Here are five interesting stories in Major League Baseball this week:
American League East showdown
Baltimore and Boston are tied atop the American League East standings at 36-26. They meet for three games starting Tuesday. Something’s got to give. The series kicks off with a solid pitching matchup, as Baltimore right-hander Chris Tillman (8-1, 3.01 ERA) goes up against David Price (7-4, 4.63). Baltimore is 6-4 in its last 10 games. Boston is 4-6 in its last 10.
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The A’s got home runs from Marcus Semien, Jake Smolinski and Danny Valencia and beat the Reds 6-1 on getaway day in Cincinnati on Sunday to end a seven-game slide. Could this be the start of another winning streak for one of baseball’s streakiest teams? The A’s carried a five-game winning streak into their eight-game trip, but fell apart on the road. They went from 5 1/2 games back in the A.L. West to 12 1/2 back. They have a chance to make up some ground however, as they host the first-place Texas Rangers for four starting Monday.
The return of Cain
Right-hander Matt Cain comes off the disabled list to take the hill for the Giants Monday night when they open a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Cain (1-5, 5.20) will square off against right-hander Chase Anderson (4-6, 4.21). Cain overcame his early season struggles and strung together three good starts before pulling a hamstring on May 27 against the Rockies in Denver. He threw a simulated game last Wednesday, and apparently showed the Giants he was ready to roll. He has allowed four earned runs in his last 22 2/3 innings. Will good Cain or bad Cain show up Monday? Stay tuned.
Cubs, Nationals collide
It’s baseball’s best vs. one of baseball’s best. The Cubs (major-league best 43-18) roll into Washington, D.C., Monday for a three-game series with the Nationals (39-24). Both teams have won seven of 10 and both teams are in first in their respective divisions – the Cubs in the National League Central and the Nats in the N.L. East. Game 1 of the series features right-hander Max Scherzer (7-4, 3.57) of Washington and right-hander Kyle Hendricks (4-5, 2.90) of the Cubs. The Cubs are coming off a 13-2 win over the Braves. The Nationals are coming off a walk-off win over the Phillies. It should be fun.
“Startin’ to come together, Pepper”
Those words, spoken by fictional Cleveland Indians manager Lou Brown in the movie “Major League,” ring true today. The Indians have won nine of 12 and sit in first place in the A.L. Central, three games up on the Detroit Tigers and defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals. The Indians swept a four-game series from the visiting Royals June 2-5. Monday they open a three-game set in Kansas City, Mo. Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (2-1, 3.48) is slated to start for the Indians against Edinson Volquez (5-6, 4.25). The Indians are coming off an 8-3 win against the Angels in Anaheim.
Compiled by Chris La Marr