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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:04 PM

Friday's Diamond Notes

Hottest team: Astros (8-0 last eight)

The defending champions are hitting their stride following an easy three-game sweep of the Athletics. Houston improved to 7-0 on its current road trip against Texas and Oakland, while scoring 26 runs in the last three wins at the Coliseum. The Astros are not afraid to cover heavy numbers, as Houston has laid at least -170 in six of these wins, while cashing on the run-line in six of the past eight victories.

Houston hopes to avoid a letdown this weekend with a visit to struggling Kansas City, who has lost nine of its past 10 games. Charlie Morton began the season at 7-0, but the Astros right-hander is winless in his last three starts, while failing to escape the fourth inning in his last outing at Texas. Morton only allowed one hit, but walked six batters as the Astros eventually beat the Rangers, 4-3.

Coldest team: Rangers (3-9 last 12)

The other Lone Star State squad is going in the opposite direction at the moment as Texas returns home to host Colorado. The Rangers were swept in a four-game home series by the Astros before traveling west and dropping a pair of interleague contests to the Dodgers. Texas has allowed 39 runs during this six-game skid, marking its longest losing streak of the season.

The Rangers will turn to rookie Yohander Mendez, who faces a Rockies’ club that has lost six of their previous seven games. Mendez has struggled on the minor-league level by posting an 0-6 record and 5.26 ERA in 10 starts at Triple-A Round Rock, while Texas tries to improve on a 1-8 mark in its past nine series openers.

Hottest pitcher: Ross Stripling, Dodgers (5-1, 1.65 ERA)

Have the Dodgers found their new ace with Clayton Kershaw on the disabled list? We won’t go that far, but Stripling has been a solid replacement at the top of the Los Angeles rotation of late. The right-hander has won five consecutive starts, while yielding two earned runs or less in each of his last seven starts. Stripling shut down the Braves in his last appearance by allowing two earned runs and four hits in 6.2 innings of a 7-2 victory last Sunday. Stripling faces the Giants, who own a 6-4 mark against the Dodgers this season.

Coldest pitcher: Jake Arrieta, Phillies (5-4, 2.97 ERA)

It’s odd that a pitcher owning an ERA below 3.00 would be in this category, but Arrieta has struggled of late. The former Cy Young winner has been tagged for 10 runs (nine earned) in his last two starts, losses to the Giants and Brewers. Arrieta was rolling prior to this cold stretch by not allowing a run in wins against the Braves and Dodgers, but has given up at least five runs in three starts this season. The right-hander receives another crack against Milwaukee tonight at Miller Park as Philadelphia tries to improve on a 3-8 mark in its last 11 road games.

Biggest OVER run: Marlins (7-3 last 10 on road)

Miami couldn’t pull off the four-game sweep of San Francisco on Thursday, but cashed the OVER in a 16-inning defeat, 6-3 on an 8 total. The Marlins travel to Baltimore for an interleague set between a pair of last-place teams as Miami has been a solid team to back with the OVER on the road of late. Miami has allowed four runs or more seven times in the past nine away contests, including three straight OVERS in road series openers. Jose Urena has given up at least three runs in six of his last seven starts for Miami, although the OVER is 3-4 in this stretch.

Biggest UNDER run: Yankees (8-0 last eight)

New York’s offense hasn’t been impressive of late, but the Yankees received a pair of home runs in a four-run fifth inning in Thursday’s 4-3 victory over the Rays. Second baseman Gleyber Torres continued his solid season by knocking out his 13th home run, while the Yankees’ pitching staff has allowed three runs or less in seven of the last eight games. The Yankees look to beat Tampa Bay once again tonight as right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga makes his Major League debut after compiling a 6-1 record and 3.00 ERA in the minors this season.

Matchup to watch: Cubs vs. Cardinals

The last time these NL Central rivals hooked up at Busch Stadium last month, the Cardinals pulled off a three-game sweep of the Cubs, aided by a pair of walk-off wins. Both teams have stumbled of late as Chicago dropped the final two games at Milwaukee (both by shutout), while St. Louis was tripped up by San Diego in a pair of 4-2 losses after capturing the series opener.

Jon Lester heads to the mound for Chicago, coming off consecutive scoreless outings in victories over the Mets and Pirates. The southpaw tossed seven innings in each start, while yielding a total of three hits and striking out 12 batters. The Cubs have won four of Lester’s last five outings against the Cardinals since last season, but St. Louis won the most recent matchup on May 6 at Busch Stadium, 4-3.

Michael Wacha counters for St. Louis, as the Cardinals have compiled a strong 10-2 record in his previous 12 starts. Wacha is fresh off three wins in his last three trips to the hill, including beating Cincinnati for the third time this season in a 6-4 triumph last Saturday. The Redbirds have won seven of Wacha’s eight starts at Busch Stadium this season, including the one-run walk-off win in 14 innings opposite Lester last month.

Betcha didn’t know: The Mariners were slowed up by the Red Sox on Thursday in a 2-1 home setback. However, Seattle has not fallen behind in a series, 2-0 yet this season. The M’s own a perfect 6-0 record in Game 2’s of a series following a loss in the opener as James Paxton heads to the hill tonight. Paxton is putting together a terrific season at 6-1 and an ERA of 3.02 to go along with a no-hitter, but the Mariners have posted a 3-3 record in his six starts at Safeco Field this season.

Biggest public favorite: Indians (-210) vs. Twins

Biggest public underdog: Phillies (+125) at Brewers

Biggest line move: Diamondbacks (-130 to -140) vs. Mets

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

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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