LEADING OFF: Unbeaten Strasburg, Rangers on the road again
A look at what's happening all around the majors Friday, when baseball gets back into full swing after the All-Star break:
Stephen Strasburg puts his unbeaten record on the line as the Washington Nationals host the Pittsburgh Pirates in the opener of a weekend series. Strasburg (12-0, 2.62 ERA) is the first NL starter in 104 years to win his first 12 decisions in a season – just four shy of Hall of Famer Rube Marquard's 18-0 start for the New York Giants in 1912. Strasburg has won a franchise-record 15 straight decisions since September.
The Texas Rangers come out of the All-Star break with a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. It's the opener of a nine-game road swing that continues a stretch of 19 of 23 games away from home. Texas, which had a four-game homestand heading into the break, has lost nine of its last 12 but still leads the AL Central by 5 1/2 games over Houston at a league-best 54-36.
Home Run Derby champion Giancarlo looks to keep his recent power surge going as the Miami Marlins open a weekend series at St. Louis. Stanton, who was batting .193 on June 15, hit five homers in the final five games before the All-Star break, increasing his season total to 20, and has raised his average to .233. He hit a record 61 homers in three rounds of the Derby on Monday.
All-Star Game MVP Eric Hosmer and the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals get back in action with Ian Kennedy (6-7) squaring off against the Tigers' Justin Verlander (8-6) at Detroit. Hosmer, who hit a solo home run and finished with two RBIs, helped the American League secure home-field advantage in the World Series – which Kansas City enjoyed last year – with a 4-2 win on Tuesday night over the National League.
Boston, tied with Toronto at two games behind Baltimore in the AL East, acquired All-Star Drew Pomeranz from the San Diego Padres on Thursday night, adding a third left-hander to the rotation as they push to return to the playoffs after consecutive last-place finishes. Boston sent righty Anderson Espinoza to San Diego. Pomeranz (8-7, 2.47 ERA) will make his Boston debut next Wednesday.
BACK ON THE MOUND
San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner (10-4) threw a one-hit shutout in a 4-0 win over Arizona on Sunday, and he'll be back Friday night against San Diego and Andrew Cashner (3-7). At 57-33, the Giants entered the All-Star break with baseball's best record.