Today's results will impact Wild Card races in both leagues
By Austin Laymance
There are seven games in the Major Leagues today, five of which include clubs locked in tight Wild Card races across both leagues.
The Astros, two games behind the Orioles for the second American League Wild Card, look to win a four-game series against the first-place Indians this afternoon in the first game of the day. Later, the Wild Card-contending Yankees and Mariners each open series against division opponents. The Yankees are 2 1/2 games behind the O's, while the Mariners are five games back.
Meanwhile, in the National League, the Cardinals and Pirates each open series against NL Central opponents. The Cardinals and Mets are in a virtual tie for the second NL Wild Card, with the Pirates 4 1/2 games behind.
And the best place to watch all the drama unfold is on MLB.TV.
MLB.TV Premium has returned with the same features as last year, and is only $24.99 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.
Here's what to watch for today in the Majors (all times ET):
Astros try to gain ground in Wild Card race: HOU@CLE, 12:10 p.m. David Paulino takes the mound for his Major League debut with the Astros as they go for a series win over the Indians, who lead the Tigers by 5 1/2 games in the AL Central. The Tigers sit between the Astros and the Orioles in the race for the second AL Wild Card, with Detroit one game behind the O's and one game in front of Houston.
Trevor Bauer starts for the Indians, seeking his fifth consecutive quality start. In his last outing, Bauer allowed three runs in the first inning and then shut down the Marlins to finish two outs shy of a complete game.
Stat that matters: Astros rookie Alex Bregman has reached base in 21 consecutive games, batting .341 (31-for-91) with 14 extra-base hits, 23 RBIs and 20 runs scored in that span.
Yanks look to continue surge: TB@NYY, 7:05 p.m.
The Yankees refuse to bow out of the postseason picture, as they have won four in a row and 17 of their last 26 games heading into the opener of a four-game series against the Rays, who are last in the AL East. New York needs to take care of business against non-contending teams down the stretch. The Yankees are 6-6 against the Rays this season, including a 4-2 mark in the Bronx.
CC Sabathia starts for the Yankees. He's 1-0 with a 5.06 ERA in two starts against the Rays this year. The left-hander is 3-6 with a 4.82 ERA over 10 starts in the second half.
Alex Cobb will make his second start of the season for the Rays as he continues his return from Tommy John surgery. Cobb made his season debut on Friday, striking out seven and retiring the final 10 batters he faced over five innings in a no-decision against Toronto.
Stat that matters: The Rays have lost their last six series at Yankee Stadium, going 6-11, though their 65-57 record against the Yankees since 2010 is the best among AL clubs.
Nova goes for Pirates: CIN@PIT, 7:05 p.m.
The Pirates snapped an eight-game losing skid on Wednesday, and will look to build on their win over the Cardinals as they open a four-game series against the Reds, who are last in the NL Central.
Pittsburgh hands the ball to Ivan Nova, who is 4-0 with a 2.89 ERA in six starts since coming over in a trade with the Yankees. He beat the Reds in his first start with the Pirates on Aug. 6, striking out five and allowing three runs on six hits in seven innings.
Dan Straily starts for the Reds. He'll be looking for better command after walking a career-high seven batters over 5 2/3 innings in his last outing. The Reds will not have center fielder and leadoff man Billy Hamilton, who is not making the trip to Pittsburgh as he recovers from a strained left oblique.
Stat that matters: Over the past four seasons, Reds pitchers have hit 45 Pirates batters (including 12 in 2016), the most by any Major League staff against any opponent. In that same span, Pirates pitchers have hit 41 Reds batters (including five in '16), tied for fourth by any staff vs. any opponent.
Cardinals look to tie Giants in Wild Card: MIL@STL, 7:15 p.m.
The Cardinals are in a virtual tie with the Mets for the second NL Wild Card, though the 73-65 Cards lead the 74-66 Mets by one game in the loss column. St. Louis could move into a tie with the Giants for the first Wild Card with a win in the opener of a four-game series against the division rival Brewers.
Jaime Garcia takes the mound for the Cardinals, who have won 11 of 15 meetings with the Brewers this year. Garcia has pitched well at home, where he has a 3.87 ERA and .229 opponents' batting average. The left-hander is 2-0 with one run and five hits allowed in 17 innings overt two home starts against the Brewers this season.
The Brewers will give the ball to Junior Guerra, who is building his pitch count after returning from a month-long stint on the disabled list in his last outing. Guerra made 70 pitches in that start, firing 3 1/3 shutout innings against the Pirates. He might be able to reach about 90 pitches tonight.
Stat that matters: The Cardinals are 30-37 at Busch Stadium this season. Only the Twins, Braves and D-backs have fewer home wins.
Mariners hanging around in Wild Card race: TEX@SEA, 10:10 p.m.
The Mariners are still in the mix for the second AL wild Card as they go for a series win against the first-place Rangers, who own the best record in the AL at 83-57.
Taijuan Walker starts for the Mariners, who have lost 11 of their last 15 games. Walker will look to rebound after his worst outing of the season, which saw him allow three homers and six runs in 2/3 of an inning against the Angels. In two outings against the Rangers this year, Walker has allowed seven earned runs over 11 innings.
Derek Holland takes the mound for the Rangers, whose magic number to clinch the AL West over the Astros is down to 15 games. Holland is 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA in three starts since returning from the disabled list. The left-hander is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three starts against the Mariners this season.
Stat that matters: Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano is riding an 11-game hit streak and is a lifetime .348 hitter (16-for-46) against Holland, with two homers and three doubles.
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).
Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.