Price, Tanaka and Wacha also highlight today's slate
By Daniel Kramer
The first weekend of the second half is nearly in the books, and today's slew of series finales features prominent pitching matchups in this final stretch before the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Cole Hamels returns to Wrigley Field for the first time since hurling a no-hitter last July 25 in what was his final start for the Phillies. Michael Wacha is going for his fourth straight win for a Cardinals club that has won just 20 games at home. And David Price seeks to steer his first season with the Red Sox upward as he squares off against Masahiro Tanaka at Yankee Stadium.
And the best place to catch all the action is on MLB.TV.
MLB.TV Premium has returned with the same features as last year, and is only $79.99 for the rest of the season. 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 available as a $59.99 yearly subscription. You can watch a single team's live out-of-market games in full HD.
Here's what to watch for today in the Majors (all times ET):
Hamels Hopes to Help Rangers Avoid Chicago Sweep: TEX@CHC, 2:20 p.m.
The last time Hamels took the mound at Wrigley Field, he did so swirling in trade speculation as the non-waiver Deadline approached. Hamels, who in that game threw the first no-hitter at Wrigley since 1972, was dealt to the Rangers six days later and led Texas to its first division title since reaching the 2011 World Series.
"It was a good memory," Hamels said. "Obviously, the last start for a team that I had been with from the beginning and playing with guys I had a good relationship with. I had Carlos Ruiz, one of the best catchers in the league. We had a good system working for years and we were on the same page the whole day. Everything seemed to work out perfectly, and the timing was exceptional with the Trade Deadline looming."
That game last July also would be Jake Arrieta's final loss of 2015, which began a stretch of 24 straight starts without defeat, extending to June 5 of this year. On today, the Cubs will go with John Lackey, who is seeking his first win since June 8. In six starts since, Lackey -- who will face the Rangers for the 41st time, fifth-most among active pitchers against one team -- is 0-3 with a 6.41 ERA.
Stat that matters: Lackey is getting an average of 4.59 runs of support per start, and the Cubs are 6-2 in games they reach that amount with Lackey on the hill.
Wacha Looks to Follow Waino's Gem: MIA@STL, 2:15 p.m.
The 47-44 Cardinals have lost 11 of their last 16 at Busch Stadium, where they are now 20-28 -- by far the worst home showing in the Majors among plus-.500 teams.
Wacha, who went nearly two full months without a win from late April to late June, has won three straight since his most recent defeat, with a no-decision in his last outing.
Giancarlo Stanton, fresh off blasting a record 61 dingers in Tuesday's T-Mobile Home Run Derby, enters today's game a day after snapping an eight-game hit streak at the hands of Adam Wainwright, who hurled his first shutout since Sept. 17, 2014. Since the start of July, Stanton is batting .317 with five homers and 11 RBIs.
Stat that matters: The Marlins, who are tied with the Mets at 48-42 for the second National League Wild Card, are 31-15 when Stanton gets a hit and 8-24 when he doesn't.
Price, Tanaka Seeking to Start Second Half Strong: BOS@NYY, 8:05 p.m.
Price leads the American League with seven double-digit strikeout games and overall whiffs with 140. But his 4.34 ERA in the first half was his highest ever in years he made at least 10 starts before the break.
Price's struggles have been largely rooted in the first inning, in which he's given up 12 earned runs in 19 starts and allowed a .346 average and .985 OPS from opposing batters. In his last start in the Bronx, he gave up six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings in an 8-2 loss on May 7.
Tanaka is coming off his worst start -- a 10-hit, three-run outing that lasted a season-low 4 2/3 innings in a loss to the Indians last Sunday.
Stat that matters: Tanaka has given up two earned runs or fewer in 12 of his 18 starts this year, and the Yankees went 8-4 in those games.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers get the Mosaic View -- split screen or quad, available on PC or Mac only. That always comes in handy, especially when scoreboard-watching looms. MLB.TV Premium and MLB.TV Single Team subscribers both enjoy HD and both will get real-time highlights and player stats automatically loaded moments after they occur (only for the game you are watching with MLB.TV Single Team, and for all games with MLB.TV Premium).
Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.