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American League Previews from The Sports Network



Sunday, September 16th (All times eastern)

TAMPA BAY RAYS (78-67) AT NEW YORK YANKEES (82-63), 1:05 P.M.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Tampa Bay - Matt Moore (10-10, 3.68) New York - Hiroki Kuroda (13-10, 3.17)

(Sports Network) - Hiroki Kuroda hopes to deliver the New York Yankees a series win on Sunday when they play the rubber match of their three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium.

Kuroda did not get a decision in Boston on Tuesday, but pitched well, allowing three runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 frames. He also struck out six without walking a batter in his team' 4-3 loss.

The Japanese right-hander, who is 13-10 with a 3.17 ERA on the year, could get himself back into the win column at home, where he is 5-2 with 1.85 ERA in his last nine outings. He's also pitched to a 0.84 ERA in six afternoon starts this season.

Kuroda beat the Rays two starts ago and is 1-1 with a 6.17 ERA in two starts against them this season.

New York got a much-needed lift from Ivan Nova on Saturday, as he struck out eight over six-plus innings in the Yankees' 5-3 triumph.

Nova (12-7) had been sidelined since Aug. 21 with inflammation in his right rotator cuff, but the right-hander allowed just two runs on four hits and two walks to earn his first victory since Aug. 11.

"I wasn't really expecting him to get into the seventh, but he kept his pitch count down and the way he was throwing ... we just kept him going." Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Nova. "I was extremely impressed with his stuff today and his command and what he did out there."

Rafael Soriano fired a scoreless ninth to secure his 39th save of the season and New York's third win in its last four games.

Curtis Granderson clubbed a two-run homer and Eduardo Nunez followed with a solo shot in the second, as the Yankees regained a one-game lead over Baltimore atop the AL East. The Orioles lost in Oakland later on Saturday.

James Shields (14-9) yielded four runs on six hits and a walk over 6 1/3 frames to absorb the loss.

Evan Longoria smacked a solo homer and Luke Scott ripped a pinch-hit, two-run single in the seventh, but the Rays lost for the fourth time in their last five games and remained three games behind the O's for the final AL Wild Card spot.

"It's the offense," Longoria said of the club's recent struggles. "We gotta get hits. We gotta produce runs. However we have to do it, we gotta do it. The time is now."

Heading to the hill for Tampa Bay on Sunday will be 23-year-old left-hander Matt Moore, who has lost his last three starts. Moore's latest loss came in Baltimore on Tuesday, as he allowed three runs (2 earned) and four hits in four innings to fall to 10-10 on the year to go along with a 3.68 ERA.

Moore lost to Kuroda and the Yanks back on Sept. 5, but is 2-1 with a 3.44 ERA in three starts against them. He fired five scoreless innings, though, in his only other Yankee Stadium start last September.

"We did like Matt pitching here," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Part of it is a lefty thing, and he's pitched well here in the past and he's been pitching well. He had a tough start the last time out, but that happens. I feel good about him here (on Sunday)."

Tampa has won 10 of its 17 meetings with the Yankees this season, but is just 3-5 in the Bronx.

BOSTON RED SOX (66-80) AT TORONTO BLUE JAYS (65-79), 1:07 P.M.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Boston - Jon Lester (9-11, 4.99) Toronto - Brandon Morrow (8-6, 3.16)

(Sports Network) - Jon Lester tries to win for the fifth time in his last six decisions on Sunday when the Boston Red Sox aim for a three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Red Sox, who are just one percentage point ahead of the last-place Blue Jays in the AL East, will be attempting their first three-game win streak since a four-gamer from July 28-31. Also, Boston is going after just its second road sweep of the season and its first since taking all three games from April 23-25 at Minnesota.

Lester walked a career-high seven in Tuesday's victory over the Yankees, but he didn't get a decision. He's 11-6 with a 3.86 ERA in 21 games against Toronto.

Brandon Morrow has losses in three of his last five starts and is coming off a defeat to the Mariners on Tuesday when he gave up 11 hits and four runs over 4 2/3 innings. Morrow is 1-3 with a 9.53 ERA in 15 games (7 starts) versus Boston.

On Saturday, Pedro Ciriaco's RBI double in the ninth lifted the Red Sox to a 3-2 win. Cody Ross homered and scored twice, while Jarrod Saltalamacchia added two hits and drove in a run.

"It's always a good sign when we keep on fighting. It's not like we're going to lay down and die," Saltalamacchia said. "Even though we're as far out as we are, it shows a lot about the character of the club."

Craig Breslow (1-0) tossed a scoreless eighth and Andrew Bailey followed suit in the ninth for his fourth save and second in as many games.

Yunel Escobar and Adam Lind each drove in a run for the Blue Jays, who have dropped four of five overall.

Steve Delabar (4-2) surrendered the deciding run over his 1 1/3 relief frames.

If the Red Sox lose the finale they'll clinch their first non-winning season since 1997.

Toronto, which has lost eight of its last 10 home games overall, holds a 10-7 lead in the season series.

LA ANGELS OF ANAHEIM (79-67) AT KANSAS CITY ROYALS (66-79), 2:10 P.M.

Probable Starting Pitchers: LA Angels - Dan Haren (10-11, 4.45) Kansas City - Will Smith (5-7, 4.94)

(Sports Network) - Dan Haren can help the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim bounce back after a gut-wrenching loss when they visit the Kansas City Royals for the finale of a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium.

The Angels were two outs away from a shutout victory in game two on Saturday night when Billy Butler and Salvador Perez hit back-to-back homers in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Royals to a 3-2 win.

Zack Greinke, a 2009 Cy Young Award winner with the Royals, struck out Alcides Escobar to begin the ninth before giving up a single to Alex Gordon. Angels manager Mike Scioscia decided to remove Greinke, who had thrown 109 pitches through 8 1/3 innings and was in line to win his fifth straight start with the visitors ahead, 2-0.

Butler crushed Ernesto Frieri's (3-1) first pitch over the center-field wall for a game-tying home run. Perez then drove a 1-1 offering off the left-field foul pole to send Kansas City to a dramatic walk-off victory.

"To win a game like that is a big momentum shift for us," Butler said. "Hopefully, we can ride it out the rest of the season."

The Angels remain 2 1/2 games out of a playoff spot.

"We wanted to give them a different look. Obviously it didn't work out," Scioscia said.

Greinke and Kansas City's Jeremy Guthrie were both stellar on the mound. Greinke limited his former club to five hits, all singles, while Guthrie allowed two runs on five hits over eight frames.

The Royals have won Guthrie's last eight starts, with the right-hander going 4-0 with a 1.78 ERA in that stretch.

Kelvin Herrera (4-2) worked the ninth to pick up the win.

A California native who turns 33 on Monday, Haren dropped a game below .500 in his most recent start on Sept. 10, losing a 3-1 decision to Oakland after surrendering three runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings.

He'd won two straight before the loss - at Seattle and at Oakland - while combining to allow a single earned run on eight hits in 13 innings.

Those victories got him to double digits for the second time in two full seasons with the Angels and the eighth time in a big-league career that began with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2003.

He's reached a career-best 16 wins twice as a big-leaguer, first with Arizona in 2008 and again with the Angels last season, when he was 16-10 and posted a 3.17 earned run average in a career-high 238 1/3 innings.

He's 4-2 in nine career starts against the Royals.

Haren is opposed by rookie lefty Will Smith, who turned 14 in the year Haren debuted in the majors.

A product of Florida Gulf Coast University, Smith downed the Angels for his second big-league win on July 24 in Anaheim, allowing just two hits and a run in seven innings of a 4-1 triumph.

He's won three of seven decisions across eight starts since, including a 9-1 rout of the Minnesota Twins after throwing seven scoreless innings in his last start on Sept. 11.

Smith has won just once in five home starts in Kansas City.

The teams split their initial six games of 2012, with the Royals taking two of three in Anaheim in April before the Angels took two of three there in July. Kansas City won the 2011 series, seven games to three.

BC-AAV!PREVIEW-CWS-MIN

American League Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, September 16th (All times eastern)

Chicago White Sox (78-66) at Minnesota Twins (60-86), 2:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Chicago - Jake Peavy (10-11, 3.27) Minnesota - Scott Diamond (11-7, 3.46)

(Sports Network) - Jake Peavy aims to beat Minnesota for the fourth straight time on Sunday, as the Chicago White Sox try to complete a three-game sweep of the Twins at Target Field.

Peavy has lost four of his last five decisions overall, but his lone win over his last seven starts has come against the Twins. In fact his last three wins have come against Minnesota. He is 0-6 in his other eight second half starts.

The 31-year-old right-hander lost to the Detroit Tigers his last time out, surrendering three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He is 10-11 on the year with a 3.27 ERA.

Chicago beat the Twins for the 13th time this season on Saturday, as Francisco Liriano took a no-hitter into the seventh inning to help AL Central- leading White Sox to a 5-3 win.

Trevor Plouffe hit a two-run homer in the seventh to end Liriano's no-hit bid. That was the only hit Liriano (6-11) gave up in seven innings of work, as the left-hander struck out nine and walked two against his former team.

"He (Liriano) just looked like he had a lot of confidence out there, just throwing strikes," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "His stuff moves all over the place. When he has that confidence and pounds the strike zone, he's tough."

Paul Konerko homered and knocked in three runs for the White Sox, who lead the Tigers by one game for first place in the division. Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham added an RBI apiece.

Samuel Deduno (6-4) allowed four runs on three hits over four innings for the Twins, who have lost four of five overall. He fanned six and walked five.

Getting the call for the Twins on Sunday will be lefty Scott Diamond, who is 11-7 with a 3.46 ERA. Diamond lost for the second time in three starts on Tuesday to Kansas City, as he allowed four runs and 10 hits in six innings.

Diamond beat the White Sox two starts ago, but is just 2-3 in five starts against them with a 4.30 ERA.

The White Sox have won 13 of their 17 meetings this season with the Twins, going 6-2 at Minnesota.

DETROIT TIGERS (77-67) AT CLEVELAND INDIANS (60-86), 3:05 P.M.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Detroit - Rick Porcello (9-12, 4.59) Cleveland - Ubaldo Jimenez (9-16, 5.52)

(Sports Network) - Rick Porcello tries to end a month-long skid when the Detroit Tigers go for a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians on Sunday at Progressive Field.

Porcello has dropped his last six starts and hasn't won since Aug. 7 against the New York Yankees. The right-hander hasn't received much run support, as the Tigers have scored just 10 runs during his slide. Porcello is 5-3 with a 4.11 ERA in 14 games against the Indians.

Ubaldo Jimenez also doesn't have a victory over his last six appearances, going 0-5 in that stretch with his last triumph coming Aug. 9 versus Boston. Jimenez is 4-7 with a 5.22 ERA in 12 games against the Tigers.

On Saturday, Anibal Sanchez took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and the Tigers won, 5-3.

Detroit still sits one game back of Chicago for the top spot in the AL Central as the White Sox also won on Saturday, a 5-3 triumph over Minnesota.

Sanchez (3-5) was seven outs away from the second no-hitter of his career after retiring the first two batters in the seventh. Carlos Santana, though, broke up the no-hit bid with a triple off the wall in center. Russ Canzler's RBI double to center field and Lonnie Chisenhall's run-scoring single up the middle chased Sanchez from the game.

"I started watching the scoreboard," Sanchez said of his no-hit bid. "I had a chance. Everything was working good today."

Sanchez struck out seven and did not issue a walk for the Tigers, who have won four in a row.

Alex Avila paced Detroit's offense with a 3-for-4 performance and two RBI. Miguel Cabrera added a solo homer and Austin Jackson drove in a run.

Cleveland starter Justin Masterson (11-14) allowed four runs -- two earned -- on six hits over 4 2/3 innings. He fanned eight and walked four.

"It's been a trying season, it's been tough," Masterson said. "I haven't done the job I'm supposed to do. That's what's gotten us to where we're at."

Cleveland leads the season series, 9-8.

SEATTLE MARINERS (70-76) AT TEXAS RANGERS (86-59), 3:05 P.M.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Seattle - Blake Beavan (9-9, 5.01) Texas - Matt Harrison (16-9, 3.36)

(Sports Network) - Matt Harrison goes after win No. 17 on Sunday when the Texas Rangers play the rubber match of a three-game set with the Seattle Mariners at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Pitching on six days' rest, Harrison snapped a personal two-game losing streak on Tuesday against the Cleveland Indians, holding them to a pair of runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings, as he improved to 16-9 to go along with a 3.36 ERA.

"The extra rest did help," Harrison said after that game. "I was able to get my legs back under me. It was a positive note, and hopefully, I can build on this."

With a win on Sunday, Harrison will become the Rangers' first 17-game winner since Scott Feldman in 2009.

Harrison has owned Seattle over the course of his career and is 9-0 with a 1.62 ERA in 14 games (10 starts) against the Mariners since the beginning of 2009. He's won seven starts in a row against them and has beaten Seattle three times this season.

The left-hander's lone loss to Seattle came as a rookie July 31, 2008.

Seattle, meanwhile, will counter with right-hander Blake Beavan, who is 9-9 with a 5.01 ERA. Beavan has alternated wins and losses his last five times out, but hasn't pitched since losing to Boston on Sept. 4.

A former first-round pick of Texas, Beavan is 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts against the Rangers.

Seattle evened this series on Saturday, as Justin Smoak's leadoff homer in the eighth inning proved to be the difference, as the Mariners overcame blowing a six-run lead to post an 8-6 win.

The Rangers had scored a combined five runs over the previous two innings before Smoak launched Tanner Scheppers' (1-1) second pitch over the center- field wall.

Scheppers succeeded Martin Perez, who walked one and struck out five in 4 1/3 hitless innings in relief of the ineffective Feldman.

"I saw Seattle hitters finding holes. It just wasn't his night tonight," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

Smoak's blast made a winner out of Lucas Luetge (2-1), who gave up the tying run on a David Murphy groundout in the seventh but got rookie Jurickson Profar to ground into a fielder's choice with the bases loaded to end the inning.

The Mariners tacked on an insurance run in the ninth as pinch-runner Munenori Kawasaki scored on a base hit by Smoak.

Tom Wilhelmsen recorded the final four outs to earn his 27th save of the season.

With the loss, the Rangers saw their AL West lead shrink to two games over Oakland.

Texas has won eight of its 15 matchups with the Mariners this season.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES (81-64) AT OAKLAND ATHLETICS (84-61), 4:05 P.M.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Baltimore - Randy Wolf (2-0, 5.68) Oakland - Dan Straily (2-0, 3.42)

(Sports Network) - The Oakland Athletics try to get even closer in the American League West race on Sunday when they attempt to complete a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles at the Coliseum.

Oakland beat the O's for the fourth consecutive time at home on Saturday, as Chris Carter's two-run double highlighted a five-run third inning in the A's 5-2 triumph.

Jarrod Parker (11-8) allowed seven hits and a pair of runs over seven innings for the A's, who have won eight of their last nine contests and now sit two games behind first-place Texas in the AL West.

Oakland also remains at the top of the wild card standings.

"We know every game from here on out is enormous," Parker said. "Every game means something, every out means something. If we're able to continue playing well, we know we have a chance to do great things."

Nate McLouth homered for the Orioles, who are are 2 1/2 games ahead of the Angels for the second wild card spot, but fell a game behind the New York Yankees for the lead in the AL East.

Zach Britton (5-3) gave up four hits and five runs over four innings.

Getting the call for Oakland on Sunday will be righty Dan Straily, who has won his last two starts. Straily beat the Angels on Tuesday, holding them to three runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. He also struck out a career-best eight in that one.

He's 2-0 in four starts for the A's with a 3.42 ERA.

Baltimore, meanwhile, will counter with left-handed veteran Randy Wolf, who will be making his first start with the team. Wolf was released by Milwaukee, but signed with the O's and has pitched three times in relief for them, going 2-0 with a 5.68 ERA.

In 25 games (24 starts) for the Brewers Wolf was 3-10 with a 5.69 ERA.

"Coming here you kind of feel a little rejuvenated and excited," Wolf said. "I think those exciting feelings and rejuvenating feelings are enhanced when you get the call to make the start (Sunday)."

Wolf has faced the A's just twice and is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in those contests.

Prior to this series, the A's and O's split six meetings this season -- all in Baltimore.

09/16 11:39:28 ET