Windy City clashes highlight today's MLB.TV slate

Windy City clashes highlight today's MLB.TV slate

North Side or South Side, it's a good time to be a Chicago baseball fan.

The Cubs and White Sox are both in first place, and each has the best record in its respective league. Even better, both are facing a first-place team at home tonight.

At Wrigley Field, the National League Central-leading Cubs (20-6) open a four-game series against the Nationals (19-8), who sit atop the NL East. Meanwhile, at U.S. Cellular Field, the American League Central-leading White Sox (19-9) are finishing a three-game set with the Red Sox (16-11), who hold a half-game lead over the Orioles in the AL East.

Both clashes are part of today's 11-game slate available on MLB.TV.

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Here is a look at what to watch for today in the Majors (all times ET):

Tanaka's seven-inning outing

Tanaka time: NYY@BAL, 7:05 p.m.
After snapping a six-game losing streak on Wednesday night, the Yankees (9-16) have a chance to lock down only their third series win of the season in the finale at Camden Yards. New York will turn to consistent right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who has allowed two earned runs in each of his five outings, resulting in a 2.87 ERA. Tanaka, facing the Orioles for the first time this year, has gone at least 6 2/3 innings in three consecutive starts. Baltimore will send out righty Kevin Gausman as it tries to avoid its first series loss at home this season. In two starts since coming off the disabled list, Gausman has allowed three earned runs over 11 innings, striking out 10.

Stat that matters: In two-strike counts this season, Tanaka's opponents are 5-for-56 (.089) with a .289 OPS and 28 strikeouts.

Ross handles the Cards

Teams on top: WAS@CHC, 8:05 p.m.
The Cubs and Nationals are the only teams with a winning percentage of .700 or better entering today, and now they meet for the first time this season. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks (3.91 ERA) will take the ball for the Cubs as they begin a 10-game homestand. Washington will challenge Chicago's potent lineup with 22-year-old righty Joe Ross, who owns a 3.08 ERA over his first 17 career starts, including an 0.79 ERA in four outings this year. This will be the fourth straight road start for Ross, who held the Cardinals to one run over six innings on Saturday.

"I'm impressed, I'm not surprised," Nats manager Dusty Baker said afterward. "There's nothing finer than a young pitcher that gets confidence and knows that he belongs here. And he certainly has confidence. He's not intimidated by being in the big leagues."

Stat that matters: Last year, Washington was 11 games over .500 at home but seven games under on the road. After taking five of six in St. Louis and Kansas City, the club is off to an 11-4 road start in 2016, having outscored the opposition, 76-36, in those games.

Owens' six solid innings

BOS@CWS, 8:10 p.m.
The Red Sox won for the eighth time in their past 10 games on Wednesday night to reclaim first place in the AL East, while the White Sox still hold a four-game edge after losing for only the fourth time in 15 chances. Both clubs are going with inexperienced pitchers for the rubber game of the series. Right-hander Erik Johnson makes his season debut for the White Sox in place of veteran lefty John Danks, who has been designated for assignment. In 16 big league starts over the past three seasons, the 26-year-old Johnson has posted a 4.17 ERA. The Red Sox counter with 23-year-old lefty Henry Owens, who will be making his 14th career start and third of 2016. Owens fared well his last time out, holding the Yankees to two runs over six innings.

"Just thinking back to the six innings that Henry gave us, it was a quality start," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He gathered himself and gained a little rhythm as the night went along. He got off to a little bit of a shaky start. He was kind of feeling for his release point. I thought he used his curveball tonight better than he did in Houston and threw enough offspeed to keep some guys off stride some."

Stat that matters: Owens has walked at least three batters in each of his five starts this season between Triple-A Pawtucket and Boston, racking up a total of 17 free passes in 27 1/3 innings.

deGrom's solid start

Mets head west: NYM@SD, 10:10 p.m.
The 17-9 Mets stayed 1 1/2 games behind the Nationals by completing a 7-2 homestand with a win over the Braves on Wednesday. Now they embark upon an 11-game road trip against NL West opponents, beginning with a four-game set in San Diego. The Padres will send rookie right-hander Colin Rea (4.61 ERA) up against Mets righty Jacob deGrom (1.02 ERA), who has allowed a total of two earned runs over three starts. However, the Giants worked four walks and reached deGrom for three unearned runs over six innings in his last outing.

Stat that matters: deGrom has served up only one extra-base hit this year, a double, leading to a .246 opponents' slugging percentage that was fourth lowest among pitchers with at least three starts entering Wednesday.

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Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.