Wednesday’s Diamond Notes

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Hottest team: Astros (9-1 last 10)

Houston has topped the 100-win mark in each of the last two seasons and took home the AL West crown. The Astros are well on their way to the top of the division once again as they own the top record in baseball at 28-15 following their second straight blowout of the Tigers at Comerica Park. Houston ripped Detroit in Monday’s series opener, 8-1, then followed that rout with another victory by a decisive margin, 11-4 on Tuesday. The Astros have plated 45 runs in the last four games, while scoring at least six runs in nine of their past 11 victories.

Former Tigers’ standout Justin Verlander looks to improve on a 6-1 record in his nine starts for Houston, while tossing seven innings of one-hit ball in a 3-0 shutout of Texas his last time out. Verlander has allowed one earned run or less in five of his past six trips to the mound, as the Astros seek their sixth consecutive win at Comerica Park since last season.

Coldest team: Rangers (3-9 last 12)

Texas has not been a team to back in series openers this season as the Rangers stumbled to 2-12 in Game 1’s after an 11-5 defeat at Kansas City. The Rangers have allowed at least 10 runs in each of their last three games, while falling to 5-15 away from Arlington this season. This marks the second five-game losing streak for Texas in 2019, but the Rangers are actually listed as a road favorite heading into Wednesday’s action with the Royals.

Mike Minor is winless in his last two appearances for Texas since striking out 13 batters in seven innings of a 15-1 rout of Seattle on April 27. In Minor’s past two starts, the Rangers have scored a grand total of two runs in losses to the Blue Jays and Astros, while Texas is 1-3 in his four road appearances. Last season, Minor defeated the Royals at home, 8-4, but allowed four earned runs in six innings of work.

Hottest pitcher: Gio Gonzalez, Brewers (1-0, 1.69 ERA)

Gonzalez ended last season with Milwaukee after getting traded by Washington, but the southpaw is back with the Brewers in spite of not starting 2019 with the organization. The veteran left-hander signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees in March, but never started with the big club as he opted out of his deal to re-sign with Milwaukee. It has worked out for both parties as Gonzalez has yielded three earned runs in three starts, while Milwaukee is 2-1 in his three outings. Gonzalez strung together seven scoreless innings against the Cubs last Friday in a 7-0 victory at Wrigley Field, but he is winless in his previous three trips to Philadelphia since 2017.

Coldest pitcher: Sonny Gray, Reds (0-4, 4.15 ERA)

Another pitcher that changed squads in the offseason expecting positive results hasn’t seen that return in 2019. Gray has started eight games for the Reds, but Cincinnati has won only two of those outings, while the right-hander doesn’t have a win to his credit. The Reds are 2-1 in Gray’s last three starts at Great American Ballpark as Cincinnati continues its series with Chicago. The Cubs topped the Reds in the opener, 3-1, marking the ninth win in the last 10 matchups with Cincinnati since last season.

Biggest OVER run: Red Sox (9-3 last 12)

Boston squandered a 3-0 lead and lost to Colorado on Tuesday, 5-4 in 11 innings despite the Rockies striking out 24 times. The game barely cashed the OVER of 8 ½, as the Red Sox offense couldn’t build off the 34-run output from the weekend sweep of the Mariners. Boston has now hit the OVER in six of the last seven games at Fenway Park, as the Sox send out left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound on Wednesday in the series finale against Colorado. Rodriguez has seen the OVER hit in seven of eight starts this season, including all four home outings.

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

Chicago is right behind Houston for the best record in baseball entering Wednesday’s action at 25-14 after winning its 13th game in the last 15 tries in Tuesday’s 3-1 triumph at Cincinnati. The Cubs’ pitching staff has stepped up following a rough start to the season as Chicago has allowed two runs or less in six of the past seven games. Since getting shut out by Milwaukee on Friday, 7-0, the Cubs have yielded three runs in the previous 33 innings, while not scoring more than four runs in any of the last six games. Yu Darvish takes the mound for the Cubs on Wednesday as the right-hander is 3-1 to the UNDER his past four starts, but two of those UNDERS came on totals above 10 as tonight’s total opened at 9.

Matchup to watch: Cardinals vs. Braves

Heading into Tuesday’s opener at SunTrust Park, St. Louis had lost three straight games, while Atlanta was flying high with three consecutive wins to wrap up its road trip. The Cardinals roughed up the Braves in the series opener, 14-3 as St. Louis went deep four times, including Marcell Ozuna knocking out a three-run shot to start the scoring in the first inning.

Atlanta slipped to 10-11 at home and 1-4 in the past five series openers at SunTrust Park. Mike Soroka has been impressive in five starts for the Braves this season by compiling a 1.21 ERA, while not allowing more than two runs in any outing. Soroka picked up a no-decision his last time out at Arizona as he tossed six innings and allowed four hits and one run, but the Braves lost in extra innings, 3-2. The right-hander has not received much run support as the Braves have scored three runs or fewer in four of his five starts.

The Cardinals picked up their first road victory since May 1, while snapped a four-game skid away from Busch Stadium. Michael Wacha has not been sharp this season for the Redbirds, but he is benefiting from a strong performance from the St. Louis lineup. The Cards are 4-1 in Wacha’s last five starts, thanks to six or more runs or support, including a 17-spot dropped by St. Louis in a 13-run rout of Pittsburgh last Thursday.

Betcha didn’t know: The Nationals are an absolute disaster right now, coming off Tuesday’s 6-2 home defeat to the Mets. Washington fell to 6-14 the last 20 games, but three of those wins have come with Patrick Corbin on the mound. The former Arizona southpaw gets the nod on Wednesday against New York for the third time this season as the Nationals won a 6-5 decision on March 31, followed by a 6-5 setback at Citi Field less than a week later.

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