LEADING OFF: Playoff races heating, Holliday off DL
A look at what's happening around the major leagues today:
BACK AT IT
The Pirates and Cubs continue a pivotal four-game series a day after splitting a day-night doubleheader in Pittsburgh. The Bucs sit atop the NL wild-card standings. Chicago is within striking distance and St. Louis is narrowly ahead of both in the NL Central standings. Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett (8-5, 3.14) makes his second start since returning from the DL following a strained right elbow, while Cubs righty Jake Arrieta (19-6, 1.99) hopes to help his late push for Cy Young Award consideration.
NAP IN LEFT
Mike Napoli will play left field again when the Rangers host the Astros in the third game of a pivotal AL West four-game series. Napoli played outfield for the first time as a pro Sunday against Oakland, and again Monday when he dropped a flyball in the Rangers' 5-3 win over Houston. Manager Jeff Banister said he's trying to use a right-handed bat to boost a lineup that has struggled at times against left-handers. Cy Young Award candidate LHP Dallas Keuchel (17-7, 2.22 ERA) is scheduled to start for Houston.
Matt Holliday has returned just in time to help the Cardinals make their final push for the NL Central crown. The seven-time All-Star was activated from the DL on Tuesday but was not in St. Louis' lineup after missing more than two months with a right quadriceps strain. LHP Jaime Garcia (8-5, 2.33) goes for St. Louis in the second game of a set with Milwaukee, who sends out RHP Wily Peralta (5-8, 4.14).
Rays RHP Chris Archer looks to get back to his winning ways against the Yankees. Archer (12-11, 2.95) dropped to 5-1 vs. the Yankees after losing in his last start against them Sept 6. He took a shutout into the sixth before allowing a three-run homer to Brian McCann and a solo shot to Alex Rodriguez. Rookie RHP Luis Severino (3-3, 3.35) will start for the Yankees.
Indians RHP Danny Salazar (12-8, 3.57) hopes to replicate his strong August results after a disappointing first couple of outings this month. Salazar has allowed nine runs in 10 innings over his last two starts. Cleveland faces Kansas City as a late addition to the AL wild-card race, while the Royals are limping to the finish but still have the AL's best record. Danny Duffy (7-7, 4.14) pitches for Kansas City.