Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:03 AM
Wednesday's Diamond Notes
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Hottest team: Pirates (11-0 last 11, 13-1 +1470 last 14)
Pittsburgh hasn’t dropped a game since July 10, utilizing this run to fight back into both the NL Central and wild card races. The first half of this run came at home before the All-Star break while this second part has come in Ohio against the Reds and Indians, who have been dominated by a combined margin of 50-9. The Pirates have gotten dominant starting pitching and have seen their bats catch fire at the perfect time, scoring six or more runs in nine of their 11 victories. Their run of at least 6-plus in seven straight games the team's longest since 1946 while this 11-game surge is the franchise's best run since Sept. 12-22, 1996.
The Bucs have outscored opponents 84-33 over the last 14 contests, a stretch in which the team’s starters have compiled an ERA of 2.47. Starling Marte has a 17-game hitting streak going and the offense has hit a home run in nine straight games. They’ll send Jameson Taillon (7-7, 3.80 ERA) to the mound on Wednesday afternoon in search of a sweep that would help Pittsburgh match Houston for the longest winning streak of the season (12). The Pirates’ 31 homers are tied with the Yankees for most in July, which is bad news for Tribe righty Trevor Bauer (8-6, 2.44), who failed to get out of the fifth innings against slumping Texas on Friday. Pittsburgh likely won’t have LF Corey Dickerson in the lineup due to a hamstring tweak.
Coldest team: Rangers (4-14, -1095 last 18)
The Rangers managed to blow a 10-2 lead that they took into the seventh as the bullpen surrendered 11 runs over the final four innings, leading to a 13-10 10-inning setback. A’s slugger Khris Davis did the damage in extras with a 3-run blast off Austin Bibens-Dirkx after Keone Kela surrendered a Stephen Piscotty homer to lead off the ninth to blow the save.
A 5-0 win over Cleveland on Sunday behind veteran Yovani Gallardo marks the only time in Texas’ last five games where it failed to give up at least nine runs. Oakland has scored 28 runs over the first two contests in this four-game set and gets to face lefty Martin Perez (2-4, 8.05), who has an ERA of 10.05 over his three starts in Arlington this season. Texas has won only one of their last six series (June 29-July 1 vs. White Sox) and will need wins tonight and tomorrow in order to gain a split here.
Hottest pitcher: Tyler Skaggs, Angels (7-6, 2.68 ERA)
The Halos lost four of Skaggs’ five May starts, but he’s been lights out since despite a stint on the disabled list due to an adductor strain and the All-Star break. Although he’s coming off a 3-1 loss to Houston last Friday, he only gave up three runs and lasted at least six innings for the sixth time in seven outings. Skaggs had given up one earned run or fewer in six consecutive starts before the break, striking out 41 while walking nine. He’ll be seeing the White Sox for the first time since 2014, so most Chicago hitters will be seeing him for the first time. The 27-year-old lefty hasn’t surrendered a homer in 46 innings and will look to keep the White Sox from winning three straight and clinching this series. The Angels have fallen two games below .500.
Coldest pitcher: Dylan Bundy, Orioles (6-9, 4.57 ERA)
Bundy has gotten crushed this month, failing to pitch past five innings in any of his three starts, all of which the Orioles have dropped. After a 3-0 run in June that was highlighted by him beginning the month with 18 consecutive scoreless innings, Bundy has given up five home runs in 12.1 July frames, surrendering five earned runs each time out. He’s got a 4.69 ERA over 10 home starts and has failed to beat Boston despite pitching well, sporting a 2.29 ERA over 19.2 innings. Counterpart David Price pitched his only complete game of the season against the Birds in a 6-2 win on May 17 and has never lost (7-0, 2.96) in 11 career starts at Camden Yards.
Biggest OVER run: Phillies (5-1 last six)
Trevor Plouffe’s dramatic 3-run homer helped end a 16-inning marathon to even Philadelphia’s series against the Dodgers at a game apiece. Jorge Alfaro’s seventh-inning two-run homer helped tie the game at 4-4 and guaranteed another ‘over’ for the Phils since the total closed at 8. The 7-4 win means the Phillies have seen 11 or more runs scored in five of their last six games to extend their current run of overs, the third time this season they’ve had a run of at least five to the high side in six contests. Philly had a run of six in seven games that surpassed the posted total from April 24-30 and one of nine in 11 from June 8-19. Jake Arrieta opposes L.A. rookie Walker Buehler, who will be making his second road start since mid-May. This total has been set at 8.5.
Biggest UNDER run: Diamondbacks (9-3 last 12)
The Snakes have held opponents to a single run in three straight contests, victimizing the Cubs at Wrigley on consecutive nights after avoiding getting swept at home by Colorado with a 6-1 win on Sunday. Zack Greinke got the run started, Patrick Corbin followed it up Monday and Clay Buchholz pitched into the seventh last night so the Diamondbacks’ bullpen is really in good shape as they send Robbie Ray (3-2, 5.37) to the mound for a matinee battle of lefties against Chicago’s Jon Lester (12-3, 3.14). After winning 12 of his first 14 decisions, Lester surrendered a season-high eight runs in a 18-5 loss to the Cardinals and is battling through mechanical issues. The ‘over’ has prevailed in three of Ray’s last four starts, which includes a 20-5 win and 11-10 loss at home against Colorado on July 20. Ray is 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA on the road as opposed to an 8.06 ERA in Phoenix through five home starts.
Matchup to watch: Rockies vs. Astros
The Rockies had won 12 of 14 before losing in Arizona on Sunday but returned home to continue a stretch that calls for 11 of 14 home games. After rallying against defending champion Houston to reach extra innings, Wade Davis got lit up in the 10th inning in what ended up an 8-2 loss. Another tremendous start from lefty Tyler Anderson was wasted as Astros righty Gerrit Cole excelled again but another exceptional pitchers’ duel awaits to close out this two-game interleague set.
The teams will play two more in Houston on Aug. 14-15 but square off in Denver for the last time with first-time All-Star Charlie Morton (11-2, 2.96) squaring off against Rockies ace Jon Gray (8-7, 5.44), who has never faced the Astros. Both right-handers are capable strikeout pitchers, which should help them combat the elements in Denver in a night game that has seen the total set at 10.
Houston managed just two walks between the start of the second inning and the end of the ninth, which included a stretch of 16 consecutive batters retired by Rockies pitching. The defending champs have surrendered two or fewer runs in five of their last seven games and own a streak of seven consecutive wins against Colorado dating back to 2013. The Astros’ 35-15 road record is the best in baseball, so it’s no surprised to see them favored in Denver, where the Rockies fell under .500 (23-24) after Tuesday’s loss.
Betcha didn’t know: Ervin Santana is making his 2018 debut this afternoon in Toronto and will be looking for his 150th career victory. The veteran Dominican righty hasn’t pitched in the majors since lasting just two innings in an 8-4 Wild Card game loss to the Yankees last October. Due to an injured right middle finger that required a February debridement procedure, removing a calcium deposit, the 35-year-old will begin his 14th season in Minnesota’s 100th game of the season.
The Twins aren’t in wild card contention but are only 7.5 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central, but Santana might still find himself pitching in the postseason since it’s not out of the question that he gets moved prior to September given the trade deadline and waivers. He’s ready to come off the 60-day disabled list after 29 minor-league innings at three different levels despite his fastball topping out at just 90 miles per hour. Santana went 0-4 in his rehab stint, making seven appearances and finishing with a 3.72 ERA with 22 strikeouts and just five walks. Santana has made eight starts against the Blue Jays since his last win against them, a complete-game victory in Toronto on Aug. 12, 2011.
Biggest public favorite: Astros (-130) at Rockies
Biggest public underdog: Tigers (+100) vs. Royals
Biggest line move: Royals (-123 to -105) vs. Tigers
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]