Our first full weekend of the 2013 regular season will start with numerous Friday afternoon games, including the 1980 World Series rematch between the Kansas City Royals and Philadelphia Phillies, with Hall of Fame third basemen George Brett and Mike Schmidt scheduled to toss out first pitches. It's not quite Wade Davis versus Kyle Kendrick, but then again, neither of them figures to pitch in a World Series anytime soon. Ah, memories. It's Friday, so here are things to know for this weekend.
Welcome home: Former Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton didn't make many pals on his way out of the football town, and wouldn't you know it, his Los Angeles Angels are visiting this weekend. Hamilton isn't off to a great start, hitting .083 with one hit and six strikeouts in 12 at-bats. OK, so it's early and he'll be fine, but this is a streaky player. The Rangers finally get to face a big league squad after striking out a thousand Houston Astros. The festivities conclude (after Hamilton has been booed many times) with the Sunday nighter on ESPN as Jered Weaver meets Yu Darvish. That duo permitted three hits over 14 2/3 innings their first time around.
Rematch time: Meanwhile, a pair of potential NL playoff teams face off the first time since the stunning end of their October playoff series. The St. Louis Cardinals won three of the first four games against the San Francisco Giants back then, needing one win to move on to the World Series. Then Barry Zito and friends took over. Zito won Game 5, Ryan Vogelsong took Game 6 and Matt Cain cruised in the seventh game. In the final three games, the Giants outscored the Cardinals 20-1. First up on Friday afternoon, it's Mr. Zito.
Rematch time, part 2: The New York Yankees head on the road to face a Detroit Tigers team they couldn't take a game from last October. As Derek Jeter was carried off the field, the Yankees scored only two runs the final three games of the ALCS, batting .157 for the series. And let's just say this current Yankees lineup doesn't look nearly as formidable. What could go wrong on Sunday against Justin Verlander, or even the first two games against Doug Fister and Max Scherzer?
Pitchers to watch: Saturday's slate features quite a few enticing young right-handers, including Shelby Miller of the Cardinals, Julio Teheran of the Atlanta Braves and Alex Cobb of the Tampa Bay Rays. Someone who wasn't scheduled to start until a Scott Kazmir injury -- yeah, shocking, right? -- is Cleveland Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer. The Arizona Diamondbacks couldn't wait to unload the top prospect, in part due to makeup issues rather than physical ones, and now he gets a new start in the American League. Watch him thrive.
Best of the best: The Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals won the most games last season, and each team certainly appeared to improve this offseason. So an opening week matchup, with the winner vying for the top of the Power Rankings, should be fun. Sunday features the best matchup, as aces Stephen Strasburg and Johnny Cueto meet. Much like the Rangers, the Nationals got to feast on a really bad Marlins team, as their starters posted a 0.47 ERA. That should go up this weekend, but don't look for shootouts, either.
As always, enjoy your weekend!