What we're watching: Hanson vs. Pedro

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hanson.jpg– The Braves got a much-needed win Thursday to avoid a home sweep at the hands of the Padres. Now they could really use two out of three games this weekend in Philadelphia. They’ll try to start the series right with Tommy Hanson on the mound against Pedro Martinez. Hanson, who will be facing the Phillies for the first time, has won four straight starts to improve to 9-2 with a 3.12 ERA. Martinez is 2-0 with a 5.14 ERA in his three starts. He’s struggled early in outings, but the Phillies have managed to support him with 21 runs in his two victories.
– CC Sabathia is on a roll anyway, but tonight he’ll get to face a White Sox team he’s gone 15-4 against in his career. If he can win a sixth straight start tonight, he’ll be the first pitcher this year to reach 16 victories. Trying to halt his streak will be old rival Mark Buehrle. The trends aren’t encouraging, though. Buehrle is 0-4 with a 6.21 ERA in six starts since his perfect game against the Rays, and he’s 1-6 with a 6.84 ERA lifetime against the Yankees. When Sabathia and Buehrle locked horns on Aug. 2, Buehrle gave up seven runs and 12 hits over 4 1/3 innings in a loss.
Game of the Night
Colorado vs. San Francisco – The Rockies won three out of four against the Giants in Colorado last weekend, but they’ll be playing in San Francisco this time and the Giants are an NL-best 41-21 at home. Game 1 would seem to be the premier matchup of the series, with Ubaldo Jimenez and Tim Lincecum facing off for the second time in six days. Jimenez prevailed last time after allowing two runs in eight innings. He’s won five straight starts, and he hasn’t lost in nine. Lincecum, on the other hand, has gone four straight starts without a victory, damaging his Cy Young case. The loss last weekend was his first in eight career starts against Colorado. He has a 1.79 ERA and a 75/9 K/BB ratio in 60 1/3 innings against Colorado lifetime.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.