LEADING OFF: Bird big for Yanks, Hamels goes for Rangers
A look at what's happening all around the major leagues Sunday:
CAN'T TOUCH CLAYTON
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has won five straight decisions and tries for a sixth at Houston. The left-hander has a 0.82 ERA over his past seven starts, including two complete-game shutouts and three scoreless, eight-inning performances. Rookie Lance McCullers goes for the Astros for the first time since being demoted following a rocky Aug. 3 start at Texas. He was given a few weeks to rest and then made one appearance with Double-A Corpus Christi before being recalled. His 3.17 ERA is tied for fifth best among qualified rookie starters.
BOOST FROM BIRD
Greg Bird and the Yankees face the Indians seeking their eighth win in 11 games since snapping a five-game losing streak. The turnaround coincided with Bird's big league debut on Aug. 13, and New York is 6-2 when Bird has played. The first baseman has a .276 average with two homers and six RBIs.
CAN COLE FUEL THE FIRE?
Cole Hamels looks to bolster the Rangers' position in the AL wild card race at Detroit. Texas has gone 14-7 since acquiring the left-hander as surprising buyers at the non-waiver trade deadline, but it has so largely without help from Hamels. The longtime Phillies hurler has gone just 1-2 with a 5.23 ERA in three outings with the Rangers.
The Giants wrap a pivotal four-game series in Pittsburgh trying to remain in the NL wild card race. The Pirates walked off Saturday with a 3-2 win on Starling Marte's two-out, ninth-inning homer to take a 2-1 series lead and put eight games between the wild card-leading Bucs and the Giants in the standings. San Francisco also trails the Cubs by five games for the second wild card spot.
Kevin Gausman was moved to a starting role in June, but he'll search for just his second win since April when the Orioles finish a four-game series against Minnesota. In nine starts since June 20, Gausman is 1-5 with a 4.47 ERA.