LEADING OFF: CC dominating for Yanks, Paxton piling up Ks
A look at what's happening all around the majors today:
Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia (4-4, 2.28 ERA) takes a 12-inning scoreless streak into a start against the Twins. The resurgent Sabathia has held opponents to two runs or fewer in six straight starts, and his ERA would be in baseball's top 15 if he had enough innings to qualify. It's a big turnaround for Sabathia, who struggled with problems on and off the field last season. ''Obviously, just staying healthy is the biggest thing,'' he said after his last start, a 4-0 win over Detroit.
KEEPING THE THRONE WARM
James Paxton (0-2, 2.25) has been outstanding while filling in for injured Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, a trend he'll try to keep up against the Rays. Paxton came up from Triple-A and struggled in his first start, but has been electric in his last two outings, allowing one earned run over 12 1/3 innings with 17 strikeouts and three walks. Of course, he's also gotten the same lackluster run support that's suppressed King Felix's win totals for years - Seattle lost Paxton's last two starts by scores of 3-1 and 2-1. He'll face another hard-throwing left-hander in rookie Blake Snell (0-0, 1.80).
Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton is expected back from the 7-day concussion disabled list when the Reds face the Braves. Hamilton took his final tests Wednesday and the results were sent to the Reds' team doctor and Major League Baseball for clearance. ''What I do know is that he feels great,'' manager Bryan Price said before Hamilton took batting practice and caught fly balls in the outfield.
BACK TO START AGAIN
After opening the season in the bullpen, Royals lefty Danny Duffy (2-1, 2.94) has made a triumphant return to the rotation. In six starts, he's 2-1 with a 2.90 ERA, and Kansas City is 5-1 in those games. Last time out, Duffy struck out 10 White Sox over six innings in a 4-1 Royals victory.
WEST COAST DISTRACTIONS
The Nationals face San Diego and the Dodgers on the road over the next seven days, a journey that will test the team's focus. ''I've seen the West Coast destroy teams,'' manager Dusty Baker said. ''Everybody has friends, relatives, couple fleas, couple parasites. It's no joke, going to the coast.'' Tanner Roark (5-4, 2.93) pitches against the Padres to begin the trip.