Friday’s Diamond NotesHottest team: Indians (8-2 last 10)
There is finally a semblance of normalcy atop the AL Central with a team sitting in first place that owns a winning record. Cleveland led the division in May with a below .500 record, but the Tribe has turned things around by winning six consecutive games. The Indians followed up a three-game sweep of the last-place White Sox by holding off the Twins on Thursday, 9-8 at Target Field after squandering an 8-0 lead. Cleveland’s offense has stepped up in this stretch by scoring at least seven runs during each victory of this six-game hot streak.
Carlos Carrasco takes the mound on Friday for Cleveland as the Indians have won only three of his past eight starts. Carrasco yielded five earned runs in his last outing against the Astros, but Cleveland held off Houston, 8-6 to give the right-hander his first home win since April 11. In his first matchup with the Twins in Puerto Rico earlier this season, Carrasco turned in his best start of 2018 by tossing seven scoreless innings in a 2-1 extra-innings defeat.
Coldest team: Orioles (2-7 last nine)
Baltimore could use a break following a three-game sweep at the hands of rival Washington at home as the Orioles were washed out on Thursday. During its current five-game losing streak, Baltimore has scratched together only six runs, while getting blanked twice by Washington. The Orioles closed out May by winning only two series, while putting together a 4-13 record away from Camden Yards.
The O’s begin their series with the Yankees on Friday following Thursday’s postponement looking to replicate a series victory in the Bronx back in April. Andrew Cashner heads to the hill for Baltimore trying to improve on a 2-6 record and 5.07 ERA as the right-hander allowed 11 hits and five earned runs in five innings of work at Tampa Bay his last time out in a 5-1 defeat. Cashner defeated the Yankees as a hefty +230 underdog on April 5 in a 5-2 triumph by scattering two hits and allowing one earned run in six solid innings of work.
Hottest pitcher: Miles Mikolas, Cardinals (6-0, 2.58 ERA)
Even though Washington ace Max Scherzer is the early favorite to capture another National League Cy Young award, Mikolas is a nominee for the top pitching prize. St. Louis has won eight of his 10 starts this season, including a 6-4 road victory against Pittsburgh his last time out. Mikolas faces the Pirates again on Friday, as he allowed four earned runs against Pittsburgh after giving up three earned runs in his previous four starts combined.
Coldest pitcher: Zack Wheeler, Mets (2-4, 5.40 ERA)
New York won three of Wheeler’s first four starts this season, but are winless in his past five outings. In three of those defeats during this cold stretch, Wheeler has been tagged for 18 earned runs, including allowing four earned runs in six innings in an 8-7 loss to the Brewers his last time out. The Mets haven’t helped out Wheeler much during this span, by scoring one run in three of his past four appearances. To make matters worse, the Mets own an 0-4 record in Wheeler’s four starts at Citi Field this season, as New York continues its home series with the Cubs.
Biggest OVER run: Blue Jays (6-1-1 last eight on road)
Toronto continues its road swing after getting swept at Boston as the Jays travel to Detroit. The Red Sox knocked around the Blue Jays by scoring 22 runs on Toronto in three games at Fenway Park, while cashing the OVER all three times. The Jays have allowed at least five runs in five of the past eight games away from Rogers Center, and five runs or more in six of the previous eight contests overall. Jaime Garcia has received a total of three runs of support in his past two starts for Toronto, while the OVER has hit in three of the left-hander’s five starts on the highway.
Biggest UNDER run: Athletics (8-2 last 10)
Although Oakland is coming off an OVER against Tampa Bay on Thursday, the A’s have been cashing UNDERS as a furious pace. In Thursday’s 7-3 victory over the Rays, Oakland led 3-0 heading into the seventh inning on an 8 total, and 7-0 going to the ninth. Tampa Bay scored three runs in the ninth to spoil Oakland’s five-game UNDER streak. The A’s avoided the four-game sweep as Oakland bounced back after scoring a total of three runs in the first three losses to Tampa Bay. In fact, the A’s pushed across 15 runs in the first nine games of their homestand prior to Thursday’s outburst. Oakland heads to Kansas City on Friday as right-hander Frankie Montas makes his second start after silencing the Diamondbacks in a 2-1 victory last Sunday.
Matchup to watch: Red Sox vs. Astros
Boston and Houston hooked up in the American League Division Series last season as the Astros knocked out the Red Sox in four games. In the first meeting of 2018, the Astros topped the Red Sox, 4-2 on Thursday night as hefty -200 favorites. Lance McCullers, Jr. tossed six innings for Houston, while the Astros broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth inning with a pair of runs to end a two-game losing streak.
Boston’s three-game winning streak was snapped in the loss as the Red Sox send out their ace on Friday. Chris Sale tries to rebound from his worst performance of the season in last Sunday’s 7-1 home loss to the Braves as a -235 favorite. Sale was knocked out around for six runs in 4.1 innings, but the Red Sox have not lost consecutive starts made by the southpaw this season. In last season’s ALDS, Sale gave up three home runs and seven runs in five innings of an 8-2 defeat at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros counter with one of their top guns on the mound as Gerrit Cole seeks his sixth win of the season. Cole picked up a no-decision in his previous outing at Cleveland as the Astros squandered a five-run ninth inning lead in a 10-9 defeat. Although Houston couldn’t hold on, the Astros own a solid 9-2 record when Cole takes the mound this season, while striking out at least eight batters on nine occasions.
Betcha didn’t know: The Rays are going back to their bullpen by committee to start a game on Friday as Tampa Bay travels to Seattle. Sergio Romo will be making his fifth start since May 19, but the right-hander hasn’t lasted more than four outs in any of his first four starts. The Rays own a 2-2 record in games with this different philosophy, as Romo allowed three runs in the first inning of his last start against Baltimore, but Tampa Bay bounced back for an 8-3 win.
Biggest public favorite: Angels (-165) vs. Rangers
Biggest public underdog: Red Sox (+105) at Astros
Biggest line move: Athletics (-115 to -130) at Royals
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at email@example.com
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