One of baseball’s traditional home openers will have an innovative twist next season.
The Cincinnati Reds will play host to the Los Angeles Angels on April 1, becoming the first teams to start the season with an interleague matchup.
Major League Baseball’s 2013 preliminary schedule, announced Wednesday, includes several format changes caused by the shift of the Houston Astros to the American League. A National League franchise for its first 51 seasons, the Astros start AL play on April 2 when they host cross-state rival Texas.
Houston moves from the National League Central to the AL West, creating six divisions of five teams each.
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Because there will be 15 teams in each major league for the first time, interleague play is necessary nearly every day. Since its inception in 1997, interleague play had been concentrated mostly during periods in late May and June.
Eleven of the 15 series on the final weekend of the regular season, Sept. 27-29, will involve division rivalries. The exceptions have the Yankees at Houston, Milwaukee at the Mets, Detroit at Miami and Washington at Arizona.
MLB is abandoning its two-year experiment with midweek openers, reverting to a Sunday night start in a nationally televised game on ESPN that will be determined later.
In another shift, the New York Yankees and Mets for now are slated to open at home on the same day for the first time, with Boston visiting the Bronx on April 1 and San Diego playing in Queens. ESPN could move Red Sox-Yankees to Sunday, March 31.
Under the new schedule format, a team plays 19 games against each division rival for a total of 76, and six or seven against each league opponent in the other two divisions for a total of 66. Each club will play 20 interleague games over eight series, with rivalry games — such as Cubs-White Sox and Dodgers-Angels — in consecutive two-game series during the week of May 27. That’s down from a pair of three-game rivalry series.
RANGERS’ BELTRE HURT
Texas Rangers third baseman and former Mariners slugger Adrian Beltre left Wednesday’s game against the Cleveland Indians with a strained left shoulder.
Beltre landed hard on his left side when he made a diving stop of Russ Canzler’s grounder in the second inning. He left the game before the fifth inning began.
Another Mariners veteral, left fielder Michael Morse, was out of the starting lineup for the Nationals after he was diagnosed with a torn cuff and a bone bruise in his left wrist. … Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte threw another simulated game Wednesday and said he is ready to return to the rotation. Also, New York bumped former Mariners ace Freddy Garcia to the bullpen with the return of Ivan Nova on Saturday. … Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel will have an MRI today to determine the extent of damage in his sore right knee. … White Sox slugger Adam Dunn missed his sixth straight game because of a strained right oblique. … Twins All-Star Joe Mauer was not in the lineup for the second night after being scratched in the series opener against Kansas City with back spasms.