Wed. MLB preview: Lester helps Cubs cling to 1st; Indians go for 21

With the Cubs holding a slim lead over St. Louis and Milwaukee in the NL Central, veteran lefty Jon Lester (10-7, 4.35 ERA) looks for his third straight win when the Cubs host Matt Harvey (5-4, 5.82 ERA) and the depleted Mets. The defending World Series champions had lost three in a row and six of eight before Tuesday night’s 8-3 victory over New York.

Blackjack
The amazing Indians go for their 21st straight victory when right-hander Mike Clevinger, who hasn’t allowed a run in his past three outings, faces the Detroit Tigers in a 12:10 p.m. start. Cleveland can tie the 1935 Chicago Cubs for the second-longest winning streak in major league history. The record is 26 in a row by the 1916 New York Giants. Closing in on their second consecutive AL Central crown, the Indians ran their incredible string to 20 games Tuesday night, beating Detroit 2-0 behind Corey Kluber (16-4) to match the American League mark held by the 2002 Oakland Athletics. Cleveland’s streak began on Aug. 24 in Boston.

Homeward bound
Tampa Bay right-hander Chris Archer (9-9) faces the Yankees in the matinee finale of a series relocated to the Mets’ home ballpark in New York because of Hurricane Irma. Immediately following the game, the Rays fly back to Florida for firsthand looks at the storm damage. No word yet from Major League Baseball if Boston and Tampa Bay will play at Tropicana Field on Friday night as scheduled — the Rays expect to host the three-game set, but it could be reconfigured to give them an extra day off to handle personal matters.

Cargo boom
Carlos Gonzalez and the surging Rockies seek their seventh victory in a row when they play at Arizona again. Gonzalez homered twice and drove in all four Colorado runs Tuesday night during a 4-2 victory over the Diamondbacks that tightened the race for the National League’s top wild card. It was the first multihomer game since August 2016 for Gonzalez, who is batting .451 (14 for 31) this month. On July 20, the veteran slugger was hitting .218 with six homers. He’s got that up to .254 with 12 home runs. “I was hoping I can help this team in the last run,” Gonzalez said. “That dream is coming true, so let’s keep it going.” Colorado has won eight straight road games to pull within three games of Arizona for the first NL wild card. The Rockies lead St. Louis by 3? games for the second wild card.

Cubs pitcher Jon Lester will go against the Nationals' Gio Gonzalez in Game 2 of the NLCS. | Gene J. Puskar/AP

Power company
Minnesota looks to keep up its home run barrage when it hosts another interleague game against San Diego. The wild card-hopeful Twins hit a season-high seven home runs Tuesday night, setting a Target Field record for one game, during a 16-0 rout of the Padres. Jason Castro connected twice and the Twins set a big league mark by going deep in each of the first seven innings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. On the mound for Minnesota will be Ervin Santana (15-7, 3.45 ERA), who pitched a shutout in San Diego on Aug. 2.

 

Hard eight
Rangers left-hander Martin Perez (12-10) tries to win his eighth straight start, which would match Kenny Rogers’ team record set in 2005, when he faces Nelson Cruz and the Mariners. Perez is one of five big league pitchers this year to win at least seven consecutive starts — the others are Jacob deGrom and Clayton Kershaw with eight each; and James Paxton and Jason Vargas with seven each. Perez also joined Rogers and Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins as the only Rangers pitchers to twice win at least six starts in a row.

Minus one
As the Red Sox try to hang onto first place in the AL East, they will be without speedy and versatile infielder Eduardo Nunez “at least another week,” manager John Farrell said. Nunez bruised his right knee on a headfirst slide Saturday and has experienced tightness and swelling. An MRI revealed a sprain, but it was “not MCL or ACL-related,” Farrell said.

Rollin’ Royal
Brandon Moss has homered in three straight games as Kansas City gets set to face Lucas Giolito and the last-place White Sox. Giolito was ejected by plate umpire Gabe Morales last time out for arguing balls and strikes. Moss hit a grand slam in the first inning Tuesday against the Sox and has nine RBI in his past three games.