Friday’s Primetime Games
MLB September 16, 2016
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Rays vs Orioles
The Tampa Bay Rays are making quite an impact on the American League East race from last place and look to cause some more damage when they visit the Baltimore Orioles. The Rays have won four of their last five contests, all against teams in the chase for the division crown. Chris Archer goes to the mound Friday trying to avoid a club-record 19th loss for the Rays and attempting to keep the major league’s best home run-hitting team in check for the second straight night. The Orioles, who occupy one of the two AL wild-card spots, trail Boston by two games in the East after stranding a runner at third in the ninth inning and going without a blast on Thursday. Veteran Ubaldo Jimenez goes for Baltimore on Friday after winning each of his last two starts, including a complete-game gem at Tampa Bay almost two weeks ago.
Marlins vs Phillies
Slugger Giancarlo Stanton could make his return to the starting lineup, as the Miami Marlins look to keep their flickering postseason hopes alive versus the Philadelphia Phillies. Stanton has received limited duty since being activated off the disabled list on Sept. 6, following a near-month absence due to a Grade 3 left groin strain. Miami flexed its offensive muscle by recording seven runs in each contest of its three-game series with Atlanta, improving to 5-2 in its last seven to reside four games out in the second wild-card spot with 16 to play. Marcell Ozuna is 16-for-52 versus the Phillies this season and is batting .318 against them in his career. Philadelphia suffered its fifth loss in seven outings in embarrassing fashion, permitting five homers in Thursday’s 15-2 rout by Keystone State-rival Pittsburgh. All-Star Odubel Herrera is 5-for-9 with two doubles in his last three games overall, but just 4-for-17 with five strikeouts against Friday starter Tom Koehler.
Yankees vs Red Sox
The Boston looks to ride the momentum of just its third walk-off win of the season as it plays the second contest of a four-game series versus visiting New York. Veteran David Ortiz launched a solo shot for his 537th career homer on Thursday, passing Yankees icon Mickey Mantle for 17th place on the all-time list. The sixth win in nine outings for the Red Sox pushed their lead in the division to two games over second-place Baltimore and five over New York, which has answered a seven-game winning streak with four losses in five contests. New Yorks’s Starlin Castro collected four hits in the series opener and is 11-for-17 during his four-game hitting streak. The 26-year-old Dominican is 29-for-84 with nine RBIs and 11 runs scored in 22 career encounters with Boston.
Tigers vs Indians
The Detroit Tigers have a last-gasp chance to make a run at the American League Central Division title. They are coming off a four-game split against the AL-worst Minnesota Twins to remain six games behind the Indians and in a six-team cluster fighting for the two wild cards. Detroit will send rookie Michael Fulmer to the mound in the series opener after its starting pitching combined for only 9 1/3 innings in the last three games against the Twins. Cleveland squandered an opportunity of its own to pull away from the Tigers, but dropped three of four at the Chicago White Sox. The Indians have the luxury of turning to ace Corey Kluber, who has won both starts against Detroit this season in dominant fashion.
Twins vs Mets
Locked in a three-team battle with San Francisco and St. Louis for the two wild cards in the National League, the New York Mets couldn’t ask for a more favorable schedule entering their final 16 games. The Mets kick off a 10-game homestand against the Minnesota Twins, owners of the worst record in the majors. New York could use a boost from outfielder Jay Bruce, who is batting .192 in 36 games since he was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds. Winners of eight of their last 11, the Mets send 43-year-old Bartolo Colon to the mound Friday in search of his 14th victory. Minnesota is coming off a four-game split at Detroit but has lost 21 of its last 27 games overall.
Pirates vs Reds
Andrew McCutchen has powered his way out of a pronounced slump with three homers in his last two contests. The 2013 National League MVP looks to keep the Pirates’ faint hopes for a fourth straight postseason berth alive against the Cincinnati Reds. McCutchen was mired in a 2-for-22 slump before belting a homer on Wednesday and two more to highlight a three-hit performance in Pittsburgh’s 15-2 triumph over Keystone State-rival Philadelphia. The Pirates’ fourth victory in 17 outings moved the team within 5 1/2 games of the second wild-card spot with 17 to play. Cincinnati is long removed from contemplating its postseason chances, although it has won five of six overall. Veteran Brandon Phillips recorded back-to-back three-hit performances to conclude the last series against the Pirates and is 12-for-24 in his career versus Friday starter Ryan Vogelsong.
Nationals vs Braves
The Washington Nationals continue to close in on the National League East title, and their dominance of the Atlanta Braves is a big reason why. The Nationals won 14 of the 16 meetings with the Braves this season, and start the weekend with a 10-game lead over the New York Mets and a magic number of seven to clinch the division crown. Washington appears to be peaking at the right time, winning eight of its past 10. Rookie infielder/outfielder Trea Turner hit .364 during the Nationals’ 10-game homestand and has at least one hit in 43 of 53 games since the All-Star break. Atlanta, which trails the Nationals by 31 games, has allowed 31 runs in its last four games and has held opponents to fewer than five just once in its past nine contests. First baseman Freddie Freeman brings a career-best 20-game hitting streak into the series, hitting .333 in that span with four homers and 17 RBIs.