Launching Pad: Scott Kazmir, Phil Hughes to take the mound for first time this season

What to expect in the major leagues today:

Scott Kazmir wants to pick up where he left off in the 2009 regular season.
Scott Kazmir wants to pick up where he left off in the 2009 regular season.

Firsts in the finale

Before the Angels catch their flight to Toronto, they will wrap up their series at Yankee Stadium tonight. Left-hander Scott Kazmir, who began the season on the disabled list, will make his 2010 debut for Los Angeles. He will face Phil Hughes, who will make his first start since last May 31. Hughes won the spring competition to be the world champions’ fifth starter but has a 5.22 ERA in 28 career starts (compared to a 1.40 ERA in 44 relief appearances). As for Kazmir, the Angels hope he will perform like he did after they acquired him late last August (1.73 ERA in six starts), as opposed to how he pitched with the Rays before the trade (5.92 ERA in 20 starts).

Working out the wrinkles

Offseason acquisition Ben Sheets will make his third start of the season for Oakland tonight. Sheets has been decent after a year-long layoff, but he has had to pitch his way out of plenty of jams. The right-hander has allowed 21 baserunners in 14 innings and has a poor 7/4 BB/K ratio after two starts. Baltimore is in town tonight for the first of four games, meaning A’s fans will get their first look at former Oakland shortstop Miguel Tejada since 2006. Tejada has hit more homers (83) at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum than any other park during his 14-season major league career.

No mercy for Mets

The woes continue for the last-place Mets, who are in the third game of a 19-game stretch against teams that finished 2009 with winning records. This afternoon, they will finish a three-game series at Coors Field before heading to St. Louis. The good news for New York: Shortstop Jose Reyes is healthy and third baseman David Wright already has more homers than he did last April (one).

Chris Bahr is Sporting News’ baseball editor. E-mail him at cbahr@sportingnews.com.

What to expect in the major leagues today:

Scott Kazmir wants to pick up where he left off in the 2009 regular season.
Scott Kazmir wants to pick up where he left off in the 2009 regular season.

Firsts in the finale

Before the Angels catch their flight to Toronto, they will wrap up their series at Yankee Stadium tonight. Left-hander Scott Kazmir, who began the season on the disabled list, will make his 2010 debut for Los Angeles. He will face Phil Hughes, who will make his first start since last May 31. Hughes won the spring competition to be the world champions’ fifth starter but has a 5.22 ERA in 28 career starts (compared to a 1.40 ERA in 44 relief appearances). As for Kazmir, the Angels hope he will perform like he did after they acquired him late last August (1.73 ERA in six starts), as opposed to how he pitched with the Rays before the trade (5.92 ERA in 20 starts).

Working out the wrinkles

Offseason acquisition Ben Sheets will make his third start of the season for Oakland tonight. Sheets has been decent after a year-long layoff, but he has had to pitch his way out of plenty of jams. The right-hander has allowed 21 baserunners in 14 innings and has a poor 7/4 BB/K ratio after two starts. Baltimore is in town tonight for the first of four games, meaning A’s fans will get their first look at former Oakland shortstop Miguel Tejada since 2006. Tejada has hit more homers (83) at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum than any other park during his 14-season major league career.

No mercy for Mets

The woes continue for the last-place Mets, who are in the third game of a 19-game stretch against teams that finished 2009 with winning records. This afternoon, they will finish a three-game series at Coors Field before heading to St. Louis. The good news for New York: Shortstop Jose Reyes is healthy and third baseman David Wright already has more homers than he did last April (one).

Chris Bahr is Sporting News’ baseball editor. E-mail him at cbahr@sportingnews.com.

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