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.

Danny Duffy exits spring training game with left shoulder tightness

Danny Duffy
AP Images
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Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.

The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.

The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.