Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:03 PM
Friday's Diamond Notes
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Hottest team: Red Sox (10-0, +1065 last 10)
Boston has added to baseball’s best record by winning 15 of 17 contests, holding on in the series opener against Toronto after Mookie Betts’ delivered a fourth-inning grand slam off lefty J.A. Happ. The Red Sox have won eight of 10 against the Jays, winning six straight. They’ve won eight consecutive contests at Fenway Park by a combined margin of 50-19 and have a league-best 32-12 home mark.
Rick Porcello (11-3, 3.58) is 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA against Toronto this season but has just a 4-2 record in Boston while winning seven of eight road decisions. The Sox are the second-heaviest favorite (-210) on Friday's schedule, taking aim at 24-year-old rookie Ryan Borucki (0-1, 2.25), who has stared down the Astros, Tigers and Yankees and lived to tell about it. Toronto's offense has managed to produce just three runs of support on his behalf thus far.
Coldest team: Royals (1-11, -950 last 12)
You know Kansas City is in a terrible place to be listed as an underdog in a game involving James Shields (3-10, 4.53), who is likely to end up elsewhere following the trade deadline. The Royals were favored (-132) in the season opener against Shields, losing 14-7. Chicago has been expected to win only one of his 20 starts prior to Friday’s matchup at Comiskey.
Kansas City has been an underdog in 18 straight and are +110 with rookie Brad Keller (2-3, 2.52) on the mound and has matched its highest two-game run total since May 9-10 in splitting its last two games at the Twins.
Hottest pitcher: Dallas Keuchel, Astros (6-8, 3.95 ERA)
In a battle of former teammates, Houston's standout lefty squares off against Mike Fiers (6-5, 3.65), who will face his former team for the first time since winning a ring last fall. The Astros have won five of Keuchel's last six starts, seeing him allow two or fewer earned runs in four of those outings to drop his ERA under 4.00 for the first time since late May. Fiers could have easily been plugged into this category since the Tigers have won seven of his last nine starts, allowing one run or fewer five times over the past six weeks.
Coldest pitcher: Tanner Roark, Nationals (3-11, 4.76 ERA)
Through two starts this month, Roark has an ERA of 10.64, hitting rock bottom in allowing 13 runs on 20 hits in 11 frames. Washington has only won one of his last nine starts and has failed to get out of the fifth inning in three of his last five outings. The Nats dropped both April meetings that Roark started against the Mets despite him winding up with a pair of no-decisions. Noah Syndergaard (4-1, 3.06) will make his return to the bigs for the first time since May 25 after overcoming a ligament strain in his finger. He allowed one run over five innings at Class-A Brooklyn on Sunday.
Biggest OVER run: Brewers (11-4-1 last 16)
After Milwaukee rode solid starting pitching and its tremendous bullpen to a run of 'unders' to open June, things have turned. The Brew Crew plated two in the ninth inning to help deliver the 'over' in Thursday's 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh but have now dropped three of four as their lead over the Cubs has slipped to just a half-game. This series against the Pirates will feature five games with a doubleheader scheduled for Saturday. This second contest will be a rematch of a May 4 pitching matchup between Junior Guerra and Nick Kingham that produced a 6-4 Bucs win after they touched up Guerra for a season-high five runs. The total has been set at 8.
Biggest UNDER run: Rays (21-6-1 last 28)
Tampa Bay managed only a single run in Minneapolis against Kirk Gibson and has now seen the low-side come in three straight times, continuing a stretch where most of their games have failed to surpass the posted total.The 'under' is 11-3-1 over the last 15 Twins games after this four-game set got started with a 5-1 win. Former first-round pick Jake Odorizzi (4-6, 4.28), who has made most of his career starts for Tampa Bay, will square off against his former team for the first time and has struck out 22 batters over the last 17 innings, surrendering just two runs. Nathan Eovaldi (3-3, 3.35) has allowed only one hit in two of his last three starts, giving up just two runs over 19 innings, striking out 23. The total has been set at 8.5.
Matchup to watch: Angels at Dodgers
When L.A.’s baseball teams last got together, way back on Sunday, the Angels pulled out a second one-run win in a “Freeway Series” that started frustratingly for the Dodgers when two throwing errors helped seal Kenley Jansen’s third blown save of the season.
Between winning the middle game of the series and taking three of four from the Padres after hanging on for a 3-2 victory on Thursday, the Dodgers took the lead in the NL West for the first time all season, pulling a half-game up on Arizona, which lost in Colorado. Jensen saved his third straight game since faltering last Friday to help L.A move to 8-3 this month. They’ve won 35 of 52 games since May 24 and own the NL’s top winning percentage (.676) since June 1 to help overcome their rough start.
While the Angels have been decimated by injuries, they took two of three against Seattle and are under pressure to make their move now since they’re currently in a stretch where they’re playing 19 consecutive games in Southern California. The Halos are 13 games behind Houston in the AL West but will play 28 or 34 games in-state between now and Aug. 15 and pulled within 10 games of the Mariners thanks to Thursday’s 11-2 rout.
Albert Pujols hit home runs No. 629 and 630 against Seattle to tie Ken Griffey, Jr. for sixth place all-time and 24-year-old rookie David Fletcher went deep for the first time to help the Angels win their third series in four matchups, helping them get back over .500. after finishing off a stretch of losses in eight of 10 games by dropping July’s first two contests.
Dominican righty Felix Pena will make his fifth career start and has seen the Angels win three of four since he joined the rotation. He hasn’t escaped the sixth inning once but has given up a single home run in 19.2 innings and has a 25-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. 23-year-old Walker Buehler (4-2, 3.44) returns from the disabled list for L.A. after being shelved with a rib microfracture after allowing five runs in one inning at Chavez Ravine on June 28. It’s unclear whether he’ll face a pitch count here but the Dodgers are optimistic he’s ready to return.
Betcha didn’t know: The A's haven't tasted a loss in an Edwin Jackson (1-0, 2.45) start since becoming the 13th different team to employ him, tying an MLB record. It's going to be tough to pass Octavio Dotel if Oakland doesn't move him, which isn't likely given the return they're getting. In 18.1 innings over three starts, he's struck out 16 hitters and participated in a pair of wins over the Indians, the most recent coming in a game where he started opposite Corey Kluber. Madison Bumgarner (2-3, 3.09) is the opponent tonight and is 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA at home thus far this season. He's 9-9 in interleague play and will be looking to pitch San Francisco to its 50th win of the season.
Biggest public favorite: Astros (-260) vs. Tigers
Biggest public underdog: Diamondbacks (+130) at Braves
Biggest line move: Red Sox (-205 to -220) vs. Blue Jays
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]