Nationals ace Max Scherzer takes the mound tonight in San Francisco for a potential pitcher's duel against the Giants' Jeff Samardzija in a matchup of National League division-leaders, one of 15 games today in the Major Leagues.Jon Lester starts for the first-place Cubs, who host the Mariners this afternoon in
Nationals ace Max Scherzer takes the mound tonight in San Francisco for a potential pitcher's duel against the Giants' Jeff Samardzija in a matchup of National League division-leaders, one of 15 games today in the Major Leagues.
Jon Lester starts for the first-place Cubs, who host the Mariners this afternoon in today's first game. Elsewhere, the Orioles and Blue Jays meet north of the border in a series of American League East contenders, Ichiro Suzuki continues his quest for 3,000 hits as the Cardinals and Marlins continue to jockey for position in the NL Wild Card race and Tim Lincecum takes the mound for the Angels against the visiting Red Sox.
And the best place to catch all the action is on MLB.TV.
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Here's what to watch for today in the Majors (all times ET):
Scherzer, Shark duel: WSH@SF, 10:15 p.m.
The Nationals and Giants could meet in the postseason, which makes this four-game series at AT&T Park even more exciting. Thursday was the first time they met this season. The Nats hand the ball to Scherzer, who has won four of his last five decisions on the road. The Giants counter with Samardzija, who is seeking his first quality start since the All-Star break.
Scherzer has been a strikeout machine this year, and he's tied for second in MLB with eight games of at least 10 punch outs.However, Scherzer has struggled in his career against the Giants, collecting a 6.85 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in five starts.
Samardzija began the year 7-2, but is 2-4 since. The Giants are 11-9 when he starts and have lost four of his last five outings. The right-hander is 2-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 12 career appearances (five starts) against the Nationals.
Stat that matters: Scherzer needs four strikeouts to pass Miami's José Fernández (184) and regain the MLB lead.
Ichiro two hits shy of 3,000: STL@MIA, 7:10 p.m.
Ichiro could make history today, as he needs two hits to reach 3,000 for his MLB career and tie Roberto Clemente for 29th on MLB's all-time hit list. He would be the 30th player in Major League history to reach 3,000 hits. Ichiro has started one of Miami's last six games. He's 1-for-4 lifetime against Cardinals starter Mike Leake.
Aside from Ichiro's quest for history, the Marlins and Cardinals are tied for the second NL Wild Card spot. They are two games behind the Dodgers and 1 1/2 games ahead of the Mets.
Leake is looking to bounce back from his last start, in which he allowed a career-high 12 hits and season-high seven runs. Meanwhile, José Ureña makes his third start for the Marlins. He's allowed four hits and one run in each of his two previous starts.
Mariners make rare visit to Wrigley Field: SEA@CHC, 2:20 p.m.
Lester and Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma toe the rubber this afternoon in a matchup of two of baseball's best starting pitchers over the past two months. Iwakuma is 10-2 with a 3.69 ERA over his past 12 starts dating back to May 20. Lester is 6-1 with a 3.49 ERA over his past 11 starts since May 27.
For the Mariners, this is just their second trip to Wrigley Field in franchise history. Seattle lost two of three to the Cubs in its previous visit in 2007. The Mariners are 10-4 in Interleague play this year, while the Cubs are 6-3.
A native of Tacoma, Wash., Lester is 5-4 with a 3.52 ERA in 12 career starts against his former hometown team. Meanwhile, Iwakuma is facing the Cubs for the second time in his career. Iwakuma settled for a no-decision in a 2013 start against the Cubs in which he was charged with four runs on six hits over eight innings at Safeco Field.
Stat that matters: The Mariners have eight players with double-digit home runs this season, the most in the MLB, led by Nelson Cruz with 25, Robinson Canó with 22 and Kyle Seager with 20.
AL East showdown: BAL@TOR, 7:07 p.m.
The Orioles have lost three in a row entering this important three-game series against the Blue Jays, who trail Baltimore by 1 1/2 games in the AL East. It's the first series between these two clubs since the Blue Jays were in Baltimore for a three-game set from June 17-19, and they won't meet again until Aug. 29-31.
The O's will look to turn things around behind starter Kevin Gausman, who tossed seven shutout innings his last time out to beat the Indians. Gausman started in Toronto on June 10 and allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Marco Estrada takes the mound for the Jays. The right-hander will be starting on six days' rest. Estrada is 8-6 with a 3.69 ERA in 21 career starts with at least six days between appearances.
Stat that matters: Orioles slugger Chris Davis is 3-for-31 (.097) with 14 strikeouts over his last nine games.
Sox face Lincecum: BOS@LAA, 10:05 p.m.
Lincecum will be looking for better results when he gets the ball against the Red Sox in the second of a four-game series at Angel Stadium. Lincecum is 2-4 with a 8.70 ERA in seven starts this year after signing with the Angels in May. He allowed eight runs on seven hits and recorded just four outs in his last outing against the Astros.
Rick Porcello starts for the struggling Red Sox, who are still holding on to an AL Wild Card spot. Porcello is doing his part, winning each of his last five starts. Over his last eight outings, Porcello is 6-0 with a 2.86 ERA. He's won each of his last seven decisions, which is a career-best streak.
Stat that matters: Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 31 consecutive games, tied with the Nationals' Jayson Werth for the longest active streak in MLB.
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**Austin Laymance** is a reporter for MLB.com.