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MLB Week 4: A Look Ahead at Key Matchups and Storylines

2013 MLB Week 4 Matchups
2013 MLB Week 4 Matchups

Oct 1, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Omar Infante (4) tags out Kansas City Royals right fielder Jeff Francoeur (21) in the eighth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Detroit won the game 6-3 to win the Central Division. John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

What a week it has been. Boston became the setting for one of the most heinous acts of terrorism this country has ever seen. And, with two bombers on the loose for the better part of a week, it created a real sense of terror for millions of people and literally shut down a major city. It was a series of events unlike almost anything in American history. Thankfully, it’s now over.

I am a born and raised New Englander. I know Boston. I lived there for four years. I have been to the Marathon. I know people who were there that day. I have friends and family who live in Boston and Watertown and were nearly in the middle of some dangerous situations. The events of the last week hit very close to home.

Through it all, the baseball world has been beyond supportive of Boston. With tributes to the city in the early aftermath of the bombings, the reactions from fans and teams when news of the suspects’ capture broke, and the MLB and MLBPA donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to The One Fund Boston to support victims of the attacks, it has all been incredibly touching.

Because of that, I have never been prouder to be a baseball fan. America’s pastime became a symbol of the American spirit. In the wake of unfathomable tragedy, baseball showed resoluteness. Now, the country will transition back to normalcy. And part of that includes being able to truly enjoy baseball yet again. And there is plenty to enjoy this week.

Tigers-Royals Series – An AL Central Division rivalry will have more importance than it has in quite some time as the Tigers and Royals battle with the division lead in mind during a three-game set beginning on Tuesday. After making some major moves in the offseason, Kansas City has formed a credible threat to overtake Detroit and, so far, that’s been the case as KC sits atop the standings, 1 game ahead of Minnesota and 1.5 games ahead of Detroit. The Tigers are riding a three-game losing streak following a sweep at the hands of the Angels, while the Royals claimed their series against the Red Sox by sweeping a Sunday doubleheader at Fenway.  The intra-division series kicks off in Detroit on Tuesday with an intriguing pitching matchup between Max Scherzer and Wade Davis.

Streaking Teams – The Los Angeles Angels may have finally found their game. After an awful start to the season, the Angels swept the Tigers at home, scoring 22 runs in the three games and picking up their first shutout on the year. Things don’t get much easier for LA this week as they try to continue their climb through the AL West. They’ll host the Texas Rangers for three and will face Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando, and Yu Darvish. Then, they’ll head to Seattle and see Felix Hernandez on Saturday.

In the NL West, the Colorado Rockies have overtaken the Atlanta Braves as the hottest team in baseball. Their eight-game winning streak came to an end on Sunday after blowing a ninth-inning lead against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Walt Weiss has also built a nice home field advantage for his team as the Rockies are 8-1 at Coors Field. A true test for Colorado comes Monday-Wednesday when the Braves visit Denver for a series pitting the two teams tied with league-best 13-5 records. A trip to Phoenix for four more against the Diamondbacks will end their week.

Ted Lilly

June 17, 2011; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Ted Lilly (29) in the dugout after he was pulled in the 6th inning of the game against the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium.: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Top Prospect Debuts – The Washington Nationals are unveiling yet another young star this week as third baseman Anthony Rendon is getting his first playing time at the Major League level. With Ryan Zimmerman being placed on the DL with a hamstring injury, the Nats called up Rendon to fill in. He made his debut on Sunday, going 0-4 with 2 strikeouts. Baseball America ranks Rendon as Washington’s top prospect and he is hitting .292/.462/.500 with two home runs this season in AA Harrisburg. He’ll only have limited time with the big club as he’ll likely be sent back down to AA when Zimmerman returns from injury, so fans will only have a couple of weeks to watch him for now. He’ll face the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds this week with a chance for his first Major League hit coming against Shelby Miller.

Veteran Returns – The Los Angeles Dodgers have had another injury help determine their starting pitching rotation. After Zack Greinke was sidelined with a broken collarbone, Chris Capuano was initially given his spot in the rotation, much to the dismay of veteran Ted Lilly, who had been rehabbing at AAA Albuquerque and A Rancho Cucamonga from shoulder surgery and felt he should be Greinke’s replacement.  But, Capuano has landed on the DL himself after straining his calf muscle during his last start on Tuesday. So, Lilly will now get his spot in the rotation. The generally-reliable lefty has posted a troubling 0-3 record with a 6.88 ERA in 3 minor league starts this year, but said he felt himself improving each time out. He will make his season debut for LA on Wednesday against the Mets.

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