A-Rod plays penultimate game; Kluber starts for first-place Tribe
By Chad Thornburg
One of baseball's biggest rivalries will take center stage tonight, when the Cardinals and Cubs meet for the fourth time this season.
The National League Central foes will play a four-game series at Wrigley Field. St. Louis leads the season series 5-4 but remains a distant second in the division standings behind the first-place Cubs.
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NL Central showdown: STL@CHC, 8:05 p.m. ET
The last time the Cardinals came to Chicago, they left with their first three-game series sweep at Wrigley Field in nearly three decades. The Cubs will try for better results when they host their St. Louis rivals for a four-game set this weekend. Southpaw Jon Lester will start the opener, coming off a strong outing against his former club, the A's. The Cubs have won each of Lester's last four starts.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, will try to cut into Chicago's division lead by sending right-hander Carlos Martinez to the mound. Martinez struggled his last time out, surrendering a season-high seven runs (six earned) in a loss to the Braves.
Stat that matters: Lester has been far more effective at home than on the road. He owns a 1.99 ERA and a .194 opponents' batting average at Wrigley compared with a 3.88 ERA and a .248 average at opposing ballparks.
A-Rod makes penultimate start: NYY@BOS, 7:10 p.m. Alex Rodriguez will be in the lineup for the Yankees night against the Red Sox in the final road game of his 22-year career. The veteran slugger matches up favorably against Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who will take the mound after knuckleballer Steven Wright was scratched from his scheduled start with right shoulder inflammation. A-Rod is hitting .385 with a home run, three RBIs and two walks in 16 career plate appearances vs. the Boston southpaw.
"I know he's got really good stuff," A-Rod said. "The last 72 hours, I'm enjoying the game. I'll cherish any opportunity I get to play the game."
Stat that matters: Rodriguez has faced the Red Sox more than any other opponent since reaching the big leagues in 1994. He's hitting .285/.378/.516 (282-for-991) with 59 homers in 263 career games vs. Boston.
Kluber looks to keep rolling: LAA@CLE, 7:10 p.m.
Cleveland's Kluber has been among the game's top pitchers all season, and in recent weeks, he's been even better. The former American League Cy Young Award winner is 3-0 with a 1.46 ERA in his last five starts for the first-place Indians. He'll bring that momentum into the series opener vs. the Angels at Progressive Field.
Kluber's opponent, Jhoulys Chacin, assumes the Angels' vacant fifth-starter role after a stint in the bullpen. Chacin struggled as a starter earlier this year, going 2-5 with a 6.11 ERA, but posted a 2.55 ERA in eight relief appearances (17 2/3 innings).
Stat that matters: Angels star Mike Trout is just 1-for-11 with two walks and a strikeout lifetime vs. Kluber.
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Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.