MLB Baseball on TV: Saturday June 30th
Game Previews (thanks to Stats LLC, Associated Press and espn.com)
YES Network Channel 52,620 and 1867HD
Noon: Yankees Batting Practice Today
12:30pm: Yankees PreGame
1pm: Chicago White Sox at New York Yankees
Michael Kay, Paul O’Neill, Lou Pinella and Meredith Marakovits
The Chicago White Sox have a chance to take over baseball’s best road record since they are playing the team they are tied with — the New York Yankees.
The White Sox look for a fifth straight victory Saturday when Jake Peavy tries to end a three-start slide and record his first win against the Yankees.
Chicago (42-35) improved to 23-14 on the road with Friday’s 14-7 victory to match New York’s mark. A.J. Pierzynski homered twice and Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez also went deep as the White Sox took advantage of Yankees starter Adam Warren in his major league debut.
Pierzynski and Ramirez each had three RBIs, with the White Sox shortstop recording his first four-hit effort since May 31, 2011. Chicago’s 19 hits were two shy of its season high set in Wednesday’s 12-5 win over the Twins.
“This is a nice park to hit in,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s nice to get everybody swinging the bat.”
Pierzynski batted .190 with no multihit games in his previous 13 contests before Friday. His last multihomer game was Sept. 18 at Kansas City.
The White Sox have outhomered the Yankees 6-2 in this series. New York (46-30), which has homered in nine straight games, still leads the majors with 119.
Peavy (6-4, 2.84 ERA), meanwhile, has lost his last three starts despite posting a 2.05 ERA in that span. He’s gotten two runs of support in those contests, giving up three over six innings in Monday’s 4-1 loss at Minnesota.
The right-hander is also 0-3 with a 3.71 ERA in three starts against New York. Derek Jeter, the AL leader with 97 hits, is 0 for 5 in his career against Peavy, who’s 3-0 despite a 5.47 ERA in four day games.
Hiroki Kuroda (7-7, 3.40) will get the start for New York. He improved to 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA in his last six outings after yielding one run over seven-plus innings Monday in a 7-1 victory over Cleveland.
The right-hander hasn’t allowed a run over 16 innings in winning both 2012 day starts. He’s 1-1 with a 3.77 ERA in two career outings against the White Sox.
Ramirez is 4 for 8 with a homer against Kuroda and Adam Dunn 3 for 8 with a homer and two doubles.
The Yankees built a 4-0 lead after one inning Friday before Warren gave up six runs — two homers — over 2 1/3 innings.
A lone bright spot was Jeter recording his 3,185th hit, moving past Cal Ripken Jr. for 13th place on the all-time list.
Russell Martin entered to catch the ninth inning, and said he feels better after being out lately because of back trouble.
“I think tomorrow will be the day that I’m back in the lineup and back to stay in the lineup,” Martin told the Yankees’ official website.
White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis left in the fifth inning because of an upset stomach. He expects to play Saturday.
New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Saturday’s contest.
(After the Game) Yankees PostGame (1 Hour Show)
MLB Network Channel 621 and 1868HD
1pm: Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays
Blue Jays Broadcast Team: Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler
Angels Broadcast Team: Victor Rojas and Mark Gubicza
Garrett Richards could soon find himself out of the Los Angeles Angels’ rotation.
The Toronto Blue Jays can’t afford to have Henderson Alvarez out.
Richards will try to help the Angels avoid their first two-game road skid in more than a month Saturday when they continue their series against Toronto.
Called up May 29 to replace injured ace Jered Weaver, Richards (2-0, 1.63 ERA) has been far more than a stop-gap, allowing one run or fewer in three of four starts, with the Angels (43-34) winning each of those contests.
However, the rookie right-hander hasn’t locked up a spot with the club, given that Jerome Williams is progressing — he’s scheduled to start for Triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday — after being placed on the disabled list June 20 with shortness of breath.
“It’s not a bad position to be in when you have that kind of depth from a starting staff,” manager Mike Scioscia told the Angels’ official website.
The Blue Jays (39-38) have lost a large portion of their starting rotation over the last two-plus weeks, with Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison being placed on the disabled list.
It appeared that Alvarez would join them after leaving in the sixth inning of Monday’s 9-6 victory at Boston with right elbow soreness, but an MRI showed just mild inflammation.
“There’s really not a whole lot we can do about (pitchers getting injured),” manager John Farrell, whose team has surrendered 44 runs in the last six games, told the Blue Jays’ official website. “As we said before in that four-day stretch when we lost three guys in the rotation, this is another challenge that we’ll face. It will bring out opportunity for others.”
Alvarez will get his second look at the Angels in 2012 after throwing a six-hitter in a 4-0 road victory May 4 for his first career shutout.
Repeating that effort could be a tall task given how the Angels are swinging the bats. Despite having its four-game winning streak snapped with Friday’s 7-5 defeat, Los Angeles is batting .354 with 7.3 runs per game while winning seven of nine.
The Angels, winners of 14 of 16 on the road, haven’t dropped two in a row away from Anaheim since a three-game skid May 19-21.
Angels rookie center fielder Mike Trout will try to extend his 11-game hitting streak. He’s batting .400 (20 for 50) during that span.
First baseman Albert Pujols is hitting .422 (27 for 64) with six homers and 17 RBIs in Los Angeles’ last 16 road games.
Trout, Pujols and Mark Trumbo, the team leader with 19 homers, are a combined 0 for 14 with five strikeouts off Alvarez.
Adam Lind provided the power for Toronto on Friday with his eighth career mulithomer game, but Jose Bautista is the biggest long ball threat in the Blue Jays’ lineup with a major league-best 26 homers.
Bautista needs one homer to become the first player since Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki in September 2010 to hit 15 in one month.
Edwin Encarnacion is the only Blue Jay with a home run off Richards — a solo shot.
The right-hander will make his first start versus Toronto after going 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two relief appearances visiting the Blue Jays in September.
(After the Game til 7pm) MLB Tonight
10pm: Boston Red Sox at Seattle Mariners
Mariners Broadcast Team: Dave Sims and Mike Blowers
Red Sox Broadcast Team: Don Orsillo, Jerry Remy and Jenny Dell
Josh Beckett could be facing the perfect opponent as he gets ready to return for the Boston Red Sox.
Beckett, who has already dominated the Seattle Mariners once this season, makes his first start since June 11 on Saturday night at Safeco Field.
Boston (41-36) has won three of four from Seattle (33-46) this year, splitting the first two games of this four-game set. The Mariners have totaled two runs while batting .153 in the season series. They’ve also been quite anemic while dropping four of their last six games overall, totaling five runs and getting shut out three times.
That’s why Beckett (4-7, 4.14 ERA) figures to have a relatively easy time in his return from the disabled list. He gave up four hits over seven innings May 15 in a 5-0 home win over the Mariners to improve to 7-1 with a 2.30 ERA in nine starts against them since joining Boston in 2006.
The right-hander was placed on the DL on June 16 due to shoulder inflammation, but manager Bobby Valentine expects Beckett to pitch well Saturday.
“Well, if he’s healthy, I expect a good performance,” Valentine told the Red Sox’s official website. “It seems like he’s very healthy and has good spirits. Josh is a great pitcher. I expect him to go out there and give us a good outing.”
The Mariners’ John Jaso is 0 for 9 with four strikeouts against Beckett while the club’s home run leader, Justin Smoak, is 0 for 8. Chone Figgins is a .308 hitter versus Beckett, but the outfielder has struggled all year with a .187 average — .133 at home.
Seattle went down meekly 5-0 on Saturday night, its 10th shutout loss of 2012. Boston’s Aaron Cook needed only 81 pitches to pitch a two-hitter, his third career shutout and first complete game since June 26, 2010, with Colorado.
The Mariners are batting a major league-worst .197 at home, and .167 through the first five games of their current homestand.
“It’s a step back today offensively and that’s hard as hell to do the way we’ve been swinging the bats here at home,” manager Eric Wedge said. “I’m tired of watching it.”
The Red Sox didn’t need much offense to prevail, but hit four homers as Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Daniel Nava, Will Middlebrooks and Cody Ross all went deep. That’s one more homer than the total the Mariners have produced in their last 10 home games.
David Ortiz had a double in four at-bats, and remains stuck on 399 career homers for Boston, which has won 12 of 16.
Before Friday’s game, Seattle placed center fielder Franklin Gutierrez on the seven-day concussion disabled list. Gutierrez was hit in the side of the face with an errant pick-off attempt in Thursday’s 1-0 win and spent the night in the hospital.
Nicaraguan rookie Erasmo Ramirez (0-2, 4.18) will make his fourth career start for Seattle. His last one was his best, as he yielded one run and struck out 10 over eight innings of Monday’s 1-0 home defeat to Oakland.
“He was outstanding,” Wedge said. “I thought his focus was tremendous. He did a great job of keeping the ball down.”
The Mariners recalled the 22-year-old right-hander from Triple-A Tacoma on June 13, one day after demoting Blake Beavan. Ramirez, who spent the first month of the season pitching out of the Seattle bullpen before being sent down, was the youngest player to make an opening day roster in 2012.
FOX Sports Channel 8 and 1808HD
7pm: Baseball Night in America PreGame Show
Host: Matt Vasgersian: Analysts: Harold Reynolds and Kevin Millar
7:15pm: New York Mets at Los Angeles Dodgers
Joe Buck, Eric Karros and Ken Rosenthal
The New York Mets’ rotation is among the best in baseball, and that’s been evident during a three-game winning streak.
The Los Angeles Dodgers’ anemic offense has been in focus for a little longer.
Johan Santana looks to keep the visiting Mets rolling when they continue this four-game series Saturday against the punchless Dodgers.
New York’s starters have a 3.48 ERA to rank fourth in the majors. They’ve been far better in the last three games, compiling a 1.27 ERA while walking three and striking out 25 in 27 innings during that span.
R.A. Dickey turned in the latest gem Friday, tossing eight innings and yielding three of four Los Angeles hits in a 9-0 win after New York (42-36) took the series opener 3-2 a day earlier. The Dodgers (43-35) have managed only 11 hits in this series, and are batting .177 during a 1-10 stretch while being shut out five times.
Given how well Santana (5-4, 3.00 ERA) has pitched in their matchups, Los Angeles’ offensive woes could continue. The two-time Cy Young Award winner is 4-0 with a 0.65 ERA in four starts against the Dodgers. However, he hasn’t faced them since his only appearance at Chavez Ravine on July 23, 2010. He missed all of last year recovering from shoulder surgery
Manager Terry Collins isn’t worried about Santana’s shoulder.
“My conscience is pretty clear we can ride him,” Collins told the team’s official website. “Like I said in spring training, if we get 28 starts out of him, we’re going to be a pretty good club. If we get 32 starts out of him, we are going to be a good club.”
Santana has won four of his last six starts with a 2.70 ERA, but the offense failed to produce any runs for him in those defeats. That was the case in Monday’s 6-1 loss at Wrigley Field, where the left-hander allowed two runs and five hits with six strikeouts in six innings.
He’ll have a hot offense supporting him Saturday. The Mets have scored 29 runs and are batting .321 during their three-game run after losing four in a row with a .232 average and 12 runs.
Daniel Murphy is 6 for 14 with three homers and nine RBIs during the win streak after matching his career high with five RBIs on Friday. The second baseman had one RBI in his previous 14 meetings with the Dodgers.
Ruben Tejada is also contributing, going 8 for 15 with five runs in three games. He has a .429 average in six games against the Dodgers — all on the road.
Los Angeles hopes to avoid its first seven-game losing streak since an eight-game slide from Aug. 22-29, 2008.
Ending the skid may be tough with Nathan Eovaldi (0-4, 4.04) scheduled to take the mound. He hasn’t won since beating Arizona in his major league debut Aug. 6, and is 0-6 with a 3.86 ERA in 15 games — 11 starts — since.
The right-hander is coming off the worst performance of his career, allowing eight runs and 10 hits over five innings of an 8-0 loss at San Francisco on Monday.
“It’s a good experience for him. He’s going to be fine,” manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s not the kind of kid who’s going to get rattled over that.”
Eovaldi has a 2.08 ERA in two home starts this season, but is 0-1 because Los Angeles has backed him with one run in each contest.
(After the Game)
SNY Channel 66,619 and 1866HD
Mets PostGame (Half-Hour Show)
FOX Regional Games (All 7:15pm Starts)
Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins
Steve Physioc and Bert Blyleven
Royals Starter: Luke Hochevar (5-7, 5.07 ERA) vs Twins Starter: Cole DeVries (1-1, 4.20 ERA)
Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers
Daron Sutton and Bill Schroeder
With several of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ veteran starters either on the disabled list or underachieving, rookie Wade Miley has not only emerged as the staff’s unlikely anchor, but also as one of the top pitchers in the league.
Miley seeks to become the NL’s first rookie with 10 wins before the All-Star break in a decade Saturday night when he, Aaron Hill and the Diamondbacks continue their series in Milwaukee against the Brewers.
Miley (9-3, 2.19 ERA), who maintains rookie status after throwing 40 innings for the Diamondbacks (39-37) in 2011, has pitched well all season but has really hit his stride in recent weeks, lasting seven innings or longer while giving up exactly one run in each of his last four starts. He was dominant against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday, limiting them to three hits and one walk while striking out seven in a 5-1 victory.
The left-hander’s ERA ranks fourth in the majors, making him a prime candidate to represent Arizona at the All-Star game.
“I’ve still got a couple more starts before then,” Miley told the Diamondbacks’ official website. “I try to keep that out of my head as much as possible. It’d be great but we have two and a half weeks left — have to focus on winning ball games.”
If Miley wins one more, he’ll become the first Arizona pitcher with 10 wins before the All-Star break since Brandon Webb (13-4) in 2008, and the first NL rookie to do so since 2002, when Kazuhisa Ishii was 11-5 for the Dodgers. He’s proving even more valuable to the Diamondbacks with veterans Joe Saunders and Daniel Hudson on the DL, and last year’s ace Ian Kennedy sporting a sub-.500 record and an ERA above the league average.
“He doesn’t back down from anybody, he just throws strike one every time,” catcher Miguel Montero said. “He competes and believes in his stuff.”
Miley didn’t have his best stuff against Milwaukee (34-42) on May 26, allowing five runs and eight hits in six innings, but it was good enough to get credit for Arizona’s 8-5 win.
The Diamondbacks had an even better offensive night in Friday’s series opener, winning 9-3 as Hill hit for the cycle for the second time in 12 days. He became the first major leaguer to hit for the cycle twice in one season since Babe Herman in 1931, and the first to do it twice in one calendar month since John Reilly in 1883.
Hill has torched Milwaukee pitching in 2012, going 10 for 15 with three doubles, four RBIs and four runs scored in four games. He’s a .607 lifetime hitter versus the Brewers, getting at least one hit in all seven games he’s played against them.
“He can really hit,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “This is a really good hitter. We made some bad pitches.”
Neither Hill nor any other Arizona hitter has ever faced Michael Fiers (2-2, 2.70), who will take the ball Saturday for Milwaukee. The rookie right-hander enjoyed the best outing of his brief career Sunday, limiting the Chicago White Sox to five hits and one walk over 7 1/3 innings of a contest the Brewers lost 1-0 in 10 innings.
“It’s OK. I’ve got to do my job and the runs we score is what we score,” Fiers said. “If I get a loss, it doesn’t matter to me. It’s putting zeros up on the board and keeping my team in the game and getting a good result.”
Milwaukee has lost five of six overall, and three straight against the Diamondbacks.
Oakland A’s at Texas Rangers
Kenny Albert and Tom Verducci
Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington believes the Oakland Athletics’ lack of success against left-handed starters is a good reason to give Martin Perez his first major league start in this series.
The highly-touted left-hander will try to help the Rangers post a fifth straight victory Saturday night when they continue their four-game home set against the Athletics.
Oakland (37-41) fell to 10-15 against left-handed starters after Friday’s 4-3 defeat. The Athletics blew a two-run lead after scoring twice in eight innings against the Rangers’ Matt Harrison, who earned his 11th victory to tie Tampa Bay’s David Price for the AL lead.
Washington is choosing to start Perez (0-0, 13.50 ERA) over right-hander Justin Grimm because of Oakland’s woes against southpaws. Rated one of Texas’ top five prospects by Baseball America each of the last four years, the Venezuela native was recalled Tuesday from Triple-A Round Rock.
“I feel great. They are giving me this opportunity and I want to do the job,” the 21-year-old Perez told the Rangers’ official website. “I want to do the same thing I did in spring training: throw the ball over the plate and see what happens.”
Perez had a rough major league debut in relief Wednesday, allowing four runs and retiring only two batters in a 13-9 victory over Detroit. He went 5-5 with a 4.59 ERA in 15 starts with Round Rock.
“It will be start to start,” Washington said. “He’s not going to be etched in stone.”
Texas (49-29), meanwhile, is 15-9 against left-handed starters. The Rangers will get their second look at Oakland rookie left-hander Tommy Milone (8-5, 3.83), who enters with a 14-inning scoreless streak.
Milone gave up four runs over seven innings of a 4-1 loss at Texas on May 16. Josh Hamilton, Craig Gentry and Elvis Andrus each had two hits against him and Adrian Beltre delivered a two-run homer.
Milone became the first rookie pitcher in Oakland Athletics history to win eight games before the All-Star break Monday as he scattered seven hits over seven innings in his second straight victory, 1-0 at Seattle.
“I have expectations for myself, obviously, that is to win games,” Milone said. “That’s why I’m here.”
Texas has rallied to post consecutive one-run victories to start this series, coming back from an early three-run deficit in Thursday’s 7-6 victory.
Friday’s win was more dramatic as Gentry’s bases-loaded triple in the eighth capped a four-run rally that erased a 2-0 deficit. The hit was aided by Oakland left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, who appeared to misjudge Gentry’s deep fly ball.
The Rangers managed two hits through seven innings before their winning rally.
“We weren’t hitting the ball that hard early,” Washington said. “But we kept grinding and kept grinding. That’s why you play nine innings.”
Texas prevailed without using reliever Mike Adams and closer Joe Nathan, who had both pitched in each of the past three games.
“Mike Adams and Joe Nathan needed time down,” Washington said. “They needed a break.”
The Athletics, last in the majors with a .225 batting average and last in the AL with a .365 slugging percentage, have dropped 10 of 12 in Arlington.
San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies
Eric Collins and Mark Grant
The Colorado Rockies were riding their longest winning streak of the season on the first day of June.
Christian Friedrich could help Colorado end the month on a positive note, but the rookie left-hander needs to improve what’s been a rocky personal stretch.
Friedrich will try to snap a four-start losing streak Saturday night when the Rockies and San Diego Padres continue their series in Denver.
After Marco Scutaro’s run-scoring single gave them an 11-10, 11-inning victory over Washington on Thursday, the Rockies (30-46) opened this NL West series with their third consecutive home win over San Diego, 10-2 on Friday.
Colorado hadn’t won two in a row since June 4, when Friedrich (4-5, 5.86 ERA) went seven strong innings in a 4-0 victory at Arizona.
That was the last win by a Rockies starter before Jeff Francis’ 82-pitch performance Friday.
“I hope a lot of our young people are paying close attention as to what you can do with 75 or 80 pitches if you do it correctly,” manager Jim Tracy said of the pitch limit his starters have faced since they’ve gone to a four-man rotation.
Friedrich did plenty right in his major league debut, fanning seven in six innings of a 6-2 victory at San Diego on May 9 that helped the Rockies end a five-game skid and salvage the finale of that three-game series.
While Friedrich will try to help the Rockies win three in a row for the first time since a season-best five-game stretch May 28-June 1, the Padres (28-50) will look to bounce back with Edinson Volquez (4-7, 3.82) on the mound
The right-hander enjoyed one of his strongest outings of the season in a 2-0 win over Seattle on Sunday when he allowed four singles in 6 2/3 innings.
Volquez was 1-5 with a 5.72 ERA in his previous seven starts.
“I think he had his secondary pitches today,” manager Bud Black told the Padres’ official website. “All three pitches were working, he was locating the fastball … he threw the ball great.”
However, the right-hander has surrendered at least three free passes in each of his last eight starts and his 5.15 walks per nine innings is the second-worst ratio in the majors.
Giving Carlos Gonzalez a free pass might not be the worst idea the way the 2010 NL batting champ is swinging the bat. The left fielder extended his hitting streak to eight Friday with a two-run triple.
Gonzalez is batting .455 (35 for 77) with seven homers and 20 RBIs during an 18-game hitting streak in Denver.
Colorado has scored 48 runs and is batting .344 in its last seven games.
The Padres are hitting an NL-low .231. That’s not a surprise to Volquez, who has the second-lowest run-support average in the league at 2.48.
The Rockies, who are 13 games behind West-leading San Francisco, have lost two games to last-place San Diego in the standings this month.
Detroit Tigers at Tampa Bay Rays
Dick Stockton and Tim McCarver
Now that their latest losing streak has ended, the Tampa Bay Rays hope to continue in the right direction with three key members of their pitching staff back in the mix.
Getting closer to full strength, the Rays try to win consecutive home games for the first time in more than a month Saturday night against the Detroit Tigers.
Desmond Jennings hit a pair of solo homers off Justin Verlander and David Price tossed seven solid innings before leaving with lower back tightness to help Tampa Bay (41-36) snap a four-game skid with a 4-2 win over Detroit on Friday. The Rays have not won two straight games at Tropicana Field since May 22-23.
Jeremy Hellickson (4-3, 3.45 ERA) tries to help Tampa Bay do that Saturday when he comes off a stint on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. He hopes for a better outing than his most recent one June 14, when he was roughed up for a season-high eight runs and three homers in 3 2/3 innings of a 9-6 loss to the New York Mets.
The right-hander appears ready after completing a strong bullpen session earlier this week.
“I felt really good,” Hellickson told the Rays’ official website. “I felt really good throwing everything, getting back on the mound, getting the feel out there.”
Though Hellickson is 1-2 against the Tigers, he’s posted a 1.77 ERA during those three starts.
Tampa Bay also regains the services of closer Kyle Farnsworth, who has yet to pitch this season because of a right elbow strain. Farnsworth, who went 5-1 with a 2.18 ERA and converted 25 saves in 31 chances for the Rays in 2011, feels confident after two minor league rehab appearances this week.
“I feel like I’m throwing pretty good, about as good as I’m going to get right now,” he said.
Fellow reliever Joel Peralta is eligible to return Saturday after serving an eight-game suspension for an excessive use of pine tar on his glove.
“This has been the longest eight days of my career,” said Peralta, who is 0-3 with a 4.20 ERA in 36 appearances. “I’m just going to come back and try to do my best. That’s all I can do, that’s all I want to do.”
The Rays, however, are still without injured sluggers Evan Longoria (hamstring) and Matt Joyce (oblique), and they’re hoping Price’s issue is nothing serious.
Jennings, meanwhile, is 5 for 11 in his last three games. He’s hit .375 in nine career games versus Detroit and is 2 for 4 against scheduled Tigers starter Rick Porcello (5-5, 4.71).
The right-hander has allowed three runs in 13 innings while splitting his last two starts. He gave up a run and struck out seven in six innings of an 8-2 win at Texas on Monday.
“For me, it’s control my tempo and delivery,” Porcello said.
He is 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA in three starts against the Rays. In the most recent of those April 10, Porcello yielded two runs in seven innings while not factoring in the decision of a 5-2 home win.
Former Rays outfielder Delmon Young homered and had two of the five hits Friday for the Tigers (37-40), who have lost three of four. Young is 6 for 13 with three RBIs in the last three games, and 7 for 16 versus Tampa Bay in 2012.
MLB EXTRA INNINGS
1pm: Channel 1929HD and 1930: Kansas City Royals at Minnesota Twins
Feeling confident, the Kansas City Royals have a great opportunity this weekend to move even closer to their goal of reaching .500 by the All-Star break.
Riding a four-game winning streak, the Royals look to continue their recent success Saturday during a split doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
Luis Mendoza allowed one run over eight innings and four players recorded two hits each as Kansas City (35-39) won for the 11th time in 16 games, 4-3 at Minnesota on Friday. With 10 games remaining before the Royals host the annual All-Star Game, they certainly have a strong chance to achieve or even exceed that goal.
“We just need to keep pushing,” third baseman Mike Moustakas said. “It’s a big series here and we need to stay consistent.”
Winners of three straight on the road, Kansas City has batted .335 with 11 homers while scoring 33 runs in the last five games overall. Shortstop Alcidis Escobar is batting .424 (28 for 66) in his last 18 contests.
Following Mendoza’s strong outing in the opener, the Royals hope scheduled Game 1 starter Jonathan Sanchez (1-3, 6.21 ERA) can bounce back after he allowed six runs and six walks in 5 2/3 innings while not factoring in the decision of a 11-8 loss to St. Louis on Sunday. Sanchez, who has not won since beating the Los Angeles Angels in his Kansas City debut April 8, is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts since coming off the disabled list from biceps tendinitis.
He’ll be opposed by fellow left-hander Scott Diamond (6-3, 2.67), who has never pitched against Kansas City. After giving up four runs in each of his previous two starts — both losses — the rookie yielded three and struck out seven in a season-high eight innings of a 4-3 win at Cincinnati on Sunday.
“We were trying to keep the pace going and keep things simple,” Diamond told the Twins’ official website. “That was the mentality, to get back on the mound and keep going.”
Minnesota (30-45) likely faces a difficult challenge in the nightcap against scheduled Kansas City starter Luke Hochevar (5-7, 5.07), who has thrown 16 2/3 scoreless innings while winning his last two starts. The right-hander struck out eight Monday while tossing a seven-hitter in an 8-0 win over Tampa Bay for his first shutout since Sept. 18, 2009.
“The results have been dramatically improved since he got back to his three core pitches,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He’s starting to show exactly what he can do.”
Hochevar is 4-3 with a 4.75 ERA in 11 starts at Minnesota.
The Twins plan to recall suburban Minneapolis native Cole De Vries (1-1, 4.20) from Triple-A Rochester to start the second game. The right-hander went 2-1 with a 4.63 ERA in four starts at Rochester after making his first three major league starts with Minnesota from May 24-June 4.
“I feel a little more comfortable with the situation because last time there were a lot of firsts going on and it’s kind of a roller coaster of emotions,” De Vries said. “(The) second and third situations are a little easier to manage.”
In his most recent major league outing earlier this month, De Vries allowed five runs in five innings but earned his first career win in a 10-7 win at Kansas City.
Minnesota’s Ryan Doumit went 1 for 3 hours after he signed a $7 million, two-year contract Friday. He’s hit .353 (12 for 34) during his last nine games but is 1 for 8 with three strikeouts against Sanchez.
2pm: Channel 1922HD and 1933: Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals
The Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to conclude an impressive offensive month in strong fashion.
That may be a tough task against Lance Lynn.
Pittsburgh will try to build on its best offensive display of the season Saturday against Lynn and the host St. Louis Cardinals.
The Pirates (41-35) have 38 homers in June to lead the NL, and 139 runs to lead the majors. They’ve managed at least one homer in seven straight games, including nine with a .339 average and 30 runs during a three-game winning streak — their longest on the road this season.
Four of their season-high 19 hits left the park Friday to power a 14-5 win at St. Louis (40-37) to open this three-game series. It was the Pirates’ biggest output since scoring 14 on Aug. 31, 2010, in a win over the Chicago Cubs.
“We have the capability to do it,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “The guys connected the dots.
“I do like the way our offense has thrown some punches back this month.”
The Pirates could face a stiff test versus Lynn (10-3, 3.23 ERA), who has won both of his starts against them this year, yielding three runs in 13 2/3 innings.
The right-hander, however, has struggled in his last two starts overall, going 0-1 while surrendering 11 runs and 18 hits in 10 1/3 innings. Those came on the road, and he’s won four of five home starts with a 2.59 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings.
“To me, mechanically he looks the same,” manager Mike Matheny told the Cardinals’ official website. “He’s just making a few mistakes. There certainly isn’t reason to start panicking. It’s way too early. The guy is right there, to me, an All-Star. He just had a couple games here where he wasn’t as consistent.”
Lynn’s most recent performance may have been his worst as a starter. He gave up career highs of six runs and three homers in 5 1/3 innings at Kansas City, although St. Louis still won 11-8.
“They’re just hitting my mistakes, whereas before I was getting away with them,” Lynn said. “I have to stop making so many mistakes.”
Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen will be ready to capitalize on any more after collecting four hits with a homer and three RBIs Friday, giving him a .400 average in 16 career games at St. Louis.
The center fielder is hitting .365 with seven homers and 26 RBIs in 26 games this month, going 8 for 19 with three doubles, two homers and five RBIs in the past four.
“They’re following McCutchen,” Friday’s losing pitcher Adam Wainwright said of the Pirates. “He’s probably going to carry them, he’s a great player.”
Jeff Karstens (0-2, 6.35) is scheduled to get his second start for Pittsburgh since being sidelined for more than two months with right shoulder inflammation.
The right-hander struggled in his return Monday, getting tagged for seven runs and 11 hits in five innings of an 8-3 loss at Philadelphia.
“The sooner we get him back in play, the better opportunity he’s going to have to get to the point where he’s the Jeff we saw … (last) season,” Hurdle told the team’s official website. “So I think there were some positives to pull out of (Monday), although the numbers aren’t what you were looking for.”
Karstens went 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA in four games — three starts — against the Cardinals last year.
St. Louis’ Allen Craig, who doubled and homered Friday and is 7 for 21 with nine RBIs in his last six games, has gone 2 for 3 against Karstens.
4pm: Channel 1923HD and 1934: Cincinnati Reds at San Francisco Giants
A home run quickly ended the San Francisco Giants’ bid for a fifth consecutive shutout.
Their late long ball did nothing more than prevent them from being blanked.
San Francisco will try to get back into the win column Saturday against the Cincinnati Reds as these first-place teams continue their series by the Bay.
After Madison Bumgarner’s one-hitter in Thursday’s 5-0 series-opening victory extended the Giants’ shutout streak to 36 innings and helped the club move alone atop the NL West for the first time in 2012, San Francisco (44-34) was denied a season-best fifth straight victory with Friday’s 5-1 loss.
Any thoughts the Giants had of extending the club record with a fifth straight shutout ended after one pitch as rookie shortstop Zack Cozart sent Matt Cain’s first delivery over the wall in left-center field.
“Right away we jumped him in the first inning and we chipped on a couple more runs after that,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “When you can score like this, especially when you’re the visiting team, it takes a lot of pressure off your pitcher.”
Pablo Sandoval’s homer in the ninth inning prevented Mike Leake from earning his first career shutout, but the more important result was that the Reds (42-34) remained a game in front of Pittsburgh for the NL Central lead.
The Giants, one game ahead of slumping Los Angeles, will try to rebound with Barry Zito (6-5, 4.00 ERA) on the hill.
Zito went seven innings in an 8-0 victory over the Dodgers on Monday to win for the first time in four starts. He had posted a 10.67 ERA while losing his previous three outings.
“I think he learned from his previous starts (about throwing too many hittable strikes),” manager Bruce Bochy told the Giants’ official website. “He went from one end of the spectrum to the other.”
Zito is 3-3 with a 6.75 ERA in 10 starts against the Reds, with the last four coming in Cincinnati. The left-hander allowed one run in six-plus innings and was in line for a victory against the Reds on April 25, but the Giants’ bullpen failed in a 4-2 defeat.
San Francisco lost 9-2 to Cincinnati the previous day, when Saturday’s scheduled starter Mat Latos (6-2, 4.77) threw seven shutout innings for his first victory in a Reds uniform.
Latos, acquired from San Diego during the offseason, delivered one of the best starts of his career in Monday’s 3-1 win over Milwaukee, striking out a career-high 13 during a four-hitter.
“It’s an amazing feeling to finally do something good after the trade,” Latos said following his second career complete game.
The first was a one-hitter in a 1-0 victory at San Francisco on May 13, 2010, while with the Padres. Latos has a 2.35 ERA in 10 starts against the Giants.
Sandoval (6 for 26) and Buster Posey (3 for 10) are the only two Giants with a home run off Latos.
Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, who returned to the lineup Friday after sitting out the series opener following a blow to the head he received Wednesday against Milwaukee, has seven hits in 17 at-bats along with four walks against Zito.
Right fielder Jay Bruce, who had four hits and three RBIs Friday, is 4 for 11 with a homer in the lefty-lefty matchup.
4pm: Channel 1924HD and 1935: Cleveland Indians at Baltimore Orioles
After waiting almost two weeks to break out offensively, the Baltimore Orioles finally did in their last game.
A quality start from their pitcher, however, continues to elude them.
The Orioles will send Dana Eveland to the mound for a spot start Saturday as they continue their four-game set against the visiting Cleveland Indians.
Baltimore (42-34) entered Friday having lost seven of nine, scoring 23 runs during that span. The Orioles were unable to overcome a poor outing from starter Wei-Yin Chen in Thursday’s series opener, but their offense did just enough Friday to avoid a fourth straight loss and post a 9-8 victory.
Matt Wieters hit a three-run homer and Ryan Flaherty singled in the tiebreaking run in the seventh as Baltimore went 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position after going 3 for 52 in RBI situations over its previous 10 games. It was the first time in 11 games that the Orioles scored more than three runs.
“It was a battle,” Wieters said. “We haven’t been able to come out on top of those, and we really worked to get that win.”
The lack of offense has put added pressure on Baltimore’s starters, who have an 11.78 ERA in the last four games. Jake Arrieta was in line for his major league-leading 10th loss Friday before the Orioles’ rally got him off the hook.
With ineffective Tommy Hunter moved to the bullpen, Eveland (0-0, 3.00 ERA) is scheduled to make his first start since May 11. The left-hander has been effective in 10 straight relief appearances since that start, compiling a 2.57 ERA.
He struggled with his command against Tampa Bay in his lone start, allowing three runs, five hits and six walks in six innings before leaving without a decision in a 4-3 win.
Eveland is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts — both with Oakland — against the Indians.
Wilson Betemit has been Baltimore’s most consistent offensive threat lately and he continued his run with two more hits Friday. Betemit is 21 for 42 in his last 13 games and is 7 for 17 with two home runs against scheduled Indians starter Josh Tomlin.
Cleveland (38-38) lost for the sixth time in seven games despite collecting a season-high 16 hits. Another defeat Saturday would drop the Indians under .500 for the first time since they were 3-4.
Asdrubal Cabrera has homered in the first two games of this series, giving him four home runs and eight RBIs in his last six games at Camden Yards.
Cleveland will be without third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall for 4 to 6 weeks after he suffered a broken bone in his right forearm when he was hit by a pitch from Baltimore reliever Troy Patton.
“I had a bad feeling about it,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “It’s bad news for us, especially a young kid like him. It’s always tough seeing a young guy getting his feet wet, getting better and then all of a sudden, an injury like that.”
Tomlin (3-5, 5.70) yielded six runs and six hits — including three homers — over a career-low three innings in Monday’s 7-1 loss at Yankee Stadium. That continued a dismal month for the right-hander, who is 1/3 with a 6.75 ERA in five June starts.
He is 2-1 despite a 5.06 ERA in three career starts against the Orioles. Tomlin has been hurt by the home run in those games, giving up six in 16 innings.
4pm: Channel 1925HD and 1936: Houston Astros at Chicago Cubs
The Houston Astros are the worst road team in baseball this year.
J.A. Happ’s struggles away from home have been going on for much longer.
Happ will try to win on the road for the first time in more than a year and end the Astros’ four-game skid Saturday against the Chicago Cubs.
Houston (32-45) fell to 9-26 on the road after opening a seven-game trip with a 4-0 loss at Wrigley Field on Friday, its sixth defeat in its last seven contests on Chicago’s North Side.
The Astros, who have also lost four straight road games overall, are expected to give the ball to Happ (6-7, 4.83 ERA), who has won his last two starts while allowing three runs and eight hits over 13 innings. However, those victories came at home, and it’s been an entirely different story for Happ away from Houston.
The left-hander has dropped a major league-high 10 consecutive decisions on the road, posting a 6.18 ERA in 15 outings since beating Cincinnati on May 3, 2011. His worst outing of the season came in his last road start June 13 at San Francisco, where he surrendered eight runs and 11 hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Now, Happ gets a chance to end the road drought in front of family and friends. He grew up roughly two hours from Chicago (27-49), but has made only one career start at Wrigley with Philadelphia on Aug. 11, 2009.
“There’s going to be a nice crowd here, and I’ll have a lot of friends and relatives here,” he told the Astros’ official website. “I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
He’ll need a bit of help from the Astros’ offense, which is batting .205 with eight runs over its last four road games after being held to four hits in the opener of this three-game set.
Second baseman Jose Altuve — the club’s leading hitter with a .309 average — is expected to miss one more game due to a strained hamstring. The Astros are batting .174 in five games without him.
The Cubs have won three of four, losing 17-1 to the New York Mets on Wednesday but allowing a total of four runs in the three victories.
Matt Garza (3-6, 4.06) will try to give them another solid outing, but the right-hander is 1-5 with a 5.77 ERA in his last seven starts. He gave up three runs in seven innings of a 5-1 loss at Arizona on Sunday.
“A lot of it’s on my shoulders,” Garza told the Cubs’ official website. “My job is to hold the lead when I get it, and if I don’t have a lead, keep them where they’re at until we get it. That’s my job, and that’s what I try to do.”
Garza is 0-3 with a 4.64 ERA in five career starts against Houston. He lasted just three innings in an 8-4 road defeat May 21, allowing seven runs and two homers.
Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano is 6 for 14 with two homers in his last five games after connecting for a solo shot Friday. He’s 2 for 6 with a double and a homer off Happ.
4pm: Channel 1926HD and 1937: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves
Stephen Strasburg was considered the best pitching prospect in years when the Washington Nationals drafted him first overall in 2009, but the Atlanta Braves also had high hopes for the pitcher they took six picks later.
Mike Minor hasn’t come close to meeting those expectations this year.
Strasburg gets his second chance at becoming a 10-game winner Saturday as he faces the struggling Minor for the second time at Turner Field, where NL East-leading Washington is 4-0 this year.
Despite 2010 Tommy John surgery, Strasburg (9-2, 2.60 ERA) has already blossomed into the ace the Nationals (44-31) hoped he’d be. He had won six straight starts — two against the Braves — before making his first appearance at Colorado on Monday, allowing three runs in six innings of a 4-2 defeat.
“I went out there and pounded the strike zone,” said Strasburg, who has 118 strikeouts in 90 innings for the majors’ best ratio. “It seemed they were just hitting it right beyond our gloves, basically. It’s baseball.”
Plenty of balls hit beyond the fence are a reason Minor (3-6, 6.14) owns the worst ERA among major league qualifiers. The seventh overall pick and first left-hander chosen in 2009 allowed three more homers Monday at Boston, giving him 18 this season at an NL-high rate of 2.01 per nine innings.
After allowing seven runs — four earned — in 4 2/3 innings of a 9-4 loss to the Red Sox, Minor may have been reassured when manager Fredi Gonzalez said he had no plans to change his starting rotation.
“The last thing you want is to create panic,” Gonzalez told the Braves’ official website Tuesday. “You’re going to go through some growing pains. You’ve got to stay patient with these young pitchers and keep going.”
Neither Strasburg nor Minor was particularly sharp May 26 in Atlanta, with each allowing four runs in five innings. Strasburg walked a season-high four but got the win because the Nationals quickly got to the Braves’ bullpen in their 8-4 victory.
The right-hander dominated Atlanta (40-36) at home a week later, striking out nine and walking none in seven innings of a 2-0 victory. Dan Uggla struck out twice and grounded into a double play against Strasburg in that game after getting six hits — two homers — in their first eight matchups.
Uggla is 6 for 55 (.109) with one RBI and 24 strikeouts since his last homer June 9, and was held out of the starting lineup for the first time this year Friday as the Braves lost 5-4 — their eighth defeat in their last 11 home games.
“You can call it a mental day. You can call it a day off. You can call it whatever you want,” Uggla said. “But anytime (Gonzalez) feels like you need to have one of these days, it’s not a good thing.”
His second base counterpart Danny Espinosa took Minor deep last month. He’s part of a Washington lineup that has totaled 38 runs and 64 hits in its last four games.
The first three of those came at Coors Field, but the Nationals had 15 hits Friday in Atlanta. Michael Morse had four of those, including the go-ahead homer in the eighth inning, and he is 12 for 19 with six RBIs in the last four contests.
“He’s been looking better and better every day,” manager Davey Johnson said of Morse, who missed the season’s first two months with a back injury. “It’s nice to have him back. … We’ll probably move him back into the cleanup spot.”
4pm: Channel 1927HD and 1938: Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins
The Miami Marlins have had little success this month, except when they’ve faced the Philadelphia Phillies.
Hoping to beat Cole Hamels for a third straight time this season, the Marlins look for a fourth consecutive win over the visiting Phillies on Saturday.
Josh Johnson threw six strong innings and outfielder Justin Ruggiano had three hits and two RBIs as Miami (36-40) beat Philadelphia 6-2 on Friday for its second straight win overall. The Marlins, who went 21-8 in May, are 7-18 in June, but three of those victories have come in four games against the Phillies.
“It seems like we’re coming around little by little,” Miami manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Looking to win three in a row for the first time since sweeping Washington at home May 28-30, Miami has a good chance to do it again if they can continue their recent success against Hamels (10-3, 3.03 ERA).
The left-hander is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA against the Marlins this season, and 10-1 with a 2.64 ERA versus all other opponents. Hamels allowed a pair of homers to Hanley Ramirez and five runs overall in 6 2/3 innings of a 5-4 home loss June 2, his last start against Miami.
Hamels has yielded two runs and struck out 14 over 15 innings while going 1-0 in his last two outings overall. He gave up three hits in seven scoreless innings Sunday, but the Philadelphia bullpen could not hold a 1-0 lead en route to a 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay.
While Hamels felt good following those seven frames, manager Charlie Manuel pulled him after throwing 111 pitches.
“You kind of understand that (pitch counts are) kind of part of the game now,” Hamels told the Phillies’ official website. “You just listen to your manager and go with (his) decision. When you reach a certain amount, they don’t want to stress anything on your arm — just because you have to keep coming back every five days.”
Hamels will try to help the Phillies (36-43) avoid extending their longest road losing streak of the season to five games. Hunter Pence hit his 15th homer and drove in two runs in the series opener for Philadelphia, which has dropped three straight overall after winning two in a row.
Chase Utley, who added a hit Friday, is 4 for 9 in three games since making his 2012 debut Wednesday following a knee injury.
Utley has never faced scheduled Miami starter Mark Buehrle (6-8, 3.55), who hopes to avoid a third consecutive loss to the Phillies after giving up seven runs and three homers over 11 1/3 innings in his previous two outings against them this season.
The left-hander snapped a personal four-game losing streak Sunday, when he allowed seven hits and struck out seven in seven innings of a 9-0 victory over Toronto.
“It was one of those days where everything kind of came together,” Buehrle told the Marlins’ official website.
Ruggiano has only appeared in 23 games this season, but is batting .478 (11 for 23) in his last nine.
“He rakes,” Johnson said. “We were talking about it after his third hit, he never stops hitting.”