Friday is Cinco de Mayo, which is frankly celebrated more in the United States than Mexico and a reason for people to go out and party; i.e. just like St. Patrick's Day. Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army's 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). That said, I'm sure there will be plenty of Cinco de Mayo celebrations and giveaways around baseball if you happen to attend a game on Friday. So it got me thinking about who might be the best current MLB player born in Mexico. The Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez would be the guy, but while he has Mexican heritage he was born in San Diego. It's probably Blue Jays pitcher Marco Estrada, although he'll be surpassed soon by top Dodgers pitching prospect Julio Urias. I remember good Mexican players like Vinny Castilla or Teddy Higuera, among others, from the fairly recent past, but clearly one player from that country stands out in MLB history: former Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela. He was a cultural phenomenon ("Fernandomania") from 1981, when he won the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year, through 1986. Fernando would pitch - and he could hit pretty well too - in the majors until 1997, but he was never the same after '86.
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Yankees at Cubs ( -124, TBA )
Lone matinee on the schedule at 2:20 p.m. ET and shown on the MLB Network. Just like last weekend's Red Sox-Cubs series, this is a TV network's dream matchup, so they will all be nationally televised on various networks. The Yankees will lose the DH, so that will mean either Chris Carter or Matt Holliday takes a seat. It likely will depend on which guy hits Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks worse. Hendricks (2-1, 4.18) has looked like the reigning NL ERA champion with just two earned allowed over 12 innings his past two starts. Hendricks was practically unhittable last year at Wrigley Field but 0-1 with a 6.30 ERA there in two 2017 starts. Carter (3-for-9, 1 HR, 3 RBIs) and Holliday (7-for-15, 3 HRs, 6 RBIs) are the only Yankees to have seen him. New York's Michael Pineda (3-1, 3.14) has allowed three earned or fewer over his past four following a rough first start of the season. Only a few Cubs have faced him. Ben Zobrist is 2-for-12 with three RBIs. Anthony Rizzo 1-for-2.
Key trends: The Yankees are 3-7 in their past 10 interleague road games. The Cubs are 6-2 in Hendricks' past eight in a series opener. The "over/under" is 4-0 in Pineda's past four. The under is 6-1 in Hendricks' past seven interleague starts.
Early lean: Yankees.
White Sox at Orioles (TBA)
Mexican-born pitcher Miguel Gonzalez takes the mound for Chicago. He spent his first four seasons with the Orioles and was pretty solid and very popular in the clubhouse but was released on the eve of the 2016 season even though the Gonzalez still had a minor-league option. Why not just send him down if he was struggling that spring? Gonzalez put up a 3.73 ERA last year with the White Sox in 135 innings - think the pitching-needy Orioles could have used that? - and is 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA in five starts in 2017. That ERA was 2.00 before Gonzalez was shelled for seven runs and a career-high 14 hits in six innings last time out in a loss in Detroit. The Orioles' Mark Trumbo is 3-for-10 career off him with two homers. Baltimore lefty Wade Miley (1-1, 2.32) has allowed more than two earned just once in five starts. He comes off a no-decision vs. the Yankees (5 IP, 2 ER, 5 BB). The White Sox's Todd Frazier is 5-for-15 with a homer off him.
Key trends: The White Sox are 3-7 in Gonzalez's past 10 on the road. The Orioles are 6-1 in their past seven on Friday. The over is 6-1-1 in the past eight meetings.
Early lean: Really not sure why this is TBA as everything I've seen has these two pitchers going. Orioles likely to be -150ish with a total of 8.5. Go Orioles and over.
Astros at Angels(TBA)
Houston ace Dallas Keuchel is officially back to his 2015 Cy Young form. To no surprise, he was named the AL Pitcher of the Month for April. Keuchel went 5-0 with a complete game and a 1.21 ERA in six April starts. He led the majors in wins and innings pitched in the month, while ranking third in the AL in ERA and opponent batting average (.164).Keuchel is the first pitcher in franchise history to go at least seven innings while allowing two or fewer runs in each of his first six starts of a season. He beat the Angels on April 19, allowing a run in seven innings. Mike Trout is a career .368 hitter off him with two homers and 12 RBIs in 38 at-bats. L.A.'s Jesse Chavez (2-4, 4.50) lost in Texas last weekend in giving up four runs in six innings along with a season-high eight hits. He lost in Houston on April 17 (7 IP, 1 ER). Jose Altuve is 7-for-22 against him with two doubles.
Key trends: The Astros are 4-1 in Keuchel's past five at the Angels. The under is 6-2 in his past eight vs. the AL West.
Early lean: Chavez hasn't been officially announced yet. L.A. will be a home dog regardless. I like Astros on runline.
Diamondbacks at Rockies (-103, 10.5)
Colorado has lost catcher Tony Wolters for at least a week due to a concussion. Wolters suffered the injury Tuesday against the Padres when he was struck on the side of his mask with Manuel Margot's backswing. Wolters is hitting a robust .346 in 52 at-bats this season. The Rockies are already without fellow catcher Tom Murphy, who broke his forearm in spring training. The Rox are scheduled to throw German Marquez (0-1, 7.20). The 22-year-old has made two starts this season, and they were quite different. Marquez allowed eight runs and nine hits over four innings first time out vs. Washington and then shut out these Diamondbacks over six innings last Sunday. Arizona's Zack Greinke (2-2, 3.19) had a third straight quality start last weekend vs. Colorado in allowing three runs over six. All the runs were solo homers. Trevor Story is 5-for-12 off him with three homers and seven RBIs.
Key trends: The Snakes are 1-4 in Greinke's past five vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 5-1 in his past six. The over is 4-1 in Colorado's past five at home vs. a right-hander.
Early lean: Diamondbacks and over.
Rangers at Mariners (-111, 7.5)
Seattle starter Yovani Gallardo is also from Mexico and, like the White Sox's Gonzalez, goes against a former team. He pitched 2015 with the Rangers - he lives in the Dallas area - and was 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA. Gallardo really regressed last year with Baltimore, was traded this offseason to the Mariners and hasn't been much better at 1-3 with a 5.08 ERA. Gallardo took a six-inning no-decision vs. Texas last year (9 hits, 4 runs) in Arlington. Shin-Soo Choo is just 1-for-14 off him with seven strikeouts. The Rangers' Yu Darvish (3-2, 3.03) was pushed back a day after throwing a season-high 125 pitches last Saturday vs. the Angels. He struck out 10 in a victory. Darvish is 5-3 with a 4.45 ERA in 10 career starts against the Mariners. Kyle Seager is 9-for-27 off Darvish with four doubles, eight RBIs and five strikeouts.
Key trends: The Rangers are 4-1 in Darvish's past five vs. Seattle. The under is 6-2-1 in his past nine on the road.
Early lean: Rangers and over.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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