1st Pitch: Pedroia’s presence to propel Sox?

August, 17, 2010
8/17/10
2:55
PM ET
FROM THE ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU:
The Boston Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia, who turns 27 Tuesday, is expected to be activated from the disabled list and play for the first time since June 25. On that date, Boston was three games back of the Yankees and tied with the Rays for the wild-card lead. Since then, Boston is 23-21 while Tampa Bay has the best record in baseball at 29-16. The Sox were averaging 5.5 runs per game before Pedroia was injured. Without him in the lineup, they have been averaging 4.5 runs.

Today’s Trivia: In a matchup of the National League Wild-Card leaders, the Philadelphia Phillies host the San Francisco Giants in a three-game series. The Phillies are one of the seven teams that have never been the NL Wild Card representative. Can you name the other six?

TUESDAY'S KEY MATCHUPS:
• Tigers at Yankees: Only one batter has struck out more against Justin Verlander than the Yankees' Nick Swisher - who has whiffed 14 times. The only player to fan more against Verlander is teammate Jhonny Peralta, who has 20 strikeouts.

• Giants at Phillies: Raul Ibanez knows how to end a hit streak in style, or lack thereof. Since the last game of his 18-game hit streak, Ibanez is 0-18 with four strikeouts. And it’s not likely to get better tonight against Barry Zito. Ibanez has an OPS of .486 against Zito in 47 at-bats. That’s Ibanez’s worst against any pitcher he’s faced at least 40 times.

• Angels at Red Sox, White Sox at Twins: Good luck to the right-handed batters in the Angels and Twins lineups. The American League’s two toughest pitchers against right-handed hitters – Boston’s Clay Buchholz and Chicago’s John Danks -- toe the rubber. Buchholz is allowing a .523 OPS to righties and Danks is close behind with a .529.

• Rangers at Rays: Since throwing a no-hitter on July 26, the Rays Matt Garza is winless in three starts (0-2, 3.05 ERA).

• Blue Jays at Athletics: Toronto's Brandon Morrow makes his first start since coming within one out of a no-hitter on Saturday against the Rays. As for the A's, they have been no-hit through at least six innings in each of their last two games.

MORE FROM THE ELIAS SPORTS BUREAU:
• Ichiro Suzuki has hits against 629 different major league pitchers, but the one he enjoys seeing most is Kevin Millwood, who is scheduled to start for Baltimore on Tuesday. Ichiro has 30 hits off Millwood, the most against any pitcher he's faced. The only active player who Millwood has surrendered more hits to than Suzuki is Vladimir Guerrero (33).

• Arizona's Daniel Hudson (starting Tuesday against the Reds) will try to win his fourth straight start since joining the Diamondbacks. With a victory, Hudson would join Philadelphia's Roy Halladay as the only pitchers this season to get a victory in each of their first four starts with a new team.

• The Mets' Johan Santana brings a 16⅓-inning scoreless streak to the mound tonight against the Astros. Santana has won each of his last two starts, going at least seven innings in each game without allowing a run. No Mets pitcher has ever had three consecutive starts like that. Santana has made seven starts this season with no runs allowed in seven innings or more, tying Halladay for the league lead. The last Mets pitcher with more scoreless starts of seven or more innings in one season was Dwight Gooden, who had 11 in 1985.

• With a win tonight at Tampa Bay, the Rangers' Tommy Hunter will join Ubaldo Jimenez and Phil Hughes as the third pitcher this season to win 10 of his first 11 decisions.

Trivia Answer: The six teams other than the Phillies that have never been the NL Wild Card representative are: Braves, Reds, Padres, Diamondbacks, Nationals and Pirates.

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