What we're watching: Beckett, Felix aim for for 12th victories

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– Josh Beckett and Felix Hernandez both have opportunities to become
the AL’s first 12-game winner tonight. Beckett goes first, and one has
to like his chances with a home start against the A’s on the schedule.
He beat the A’s on Oakland on July 7 and is 6-0 with a 2.44 ERA in nine
starts at Fenway this season. King Felix will pitch against the Blue
Jays in a 10 p.m. EDT start. The Marlins have won each of his last
eight starts, even though they’ve average just 4.4 runs per game in
those contests. He’ll be going up against Ricky Romero, who is 8-4 with
a 3.44 ERA.

– The Yankees capitalized on a 10-game homestand to build a 2 1/2-game
lead over the Red Sox. Now they’ll play nine straight on the road,
beginning with a series in Tampa Bay. A.J. Burnett, riding a four-game
winning streak, will take on James Shields in the opener. He’s 1-0 with
a 3.21 ERA in two starts against the Rays this year. Shields hasn’t won
since June 20 and is 1-6 with a 5.73 ERA against the Yankees in his
career. This will be his first start against the Bombers in 2009.

Game of the Night

L.A. Dodgers vs. St. Louis – After falling out of first place in the
NL Central on Sunday, the Cardinals will look to Chris Carpenter to
help them bounce back against the team with the best record in
baseball. Carpenter would be 4-0 this month if not for Ryan Franklin’s
blown save last Wednesday. He’s 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in four career
starts against the Dodgers. Starting for the Dodgers will be Randy
Wolf, who has turned in 13 quality starts this year — including five
in a row — yet has just five wins to show for his 3.45 ERA.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday’s action

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 02:  Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox pitches in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on July 2, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images
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White Sox ace Chris Sale will return after serving his team-issued five-game suspension. He’ll take on the Cub’s John Lackey in an 8:05 PM EDT start at Wrigley Field.

The lefty protested wearing throwback uniforms, which featured collars, this past weekend. He reportedly got into a shouting match with White Sox coaches and front office staff, and took a knife to his uniform as well as those of his teammates. GM Rick Hahn punished Sale for three offenses: violating team rules, insubordination, and destroying team equipment.

Sale apologized to fans as well as to the bullpen, which had to pick him up when he was scratched from Saturday’s start. But he didn’t apologize for standing up for what he believed in.

This isn’t Sale’s first conflict with the White Sox organization. He was part of the spring training Drake LaRoche controversy. He also was part of the club’s recent protest against the Mariners’ policy that siphoned money from clubhouse attendants. As a result of what appears to be a contentious relationship between Sale and the White Sox, many think the club will trade him if they get an enticing offer. Pitchers like Sale, however, are tough to find, and he could be under team control through 2019 if the White Sox pick up his ’18 and ’19 club options.

Sale enters Thursday’s start leading the majors with 14 wins as well as a 3.18 ERA and a 129/29 K/BB ratio in 133 innings. Could it be his last start as a member of the White Sox?

The rest of Thursday’s action…

Baltimore Orioles (Ubaldo Jimenez) @ Minnesota Twins (Kyle Gibson), 7:10 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Aaron Nola) @ Atlanta Braves (Matt Wisler), 7:10 PM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals (Michael Wacha) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez), 7:10 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Yordano Ventura) @ Texas Rangers (Cole Hamels), 8:05 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (David Price) @ Los Angeles Angels (Jered Weaver), 10:05 PM EDT

Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark) @ San Francisco Giants (Johnny Cueto), 10:15 PM EDT

Report: The Diamondbacks are on the verge of trading Daniel Hudson

Daniel Hudson
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Arizona Diamondbacks are close to trading Daniel Hudson. It’s not yet known who the trading partner would be, but obviously a number of teams are in the market for bullpen help.

Trading Hudson seemed like a good idea for a while, but he’s been on a terrible skid lately, with his ERA exploding by nearly three full runs in the past month. It now stands at 6.08, with Hudson having given up 22 earned runs in 16 and a third innings in June and July. The bad stretch has appeared to result in some frustration for Hudson. The other day he took to Twitter to describe his recent performance, calling the last month “brutal” and “absolutely awful.” He said this has “been one of the most frustrating stretch of games I’ve ever experienced in my life.” Then he deactivated his Twitter account.

Despite his recent struggles, and despite his checkered injury history, Hudson has been durable the past two seasons, pitching in 64 games last year and 42 so far this season. If this stretch is just that, a temporary skid, Hudson could help someone.