MLB Baseball on TV Sunday July 1st
Game Previews (thanks to Stats LLC, Associated Press and espn.com)
YES Network Channel 52,620 and 1867HD
11am: 66th Yankees Old Timer’s Day
Preview (thanks to cbslocal.com)
1:30pm: Yankees PreGame
2pm: Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees
Michael Kay, Paul O’Neill, Lou Pinella and Meredith Marakovits
With two starters on the disabled list, the New York Yankees need Phil Hughes to step up. Facing the Chicago White Sox could help him build on his best start of the season.
Hughes takes the mound on Old Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium in the finale of a four-game set against the White Sox on Sunday.
After placing CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte on the disabled list Wednesday, New York’s fortunes turned for the worse against Chicago. The Yankees (47-30) blew a two-run ninth-inning lead in Thursday’s loss and were routed 14-7 Friday.
Hiroki Kuroda prevented the skid from reaching three games, limiting the White Sox to three hits in seven innings for a 4-0 win Saturday. Curtis Granderson, Dewayne Wise and Robinson Cano all homered.
“These are great pitchers that we’re missing, and I thought we could have a really negative effect, but the only thing I can do on the mound is to pitch my game,” Kuroda said through a translator.
Hughes (8-6, 4.48 ERA) will try to follow Kuroda’s solid outing after the club honors its legends in the 66th Old Timers’ Day earlier in the afternoon.
Hughes continues to improve after a rough start. He scattered six hits in eight scoreless innings of a 6-4 win over Cleveland on Tuesday.
It was the fourth time in five starts the right-hander would allow two or fewer runs, and he responded well after surrendering six runs over 4 1/3 innings in his previous outing.
Hughes, who opened the season 2-4 with a 6.67 ERA, will try to string together solid starts versus Chicago (42-36). Hughes is 2-1 with a 0.75 ERA in four starts and four relief appearances versus the White Sox and has a 16-inning scoreless streak against them.
Alex Rios is 7 for 18 against Hughes, but Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham are a combined 0 for 13.
Rios went 1 for 3 with two strikeouts Saturday, but is still 15 for his last 34.
Chicago, which has assured itself a winning record on this seven-game road trip, has a chance to win its first series in the Bronx since taking two of three in 2005.
The White Sox will hand the ball to Gavin Floyd (6-7, 4.80), who looks to win his third straight start.
Floyd has settled down after a rough stretch and has not allowed a run in his last two starts over 13 1/3 innings. He gave up five hits in seven innings of a 3-2 win over Minnesota on Tuesday.
“A guy that has his stuff, it’s (about) spotting it better,” manager Robin Ventura told the league’s official website about Floyd. “I think just having better command and not getting balls in the middle of the plate (is the difference). He was able to stay away from the middle of the plate and work his way out of innings.”
Prior to the two wins, Floyd had a 10.38 ERA and allowed 11 homers in 30 1/3 innings over six starts.
The right-hander is 2-2 with a 5.98 ERA versus the Yankees, but he’s won his last two starts at Yankee Stadium.
Floyd, though, will want to pitch carefully to Raul Ibanez, who is 4 for 8 with three homers against him.
Cano is 3 for 18 against Floyd, but two of his hits are home runs. Cano is batting .367 with eight homers in his last 13 games, and the Yankees have a major league-best 122 home runs.
(After the Game) Yankees PostGame (1 Hour Show)
(After Post) Joe Girardi Show (Half-Hour Show)
TBS Channel 5,405 and 1805HD
1-2pm: 2012 MLB All-Star Selection Show
Host Matt Winer will be joined by analysts Dennis Eckersley, Cal Ripken and David Wells to introduce the teams and provide analysis on the selections.
ESPN Channel 24,601 and 1869HD
7pm: Baseball Tonight
8pm: New York Mets at Los Angeles Dodgers
Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser, Terry Francona and Buster Olney
An anemic offense has the Los Angeles Dodgers in a freefall.
They usually don’t have to muster much with the bats when ace Clayton Kershaw takes the mound.
Kershaw looks to continue his dominance of the New York Mets and help the Dodgers end their longest losing streak in almost four years Sunday.
Los Angeles (43-36) has dropped 11 of 12 while hitting .172 with 15 runs, scoring five during a seven-game losing streak. The team hasn’t dropped eight in a row since Aug. 22-29, 2008.
The Dodgers have been shut out in five of the last six games, including each of the last two.
That swoon has dropped them into second in the NL West, one game back of San Francisco after leading by 7 1/2 on May 27.
“I don’t have a lot of answers,” manager Don Mattingly said. “Some really tough days right now.”
Already without star center fielder Matt Kemp (hamstring), the Dodgers are also missing Andre Ethier (oblique), the team leader with 55 RBIs. Without those two in the lineup, Los Angeles has dropped the first three of this four-game set to New York (43-36) after managing three hits in Saturday’s 5-0 loss.
“When you’re not scoring runs, it’s frustrating,” rookie Scott Van Slyke said. “I mean, when you look at the Mets (Saturday), they got a double, got him over and got him in in like three pitches. So when you’re scoring runs, it looks easier than it actually is.
“I think it’s just going to take one game where everyone’s swinging the bat well to just kind of relax everybody and get things going.”
It may not take much offensively with Kershaw (5-4, 2.74 ERA) facing the Mets. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner is 4-0 with a 1.39 ERA in five starts against them, tossing 16 shutout innings in two home games versus New York.
The last time Kershaw saw the Mets at home on July 7 came under similar circumstances. He yielded five hits with nine strikeouts in eight innings of a 6-0 victory, as the Dodgers avoided being swept in a four-game series. That performance also came opposite Dillon Gee, the Mets’ scheduled starter for Sunday.
Kershaw has only an 0-1 record to show for his last two starts despite limiting opponents to three runs and 11 hits with 15 strikeouts in 14 innings.
He’ll be facing a Mets team that has won four straight after losing four in a row. They’re hitting .310 with seven home runs during the win streak, but the club’s work on the mound has been far more impressive lately.
New York has a 0.75 ERA in those four games, a run Gee (5-6, 4.42) hopes to continue.
The right-hander, however, is 1/3 with a 4.26 ERA in his last four starts. He wasn’t sharp in a 5-3 loss at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, yielding four runs and nine hits in five innings.
Leading the way offensively for the Mets has been Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis.
Murphy is 8 for 17 with three homers and 10 RBIs in four games, matching his RBI total from his previous 25.
Davis is 6 for 17 in that stretch, connecting for two homers and driving in eight. He had a three-run homer and a double Saturday.
“If we’re going to succeed, that’s how we’re going to do it — by somebody else coming through when we need them,” manager Terry Collins said.
MLB Network Channel 621 and 1868HD
1-8pm: MLB Tonight: MLB Network’s signature show featuring live look-ins, updates, highlights, interviews, press conferences, reporting and analysis
MLB EXTRA INNINGS
1pm: Channel 1929HD and 1930: Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins
No team is more excited to be done with June than the Miami Marlins.
The Philadelphia Phillies, though, could also make a case for that distinction.
The Marlins and Phillies both hope to get their seasons turned around in July, beginning in Sunday’s series finale in Miami.
After going 21-8 in May, best in the majors, and a franchise record for victories in any month, Miami (37-40) finished June a major league-worst 8-18, percentage points behind Philadelphia at 9-19. Much of the Marlins’ success came at the expense of the Phillies, as they won four of five June meetings — including the first two in this series. Miami is trying to win four straight for the first time since reeling off a season-best seven in a row from May 1-7.
Despite their recent push, the Marlins enter July 7 1/2 games back of NL East-leading Washington after being one-half game back at the start of June.
“We need to put this month in the past and take July on,” Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton said after homering and driving in two runs in Saturday’s 3-2 win.
Stanton is 7 for 14 with two homers and four RBIs in his last four games, and if the Marlins are going to make a playoff push they’re going to need him to continue his hot hitting.
Stanton, who could be named to his first All-Star team on Sunday, was named May’s player of the month after batting .343 with 12 homers and 30 RBIs, but hit .242 with five home runs and 10 RBIs in June. Miami is 19-10 when he drives in a run and 17-30 when he doesn’t.
The Phillies (36-44) have a bit more ground to make up in the standings, but better days could be ahead.
Chase Utley is 5 for 13 in four games since making his season debut following a knee injury, and both Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay could be back following the All-Star break. Philadelphia is 10 games back of the Nationals after being three out of first at the start of June.
“I think we can turn things around, but at the same time we’ve got to play a (heck) of a lot better,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We have to play over .600 baseball the rest of the way. I’ve seen us hit some big streaks, so it’s possible, but I think everybody has to get to get it going right now.”
To avoid the sweep, Manual will give the ball to Joe Blanton (7-6, 4.87 ERA), who allowed three runs and seven hits while matching a season high with eight strikeouts in Monday’s 8-3 win over Pittsburgh. The Phillies have won four straight behind Blanton, with the right-hander recording a 3.94 ERA while being backed by an 8.49 run support average.
His last loss came against the Marlins on June 3, when he gave up five runs and nine hits in six innings of a 5-1 defeat.
Miami counters with Ricky Nolasco (6-6, 4.78), who is winless in four starts since allowing four runs and eight hits in seven innings in a 5-4 victory in Philadelphia on June 2. At least Nolasco seemed to take a step forward against St. Louis on Monday, yielding an unearned run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings of an 8-7, 10-inning loss. He had an 8.80 ERA in his previous three outings.
Utley is batting .313 in his career off Nolasco, but Carlos Ruiz is hitting .176 with no extra-base hits in 17 career at-bats against the right-hander.
1:30pm: Channel 1921HD and 1932: Cleveland Indians at Baltimore Orioles
The Cleveland Indians seem to enjoy visiting Camden Yards. No player likes it more than Shin-Soo Choo.
Choo looks to continue leading the Indians offensive barrage and cap this four-game series with a third victory against the Orioles and new acquisition Jim Thome on Sunday.
Cleveland (39-38) has won six of its last nine games in Baltimore (42-35), hitting .317 with 16 homers while averaging 6.8 runs.
Choo has been a big part of that with a .396 average in 13 games at Camden Yards, his highest mark at any park.
The right fielder has eight hits with two home runs and six RBIs in this series after going 4 for 5 with a homer, three RBIs and four runs in Saturday’s 11-5 victory.
“I think the big thing (is) I feel comfortable, comfortable in the batter’s box,” Choo said. “I have confidence. I’m not changing anything.”
Cleveland had a season-high 19 hits Saturday and is batting .350 with 26 runs while taking two of three from the Orioles.
The Indians entered this series hitting .210 with two homers and 11 runs during a five-game slide.
“We don’t do it for a while,” said Jose Lopez, who had a career-high five hits with three RBIs Saturday. “Especially Choo and a couple of guys who got three, two hits. Maybe we start and (continue) tomorrow and a week before the All-Star break.”
The Orioles have lost eight of 11, during which they’re hitting .201 and averaging 2.5 runs.
In an effort to spark the offense, they acquired Thome from Philadelphia for two minor leaguers Saturday.
Thome, who is tied with Sammy Sosa for seventh on the all-time home run list with 609, had a .242 average with five homers and 15 RBIs in a limited role for the Phillies. He’s 1 for 15 in his last six meetings with the Indians, the team he played his first 12 seasons with. He had a brief stint there last year.
“I’ve heard nothing but great things about his character and personality,” Chris Davis said. “He’s a class act. So we’re going to welcome him with open arms, and hopefully he can swing it for us like he can against us.”
Baltimore is scheduled to send Brian Matusz (5-9, 5.24 ERA) to the mound hoping he can end a four-start losing streak. He has an 8.31 ERA in his past four outings after winning four of his previous five with a 2.87 ERA.
The left-hander struggled again Tuesday, surrendering five runs and a career-high 13 hits in five innings of a 7-3 home loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
Matusz is 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA in two starts against Cleveland, striking out 14 in 14 innings.
He’ll be opposed by Justin Masterson (4-7, 4.09), who is 1-4 with a 6.88 ERA in six starts away from home. The right-hander lost his third straight road outing after allowing four runs and seven hits over six innings in Tuesday’s 6-4 defeat to the Yankees.
Masterson had won his previous two starts — both at home — giving up one unearned run and seven hits with 18 strikeouts in 16 innings.
He went 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA in two starts against the Orioles last season.
1:30pm: Channel 1922HD and 1933: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves
The Washington Nationals still have the best ERA in the major leagues, but their pitching staff is going through a rough stretch.
Giving the ball to Gio Gonzalez could help the NL East leaders finish off their 10-game trip on a positive note.
With temperatures in Atlanta again expected to reach triple digits, Gonzalez will try to match the major league lead in road wins in Sunday’s series finale.
A 3.15 staff ERA has carried the Nationals to the top of the division, but Washington (44-32) has compiled a 5.87 ERA and .319 opponent batting average in its last six games, allowing four runs or more in each of them.
The bullpen is overworked, logging 15 innings over the last three contests. Ace Stephen Strasburg left after three innings of Saturday’s 7-5 loss due to weather-related issues. According to the National Weather Service, Atlanta recorded its hottest-ever temperature at 106 degrees.
The temperature in Atlanta on Sunday is forecast to reach 104.
“I don’t know if anybody had the advantage today, but we play here,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told the team’s official website after his club ended a four-game home losing streak to Washington. “I know it gets hot in D.C., but we play here. This is our field, and we’re used to the conditions. Maybe not extreme, but it shouldn’t be a problem for us.”
Pitching on the road hasn’t been an issue for Gonzalez (10-3, 2.78 ERA), who is 6-1 with a 3.13 ERA in eight starts outside the nation’s capital, including a 7-2 victory over Atlanta on May 27 when he allowed two runs and one hit — a Michael Bourn triple. He also might have less trouble than some in the heat, as he is a Florida native.
Gonzalez, who can match Texas’ Matt Harrison for the most road wins in the majors, can also become the first left-handed 11-game winner for the Nationals franchise since it relocated from Montreal in 2005. John Lannan (10-13 in 2011) is Washington’s only other southpaw to reach double-digit victories.
While the Nationals will try to finish their trip at .500, the Braves (41-36), who have dropped five of seven to Washington this season, have a chance to move within 2 1/2 games of first place for the first time since June 10, when they were two games back.
“They’ve obviously had our number the last 10 or 12 games,” said Atlanta second baseman Dan Uggla, who had an RBI double Saturday after being held out of the lineup for the first time this season in Friday’s 5-4 loss. “They’ve got great pitching and a great lineup. But so do we. It’s time we turn the corner.”
Tim Hudson (6-3, 3.58) could make that happen Sunday when he tries to win a season-best third consecutive start.
The veteran right-hander is 14-4 with a 2.35 ERA in 24 starts against the Nationals/Expos franchise, but he surrendered a season-high seven runs in a 7-4 home loss to Washington on May 25.
Ryan Zimmerman had a three-run double off Hudson in that contest, but the Nationals third baseman is batting .154 (4 for 26) in the last six games between these clubs.
Washington right fielder Michael Morse is batting .536 with two homers and six RBIs during a six-game hitting streak, and is also riding a string of five straight multihit games.
Bourn, who has an RBI in a career-high five consecutive games, is 3 for 5 against Gonzalez.
No Braves player has homered off Gonzalez, who is giving up a major league-low .30 home runs per nine innings.
1:30pm: Channel 1923HD and 1934: Detroit Tigers at Tampa Bay Rays
Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland believes he could potentially have five players named to the AL All-Star team.
Not a bad haul for a team that is under .500 and falling well short of expectations.
After another mediocre month, the Tigers hope to get their season on track in July, beginning with Sunday’s finale of a four-game series with the struggling Tampa Bay Rays.
The All-Star teams will be announced prior to Sunday’s games, and Leyland thinks Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, Joaquin Benoit, Austin Jackson and Justin Verlander all have a shot at being selected to the Midsummer Classic. While all those players are having All-Star caliber seasons, Detroit (38-40) has been a major disappointment.
The Tigers are four games behind AL Central-leading Chicago and haven’t been over .500 since May 10, when they were 16-15.
The Rays (41-37) have also had a rough go. Thanks to a 6-12 slide, last season’s AL wild-card winner is 6 1/2 back AL East-leading New York after sitting atop the division on June 10.
One bit of good news for Tampa Bay, however, is Jeremy Hellickson is expected to make his next start despite leaving Saturday’s game in the third inning after being hit in the lower right leg by Fielder’s liner.
The Tigers went on to win 6-2 to take two of the first three games in the series and improve to 9-15 against AL teams since May 16. They haven’t taken a series from a non-NL club since sweeping lowly Minnesota from May 25-27.
Jackson put Detroit up 4-0 with a three-run homer in the eighth inning Saturday, and is batting .433 with 10 runs during a season-high seven-game hitting streak.
The Rays’ only runs Saturday came on eighth-ninth-inning homers by Carlos Pena and Jeff Keppinger.
“They (Tampa Bay) keep playing,” Leyland said. “They keep coming back. You know they’re going to do that. They don’t give you anything.”
Tampa Bay’s late rally fell short, however, and the team lost for the fifth time in six games. The Ray have combined for 10 runs while batting .139 with runners in scoring position in those defeats, and hope for better luck against Drew Smyly (2-3, 4.48 ERA), who has surrendered at least four runs in six of his last seven starts.
In his first start since June 10 after a stint on the disabled list with a blister on his left middle finger, Smyly gave up six runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings in Tuesday’s 7-5 loss to Texas.
The rookie left-hander made his major league debut against the Rays on April 12, yielding a run, four hits and three walks in four innings of Detroit’s 7-2 victory. Pena went 2 for 2 with a solo homer.
Tampa Bay counters with Alex Cobb (3-4, 4.73), who is coming off one of the uglier complete games in MLB history.
In Kansas City on Monday, Cobb was knocked around for eight runs and 13 hits over eight innings in an 8-0 loss. It was the first complete game with at least that many runs and hits allowed since Oakland’s Rick Langford in 1980.
Cobb gave up seven runs in the first four innings, and Joe Maddon decided to stick with his right-hander instead of burning his bullpen. Maddon was thrilled with how Cobb buckled down and called his effort “heroic.”
Cobb’s lone appearance against the Tigers came June 13, 2011, when he allowed a run and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 2-1, 10-inning loss.
2pm: Channel 1925HD and 1936: Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers
Prior to Sunday’s game at Miller Park, Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun will almost certainly be selected to his fifth All-Star game.
While Braun being named to the Midsummer Classic has come to be expected over the years, so has scheduled starter Yovani Gallardo’s dominance of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Gallardo looks to earn his seventh victory in as many regular-season starts against the Diamondbacks when he takes the ball for the finale of a three-game series.
Braun has put aside any possible distractions stemming from his overturned 50-game drug suspension in the offseason, and is batting .313 with an NL-best 22 homers and 55 RBIs.
“It’s been good so far,” said the reigning NL MVP after hitting two home runs in Saturday’s 10-2 win over Arizona. “The one thing that challenges me is plate discipline and sometimes I’ve been swinging out of the strike zone. But overall, I am happy with where I am at.”
Although Braun is enjoying another All-Star caliber season, it hasn’t led to much success for the Brewers. Milwaukee (35-42) is eight games behind NL Central-leading Cincinnati, and Saturday’s win was just its second in the last seven games.
With Gallardo (6-6, 4.14 ERA) taking the ball Sunday, though, the Brewers appear in good shape to pick up another victory.
Gallardo has compiled a 1.21 ERA while winning all six of his regular-season starts against the Diamondbacks (39-38). He also started Games 1 and 5 of last season’s NL division series between the clubs, going 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA to help lead the Brewers to the NLCS.
The right-hander gave up one run and five hits in 7 1/3 innings of a 7-1 victory in Arizona on May 25.
Gallardo last pitched Monday in Cincinnati, giving up two runs, four hits and four walks in six innings of a 3-1 loss. Milwaukee’s opening day starter has yielded three runs or fewer in nine of his last 10 outings.
While Gallardo has time and again overpowered the Diamondbacks, Arizona’s Josh Collmenter (0-2, 4.80) has had Milwaukee’s number.
In two regular-season starts against the Brewers last year, Collmenter went 1-0 while allowing six hits and a walk over 14 scoreless innings. He also took the ball in Game 3 of last October’s NLDS after the Diamondbacks had dropped the first two games in Milwaukee, and gave up a run and two hits in seven innings of an 8-1 victory.
Braun was 0 for 2 with a walk against Collmenter in the postseason game, and has never faced him in the regular season.
Collmenter is starting in place of Daniel Hudson, who was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow. Collmenter opened the season in Arizona’s rotation, but moved to the bullpen after recording a 9.82 ERA in four starts.
The righty has performed well in relief and also in an emergency start June 22, when scheduled starter Joe Saunders felt tightness in his shoulder while warming up. Collmenter permitted one run and three hits in four innings of the Diamondbacks’ 6-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
Arizona lost Saturday for the third time in five games after winning 12 of its previous 17.
Justin Upton walked twice but saw an eight-game hitting streak, in which he hit .467 with two homers and 10 RBIs, come to an end. He is 4 for 12 lifetime against Gallardo.
2pm: Channel 1926HD and 1937: Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins
Joe Mauer has put together a strong stretch at the plate, but that’s nothing new against the Kansas City Royals.
Mauer will try to continue his surge and help the Minnesota Twins to a third consecutive victory over the visiting Royals in the finale of this four-game set Sunday.
Mauer is hitting .420 with 15 RBIs in his last 19 games, raising his average to .325 and among the AL leaders.
He has five hits with a pair of RBIs in the first three games of this series after homering in a 5-1 win over Kansas City (35-41) in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader. He went 1 for 4 in a 7-2 victory in the opener.
Minnesota (32-45) hasn’t won three in a row since June 6-9.
“We’ve been playing pretty good baseball and hopefully we can continue to do that,” Mauer said.
He’s had little trouble doing that against the Royals, hitting .465 while knocking in 25 runs in his last 26 games. However, he’s 4 for 18 against Bruce Chen, Sunday’s scheduled starter.
Francisco Liriano (2-7, 5.30 ERA) looks to continue his resurgence for the Twins. The left-hander has a 2.41 ERA in six starts since returning to the rotation but has split four decisions in that span due largely to an average of 2.89 runs of support.
That stretch includes a 1-0 loss at Kansas City opposite Chen on June 5, when Liriano yielded one run and four hits with eight strikeouts in six innings.
Liriano got enough help Monday, allowing one run and four hits in a season-high seven innings of a 4-1 win over the Chicago White Sox.
“I’m more relaxed. I’m not trying to make a perfect pitch,” said Liriano, who was 0-5 with a 9.45 ERA in his first six starts before being demoted to the bullpen. “I’m not worried about the runners like I was before.”
Liriano has won three of four home starts against the Royals with a 3.81 ERA.
Chen (7-6, 4.53) will try to best Liriano again after allowing four hits in seven innings June 5. That matchup, though, came in Kansas City and Chen is 1-2 with a 6.14 ERA in his last four starts at Minnesota, including a 7-4 loss on April 29. He was pulled with two outs in the third after giving up six runs and six hits.
The left-hander is 3-3 with a 6.05 ERA in nine road starts this season.
Chen was solid in his most recent outing, limiting Tampa Bay to two runs — one earned — in seven innings of an 8-2 home victory Tuesday.
“He’s such a good big league pitcher, because he changes speeds very effectively, he throws strikes, he’s on the attack, different arm angles, different locations, keeps hitters off-balance really well,” manager Ned Yost told the team’s official website.
Kansas City’s Billy Butler hit his team-leading 16th homer in Saturday’s nightcap and is batting .329 in his last 24 games. He’s 13 for 31 (.419) his past seven contests in Minnesota, but 5 for 27 with six strikeouts lifetime against Liriano.
2pm: Channel 1927HD and 1938: Houston Astros at Chicago Cubs
Anthony Rizzo is giving the Chicago Cubs an encouraging glimpse of what to expect in future seasons.
For the time being, he is helping depressed North Side fans cope with what is shaping up as a lost season, and has his team in position to sweep its first series in a month.
Rizzo and the Cubs look to complete a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros on Sunday at Wrigley Field.
Rizzo hit his first homer of the season Saturday, a two-run, go-ahead shot to lift Chicago to a 3-2 victory over the Astros. Since being called up Tuesday, the 22-year-old first baseman has two game-winning hits in four contests and the Cubs (28-49) have won three times.
“It’s good to come into a new clubhouse and produce like that and help the team win,” Rizzo said. “It’s a lot of fun when you do that. It’s just good to win.”
The Cubs haven’t done a lot of winning this season — they’re on pace to match the single-season franchise record of 103 losses, set in 1966 — but a victory Sunday would give them their first three-game winning streak since sweeping San Diego from May 28-30.
Rizzo, who had 23 homers in 70 games for Triple-A Iowa, went deep Saturday against fellow left-hander J.A. Happ.
“That’s another thing I worked on hard this year, hitting lefties and I feel comfortable if it’s a lefty or righty,” he said.
He’ll get a chance to face another southpaw Sunday with Houston (32-46) giving the ball to Wandy Rodriguez (6-5, 3.52 ERA).
Rodriguez permitted five runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings of Monday’s 8-7, 10-inning loss to San Diego. The Astros, owners of the majors’ worst road record at 9-27, have lost seven of Rodriguez’s last 10 starts.
Rodriguez pitched well in his lone outing of the season against the Cubs on May 23, yielding a solo homer to Reed Johnson and seven other hits over seven innings of a 5-1 victory. He is 2-2 with a 3.06 ERA in 10 starts against Chicago since 2009.
The Cubs counter with Travis Wood (2-3, 3.54), who allowed five hits and a walk in seven scoreless innings of Monday’s 6-1 win over the New York Mets. The lefty has yielded one run over 13 innings in his last two starts, and had a 2.27 ERA in five June outings.
He also pitched well in Houston on May 22, allowing two runs, two hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings, but was saddled with a 2-1 loss. In four starts against the Astros since the start of last season, Wood is 1-1 with a 1.54 ERA — his lowest against any team he has faced more than once.
Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, who hit a solo homer off Wood in May, could play Sunday after missing six straight games because of a right hamstring injury.
First baseman Carlos Lee, who has been the subject of trade rumors involving the Los Angeles Dodgers, could decide his future with the Astros by Sunday. He is 2 for 12 lifetime against Wood.
2pm: Channel 1939: Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals
After an outstanding offensive performance in June, the Pittsburgh Pirates will try to begin July with another set of accomplishments.
The Pirates, though, likely won’t have top hitter Andrew McCutchen in Sunday’s series finale against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Pedro Alvarez helped his team tie a franchise record with a first-inning grand slam in Saturday’s 7-3 victory at Busch Stadium. The home run was Pittsburgh’s 39th in June to match a mark set in 1975.
The Pirates (42-35) were also among the major league leaders during the month with 146 runs scored and have homered in eight straight contests. They’ve gone deep 10 times during a four-game win streak and batted .314 while scoring 37 runs.
McCutchen led the way for much of the month by hitting .441 and driving in 14 runs over his last 14 games, but he left in the seventh inning Saturday with a sprained left wrist. The outfielder, who is batting .346 with 15 homers and a team-best 51 RBIs, suffered the injury while making a diving catch in the third.
Manager Clint Hurdle said McCutchen will probably rest on Sunday.
“I don’t get days off, I’m not trying to get days off,” McCutchen said. “I get days off in the offseason.”
If McCutchen sits out, it will be up to Alvarez, batting .360 with seven homers and 19 RBIs in his past 14 games, and the rest of the Pirates’ hitters to help the team move eight games above .500 for the first time since their NL East-winning club finished 96-66 in 1992.
Pittsburgh is also seeking its first sweep of three games or more in St. Louis since winning four in a row there July 3-6, 1997, and its first five-game win streak since Sept. 17-22, 2010.
“They’ve been pretty good against us,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told the team’s website. “You just look at their team as a whole, they’re a lot better than what people think.
“They had a slow start offensively, so their numbers are a little deceptive, but the last month, they’ve been as good as anybody.”
Erik Bedard (4-8, 4.27 ERA) will try to help the Pirates with another strong outing against the Cardinals (40-38). He fanned a season-high 11 and gave up two runs over five innings during his first game in St. Louis, a 6-3 win May 3.
Bedard, though, is 0-4 with a 9.47 ERA in his last four road starts and 0-2 with a 7.04 ERA in his last three overall. The left-hander gave up four runs over six innings in a 5-4 loss at Philadelphia on Tuesday.
He’ll be opposed by Jake Westbrook (6-6, 3.77), who is 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA over his last three outings. He gave up two runs over six innings Monday in Miami but did not get a decision in an 8-7 win.
The right-hander hasn’t proved nearly as effective in six lifetime starts against the Pirates, going 0-5 with a 5.97 ERA, his worst record against any team. He was outdueled by Bedard on May 3, giving up four runs and nine hits over 6 1/3 innings.
Carlos Beltran will try to help Westbrook by extending his major league-best RBI streak to nine games. The outfielder, who hit his 400th career double Saturday and recorded his 2,000th hit Friday, has driven in 13 runs during his streak and is among the NL leaders with 61 RBIs.
3pm: Channel 1928HD and 1931: Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays
The Los Angeles Angels could use another stellar outing from C.J. Wilson following three poor pitching performances against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Los Angeles hasn’t lost a start made by Wilson in more than six weeks, and the left-hander will try to extend his win streak to six games during Sunday’s series finale against the Blue Jays.
After posting a 2.43 ERA during a 6-1 stretch, the Angels (43-35) have given up 25 runs while dropping two of three in Toronto. Their starters have yielded 21 of those runs, including 10 by Garrett Richards in 4 1/3 innings during an 11-2 loss Saturday.
“That was a bad game. We’re just going to turn the page on it,” manager Mike Scioscia said after his team lost consecutive games for the first time since June 3-4. “We just got beat up today, and we’ve got to get better tomorrow.”
Yunel Escobar’s homer was part of a seven-run second inning, matching the most the Blue Jays (40-38) have scored in one frame this season. Brett Lawrie added a three-run shot as part of a three-hit afternoon.
Escobar is 5 for 12 with a team-best five RBIs during the series.
Wilson (9-4, 2.36 ERA) would appear to be the right man to squelch Toronto’s hitters as he’s 5-0 with a 1.30 ERA over seven starts — all Angels victories — since losing to the Chicago White Sox on May 17.
He won Tuesday despite allowing a homer for the first time in eight outings, as that was the only run he surrendered in seven innings of a 7-3 victory over Baltimore.
Wilson was almost as effective in defeating the Blue Jays on May 5 in Anaheim, allowing two runs over eight innings and striking out nine in a 6-2 victory. However, he hasn’t been nearly as good in two career starts at Toronto, going 0-2 with an 8.38 ERA.
Jose Bautista has never gone deep off Wilson but is 3 for 8 against him. Bautista has seven of his major league-leading 26 homers over his last 12 games.
Wilson will pitch opposite Aaron Laffey (0-0, 1.80), who was superb Tuesday in his first major league start since July 19, 2010.
Laffey, called up from Triple-A Las Vegas on June 12, pitched six scoreless innings in Boston, giving up three hits and two walks. The Blue Jays’ bullpen, however, couldn’t hold a lead in the 5-1 defeat.
“I’ve always done whatever the team needed me to do, but getting this opportunity is something I’ve been waiting for a couple of years now,” Laffey said.
The left-hander is making his first start versus the Angels since July 29, 2009. He hasn’t fared well the last two times he started against them, going 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA.
He’s never had to face Mike Trout, who is tied for the AL lead with a .336 average but had an 11-game hitting streak snapped Saturday. He’s gone hitless in back-to-back games just three times this season.
Los Angeles hasn’t lost three straight since May 19-21, with all of those defeats coming on the road. The Angels had won 14 of 15 away from home until a 7-5 loss Friday night.
3pm: Channel 1940: San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies
The light-hitting San Diego Padres weren’t getting much production from starting catcher Nick Hundley, so they sent him to Triple-A.
His replacement produced unlike anyone else had in major league history.
After hitting homers from both sides of the plate in his first career start, Yasmani Grandal should be behind the plate again Sunday when the Padres try to win just their second road series of the season.
Despite throwing out a major league-best 19 runners trying to steal, Hundley wasn’t providing much offense, batting .166 with three homers and 50 strikeouts in 193 at-bats.
“When things weren’t going his way, things were building up and effecting his performance,” manager Bud Black told the Padres’ official website after Hundley was sent to Tucson on Friday. “So it’s a classic case of taking one step back to take two forward.”
Grandal took a huge step in his first major league start, hitting home runs from both sides of the plate for his first two career hits. No player in major league history had accomplished that feat.
“I can’t describe how remarkable this is,” said Grandal, acquired from Cincinnati in the offseason Mat Latos deal. “Just getting the call-up was surreal. To get called up and hit two home runs for my first two hits, it’s just incredible.”
Alexi Amarista also had two long balls as the Padres matched a season high with four. San Diego has 45 homers this season, tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the fewest in the majors.
San Diego (29-50), which swept Seattle from June 12-14 for its only other road series win of the season, will get its second look at Colorado starter Drew Pomeranz (0-2, 4.70 ERA), who returns to the majors following a stint at Triple-A Colorado Springs.
The left-hander, who was demoted May 11 to fix some mechanical issues with his delivery, went 4-4 with a 2.91 ERA in nine minor-league starts.
Pomeranz’s last major league appearance came May 7, when he left with a bruised left quad in the fourth inning of a 3-2 loss at San Diego.
He’ll be opposed by the Padres’ Kip Wells (0-1, 3.60), who will face Colorado (30-47) for the first time in three seasons. Out of retirement and making his first major league appearance since Oct. 1, 2009, with Cincinnati, Wells yielded five runs — two earned — in five innings of Tuesday’s 5-3 loss at Houston.
“A little erratic at times,” Black told the Padres’ official website of Wells, who walked three, threw a wild pitch and committed a crucial throwing error during the Astros’ four-run fifth inning.
Wells, who went 1-2 with a 5.27 ERA in 15 games for Colorado in 2008 before being released, is 0-3 with a 6.68 ERA in six career starts against the Rockies. He has an 8.80 ERA in three starts at Coors Field as a visitor.
Colorado left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who has hit safely in nine straight games overall, is batting .444 (36 for 81) with seven homers and 20 RBIs during a 19-game hitting streak in Denver.
This is the final home game before the All-Star break for the Rockies, who went 5-10 at Coors in June.
The Padres won eight of 15 on the road last month after going 3-12 outside San Diego in May.
4pm: Channel 1929HD and 1930: Boston Red Sox at Seattle Mariners
The Boston Red Sox seem to have some key factors in place as they hope to gain a four-game split with the Seattle Mariners.
The Red Sox tend to score plenty of runs with Felix Doubront on the mound, and own the AL’s best record against left-handed starters entering their matchup with Jason Vargas in Sunday’s series finale at Safeco Field.
Boston (41-37) has dropped two of the first three in this set as the clubs have totaled only 11 runs � seven for the visitors.
There’s a good chance the Red Sox will break out Sunday since Doubront (8-4, 4.54 ERA) is receiving a major league-best average of 8.44 runs in support. He’s 5-1 with a 3.19 ERA in seven road starts, and has received a decision in 12 straight outings.
The left-hander’s last one didn’t go smoothly, as he yielded a career-high seven runs over six innings Monday in a 9-6 home loss to Toronto.
This is Doubront’s first career start against the Mariners (34-46), having thrown 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief against them Aug 25, 2010.
Boston is 17-9 against left-handed starters, including a win over Vargas (7-7, 4.54) on May 14, when he gave up five runs over six innings of a 6-1 loss at Fenway Park. Vargas fell to 1-2 with a 4.26 ERA in four career starts against the Red Sox.
The left-hander was dominant Tuesday against Oakland, matching a career high with 10 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings and allowing two runs before leaving without a decision in Seattle’s 3-2 victory. It was a marked improvement from his previous outing, when he surrendered a career-worst 10 runs � including five homers � against Arizona.
“You could tell right from the beginning of the ballgame that he was more aggressive,” manager Eric Wedge said of Tuesday’s start.
David Ortiz, still seeking his 400th career home run, is 3 for 9 with no homers against Vargas. He has three hits in 13 at-bats without going deep in this series.
Boston starters had thrown 21 consecutive scoreless innings before John Jaso’s two-run double off Josh Beckett in the sixth of Saturday’s 3-2, 11-inning victory for the Mariners. Chone Figgins won it with a sacrifice fly.
Vargas will be under pressure to provide significant innings. The Mariners bullpen was forced to work 8 1/3 innings Saturday after Erasmo Ramirez left with an undisclosed injury after retiring the first eight batters. Seattle’s relievers improved to 5-1 with a 1.91 ERA in the club’s last 17 games.
“We used all but one guy down in our bullpen and kept them in tow and really that was the story of the ballgame,” Wedge said.
Wedge called a team meeting to discuss Seattle’s poor offense after Aaron Cook’s 81-pitch, two-hitter in Boston’s 5-0 victory Friday. The Mariners’ .199 home average remains the worst in the major leagues.
Boston hasn’t fared too much better at the plate in this series, going 2 for 21 with runners in scoring position.
Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is batting .370 during a season-high 11-game hitting streak. He’s 5 for 13 in this series, but has not driven in a run.
Dustin Pedroia, meanwhile, is 1 for 12 in this series and his .229 career average versus Seattle is tied for his lowest against any AL opponent. He’s 1 for 8 lifetime off Vargas.
4pm: Channel 1941: Cincinnati Reds at San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants’ pitching staff recently made franchise history, but the Cincinnati Reds’ starters have shined the brightest in the last two games.
Ryan Vogelsong will try to deliver another strong home start for the Giants on Sunday and salvage a four-game series split against the Reds and Bronson Arroyo, who will try again for his first career victory in San Francisco.
Entering this four-game set on the heels on three consecutive shutout victories over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the NL West-leading Giants (44-35) won Thursday’s series opener 5-0 over the Reds (43-34), setting a club record with a fourth straight shutout.
However, the Reds’ starters that have dominated the last two contests between these first-place clubs. After Mike Leake threw a nine-hitter in Friday’s 5-1 victory — the Giants’ lone run came on a Pablo Sandoval ninth-inning homer — Mat Latos tossed a two-hitter Saturday for a 2-1 Cincinnati win.
It marked back-to-back complete games by Reds starters since May 11 and 12, 2010, when Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey tossed shutouts at Pittsburgh.
“We ran into another well-pitched game,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We didn’t do too much.”
Fortunately for San Francisco, opponents have not done much against Vogelsong (7-3, 2.23 ERA) at the team’s waterfront ballpark. Since joining the team in 2011, the right-hander has compiled a sparkling 1.85 home ERA.
Vogelsong has thrown at least six innings in all 14 of his starts this year.
“It’s pretty amazing what he has done and how consistent he’s been,” Bochy told the team’s official website Tuesday after Vogelsong went seven strong innings in a 2-0 victory over the Dodgers.
Vogelsong, though, is 1/3 with a 6.60 ERA in seven career starts versus the Reds. He gave up four runs in six innings at Cincinnati on April 26, but the Giants rallied for three runs in the ninth and a 6-5 victory to salvage the finale of that three-game set.
The Reds have clinched the season series by virtue of winning the last two contests, but Arroyo (3-5, 4.13) can help the Central leaders win their first series by the Bay since taking two of three Aug. 7-9, 2009.
The right-hander is 0-4 with a 4.34 ERA in five starts at San Francisco.
Arroyo has given up two homers in 29 innings in those appearances, which is much better compared to his 15 allowed over 15 total starts in 2012.
After surrendering two long balls in each of his previous three outings, Arroyo kept the ball in the park in Tuesday’s 4-3 win over Milwaukee. He didn’t yield a hit until Taylor Green’s two-out double in the eighth, but he gave up three runs and didn’t make it out of the inning or get credit for the victory.
“After a gem like that, a no-decision is terrible,” said Arroyo, who also failed to earn a decision after allowing two runs — one earned — in five innings of a 4-2 victory over the Giants on April 25.
The Reds might be without first baseman Joey Votto in the series finale after he left Saturday’s game in the fifth inning because of inflammation in his left knee. If Votto can’t go, Miguel Cairo — who had an RBI single off the bench Saturday — could get the start.
Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, who is batting .344 (22 for 64) in his last 15 games in San Francisco, is 7 for 12 lifetime off Vogelsong.
The Giants are trying to avoid dropping three in a row for the first time since a season-worst four-game skid to begin May.
7pm: (Maybe NO TV: Check MLB EXTRA INNINGS) Oakland A’s at Texas Rangers
Yu Darvish hasn’t lost since he faced Oakland last month, and his manager believes the Athletics will see a different pitcher than the one they saw in that outing.
The Japanese right-hander seeks his eighth win in as many home starts Sunday night when the Texas Rangers seek a sixth straight victory and a four-game sweep of Oakland.
Darvish (10-4, 3.57 ERA) is 3-0 with 29 strikeouts and a 3.13 ERA in three outings since he gave up six runs and struck out four over 5 1/3 innings of a 7-1 loss at Oakland (37-42) on June 7. He fell to 1-1 with a 4.85 ERA in two starts against the Athletics.
“They can be damn sure it’s not going to be the Darvish they saw in Oakland,” manager Ron Washington told the Rangers’ official website. “It’s not going to be that Darvish. I don’t know what the results are going to be but they won’t see that Darvish.”
Darvish claimed Friday that he didn’t deserve to be on the All-Star team, but his 10 victories lead all rookies and he’s 7-0 with a 3.45 ERA in his first seven home outings. AL manager Washington has decided on the team, which will be announced Sunday.
Darvish realizes his 50 walks and a walks-per-nine inning ratio of 4.70 both rank among the worst marks in baseball.
“Whether I’m not leading anymore, still I’m giving up more walks than I should,” he said through a translator. “That’s something that I’m going to improve on in the future.”
The top of Oakland’s lineup should present a challenge since Coco Crisp is 2 for 3 with a homer off Darvish, and Jemile Weeks is 3 for 6 with two walks against him.
Texas (50-29) became the first team to reach 50 victories with Saturday’s 7-2 win, its 17th in 21 games.
Josh Hamilton homered and drove in four runs to lead the Rangers. He is 7 for 22 with three homers and nine RBIs over his last six games after hitting .211 during an 11-game homerless drought.
“I’m doing absolutely nothing differently,” Hamilton said. “It’s just baseball. You go through spurts like that.”
Oakland committed two errors in the fifth inning Saturday that led to five unearned runs, including a miscue from shortstop Brandon Hicks right before Hamilton homered.
“You can’t do that here,” manager Bob Melvin said. “With that lineup and in this park, you can’t give them freebies.”
A’s slugger Yoenis Cespedes continues to tear up Texas pitching. He’s 13 for 24 with seven RBIs while hitting safely in all seven matchups in which he’s appeared between the clubs.
Oakland first baseman Chris Carter has hit solo homers in each of the last two games since being called up from the minors, going 3 for 7 with four runs scored.
A’s starter Travis Blackley (1-2, 3.05) is 0-3 with a 6.95 ERA in seven career road starts, including 0-1 despite a 3.24 ERA in three this year. He gave up two runs over seven innings Tuesday and did not receive a decision in a 3-2 defeat at Seattle.
The left-hander won his big-league debut in 2004 against the Rangers, while with the Mariners. He didn’t fare as well June 5 in a 6-3 home loss to Texas, yielding five runs over 4 2/3 innings.