Royals, Cards open Interleague set; Felix among aces to take mound
By Spencer Fordin
The Royals and Cardinals may find their toughest competition in their own backyard.
Kansas City and St. Louis -- leading the American League Central and National League Central, respectively -- will meet for the beginning of an exciting three-game Interleague series tonight. The Royals won the AL pennant in 2014, a year after the Cards won the NL pennant, and both clubs are among the early favorites in 2015 to return to the Fall Classic.
The Cardinals will hand the ball on Friday to Lance Lynn, who has won at least 15 games in each of the last three seasons. Lynn is 3-3 with a 2.96 ERA in his first eight outings.
The Royals will counter with veteran Chris Young, who has logged a 3-0 record and a 0.94 ERA while shuttling between the bullpen and the rotation this season. Young has started three of his four appearances in May, and he's held opposing hitters to a .109 batting average in his 19 innings this month.
Here are a few other games to look forward to tonight.
Ascending Aces: NYM @ PIT, 7:05 p.m. ET
Gerrit Cole has proven he's here to stay, but Noah Syndergaard is just auditioning. Syndergaard, the Mets' top prospect, has capably filled in while veteran Dillon Gee recovers from a mild groin strain on the disabled list. Syndergaard got his first big league win his last time out, and he has a 3.18 ERA after two starts.
Cole, the top overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, appears to be pitching his way to a breakthrough season. Cole is 5-2 with a 2.40 ERA through his first eight starts, and he's given up just six extra-base hits. The right-hander has held the opposition to two earned runs or fewer six times.
The Mets, 7-12 on the road this season, are in a close fight at the top of the NL East, and Pittsburgh is trying to weather a rough start in the NL Central.
Wins and WHIP: SEA @ TOR, 7:07 p.m. ET
Seattle ace Felix Hernandez lost his last start and allowed more than three runs in a start for the first time all year, but he's still tied for the Major League lead in wins (six) and pacing the AL in WHIP (0.951). Hernandez has just one no-decision in his first eight outings, but he's given up at least one home run in three straight starts.
The Blue Jays are tied for third in the AL in home runs, thanks to five hitters who have at least seven homers. Third baseman Josh Donaldson, acquired in the offseason from the A's, has had a massive start for Toronto, posting nine homers and 28 RBIs.
Marco Estrada, who began the season in the bullpen but has made three straight starts, will get the start for Toronto. Estrada, 0-2 with a 5.52 ERA as a starter, stretched out to 98 pitches last time out, but he has not yet completed more than five innings. The Blue Jays have lost all three of his starts.
Late Shift: SD @ LAD, 10:10 p.m. ET
Zack Greinke boasts a 5-1 record and 1.52 ERA through his first eight outings, and he'll be matched against the first pitcher to lose seven games this season. Andrew Cashner has had a rough start to his 2015 campaign, and he's also been unlucky in allowing 11 unearned runs.
Greinke is 1-1 with an 0.87 ERA in his last three starts, and he's held opposing hitters to a .169 batting average in that span. The former AL Cy Young Award winner has yet to allow more than one home run in any start, and he's allowed one earned run or fewer in each of his last three outings.
Cashner has logged a 3.24 ERA despite taking seven losses, and he's held the opposition to two earned runs or fewer in five of his eight outings. Cashner has completed six innings in all but his first start this season, and he's struck out nearly four times as many batters (51) as he's walked (13).
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.