Saturday’s early MLB games: Four good early encounters, Lee later on

CovHlSqThere’s no getting away from the fact that the major game of today will take place in the early hours of Sunday morning (01.05 a.m. to be exact), as Cliff Lee is due to make his debut for the Texas Rangers after yesterday’s incredible trading events. 

Still, the four early games are far from being mere starters for the main course.  All times are in BST.

18.07. Boston at Toronto (John Lackey – Brandon Morrow) * ESPN America

The Red Sox thumped the Blue Jays yesterday (14-3) and it looks like Toronto are beginning to move back to the level people expected prior to their surprisingly competitive start to the season.  That’s not to say the Blue Jays are a soft touch though and Morrow had an excellent June (1.91 ERA over five starts) before giving up five runs to the Yankees last time out. 

21.10. Minnesota at Detroit (Nick Blackburn – Jeremy Bonderman) * ESPN America

It’s a battle from the top of the AL Central, with the Twins searching for some form after a poor run that has seen them slip from the division lead to three games behind the Tigers.  Minnesota have lost three in a row, including a 7-3 defeat to Detroit last night, and their star first baseman Justin Morneau has missed the last two games due to suffering a concussion.  Time for Nick Blackburn to step up and get his team back on track.

21.10. Chicago Cubs at LA Dodgers (Tom Gorzelanny – John Ely)

The Dodgers are closing in on the San Diego Padres, moving to within two games of the NL West leaders after beating the Cubs for the second day in succession on Friday.  It was the batting lineup that did the job, hitting Ted Lilly for three runs in both the second and third innings to give the Dodgers a lead that the Cubs couldn’t come back from, despite plating four runs in the final two frames.  Gorzelanny is readjusting to life in the starting rotation and he got a win against the D-Backs last time out despite walking six batters.  Ely’s been a welcome surprise for the Dodgers, but he had his worst outing of the season in his previous game against the Marlins (2.2 innings, six runs conceded) and it will be interesting to see how he comes back from that setback.

21.10. Atlanta at NY Mets (Tim Hudson – Mike Pelfrey)

Braves-Mets games always have some extra spice to them.  Add in that they are currently the top two teams in the NL East and that their best starters of the season so far meet on the mound today and this game has all the ingredients for a great contest.  Both pitchers took a loss in their most recent starts, Hudson’s ‘L’ not really being deserved (three runs conceded over 8 strong innings) and Pelfrey’s being fully merited (4.2 innings, seven runs conceded).   The Braves took the series opener 4-2, increasing their lead at the top of the NL East to four games.

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 two live games back-to-back this evening, as noted above. A complete schedule of MLB games can be found on MLB.com

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