Verlander vs. Tanaka duel highlights today's slate
Reigning Cy winners, Cueto, Kazmir among other pitchers in action
By Austin Laymance
The first weekend of the regular season concludes today with a full slate of games featuring a number of exceptional starting-pitching matchups.
For one, Tigers ace Justin Verlander gets the ball at home against the Yankees and No. 1 starter Masahiro Tanaka on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. Fortunately, baseball fans won't have to wait until prime time to watch some of the game's best hurlers take the mound.
Reigning Cy Young Award winners Dallas Keuchel and Jake Arrieta will each make road starts for the Astros and Cubs, respectively. The fun doesn't end there, with Scott Kazmir and Johnny Cueto ready for their first taste of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry.
Here's what to watch for throughout the day (all times ET).
Verlander opposes Tanaka in Motown: NYY@DET, 8:10 p.m.
In a rubber game at Comerica Park, Verlander looks to earn his first win over the Yankees since 2012. He's winless in his last four regular-season meetings with the Yanks, most recently allowing six runs on 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings in the Bronx last June.
Verlander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning Tuesday night against the Marlins, but allowed three hits to his final five batters and settled for a no-decision.
Tanaka also received a no-decision in his first start of the year, charged with two runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Astros on Opening Day.
Rain is in the forecast for most of the evening, but these clubs are no strangers to difficult conditions. Saturday's contest featured a Comerica Park record-cold 31-degree temperature reading at first pitch.
Battle by the bay: LAD@SF, 4:05 p.m.
Cueto will make his AT&T Park debut as a Giant when he faces the rival Dodgers in the finale of a four-game series. Cueto, who signed with San Francisco this winter, is 2-5 in eight career starts against the Dodgers despite a 2.79 ERA.
The Dodgers will counter with Kazmir as they look to even the series. The left-hander was dominant in his club debut Tuesday, tossing six scoreless innings and allowing just one hit in a win over the Padres.
As is usually the case when these National League West rivals meet, excitement has not been lacking in this series.
Thursday's matchup saw the Giants win snap the Dodgers pitching staff's consecutive scoreless-innings streak at 31. On Friday, Dodgers rookie Ross Stripling was taken out of the game after 7 1/3 no-hit innings, only for the Giants to immediately tie the game on a home run. Los Angeles rallied to win in 10 innings on Saturday.
Desert duel: CHC@ARI, 4:10 p.m.
Arrieta brings a streak of 29 consecutive scoreless innings, dating back to Sept. 16, into his second start of the season. While Arrieta is coming off a career year that culminated in his first Cy Young Award, the Cubs aren't expecting him to put up the same stellar numbers as he did in the second half of last year, when he went 12-1 with an 0.73 ERA in 15 starts after the All-Star break.
"Just understand, it will be very difficult to do what he did last year," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I still expect that he'll pitch extremely well but that was unworldly in the second half of the year."
The D-backs will give the ball to Shelby Miller as they close out a seven-game homestand. Miller, acquired in an offseason trade with the Braves, knows the Cubs well after spending the first three seasons on his big league career with the Cardinals. In seven career appearances (six starts) against Chicago, Miller is 1-2 with a 2.83 ERA.
Keuchel goes for Astros: HOU@MIL, 2:10 p.m.
Keuchel is looking for his first career win against the Brewers as he gets the ball for the Astros in a rubber match at Miller Park. The lefty is 0-2 with an 11.68 ERA in three career starts against Milwaukee, though all of those starts came during his rookie season in 2012.
Jimmy Nelson, who held the Giants to two runs over 7 1/3 innings in his first start of the year, takes the hill for the Brewers.
Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.