Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:03 AM
Wednesday's Diamond Notes
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Hottest team: Reds (8-1, +885 last 9)
There's competition for these bragging rights, but the team that plays the earliest start of the day must be recognized. Cincinnati is looking for a road series victory for only the third time all season, but must overcome lefty Sean Newcomb (8-2, 2.59 ERA), who has won eight of 10 decisions. Luis Castillo (5-8, 5.70) will start for a Reds (+130) squad looking for an upset.
Coldest team: Tigers (0-7 last 7)
Detroit led Oakland 6-0 after three innings, but failed to snap its losing streak when the A's scored the final six runs in a 9-7 win on Tuesday. Jed Lowrie went 4-for-4 and homered as Detroit squandered a game in which every starter except Victor Martinez managed a hit. Mike Fiers will look to stop the bleeding and help his team avoid a third straight series loss. The Tigers have been outscored 54-21 during this latest stretch of defeats that is their longest losing streak of the season.
Hottest pitcher: Kyle Freeland, Rockies (7-6, 3.55 ERA)
The Giants send Madison Bumgarner to the mound following his first victory, but the Rockies (+135) may be a live 'dog if Freeland continues his excellent work. The Denver native is 6-2 since the beginning of May, which includes allowing just one run in 6.2 IP in a 6-1 win at AT&T Park on May 18. He's 2-2 against San Francisco over his career but has had a rough time against a number of Giants hitters. Buster Posey, Joe Panik, Gorkys Hernandez and Nick Hundley are hitting a combined .396 with three home runs against him.
Coldest pitcher: Alex Cobb, Orioles (2-9, 6.56 ERA)
Cobb comes off his best outing of the season, working seven innings and allowing just one run in Atlanta. Despite this, he still couldn't get the win and must prove he can overcome throwing a season-high 107 pitches. He'll be facing the Mariners for the first time since joining the Birds but has been hit hard by Nelson Cruz, Denard Span, Mike Zunino and Ben Gamel, who come in a combined 15-for-37 (.405) with two homers and 9 RBI. Cobb is 0-4 with a 5.92 ERA at Camden Yards, which explains why the Mariners (-115) are a road favorite in the third of a four-game set, having already won the first two after rallying to prevail once again on Tuesday night.
Biggest OVER run: White Sox (7-0 last seven)
Following Tuesday's 8-4 win, Chicago has seen the high-side prevail in each of its games since June 19. The run started in Cleveland, continued in Oakland through a four-game set that included a doubleheader and now continues on with the Twins in town. White Sox righty James Shields (2-9, 4.59 ERA) has won only one decision since a 14-7 victory on Opening Day and comes off an 11-2 home loss to Oakland last Friday in his latest start. He gave up a season-worst three homers against Milwaukee and Minnesota to open June but has pitched in just three games that have gone over the posted total in his last dozen outings. The Twins counter with Kyle Gibson, who has surrendered more than three earned runs in only one of his last 11 starts but has just one win to show for it. The total has been set at 9.
Biggest UNDER run: Yankees (19-2 last 21)
Luis Severino became the first pitcher in the big leagues to 12 wins this season after blanking the Phillies over seven innings on Tuesday. New York won 6-0 and has overcome its bats going silent for much of the month thanks to fantastic pitching. Mexican righty Luis Cessa will make his first start of the season to give their regulars an extra day of rest entering this weekend's huge series against the Red Sox. Yankees manager Aaron Boone is hopeful he can throw 70-80 pitches now that he's healthy. Cessa has pitched in four games out of the bullpen this season and will make his 15th career start. He only made it through five innings in one of his five starts last year and hasn't won a game in this role since Aug. 26, 2016, coming up empty in his last 11 starts. Despite this, New York (-130) is favored. Philadelphia will look to avoid being swept in the Bronx behind a resurgent Zach Eflin (5-2, 3.44), who is 4-0 with a 2.28 ERA in June. Giancarlo Stanton homered against him despite only three career at-bats while with Miami. Cessa has never faced any of the Phils in the majors. The total has been set at 9.
Matchup to watch: Indians vs. Cardinals
Following seven straight wins in which they outscored the Twins, White Sox and Tigers by a collective margin of 54-9, the visiting Indians have seen their hot streak drenched by a bucket of cold water in St. Louis. After being shut out by the unheralded John Gant on Monday, the Tribe saw ace Corey Kluber fail to get out of the second inning in an 11-2 loss as St. Louis (+150) cashed in on their most lucrative upset of the season.
The Cardinals will now look to sweep Cleveland in order to triumph in a fifth straight game, which would match a season-long winning streak that they've managed to record on two occasions. Atlanta comes into town Thursday for the final home games the Cards will play until just before the All-Star break. Including today's series finale, St. Louis will play only seven of 24 games at New Busch Stadium.
After their rout of the Kluber-led Tribe and losses from the Dodgers and Phillies, the Cardinals have moved into a tie for the N.L.'s second wild card approaching the regular season's halfway point. 22-year-old standout Jack Flaherty (3-2, 2.50) is coming off his second 13-strikeout effort in a span of seven starts. His team is 5-2 in his last seven and he's given up more than one run only three times in 10 starts this season. The Cards have won four of the five games he's started at home in 2018. This will be his second career interleague start.
The Indians counter with rookie Shane Bieber (2-0, 2.45), who became the first Tribe pitcher since 1964 to strike out at least six hitters in his first three career starts. He shut out Detroit over seven innings last time out, striking out nine batters. This will be just his second road start. Bieber struggled in the first outing, surrendering two home runs in Minnesota on May 31. The Cards (-110) are slightly favored to pull off the sweep. The total has been set at 8.5.
Betcha didn’t know: With the Dodgers and Giants playing well, the Diamondbacks are going to have to step it up in order to hold on to the NL West lead as the All-Star approaches. The Snakes get a huge boost on Wednesday night with lefty Robbie Ray (2-0, 4.88) returning to pitch for the first time since April 29 after pain in his oblique. Having just gotten Shelby Miller back, Arizona is approaching full strength and held Ray out of a scheduled final rehab start in Reno on Monday in order to throw him out there this evening. Ray struck out nine hitters and allowed three hits and one earned run in 4.1 innings on June 19, throwing 66 pitches and topping out at 94 on his fastest pitch. It doesn't sound like you can count on him to work too deep into this one since he'll be on a pitch count of 80-85 pitches. Ray is 1-2 with a 3.06 ERA in three career starts against Miami.
Biggest public favorite: Diamondbacks (-160) at Marlins
Biggest public underdog: Phillies (+115) vs. Yankees
Biggest line move: Blue Jays (+215 to +180) at Astros
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]