There are four early MLB games today, all of which will be played in the shadow of the 21.00 BST non-waiver trade deadline.
Cleveland-Toronto can be your pre-deadline game to accompany the frantic last-minute rumours, while the other three will no doubt offer plenty of reaction to what has, and hasn’t taken place.
In fact, the three 21.10 starts will all be national FOX broadcasts and they typically struggle to concentrate on the game in front of them at the best of times. We can perhaps forgive them for that tendency today.
All times are in BST
18.07. Cleveland at Toronto (Jake Westbrook – Brett Cecil)
Westbrook is scheduled to take the mound for the Indians, but his name has been linked with a few teams so he may be replaced at the last minute if a deal is in the offing. The Blue Jays won yesterday’s game 8-1, with Jose Bautista continuing his incredible season by hitting a grand slam, his Major-League leading 31st of the season. His stock has never been higher, so if he isn’t in the Blue Jays’ lineup, or if he is taken out of the game partway through, then take that as a strong sign that Toronto are selling high on the right-fielder.
21.10. Detroit at Boston (Max Scherzer – Daisuke Matsuzaka)
Detroit traded for Indians infielder Jhonny Peralta on Tuesday and he went deep twice in his debut for the Tigers as they beat Boston 6-5 in the series opener on Friday. It looked like the Tigers would cruise to the victory, but the Red Sox gave them a scare in the ninth thanks to a grand slam by David Ortiz. Jose Valverde eventually struck out Mike Cameron looking at a fastball to close the door. There could be plenty of walks in today’s game with Scherzer and Matsuzaka on the mound.
21.10. Atlanta at Cincinnati (Jair Jurrjens – Bronson Arroyo)
Two of the playoff-chasing teams from the National League meet in this game and you would guess that the two General Managers will be working frantically in the lead-up to see if they can add an extra piece or two to their puzzle. Netherlands national team pitcher Jurrjens is starting to find his groove five starts in from a two-month stint on the disabled list, while Bronson Arroyo took a loss despite pitching a complete game last time out. The Braves won 6-4 in ten innings yesterday.
21.10. LA Dodgers at San Francisco (Chad Billingsley – Barry Zito)
As with the Braves-Reds game, this one will bring together two teams who are likely to be active on the trade market today. Tim Lincecum struck out nine over seven innings for the Giants yesterday as they earned a 6-5 victory. That win, coupled with the Padres’ 4-2 loss to the Marlins, pushed them to within 2.5 games of the NL West leaders. The Dodgers are 7.5 out in the West and 4.5 games out in the Wild Card, currently led by the Giants, so this series is a good opportunity for them to claw back some of the gap on both fronts. Billingsley pitched well in his last start against the Padres (six shutout innings), while Zito has had a very good season for the Giants so far.
All the above games can be followed via various resources on MLB.com (Gameday, At Bat with Gameday Audio and MLB.tv). ESPN America is showing the X Games instead of any baseball this evening. A complete schedule of MLB games can be found on MLB.com