Here are five interesting stories in Major League Baseball this week:
The Giants (44-26) are red-hot. They swept a three-game road series against Tampa Bay over the weekend to run their winning streak to eight. During that time, they have outscored opponents 47-19. Next up is a four-game series in Pittsburgh against the struggling Pirates, who have lost nine of 10. Madison Bumgarner (8-2, 1.91 ERA) gets the ball in Game 1 for the Giants. Johnny Cueto (10-1, 2.10) goes in Game 2. Jeff Samardzija (8-4, 3.14) gets the ball in Game 3. Buster Posey (12 for 31) and Brandon Belt have led the way at the plate in the streak (9 for 24, three homers, six RBIs). After the Pittsburgh series, the Giants go home to face the struggling Phillies for two and the A’s for two before a two-game “road trip” to Oakland.
The Texas Rangers (45-25) might be hotter than the Giants. On May 27, they were 27-21, 1 1/2 games behind first-place Seattle in the American League West. An 18-4 stretch put them in first, 8 1/2 games up on Seattle. They currently have a six-game winning streak. They face the Orioles Monday at home, followed by a two-game set with the Reds before a three-game series with visiting Boston. They have five players with double digits in homers, led by Rougned Odor with 13. Ian Desmond is hitting .309 with 10 homers and a team-high 45 RBIs. On the hill, Cole Hamels is 7-1 with a 2.88 ERA and Colby Lewis is 6-0 with a 2.81 ERA.
Big Time Timmy Jim
Former Giants great Tim Lincecum reclaimed his career Saturday, throwing six innings for the Angels and picking up a victory over the A’s in Oakland in his first start in nearly a year. Lincecum’s 2015 season ended prematurely with a hip injury. He had offseason surgery, and signed with the Angels last month. Lincecum gave up one run on four hits and struck out two in throwing 98 pitches. What will Lincecum do for an encore? tune in Thursday when his team hosts… the A’s.
A mighty matchup
The Los Angeles Dodgers open a three-game series at home against the Washington Nationals on Monday, and it will be a marquee matchup. Clayton Kershaw (10-1, 1.58 ERA) will face Stephen Strasburg (10-0, 2.90) of the Nationals. Who will blink?
Shelby Miller was billed as one of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ big offseason pickups, despite having gone 6-17 with a 3.02 ERA in 2015. He has struggled mightily this season, posting a 1-6 record with a 7.09 ERA. He will take the hill Monday morning in Philadelphia, where the Diamondbacks try for a four-game sweep of the Phillies.
Compiled by Chris La Marr