It’s the first round of interleague play in 2011.Â
I’m not completely a fan of this part of the schedule, that’s something to delve into more on Monday in Weekly Hit Ground Ball, but it does throw together a few novel encounters and can add a bit of extraÂ interest during what is a long regular season.
We had a series of exciting games last night and I’m sure we’ll have plenty more today. Six of them are starting before midnight UK time.
18.07. Houston at Toronto (Brett Myers – Brandon Morrow)
Astros v Blue Jays is not one of the interleague match-ups that grabs a neutral’s attention, if we’re being honest.Â The series opener last night was a good game though.Â Jo-Jo Reyes pitched seven strong innings for Toronto, only for the Blue Jays’ bullpen to cancel out his good work.Â The Astros levelled the game at 2-2 with two runs in the eighth and then added on three more runs in the top of the ninth to take the win.
Brett Myers has been on a losing run of late, but pitched a decent game last time out.Â Morrow has consistently been able to strike batters out in the Majors and he’s continued that trend this season with 37 K’s in 26 innings.Â To make the next step to being a front-line starter, he needs to find a way to keep up those K’s whilst getting deeper into games.
19.10. LA Dodgers at Chicago White Sox (Jon Garland – Mark Buehrle)
Jon Garland faces the team he won a World Series with in 2005.Â Â The DodgersÂ were down to their last out in the opener before Russell Mitchell hit a game-tying home run.Â L.A. went on to score three runs in the top of the tenth and the Sox could only get one of those runs back in the bottom of the frame.
Expect another closely-fought contest today.Â
19.10. St. Louis at Kansas City (Jake Westbrook – Nate Adcock)
The Royals are a team on the rise; maybe not rocketing back into contention, but definitely going in the right direction after far too long in the doldrums.Â Winning a series against the Cardinals would be another little boost to a fan base that has had little to cheer in recent times.Â
Things have started well for K.C. with Jeff Francis showing a tantalizing glimpse of his pre-injury form while pitchingÂ 7.2 shut-out innings yesterday.Â The Royals won 3-0 and today turn to one of their rookies.Â Nate Adcock has pitched well out of the bullpen so far this season and an injury to Kyle Davies means that he’ll get a chance to make his first Major League start.
21.05. Washington at Baltimore (Jon Lannan – Jeremy Guthrie) * ESPN America
Do local bragging rights mean more when the teams involved have been perennialÂ celler-dwellers of late?Â Yes, they probably do. So while it may not look like much of an encounter to the rest of the Majors, this one means quite a lot to the respective players and fans.Â Â
Guthrie is once again doing a good job most times out, despite receiving scant reward for his efforts (as his 1-6 record shows).Â The O’s nominal ace was even pushed into emergency relief duty against the Yankees during the week.Â He should return to his usual role today, which will be good news for the Orioles as the Nats absolutely hammered them 17-5 last night.
This game is scheduled to be shown on ESPN America, although Game Four of the NHL play-off betweenÂ Boston and Tampa Bay is on live beforehand so the baseball gameÂ may be joined in-progress rather than for the first pitch (the listed programme start time is 21.30)
21.05. Cincinnati at Cleveland (Homer Bailey – Josh Tomlin)
With the Reds being reigning NL Central champs and the Indians surprisingly leading the AL Central, this is one of the most eagerly anticipated series between the teams in recent years.Â
Game One lived up to those expectations.Â The Indians recovered from 4-0 down to tie the game with four runs in the sixth inning.Â They then tookÂ a decisive 5-4Â lead in dramatic fashion.Â Ezequiel Carrera bunted home the runÂ not simply in hisÂ first Major League at-bat, but on his first Major League pitch.
21.10. Tampa Bay at Florida (David Price – Javier Vazquez)
As with the Reds and Indians, this is another interleague series that catches the eye due to the form both teams are showing this season.Â
Javier Vazquez has not mixed well with the American League while wearing a Yankees uniform.Â Will a Marlins uniform make any difference?Â We’ll find out today.Â Price didn’t pitch well against the Yankees last time out, but that won’t fool theÂ Marlins.Â They know they’re in for a tough afternoon against the left-hander.