Today's Major League schedule will end with Clayton Kershaw and Bartolo Colon squaring off at Citi Field, but even before that, there are plenty of intriguing matchups to watch.David Price of the Red Sox, Stephen Strasburg of Nationals, Chris Sale of the White Sox and Johnny Cueto of the Giants
Today's Major League schedule will end with Clayton Kershaw and Bartolo Colon squaring off at Citi Field, but even before that, there are plenty of intriguing matchups to watch.
David Price of the Red Sox, Stephen Strasburg of Nationals, Chris Sale of the White Sox and Johnny Cueto of the Giants are among the aces set to take the mound this afternoon in series finales. Each of their teams are in first place or within a half-game of it, and each of their games will be available on MLB.TV.
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Here is a look at what to watch for today in the Majors (all times ET):
Jays seek sweep: BOS@TOR, 1:07 p.m.
After the Blue Jays rallied twice on Saturday, ultimately taking a 10-9 walk-off win in the ninth inning, they now have a chance to finish off a three-game sweep of the Red Sox. A victory also would give Toronto a season-high five-game winning streak and push the club to two games over .500 for the first time since it started 2-0. It would help if R.A. Dickey could provide the Jays with more than he did in a pair of outings against Boston in April (9 2/3 innings, 11 runs). The Sox, on the other hand, likely would be happy if Price replicated his last meeting with his most recent former club (seven innings, two runs on April 16). The left-hander has struggled at times this year but seems to have hit his stride with three straight quality starts.
Stat that matters: In Price's first seven starts, opponents posted a .771 OPS, with a sky-high .383 batting average on balls in play. In his last three turns, opponents have a .614 OPS and .269 BABIP.
Stras seeks split: STL@WAS, 1:35 p.m.
Winning a four-game series on the road against a first-place team is a tall task, but the Cardinals have a chance to do just that. St. Louis has claimed the past two games after dropping the opener and now will hope right-hander Michael Wacha can pull out of his recent slump. Wacha has lasted only four innings in three straight starts, allowing 20 runs (16 earned) on 24 hits and eight walks over that span. In contrast, Strasburg (2.79 ERA) has completed at least six innings in all 10 of his outings, never allowing more than four runs and reaching double-digit strikeouts on five occasions. He will look to get a split for Washington, which enters the day in a virtual tie with the Mets atop the National League East.
"There's definitely some highs and lows, obviously there was quite a bit of lows last year for me," Strasburg said after his last start. "I think I learned a lot through that process, so I'm just trying to ride the roller coaster and stay consistent and be a good teammate every single day.
Stat that matters: In Strasburg's last 20 starts, since he came off the disabled list last August, he has posted a 2.35 ERA and 2.22 FIP, while striking out 12 batters per nine innings and walking 1.8.
Comeback kids: CHW@KC, 2:15 p.m.
On Friday, the Royals trailed the White Sox 5-1 before scoring a run in the bottom of the sixth and four more in the seventh to take the lead, eventually winning, 7-5. Saturday brought an even crazier rally -- seven runs in the ninth to turn a six-run deficit into a walk-off win. So what will K.C. do for an encore? Ned Yost's club is now tied with Chicago for second in the American League Central, a half-game behind Cleveland, so by finishing off a sweep, the Royals could vault into first place. The Sox, on the other hand, have lost a season-high five straight and 13 of 17 to fall into second for the first time since April 22. While Chicago can turn to Sale, who is matched up against Edinson Volquez, the lefty also is trying to bounce back. He entered his last start 9-0 with a 1.58 ERA but finally hit a bump, allowing six runs over 3 1/3 innings against the Indians.
"I stunk. I was bad. I was terrible. Embarrassing, quite honestly," Sale said after his first loss. "It's tough to go out and go 3 1/3. You leave your team in a tough position, especially after a doubleheader."
Stat that matters: Sale allowed as many earned runs in that last outing as in his previous seven combined.
Cueto takes on Coors: SF@COL, 4:10 p.m.
The first-place Giants won for the 13th time in 15 games Saturday, evening this three-game series. Now they go for their fifth straight series victory, sending Cueto to the mound against the Rockies and left-hander Chris Rusin. Cueto (2.38 ERA) has been successful this season in part because he has served up a mere two home runs in 75 2/3 innings, and while Coors Field figures to challenge that stinginess, Cueto has a 2.61 ERA and only two homers allowed over five career starts there. The right-hander is coming off a two-hit, no-walk shutout against the Padres
Stat that matters: Cueto has completed back-to-back starts for the second time in his career. The last two big league pitchers with three straight complete games were Cliff Lee and James Shields, who had overlapping streaks in June 2011.
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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.