On Deck: Cy Young candidates battle
Posted on: June 2, 2011 5:38 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 7:22 pm
By Evan Brunell
BEST MATCHUP: "King" Felix Hernandez, last season's CY Young Award winner, takes the mound Thursday night against James Shields, who could very well walk away with this year's Cy Young. Shields has been excellent all season in a regression to the mean from his unlucky 2010 season. The Ray is now 5-2 with a 2.15 ERA and has a plum matchup against a decrepit offense. But Hernandez is obviously no slouch and has kept up his status as one of (if not the) game's best pitchers with a 3.19 ERA. Seattle is one game over .500 thanks to the work of the pitching staff. The Mariners are looking to avoid dropping three games behind the first-place Yankees and two games behind the Red Sox on a day when both New York and Boston are off. Rays at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. ET
FIRST PLACE BATTLE: The Indians and Rangers are both in first place, and the four-game series that's beginning between the two could have division implications. The Tigers have been playing well as of late and could be sniffing at Cleveland's heels if the Indians lose the series. Beginning Friday, the Tigers will face the White Sox, who are coming off a sweep of the Red Sox and looking to get back into the race themselves. Conversely, the Mariners are only 1 1/2 games behind the Rangers, with the Angels two back and Oakland three. That's a slim margin of error for Texas. Even a series split could have ramifications depending on the play of the other teams involved. David Bush will make a spot start for Texas -- his third of the year -- while Carlos Carrasco aims to keep his ERA under 5.00 after finally dropping it to 4.97 last time out against the Rays. Rangers at Indians, 7:05 p.m. ET
LOSING RECORDS: Bud Norris and Tim Stauffer both have losing records for the Astros and Padres, respectively, but that's because their teams have each lost over 30 games. Norris and Stauffer have actually been among their team's best pitchers, with Norris' breakout year checking in with a 3.76 ERA, 73 punchouts in 67 innings and just 25 walks. Despite a 3.60 ERA, Stauffer only recently earned his first victory of the year. With the series in San Diego, it's crucial for Hunter Pence (pictured) to keep swinging the way he has for Houston. His bat propelled the Astros to their first road sweep of the year, which they completed Wednesday with a victory over the Cubs. In the midst of a 13-game hitting streak, Pence's average has jumped almost 40 points to .317, but he has a career .117 mark at Petco Park. Astros at Padres, 10:05 p.m. ET
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