Wednesday’s Diamond Notes

Hottest team: Indians (9-1 last 10)

Cleveland is on its way to wrapping up the AL Central title in the next few weeks, but the Indians have bigger aspirations than a division championship. The Indians are proving their worth as a team that can take down the Red Sox in the American League as Cleveland has captured the first two games of its four-game set at Fenway Park. Following Monday’s comeback win, the Tribe jumped out to a 5-0 lead in last night’s 6-3 triumph in Beantown to pick up their seventh consecutive road victory.

Carlos Carrasco heads to the hill for Cleveland in the third game of this series, as the right-hander has yielded only one run in his past two starts. Since getting tagged for six runs in a road blowout loss to the Twins in early June, the Indians have won nine of Carrasco’s last 11 starts, including five consecutive wins away from Progressive Field.

Coldest team: Brewers (5-9 last 14)

Milwaukee slipped down to third place in the NL Central after blowing a 4-0 lead in last night’s 9-7 home defeat to Cincinnati. The Brewers have dropped four of their past six games at Miller Park, which includes three losses to cellar-dwellers San Diego and Cincinnati. In each of those three defeats, Milwaukee’s pitching has been lit up for 28 runs, as the Brewers are seeking their first series victory since taking two of three from the Rockies in early August.

Rookie Freddy Peralta takes the mound for Milwaukee in today’s rubber match as the right-hander is coming off a pair of road losses at Atlanta and St. Louis in his last two outings. In Peralta’s lone start against the Reds this season, the Brewers’ righty allowed five hits and three earned runs in five innings of an 8-2 setback at Great American Ballpark in July.

Hottest pitcher: Clay Buchholz, Diamondbacks (62, 2.47 ERA)

The Arizona rotation will be strong up front if it makes the postseason, led by Zack Greinke and Patrick Corbin. However, Buchholz has turned into a prime candidate to be named the number three starter in a playoff series as the former Red Sox hurler has won five of his previous six starts. What’s even more impressive is Buchholz has done most of his damage away from Chase Field with four wins in this stretch on the highway. Buchholz returns home to face the Angels in interleague play as the 34-year old has given up two earned runs or less in 10 of 12 starts this season.

Coldest pitcher: Francisco Liriano, Tigers (3-8, 4.72 ERA)

Detroit edged Chicago on Tuesday, 2-1 to cash as heavy home underdogs, while knocking off the Cubs for the first time in three matchups this season. Liriano is 0-for-August as he has dropped all three starts, including back-to-back losses to his former team, the Twins in the last 11 days. The only excuse Liriano is allowed is the fact that eight of his last nine starts have come away from Comerica Park, including a 5-2 defeat to the Cubs on July 4. However, Liriano has won two home decisions this season, beating the two worst teams in baseball, the Royals and Orioles.

Biggest OVER run: Nationals (6-1-1 last eight)

Although Washington is slowly dismantling its team with the playoffs being a pipe dream, the Nationals are playing in exciting games of late. The Nationals cashed their fourth consecutive OVER on this homestand in Tuesday’s 10-4 victory over the Phillies, as Washington rebounded from an ugly 12-1 loss to the Marlins on Sunday. Washington has plated at least five runs in four of the past five games, but has also allowed at least four runs in nine of the previous 10 contests. Stephen Strasburg returns from the disabled list tonight for Washington, as the OVER has hit in each of his last six starts at Nationals Park.

Biggest UNDER run: Pirates (6-0 last six)

Pittsburgh’s pitching was terrific over a five-game stretch by allowing four runs in four games to the Cubs and one in Monday’s 1-0 defeat to Atlanta. However, the offense accomplished very little in this stretch by scoring five runs in the Chicago series and so far only one run in two losses to the Braves. UNDER bettors are thrilled with this current homestand for the Pirates, who have hit in six straight and nine of the past 10 overall. Pittsburgh hits the road for nine games following Wednesday’s contest with Atlanta as Trevor Williams tries to get the Pirates a win. Williams is currently on a 9-1 UNDER run in his last 10 starts, including four consecutive UNDERS at PNC Park.

Matchup to watch: Cardinals vs. Dodgers

The book seemed to close on St. Louis’ season after getting swept at home by Atlanta to close out June. However, the Cardinals are not only back in the NL Wild Card race following an impressive 14-3 run, but St. Louis is breathing down Chicago’s neck for the top spot in the NL Central. The Redbirds knocked off the reeling Dodgers for the second straight night on Tuesday, 5-2, while cashing as a hefty underdog of +190.

The Cardinals will go for the sweep behind Jack Flaherty tonight, as the right-hander owns a perfect 3-0 record in August. During this hot stretch, Flaherty has tossed a pair of scoreless outings against the Pirates and Brewers, while striking out 23 batters. The Los Angeles native will be pitching at Dodger Stadium for the first time in his career looking to give the Cardinals their fourth straight win in a road series finale.

The Dodgers have lost six of their past eight games at Chavez Ravine as Walker Buehler will attempt to get Los Angeles on track tonight. Buehler has pitched well of late for the Dodgers by allowing four earned runs in his past four starts, while shutting down the Mariners in an 11-1 blowout in his previous outing last Friday. The Dodgers have won each of their past three home games when trying to avoid a sweep, including a recent win over the Giants last Wednesday.

Betcha didn’t know: The Astros finally figured out the Mariners by beating Seattle on Tuesday to end a five-game skid in the series. Charlie Morton heads to the hill for Houston today seeking the series victory as the right-hander has beaten the Mariners twice at Safeco Field this season. Morton is also riding a five-game UNDER streak on the road dating back to the start of July.

Biggest public favorite: Rockies (-240) vs. Padres

Biggest public underdog: Red Sox (+105) vs. Indians

Biggest line move: Pirates (-105 to -110) vs. Braves

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