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MLB Previews, Articles, Info. Monday 9/28/15

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    Preview: Reds at Nationals

    Current Conditions – Washington
    CLOUDY 88 °F
    Wind: NW 3
    5-Day Forecast GAME: Cincinnati Reds (63-92) at Washington Nationals (79-76)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, September 28 – 3:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia

    The Washington Nationals held a three-game lead in the National League East after Jonathan Papelbon’s first save for the club on July 30, but things have not gone as well for the team or its closer since. The Nationals will begin the final week with nothing left for which to play when they host the Cincinnati Reds in the makeup of a July 8 rainout on Monday afternoon.

    Papelbon’s 3.04 ERA since joining the team is just one of several problems Washington dealt with in the second half, but a scene in the dugout on Sunday when the veteran closer appeared to attack star Bryce Harper only to be pulled away by teammates and then gave up a go-ahead homer in the ninth marked the low point. Harper, who remains the frontrunner for the NL MVP Award with league highs of 41 home runs and a .336 batting average, flied out in the eighth to end an 0-for-4 afternoon against the Philadelphia Phillies before exchanging words and getting his throat grabbed by the veteran closer. The Reds helped ensure Washington would be eliminated from contention by getting outscored 36-12 in a four-game home sweep against the New York Mets, and have dropped eight in a row to fall into last place in the NL Central. Cincinnati will send lefty Brandon Finnegan to the mound opposite Nationals righty Max Scherzer in the opener.

    TV: 3:05 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Cincinnati), MASN (Washington)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds LH Brandon Finnegan (4-1, 3.65 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Max Scherzer (12-12, 2.98)

    Finnegan is making his third straight start after beginning in the bullpen for Cincinnati, which acquired the LSU product from the Kansas City Royals in the Johnny Cueto trade. Finnegan won at Milwaukee on Sep. 18 but was knocked around for six runs on seven hits – three home runs – and a walk in five innings at St. Louis on Wednesday. The LSU product has 15 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings since joining the Reds.

    Scherzer is another reason for Washington’s second-half slide at 2-5 with a 4.41 ERA since the All-Star break, and he is coming off a loss to Baltimore on Wednesday despite 12 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. The 31-year-old surrendered a pair of home runs in that outing and has yielded 17 in 13 second-half starts. Scherzer was reached for five runs and seven hits – one home run – over 4 2/3 innings in a loss to Cincinnati on July 7.


    1. The Red shut down rookie RHP Raisel Iglesias for the rest of the season.

    2. Washington INF Yunel Escobar is 0-for-13 in the last three games.

    3. Cincinnati claimed OF Tyler Holt off waivers from the Cleveland Indians on Sunday.

    PREDICTION: Nationals 6, Reds 5


    Preview: Blue Jays at Orioles

    Current Conditions – Baltimore
    CLOUDY 86 °F
    Wind: NNW 3
    5-Day Forecast GAME: Toronto Blue Jays (90-65) at Baltimore Orioles (76-79)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, September 28 – 7:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland

    The Toronto Blue Jays are on the verge of clinching the American League East for the first time since 1993 while the Baltimore Orioles are gently sinking to the bottom. The Blue Jays will try to take advantage of the scuffling Orioles when they visit Baltimore for the opener of a four-game series on Monday.

    The Orioles (76-79) entered the weekend with a .500 record and an outside shot at the second AL wild-card before they were shut out in three straight games at the Boston Red Sox. Baltimore managed 12 hits – 10 singles – and managed to advance only two runners as far as third base in the series. The Blue Jays (90-65) are winners of four in a row following MVP candidate Josh Donaldson’s walk-off homer against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday and have already clinched a postseason spot while sitting four games ahead of the New York Yankees in the East with seven games left in the regular season. Toronto will send Marco Estrada to the mound on Monday while the Orioles counter with struggling right-hander Chris Tillman.

    TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, SNET (Toronto), MASN2 (Baltimore)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Blue Jays RH Marco Estrada (13-8, 3.13 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Chris Tillman (10-11, 5.16)

    Estrada has put himself right behind David Price in a potential postseason rotation by allowing two or fewer earned runs in five of his last six starts. The 32-year-old followed up eight scoreless innings on Sept. 17 by holding the New York Yankees to two runs in 6 2/3 innings without factoring in the decision on Tuesday. Estrada is 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA in five games – three starts – against Baltimore this season.

    Tillman ended a string of six straight winless starts by holding Washington to three runs and six hits over as many innings on Wednesday. That gave the 27-year-old his first quality start in his last six outings. Tillman was ripped for six runs on eight hits – three home runs – in three innings at Toronto on Sept. 6 and is 0-4 with a 15.50 ERA and nine home runs allowed in 18 total innings against the Blue Jays this season.


    1. Orioles LH Zach Britton (lat strain) appeared for the first time since Sept. 20 on Sunday and worked a scoreless inning.

    2. Donaldson has scored eight runs in the last six games and is up to 121 runs scored on the season to go along with 122 RBIs.

    3. Baltimore was shut out in three straight games for the first time since July 29-31, 1957.

    PREDICTION: Blue Jays 12, Orioles 2


    Preview: Red Sox at Yankees

    Current Conditions – Bronx
    CLOUDY 84 °F
    Wind: CLM 0
    5-Day Forecast GAME: Boston Red Sox (75-80) at New York Yankees (86-69)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, September 28 – 7:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York

    The New York Yankees are on the verge of being eliminated from contention in the American League East race and the rival Boston Red Sox are waiting to push them over the edge. The Red Sox will try to post their fourth straight shutout win when they visit the Yankees in the opener of a four-game series on Monday.

    New York sits four games behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East with seven games left in the regular season, but remains a comfortable five games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels, who sit third in the AL wild-card standings. The Yankees put together two solid pitching performances of their own to earn a series win over Chicago this weekend, outscoring the White Sox 8-2 on Saturday and Sunday to inch closer to clinching the top wild-card. Boston clawed its way out of last place in the East by outscoring Baltimore 17-0 in a three-game sweep. The Red Sox will try to keep the line moving behind rookie left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez while New York sends Ivan Nova to the hill.

    TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), YES (New York)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH Eduardo Rodriguez (9-6, 3.97 ERA) vs. Yankees RH Ivan Nova (6-9, 4.87)

    Rodriguez allowed three runs on six hits and a pair of walks in six innings against Tampa Bay last Monday without factoring in the decision. That snapped a string of three straight outings of surrendering exactly one earned run, but marked the 16th time in 20 outings that the opposition failed to reach the 22-year-old Venezuelan for more than three earned runs. Rodriguez has limited New York to two or fewer runs in each of his three starts against the division rivals.

    Nova is 1-5 in his last six starts, but held the mighty Blue Jays to one run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 4-0 loss on Wednesday. The 28-year-old Dominican has completed seven innings only once in his 15 starts this season. Nova was reached for three runs in six innings at Boston on Aug. 31 to suffer a loss to fall to 3-5 with a 4.99 ERA in 11 career games – 10 starts – against the Red Sox.


    1. New York’s magic number to clinch a postseason spot is three.

    2. Boston SS Xander Bogaerts added two more hits on Sunday and needs 10 over the final seven games to reach 200.

    3. New York CF Jacoby Ellsbury has recorded multiple hits in five of his last eight games.

    PREDICTION: Red Sox 6, Yankees 4


    Preview: Cardinals at Pirates

    Weather information is currently unavailable. 5-Day Forecast GAME: St. Louis Cardinals (98-58) at Pittsburgh Pirates (95-61)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, September 28 – 7:05 PM EST
    WHERE: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    If the Pittsburgh Pirates hope to overtake the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League Central title, sweeping the three-game series that begins Monday at PNC Park is imperative. The Pirates enter the showdown, which kicks off their season-ending six-game homestand, three games behind the Cardinals after suffering a 4-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Sunday night that halted their eight-game winning streak.

    Pittsburgh still has a firm hold on the top NL wild card as it sits 4 1/2 games ahead of Chicago for the spot. The Cardinals’ magic number to claim their third straight division crown was reduced to four by virtue of Pittsburgh’s loss, but it could have been three had they not blown a ninth-inning lead against Milwaukee and dropped an 8-4 decision in their home finale Sunday. They can slice the number in half with a win in the opener at PNC Park, where the Pirates are 31-10 when playing in front of a crowd of 33,000 or more. St. Louis still owns the best record in the major leagues and is two victories away from reaching the century mark.

    TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, ESPN2, FSN Midwest (St. Louis), ROOT (Pittsburgh)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Cardinals RH Lance Lynn (12-10, 3.16 ERA) vs. Pirates LH J.A. Happ (10-8, 3.88)

    Lynn halted his three-game winless streak in strong fashion Wednesday, scattering three hits over six scoreless innings against Cincinnati. The 28-year-old native of Indiana went 0-2 during his skid, yielding a total of 12 runs while failing to last four frames on two occasions. Lynn fell to 5-5 lifetime against Pittsburgh on Aug. 13, when he was tagged for seven runs — three earned — and six hits while retiring only two batters.

    Happ is coming off a victory at Colorado on Tuesday in which he struck out eight while allowing three runs in 5 1/3 innings. The 32-year-old from Illinois is 6-2 in nine outings since being acquired from Seattle, winning six of his last seven turns while giving up more than two runs only once in that span. Happ’s only loss in that stretch came against Chicago on Sept. 15, when he yielded two runs and eight hits over 5 2/3 frames to fall to 1-4 in six career starts versus the Cubs.


    1. The Cardinals are 86-1 when leading after eight innings.

    2. Pittsburgh RF Gregory Blanco recorded his team’s lone hit Sunday, giving him at least one in six of his last seven games.

    3. St. Louis RHP Trevor Rosenthal needs one save to eclipse the franchise single-season record of 47 he currently shares with Lee Smith (1991) and Jason Isringhausen (2004).

    PREDICTION: Cardinals 4, Pirates 1


    Preview: Twins at Indians

    Current Conditions – Cleveland
    CLOUDY 72 °F
    Wind: N 15
    5-Day Forecast GAME: Minnesota Twins (80-75) at Cleveland Indians (77-77)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, September 28 – 7:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio

    The Minnesota Twins continue their pursuit of an American League wild-card spot when they visit the Cleveland Indians on Monday. Minnesota is 1 1/2 games behind Houston for the second berth with seven contests remaining and also must overtake the Los Angeles Angels to claim the spot.

    The four-game series also has importance for the Indians, who still hold postseason aspirations as they sit four games behind the Astros. Cleveland has won three of its last four contests and is beginning a seven-game homestand with Corey Kluber, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner who looks to avoid his AL-worst 16th defeat. Michael Brantley, who is batting .312 with 15 home runs and 84 RBIs, returned to the Indians’ lineup Sunday after missing four games with a shoulder injury and will play again on Monday. Minnesota has won five of its last seven games as it looks to reach the postseason for the first time since 2010.

    TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Phil Hughes (11-9, 4.43 ERA) vs. Indians RH Corey Kluber (8-15, 3.55)

    Hughes tossed five scoreless innings against the Indians on Wednesday, when he allowed four hits en route to his first victory since returning from back issues. He has served up 29 homers in 154 1/3 frames this season after surrendering just 16 in 209 2/3 innings in 2014. Hughes is 6-3 with a 3.95 ERA in 11 career starts against Cleveland and has enjoyed success against Carlos Santana (3-for-21).

    Kluber was ineffective when matched up against Hughes on Wednesday, allowing four runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings while losing his third straight decision. He hasn’t won since beating the Twins in back-to-back complete-game efforts in August, when he gave up two runs and four hits while striking out 17. Kluber is 6-3 with a 3.49 ERA in 14 career starts against Minnesota and typically shuts down Brian Dozier (4-for-30) and Torii Hunter (3-for-22).


    1. Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe missed Sunday’s game against Detroit due to illness after going 0-for-11 over his previous three contests.

    2. Cleveland 2B Jason Kipnis has recorded five multi-hit performances in nine games after struggling over the first half of the month.

    3. Minnesota 1B Joe Mauer is 2-for-14 over his last four games while his .264 average is the lowest of his 12 major-league campaigns.

    PREDICTION: Indians 4, Twins 3


    Preview: Tigers at Rangers

    Current Conditions – Arlington
    SUNNY 84 °F
    Wind: S 7
    5-Day Forecast GAME: Detroit Tigers (72-83) at Texas Rangers (84-71)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, September 28 – 8:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Globe Life Park in Arlington, Arlington, Texas

    The Texas Rangers are closing in on a surprise division crown, and they look to take another step toward clinching the American League West when they host the Detroit Tigers on Monday. The Rangers were an abysmal 67-95 in 2014 before this season’s stunning turnaround, which has them leading Houston by 2 1/2 games with seven contests remaining.

    Texas allowed the AL West race to tighten up by losing two straight to Houston while the red-hot Los Angeles Angels sit three games back. Texas hosts the Angels in a season-ending four-game set and would like to clinch the division while they have the disappointing Tigers in town for three contests. Detroit was outscored 13-3 while losing its last two games to Minnesota and is out of the playoff mix after four straight appearances. Tigers star Miguel Cabrera is set to win his fourth career batting title, but his string of consecutive 100-RBI campaigns will end at 11.

    TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, FSN Detroit, FSN Southwest (Texas)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Justin Verlander (4-8, 3.49 ERA) vs. Rangers RH Colby Lewis (17-8, 4.36)

    Verlander allowed three runs and five runs in seven innings while defeating the Chicago White Sox in his last turn. He has won three of his last six starts after capturing just one of his first 12 in an injury-shortened season. Verlander is 8-5 with a 2.99 ERA in 15 career outings against Texas and has struck out Shin-Soo Choo 23 times in 55 at-bats (.236, two home runs).

    Lewis has won three consecutive starts, giving up just four runs in 21 innings during the streak. The 36-year-old is 8-2 at home in 15 outings despite posting a mediocre 4.48 ERA. Lewis scattered six hits over seven scoreless frames to defeat the Tigers on Aug. 21 and is 4-3 with a 5.20 ERA in 10 career appearances (nine starts) versus Detroit.


    1. Rangers SS Elvis Andrus is 2-for-13 over his last four games.

    2. Detroit 2B Ian Kinsler is batting .404 and slugging .702 in 47 at-bats against Texas since the Rangers traded him to the Tigers following the 2013 season.

    3. Texas 3B Adrian Beltre has recorded 10 multi-hit performances in his last 15 games and is hitting .313 this month.

    PREDICTION: Rangers 5, Tigers 2


    Preview: Royals at Cubs

    Current Conditions – Chicago
    SUNNY 77 °F
    Wind: NNW 12
    5-Day Forecast GAME: Kansas City Royals (90-65) at Chicago Cubs (90-65)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, September 28 – 8:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois

    The Chicago Cubs are hoping Monday’s interleague game against the visiting Kansas City Royals is a preview of what’s to come in October. Chicago, which will be one of the National League’s two wild-card teams, plays its final regular-season home contest versus the American League Central champion Royals in the makeup of a rainout May 30.

    The Cubs have a chance to host the wild-card game as they sit 4 1/2 games behind Pittsburgh with seven contests remaining after Sunday night’s 4-0 triumph over the Pirates. Kansas City wrapped up the home portion of its schedule Sunday, when it posted a 3-0 victory over Cleveland to salvage the finale of their three-game series. The Royals clinched the Central with a triumph over Seattle on Friday but have gone just 10-15 this month. Kansas City is hoping to make its second consecutive World Series appearance after a 29-year postseason drought as it closes out the regular season with a seven-game road trip.

    TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, FSN Kansas City, CSN Chicago

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Yordano Ventura (12-8, 4.40 ERA) vs. Cubs RH Kyle Hendricks (7-7, 4.23)

    Ventura settled for a no-decision against Seattle on Wednesday after allowing three runs and six hits in six innings. The 24-year-old Dominican has gone 8-1 in his last 12 outings, giving up three runs or fewer on eight occasions. Ventura made his only career start against the Cubs in Chicago on May 31, when he yielded one run and four hits in seven frames but did not factor in the decision.

    Hendricks is coming off a loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday in which he gave up three runs and four hits in six innings. The 25-year-old Californian has won only one of his last eight outings, surrendering three or more runs in all but one of those turns. Hendricks, who is 2-3 with a 3.63 ERA in 14 home starts this season, will be facing Kansas City for the first time in his career.


    1. The Royals are tied with Toronto for the best record in the AL, with the Blue Jays owning the tiebreaker for home-field advantage throughout the AL postseason by virtue of going 4-3 in the season series.

    2. Chicago SS/2B Starlin Castro has recorded four multi-hit performances over his last nine games.

    3. Kansas City joined the 1919-25 Philadelphia A’s as the only teams in major-league history to finish with improved records in six straight seasons.

    PREDICTION: Royals 6, Cubs 4


    Preview: Athletics at Angels

    Current Conditions – Anaheim
    CLOUDY 74 °F
    Wind: WNW 3
    5-Day Forecast GAME: Oakland Athletics (65-91) at Los Angeles Angels (81-74)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, September 28 – 10:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, California

    The Los Angeles Angels are keeping the heat on the Houston Astros for the final wild-card spot in the American League and probably couldn’t ask for a better opponent to continue doing so. The Angels eye their sixth straight victory on Monday when they open a three-game set at home against the AL-worst Oakland Athletics.

    Los Angeles (81-74) began its winning streak by taking two of the final three games of its previous series with Houston before returning home to complete a three-game sweep of Seattle over the weekend. The Angels, who moved within three games of Texas in the AL West with their second consecutive 3-2 victory on Sunday, remained one-half game behind the Astros. Although Oakland has won seven of the 16 meetings with Los Angeles in the season series in 2015, the Athletics have not been nearly as competitive in September, falling to 7-17 this month after dropping two of three at home to San Francisco. Oakland will hope for the same kind of success that it had the last time it saw Angels starter Hector Santiago, who they roughed up for five runs en route to a 11-5 victory on Aug. 31.

    TV: 10:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, CSN California (Oakland), FSN West (Los Angeles)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Athletics LH Felix Doubront (3-3, 5.53 ERA) vs. Angels LH Hector Santiago (9-9, 3.47)

    Doubront continued his recent struggles in Wednesday’s 10-3 loss versus the Rangers, surrendering seven runs – including a pair of homers – on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings. The 27-year-old Venezuelan has yielded at least four runs in four of his last five starts and posted an 8.33 ERA over his last five turns. Doubront, who has allowed seven home runs across his last four outings, is 2-1 with a 4.12 ERA in four career games (three starts) against the Angels.

    Santiago had an uneven outing on Tuesday at Houston, but was still able to pick up the victory despite giving up two runs – both on solo homers – on four hits and five walks in five frames. The New Jersey native has just two quality starts over the last seven outings and has recorded more walks (24) and strikeouts (22) over that span. Santiago has faced Oakland three times the season (1-1, 5.02 ERA) and is 2-2 with a 3.28 ERA in 12 career appearances (four starts).


    1. With his next RBI, Angels 1B/DH Albert Pujols can become the first player in major-league history to reach 90 in 14 of his first 15 seasons.

    2. The Athletics (65-91) clinched the worst record in the AL with Sunday’s loss, doing so for the third time in franchise history.

    3. Los Angeles RH Mike Morin, who collected his first career save in Sunday’s victory, has allowed one run over 11 innings in September.

    PREDICTION: Angels 6, Athletics 4


    Preview: Astros at Mariners

    Current Conditions – Seattle
    CLOUDY 60 °F
    Wind: NNE 8
    5-Day Forecast GAME: Houston Astros (82-74) at Seattle Mariners (74-82)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, September 28 – 10:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington

    The Houston Astros continue their bid for a playoff spot when they open a crucial three-game series against the host Seattle Mariners on Monday. Houston holds a one-half game lead over the Los Angeles Angels for the American League’s second wild-card spot, but each of its final six contests are on the road.

    The Astros are a dismal 29-46 on the road, which has hindered their chances of winning the AL West. Houston was overtaken by Texas, which it trails by 2 1/2 games in the division race despite winning two of three against the Rangers over the weekend. Seattle has dropped five straight games to clinch its fifth losing campaign in six years, while Houston has wrapped up its first winning season since 2008. Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz is tied with Baltimore’s Chris Davis for the major-league home run lead with 43 but has gone deep just once in his last 10 games.

    TV: 10:10 p.m. ET, MLBN, ROOT (Houston, Seattle)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros RH Lance McCullers (5-7, 3.22 ERA) vs. Mariners LH Roenis Elias (5-8, 3.94)

    McCullers has lost four straight decisions and is winless in his last seven starts. He struck out nine in seven innings against the Angels in his last turn but was tagged with the loss after giving up three runs and four hits. McCullers is 1-1 with a 2.89 ERA in two starts against Seattle.

    Elias received a no-decision in his last turn, when he gave up one run and four hits in 5 1/3 innings against Kansas City. He has worked 5 1/3 frames in each of his last four starts, going 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA during that stretch. Elias matched his career best of 10 strikeouts while allowing two runs and four hits in seven innings of a victory over the Astros on June 19 – his lone win (1-2, 4.91 ERA) is six career starts against them.


    1. Astros DH Evan Gattis is 11-for-31 with two homers over his last eight contests.

    2. Seattle DH Mark Trumbo homered on Sunday against the Angels to halt a 14-game drought.

    3. Houston 1B Chris Carter has belted four homers in his last six games.

    PREDICTION: Astros 5, Mariners 3


    Preview: Dodgers at Giants

    Weather information is currently unavailable. 5-Day Forecast GAME: Los Angeles Dodgers (87-68) at San Francisco Giants (81-74)
    DATE/TIME: Monday, September 28 – 10:15 PM EST
    WHERE: AT&T Park, San Francisco, California

    The Los Angeles Dodgers had a number of chances to wrap up a playoff berth over the weekend, but were unable to seal the deal. Instead, the Dodgers will attempt to clinch their third straight National League West title in a venue they have yet to win in the season when they head to at AT&T Park on Monday to face the San Francisco Giants in the opener of a four-game set.

    Los Angeles (87-68) entered its previous series having defeated Colorado in 11 of their 16 meetings in 2015, but the Rockies pounded the Dodgers for 27 runs over the weekend to sweep the division leaders. As a result, the Dodgers’ magic number to win the NL West remained at two, although they have to like their chances in the opener as Cy Young hopeful Zack Greinke takes the mound against a team he has yet to lose to in nine career starts. San Francisco (81-74) clawed within six games of Los Angeles following Sunday’s 5-4 win at Oakland as rookie Jarrett Parker followed up a three-homer, seven-RBI performance one day earlier with a 2-for-3 effort. The Giants will be eliminated from postseason consideration with a loss in any game in this series, but have won all six meetings at AT&T Park this season against their archrivals.

    TV: 10:15 p.m. ET, SportsNet LA (Los Angeles), CSN Bay Area (San Francisco)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers RH Zack Greinke (18-3, 1.65 ERA) vs. Giants RH Jake Peavy (7-6, 3.83)

    Greinke skipped his last scheduled start to rest a sore calf, but returns to the mound aiming to extend his winning streak to six straight starts after holding Pittsburgh to two runs over seven innings on Sept. 18. The 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner has won all four of his turns in September, posting a 1.91 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and .184 batting average against. Greinke is 7-0 in his career versus the Giants – winning each of his last seven starts against them – while posting a 2.15 ERA.

    Peavy continued his stellar September on Wednesday, allowing four hits and a walk over six scoreless innings in a no-decision at San Diego. The three-time All-Star, who has not lost in his last six trips to the mound, is 3-0 with a 2.19 ERA, 0.81 WHIP and .187 batting average against in four turns this month. Peavy yielded four runs over 5 2/3 frames in a no-decision versus the Dodgers in his worst outing during that stretch, but is 14-3 with a 2.42 ERA in 28 all-time starts against Los Angeles.


    1. The Dodgers are hopeful that 1B Adrian Gonzalez, who has missed three of the last four games with a pinched nerve in his back, will be ready to go for the opener.

    2. San Francisco had lost 14 of its previous 15 one-run games prior to Sunday.

    3. Los Angeles rookie SS Corey Seager has reached base safely in each of his 19 career starts, making him the first Dodger to accomplish that feat since Jim “Junior” Gilliam (24) in 1953.

    PREDICTION: Dodgers 2, Giants 1


    Pitcher change announced – Rick Porcello, Boston

    NY Yankees vs. Boston on September 28 at 7:05 PM. Previous Starter: Eduardo Rodriguez.


    Street, Smith injuries leave huge void in Angels bullpen

    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Sunday became Day One of the Los Angeles Angels’ quest to earn a playoff spot without their two best relievers, one of whom leads the American League in saves.

    One week after right-handed setup specialist Joe Smith sprained his left ankle while walking down a hotel staircase, right-handed closer Huston Street suffered a strained left groin. As he ran to cover third base on a ground ball in the top of the ninth inning Saturday night, Street pulled up and could not put any weight on his left leg. The right-hander needed help to leave the field after facing two batters.

    “It’s a huge loss. It’s devastating,” center fielder Mike Trout said after that game.

    Without Smith and Street, manager Mike Scioscia’s options become limited, yet clear.

    “We’re going to do it by committee and hold some leads,” Scioscia said.

    That committee had its first successful meeting Sunday against the Seattle Mariners. After right-hander Jered Weaver left with shoulder tightness following five innings and 71 pitches, four relievers combined for six strikeouts and five groundouts while permitting one run and only two hits.

    Right-hander Cory Rasmus generated two strikeouts and two groundouts while allowing one hit in 1 2/3 innings. Left-hander Cesar Ramos followed by inducing two groundouts from his two batters. Right-hander Fernando Salas gave up the tying run on a pinch-hit home run but struck out the next two batters he faced.

    After the Angels scored in the bottom of the eighth inning to take a 3-2 lead, right-hander Mike Morin pitched a perfect ninth inning for his first major-league save.

    Morin struck out designated hitter Nelson Cruz and second baseman Robinson Cano. But not until Angels left fielder David Murphy caught first baseman Jesus Montero’s fly ball on the warning track could the hosts escape with the win.

    Morin thus became the first Angels pitcher not named Street or Smith to get a save this year, while Salas earned his second consecutive win in relief.

    “We’ve got a lot of guys down there pitching well,” Street said while leaning on crutches and wearing street clothes after Sunday’s win. “That’s exciting to see.”

    Street underwent an MRI that showed a Grade 1 strain. The right-hander said he likely will not pitch again this season but hopes to be available if the Angels reach the playoffs.

    “If we get there, I’m going to try to be back as soon as I possibly can,” Street said. “The MRI results, I think, were very positive. With most injuries, you’ve got to give them 72 hours before you know where you stand.”

    Yet much depends on the Angels’ new committee.

    “The better they pitch,” Street said, “the better chance I’ve got of coming back and helping this team down the stretch.”


    Pirates within reach of first-place Cardinals

    CHICAGO — Playoff positions may be locked in for much of the postseason field, but the Pittsburgh Pirates still have some unfinished business.

    A recent hot streak has propelled the Pirates to within reach of first-place St. Louis heading into a three-game series with the Cardinals starting Monday at PNC Park.

    Pittsburgh was three games behind St. Louis following Sunday’s 4-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

    “I don’t think there’s any doubt that everybody who plays the game wants to play their best baseball at the end,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said last week. “It’s something we talk about organizationally.

    “(Now) we get to go home and play the team we’re hunting.”

    The Pirates have played exceptional winning baseball of late, riding a season-high-tying eight straight victories — a streak broken by the Cubs in Sunday’s series finale. They also have the major league’s best record (82-45) since May 9.

    They were 6 1/2 games behind the Cardinals as recently as Sept. 5 and five games out on Sept. 18.

    Pittsburgh wrapped up its road season with Sunday’s loss and were 45-36 away from home. The Pirates’ final six games are at home, where they are 50-25. Following the St. Louis series, they’ll host Cincinnati for three.


    Rangers trying to hang on to lead in AL West

    HOUSTON — Following their victory over the Astros on Friday night, a win that bumped their lead to 4 1/2 games in the American League West, the Rangers appeared on the brink of a coronation celebrating their sensational month.

    By Sunday afternoon, two losses to the Astros later, Texas had backed into position of having to fend off the Astros just a while longer. Houston sliced its deficit in the AL West by two games with consecutive wins behind Collin McHugh and Dallas Keuchel, putting the Rangers in position to need a successful week at home against the Tigers and Angels, who are also in the postseason chase, to claim the West title.

    “Safe? There’s nothing safe in baseball,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “You’ve got to continue to play. It’s about competing. These guys, they’ve never taken that approach. We’ve been playing from behind all year long. We’ve worked way too hard to get to this point to think that anything is safe. We know this club’s not going to lay down.”

    The Rangers trailed by as many as 9 1/2 games in the West this season, but their 16-7 mark in September through Friday extended their division lead to a season-high 4 1/2 games. Now, not only do the Rangers have to worry about fending off the Astros over the final seven games, they’ll have the Angels to deal with for four games this coming weekend at Globe Life Park. The Angels won their fifth consecutive game on Sunday and stand just three games behind the Rangers in the division standings.

    “We’re exactly where we want to be,” Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland said. “We’ve played good ball to this point. We’ve worked really hard. Battled a lot to get to where we’re at right now. We’ve still got seven games left, so we’re going to go out each night and try to take what we got in front of us, play hard and give everything we’ve got to the end.”


    Blue Jays’ regular-season work is not done

    TORONTO – What started as a mere toast after a 10-8 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday turned into a soggy celebration for the Toronto Blue Jays.

    They entered the Saturday game realizing they had clinched a wild-card spot and the team would compete in the postseason for the first time since 1993.

    After the game, following a planned toast, it turned into a session of players dousing each other with beer and champagne.

    At the same time, the players insisted they still had their focus on winning the American League East.

    “It got a little out of hand for the situation, after we had a talk before the game (Saturday) about just a toast and that was it,” said left-hander Mark Buehrle, who pitched six innings Sunday.

    Luckily from the Blue Jays’ perspective, the celebration for a job that was only partly done did not deter them.

    Third baseman Josh Donaldson, a candidate for the American League MVP Award, hit his third walkoff homer of the season in the ninth inning for a 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

    With the victory, the Blue Jays maintained their four-game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East with seven games remaining. Their clinching number is four.

    It was a grand way to end the final regular season home game for the Blue Jays. But for the first time in 22 years the finale of their home schedule won’t be their final home game of the season.

    There is another aspect to the final week of the season in addition to the quest for the AL East title.

    The Blue Jays also are in a position to finish the season with the best record in the American League, which would give them home-field advantage through the postseason. The American League already has home-field advantage for the World Series.

    They are tied with the Kansas City Royals for the best record in the AL. Each team is at 90-65.

    As an indication of how much has changed, the Blue Jays were 51-51 on July 29 and the Royals were 61-39.

    The Blue Jays hitters thrive at Rogers Centre. So getting the extra game at home could be a big factor for them in the playoffs.

    “It’s big for anybody to get that,” manager John Gibbons said. “We’ve been so good at home, too. We’re basically known as a hitting club and it’s a great ballpark to hit in.”

    The Blue Jays finished their home schedule with a 53-28 record and they are 37-37 on the road.

    But first things first. That is the division.

    “I wouldn’t even say that having the best record (in the AL) is our first goal,” Donaldson said. “Our first goal is to win the division.”

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