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MLB

May 22, 2018

Tuesday's Diamond Notes

Hottest team: Athletics (7-3 last 10)

The AL West race is turning into the most competitive one in baseball so far. The Astros are still leading the way with the Mariners right behind, followed by the Angels and Athletics. Oakland returns home from a highly successful 7-3 road trip against New York, Boston, and Toronto, capped off by a four-game sweep of the Blue Jays. In six of the seven victories, the Athletics’ offense carried them by scoring at least five runs, while also forging above the .500 mark on the road.

Oakland welcomes in Seattle for a key three-game series as the Mariners are riding a three-game winning streak. Trevor Cahill takes the mound for the A’s in the opener, as Oakland is unbeaten in his two home starts this season. Cahill struck out 12 batters in six innings of work in a 2-0 victory over Baltimore on May 5, as the A’s are hosting the Mariners for the first time this season. Seattle captured four of the first six meetings at Safeco Field, while three of the last four matchups have finished UNDER the total.

Coldest team: Diamondbacks (1-11 last 12)

What happened to the Arizona team that was running away with the NL West division following a 24-11 start? A lack of hitting is the answer, as the D-backs have scored two runs or less in nine of the past 12 games, while falling out of first place with the Rockies jumping them for the top spot. The Rockies edged the Dodgers on Monday, coupled with Arizona’s 4-2 defeat at Milwaukee as Zack Greinke allowed three home runs in the loss.

Arizona has lost five straight road games as the D-backs try to end that skid tonight with Matt Koch taking the mound. Koch seeks a better effort against the Brewers after getting tagged for eight runs and nine hits in 4.1 innings of work in an 8-2 home loss to Milwaukee last Wednesday. Brewers’ right-hander Jhoulys Chacin limited the D-backs to two hits and one run in seven innings in his last appearance against Arizona last week, but the Snakes picked up a 2-1 win.

Hottest pitcher: Vince Velasquez, Phillies (4-4, 4.37 ERA)

Philadelphia captured the opener against Atlanta on Monday, 3-0 to creep within a half-game of first place in the NL East. Velasquez heads to the hill for the Phillies in Game 2 looking to stay hot, while also trying to figure out this Braves’ lineup. The right-hander is coming off three straight wins over the Nationals, Giants, and Cardinals, while tossing six scoreless innings at St. Louis in his last outing. However, Velasquez has not been able to slow down Atlanta in three starts by going 0-3, as the righty has given up 13 earned runs in 12.2 innings.

Coldest pitcher: Andrew Suarez, Giants (1-3, 4.88 ERA)

San Francisco hasn’t had much luck when Suarez starts this season by posting a 1-4 team record. The southpaw has delivered a solid 28/5 strikeout to walk ratio, but was knocked around for four runs in the opening inning of a 6-3 defeat to the last-place Reds in his past outing. Suarez and the Giants have a tall task traveling to Houston to face the defending champion Astros as heavy underdogs. The good news for San Francisco is Houston’s 3-4 record in the last seven home series openers, while the Astros have scored three runs or less six times in this situation.

Biggest OVER run: Padres (5-2 last seven)

San Diego continues its road swing at Washington after getting blown out at Washington on Monday, 10-2. The Padres’ offense swung the bats well in the final two wins at Pittsburgh this past weekend by scoring 14 runs before Monday’s blowout loss. San Diego’s lineup has actually performed better of late by plating four runs or more in seven of the past 10 games, as Eric Lauer heads to the mound tonight. Lauer has been tagged for 10 runs in his last two starts, resulting in OVERS against the Cardinals and Pirates.

Biggest UNDER run: White Sox (7-1 last eight)

It took until late May for Chicago to finally win a home series, doing so this past weekend against Texas. The White Sox followed up that successful weekend with a home loss to the Orioles on Monday, 3-2. Chicago’s pitching has actually carried them of late by allowing three runs or less in five of the past six games, while the White Sox are turning around their total record at home following a 5-1 OVER mark in their previous homestand. James Shields heads to the mound for Chicago tonight as the righty has cashed the UNDER in four of the past five starts, while coming off his best outing of the season by allowing three hits and one run in seven innings against Texas.

Matchup to watch: Indians vs. Cubs

The second portion of this interleague series continues over the next two nights at Wrigley Field. The rematch of the 2016 World Series began in Cleveland last month as the Cubs blew out the Indians in opener, followed by a 4-1 victory by the Tribe.

Cleveland sits atop the AL Central in spite of owning a below .500 record at 22-23. The Indians dropped two of three at Houston this past weekend, as Cleveland sends out right-hander Trevor Bauer in the opener of this set. Bauer shut down the Cubs the last time he faced them at Progressive Field on April 25 by allowing one earned run and four hits in 6.2 innings of work. The former UCLA standout is coming off his first scoreless effort of the season in a 6-0 road victory at Detroit, while striking out 10 in eight innings last Wednesday.

The Cubs return home after grabbing three of four at Cincinnati as Tyler Chatwood heads to the hill. Chatwood has won his last two starts at Wrigley Field, while beating the Indians in the opener of their interleague set last month by tossing six solid innings and giving up one run. The Cubs look to extend their winning streak to five in home series openers dating back to late April, while hosting the Indians for the first time since Game 5 of the 2016 World Series.

Betcha didn’t know: Since getting blown out at Baltimore 17-1 on May 13, the Rays have caught fire by winning six of seven to close out their road trip. Tampa Bay went the unconventional route in its last two games against the Angels by starting reliever Sergio Romo in each of those contests. Romo pitched a total of 2.1 innings, but was able to shut down the top of the Angels’ lineup, possibly starting a trend where the bullpen would start the game and perhaps turn it over to a starter to eat up innings. Tampa Bay comes back home to battle Boston as Jake Faria heads to the hill with the Rays winning five of his past six starts.

Biggest public favorite: Astros (-270) vs. Giants

Biggest public underdog: Tigers (+145) at Twins

Biggest line move: Rangers (+153 to +145) vs. Yankees

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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