LEADING OFF: Day games galore, Bruce back in Cincy
A look at what's happening all around the majors today:
The holiday schedule on Labor Day includes only one true night game, with the other 14 all scheduled to start by late afternoon local time. A pair of prominent pitchers return to their old homes, with Zack Greinke (12-4) going for Arizona at Dodger Stadium and Drew Pomeranz (10-10 overall) up for Boston in San Diego.
HOMECOMING IN THE QUEEN CITY
All-Star outfielder Jay Bruce returns to Cincinnati for the first time since the Reds sent him to the Mets at the Aug. 1 trade deadline. Before the game, the Reds plan to honor Bruce and his wife, Hannah, on the field. After a slow start in New York, Bruce has come on lately. He has two homers and four RBIs in his last three games. Robert Stephenson (2-0) attempts to become the first Reds pitcher since Wayne Simpson in 1970 to win his first three major league starts.
BACK IN TOP FORM?
Longtime aces Felix Hernandez (9-5, 3.48 ERA) and Cole Hamels (14-4, 2.91) look to rebound from lackluster outings when Seattle opens a series against Texas. Hernandez allowed six earned runs over four innings in a loss to the Rangers last Wednesday, while Hamels gave up six runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Mariners on Tuesday.
LET'S GET WILD
Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright (9-8) tries to snap his four-game losing streak at Pittsburgh in the opener of a three-game series with NL wild-card implications. Rookie right-hander Chad Kuhl (3-2, 3.70) goes for the slumping Pirates (67-67), who have dropped six in a row to fall 3 1/2 games behind St. Louis in the race for the league's final playoff spot.
Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander (14-7, 3.30 ERA) and White Sox lefty Chris Sale (15-7, 3.10) square off for the second time in six days. They handed a tie game to the bullpens last Wednesday, when Detroit won 3-2 on Tyler Collins' sacrifice fly in the ninth. Verlander is 7-1 with a 2.05 ERA in his last 12 starts, while Sale is 1-5 over his past nine despite a 3.43 ERA.
GOING TO THE BULLPEN
The first-place Indians, who have won six straight, will lean on their bullpen when they open a four-game series with Houston. Right-hander Mike Clevinger will start but is expected to go only a couple of innings in what will be a game pitched by relievers. Right-hander Josh Tomlin, removed from the rotation, could also be used early in the game.
BRAVE NEW DAY
Perhaps few folks have noticed, but the last-place Braves (54-83) have won six in a row and eight of 10 heading into their series at Washington. Center fielder Ender Inciarte has a 15-game hitting streak, and slugger Freddie Freeman has reached base safely in 27 straight games – the longest active streak in the majors. Next up, Max Scherzer (15-7, 2.89 ERA) and the NL East-leading Nationals. Scherzer's start was bumped back a day to give him extra rest.