LEADING OFF: Cards-Cubs, Subway Series, Kendrick's return
A look at what's happening around the major leagues today:
The Cardinals and Cubs continue a three-game series at Wrigley Field after Chicago took the opener Friday. Starlin Castro homered twice and tied his career high with six RBIs in that one. The middle infielder has been outstanding at the plate of late, hitting .417 with power over his last 11 games. St. Louis will try to stave off the hard-charging Cubbies with ace Michael Wacha (16-5, 2.96 ERA). The Cardinals hope to get back slugger Matt Holliday, who exited Friday after being hit in the head by a fastball from Dan Haren.
ROOKIE ON THE RAILS
The Mets send their second straight rookie to the mound in the Subway Series against their pinstriped rival. Noah Syndergaard is 7-1 with a 2.15 ERA in 10 starts at Citi Field. Michael Pineda is set to start for the Yankees. He has struggled in four starts since returning from the DL, going 1-1 with a 5.82 ERA.
BACK IN ACTION
Howie Kendrick returned from the DL on Friday, just in time to help the Dodgers in a possible postseason-preview series against the Pirates. The infielder had missed 34 games with a strained left hamstring, but was batting .296 prior to the injury. Clayton Kershaw (14-6, 2.12) goes for the Dodgers, while Francisco Liriano (10-7, 3.45) will pitch for the Pirates.
SO WE MEET AGAIN, FRIEND
Houston's Scott Kazmir and Oakland's Sonny Gray are former teammates, good pals and both pitchers with sub-3 ERAs, and they face off for the second time since Kazmir (7-10, 2.63) was traded to the Astros during the summer. Gray (13-7, 2.56) won the first showdown, tossing seven innings in a 4-0 A's victory. Kazmir is 2-5 with a 3.06 ERA in 10 starts since being acquired for a pair of minor leaguers. The Astros are 2 1/2 games behind the AL West-leading Rangers and hold a one-game lead over Minnesota for the second wild-card spot.
Nationals righty Jordan Zimmermann looks to improve 5-0 over his last seven starts and help keep Washington's flickering playoff hopes alive in the third of a four-game home set against the Marlins. Miami sends out lefty Justin Nicolino (3-3, 3.81).
NOT LEFT OUT
The San Diego Padres are starting their first lefty of the season in game No. 149, snapping a franchise-record streak. Robbie Erlin will make his season debut on Saturday against Colorado. A good time, too - the Rockies are 8-28 against lefties in 2015. The previous longest streak was 133 games in 2006.
The Twins and Angels play a split doubleheader with Minnesota holding a one-game lead over Los Angeles in the AL wild-card standings. Both teams are on the outside looking in, with the Twins one game back of the Astros for the second wild-card spot. In Game 1, Kyle Gibson (10-10, 3.71) leads the Twins against rookie Andrew Heaney (6-3, 3.32), while Mike Pelfrey (6-9, 4.09) faces Garrett Richards (13-11, 3.81) in the second game.