERA) vs. Yankees RH Masahiro Tanaka (0-0, 3.38)

    Iwakuma was tagged with the loss against Texas in his last outing despite turning in a quality start, permitting three runs on eight hits while striking out seven over six innings. The 35-year-old Japanese veteran had to settle for a no-decision — also against the Rangers — in his season debut after giving up two runs on six hits in five frames. He is 2-2 with a 3.30 ERA in five starts against the Yankees, although they are batting a collective .277 against him.

    A high pitch count contributed to an abbreviated outing last time for Tanaka, who threw 92 pitches and lasted five innings at Toronto, overcoming four walks to limit the damage to two runs on three hits. That came on the heels of a solid season debut against Houston in which Tanaka limited the Astros to two runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings. Tanaka has kept Seattle’s big bats in check, holding Nelson Cruz hitless in 12 at-bats and Robinson Cano to 1-for-10.


    1. Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez is hitless in his last 19 at-bats to drop his batting average to .100

    2. Seattle was one of three teams without a save entering Saturday’s play before RHP Steve Cishek registered his first.

    3. New York is 3-for-46 with runners in scoring position over the past five games.

    PREDICTION: Yankees 5, Mariners 2


    Preview: White Sox at Rays

    GAME: Chicago White Sox (8-3) at Tampa Bay Rays (4-7)
    DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 17 – 1:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida

    The Tampa Bay Rays look to build off their best offensive performance of the season when they host the Chicago White Sox on Sunday in the rubber match of a three-game set. The Rays posted a season high in runs in Saturday’s 7-2 victory after managing just one in the previous three contests and shortstop Brad Miller enjoyed his best day with his new team, recording a homer and three RBIs.

    “It’s been pretty quiet in the dugout,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash told reporters. “You can credit the pitchers that we’ve been facing but, at the same time, we’ve got to figure out away to beat good pitchers. It was nice to see the guys break out a little bit.” The Rays could also get Kevin Kiermaier (head contusion) and Logan Forsythe (hip, leg) back in the lineup against the White Sox, who saw their five-game win streak come to an end Saturday. Brett Lawrie homered Saturday and is 9-for-24 while Melky Cabrera is 11-for-25 during six-game hitting streaks for Chicago. Meanwhile, White Sox slugger Jose Abreu is due after going 0-for-7 in the series.

    TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, CSN (Chicago), FSN Sun (Tampa Bay)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: White Sox LH Jose Quintana (1-0, 2.31 ERA) vs. Rays LH Matt Moore (0-0, 3.00)

    Quintana has put together two solid outings to start this season, including a six-inning, one-run performance last time out to beat the Minnesota Twins. The 27-year-old Colombian was 7-5 with a 3.16 ERA on the road last season and is 1-0 in his first two away from home in 2016. Forsythe is 4-for-5 and Logan Morrison is 4-for-9 versus Quintana, who is 1-1 with a 3.43 ERA in four career starts against the Rays.

    Tampa Bay has won four games this season – two when Moore has started – but the 26-year-old has yet to post a victory. The Florida native gave up one run and five hits over seven innings last time out against Cleveland and boasts 11 strikeouts in 12 frames overall. Cabrera is 5-for-10 and Austin Jackson has homered against Moore, who is 3-1 with a 1.09 ERA in four games versus the White Sox.


    1. Tampa Bay’s pitching staff leads the majors in strikeout/walk ratio (4.39) with 101 whiffs and just 23 walks.

    2. Chicago OF Adam Eaton notched his sixth multi-hit game of the season Saturday after going 2-for-4.

    3. The Rays are the only team in the majors without a save in 2016 after Seattle and Cincinnati each recorded one on Saturday.

    PREDICTION: Rays 4, White Sox 2


    Preview: Mets at Indians

    GAME: New York Mets (4-6) at Cleveland Indians (5-4)
    DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 17 – 1:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio

    Mike Napoli could prove to be a smart free-agent signing for the Cleveland Indians if the first few weeks of the season are any indication. Napoli has knocked in six runs overall – three the last two days — and can extend his hitting streak to nine games when the Indians host the New York Mets on Sunday in the rubber match of the three-game series.

    The 34-year-old slugger was let go by Boston last season and finished the campaign with Texas before agreeing to a one-year, $7 million deal with Cleveland in January. Napoli is 4-for-9 in the series and had two RBI singles in the Indians’ 7-5 victory Saturday against Matt Harvey and the Mets, who have dropped five of seven. The good news for New York is its offense is beginning to perk up with 11 runs and seven homers the last two games after coming to Cleveland ranked last in the majors in batting average and 29th in scoring. Yoenis Cespedes is 4-for-9 with a pair of blasts and five RBIs while Neil Walker has gone deep twice in the series for the Mets.

    TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, SNY (New York), SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Mets LH Steven Matz (0-1, 37.80 ERA) vs. Indians RH Corey Kluber (0-2, 4.85)

    Matz tries to rebound from a rough season debut when he surrendered seven runs on six hits and a pair of walks while getting just five outs against Miami last Monday. The 24-year-old gave up all of the runs in the second inning, including a two-run blast by Giancarlo Stanton. Matz won his lone interleague start of his young career last season against the New York Yankees, permitting one run over six frames.

    Kluber pitched six shutout innings last time out before coughing up a 1-0 lead at Tampa Bay and looks to find the form which led to a 2.83 ERA at home a year ago. The 2014 American League Cy Young winner gave up three runs and four hits over 7 2/3 innings last Tuesday and is 9-18 in the last two years combined. Cespedes is 4-for-12 with a homer versus Kluber, who beat the Mets in their only meeting in 2013.


    1. New York C Travis d’Arnaud suffered a bruised left elbow after being hit by a pitch Saturday, but X-rays came back negative.

    2. Cleveland 2B Jason Kipnis has recorded multiple hits in four of his last six games to raise his average to .333.

    3. Mets 3B David Wright has reached base in all nine games he has played this season, but is expected to get the day off Sunday.

    PREDICTION: Indians 5, Mets 2


    Preview: Braves at Marlins

    GAME: Atlanta Braves (2-9) at Miami Marlins (3-6)
    DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 17 – 1:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Marlins Park, Miami, Florida

    After nine consecutive losses to begin the season, the Atlanta Braves find themselves riding a winning streak entering Sunday’s series finale at the Miami Marlins. Back-to-back victories over the Marlins have given Atlanta a much-needed dose of optimism after a dreadful beginning to 2016, with the stretch coinciding with right fielder Nick Markakis continuing his strong start to the season.

    Markakis hit his major-league leading eighth double in Saturday’s 6-4 victory, driving home three runs and finishing 3-for-5 to raise his average to .341. Miami has lost three in a row overall and continues to struggle at home, dropping to 0-4 at Marlins Park while being outscored at home 27-17. Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton struck out four times Saturday, including a game-ending punchout by Jason Grilli with the tying runs on base to drop his average to .229. First baseman Justin Bour belted his first homer of the season, marking his sixth in the last seven games against the Braves dating back to last season.

    TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, FSN South (Atlanta), FSN Florida (Miami)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Braves RH Jhoulys Chacin (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Marlins RH Jarred Cosart (0-0, 5.79)

    Chacin was fantastic in his Atlanta debut Tuesday at Washington, holding the Nationals scoreless over six innings with five hits, no walks and eight strikeouts. He made just four starts (five appearances) for Arizona last season, but earned a spot in the Braves rotation with a strong spring (seven earned runs allowed in 21 innings) and 7 2/3 scoreless innings for Triple-A Gwinnett on April 7. Chacin threw 52 of his 69 pitches for strikes against Washington.

    Cosart lasted just 4 2/3 innings in his season debut Monday at the New York Mets, giving up three runs on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts. He only made 13 starts last season, battling dizzy spells that were diagnosed as vertigo, going 2-5 with a 4.52 ERA after a 13-win season in 2014. Cosart is 3-0 lifetime against the Braves, giving up four earned runs in 21 2/3 innings.


    1. Miami LF Christian Yelich went hitless in two at-bats Saturday (walking three times), snapping his season-opening eight-game hitting streak.

    2. Atlanta INF Gordon Beckham left Saturday’s game after straining his left hamstring running the bases in the sixth inning.

    3. The Braves bullpen has pitched 8 1/3 scoreless innings in the series; Atlanta relievers allowed 23 runs in 25 2/3 innings in the first nine games.

    PREDICTION: Braves 4, Marlins 2


    Preview: Brewers at Pirates

    GAME: Milwaukee Brewers (5-6) at Pittsburgh Pirates (6-6)
    DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 17 – 1:35 PM EST
    WHERE: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    The long ball hasn’t been an important ingredient in the recent offensive success of the Pittsburgh Pirates, but preventing their opponents from hitting home runs has. The Pirates took a small step toward achieving more balance in that department last time out and eye their second straight victory following a four-game skid when they face the visiting Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday in the rubber match of their three-game series.

    Pittsburgh finished fourth in the National League in runs scored despite ranking 23rd in the majors last year with 140 homers, due in part to allowing a league-low 110 blasts. The Pirates are in the middle of the pack offensively in the early going of 2016 but had yielded 14 homers while hitting only three before Andrew McCutchen added to the total with his first in 54 plate appearances this season in Saturday’s 5-0 win. The Brewers have alternated wins and losses since April 8, averaging 5.8 runs in the victories and totaling five – while getting blanked twice – in their setbacks over that span. Milwaukee might need another strong offensive showing in the series finale, especially considering Zach Davies will make his season debut after going 0-1 with an 11.25 ERA in two outings versus the Pirates last season.

    TV: 1:35 p.m. ET, FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee), ROOT (Pittsburgh)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Brewers RH Zach Davies (2015: 3-2, 3.71 ERA) vs. Pirates RH Juan Nicasio (1-1, 5.00)

    With Matt Garza expected to miss the next four to six weeks with a lat injury, Davies will be recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs to make his seventh career start with Milwaukee. The 23-year-old Arizona native was sharp over six outings during a September audition last year and will enter this turn having worked 15 consecutive scoreless frames – 13 of which came in road starts against San Diego and the Chicago Cubs. Davies held opponents to a .189 average this spring and posted a 2.00 ERA in two minor-league starts this month.

    Nicasio was unable to parlay a strong season debut into another fine outing Tuesday, giving up four runs on six hits and five walks in three innings of an 8-2 loss at Detroit. The 29-year-old Dominican already has made more starts this year than he did in 2015, when 52 of his 53 appearances were of the relief variety for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Nicasio tossed two scoreless frames of relief last year versus the Brewers and has fared well overall against them, going 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in four appearances (two starts).


    1. Milwaukee LF Ryan Braun has hit 29 career homers against the Pirates – the most against Pittsburgh by any player in team history.

    2. McCutchen has reached base safely in 17 straight home games versus Milwaukee, batting .333 over that time.

    3. Pirates CF Starling Marte went 1-for-3 on Saturday, lowering his batting average to .415 over his last 10 contests.

    PREDICTION: Pirates 5, Brewers 3


    Preview: Nationals at Phillies

    GAME: Washington Nationals (9-1) at Philadelphia Phillies (5-7)
    DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 17 – 1:35 PM EST
    WHERE: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Over the last three decades, Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols are the only players to win back-to-back National League MVP awards. Bryce Harper is off to a strong start in his bid for a second straight MVP and looks to wrap up his weekend in style when the Washington Nationals visit the Philadelphia Phillies in a Sunday matinee.

    Harper erupted for the best season of his career – by far – in 2015 and is off to a strong start this year, batting .343 with five home runs and a 1.299 OPS. Of course, those numbers have increased significantly of late as the 23-year-old outfielder has homered in three straight contests — including the first two games of this series — to help increase his team’s winning streak to seven games. Harper’s three RBIs helped Washington to an 8-1 triumph on Saturday as Max Scherzer drove in two runs while allowing only one in seven innings. The Nationals’ Gio Gonzalez and the Phillies’ Charlie Morton take the ball Sunday with both hurlers in search of a second straight excellent outing.

    TV: 1:35 p.m. ET, MASN/WUSA 9 (Washington), CSN (Philadelphia)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals LH Gio Gonzalez (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Phillies RH Charlie Morton (1-1, 5.23)

    Gonzalez allowed three hits over six scoreless innings Tuesday in a 2-1 victory against Atlanta in his season debut. He held left-handed batters hitless in eight at-bats in that contest, which that likely comes as no surprise to Ryan Howard, who is 0-for-11 with six strikeouts in his career against the two-time All-Star. Gonzalez was 2-1 with a 2.92 ERA against Philadelphia last season and is 8-5 with a 3.02 ERA lifetime against the Phillies.

    Morton rebounded from a poor season debut to twirl 6 2/3 scoreless innings against San Diego his last time out. He still has to improve his control (six walks in 10 1/3 innings) but he’s averaging 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings, well above his averages in previous years. Daniel Murphy is 3-for-19 while Jayson Werth is 4-for-12 with a couple homers against Morton.


    1. The Phillies have scored more than three runs only twice in 12 games this season. Meanwhile, the Nationals have allowed three runs or fewer in eight of 10 contests.

    2. Washington, which is gunning for its third division title in the last five seasons, already has a five-game lead on second-place Philadelphia in the NL East.

    3. Phillies OF/1B Darin Ruf was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Saturday and enters this one with one hit in 12 at-bats on the season. However, he is 8-for-23 with eight walks, three homers and nine RBIs versus Gonzalez.

    PREDICTION: Nationals 7, Phillies 2


    Preview: Blue Jays at Red Sox

    GAME: Toronto Blue Jays (5-7) at Boston Red Sox (6-4)
    DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 17 – 1:35 PM EST
    WHERE: Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts

    Two games into the Christian Vazquez era and the Boston Red Sox pitching staff looks completely different. Vazquez will try to guide the staff to a third straight strong outing when the Red Sox host the Toronto Blue Jays in the third of a four-game series on Sunday.

    Vazquez has guided the rotation to back-to-back quality starts for the first time this season in his two outings since coming off the disabled list following Tommy John surgery that wiped out his entire 2015 campaign. The Boston pitchers surrendered a total of nine hits in the last two games and Vazquez has provided some support at the plate as well by going 3-for-7 with two runs scored. The Blue Jays are 1-4 in five games against the Red Sox in the young season and have some questions about the offense beyond the trio of Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Those three have accounted for seven of Toronto’s nine hits in the series and were the only players in Saturday’s lineup to finish the game with batting averages above .214.

    TV: 1:35 p.m. ET, Sportsnet (Toronto), NESN (Boston)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Blue Jays RH Aaron Sanchez (0-0, 1.38 ERA) vs. Red Sox RH Steven Wright (0-1, 1.35)

    Sanchez formed a dominant late-game duo with closer Roberto Osuna last season but is trying to make it as a starter in 2016 and has been strong in two outings. The 23-year-old surrendered one earned run in each of the two turns and yielded a total of eight hits in 13 innings but was held out of the decision in each due to a lack of run support. Sanchez is 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA in 10 career games – two starts – against Boston in his career.

    Wright made his season debut in Toronto last weekend and had the misfortune of starting the only game this season in which the Red Sox offense failed to put up at least four runs. The knuckleballer allowed two runs – one earned – on six hits and three walks while striking out five in 6 2/3 innings. Wright is looking for his first win against the Blue Jays and is 0-1 with a 2.63 ERA in three career games against the division rivals.


    1. Red Sox SS Xander Bogaerts hit the decisive three-run homer on Saturday and has hit safely in eight straight games.

    2. Encarnacion has driven in four of Toronto’s five runs in the series.

    3. Blue Jays SS Troy Tulowitzki is 5-for-42 with 14 strikeouts.

    PREDICTION: Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 4


    Preview: Tigers at Astros

    GAME: Detroit Tigers (7-3) at Houston Astros (4-8)
    DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 17 – 2:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas

    Jarrod Saltalamacchia is making the most of his hits while seeing time in place of injured catcher James McCann in the Detroit Tigers’ lineup. After his second homer in three contests completed a rally, Saltalamacchia looks to send the Tigers to their fifth win in six contests when they play the rubber match of their three-game series with the host Houston Astros on Sunday.

    Saltalamacchia has recorded six RBIs in his last three contests and emerging third baseman Nick Castellanos has produced eight hits in his last four games – including three in Saturday’s 5-3 victory over Houston. While the Tigers have scored at least four runs in nine of their 10 games this season, the misfiring Astros have mustered a total of 10 in their last five contests (1-4). Reigning American League Player of the Week Tyler White launched his team-leading fourth homer of his rookie season and first since going deep in three straight games from April 7-9. George Springer belted a two-run shot off the left-field foul pole on Saturday and is 4-for-8 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the series.

    TV: 2:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FSN Detroit, ROOT (Houston)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Anibal Sanchez (2-0, 3.38) vs. Astros RH Mike Fiers (0-1, 6.55)

    Sanchez has been consistent in each of his first two starts, breezing through five scoreless innings before yielding two runs in the sixth in both outings. The 32-year-old Venezuelan scattered four hits and walked away with the victory both times, and is 4-1 in nine career encounters with Houston. Sanchez was rocked for seven runs and eight hits – including two homers – in his last meeting with Houston but received a no-decision.

    Fiers has sputtered out of the gate this season, yielding five runs in as many innings of his first outing before his quality start versus Kansas City on Tuesday resulted in a 3-2 setback. The 30-year-old has permitted three homers in 11 frames this season but kept the ball in the park in both career starts against Detroit – although without recording a decision in either contest. Former Astro J.D. Martinez has recorded 15 hits in 10 games this season and is 3-for-6 against Fiers.


    1. Detroit DH Victor Martinez is two RBIs shy of becoming the fifth Venezuelan-born player to reach 1,000 for his career.

    2. Houston SS Carlos Correa is 0-for-6 in the series and 1-for-14 in his last four contests.

    3. The Tigers have turned at least one double play in nine consecutive games, their longest such streak since June 17-27, 2008.

    PREDICTION: Tigers 4, Astros 2


    Preview: Angels at Twins

    GAME: Los Angeles Angels (5-6) at Minnesota Twins (2-9)
    DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 17 – 2:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Trevor Plouffe got off to a rough start like many of his teammates during his team’s 0-9 start, but his resurgence and a pair of comeback victories have the Minnesota Twins feeling a bit better about themselves. With their first series win of the season already in hand, the Twins look to complete a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels at home Sunday.

    Plouffe began the season 5-for-31 as Minnesota piled up strikeouts (94) at a dizzying rate and could not come through with runners in scoring position (5-of-66) during its season-opening skid – its worst such streak as a franchise since 1904. A visit from the Angels has seemingly changed all that, however, as Plouffe is 5-of-8 with a home run and three RBIs and the Twins have fanned only 11 times while batting a respectable 5-for-17 with runners in scoring position in this series. Los Angeles began its 10-game road trip on a high note with a sweep of Oakland to run its winning streak to four, but its bullpen has been unable to protect a late lead in either contest this weekend while surrendering five runs over 5 2/3 innings. Although Albert Pujols notched his first home run of the season in the opener, the Angels also haven’t been helped by the struggles of their powerful bats in the middle of the order – No. 3 hitter Mike Trout (.231, one homer) and No. 4 hitter Pujols, who is batting .195.

    TV: 2:10 p.m. ET, FSN West (Los Angeles), FSN North (Minnesota)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Angels RH Nick Tropeano (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Twins RH Kyle Gibson (0-2, 4.22)

    Tropeano more than held his own in his season debut Monday, yielding six hits and two walks while striking out six over five scoreless frames en route to a 4-1 win at Oakland. The 25-year-old Stony Brook product, who got the nod after the Angels placed Andrew Heaney on the disabled list, has allowed only one earned run and fanned 22 over his last three turns – spanning 16 innings – dating back to last year. Tropeano worked a scoreless inning of relief in his only career appearance against the Twins in 2015.

    Gibson rebounded from a rough loss at Baltimore on April 6 with a slightly better outing in a setback to the Chicago White Sox on Monday, permitting three runs – one earned – in 5 2/3 frames. The Indiana native has also fared poorly in five starts versus the Angels, going 0-2 with a 7.18 (including 0-1, 6.35 in two tries last season). Trout (3-for-8, home run) and C.J. Cron (3-for-7) have enjoyed success against Gibson, while Pujols (3-for-13, home run) and Kole Calhoun (1-for-9) have mostly struggled.


    1. Los Angeles had won 12 of the previous 14 contests between the clubs prior to this weekend.

    2. Minnesota 1B Joe Mauer is a career .339 hitter against the Angels and needs one more RBI to tie Gary Gaetti (758) for the seventh place in club history.

    3. Angels 3B Yunel Escobar is 13-for-28 with four multi-hit efforts and only one strikeout during his seven-game hitting streak.

    PREDICTION: Angels 7, Twins 3


    Preview: Reds at Cardinals

    GAME: Cincinnati Reds (6-5) at St. Louis Cardinals (6-5)
    DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 17 – 2:15 PM EST
    WHERE: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri

    The visiting Cincinnati Reds haven’t been able to cool off the offense of the St. Louis Cardinals, but they will have a chance for a series victory in Sunday’s rubber match of the three-game set between the National League Central Division rivals. The Reds snapped a four-game losing streak by erasing a four-run deficit in Saturday’s 9-8 victory.

    While the Cardinals have been mashing everything in sight, Cincinnati put on a slugfest of its own with a franchise record-tying nine doubles Saturday. Reds shortstop Zack Cozart accounted for two of those doubles among three hits and is 5-for-8 in the series after missing the previous two games with a quadriceps injury. St. Louis lost for only the second time in the past eight games – a span in which it has rolled up 74 runs, including Friday’s six-homer barrage. Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha, who won all four decisions against Cincinnati in 2015, opposes rookie Jon Moscot in the series finale.

    TV: 2:15 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Cincinnati), FSN Midwest (St. Louis)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds RH Jon Moscot (2015: 1-1, 4.63 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Michael Wacha (1-0, 3.48)

    An intercostal strain in spring training and a subsequent blister on his right thumb has delayed the season debut of Moscot, who was promoted to the majors in June 2015 before dislocating his left shoulder in his third career start. Moscot earned his first victory in his second career start, tossing six innings of two-run ball against Philadelphia before the shoulder injury ended his season. He allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings in a rehab start Monday.

    After he was knocked around for five runs (four earned) on 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings of his season debut, which he escaped with a no-decision, Wacha bounced back with a stellar performance in his last turn. The former first-round draft pick surrendered only four hits while striking out seven over six scoreless innings to beat Milwaukee. Wacha has to be wary of Cozart (8-for-17), but he has been overpowering against Jay Bruce (0-for-21) and Billy Hamilton (1-for-20).


    1. Cardinals OF Stephen Piscotty homered and had four RBIs Saturday, giving him multiple hits in four of his last six games.

    2. Bruce belted his 211th homer home run to move past Ken Griffey Jr. for seventh place on Cincinnati’s career list.

    3. Rookie Cardinals SS Aledmys Diaz is 4-for-10 in the series, hiking his batting average to .406.

    PREDICTION: Cardinals 7, Reds 3


    Preview: Rockies at Cubs

    GAME: Colorado Rockies (6-5) at Chicago Cubs (9-2)
    DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 17 – 2:20 PM EST
    WHERE: Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois

    In a matchup between two of the league’s highest-scoring offenses, strong starting pitching has been the key to the first two games of the Chicago Cubs’ set against the visiting Colorado Rockies. If that trend holds, the Cubs hope star left-hander Jon Lester will give them the upper hand in Sunday’s series finale.

    Lester looks to follow the lead set by Jake Arrieta, who tossed eight scoreless innings to help the Cubs even the series with a 6-2 victory Saturday. The only bright spot for the Rockies on Saturday was a two-run homer by Carlos Gonzalez, who has nine blasts in 19 career games at Wrigley Field. The Cubs belted three home runs a day after their weakest offensive output of the season, as they managed only one run and four hits in the series opener. Chicago is trying to win its fifth straight home series against Colorado dating to 2012.

    TV: 2:20 p.m. ET, ROOT (Colorado), WGN (Chicago)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Rockies RH Tyler Chatwood (1-1, 4.38 ERA) vs. Cubs LH Jon Lester (1-0, 2.77)

    Chatwood missed 1 1/2 years following his second Tommy John surgery but is off to a solid start in his return to the big leagues. He made a couple of costly mistakes last time out, surrendering four of his five runs on homers in a loss to San Francisco. The 26-year-old is making his first career appearance at Wrigley Field, but he defeated the Cubs with a quality start in 2013.

    Lester was outstanding in winning his season debut, and though he wasn’t as sharp last time out, he still managed to register a quality start. The 32-year-old gave up three runs and five hits over six innings in a no-decision against Cincinnati on Monday. Lester was dominant in one start against the Rockies last season, striking out 14 and allowing two runs and five hits over eight innings to earn the win.


    1. Gonzalez has hit safely in a career-best 21 straight games dating to last season, the fourth player in the past 50 years to end one campaign and begin the next with hitting streaks of at least 10 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

    2. Cubs CF Dexter Fowler, who belted a three-run homer Saturday, has reached safely in every game this season and been on base 26 times in 47 plate appearances.

    3. Chicago INF Javier Baez went 2-for-4 with a double and scored a run in his first action of the season Saturday after injuring his thumb in spring training.

    PREDICTION: Cubs 5, Rockies 3


    Preview: Orioles at Rangers

    GAME: Baltimore Orioles (8-3) at Texas Rangers (7-6)
    DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 17 – 3:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Globe Life Park in Arlington, Arlington, Texas

    The Texas Rangers have benefited from the big inning on two occasions and have been done in by it on another heading into Sunday’s series finale against the visiting Baltimore Orioles. After erupting for a five-run sixth on Thursday, Texas bounced back from a four-homer, nine-run seventh the following night by igniting a sixth-run frame in an 8-4 victory on Saturday.

    Rougned Odor recorded a two-run single in Saturday’s seventh inning and has collected five hits, four RBIs and three runs scored in the series for the Rangers, who have won six of their last seven meetings with the Orioles. Baltimore’s Manny Machado homered in the first inning to extend his season-opening hitting streak to 11 games but has been limited to just four singles in 15 career at-bats versus Sunday starter Derek Holland. Adam Jones and Chris Davis also went deep on Saturday for the Orioles, who lead the American League with 23 homers. The Rangers, conversely, have seen a league-high 22 balls leave the park this season.

    TV: 3:05 p.m. ET, MASN2 (Baltimore), FSN Southwest (Texas)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Orioles RH Mike Wright (1-0, 7.20) vs. Rangers LH Derek Holland (1-0, 2.31)

    Wright didn’t exactly put his best foot forward in his first start of the season, but Baltimore’s potent offense bailed him out of hot water. The 26-year-old allowed four runs and five hits in as many innings of a 9-5 victory at Boston on Tuesday for his fourth career win. Wright, who has yet to face Texas, is auditioning to remain in the rotation after Kevin Gausman (shoulder) makes his expected return to the club later this month.

    Holland followed a mediocre performance in his first start with a stellar one on Tuesday, scattering four hits over 6 2/3 innings en route to an 8-0 shellacking of Seattle. The 29-year-old has flustered the Orioles in his career, improving to 5-2 with a 2.94 ERA after allowing just three hits and striking out 11 in a dominating shutout last season. Davis has struggled mightily against Holland, going 1-for-11 with eight strikeouts.


    1. Texas CF Delino DeShields is 11-for-22 with one homer, three RBIs and six runs scored in his last five games.

    2. Orioles SS J.J. Hardy is riding a six-game hitting streak but is 2-for-13 lifetime versus Holland.

    3. Rangers RHP Yu Darvish is expected to throw his second batting practice session on Sunday as he attempts to return from Tommy John surgery.

    PREDICTION: Orioles 6, Rangers 5


    Preview: Royals at Athletics

    GAME: Kansas City Royals (8-3) at Oakland Athletics (5-7)
    DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 17 – 4:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California

    The Oakland Athletics look to end their homestand with a winning streak when they host the Kansas City Royals on Sunday in the rubber match of their three-game series. Oakland began its six-game stretch at home with four straight losses before posting a 5-3 victory on Saturday for its second win at Oakland Coliseum this season (2-7).

    Stephen Vogt has begun to heat up for the Athletics, going 5-for-8 over the first two games of the series with a home run in each contest. Kansas City fell to 4-2 on its seven-game road trip as it lost for only the third time in 11 games this season. Alcides Escobar has recorded two hits for the Royals in each of the first two contests and has notched at least one in nine of his 11 games in 2016. Reymond Fuentes, who hadn’t played since Monday, also registered two hits Saturday and is 5-for-11 with three RBIs in his last three contests after going hitless over six at-bats in his first two major-league games.

    TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, FSN Kansas City, CSN California (Oakland)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Kris Medlen (1-0, 3.60 ERA) vs. Athletics RH Chris Bassitt (0-0, 2.92)

    Medlen notched the win in his season debut Tuesday, allowing only two runs despite giving up six hits and four walks in five innings at Houston. The 30-year-old Californian has won four of his last five decisions dating to last season, yielding fewer than three runs in each victory. Medlen, who returned from Tommy John surgery in July, will be facing Oakland for the first time in his career.

    Bassitt bounced back from a rough season debut to limit the Mariners to an unearned run and three hits over seven innings at Seattle last Sunday but had to settle for a no-decision. The 27-year-old Ohio native has not received much offensive support this year as the Athletics have scored a total of four runs with him on the mound in his first two outings. Bassitt made two starts against Kansas City while with the Chicago White Sox in 2014, allowing six runs on 14 hits and five walks over 8 2/3 innings without recording a decision.


    1. The Athletics will be without INF Eric Sogard for quite a while as he is expected to undergo left knee surgery next week and likely will remain sidelined until the second half of the season.

    2. Kansas City LF Alex Gordon struck out for the team-high 17th time this season Saturday and has been fanned at least once in each of his 11 games.

    3. Oakland RHP Henderson Alvarez (shoulder) is slated to throw a bullpen session Sunday before beginning a rehab assignment and — barring a setback — is expected to join the rotation late next month.

    PREDICTION: Athletics 4, Royals 3


    Preview: Diamondbacks at Padres

    GAME: Arizona Diamondbacks (4-8) at San Diego Padres (4-8)
    DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 17 – 4:40 PM EST
    WHERE: Petco Park, San Diego, California

    The San Diego Padres boast a starting rotation capable of making noise in the National League West, and perhaps a crack of the bat provided by Melvin Upton Jr. was a spark the offense needed as they host the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday in the rubber match of their three-game series. San Diego’s starting pitchers boast a 1.97 ERA in the last five games, but Saturday’s 5-3 victory in 14 innings snapped a four-game losing streak and gave the Padres their first win in five tries at Petco Park.

    Upton provided the big blast Saturday — a walk-off home run to straightaway center field that marked San Diego’s 11th and 12th runs in nine games not played at Coors Field this season, including three runs during the losing streak. Wil Myers, who has struck out 18 times in 49 at-bats this season, raised his average 51 points to .265 after going 4-for-7 on Saturday and was on base when Upton delivered with two out. Arizona, which has yet to string two consecutive victories together this season, has lost three of its last four games and has some offensive issues of its own by scoring nine runs during that span. The Diamondbacks’ Patrick Corbin and the Padres’ Robbie Erlin take the mound Sunday in a battle of left-handers coming off strong performances, but without a victory to show for it.

    TV: 4:40 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona, FSN San Diego

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Diamondbacks LH Patrick Corbin (0-1, 3.46 ERA) vs. Padres LH Robbie Erlin (1-1, 0.93)

    Corbin received a no-decision after allowing one run and six hits in six innings of a 4-2 victory over the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Tuesday. It was a big bounce-back effort for the 26-year-old New York native, who yielded four runs and eight hits — three home runs — in a 4-3 loss to Colorado on April 6. Corbin is 2-3 with a 3.38 ERA in six games (five starts) versus San Diego, but hasn’t faced them since 2013 after missing 2014 and part of 2015 following Tommy John surgery.

    Erlin allowed one run and three hits while striking out seven in six innings of a 3-0 loss in Philadelphia on Tuesday in his first start of the season. The 25-year-old Californian allowed one hits in 3 2/3 innings of relief to earn the victory in a 13-6 decision in Colorado on April 8. Erlin is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three starts against Arizona and carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning in his last turn against the Diamondbacks — a 3-0 victory Sept. 26 in which he tossed seven frames.


    1. Padres RF Matt Kemp leads the team with four home runs and 11 RBIs after going deep Saturday and has 31 homers, 93 RBIs and 94 runs scored versus Arizona — second-most in all categories among active players to former teammate and Los Angeles 1B Adrian Gonzalez.

    2. Diamondbacks SS Nick Ahmed (.300) went 2-for-6 on Saturday and owns a 10-game hitting streak versus National League West teams (15-for-36).

    3. San Diego CF Jon Jay is 1-for-19 in his last four contests after starting the season with an eight-game hitting streak.

    PREDICTION: Padres 3, Diamondbacks 2


    Preview: Giants at Dodgers

    GAME: San Francisco Giants (7-5) at Los Angeles Dodgers (7-5)
    DATE/TIME: Sunday, April 17 – 8:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California

    The San Francisco Giants signed three significant free agents during the offseason, and so far each has contributed to the team’s 7-5 start. Pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who signed a five-year, $90 million contract in December, takes the mound Sunday as the Giants visit the Los Angeles Dodgers in the rubber match of the three-game series.

    The Giants’ other two major additions pitched in Saturday to help snap a three-game losing streak as center fielder Denard Span went 1-for-4 and Johnny Cueto worked into the eighth inning in the 4-3 victory. With reliever Sergio Romo (right flexor strain) out for the next several weeks, Giants manager Bruce Bochy is splitting setup duties between right-hander Hunter Strickland and lefty Josh Osich. The Dodgers managed just five hits in Saturday’s loss but two came from catcher Yasmani Grandal, who was activated this week after opening the season on the disabled list with a right forearm injury. Grandal was limited by a shoulder injury late last year but hit fifth Saturday behind Adrian Gonzalez and could be a solid source of power moving forward.

    TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Giants RH Jeff Samardzija (1-0, 3.38 ERA) vs. Dodgers RH Kenta Maeda (1-0, 0.00)

    Samardzija earned his first victory with the Giants on Tuesday as he allowed two runs over eight frames in a 7-2 win at Colorado. “This is the kind of stuff he has,” Bochy told “He’s a guy that just goes with confidence. When he knows he’s on top of his game, he attacks the hitters on both sides. He’s a competitor.” Chase Utley is 6-for-15 with a home run against the 2014 NL All-Star, who owns a 1-2 record with a 4.91 ERA in four career appearances (two starts) against the Dodgers.

    Maeda turned in his second strong outing Tuesday by holding Arizona scoreless for six innings while allowing five hits and striking out four. “Compared to my last outing, I thought I had less command of my pitches and I threw more pitches in general,” the 28-year-old told reporters. “Hopefully next time, I’ll be able to stretch it out and throw a couple more innings with fewer pitches.” Maeda’s streak of 12 consecutive scoreless innings is the fourth longest in Los Angeles history to begin a career.


    1. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen has successfully converted his last 16 save opportunities dating to last season.

    2. Giants OF Angel Pagan has hit safely in 10 of the team’s first 12 games.

    3. Dodgers LF Carl Crawford (back) is on schedule to return from the disabled list next Sunday.

    PREDICTION: Dodgers 6, Giants 4

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