Time: 07:07 P.M. EST Venue: Rogers Centre
TORONTO -- The Baltimore Orioles made a detour through Minnesota before heading to Toronto for their important three-game series against Blue Jays that opens Friday at Rogers Centre. The Orioles lost a makeup game 6-2 to the Twins on Thursday night at Target Field and have dropped three in a row, including the final two games of a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies at Camden Yards. The Blue Jays are second in the American League East, 1 1/2 games behind the Orioles. Toronto also goes into series on a losing note. The Blue Jays failed to complete a sweep against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday afternoon and are 3-3 after the first six games of their nine-game homestand. The Blue Jays changed their rotation Wednesday, preferring to with knuckleballer R. A. Dickey against the Padres on three days' rest and moving Marco Estrada (5-4, 2.94 ERA), and his wonky back, from Wednesday to Friday to face Baltimore. Dickey was not sharp and the Blue Jays lost 8-4. The move served another purpose. Russell Martin, who has a sore knee, caught 12 innings of a 7-6 win on Tuesday and was not going to play Wednesday. Josh Thole, Dickey's regular catcher, was going to spell Martin anyway on Wednesday even if Estrada pitched." With Russ' knee, he wasn't going to Wednesday no matter what, so that factors, too," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Now you can catch Thole, and we'll go with our three best guys over the weekend, too. And it gives Marco -- who has had the back issues but feels much better -- another day, too." In their loss at Minnesota, the Orioles had two runners thrown out at home in the fourth inning. But they also got two hits from Chris Davis, which they hope is an encouraging sign. Davis has 22 homers for the season but is 5-for-37 with one RBI since the All-Star break, and has not hit a home run since July 10. Against the Blue Jays, however, Davis is batting .303 with 35 homers and 81 RBIs. He has hit 17 homers at Rogers Centre. Mark Trumbo, who leads the American League with 30 homers, also has struggled. He went 1-for-4 Thursday and is in a 6-for-44 skid over 12 games, although he did hit home runs Friday and Saturday." I think you just have to understand that with power, you're going to have periods where everything's clicking," Davis said, "where you're swinging the bat well, you're driving in runs, and you're going to have periods where you're going to have dry spells. The tough thing about having a guy like Mark right behind me is we both swing and miss a lot. So when one of us is going well, it's good, but when neither one of us is going well, it's bad. I think we just have to grind through it." The Orioles will start Kevin Gausman (2-7, 3.77 ERA) on Friday. Gausman is 2-1 with a 3.00 earned-run average in 10 career games, including five starts, against the Blue Jays. In six games, including three starts, Glausman is 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA at Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays won three of four games June 9-12 in the Orioles' first visit to Toronto this season and the teams have won five games each overall. Estrada missed one start before the All-Star break because of a sore back and returned on July 22, allowing seven hits and two runs over six innings in a 2-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners. It was the first time since April 21 that he had allowed more than five hits in a start, a total of 13 outings. Estrada is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in eight career games, including six starts, against the Orioles.
Time: 07:10 P.M. EST Venue: Marlins Park
MIAMI -- For a visitor, Mike Leake sure feels at home at Marlins Park. The St. Louis Cardinals right-hander is 3-0 with a 0.44 ERA in three starts here. It's the lowest ERA of any pitcher who has made at least that many starts at Marlins Park. On Friday night, Leake gets the chance to extend his streak against a Marlins team he dominates. In six starts against the Marlins overall, Leake is 5-1 with a 1.33 ERA and .194 batting average against. No active major-leaguer has a better ERA against the Marlins (minimum five starts). The key for Leake is his control, which has been pin-point lately. He has gone a career-high 25 consecutive innings without allowing a walk. Leake, 28, last faced the Marlins on July 10, 2015, when he beat them 1-0 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds. Leake struck out a season-high 10 batters in eight innings on that day. This year with the Cardinals, Leake has been mediocre -- 7-8 with a 4.24 ERA. On Friday, he will be opposed by Marlins second-year right-hander Jose Urena (1-2, 5.34 ERA). Urena is essentially getting his sixth chance with the Marlins. He has been demoted back to the minors five times previously, but is making the most of this opportunity. In two starts since returning from his most recent detour to Triple-A New Orleans, Urena is 1-1 with a 1.54 ERA, allowing only two runs in 11 2/3 innings. The 24-year-old Dominican doesn't have any great revelations about what is different now than previous failed bids to remain in the majors. He mentions "being aggressive" in going after hitters and "keeping the ball down." But virtually every pitcher tries to throw strikes early in the county. And virtually every pitcher tries to keep the ball down. Trying to do those things and doing them are two entirely different items. But this much is for sure: If Urena, who had a 7.52 ERA in 16 relief appearances for the Marlins earlier this season, can turn in another solid outing against the Cards on Friday, the Marlins will feel a lot better about their rotation. In other story lines for Friday's game:--Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki needs two hits for 3,000. There is a good chance Suzuki, who recorded a pinch-hit double Thursday, starts Friday.--It will be interesting to note the progress of Marlins two-time All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon, who missed the previous 80 games after a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs. Gordon, who led the National League in batting average (.333) and steals (58) last season, went 0-for-4 with one strikeout Thursday." I thought Dee seemed a little quiet and probably a little nervous," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "As the game went on, he seemed more like himself."
Time: 07:10 P.M. EST Venue: Citi Field
NEW YORK -- More wins like the ones the Colorado Rockies enjoyed over the last two days might vault them into the playoff race. More losses like the ones the New York Mets endured over the same time frame might knock them out of contention. Two teams with seemingly different goals for 2016 yet traveling in unexpected directions will meet Friday night when the Mets host the Rockies in the second contest of a four-game series at Citi Field. The Rockies won the opener in surprising fashion Thursday afternoon, when they scored twice off All-Star closer Jeurys Familia in the ninth inning of a 2-1 victory. It was the first time all season Colorado has won a game in which it trailed after eight innings (1-41)." Familia is as good as there is in the game," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Their staff overall -- you're not going to come in here and put up big innings and big crooked numbers. You've got to scratch and claw for everything." The Rockies might just be scratching and clawing their way into the wild card race. Colorado (50-52), which has endured five straight losing seasons, has gone 10-4 since the All-Star Break to move within five games of the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, who are tied for the National League's second wild card. The recent run for the Rockies has been fueled by -- of all things -- pitching. Colorado starters have produced 17 quality starts this month, the most by the staff since 18 quality starts were authored in August 2010." The fact (is) we've got to win games and stay in this thing," Weiss said. If the defending National League champion Mets are going to stay in the race, they're going to have to start scoring some runs. New York ranks third in the majors in ERA (3.32) but last in batting average (.238)." You have to come (Friday) ready to play, score some runs, help this pitching staff to win the game," Mets catcher Rene Rivera said. "That's the bottom line." The real culprit for the Mets has been a struggling lineup that has performed in stunningly abysmal fashion in the clutch. The Mets led 1-0 and had the bases loaded with nobody out in the seventh inning Thursday but could not add to the lead. Such woes are commonplace for New York, which is batting .205 with runners in scoring position this season -- last in baseball." I've talked to some of the great RBI guys in the game -- the one thing they talk about is driving in runs is mental," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "The approach you have at the plate, your mindset (is) all's you're trying to do is put the bat on the ball. You're not looking for home runs. You're not looking for anything. Just, hey, work the middle of the field. That's been kind of the common denominator with those guys. And we're just not doing it." Mets left-hander Steven Matz is scheduled to oppose Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood. Matz faces Colorado for the first time as a big leaguer while Chatwood is 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA in four career starts against New York.
Time: 07:10 P.M. EST Venue: Tropicana Field
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Baseball's trade deadline is just days away, and two teams that are believed to be dealing will showcase starters on the market -- the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees -- open a three-game series Friday night. The Yankees' Ivan Nova and the Rays' Jake Odorizzi have been widely mentioned as being available for contenders interested in upgrading their starting pitching, and both right-handers have pitched well in recent weeks to maximize the potential return for their teams. Nova is 7-5 with a 4.65 ERA this season, but he's 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA in his last three starts. Much the same way, Odorizzi is just 4-5 with a 4.10 ERA overall, but he's 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his last three. The last time he faced the Yankees was his best outing of the season -- seven innings and just one hit allowed, though it was a two-run home run by Starlin Castro in a 2-1 Yankees victory. Nova only faced the Rays this season in relief, but pitched 2 1/3 innings of hitless shutout baseball. The Rays return home after a 4-5 road trip -- still a significant improvement from the disastrous stretch they finished before going on the road. Tampa Bay has scored three runs or less in five straight games, but that was enough to win in Wednesday's 3-1 win over the Dodgers, thanks to a strong outing by another pitcher on the trade market, Matt Moore." Matt Moore was outstanding," Rays manager Kevin Cash said after the win. "What he's done in the last eight, nine, 10 starts is really impressive. ... He had everything going. He did a tremendous job." The Rays, at 39-61, are certainly sellers and could move any number of players, from starters like Moore and Odorizzi to key bats like the versatile Steve Pearce, who has been linked to the Giants and Indians. The Yankees this week dealt closer Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for a package of four players, including top prospect Gleyber Torres and reliever Adam Warren, who rejoined the team. The Yankees have now won four of six and eight of their last 11, improving to 52-49 and getting within 6.5 games of first-place Baltimore. They missed a sweep with Wednesday's 4-1 loss to the Astros, and manager Joe Girardi said his team can't let opportunities like that get away." We're trying to make up ground. You're trying to win series, but when you have a chance to sweep, you can really help, and we weren't able to do it tonight," Girardi said after Wednesday's loss. By the time the weekend series ends, both teams could have dealt away key players -- the Yankees are much more in contention, but must look to upgrade their team long-term. The Rays may avoid an outright fire sale, but even top starter Chris Archer, who has struggled to a major-league-high 14 losses this season, has been mentioned as being available, if at a high price.
Time: 07:10 P.M. EST Venue: Comerica Park
DETROIT -- Viable. The Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers see that as their watchword during a three-game weekend series between two resurgent teams seeking to overtake their respective division leaders. Houston trails Texas in the AL West while Detroit is stalking Cleveland in the AL Central. Neither can claim first place by Monday's non-waiver trade deadline, but both will remain contenders regardless of how the series plays out. The Astros are seen as more of a buyer than the Tigers, who are limited by their $200 million payroll and limited trade chips, but neither club will be in sell mode. Detroit may make a minor cosmetic move but Houston would not surprise if it made a nice splash before the trade deadline. Detroit and Houston were off Thursday, a plus for both sides. Tigers' manager Brad Ausmus used the day off plus another scheduled break Monday to rearrange his rotation as he awaits the return of injured starters Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Norris, both of whom will have one final rehab start this week prior to rejoining the staff. He is also using the breaks to push back rookie Michael Fulmer and further limit his starts and innings. Exactly which day Fulmer pitches again has not been determined and may be contingent on where Ausmus wants to slot in Zimmermann and Norris next week. Astros' skipper A. J. Hinch has two regulars nursing sore hamstrings -- third baseman Luis Valbuena and center fielder Carlos Gomez. Valbuena was injured Tuesday and Gomez had to come out of Wednesday's game early." It's a mild strain," Gomez told MLB.com. "We have the advantage of the off-day (Thursday) and (then) we have a night game. Like I said before, I had it in the past. I know how I feel. I don't think this is going to be something that will take me long to heal. In the past, I have had it worse than that and I was ready in six or seven days, and they put me on the DL. In this case, I don't think it's necessary." Valbuena won't play Friday, Hinch said earlier in the week, but is possible for one of the next two games." It's not comfortable when the bench is pretty much empty with the exception of (Evan) Gattis as a pinch-hitter/catcher," Hinch said to MLB.com. "We've got some fortunate timing, if I can call it that, because we're expected to put (right-hander Doug) Fister on the paternity leave soon. His wife is going to deliver his first child in the next couple of days, so we might have a transaction in Detroit that will probably be a position player." Fister worked Wednesday, so he won't pitch in Detroit. If he's placed on paternity leave Friday, the Astros can bring up a position player for the weekend. Valbuena's strain is higher in the hamstring than Gomez's, which is just above the back of the knee." He's unlikely to play Friday," Hinch said of his third baseman, "and we'll assess him on Saturday. Where it's located, sort of behind the knee really low, makes for some tricky diagnosis." That would give rookie Alex Bregman, just up from the minors, at least one more start at third. He's been working out in left field and likely will play the left side of the infield, outfield and do some designated hitting -- if he hits. Right-hander Collin McHugh will pitch for Houston against southpaw Matt Boyd of Detroit. Right-hander Mike Fiers and southpaw Dallas Keuchel will go Saturday and Sunday, respectively, for the Astros while the Tigers counter with right-handers Justin Verlander and Mike Pelfrey. McHugh (7-6, 4.18 ERA) has never beaten Detroit but has only started three times against it, going 0-2 with a 3.72 ERA. He won his last start, against the Los Angeles Angels. Boyd has been a fill-in starter for the Tigers this season and is currently holding place for the return of Zimmermann and Norris He is 1-2 with a 4.63 ERA in eight starts but is 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA over his last three starts. Boyd has started just once against Houston, not getting a decision in a five-inning outing in which he gave up five runs on six hits.
Time: 07:35 P.M. EST Venue: Turner Field
ATLANTA -- The Philadelphia Phillies plan to get an extended look at outfielder Aaron Altherr, starting with this weekend series against the Atlanta Braves. Altherr returned to the club on Thursday, made his first start since sustaining a wrist injury in spring training that required surgery and went 3-for-4 with a homer. It appears Altherr is ready to pick up where he left off at the end of last season." I'm anxious to see him play," Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin said. "It's much better to get a two-month look at him than just a September call-up." The Phillies and Braves play the second game of their four-game series at Turner Field on Friday. Philadelphia sends rookie right-hander Vince Velasquez (8-2, 3.34) against Atlanta rookie Tyrell Jenkins (0-2, 6.17). Altherr was recalled last August and batted .241 with five homers and 22 RBIs. After he was recalled, Altherr led the team in runs, triples, extra-base hits, total bases and walks." We want to see him play as much as possible," Mackanin said. "If he stays healthy, I'll keep running him out there. He's an important part of what we want to do." Altherr played in 13 minor league games with four different teams during his rehab assignment. He hit .341 with one homer and six RBIs in 41 at-bats." I'm definitely excited to get going and get in some situations that I can help the team win," Altherr said. Atlanta, which had only 23 players on its roster Wednesday night, recalled two relievers from Triple-A Gwinnett and went with a nine-man bullpen. Right-hander Jose Ramirez and lefty Matt Marksberry were recalled after the Braves traded starter Lucas Harrell and reliever Dario Alvarez to Texas the previous day. Ramirez made two appearances and pitched two innings in early April and allowed six runs. Ramirez was 3-2 with a 2.18 ERA in 36 appearances with the G-Braves, striking out 45 in 41 1/3 innings. It was the third time Marksberry has played for Atlanta this year, where he's pitched in two games and compiled a 10.80 ERA. He was 0-3 with a 5.01 ERA in 31 relief appearances in 2015, when he made the jump from the Class A level. Marksberry was 4-2 with a 2.32 ERA in 34 combined minor league appearances in 2016." Ramirez has been pitching well," Snitker said. "He's got a great arm. It's just been about trying to get him more consistent. Matt has been here before and he's been pitching well." The Braves will make another pitching move on Friday after optioning starter Matt Wisler to Triple-A following his loss on Thursday. Atlanta must now replace two starters in the rotation, with the most likely candidates being right-handers Casey Kelly and Aaron Blair, who have pitched in the majors this year. Outside consideration may be given to rookie Rob Whalen. The right-hander, who was acquired along with John Gant from the Mets last season, has a 1.93 ERA in three starts for Gwinnett with 18 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings.
Time: 08:05 P.M. EST Venue: Globe Life Park in Arlington
ARLINGTON, Texas -- With Monday's trade deadline looming large for the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals, their bullpens continue to get made over as they square off Friday in the second contest of a four-game series. Texas got a boost Thursday when left-hander Dario Alvarez was added to the roster to give the club another option from the left side in the bullpen. Kansas City's bullpen suffered a huge blow as right-hander Luke Hochevar was put on the 15-day disabled list with symptom consistent with thoracic outlet syndrome. The injury to Hochevar, who was 2-3 with a 3.86 ERA in 40 appearances, could put the Royals into a buy mode heading to the deadline as they try and replace one of their most consistent relief pieces. Losing Hochevar could also push the Royals into sell mode, in which closer Wade Davis would be an attractive target despite his recent struggles. Alvarez, who didn't get into Thursday's 3-2 Texas victory, has been through a lot this season. He started the season with the New York Mets before getting designated and claimed by the Atlanta Braves in May. He was solid with the Braves, posting a 3.00 ERA and 28 strikeouts in his 15 innings for a last-place team. He's made a big move in the standings after getting dealt Wednesday along with right-hander Lucas Harrell for minor-leaguer Travis Demeritte." I'm excited to be coming from a last-place team," said Alvarez, who warmed up in Thursday's game in the seventh inning. "I know I can help this team any way they want me. Of course I was surprised to get traded, but they have a lot of Latin players here and I feel very comfortable." Alvarez joins Jake Diekman as late-inning left-handers in the bullpen and gives manager Jeff Banister some much-needed flexibility. Kansas City manager Ned Yost, whose team has dropped seven of its last nine games, could use a little help in relief too. Hochevar last pitched Sunday and had tingling in his hands while he was throwing on the side Thursday. That prompted the club to put him on the disabled list. His loss is huge as he's held left-handed hitters to a .164 average this season and opponents were hitting .216 against him with runners in scoring position. The Royals will be hard-pressed to replace that kind of relief help, which puts more pressure on starters such as Edison Volquez (8-8, 4.56 ERA) on Friday. Volquez allowed one run in his six innings in his last start, which also came against Texas. Kansas City's bullpen got a break Thursday night too as Yordano Ventura pitched eight innings to pick up his first career complete game. While losing Hochevar is tough, Yost said he thinks the offense can make things a little easier on the pitching staff. In their last four losses, Kansas City hasn't scored more than two runs." Start stinking hitting," Yost said. "It's as simple as that. You've got to get some hits. You've got to get some run production."
Time: 08:10 P.M. EST Venue: Miller Park
MILWAUKEE -- After taking three of four from the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Milwaukee Brewers will look to keep their momentum going Friday when they open a three-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Miller Park. The Brewers' home park has been a house of horrors for the Pirates, who have dropped 61 of 78 games there since 2007. The Brewers have had their way with Pittsburgh in general, posting a 100-56 mark against the Pirates during that same stretch -- the second-highest winning percentage by one team over a divisional foe during that span. It'll be up to Junior Guerra to keep it going. The 31-year-old rookie will take the mound Friday for his 16th start of the season but in search of his first victory since July 4. Guerra pitched well in his three starts since, holding opponents to five runs with 13 strikeouts in 18 innings of work, but the Brewers have managed just eight runs in those contests. He held the Cubs to just one unearned run over 6 1/3 innings in his last start, dropping his season ERA to 2.85." I thought he was great," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He did more of the same from him. I thought kind of early in the game he got some three-ball counts on some guys and some deeper counts on some guys. But he still really recovered from them. The four walks today was a little high for him. Maybe his stuff wasn't quite as crisp as it's been in the past, and still, he did everything he possibly needed to do to have a good game." Guerra faced the Pirates twice in his brief career, including his only start against them on July 18, when he took no decision after allowing two runs on three hits and struck out six over six innings. Pittsburgh will hand the ball to rookie left-hander Steven Brault, who will return to the Pirates after a brief return to Triple-A Indianapolis, where he turned in back-to-back scoreless six-inning outings. Brault made his major league debut on July 5, allowing two runs -- one earned -- on four hits with five strikeouts and a pair of walks over four innings of work. A Gregory Polanco error smeared his line score a bit and likely made his debut outing a little bit shorter than planned." I was less nervous at first than I thought. When I got into trouble, then it hit me a little bit, but overall I reacted well," Brault said after the game. "I tried to keep doing what I've been doing. With all the guys around me, it's easy to feel comfortable on the mound and let my defense do the work. I tried to be myself and had a lot of fun." After the game, he was optioned back to Indianapolis, where he had gone 2-3 with a 2.31 ERA in nine starts to open the season.
Time: 08:10 P.M. EST Venue: Target Field
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Chicago White Sox will look to continue their dominance of the Minnesota Twins when the teams open a three-game series on Friday night at Target Field. The White Sox are 8-1 against the Twins this season, outscoring Minnesota by a 45-24 margin in those games. Chicago swept a three-game series here in mid-April and is making its first of two trips to the Twin Cities over the next four weeks. After winning five-straight games to get back in the playoff hunt, the White Sox dropped a pair of games to the Cubs on Wednesday and Thursday, dropping to 8 1/2 games back of the Cleveland Indians for first place in the American League Central, and 6 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox for the second wildcard spot." Where we're at, all of them are important," White Sox manager Robin Ventura told MLB.com. "Every game is important. There hasn't been a time where we thought games weren't important." Chicago will send Jose Quintana to the mound to open the series. The left-hander is in the middle of a breakout season with an 8-8 record and a 2.97 ERA in 20 starts. With one more win, Quintana would tie his career high of nine, set each of the last three years. His ERA is nearly a half run lower than his career mark. Quintana has a 6-5 record in 16 starts against Minnesota, with a 3.92 ERA in those games. He's 2-1 in three starts against the Twins this season, including a six-inning, one-run effort at Target Field on April 11. He tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings his last time out against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday but did not figure into the final decision. The Twins will look to build on a 6-2 win over the first-place Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, which snapped a three-game losing streak. After the game, the team traded its lone All Star, infielder Eduardo Nunez, to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for minor league pitcher Adalberto Mejia. It's just the first trade of what could be a busy weekend for the seller Twins, who have the worst record in the American League." He did everything we could have asked of him," said Twins interim general manager Rob Antony. "This was just an opportunity to get a starting pitcher. We need pitching." Veteran Ricky Nolasco, another potential trade chip, will get the start on Friday. The right-hander is 4-8 with a 5.40 ERA on the season and was roughed up for six earned runs on six hits and three walks in just two innings his last time out against the Boston Red Sox. Nolasco had been solid in three previous July outings, allowing three earned runs or fewer in all three starts. He is 0-2 against the White Sox this season and gave up seven runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings pitched at U. S. Cellular Field on June 29.
Time: 10:05 P.M. EST Venue: Angel Stadium of Anaheim
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The difference between the two pitchers scheduled to start Friday's game between the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox couldn't be bigger, considering how each has pitched this season. Red Sox starter Rick Porcello has won five starts in a row and has won seven consecutive decisions overall. He also won his first five starts of the season and is 13-2 for the season. Lincecum, meanwhile, is coming off his worst start of the season after joining the Angels on June 18. He gave up eight runs in just 1 1/3 innings in his last start July 24 against Houston. Overall, he is 2-4 with an 8.70 ERA in seven starts. While Porcello has been hot overall, the Angels can lean on the idea that Porcello is beatable on the road. His splits show that he is 10-0 with a 3.21 ERA in 11 starts at Fenway." I just feel good (at Fenway)," Porcello told Boston.com. "I feel comfortable pitching in front of our crowd." Red Sox manager John Farrell sees the same thing." Rick is in a very good place ... in Fenway," Farrell said. "You talk about dependable and reliable, he embodies that. He epitomizes that." The road, though, has not been quite as good to Porcello. He is 3-2 with a 4.02 ERA in nine starts away from Fenway. In fact, he's won on the road only once since the end of April. It would seem, however, that Porcello doesn't need to be on the top of his game Friday considering the struggles of Lincecum, whom the Angels signed out of desperation amid an influx of injuries to their starting pitchers. Lincecum had hip surgery last December and appeared to be a good pick-up for the club after he made his first start, giving up just one run in six innings against Oakland. But he hasn't been able to last six innings in any of his six starts since, and has failed to last even five innings in four of seven of his starts, taxing the Angels bullpen." I'm confident in the process, that this is part of what I'm going through right now," Lincecum told MLB.com after his last start. "If it takes going through this, then it takes going through this. And if they have to make a decision that puts me in a different position, then I'll be open to that. But at the same time, I'm definitely going to go after this as a starter and still keep grinding it out that way, and try to give my team a chance to win. I haven't been doing that." Though he's a two-time Cy Young award winner, Lincecum did not pitch well against the Red Sox earlier in his career when he was a better pitcher. Pitching in the National League, however, Lincecum has faced Boston only twice in his career, going 0-2 with a 10.13 ERA. Likewise, Porcello didn't pitch well against the Angels while pitching against them as a member of the Detroit Tigers, going 4-6 with a 6.82 ERA in 13 career starts.
Time: 10:10 P.M. EST Venue: Dodger Stadium
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers resume their pursuit of the top spot in the National League West with a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks beginning Friday at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers (57-45), who lost two of three to the Diamondbacks following the All-Star break, have gone 16-9 in their last 25 games and made up ground on the struggling NL West-leading San Francisco Giants. San Francisco's advantage in the division has dwindled from 6 1/2 games at the All-Star break to two. The Giants (59-43) have dropped 10 of 12 since the break. Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda (9-7, 3.25 ERA), who starts Friday, was knocked around for five runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings in a 6-5 Arizona decision July 17 in Phoenix. However, Maeda bounced back Saturday in St. Louis against the Cardinals, holding them to two runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings in a 7-2 victory by the Dodgers. Maeda fanned three and didn't walk a batter on 92 pitches." I think he's exceeded our expectations," manager Dave Roberts said of Maeda, who is in his first season in the majors after pitching for eight campaigns in Japan. "He's pitched in some big games and thrown really well and you can't expect him to be great every time out. But I think that under all the circumstances, the adjustments, Kenta's been fantastic. Every time he takes the ball we feel good about it." He does a great job of taking care of himself, very athletic, does a lot of things on the field to help you win baseball games." Right-hander Zack Godley (3-1, 5.88), who has never started against Los Angeles, takes the ball for the Diamondbacks. Godley earned a win against the Reds in his last start Sunday despite surrendering five runs in 5 2/3 innings. The Diamondbacks (42-60), though, have stumbled since winning the Dodgers' series. Arizona has lost seven of its last nine, dropping three of four to the Milwaukee Brewers, including a 6-4 defeat Thursday. The lone win against the Brewers was an 8-1 rout Wednesday." That was a great game today. We hit a couple of home runs and put a lot of runs on the board early," Diamondbacks shortstop Jean Segura said. The Dodgers, who were off Thursday, had their three-game winning streak snapped Wednesday in a 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Dodgers, who split the two-game series with Tampa Bay, managed only four hits against Rays starter Matt Moore." Moore was good and kept us off-balance and made pitches when he needed to," Roberts said. "We just really couldn't stress him." Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke won't pitch against his former club during this trip. Greinke is on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain.
Time: 10:15 P.M. EST Venue: AT&T Park
SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants expect to have new infielder Eduardo Nunez in uniform and ready for action when they host the Washington Nationals in the second game of a four-game series Friday night. The Giants acquired the American League All-Star from the Minnesota Twins on Thursday during their 4-2 loss to the Nationals. San Francisco sent minor league pitcher Adalberto Mejia to the Twins in order to acquire the versatile infielder who was hitting .296 with 12 home runs for Minnesota this season. Nunez likely will start at third base Friday as the Giants continue to await the return of Matt Duffy from the disabled list. Duffy, who has missed 32 games with an Achilles strain, is tentatively scheduled to begin a rehab assignment in the minor leagues this weekend. Nunez, 29, went 0-for-4 in Minnesota's 6-2 win over Baltimore on Thursday night. He made his 49th start of the season at shortstop, but he also has received the call at third base 28 times and at second base on four occasions." He'll be used as we would use any utility infielder," Giants general manager Bobby Evans said of Nunez, who leads the AL with 27 stolen bases. "He'll help with his speed and experience and bat, and it gives us some versatility and flexibility." Coincidentally, fill-in third baseman Conor Gillaspie was the Giants' most productive offensive player Thursday. He went 2-for-3 on a night when the Giants got only five hits, and he drove in San Francisco's first run with an infield out. One day after they were held to four hits and one run over seven innings by Tanner Roark, the Giants will see Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer (10-6, 2.92 ERA). Scherzer has had more than his fair share of problems against the Giants in general and at AT&T Park in particular. He gotten bombed to the tune of an 0-2 record and 7.88 ERA during his career in San Francisco. He is 1-4 with a 6.85 ERA in five all-time starts against the Giants. That mark does not count Game 4 of the 2012 World Series in Detroit, when he pitched well for the Tigers (three runs in 6 1/3 innings), only to see San Francisco finish off its 4-0 sweep with a run in the ninth off the bullpen. The Giants will counter Scherzer with Jeff Samardzija (9-6, 4.22 ERA). Chances are the first batter Samardzija will see Friday night will be Trea Turner, who continued his recent hot run with two hits, a walk, a run, an RBI and a stolen base in Thursday's win. Nationals manager Dusty Baker indicated before the game that he would flip-flop Turner and Ben Revere in center field." It's not to say much, but you'll take any edge that you can get," Baker said, according to the Washington Post. "And tomorrow will be something different. I'm hoping that I don't have to talk about my lineup every day and we can just go with it and see how it works. I mean, everything is about the odds and who's going good, who hits whom, whether the pitcher matches up better against right-handers or left-handers, if you need more speed. All that goes into my decision." Few Nationals are hotter right now than Turner, who has hits in nine of his 10 game appearances since the All-Star break and has reached base in all 10.
Time: 10:40 P.M. EST Venue: Petco Park
SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Padres look to continue their home run spree when opening a nine-game homestand against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday at Petco Park. Or should the Padres' downtown digs be christened "Muscle Beach?"While little has gone right for rebuilding San Diego (44-58) this season, it has blasted home runs in 25 straight games. Slugging San Diego joins the 1998 Atlanta Braves (25), and four American League clubs, as the only clubs to reach that mark in major-league history. If the Padres go yard on Friday in the first of a three-game series with the Reds, they will set the NL record and inch closer to the 2002 Texas Rangers' standard of homers in 27 straight games. San Diego's lineup is matched against a Reds starter who's been torched by big flies. Southpaw Brandon Finnegan (5-8, 4.93 ERA) has absorbed 22 home runs in 20 games. The Padres are coming off Wednesday's 8-4 win against the Toronto Blue Jays in which Adam Rosales and Brett Wallace went deep and Alex Dickerson, among the organization's top prospects, stroked a homer for the fourth consecutive game. That's a nifty personal feat but it pales to what the Padres are accomplishing. What gives for a team which is shedding veterans and trying to construct a brighter future as it careens toward its sixth straight losing season?"Our chase percentages are down outside the strike zone, and we're forcing guys into the zone more often, (and) we're walking more than we were early in the season," Padres rookie manager Andy Green told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Those things you can control." Hitting the ball out of the ballpark 25 straight (games), it's borderline fluke. It's just one of those things that happen. We don't think about it much." The Padres' brawn will likely occupy Finnegan's thoughts. He has surrendered a home run in six straight starts and 10 blasts in his last four. San Diego hands the ball to veteran Edwin Jackson (1-1, 4.30 overall), hoping he can duplicate his last outing at Petco. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Giants in his Padres' debut on July 17 before settling for the win. Jackson has been keen in two starts after taking Drew Pomeranz's rotation spot when Pomeranz was peddled to the Boston Red Sox. With Monday's trading deadline approaching, the Reds continue to field offers for Jay Bruce. The All-Star right fielder has been on a tear, tying a club record with a homer in five straight games; he has six homers in five games. It's possible the All-Star is playing his final games with the Reds." I would expect things to probably over the weekend get a little more engaged," Walt Jocketty, the Reds' director of baseball operations, told mlb.com. "There are clubs that have been engaged in Jay for a while. It's basically the same clubs but no one has really come up and been really aggressive." It figures scouts from three West Coast contenting teams, the Giants, Dodgers and Mariners, will be evaluating the left-hand hitting veteran corner outfielder who fills a need. Like the Padres, the Reds (40-61) are trying to flip their roster and collect young talent with upside. Surprisingly, San Diego is doing it while hitting the ball outside the ballpark at an historic rate.