MLB viewing guide: Thursday schedule spotlight

USA TODAY Sports

J's galore today in baseball, without even needing to highlight Toronto!

Pittsburgh Pirates at Philadelphia Phillies

Day

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Time

Where

25-Apr

Cliff Lee (2-1), 2.83 ERA, 2.73 FIP

James McDonald (2-2), 4.12 ERA, 3.97 FIP

1:05 pm ET

ROOT Sports, CSN

The Bucs haven't won a series at Citizens Bank Park -- no, seriously -- but if they can find a way to beat Lee, they will capture the four-game set. They might not even have to necessarily beat Lee, either: in last night's come-from-behind victory, Roy Halladay limited them to one run in six innings, only to have his bullpen blow the victory on an uncharacteristically bad day from setup man Mike Adams.

Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers

Photo credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Day

Home SP

Visit. SP

Time

Where

25-Apr

Justin Verlander (2-2), 2.13 ERA, 2.18 FIP

James Shields (1-2), 3.00 ERA, 2.56 FIP

1:05 pm ET

FOX Sports-KC, FOX Sports-Detroit

It's the Tigers' best against the Royals' best at Comerica this afternoon. Yesterday, the Royals tried to beat Detroit with one acquisition of the Wil Myers trade, but Wade Davis disappointed as he blew a 4-1 lead. No lead is safe against the Tigers' powerful lineup, although the Royals can take some solace in knowing that Shields has pitched to a 2.74 ERA in four career starts at Comerica. He will need to bring his "A" game against Verlander.

Houston Astros at Boston Red Sox

Day

Home SP

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Time

Where

25-Apr

Clay Buchholz (4-0), 0.90 ERA, 2.61 FIP

Philip Humber (0-4), 6.63 ERA, 4.48 FIP

6:35 pm ET

CSN, NESN

These two starters could not have begun the season in more opposite directions. Buchholz has won all his starts; Humber has lost all his starts. Buchholz has been dominant with a .183 average against, while Humber's opposing batters have hit over .300. Even over their last ten games, the Red Sox are 7-3, and the Astros are 3-7. Everything seems to point to a Red Sox victory. Knowing baseball, Humber will, of course, come out with his best performance since his perfect game almost exactly a year ago.

Cincinnati Reds at Washington Nationals

Day

Home SP

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Time

Where

25-Apr

Gio Gonzalez (1-1), 5.85 ERA, 3.96 FIP

Bronson Arroyo (2-1), 3.54 ERA, 3.12 FIP

7:05 pm ET

FOX Sports-Ohio, MASN

Both Gio and the Nationals stumbled out of the gate in 2013, and at 10-11, the Nats are under .500 for the first time since the end of 2011. The Reds are 8-2 over their last ten games and will not make life any easier for Washington fans, although they've dropped five of six games on the road so far. Gio needs to show some of that form that led 21 wins last year, and the Nats need someone, anyone, to give Bryce Harper more support in the lineup.

Baltimore Orioles at Oakland Athletics

Day

Home SP

Visit. SP

Time

Where

25-Apr

Jarrod Parker (0-3), 7.50 ERA, 6.17 FIP

Jason Hammel (2-1), 4.74 ERA, 5.20 FIP

10:05 pm ET

MASN2, CSCA

This game was supposed to be the AL's wild card play-in matchup last year before the Rangers blew everything by losing the division to Oakland. Both teams have picked up where they left off in 2012 and currently rank among the AL's best clubs in April. Parker and Hammel cap off an odd day in which one-third of starting pitchers' names begin with the letter "J." Celebrate by watching all these games while reading some Jay Jaffe articles or something.

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