LEADING OFF: Strasburg’s shutout streak, Astros can clinch
A look at what’s happening all around the majors Sunday:
Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg tries to extend his franchise record of 34 straight scoreless innings when he starts at night against the Dodgers. Strasburg is 13-4 going into this matchup of NL division leaders vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu. Los Angeles has won four in a row since its 11-game losing streak, and is going for a sweep at Washington.
PARTY IN HOUSTON?
The Astros can clinch their first division title since 2001 with a win over Seattle or a loss by the Angels against the Rangers. This would be Houston’s seventh division crown and first since switching to the American League for the 2013 season. Justin Verlander (12-8, 3.58 ERA) will make his first start at Houston since being acquired from the Tigers. He’ll face right-hander Andrew Moore (1-3, 5.36).
CENTER OF ATTENTION
Jason Kipnis is expected to return from the disabled list for Cleveland and pick up a new position: center field. Kipnis last played the outfield as a minor leaguer in 2009, but an injury to rookie Bradley Zimmer has created a hole in center that the two-time All-Star second baseman is set to fill. ”I’m pretty sure I’ve got it in me,” Kipnis said earlier this week. ”I think I can still do it.” Kipnis is scheduled to play at least five innings in center against Kansas City.
Red Sox lefty David Price could make a relief appearance when the AL East leaders wrap up their series at Tropicana Field. He hasn’t pitched since July 22 because of elbow inflammation, and manager John Farrell recently said Price would work out of the bullpen. Price’s last game as a reliever was in 2015 during the AL playoffs with Toronto; the last time he relieved in a regular-season game was 2010 with Tampa Bay.
WAIT AND SEE
The Cubs plan to evaluate injured right-hander Jake Arrieta a day after he threw a 42-pitch bullpen session. The 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner has been out since Sept. 4 with a right hamstring strain, and Chicago wants to see how he responds to Saturday’s bullpen before determining his next step. Arrieta was 4-1 with a 1.21 ERA over six starts in August.
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