It’s not always easy to keep up with all of the MLB games during a working week, so I often find double-checking the formbook can be useful when heading into the weekend.
The figure that sticks out the most on the ESPN standings today is the 1-9 in the ‘Last 10 games’ column for the Chicago Cubs. Their recent form can only be described as woeful and while a series in Pittsburgh might normally be seen as a good way to get back on track, the Pirates will not exactly fear the Cubs coming into town.
The Cleveland Indians have the best record over their last ten games: 8-2. They are on a three-game winning streak after sweeping the Tigers at Progressive Field, their third win coming last night against Justin Verlander in the game on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra and ESPN America.
The Indians are in Chicago this weekend for a series against the White Sox, while Detroit are in Minnesota taking on the Twins.
Detroit’s TV commentators noted that the Twins would have been watching the Tigers’ game against the Indians on Thursday and feeling more than a little pleased that Verlander will not be pitching in the series. Although he took the loss against the Tribe, Verlander once again looked masterful, particularly in his final inning when he started throwing 100+MPH heaters. Having that in reserve heading into the eighth inning is one of the reasons why Verlander won the AL MVP alongside the Cy Young last year. He finished his outing with a 102MPH fastball followed by a knee-buckling 74MPH curveball and you could only sit and shake your head in disbelief. It makes you wonder how anyone gets a hit off him when he’s in that sort of form.
The Cincinnati Reds enter the weekend having won their last six games, including a 4-0 home sweep over the Atlanta Braves. The Reds host the struggling Rockies while the Braves move on to a tough-looking series at home to the Washington Nationals. Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to pitch for the Nats in the game on Saturday.
Elsewhere, the Marlins and Giants combined for 21 runs (14-7 in the Giants’ favour) in their series opener on Thursday, but the rest of the series could see the pitchers being on top, starting tonight with Tim Lincecum and Josh Johnson taking to the mound. Meanwhile the Baltimore Orioles will hope to extend their lead in the AL East with a strong series against the Kansas City Royals, as the second-placed Tampa Bay Rays travel to Boston to take on the Red Sox.
It should be a good weekend of MLB action.