Two of the most dominant left-handed pitchers in the game take center stage when the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw toes the rubber opposite the Cubs' Jonathan Lester as part of an intriguing full slate of games today, streaming live on MLB.TV.The series finale features a rematch from last season's National League
Two of the most dominant left-handed pitchers in the game take center stage when the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw toes the rubber opposite the Cubs' Jonathan Lester as part of an intriguing full slate of games today, streaming live on MLB.TV.
The series finale features a rematch from last season's National League Championship Series, when the Cubs defeated the Dodgers in six games to advance to the World Series. Kershaw and Lester did not face then, and it will mark the first time they see each other this year.
Kershaw stymied the Cardinals' bats for nine innings in his previous outing, allowing one run on three hits without a walk and 10 strikeouts in a no-decision. Los Angeles went on to win, 2-1, in 13 innings.
Lester is coming off a gem of his own, his first complete game of the season, in a 4-1 win over the Giants. The NLCS co-MVP gave up a run on four hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts, setting up what should be an epic duel this afternoon.
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Here's what else to watch for throughout the day (all times in ET):
Battle in the Bronx: OAK@NYY, 1:05 p.m.
The Athletics' Andrew Triggs will attempt to slow down the Yankees' potent offense, as he squares off against Michael Pineda. Triggs was rolling last time out before the Red Sox pushed across six runs (five earned) off him in 5 1/3 frames to give him his third loss of the year.
Pineda has been the rock of the Yankees' rotation in May, recording four straight quality starts over the course of the month. He has done well to limit the damage despite still being prone to the long ball. The right-hander has yet to allow more than three earned runs in a start this month, but he has surrendered at least one homer in each of those outings.
Interdivisional rivalry continues: TEX@TOR, 1:07 p.m.
Andrew Cashner's first season with the Rangers has been a success through the first quarter of the year, as he's recorded a 3.18 ERA through eight starts in spite of his 1-4 record. The Blue Jays will now introduce the righty to arguably the most heated non-divisional rivalry in the game. Cashner has faced Toronto once in his eight-year career, giving up three runs in six innings in a no-decision.
The Blue Jays will counter with Joe Biagini, who is struggling to work deep into games after making the transition from the bullpen to the rotation. Biagini hasn't yet eclipsed five innings yet in his four starts and has allowed nine runs (eight earned) in his last two starts combined.
Shooting for the stars: BAL@HOU, 2:10 p.m.
The Astros own the American League's best record by a significant margin, and the club is showing no signs of slowing down. Houston is firing on all cylinders: The pitching staff has been spectacular, the offense is flowing and the bullpen is locking down opposing hitters late in games.
Lance McCullers will attempt to keep the good times rolling when he makes his ninth start in the series finale against the Orioles. McCullers has not allowed an earned run since May 1.
Baltimore plans to give Alec Asher another opportunity to prove himself in the rotation, and he could cement his spot among the Orioles' starters with another solid outing. The right-hander has allowed four earned runs in 12 1/3 innings (2.92 ERA) across two starts with the O's this season.
Rocky mountain high: STL@COL, 3:10 p.m.
One of the NL's hottest teams, the surprising Rockies appear to be here to stay. Colorado has put it all together so far this year, and it has been truly incredible to watch. German Marquez will try to continue the Rockies' winning ways, as he takes the ball against Lance Lynn and the Cardinals in the series finale.
Marquez has been excellent this month, winning each of his last three starts while allowing just two runs over that span. Lynn was a part of a crazy duel with Kershaw in his prior outing, hurling eight innings of one-run ball while racking up 10 strikeouts in a no-decision.
Kershaw's revenge: CHC@LAD, 4:10 p.m.
The last time the Cubs faced the Dodgers' ace, they knocked him around for five runs (four earned) in five innings to advance to the Fall Classic. Pitchers are taught to have a short memory on the mound, but there's no doubt Kershaw remembers what happened that fateful day in October. Look for the best pitcher in baseball to be on his game versus the defending World Series champions.
Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington, D.C.