Budding arms also on display in Miami as part of full slate of Saturday games
By Matt Kelly
Friday night's game at Fenway Park showcased a former Cy Young Award winner in the Indians' Corey Kluber matching up with the Red Sox and their intimidating lineup.
Kluber didn't blink, allowing just two runs on five hits over seven strong innings to pick up the win. The surging Tribe has now claimed five straight victories to put the rest of the American League on notice. Boston, meanwhile, hopes its league-pacing offense can get back on track in Game 2.
That duel is just one of many storylines worth keeping an eye on as part of a full plate of 15 games across the Majors on Saturday. Elsewhere, two of the National League's best young arms lock horns in Miami for the second time in a week, while the NL's best hitting lineups will duel in Pittsburgh.
On a busy Saturday in the Majors, the best place to catch all the action is on MLB.TV.
MLB.TV Premium returns with the same features as last year, but at $109.99, it is a full 20 bucks cheaper than the 2015 cost. This package has the best value and provides access to more than 400 devices and a free subscription to the MLB.com At Bat Premium app (a $19.99 value). It offers the best picture quality ever -- a new 60 frames per second -- for supported devices. Monthly signups for MLB.TV Premium are now underway as well for $24.99.
The new MLB.TV Single Team package is also now available as an $84.99 yearly subscription. You can watch a single team's live out-of-market games in full HD.
Here is a look at what to watch for today in the Majors (all times ET):
Shortstops square off: CLE@BOS, 4:05 p.m.
They may be two of the youngest everyday position players in baseball, but Boston's Xander Bogaerts (age 23) and Cleveland's Francisco Lindor (22) are proving the future is now when it comes to the shortstop position. Bogaerts is tied with Houston's Jose Altuve for the American League lead with 58 hits, and he carries a 14-game hitting streak into Saturday. Lindor is just as hot for Cleveland, batting .486 (17-for-35) with eight runs scored in his past eight games. Entering Friday, each of them ranked within the AL's top 25 players in weighted runs created plus, a stat that measures how a player's production compares with the league average after controlling for park effects, according to Fangraphs.
Saturday's contest marks the second of a six-game homestand for the Red Sox. Boston's bats have certainly enjoyed the home cooking of late, hitting .346 with 95 runs scored in their past 11 games (8.6 runs per game) at Fenway Park.
Stat that matters: Right-hander Trevor Bauer, Cleveland's starter for Saturday's game, has allowed just a .156 BABIP to right-handed batters this season -- the lowest mark among all qualified starters in baseball entering Friday. The Red Sox's BABIP against right-handed pitchers entering Friday was .350, the best of any Major League team.
Rematch in Miami: WSH@MIA, 7:15 p.m.
Last Sunday saw the Marlins' Jose Fernandez best the Nationals' Joe Ross in a matchup featuring two of the NL East's youngest -- and most talented -- starting pitchers. Today, Ross gets a chance for revenge, but he'll have to earn it in Miami -- a place where Fernandez has reigned supreme.
After allowing just four earned runs in his first five starts of 2016, Ross has allowed five in each of his last two -- including last Sunday at Nationals Park. Oddly enough, it was Ross' opponent, Fernandez, who spoiled that outing by hitting a two-run single to break the game open in the sixth.
On the mound, meanwhile, Fernandez continued his dominance over Washington with 11 strikeouts over seven innings in a 5-1 win. That improved his career mark against the Nationals to 5-0, with just six earned runs allowed to the division rival over 49 2/3 innings.
"The whole season as the game has been progressing, I've been feeling better and better every time," said Fernandez. That's a scary thought for the Nationals, who now have to face Fernandez at Marlins Park, where he boasts an incredible 20-1 record and 1.65 ERA in front of his home fans.
Washington can take solace in the fact that they've played outstanding baseball on the road. After taking two of three from the Mets at Citi Field and Friday night's game in Miami, the Nats have lost just one game away from home all season, if you take away their four-game sweep by the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Daniel Murphy, batting .387, leads the Majors with 20 multihit games this season.
Stat that matters: Bryce Harper has walked in a Major League-most 46 of his 175 plate appearances (26.3 percent). Since 1900, the highest single-season walk percentage recorded by anyone not named Barry Bonds was Ted Williams' 25.9 percent in 1954 -- a season in which the Splendid Splinter scored 133 runs. Harper is on pace to score just 97 runs if he plays the same number of games (153) as he did last season.
Offense aplenty in Pittsburgh: COL@PIT, 4:05 p.m.
Though their troubles against the division-rival Cubs have created the appearance of a lackluster start, the Pirates are actually outpacing their 98-win season last year. Pittsburgh sits five games over .500 through 41 games; they were three games below .500 after their first 41 games of 2015 before going 79-42 the rest of the way.
Bucs fans should be further encouraged by the offense, which has picked up considerably of late. Pittsburgh has scored 33 runs (5.5 per game) over their past six contests, winning five of them.
"It's fun to watch," manager Clint Hurdle said recently of his lineup. "They kind of feed off one another."
Saturday's matchup in the Steel City actually features a matchup of the two best lineups by average (Pittsburgh: .281, Rockies: .274) in the NL entering Friday's games. The Rox stand just a game below .500 after being nine games below at this point last season. Trevor Story, who has six extra-base hits over his past eight games, has been a major factor in Colorado's improvement.
Stat that matters: Tyler Chatwood, the Rockies' scheduled starter Saturday, has not allowed an earned run in his past three road starts -- the longest streak of scoreless road starts in franchise history. The only earned run Chatwood has allowed all season away from Coors Field came on April 6 in Arizona.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.