LEADING OFF: Story returns home, Cubs-Cards face off
A look at what's happening around the majors Friday:
Colorado shortstop Trevor Story gets to play a big league game near home for the first time when the Rockies open an interleague series Friday night at the Texas Rangers, in a stadium only a few miles from his hometown of Irving, Texas. The Rockies last played at Texas in 2016, which was Story's standout rookie season. But Story, the 45th overall pick in the 2011 draft out of Irving High, suffered a season-ending left thumb injury about two weeks before that series. Another Texas native starts the opener for the Rockies in right-hander Chad Bettis (4-1), who is from Lubbock and went to Texas Tech. He got a no decision in the Rockies' 12-9 win during that August 2016 series when he allowed five runs in five innings.
Two of the National League's top pitchers this season will face off when the Chicago Cubs open a weekend series at the St. Louis Cardinals. Jon Lester (7-2) takes the mound for the Cubs, who are coming off two straight losses at Milwaukee, and the left-hander is fourth in the NL in ERA (2.22). Michael Wacha, meanwhile, is 8-1 and seventh in the league with a 2.47 ERA — providing a much-needed boost for a Cardinals team that's 4-5 in its last nine games against Miami, Cincinnati and San Diego.
BACK IN TOWN
Nathan Eovaldi (1-1) takes the ball for the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium, his fourth outing since becoming the 12th pitcher to start a major league game following multiple Tommy John surgeries. Eovaldi pitched for the Yankees from 2015-16, going 14-3 for them in 2015, but has never faced New York. "I wish I would have been able to finish on a healthy note. Other than that, I really enjoyed my time there," Eovaldi said.
Jonathan Loaisiga comes up from Double-A Trenton to make his big league debut for the Yankees, starting in place of injured Masahiro Tanaka. The 23-year-old Loaisiga, from Nicaragua, returned to the mound last year from Tommy John surgery. "Super excited. This is a great opportunity the Yankees are giving me," Loaisiga said through a translator. "It's been a tough road for me to get here and now it's about enjoying this moment."
Gio Gonzalez (6-2, 2.65 ERA) had his worst start of the season in his last outing, allowing four runs in 3 1/3 innings against the San Francisco Giants last week. The Washington Nationals left-hander will return to the mound when he makes an interleague start against the Toronto Blue Jays.