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D-backs chase first place against Dodgers on MLB.TV

Maddon faces former club at Wrigley; Vargas, Hernandez duel in Seattle
MLB.com

Baseball and the Fourth of July complement each other as much as any other trademark American pairing, and all teams are in action this Independence Day, where fans can catch everything on MLB.TV.

MLB.TV is offering 2017 Premium Yearly and Single Team subscriptions for $20.17 through July 4. MLB.TV Premium has nearly two dozen features for subscribers to access and interact with live out-of-market Major League Baseball games at 60 frames per second on more than 400 supported devices.

Baseball and the Fourth of July complement each other as much as any other trademark American pairing, and all teams are in action this Independence Day, where fans can catch everything on MLB.TV.

MLB.TV is offering 2017 Premium Yearly and Single Team subscriptions for $20.17 through July 4. MLB.TV Premium has nearly two dozen features for subscribers to access and interact with live out-of-market Major League Baseball games at 60 frames per second on more than 400 supported devices.

Castrovince: Baseball, July 4th a perfect pair

Here's what to watch for today (all times ET):

The top dogs: ARI@LAD, 9:10 p.m.

The Dodgers and D-backs entered the week with the top two records in the National League, separated by just 2 1/2 games in the division, with L.A. clinging to the top spot after going 21-7 in June. As the All-Star break nears, it appears both teams are built for a second-half run to remain in the race for the postseason.

Video: MLB Tonight discusses why Kershaw should start ASG

Named to his seventh straight NL All-Star team on Sunday, Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw hasn't given up an earned run since June 19 against the Mets, when he was pegged for six in a game the Dodgers still won. The left-hander is unbeaten in his last 11 starts and is a career 13-8 with a 2.66 ERA against the D-backs.

For Arizona, Patrick Corbin is coming off a far more level month than his rocky May. In five June starts, he averaged nearly six innings per outing, with a 3.99 ERA. Of late, Corbin's off-speed has been superb. He is one of three D-backs starters who rank in the top six in whiff rates on curveballs and sliders, per Statcast™, with a 44.4 percent rate on such pitches, entering Monday.

Closer than you think: TB@CHC, 2:20 p.m.

Joe Maddon managed the Rays to a 754-705 record over nine seasons, with four postseason berths and an American League pennant in 2008. His first managerial visit to Wrigley Field was on a cloudless afternoon in August 2014, less than three months before he would become Cubs manager.

Video: TB@CHC: Archer, Lester take the hill at Wrigley Field

On that day in 2014, Chris Archer was Maddon's starter for the Rays, making his only career outing against the organization he spent two seasons with in the Minors, eventually being traded to Tampa Bay ahead of his MLB debut season in 2011. He will start Tuesday.

Maddon's hiring was one of the first aggressive front office moves by the Cubs that 2014-15 offseason, followed by the signing of Jon Lester, who starts Tuesday and is coming off four straight quality starts, during which he has posted a 2.42 ERA and 28 strikeouts over 26 innings.

Vargas vs. The King: KC@SEA, 6:40 p.m.

For the first time in his 12-year career, Jason Vargas is an All-Star, as announced Sunday. He carries into Tuesday's game with an AL-best 2.22 ERA and MLB-best 12 wins. He has allowed more than three runs in just one of his 16 starts this year.

Video: KC@DET: Vargas, Hernandez to duel at Safeco Park

The lefty has always been strong against right-handed batters, but his splits are even more stark this year. Righties are hitting him just .223, down 73 points from lefties, which could possibly be attributed to the success he's had on his changeup. He's generated 37 strikeouts on the pitch, 16 more than second best in the Majors among lefties to righties, per Statcast™.

After missing nearly two months with bursitis in his pitching shoulder, right-hander Felix Hernandez won't be an All-Star for the second straight year. He's surrendered three runs in six innings in each of his two starts since returning from the DL, and he's a career 5-5 with a 2.75 ERA against the Royals.

Chipping away: NYM@WSH, 11:05 a.m.

Video: NYM@WSH: Lugo set to pitch against Ross in Washington

The beleaguered Mets' rotation continues to get healthy, notably of late with Seth Lugo, who has helped them to three wins in his first four starts back after missing the first two months with right elbow inflammation. Though the Statcast™ spin rate marvel doesn't generate many swing-and-misses, the righty has given the Mets a much-needed innings eater.

He'll face Joe Ross, who has continued to put a rough start to the season behind him, having now pitched at least six innings in four of his last five starts, and the Nationals have won three of those.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.