Iwakuma puts home streak on the line; Rox rookie continues to impress
By Matt Kelly
The Miami Marlins are above .500 and in contention for the playoffs, a position they haven't been in this late into August since 2009. Miami is holding on to the National League's second Wild Card spot by just one game over the Cardinals, and with little room for error the team is about to open a series against a team that has played them extremely close of late.
Ten of the last 13 games in South Beach -- including the last five straight -- between the Marlins and Giants have been decided by two runs or fewer. And with a premier pitching matchup of All-Stars Johnny Cueto and Jose Fernandez on tap for Monday's opener, runs and advantages may be few and far between for these two potential playoff contenders.
Indeed, the dog days of August mean playoff races are in full swing. That includes Seattle, where a Mariners pitcher has been unbeatable of late, and in Denver, where another rookie not named Trevor Story is turning heads.
There's only one place to see all those storylines and more in action Monday, and that's on MLB.TV.
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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):
Fernandez hoping to avoid a three-peat: SF@MIA, 7:10 p.m.
The Giants have a chance to do something no team has done before: hand Fernandez (12-6) his third straight loss. That speaks to Fernandez's remarkable domnance when healthy, but this San Francisco squad may have some confidence since it beat him on April 23 in San Francisco. Topping Fernandez in Miami, however, where his career mark stands at a robust 26-2 with a 1.62 ERA, is a much different task.
Fernandez, for his part, is unconcerned about his back-to-back losses.
"I feel good where I am right now," Fernandez said after he allowed only three runs over six innings in his loss to the Cubs last Tuesday. "The result wasn't there. I'm not too happy about the result today, but we'll get there."
Fernandez relieved Cueto in the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard last month, and the Giants righty brings his own 13-3 record to South Beach. That includes an 8-1 mark on the road with a 1.12 WHIP while holding opponents to a .228 batting average.
Stat that matters: The Giants have been dismal in clutch situations of late, which is something they'll need to change if they hope to beat Fernandez. They've gone just 16-for-94 (.170) with runners in scoring position over their last 10 games.
Fulmer, Iwakuma rematch in Seattle: DET@SEA, 10:10 p.m.
Any discussion about the AL Rookie of the Year Award at this point should include Detroit's Michael Fulmer, whose 4.1 WAR ranks fifth out of all Major League starters -- novice or otherwise -- according to Baseball Reference. Fulmer has allowed three or fewer runs in 12 of his last 13 outings, including on June 22 when he gave up just one run over 4 1/3 innings in a home start against Seattle before back-to-back hit by pitches ended his night early.
Fulmer will try to finish the job this time around opposite Iwakuma, who comes into Monday riding a seven-game win streak at Safeco Field. Iwakuma has carried a 3.00 ERA over those seven home starts and paired 32 strikeouts with just three walks. In his last start Wednesday against Boston, the right-hander threw 73 of his 97 pitches for strikes.
"I was able to command my fastball, and my fastball had more life than usual," Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki after Wednesday's start. "So I was able to get strike one."
The Red Sox lost Sunday night in Los Angeles, meaning the Tigers remain in the pilot's seat for the second AL Wild Card spot by just a half-game. Seattle could make up major ground as they sit just three and a half games back of Detroit.
Stat that matters: In addition to his stellar outfield assist to end Saturday night's contest against the Mets, Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez is 8-for-16 with four extra-base hits since returning from the disabled list Wednesday.
Dahl goes for 14 in a row: TEX@COL, 8:40 p.m.
Lost in the excitement of Ichiro's 3,000th hit Sunday at Coors Field was the fact that Rockies outfielder David Dahl collected yet anotherhit of his own. The rookie has now gotten a base knock in each of the first 13 games of his career -- three shy of the Rockies' franchise record set by Juan Pierre in August 2000.
Colorado's offense played up to its expected standard over the weekend against Miami, scoring 18 runs over three games, but the problem is their pitching staff gave up 25. Rookie Tyler Anderson will try to turn the tide for the Rockies, who had won 14 of 20 since the All-Star break before dropping the Marlins series. Reality may be setting in for Colorado, as Sunday's loss dropped them four games back of the final NL Wild Card and dropped their record back below .500.
Stat that matters: Anderson's 3.25 ERA is the lowest mark of any Rockies pitcher through his first 10 starts of a season in franchise history.
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).
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.