What we're watching: Carpenter vs. Haeger

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– 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.

Giants activate Hunter Strickland

Hunter Strickland
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Giants reliever Hunter Strickland has been activated from the 60-day disabled list, the club announced Saturday. In a corresponding move, third baseman Pablo Sandoval was shifted to the 60-day disabled list, where he’ll remain for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on his right hamstring. Right-handed reliever Dereck Rodriguez has also been placed on the 10-day disabled list after suffering a hamstring strain during Tuesday’s brawl against the Dodgers.

Strickland, 29, had been shelved with a fractured right hand since mid-June. The right-hander sustained the injury after punching a door and underwent surgery to repair the fifth metacarpal in his pitching hand. He only missed the minimum after making a speedy recovery, however, and finished his recent rehab stint with 5 2/3 innings of two-run, 10-strikeout ball for the Giants’ rookie, High-A and Triple-A affiliates.

Prior to the incident, Strickland logged 13 saves in 28 opportunities with a 2.84 ERA, 3.7 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 in 34 appearances. According to comments from club skipper Bruce Bochy, the Giants don’t plan on wasting any time before deploying their former closer, but will make him available in high-leverage situations as soon as possible. It’s worth noting, too, that the team still has a viable closer in lefty reliever Will Smith, who picked up 10 saves and engineered a 3.10 ERA, 1.8 BB/9 and 12.8 SO/9 in 20 1/3 innings since Strickland landed on the DL this summer.