LEADING OFF: Scherzer vs Nola, take 2; Red Sox reeling
A look at what’s happening around the majors today:
WE MEET AGAIN
NL Cy Young Award candidates Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola share the mound for the second time in five days, this time at Nola’s home park in Philadelphia. Nola (15-3, 2.13) got the better of Scherzer (16-6, 2.13) and the Nationals last Thursday in Washington, pitching eight innings with nine strikeouts in a 2-0 victory. Scherzer held the Phillies to two runs over seven innings, taking his first loss since July 2.
REELING RED SOX
Boston tries to end a three-game skid against Miami right-hander Jose Urena, who is returning from a suspension for hitting breakout Braves rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. with a pitch. The Red Sox were swept by the Rays over the weekend — Boston’s first sweep of the season — and have lost six of eight to drop to 90-42. They’ll turn to lefty Brian Johnson (4-3, 4.12) to end that skid.
Urena (4-12, 4.50) was suspended six games by Major League Baseball after plunking Acuna on Aug. 15, though he pitched a complete game in a 12-1 win over Washington on Aug. 19 while he planned to appeal the ban. He dropped the appeal later that week.
Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom and Cubs left-hander Cole Hamels take the mound at Wrigley Field for a matchup of two of baseball’s hottest pitchers. DeGrom, one of the leading contenders for the NL Cy Young Award, has a 1.26 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings over five August starts. Hamels is 4-0 with a sparkling 0.79 ERA in five starts since he was acquired in a July 27 trade with Texas. Weather could be a factor, with thunderstorms in the forecast for the Chicago area.
VETS OUT WEST
The Athletics and Astros continue a pivotal series in Houston with 34-year-old hurlers Edwin Jackson and Charlie Morton on the mound. Oakland is Jackson’s 13th team, and he’s made a big impression since signing a minor league deal on June 6. Over 11 starts, he’s 4-3 with a 2.97 ERA, though he’s given up four homers over 9 1/3 innings over his past two starts. Morton (13-3, 3.05) enjoyed a resurgence in 2017 that has continued this season, though he’s also struggled lately, allowing six runs over five innings in a 10-7 win against Seattle last time out.
Tampa Bay takes an eight-game winning streak into an interleague series at Atlanta. Relief pitcher Ryne Stanek will be the Rays’ opener in the first game of the series, opposing Braves right-hander Julio Teheran. Tampa Bay is coming off a three-game sweep of the Red Sox, the first time Boston has been swept this season, and is a season-best nine games over .500 at 70-61. Despite this roll, the Rays are still nine games behind Oakland for the second AL wild card and 19 1/2 games behind the first-place Red Sox.