Friday’s Diamond Notes

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Hottest team: Yankees (6-0 last six)

New York didn’t let up following a three-game sweep of Tampa Bay as the Yankees held off the Astros, 10-6. The Yankees stand one game behind the Astros for the best record in the American League at 47-27, while beating Houston for the first time in four tries. The Bronx Bombers went deep four times in Thursday’s victory, including Edwin Encarnacion’s AL-leading 23rd home run and first as a Yankee after getting acquired from the Mariners.

James Paxton takes the mound for New York tonight as the southpaw allowed five runs in four innings of an 8-6 loss at Houston back in mid-April. Paxton shut down the White Sox in his past outing last Sunday by yielding two runs in six innings of a 10-3 blowout. The southpaw is riding a 6-1 run to the OVER the last seven outings, while the Yankees have scored at least six runs in nine of his past 10 starts.

Coldest team: Phillies (2-8 last 10)

The expectations were sky high in Philadelphia following several key offseason acquisitions, including the signing of free agent Bryce Harper to a megadeal. But the Phillies have slumped in June by losing 11 of 17 games, including dropping five of six games on their road trip at Atlanta and Washington. The Nationals pulled off a three-game sweep of the Phillies in D.C., capped off by a 7-4 victory by Washington on Thursday.

The Phillies return to Citizens Bank Park tonight to host the Marlins as ace Aaron Nola heads to the hill. Nola has been up and down of late as the righty gave up five runs in less than five innings in a 6-5 win at Atlanta. The Phillies rallied for two runs in the ninth inning (the only win on the recent road trip), as Philadelphia looks to improve to 4-1 in Nola’s last five home starts.

Hottest pitcher: Walker Buehler, Dodgers (7-1, 3.06 ERA)

Buehler was slated to pitch on Thursday against San Francisco but was pushed back to tonight as Los Angeles hosts Colorado. The right-hander is fresh off a pair of consecutive scoreless outings against the Giants and Cubs, but picked up a no-decision in a 2-1 defeat to Chicago his last time out. Buehler has delivered quality starts in seven of his last eight appearances, while shutting down the Rockies in a 7-2 victory at Coors Field back in early April.

Coldest pitcher: Joe Musgrove, Pirates (4-7, 4.87 ERA)

The Pittsburgh right-hander began the season on fire by posting five straight quality starts, but things have gone downhill since. The Pirates are 3-7 in Musgrove’s last 10 starts, which doesn’t include an outing at Atlanta in which he was ejected after hitting Braves’ third baseman Josh Donaldson in the first inning. Musgrove came out three days later to start again at SunTrust Park, but the former Astros’ hurler allowed six runs in four innings of a 6-5 defeat. Musgrove faces the Padres at PNC Park tonight as he beat San Diego last month, 6-4 as a short underdog in spite of giving up four runs.

Biggest OVER run: Blue Jays (7-1-1 last nine)

Toronto avoided a four-game sweep against Los Angeles by knocking off the Angels in 10 innings on Thursday, 7-5. The Blue Jays’ offense has woken up recently by scoring five runs or more in four of the last five games, while posting 12 runs twice in the past eight contests. Toronto travels to Boston as the Blue Jays and Red Sox have hit the OVER in five of six matchups, while the winning team has plated at least six runs in every victory. Trent Thornton has not faced the Red Sox this season, but the Jays are 4-1 in his last five starts in the role of a road underdog, while tossing 6.2 scoreless innings in a 12-0 shutout of the Astros last Sunday.

Biggest UNDER run: Reds (15-1 last 16)

Cincinnati’s pitching continues to excel as the Reds shut down the powerful Brewers’ lineup in Thursday’s 7-1 rout at Miller Park. The Reds not only picked up their fifth consecutive win (the last four against defending division champions), but Cincinnati has allowed three runs or less during each game in this hot streak. Cincinnati is riding an eight-game UNDER streak away from Great American Ballpark as Sonny Gray tries to keep this stretch going. The Reds have won five of Gray’s last six outings, including tossing six scoreless innings in a 3-0 victory at Milwaukee last month.

Matchup to watch: Braves vs. Nationals

Washington has come back to life recently by winning 17 of its last 24 games, including pulling off a three-game sweep of the reeling Phillies at home. The Nationals are within two games of the .500 mark as they welcome in the NL East-leading Braves. Atlanta is also on fire recently by posting an 11-2 record the last 13 games, which includes series victories over the Marlins, Pirates, Phillies, and Mets.

Tonight is the much-anticipated Braves’ debut of former Astros’ ace Dallas Keuchel. The 2015 AL Cy Young winner sat out the first two months of the season as a free agent before settling on Atlanta as the southpaw finished 2018 owning a 12-11 record and 3.74 ERA in Houston. Keuchel made two starts in the minors as he allowed 11 hits and three runs in seven innings of his most recent outing at Double-A Mississippi.

Stephen Strasburg hasn’t pitched well at home recently by getting tagged for 11 runs in his last two appearances at Nationals Park against the White Sox and Diamondbacks. Although Washington rallied past Chicago on June 4 in a 9-5 triumph, the Nationals fell short against Arizona last Saturday in a 10-3 setback as a -215 favorite. Strasburg defeated the Braves at SunTrust Park in late May, 5-4 by striking out 11 batters in seven innings of work.

Betcha didn’t know: The road team has dominated the Giants/Diamondbacks series this season by going 5-1. Arizona swept San Francisco at Oracle Park last month, as the two teams hook up in Phoenix this weekend. The D-backs were just swept by the Rockies at home as Arizona has lost five of its past six games. The Giants are riding a 5-0 run in the last five series openers, including underdog road victories against the Mets and Dodgers.

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