LEADING OFF: Astros-Red Sox at Fenway, Dodgers visit Rockies
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
OCTOBER IN THE AIR
Two of the top teams in the majors meet at Fenway Park when Gerrit Cole (13-5, 2.86 ERA) and the Astros take on David Price (14-6, 3.60) and the Red Sox in the opener of a three-game set between AL division leaders. Houston beat Boston in the playoffs last year on the way to winning the World Series. Price bruised his left wrist when it was hit by a line drive in his last start Aug. 29 against Miami. The streaking Astros have won five straight behind slugger Alex Bregman, who has reached base safely in 33 consecutive games. Bregman, with four homers in his last five games, batted .486 with seven doubles, five homers and 17 RBIs on the 10-game homestand Houston just completed. He has an extra-base hit and an RBI in five straight games, the longest such streak for an Astros hitter since 2006.
WILD, WILD WEST
Trevor Story and the first-place Rockies open a pivotal three-game series against the Dodgers at Coors Field with 1 1/2 games separating the NL West rivals. Colorado had a day off following Story’s three-homer outburst in a 5-3 win over San Francisco on Wednesday, which gave the All-Star shortstop a career-best 31 homers this season. He’ll try to resume his powerful pace against resurgent ace Clayton Kershaw, who has a 2.14 ERA since the start of August. Los Angeles expects to be without All-Star closer Kenley Jansen after a team cardiologist recommended the right-hander not travel to Denver, where he’s had heart issues in the past. Colorado has won five in a row.
HOPE THEY BOTH LOSE
Oakland fans will be keeping an eye on Seattle, where the Yankees play the Mariners. The A’s are 3 1/2 games back of New York for the top AL wild card, but the Mariners are 5 1/2 behind Oakland and really the only team with much of a chance to knock the Athletics out of the playoffs entirely. Masahiro Tanaka will face Mariners lefty James Paxton, while the A’s send Chris Bassitt to the mound against the Rangers in Oakland. Tanaka (10-5, 3.83 ERA) is 6-0 with a 2.34 ERA in eight starts against the Mariners — and 3-0 with a 2.17 ERA at Safeco Field. Paxton (11-5, 3.74) returned from the disabled list last Saturday and struck out 10 in five innings to beat Oakland.
Blake Snell (17-5, 2.02 ERA) tries to tie Cleveland ace Corey Kluber for the big league lead in wins when the All-Star lefty pitches for Tampa Bay at last-place Baltimore. Snell, the AL pitcher of the month for August, has won five consecutive starts. He and Kluber are top contenders for the AL Cy Young Award.
Chief Wahoo is missing from the Indians jersey sleeves this weekend during a four-game series at Toronto. The team nixed the logo for the Canadian trip, partially because of a failed legal challenge against Cleveland when it played in Toronto during the 2016 AL Championship Series. While the Indians played the Blue Jays, a lawsuit was filed to have the logo and team name banned from Canadian TV. A judge dismissed the case. The Indians have said they will permanently remove the logo from their uniforms next season, but Chief Wahoo will return to their sleeves when they play at Tampa Bay next week.
Washington right-hander Joe Ross is set to make his season debut against the Cubs. Ross hasn’t pitched in the majors since having Tommy John surgery in July 2017. The 25-year-old has a 3.95 ERA in 48 major league appearances (45 starts). He’s made six minor league rehab starts, going 2-1 with a 2.39 ERA. With a few spots open in the 2019 rotation, Ross’ performance could influence what the Nationals do this offseason.