Baseball

MLB notes: Cincinnati will host 1st interleague opener

New York Yankees' Andy Pettitte, left, and Alex Rodriguez watch from the dugout during the eighth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays during a baseball game, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
New York Yankees' Andy Pettitte, left, and Alex Rodriguez watch from the dugout during the eighth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays during a baseball game, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Cincinnati Reds will host the Los Angeles Angels in the major-league season opener on April 1, 2013, becoming the first teams to start their seasons with an interleague matchup.

"It's a little strange, but Anaheim has a lot of big-name guys," Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo said. "It'll be Albert Pujols coming back for the first time. It's a nice mix for us. It's strange, but I'd rather do that than open with Milwaukee or someone in our division we see all the time."

A National League franchise for its first 51 seasons, the Houston Astros start AL play on April 2 when they host cross-state rival Texas. Houston moves from the NL Central to the AL West, creating six divisions of five teams each. Because there will be 15 teams in each league for the first time, interleague play is necessary nearly every day. Eleven of the 15 series on the final weekend of the regular season, Sept. 27-29, will involve division rivalries.

Wild card getting wild

The Orioles and the Yankees were not only tied atop the AL East entering Wednesday's games, but they were also tied for the second wild-card spot, creating a situation in which they could play a 163rd game to break the divisional tie and then meet again in the American League Championship Series.

Under tiebreaker rules, if the Yankees and the Orioles finished tied for the division and the wild-card lead, the loser of the tiebreaker game would still advance to the wild-card game.

The Yankees could end their regular season on Oct. 3, play a division tiebreaker game against the Orioles on Oct. 4, a wild-card game against the Athletics on Oct. 5 and start a division series against the White Sox on Oct. 7.

Who's hot

After their seventh straight win Wednesday, the Phillies are 15-4 since Aug. 23 and are in the running for a wild card after appearing to be out of contention at 37-51 on July 13. The pitching rotation found its groove, and the team has gotten unexpected contributions from role players.

Short hops

 Los Angeles Angels ace Jered Weaver is scheduled to pitch Thursday after skipping a start to rest his right shoulder. Weaver took a break last week after struggling through his previous five starts with a flare-up of tendinitis. His arm apparently responded well to the rest, with Weaver throwing 49 pitches with no problems in a bullpen session Monday. Weaver (16-4) is second in the AL in victories and third in ERA (2.86).

Andy Pettitte feels he can help the struggling New York Yankees right now. Sidelined since suffering a broken left ankle June 27, the 40-year old left-hander threw another simulated game Wednesday at Fenway Park and said he feels he can rejoin the rotation immediately. Pettitte said he felt great and could give the team "60, 65 pitches."

 Minnesota Twins All-Star Joe Mauer was not in the lineup for the second straight night Wednesday after being scratched in the series opener against Kansas City with back spasms.

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