LEADING OFF: Banner day at Wrigley Field; Verlander vs Sale
A look at what's happening all around the majors today:
In a home opener unlike any other at Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs will raise a banner as defending World Series champions for the first time since they moved into the venerable ballpark more than a century ago. ''Oh, it'll be crazy,'' young slugger Kyle Schwarber said. Once the festivities are finished, the Cubs will send Jon Lester to the mound against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost to Chicago in the NL Championship Series last year. For many fans, it will be their first look at spruced-up Wrigley since it underwent an offseason makeover.
Other teams set to play at home for the first time include the Giants, Mariners, Royals and Yankees. Seattle fans might not be in such a merry mood when the Mariners arrive with a 1-6 record, worst in the majors. They squandered a six-run lead in the ninth inning of a 10-9 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday. Meanwhile, in the Bronx, Tampa Bay right-hander Alex Cobb tries to beat Michael Pineda and the Yankees for the second time this season.
Two of the top pitchers in the American League square off when Chris Sale and the Boston Red Sox visit Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers in a series finale. Verlander is 5-5 with a 2.96 ERA against Boston in his career. Sale pitched seven scoreless innings vs. Pittsburgh in his Red Sox debut.
A year after falling flat following an aggressive offseason, the Diamondbacks are off to the best start in the majors and now get to test themselves with 20 straight games against NL West foes. Arizona swept three games against reigning AL champion Cleveland over the weekend to move to 6-1, tying the 2000 team for the top start in franchise history. New addition Taijuan Walker makes his second start against San Francisco lefty Matt Moore in the Giants' home opener.