A look at what’s happening around the majors Thursday:
The Nationals open a series against Miami hoping to end a five-game skid and get back to .500. Washington fell to 42-43 with a loss to Boston on Wednesday http://www.buccaneersauthorizedshops.co ... -ii-jersey , the first time the preseason NL East favorites have been under .500 this late in the year since being 60-61 on Aug. 21, 2015. The Nationals held a players’ only meeting after a 3-0 loss to the Red Sox highlighted by Adam Eaton’s throwing error and a wild pitch from Ryan Madson. Jeremy Hellickson (2-1, 2.63) makes his second start since returning from the DL, while Marlins righty Pablo Lopez (1-0, 3.00) makes his second MLB start.
NOT VERY VERLANDER
Justin Verlander (9-4, 2.12) tries to stop a personal slide when the Astros open a series against the White Sox. Verlander has allowed nine runs in 11 2/3 innings over his past two starts, taking losses to Toronto (four runs) and Tampa Bay (five runs). Verlander hasn’t allowed four or more earned runs in three straight starts since June 2014 while with Detroit. Carlos Rodon (1-3, 4.55) is up for Chicago.
Johnny Cueto is expected to be reinstated from the disabled list and pitch when the Giants open a four-game series against the Cardinals. Cueto was placed on the disabled list May 1 with inflammation in his right elbow. A few days later, he visited Dr. James Andrews, who diagnosed him with a strained elbow. Cueto is 3-0 with a 0.84 ERA in five starts this season. The Giants are 41-21 in his starts since he joined the team in 2016.
Angels rookie Jaime Barria will start against AL West-leading Seattle in place of Tyler Skaggs a day after the left-hander went on the DL with a thigh strain. Barria is making his 12th start of the season and has given up two earned runs or fewer in four of his last five starts. Lefty Marco Gonzales (8-5, 3.77) makes his first start since pitching the first complete game of his career in a 4-1 win over Kansas City.
Joe Mauer needs one double to give him 415 in his career, which would break a tie with Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett for the Twins’ franchise record. Minnesota has lost six straight and returns home from a 1-8 trip to play Baltimore, which has the worst record in the majors at 24-61. More good news for the scuffling Twins: Two-time All-Star Ervin Santana (right middle finger surgery) is scheduled to make his next rehab appearance for Class A Fort Myers.
JAGUARS (12-6) at PATRIOTS (14-3)
Sunday, 3:05 p.m. ET, CBS
OPENING LINE – Patriots by 9 1/2
RECORD VS. SPREAD – Jaguars 9-7, Patriots 11-5
SERIES RECORD – Patriots lead 10-1
LAST MEETING – Patriots beat Jaguars 51-17, Sept. 27, 2015
LAST WEEK – Jaguars beat Steelers 45-42; Patriots beat Titans 35-14
AP PRO32 RANKING – Jaguars No. 10, Patriots No. 1
JAGUARS OFFENSE – OVERALL (6), RUSH (1), PASS (17)
JAGUARS DEFENSE – OVERALL (2), RUSH (21), PASS (1)
PATRIOTS OFFENSE – OVERALL (1), RUSH (10), PASS (2)
PATRIOTS DEFENSE – OVERALL (29), RUSH (20), PASS (30)
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES -Patriots are 3-1 in playoffs against Jaguars. Lone Jacksonville win was 25-10 in 1998 wild-card round when Tom Coughlin was Jacksonville’s coach and Pete Carroll coached New England. … Patriots have won past seven meetings overall and two straight in postseason. … Since Jaguars entered NFL in 1995 http://www.buccaneersauthorizedshops.co ... art-jersey , they are 1-10 (.091) against Patriots, including playoff games. That’s worst winning percentage of any team vs. one opponent (minimum 10 games) in that span. … Jaguars seeking first trip to Super Bowl, one of four franchises (Lions, Texans, Browns) never to get there. … Jaguars are making third appearance in AFC title game in their 23-year history and first since 1999 season. … Jacksonville lost 20-6 to New England in AFC title game on Jan. 12, 1997. … Jacksonville can become 11th team to defeat top two seeds from their conference in same postseason since 1990 when current playoff format was adopted. … Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone is 1-3 all-time vs. Patriots … Jaguars are 8-0 this season when QB Blake Bortles doesn’t have turnover and 4-6 when he does. … Jags have plus-7 turnover margin on road this season (including playoffs), best mark in franchise history. They have 22 takeaways in nine road games this season, most in NFL and most in single season in franchise history. … Including playoffs, Jacksonville’s defense has scored eight touchdowns this season, three more than any other team. It is most defensive TDs scored in season by one team since 2012 Bears. … In addition to being ranked fourth in NFL in opponent’s red zone TD percentage (43.8), Jacksonville also has best red zone scoring percentage in NFL, scoring TDs on 67.9 percent of trips this season (40 TDs on 56 drives). … RB Leonard Fournette rushed for 109 yards and three TDs in last week’s divisional win. He is only rookie in NFL history with 100-plus yards rushing and three or more rushing TDs in postseason game. … LB Telvin Smith tied career high with 16 tackles and returned fumble for TD last week. He has 27 tackles, forced fumble and fumble return in his two career playoff games. … DE Calais Campbell led AFC with franchise-record and career-high 14 1/2 sacks. … DE Yannick Ngakoue was one of two NFL players (Aaron Donald) with 10 or more sacks (12) and five or more forced fumbles (six). … LB Myles Jack had sack, INT and three pass defenses in first two playoff games. … CB A.J. Bouye has two INTs, forced fumble and seven pass defenses in his past four postseason games. … Patriots playing in seventh straight AFC title game, a record. … New England is 9-4 in AFC championship game overall. Patriots’ 14 appearance rank behind only Pittsburgh (16) and San Francisco (15) for conference title contests. … Coach Bill Belichick is 7-2 all-time vs. Jaguars. … QB Tom Brady is 2-0 in playoffs against Jaguars, throwing for six TDs and no interceptions. …Jacksonville is one of seven NFL teams that Brady has undefeated regular-season record against (5-0). … Jaguars had NFL’s No. 2-ranked scoring defense. Brady has faced top-two scoring defense in playoffs three times (2014 Seahawks, 2004 Eagles, 2004 Steelers). He is 3-0 with passer rating above 100 in each game. … Brady led NFL with 4,577 yards passing and ranked first in AFC with 32 TDs. Both are most by QB at age 40 or older. … RB Dion Lewis has 507 scrimmage yards (126.8 per game) with 5 TDs (three rushing, two receiving) in his past four games, including playoffs. … TE Rob Gronkowski led all NFL tight ends with 1,084 yards receiving, his fourth career 1,000-yard season. That is tied with Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten for most among tight ends in NFL history. … In his past six postseason games, Gronkowski has 512 yards receiving (85.3 per game) and seven TDs. He is looking for his seventh playoff game in row with TD catch. … WR Danny Amendola has 190 yards receiving (95 per game) and TD in past two playoff games. … DE Trey Flowers had sack last week. He has 3 1/2 sacks in past two playoff games. … LB James Harrison has 11 career sacks in postseason, tied for fifth most in NFL history.
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