Previewing Sunday Night Baseball: Dodgers at Cubs

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With the Dodgers and Cubs less than an hour away from first pitch, here are a few things to consider:

– Eric Milton (1-0. 3.00) makes his third start of the year for the
Dodgers. Milton won his first game in nearly three years his last time
out, limiting the Rockies to a single run over five innings. He didn’t
pitch at all last season because of Tommy John surgery. He was called
up from Triple-A Albuquerque on May 14.

– Sean Marshall (3-3, 3.70) toes the rubber for the Cubs. He pitched
five innings in a rain-shortened win over the the Pirates on Wednesday,
allowing one run while striking out six. He’s lowered his ERA from 4.15
to 3.70 over his last four starts. Left-handed batters are just
6-for-35 (.171) off the 26-year-old southpaw.

– Alfonso Soriano has a .133 batting average over his last 11 games
that has seen his batting average dip to .246, but he is 6-for-12 (no
homers) in his career vs. Milton.

– Juan Pierre is batting .394 since taking over left field for the
suspended Manny Ramirez on May 7. The Dodgers are 13-9 in that time.

– The Cubs have gone deep in eight straight games.

– Reed Johnson has three homers and six RBI in over his last six games after failing to homer in the season’s first 24 games.

– The Dodgers were shut out for the first time this season on Saturday. They have yet to lose three in a row this season.

– After winning the National League’s Rookie of the Year award in
2008, Geovany Soto has struggled this season with a .215/.338/.273
line. He has homered just once in 121 at-bats.

– Without the presence of Ramirez, Andre Ethier’s batting average
has dropped from .327 to .257. He was among the league leaders in RBI
when the month started, but he has just three RBI in his last 20 games.

– The injury-riddled Cubs have won four of their last five games to bring their record to 15-12 this month.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.