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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:04 PM

Thursday's Diamond Notes

Editor's Note: Kevin Rogers had caught fire of late by winning four of his last five selections. He is locked and loaded with a Thursday night winner. Click to win!

Hottest team: Red Sox (9-3 last 12)

Boston dropped the first two games in a playoff rematch at Houston last weekend, but bounced back for victories in the final two contests to pick up the split. The Red Sox have continued that momentum by blowing out the Tigers in each of the first two games at Fenway Park by a combined score of 13-1, while easily cashing on the run-line each time as a heavy favorite.

Left-hander Jalen Beeks makes his Major League debut on Thursday as the Red Sox seek the sweep of Detroit. The former Arkansas Razorback leads the International League (AAA) in strikeouts with 80, while making the spot start in place of the injured Drew Pomeranz. The Red Sox have done an excellent job in closing out teams at home this season by posting an 8-1 record in series finales at Fenway Park.

Coldest team: Rays (0-6 last six)

It’s hard to find a team in baseball that has endured more ups and downs this season than Tampa Bay. The Rays began the season at 4-13, but went on to win nine of 10, then suffer a five-game skid, followed by a 7-1 run. Tampa Bay put together a five-game winning streak towards the end of May, but has yet to win a game in June by dropping six straight, including getting swept in series at Seattle and Washington.

The offense has mustered six runs in the past four games to drop to 28-32, as the Rays face the AL West-leading Mariners for four games at Tropicana Field. Manager Kevin Cash will revert back to his bullpen by committee to start the game philosophy as Ryne Stanek makes his third start of the season. Stanek has yet to last past the second inning, as the Rays look to end a three-game skid in home series openers.

Hottest pitcher: Mike Leake, Mariners (5-3, 4.71 ERA)

Seattle has won five consecutive starts made by the right-hander, while Leake has yielded five runs in his past three trips to the hill. Leake tossed seven innings in his last outing, a 4-3 victory over the Rays last Friday, while not walking a batter in any of his past three starts. The Mariners own a 4-1 record in Leake’s five starts away from Safeco Field this season, but the only loss came in the favorite role against the White Sox on April 23. Leake was tagged for a season-high eight runs in 3.1 innings of a 10-4 loss, but the veteran has earned a shade over eight units for backers this season, which ranks fourth in baseball.

Coldest pitcher: Tyler Anderson, Rockies (3-1, 5.07 ERA)

The Rockies have bounced back nicely after getting swept by the Dodgers at home this past weekend. Colorado looks to pull out the brooms on Cincinnati this afternoon after scoring 15 runs in the first two victories at Great American Ballpark. Anderson tries to get back on track after failing to win in each of his last three starts, which includes a 6-5 home loss to the Reds as a -170 favorite. The Colorado southpaw has allowed 13 earned runs in his last 16.1 innings of work, but the Rockies have managed a 5-2 record in his seven starts away from Coors Field.

Biggest OVER run: Astros (5-0 last five)

Houston snapped a three-game skid on Wednesday by outlasting Seattle, 7-5 to earn a split of its two-game series at Minute Maid Park. The normally reliable Astros’ pitching staff allowed at least five runs for the fourth straight game after giving up more than five runs only 11 times in the first 59 games. Houston’s offense put together a pair of huge innings on Wednesday by scoring three runs in the fourth inning and four runs in the seventh. The Astros make the short trip to Texas to face the Rangers, as Houston has averaged eight runs a game in its past six road series openers.

Biggest UNDER run: White Sox (5-0 last five)

Chicago and Minnesota have played to three straight UNDERS at Target Field, as the White Sox held off the Twins last night, 5-2. Chicago’s pitching staff has performed well in this series by allowing five runs in the last two wins, while not giving up a run until the eighth inning in Tuesday’s 4-2 defeat in the first game of a doubleheader. James Shields takes the mound in today’s series finale as the right-hander has cashed the UNDER in four consecutive starts, while allowing nine earned runs in this stretch.

Matchup to watch: Astros vs. Rangers

Houston and Texas meet up for the 11th time this season coming up tonight in Arlington. The Astros have captured six of the first 10 matchups, but the Rangers have won three of the past five meetings. Houston begins the night one game behind Seattle in the AL West after rallying past the Mariners on Wednesday, 7-5 as -180 favorites. Meanwhile, the Rangers are coming off a two-game home sweep of the Athletics, while plating 15 runs in the series.

Gerrit Cole heads to the mound in the series opener as the Astros own a 2-0 record against the Rangers when the right-hander makes the start. Cole has struck out 25 Rangers in two meetings, while giving up three runs in 14 innings of work. The Astros have won five of Cole’s six road starts this season, but the righty has given up three earned runs in three of his last four outings. Cole delivered double-digit strikeout performances in five of his first seven starts, but hasn’t struck out more than nine batters in any of his last five trips to the hill.

Cole Hamels counters for Texas, as the Rangers have won three of the southpaw’s last four starts. Hamels limited the Astros to one hit in six innings of work in a 1-0 road triumph as a +230 underdog on May 11, marking one of three ‘dog wins at +150 or higher over the last month. All three starts Hamels has made against Houston this season have finished UNDER the total, while each of the past four matchups between these division rivals have cashed the UNDER.

Betcha didn’t know: The Orioles love the Big Apple. For as bad as Baltimore has been this season (19-41), the O’s have compiled a 5-1 record against the Mets and Yankees on the road. However, the Orioles have posted a 4-22 record on the highway outside the Empire State, as Baltimore travels north of the border to face Toronto, who has lost seven of the past eight games.

Biggest public favorite: Twins (-210) vs. White Sox

Biggest public underdog: Orioles (+135) at Blue Jays

Biggest line move: Reds (+105 to -110) vs. Rockies

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

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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