LEADING OFF: Lester eyes NL-best 12th win, A’s stay hot
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
Jon Lester has put together some ace-worthy seasons during his 13-year major league career, including four All-Star appearances and a runner-up finish in the Cy Young voting two years ago. The Chicago Cubs left-hander is in the middle of what might prove to be his finest season so far, and he’ll look to become the National League’s first 12-game winner when he takes the mound against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday. Lester is 11-2 with a 2.25 ERA this season, and he’s won his last seven starts — including going 5-0 with a 1.13 ERA during June.
The Oakland A’s downed Cleveland 6-3 in 11 innings on Saturday, winning for the ninth time in their last 11 games and for the 15th time in their last 19. Oakland sits at a season-high nine games over .500 and will try and stay unbeaten for a seventh straight series when it closes out its series with the Indians. Brett Anderson (0-2, 7.63) starts for the A’s, and Shane Bieber (4-0, 2.97) goes for Cleveland.
Arizona starter Zack Greinke has turned around his season since posting a 5.04 ERA in April and is 9-5 with a 3.35 ERA overall, including 112 strikeouts in 109 2/3 innings. The Diamondbacks right-hander will take the mound against the San Diego Padres, and he comes in having allowed only two runs in his last three starts combined — a span of 19 2/3 innings.
Rick Porcello struggled mightily to follow up his 2016 Cy Young award-winning season a year ago, finishing a disappointing 11-17 with a 4.65 ERA. The Boston right-hander has returned to form this year with a 10-3 record and 3.57 ERA, and he’ll be on the mound when the Red Sox close out their season series with the Kansas City Royals.
Since winner the NL’s Player of the Week award last month, St. Louis outfielder Marcell Ozuna has been in a prolonged funk — going 15-for-71 (.211) and failing to hit a home run during that stretch. The Cardinals left fielder was the prized offseason acquisition in a trade from Miami, coming off a season in which he hit .312 with 37 home runs and 124 RBIs. This year, Ozuna is hitting .275 with 10 homers and 46 RBIs in 83 games.
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