Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:03 AM

Friday's Diamond Notes

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Hottest team: A's (6-0 last six, 27-7 +2630 last 34)

Oakland is now a season-high 18 games over .500 and has pulled within a single game of Seattle for the second AL wild card spot as they continue a seven-game road trip in Denver in the only interleague series going on this weekend. Matt Chapman hit two triples and homered to close out a sweep of the Rangers, becoming only the eighth player since 2000 to do that in a game. Khris Davis saw his streak of home runs in four consecutive games end on Thursday, but he and Stephen Piscotty are still hot.

A’s lefty Sean Manaea (9-6, 3.38 ERA) has also been dominant of late, winning his last four decisions and leading his team to victories in seven of his last eight appearances. He’s allowed three or fewer runs in nine straight starts and squares off against fellow southpaw Kyle Freeland (8-6, 3.28), who is typically good in his hometown of Denver and has an ERA of 2.55 over his last seven outings. Despite their surge, Oakland is a slight underdog (+105) at Coors Field, where Colorado (-115) has won nine of its last 11.

Coldest team: Rangers (1-8 last nine, 4-16, -1295 last 20)

The Rangers were swept at home by Oakland and have dropped five one-run games over their last nine, which doesn’t even include the eight-run lead they blew on Tuesday in a 13-10 extra-inning win. They’ll hit the road for a date with rival Houston, sending the only pitcher that’s tasted a victory for Texas since the All-Star break to the mound. Yovani Gallardo (4-1, 7.18) pitched six scoreless innings against the Indians on Sunday and has pitched in five Rangers wins in his six outings since joining the team in mid-June.

Despite Gallardo’s recent form, the Rangers are a massive underdog (+230) since the Astros are sending a hot Dallas Keuchel (8-8, 3.53) to the mound at Minute Maid Park. After opening 3-8, Keuchel has even his record with wins in each of his last four starts, giving up only three earned runs in his last 27.2 innings of work, striking out 18 hitters. He hasn’t allowed a homer un since June 5, a stretch of just over 50 frames. Keuchel is 2-1 with a 3.70 ERA in four starts against in-state rival Texas. Houston (-260) is Friday’s third-heaviest favorite.




Hottest pitcher: Wade LeBlanc, Mariners (6-1, 3.44 ERA)

Since moving into the rotation to open May, lefty Wade LeBlanc has pitched in 11 Seattle wins in 15 starts, surrendering two or fewer runs in nine of his appearances. He’s been untouchable at home (6-0), but vulnerable on the road, looking for his first win outside Safeco Field. LeBlanc comes off striking out a career-high 10 batters over the White Sox last Friday, lowering his June ERA to 3.65, which is even more impressive since he’s faced the Rockies twice and beat these Angels on July 3, allowing one run on three hits over seven frames. LeBlanc has allowed three runs in 12 innings, winning both of his starts against L.A. Andrelton Simmons has gone deep against LeBlanc, but Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Justin Upton, Ian Kinsler and Kole Calhoun are a combined 5-for-33 at the plate against him. He’s yet to face Shohei Ohtani.

Coldest pitcher: Nick Pivetta, Phillies (6-8, 4.69 ERA)

The first-place Phillies slugged their way to a 9-4 victory in yesterday’s series opener against the Reds by belting seven homers and have now seen the ‘over’ hit in seven of their last eight games. They’ll likely need to keep the bats working in order to stay hot with Pivetta on the mound since he's dropped six of his last eight decisions. Over his last four starts, he’s surrendered 19 runs (15 earned) in just 17.1 innings. He’s a capable strikeout pitcher but has really been hit hard, compiling an ERA of 6.00 since June 1, giving up 56 hits and nine homers in just 43.2 innings. Pivetta is 6-10 on the road with an ERA over 6.00 in his brief career and will be pitching at Great American Ballpark for the first time. He gave up two runs on just five hits over seven frames against Cincinnati on April 11 in his only appearance against the Reds.

Biggest OVER run: Dodgers/Braves (5-0 last five)

The Dodgers built up an 8-0 lead to dominate Atlanta in the opener of a four-game set and have seen at least 10 runs scored in six of their seven games on their current road trip. Manny Machado hit his first home run since being acquired and joining L.A. on this trip and has hit safely in six of seven games. Joc Pederson is 12-for-23 (.522) on the trip with four doubles and a home run and will look to victimize Mike Foltynewicz in Game 2 of the series. Clayton Kershaw (3-5, 2.64) has struggled with velocity issues but his last two starts have gone ‘under’ after four straight topped the posted total upon his return from a three-week absence due to a back strain. Atlanta’s last five games have also gone ‘over.’ The Braves avoided being shut out last night when Roberto Acuna, Jr. homered in the bottom of the 8th on Thursday. The total for tonight's contest has been set at 8.

Biggest UNDER run: Giants (18-8-1 last 27)

The Giants were even at 2-2 entering the eighth inning before their bullpen fell apart. The seven runs Milwaukee scored were the most surrendered by San Francisco pitching in 11 games, but Madison Bumgarner takes the mound looking to get his team back on track as they look to avoid slipping under .500 for the first time since June 22. MadBum comes off his shortest outing of the season, lasting four innings due to a six-walk outing. He's given up just 10 runs in his last 36.1 innings and is 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA at home since returning from the disabled list in June. Brewers righty Chase Anderson (6-7, 3.81) has a 2.66 road ERA and has surrendered two or fewer runs in seven of his past eight outings. The total has been set at 7.5.

Matchup to watch: Cardinals vs Cubs

Most Cardinals fans will trip over themselves telling you how sloppy this year’s team has been. A lack of execution in the field and on the mound ultimately cost Mike Matheny his job on July 14 and replacement Mike Shildt hasn’t fared much better. The Cards are a game under .500 under the team’s former bench coach and are 2-3 against the Cubs, who they played five times coming out of the All-Star break last weekend. At home against its hated rival, St. Louis (51-51) faces a now-or-never situation this weekend in its final Busch Stadium dates of the season against Chicago. The Cards hope to start generating some momentum with 60 games remaining They’ll play games No. 160-162 at Wrigley Field from Sept. 28-30.

The Cardinals are 7-6 vs. the Cubs this season and hope to get off to a good start here as Luke Weaver (5-9, 4.79) faces Chicago for the second time this week. Lefty Mike Montgomery (3-3, 3.73) allowed one run in six innings and held a 3-1 lead before the bullpen blew it in a 6-3 loss. He’s allowed one run in 10 innings against Cards this season. Weaver took the loss in a 7-2 setback to open a Saturday doubleheader and has struggled in three starts against the Cubs, failing to get through the fifth inning each time. He’s given up 13 runs in 12 innings, striking out seven and walking seven while being all kinds of mediocre.

Kris Bryant landed on the disabled list with a shoulder issue, but Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez , Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell and Albert Almora Jr. are a combined 28-for-52 (.538) with two homers and 17 RBI against Weaver. Despite that, St. Louis (-110) opened as the favorite over the visiting Cubs, who utilized homers from rookie David Bote and Rizzo off Arizona closer Brad Boxberger to rally for a 7-6 win at Wrigley on Thursday. The total for this game has been set a 8.5.

Betcha didn’t know: Chris Sale (11-4, 2.13) has been tremendous over his last eight starts, going 6-1 with an 0.83 ERA and allowing no homers in any of those outings while striking out 87 and walking five. The 57 innings he's pitched wihtout surrendering a dinger is baseball's longest current streak. He joined Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens as the only Red Sox starters ever to strike out 500 batters over a two-year span in his last start and has a league-leading 188 Ks entering Friday's home date against Minnesota. His ERA is the best in the American League. It's no surprise that Boston (-350) is the day's biggest favorite against Lance Lynn (7-8, 5.23) and the Twins.

Biggest public favorite: Indians (-190) at Tigers

Biggest public underdog: Braves (+145) vs. Dodgers

Biggest line move: Red Sox (-330 to -360) vs. Twins



Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]

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