Launching Pad: Showdown series in division races

What to expect in the major leagues today:
 
NL East showdown
After winning two of three at Citizens Bank Park, the NL East-leading Braves will visit Citi Field this weekend. The second-place Mets have won four of the five games between the teams this season, though they haven’t met since mid-May. The season series has featured three one-run games, and no team has scored more than five runs in any game.
 
Tonight’s pitching matchup features the surprising R.A. Dickey, who wasn’t in the Mets’ rotation when these teams last met, and the up-and-down Tommy Hanson, who lost to the Mets earlier this season despite not allowing an earned run. Mets rookie first baseman Ike Davis is just 2-for-12 against Atlanta, though both hits were homers.
 
AL Central showdown
Minnesota has won six of the nine games against Detroit this season. However, the first-place Tigers have been the hotter team recently, winning seven of their past 10 games overall. The rivals will begin a three-game series at Comerica Park tonight.
 
Miguel Cabrera, a Triple Crown threat, has homered twice and driven in eight runs against Minnesota this season. For the Twins, Jim Thome has abused Tigers pitching for three homers and seven RBIs. But speedy Denard Span has done arguably the most damage, with five triples and nine RBIs. In the teams’ previous series, Span tripled three times and drove in five runs in one game.
 
NL West showdown
In another intriguing weekend matchup, the first-place Padres will travel to Coors Field. Although San Diego is 7-1 against the Giants, it is 1-4 versus the Dodgers and 3-6 against the Rockies.
 
Colorado has won three consecutive series overall and has a chance to close the N.L. West gap a bit more. To prevent that, the Padres must silence Clint Barmes, who has five doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs against them this season.
 
For previews of all Friday games, visit SN’s MLB scoreboard.
What to expect in the major leagues today:
 
NL East showdown
After winning two of three at Citizens Bank Park, the NL East-leading Braves will visit Citi Field this weekend. The second-place Mets have won four of the five games between the teams this season, though they haven’t met since mid-May. The season series has featured three one-run games, and no team has scored more than five runs in any game.
 
Tonight’s pitching matchup features the surprising R.A. Dickey, who wasn’t in the Mets’ rotation when these teams last met, and the up-and-down Tommy Hanson, who lost to the Mets earlier this season despite not allowing an earned run. Mets rookie first baseman Ike Davis is just 2-for-12 against Atlanta, though both hits were homers.
 
AL Central showdown
Minnesota has won six of the nine games against Detroit this season. However, the first-place Tigers have been the hotter team recently, winning seven of their past 10 games overall. The rivals will begin a three-game series at Comerica Park tonight.
 
Miguel Cabrera, a Triple Crown threat, has homered twice and driven in eight runs against Minnesota this season. For the Twins, Jim Thome has abused Tigers pitching for three homers and seven RBIs. But speedy Denard Span has done arguably the most damage, with five triples and nine RBIs. In the teams’ previous series, Span tripled three times and drove in five runs in one game.
 
NL West showdown
In another intriguing weekend matchup, the first-place Padres will travel to Coors Field. Although San Diego is 7-1 against the Giants, it is 1-4 versus the Dodgers and 3-6 against the Rockies.
 
Colorado has won three consecutive series overall and has a chance to close the N.L. West gap a bit more. To prevent that, the Padres must silence Clint Barmes, who has five doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs against them this season.
 
For previews of all Friday games, visit SN’s MLB scoreboard.

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