Thursday’s Diamond Notes

Hottest team: White Sox (7-3 last 10)

Yes, the White Sox are going nowhere towards the playoffs this season. However, Chicago is saving its best baseball for late in the season as the Sox are coming off five consecutive series victories. The latest series win was a solid performance by taking two of three from the Yankees in New York with both victories coming as a +200 underdog or higher. The worst part is in the lone loss, Chicago squandered a 4-0 lead and lost on a walk-off homer on Tuesday, which prevented the Sox from a season-high five-game winning streak.

The task doesn’t get easier as Chicago returns home tonight to battle Boston. Granted, the White Sox did grab two of three matchups at Fenway Park back in June, as Boston heads to Chicago trying to snap a four-game road losing streak. Since the All-Star break, Chicago has won seven of eight starts made by right-hander Lucas Giolito, while the right-hander is coming off three consecutive road wins in his past three outings.

Coldest team: Angels (2-9 last 11)

Both Western divisions in baseball are top-heavy this season as three teams have a shot to make the playoffs in the AL West and NL West. However, the Angels aren’t part of that mix as they have won only two of their last 11 games since sweeping the Padres in mid-August. In the last seven games, Los Angeles has picked up one victory against three potential playoff squads (Houston, Colorado, and Arizona), while veteran slugger Albert Pujols was lost for the season after undergoing knee surgery.

The Angels travel to the Lone Star State to face the Astros tonight for the start of a four-game set. Andrew Heaney hasn’t had much luck on the road for the Halos this season, as L.A. owns a 4-8 record in his 12 away starts, although the Halos are 3-1 in his past four road outings. The only good news for the Angels tonight is they face Justin Verlander, who is winless in his last four home assignments.

Hottest pitcher: J.A. Happ, Yankees (15-6, 3.80 ERA)

The Yankees acquired plenty of arms at the trade deadline to help themselves for a potential run in the playoffs. Happ won 10 starts as a member of the Blue Jays before getting dealt to New York, but the southpaw has been electric since his move to the Bronx by compiling a 5-0 record in five starts. In those five outings, Happ has allowed a total of eight earned runs, while four of those wins have come at Yankee Stadium. Happ will get the ball at home tonight as a heavy favorite against the Tigers, but Detroit got the best of Happ in two wins earlier this season when he pitched for Toronto.

Coldest pitcher: Joe Musgrove, Pirates (5-7, 3.56 ERA)

The former Astros’ hurler went through a stretch after the All-Star break by tossing at least seven innings in five of six starts. However, that streak came to an end when he lasted only four innings in an extra-innings loss to the Brewers last Friday. The Pirates have lost four of Musgrove’s last five starts, including three defeats by one run each. Musgrove faces the Cardinals tonight in a rubber match at Busch Stadium as the right-hander defeated St. Louis earlier this season at home by tossing seven scoreless innings in an 8-1 blowout.

Biggest OVER run: Red Sox (6-2-1 last nine)

Boston’s offense scored a total of two runs in the final two losses of a three-game sweep at Tampa Bay last weekend. The Red Sox rebounded in a huge way by crossing home plate 22 times in a two-game home sweep of the Marlins. Boston dropped an 11-spot in the seventh inning in last night’s 14-6 blowout of Miami, the 17th time this season the Red Sox have scored double-digit runs. The Red Sox travel to Chicago to face the streaking White Sox as Rick Porcello takes the mound for Boston. The UNDER has hit in three of Porcello’s last four road outings, while Porcello lost to the White Sox earlier this season as a -220 home favorite, 5-2.

Biggest UNDER run: Yankees (5-0 last five)

New York is coming off probably its worst home series of the season after losing two of three to the White Sox in the Bronx. For the exception of a late rally in Tuesday’s walk-off win, the Yankees produced three runs in the two losses, which is in stark contrast to scoring 27 runs in last weekend’s four-game sweep of the Orioles. The Yankees draw another below .500 squad tonight as the Tigers invade the Bronx looking to snap a five-game skid. Detroit has scored two runs or less in four straight games, while New York’s offense could wake up as Tigers’ pitching has given up at least six runs in five consecutive contests.

Matchup to watch: Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers

One game separates the top three teams in the NL West with two days remaining in August. Arizona and Los Angeles are both coming off road wins last night as the two squads start a crucial four-game series at Dodger Stadium tonight. The D-backs remained in first place by edging the Giants, 3-1, while the Dodgers held off the Rangers in Arlington to pick up their second consecutive sweep.

Robbie Ray takes the ball in the opener for Arizona as the southpaw has amazingly picked up a no-decision in seven consecutive starts. The D-backs are 2-8 in Ray’s last 10 starts dating back to the start of July, while not lasting past the sixth inning nine times in this stretch. Ray has not faced the Dodgers this season, but Arizona won four of his six starts against Los Angeles in 2017, including two victories at Chavez Ravine.

Rich Hill counters for the Dodgers, as the southpaw tossed six scoreless innings against the Padres his last time out in an 11-1 home blowout. Los Angeles has compiled a 5-2 record in Hill’s seven starts since the All-Star break, but Hill has been torched by Arizona in two outings this season by allowing 14 hits and 12 earned runs in nine innings of work. The D-backs have won five of the last nine matchups with the Dodgers, as these teams meet for one more series in Phoenix in late September.

Betcha didn’t know: The Athletics have won seven of their last nine home series openers as they welcome in the Mariners tonight. Oakland dropped two of three to Houston and face a Seattle squad mired in a mini slump after getting swept at San Diego in a two-game series. Mariners’ starter Wade LeBlanc was money in the bank at home until losing his last two starts at Safeco, but Seattle has won each of LeBlanc’s last three starts on the highway.

Biggest public favorite: Yankees (-300) vs. Tigers

Biggest public underdog: Cubs (+114) at Braves

Biggest line move: Pirates (+115 to +100) at Cardinals

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