What we're watching – Joba takes on the Halos

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– A pair of surging seven-game winners will face off with the White Sox
in Minnesota tonight. John Danks has pitched seven scoreless innings in
back-to-back victories and has a 1.51 ERA over his last five starts.
Nick Blackburn is coming off his third complete game of the season, a
6-2 win over the Tigers. He was on the mound when the Twins walloped
the White Sox 20-1 on May 21. Since that date, he’s 4-2 with a 1.88 ERA
in eight starts.

– Tim Lincecum fall apart a bit after six no-hit innings on
Thursday, so perhaps Dan Haren is still a candidate to start for the
Nationals League in the All-Star Game. A stellar outing tonight against
the Marlins wouldn’t hurt his chances, and the Diamondbacks could
certainly use the strong effort after their pen gave up 14 runs in
Thursday’s loss. A win could be tough to come by, though, as Ricky
Nolasco has been on fire for Florida. He’s won each of his last four
starts, and he has a 1.54 ERA and a 45/7 K/BB ratio in six starts since
returning from the minors.

Game of the Night

N.Y. Yankees vs. L.A. Angels – Joba Chamberlain may not have given
up more than three earned runs in any of his last 11 starts, but he was
still lit up last time out, when he surrendered eight runs — three
earned — in 3 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays. He’s pitched seven
innings just twice all year, and his average against is up to .273
because of the 18 hits he’s given up in nine innings his last two times
out. Fortunately, he won’t have to face the Angels’ best player this
season or the team’s best player over the last several years after both
Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero landed on the DL on Friday. Joe
Saunders, who has also struggled of late, will get the ball for
Anaheim. He’s given up 13 earned runs over nine innings in his last two
starts, taking his ERA from 3.66 to 4.44.

World Series Game 1 will feature Dallas Keuchel vs. Clayton Kershaw

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The Dodgers and Astros have selected their starters for Game 1 of the World Series. Left-hander Dallas Keuchel will open the series for the Astros, while fellow lefty Clayton Kershaw will take the mound for the first of two home games at Dodger Stadium.

Keuchel, 29, has been a steady presence for the Astros this postseason. He clinched Game 2 of the ALDS with 5 2/3 innings of one-run, seven-strikeout ball against the Red Sox and returned for his second postseason win with seven scoreless innings against the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS. He was outmatched in Game 5 of the Championship Series, however, scattering four runs and eight strikeouts across 4 2/3 innings while the Yankees worked their way up to a 5-0 shutout. Nevertheless, he’s perhaps the Astros’ strongest arm behind ALCS MVP Justin Verlander and has not surrendered a single home run in 17 1/3 consecutive innings this postseason.

Kershaw, on the other hand, has had a less consistent track record in the playoffs. While his postseason yips have been well-documented thus far, his struggles on the mound haven’t always led to disaster — at least not this time around. The Dodgers are 3-0 in all three of Kershaw’s starts this month and enjoyed a quality start from their ace during Game 5 of the NLCS last Thursday. The 29-year-old southpaw recorded his second win of the playoffs with a run, three hits, a walk and five strikeouts over six innings. Unlike Keuchel, he’s given up a home run in each of his outings to date (and four homers in Game 1 of the NLDS).

Game 1 is set for Tuesday evening at 8:00 PM ET. The Dodgers have home field advantage through Games 1 and 2 before the series moves to Houston, and will try to capitalize on that advantage in order to extend their postseason winning streak at Dodger Stadium. They’re 4-0 at home and 3-1 on the road this October, while the Astros boast a 6-0 advantage in Houston and a significantly less impressive 1-4 record away from home.