This weekend's Major League action will have a slightly different look and feel with the inaugural Players Weekend taking place at ballparks across the country.Players will don non-traditional uniforms with unique nicknames -- such as "All Rise" (Aaron Judge), "La Potencia" (Yoenis Cespedes) and "Bringer of Rain" (Josh Donaldson) --
This weekend's Major League action will have a slightly different look and feel with the inaugural Players Weekend taking place at ballparks across the country.
Players will don non-traditional uniforms with unique nicknames -- such as "All Rise" (Aaron Judge), "La Potencia" (Yoenis Cespedes) and "Bringer of Rain" (Josh Donaldson) -- as well as patches on their sleeves with a blank space for players to write the name of a person or organization that was instrumental to their development.
• All you need to know about Players Weekend
The Players Weekend fun begins today with a 15-game slate. The day's schedule features a number of intriguing matchups, including several contests with major pennant and Wild Card race implications, including the Mariners-Yankees clash in the Bronx and the AL Central tilt in Cleveland when the Indians take on the Royals. All the action will be available streaming live on MLB.TV.
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Here's what to watch for throughout the day (all times in ET):
M's, Yanks compete for WC standing: SEA@NYY, 7:05 p.m.
The Mariners and Yankees begin a three-game series as both clubs continue to jockey for positioning in the AL Wild Card standings. New York currently has possession of the AL's top spot, while the Mariners are among seven teams within striking distance.
Ariel Miranda will start for the Mariners, looking to sort out command issues that have plagued him in his last four starts, as he has given up 17 earned runs in 20 1/3 innings for a 7.52 ERA. Carsten Sabathia gets the ball for the Yankees. "Dub" beat Seattle in July, holding the Mariners to one run over five innings, but hasn't faired well at home this year, posting a 5.68 ERA in eight starts.
AL Central clash: KC@CLE, 7:10 p.m.
The Royals have an opportunity to gain some ground in the AL Central when they visit the first-place Indians at Progressive Field. The Royals are in the midst of a crowded Wild Card race, but can still make a push for the division in the regular season's final weeks.
"We know the magnitude of these games," said Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield, who will go by "Whit Bird" this weekend.
A pair of southpaws will take the mound in this matchup. Jason Vargas (14-7, 3.59 ERA) starts for Kansas City, while Ryan Merritt (0-0, 3.12) gets the call-up from Triple-A Columbus to pitch for Cleveland in his fourth Major League appearance (third start) of the season.
JV takes on Chicago: DET@CWS, 8:10 p.m.
Justin Verlander (9-8, 3.96), aka "JV", will take the hill for the Tigers. The veteran hurler has been dominant of late, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning in two of his last three outings. JV owns a 2.36 ERA and a .189 opponents batting average in his last nine starts.
The White Sox will counter with Miguel Gonzalez (7-10, 4.44), otherwise known as "El Jaliscience" for Players Weekend, who also enters this series on a roll. He tossed six scoreless frames against the Rangers in his last start.
Greinke tries for win No. 15: SF@ARI, 9:40 p.m.
Zack Greinke holds a 3.14 ERA and will be eyeing his 15th victory when the D-backs host the Giants for a three-game series. The veteran right-hander went 4-0 in July, but has picked up just one win through four August starts. He's looking to bounce back from a tough outing against the Twins in which he yielded five runs (four earned) in a season-low four innings.
With Greinke on the mound, the D-backs will try to strengthen their hold on a National League Wild Card spot. They entered Thursday with a half-game lead on the Rockies for the NL's top spot and home field advantage in the one-game playoff.
For the Giants, left-hander Ty Blach (8-0, 4.59) will start, wearing the nickname "The Preacher" across his back. He's allowed 12 earned runs and three homers in his last two starts, spanning 11 1/3 innings.
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.