LEADING OFF: Cubs ride clutch rookie, Fiers on fire
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
GROWING BOTE OF WORK
Cubs rookie David Bote tries to keep his sensational rookie season rolling in a game against Cincinnati. Bote walked off Chicago with a 10th-inning homer Friday, his second game-ending shot this month. The 25-year-old didn’t get much hype as a prospect, but he’s finding the spotlight regularly in the majors, with each of his five home runs either tying the game or putting the Cubs ahead. That includes a ninth-inning grand slam for a 4-3 win over Washington on Aug. 12.
Mike Fiers has given Oakland a major boost in its pursuit of the Astros in the AL West, a trend the right-hander will try to continue against Minnesota. Fiers is 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA, 21 strikeouts and one walk in three starts since being acquired from Detroit on Aug. 6, finding success with the A’s by pitching up in the zone with his fastball more often. Oakland entered Friday 1 1/2 games behind Houston, and Fiers has a chance to help bump the Astros off the division lead a year after making 28 starts for the World Series champions.
Justin Verlander is set to pitch against the Angels in Anaheim, though at least one Dodger fan has taken note that the Astros ace is in LA. Verlander, who started twice against the Dodgers in last year’s World Series, got a surprise Friday while dining at the Beverly Hills Hotel when his bill included a $1 million item for “Dodger Killer.”
″#BeveryHillsHotel really making me pay for that World Series win,” Verlander wrote on Twitter .
BACK, BUT WITH BAGGAGE
Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez is set to come off the DL against Philadelphia for his first start since a suitcase-related injury sidelined him in late June. Sanchez acknowledged Wednesday that the bruised right index finger that has kept him out for the past two months occurred when his finger got caught in a falling suitcase. The incident happened June 21, hours before Sanchez took the mound in Los Angeles against the Angels with about 180 friends and family from his hometown of Barstow, California, in the crowd. He pitched through the pain for an inning, then exited and ended up on the 60-day DL.
SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE
In a matchup between resurgent starting pitchers on a roll, Washington right-hander Tanner Roark (8-12, 4.05 ERA) faces Zack Wheeler (8-6, 3.63) and the Mets at Citi Field. Roark is 5-0 with a 1.63 ERA in his past six starts. Wheeler, who beat the Nationals at home on July 14, is 6-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his last seven outings. He struck out a season-high 10 over seven innings last time out against San Francisco, but is 3-8 with a 4.79 ERA in 12 career starts vs. Washington.