Five Big Things is Big League Stew's look at the week ahead in MLB action, examining storylines and matchups you should keep an eye on.
1. CAN THE BREWERS KEEP THEIR HOT STREAK GOING?
If you're one of those people looking at the Milwaukee Brewers and their MLB best 14-5 record and thinking, "this can't possibly last," you might be right. But the Brewers have a decent shot of keeping it going this week. The Brew Crew hosts the San Diego Padres (9-10) and the Chicago Cubs (5-12) at Miller Park. All hail Hank, the good-luck charm.
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2. ALBERT PUJOLS' CHASE FOR 500
Thanks to a powerful start, Albert Pujols might find himself in the 500-home run club by May. Pujols is sitting at 498 career homers after hitting six in the first 18 games this season. He's also hit four homers in the last seven game. The Angels are playing the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees this week. The Yanks pitchers are fourth in the league in homers allowed, and the Nats are 15th. Pujols will be the 26th player to reach 500 homers, and the first Gary Sheffield in 2009.
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3. MUST-SEE: TROUT VS. HARPER
Pujols' quest for 500 isn't the headline in D.C. right now, though. The Angels and the Nats playing each other is giving us the first regular season meeting of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, which is dominating the conversation. The two young stars don't actually face each other because neither is a pitcher, so the "showdown" part of this might prove a little anticlimactic, but it'll still be a good showcase for two of the game's best young talents. Let's hope Harper brings all his hustle.
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4. HOW WILL THE A'S FARE AGAINST A TEAM WITH A WINNING RECORD?
The Oakland A's have the best record in the American League at 13-5, but they've gotten that mark by beating up on five teams who don't, at this moment, have winning records. The closest is the .500 Minnesota Twins, who the A's swept. Now the division rival Texas Rangers (11-8) come to town for three games, a powerful foe. The two teams look destined to compete for a playoff spot this season, so we'll see how the A's hold up against a contender.
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5. MUST-SEE: TANAKA VS. LESTER
Your must-see pitching matchup of the week: Masahiro Tanaka makes his Fenway Park debut Tuesday against Jon Lester and the Red Sox. Tanaka has been stellar so far for the New York Yankees, and Lester has been sharp this season too. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of his last start against the White Sox. When the Yanks and Red Sox tussle, it's always interesting, but with these two pitching, there's a chance it'll be even more special.
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