Cy Young candidates and Wild Card races highlight Friday schedule
By Chad Thornburg
With the regular season winding down, the race to claim a playoff spot is heating up. The Indians are among the teams hoping to lock up a division title in the coming weeks. Cleveland enters today's series opener against the Tigers with a magic number of 11 in the American League Central. A three-game sweep this weekend will whittle that down to five.
Losing the division wouldn't mean the end of the Tigers' playoff hopes, however. Detroit is right in the mix for an AL Wild Card spot. Fans can catch this matchup and the rest of the day's 15-game slate -- including starts by Cy Young Award candidates Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer and Chris Sale -- streaming live on MLB.TV.
MLB.TV Premium has returned with the same features as last year, and is only $9.99 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 throughout the day (all times in ET):
Tribe look to continue Detroit dominance behind Kluber: DET@CLE, 7:10 p.m.
The Indians have dominated the season series against Detroit all year, winning 11 of 12 head-to-head matchups. The Tigers' lone win came in the last meeting in July. Rookie Michael Fulmer, who will go for Detroit today, started that matchup, becoming the only Tigers hurler to beat the first-place Tribe in 2016.
Kluber will start for Cleveland with another opportunity to bolster his Cy Young Award stock. With their ace on the mound, the Indians will look to increase their lead in the division and gain on the Red Sox for home-field advantage in a potential AL Division Series. Kluber has excelled against the Tigers this season, holding them to one run in eight innings in April and tossing a five-hit shutout on May 4.
Stat that matters:Miguel Cabrera needs just three hits to become the 100th player in Major League history to reach 2,500 for his career.
Wild Card hopefuls clash at Safeco: HOU@SEA, 10:10 p.m.
The Mariners have been among the hottest teams in baseball lately, winning eight straight games to keep pace in a crowded Wild Card field. It's their longest winning streak since July 2013.
Seattle will look to Felix Hernandez to keep up the momentum going in today's opener at home against fellow Wild Card contender Houston. The M's have won seven of Hernandez's last eight starts. He's 3-3 with a 3.45 ERA in eight career starts against the Astros, but has yet to face them this season.
For the Astros, Collin McHugh gets the start. He's already beaten the Mariners three times this season, allowing just three runs in 18 innings against them.
Stat that matters: Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager snapped an 0-for-14 slump with a solo homer Thursday. At 93 RBIs, he's now three shy of his career best.
Cards, Giants continue fight for Wild Card standing: STL@SF, 10:15 p.m.
The Giants, Mets and Cardinals are locked in a tight race for two National League Wild Card spots, one that will surely provide plenty of drama down the stretch. This weekend, however, represents the final time any of those three clubs can gain an edge in a head-to-head matchup, with the Giants and Cardinals playing a four-game series in San Francisco.
The set continues with the Giants' Matt Moore and the Cardinals' Luke Weaver on the mound. Weaver has been a strong addition to the St. Louis rotation, allowing three runs or fewer in each of his six career starts. Moore, meanwhile, has been uneven in recent outings. He allowed six runs in a loss to the Rockies on Sept. 5, but followed that up by holding the D-backs to two runs over seven innings with a season-high 11 strikeouts his last time out.
Stat that matters: The Cardinals entered Thursday slugging an MLB-best .476 on the road this season.
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).
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.