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What’s on Tap: Previewing Saturday’s action

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There’s no better way to start off a Saturday than with a match-up of aces, which is exactly what the Giants and Cubs have planned for this afternoon when Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta square off at 2:20 PM EDT at Wrigley Field. Bumgarner has the second-lowest ERA among qualified major league pitchers, at 2.49, but, since you asked, it’s been about two weeks since he hammered a ball out of the park:

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Arrieta, on the other hand, hasn’t driven a ball into the stands since June 27, but with an offense that averages 5.09 runs per game, that hasn’t really been an issue this season. By comparison, the Giants’ offense sits at league average with 4.49 runs per game, a number that rises ever so slightly to an average of 4.88 runs when Bumgarner takes the mound.

While the Cubs have all but secured a postseason berth, and the Giants currently lead the pack of National League wild card contenders, the same cannot be said for the Angels and Mariners. The Angels, who will send out lefty Tyler Skaggs for a 9:10 PM EDT nightcap at Safeco Field, are sunk 14 games out of a wild card spot and 21.5 games back of the division lead.

The Mariners look a little closer to the playoffs, with just a four-game gap to close in the wild card race, but they still have to contend with the Astros, Yankees, and Royals — all of whom, through some stroke of luck or fate, dropped their series openers on Friday. Facing the Angels on Saturday night is right-hander Taijuan Walker, who has given up four or more runs in each of his starts dating back through July 5 and is still waiting to hit his first career home run.

You can find more from Saturday’s action below.

Houston Astros (Joe Musgrove) @ Texas Rangers (Derek Holland), 4:05 PM EDT, Globe Life Park in Arlington

St. Louis Cardinals (Jaime Garcia) @ Cincinnati Reds (Dan Straily), 4:10 PM EDT, Great American Ball Park

Toronto Blue Jays (Marco Estrada) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Blake Snell), 6:10 PM EDT, Tropicana Field

New York Yankees (CC Sabathia) vs. Baltimore Orioles (Kevin Gausman), 7:05 PM EDT, Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Atlanta Braves (John Gant) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Vince Velasquez), 7:05 PM EDT, Citizens Bank Park

Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Ivan Nova), 7:05 PM EDT, PNC Park

Chicago White Sox (James Shields) @ Minnesota Twins (Hector Santiago), 7:10 PM EDT, Target Field

Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez) @ Cleveland Indians (Trevor Bauer), 7:10 PM EDT, Progressive Field

Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark) @ New York Mets (Robert Gsellman), 7:10 PM EDT, Citi Field

Detroit Tigers (Michael Fulmer) @ Kansas City Royals (Yordano Ventura), 7:15 PM EDT, Kauffman Stadium

Arizona Diamondbacks (Braden Shipley) @ Colorado Rockies (Tyler Chatwood), 8:10 PM EDT, Coors Field

Boston Red Sox (Rick Porcello) @ Oakland Athletics (Daniel Mengden), 9:05 PM EDT, Oakland Coliseum

San Diego Padres (Luis Perdomo) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Rich Hill), 9:10 PM EDT, Dodger Stadium

Nationals’ Strasburg ejected for arguing from the stands

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK — A pitcher getting ejected for arguing balls and strikes – on his day off? And, from the stands?

Nationals star Stephen Strasburg earned one of baseball’s most unique ejections – probably ever – in the third inning of Washington’s game against the New York Mets on Thursday.

Strasburg was sitting in Section 121 at Citi Field in this socially distant season because he’s scheduled to start Friday against Baltimore Orioles. He was apparently unhappy with the strike zone of plate umpire Carlos Torres after Austin Voth‘s 2-2 pitch to Pete Alonso on the outside corner was ruled a ball.

Moments later, Torres ejected last year’s World Series MVP, though it took a few seconds to realize who had been tossed.

Someone was heard yelling: “You’re (expletive) brutal” shortly before television cameras captured Strasburg doffing his cap as he walked up the staircase on his way out of the park.

“Sorry, folks – sorry, FCC,” Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen said on SNY.

The usually stoic Strasburg appeared to be grinning underneath his blue mask as he made his exit.