LEADING OFF: Hammel vs deGrom, Rangers need relief
A look at what's happening all around the majors today:
Two of the NL's ERA leaders square off when the Cubs' Jason Hammel (7-4, 2.58) faces the Mets' Jacob deGrom (3-4, 2.67). Hammel has lost three of his past four starts despite a 3.70 ERA, including a hard-luck 6-1 loss to Miami last time out in which Hammel allowed two runs in six innings. Luck hasn't been on deGrom's side, either. The right-hander hasn't won since April 30, and New York lost 1-0 to Julio Teheran and the Braves in his last start.
After losing two straight to the Yankees on game-ending plays in the ninth inning, the Rangers and their struggling bullpen continue a 10-game road trip at Minnesota. Texas leads the majors with nine walk-off defeats, and no other team had more than five entering Thursday. Despite boasting the best record in the AL, Texas has the highest bullpen ERA (4.88) in the league. Despite all of that, the Rangers are an impressive 17-6 in one-run games.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Corey Seager and the Dodgers begin a season-high 10-game homestand with three games against the Rockies. Los Angeles' banged-up rotation took another hit Thursday with news that Clayton Kershaw was headed for the disabled list , and newly acquired Bud Norris is expected to start the opener against Colorado. The Dodgers have been buoyed in the meantime by blossoming shortstop Corey Seager, who hit .337 with seven home runs and a 1.053 OPS in June.
The Angels are 32-47 entering a three-game series in Boston, putting them on pace for the worst record in franchise history. Manager Mike Scioscia held a closed-door meeting after the team lost for the ninth time in 10 games Wednesday, and although everybody described the meeting as relatively upbeat, the Angels didn't emerge with any big ideas on how to slow a season going south. Among the reasons for Los Angeles' struggles: the Angels rank in the bottom third of the AL in home runs and slugging percentage. ''We know we've seen some guys performing at their absolute worst for the first half, and we know they're better than that,'' Scioscia said. ''That's going to be our goal, to get those guys going in the right direction. ... I don't think these guys are taking losing in stride. I think that's a positive.''
Anthony DeSclafani (2-0, 1.52) looks for another solid start in a game against the Nationals. DeSclafani has been mostly dominant for the Reds since making his season debut in early June after recovering from an oblique injury. Last time out, the 26-year-old right-hander threw eight innings of five-hit ball in a 3-0 win over San Diego. Washington counters with right-hander Tanner Roark (7-5, 2.96).
DOMINANT FOR DETROIT
Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer (7-2) looks to extend his stretch of allowing one run or fewer over eight consecutive starts against the Rays. His current seven-game run ties Justin Verlander (2011) and Al Benton (1945) for the longest by a Tigers pitcher since 1913.