– Francisco Liriano will attempt to build on a strong effort against the Royals when he faces the AL wild card-leading Rangers in Texas. It will be his second start in Arlington in a month, as he allowed three runs — two earned — in six innings in a no-decision on July 19. The Rangers will counter with Tommy Hunter, who just shut out the Indians for 7 2/3 innings last time out. The 2007 supplemental first-round pick is 5-2 with a 2.26 ERA.
– Ted Lilly will rejoin the Cubs’ rotation tonight after missing four starts due to left shoulder inflammation and a knee injury that required minor surgery. It looks like he’ll be able to ease back into action against a Padres team that has been especially weak against left-handers (.229/.300/.368). Lilly is 5-2 with a 3.55 ERA against San Diego in his career.
Game of the Night
St. Louis vs. Los Angeles – The NL’s two winningest teams will begin a three-game series with a rather lopsided pitching matchup. Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter is 12-3 with a 2.27 ERA that ranks second in the majors. Dodgers knuckleballer Charlie Haeger is 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA in a career that includes one start and 18 relief appearances. It will be his debut for the team after he went 11-6 with a very impressive 3.55 ERA for Triple-A Albuquerque. Away from the offensive paradise the Isotopes play in half of the time, he had a 2.44 ERA.
No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.
Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.
Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.