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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:57 PM

Friday's Diamond Notes

Hottest team: Nationals (7-2 last nine)

Washington has vaulted into the spot Wild Card position in the National League following a three-game sweep of Cincinnati. The Nationals held off the Reds in each of the first two victories before Washington busted out for 16 runs in a two-inning span in Wednesday’s 17-7 rout. The only two losses in this stretch came to the streaking Mets as the Nationals blew a pair of late leads last weekend at Citi Field, including squandering a three-run ninth inning advantage last Friday.

The Nationals are playing with revenge tonight against the Brewers, as Milwaukee grabbed all three games at Miller Park in its previous matchup in May. Patrick Corbin takes the mound for Washington in the opener, as the Nationals’ southpaw is winless in his past two outings against the Diamondbacks and Mets. The Nats have won seven consecutive home starts made by Corbin, while all seven of those games finished UNDER the total.

Coldest team: Rangers (2-7 last nine)

Following a pair of wins over Houston at home after the All-Star break, Texas stood at 50-42 and were in the discussion for an AL Wild Card position. However, an eight-game losing streak followed as the Rangers haven’t been able to keep their heads above water and are far back in the Wild Card race. In the last 10 games, the Rangers have been held to two runs or less six times, while coming off a 13-6 setback to the Twins on Thursday to open their four-game set in Arlington.

Mike Minor was the subject of trade talk leading to the deadline, but the Rangers held onto their southpaw and he has turned in solid results of late. Minor is coming off a pair of scoreless efforts in back-to-back 1-0 victories at Milwaukee and Cleveland as an underdog. The Rangers are currently on a 4-1 UNDER run with Minor on the mound, but all four UNDERS came on the road as Minor has drilled the OVER in his past three starts in Arlington.

Hottest pitcher: Jeff Samardzija, Giants (9-9, 3.55 ERA)

San Francisco dominated Arizona last night in a 7-0 shutout at Chase Field to pull back to the .500 mark. Samardzija silenced the Phillies’ bats in his last start as the right-hander tossed eight innings and allowed two hits in a 3-1 victory last Saturday. The former Notre Dame standout has yielded two earned runs or less in seven of his past eight starts, while the Giants are 6-2 in these outings, which date back to start of July. Samardzija faces the D-backs tonight, as he has split a pair of starts at Arizona this season, while coming off an 11-5 victory in late June as he was staked an early 6-0 lead.

Coldest pitcher: Joe Musgrove, Pirates (8-11, 4.71 ERA)

Pittsburgh returns home following a rare series win against the Angels as the Pirates welcome in the struggling Cubs. Musgrove is coming off losses in his last two starts against the Mets and Cardinals, while allowing 16 hits and 11 runs in 8.2 innings of work. The right-hander has won only twice in his last six starts since Pittsburgh went 4-0 in his four outings prior to the All-Star break. The Pirates are 3-0 in Musgrove’s three home starts against the Cubs since 2018, but Pittsburgh has dropped 11 of its last 13 overall at PNC Park.

Biggest OVER run: Padres (8-2 last 10)

San Diego travels out east after cashing the OVER in six of seven games on its recent homestand. The Padres avoided the sweep by the Rays in Wednesday’s 7-2 victory to barely hit the OVER of 8 ½, as San Diego scored at least seven runs in six of the past 10 games. The Padres face the Phillies for a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park as all three games in their previous series at Petco Park all sailed OVER the total. Chris Paddack takes the mound for San Diego tonight as the Padres have hit the OVER in his last three outings, while the offense has provided him with at least eight runs of support in each start.

Biggest UNDER run: Cardinals (9-1 last 10)

St. Louis had its five-game winning streak snapped in Thursday’s 2-1 setback at Cincinnati, but the Cardinals allowed two runs or less for the sixth time in seven games. The Redbirds’ offense hasn’t been too hot on the road recently by scoring two runs or fewer in six of the past seven games away from Busch Stadium. The Cardinals continue their series at Great American Ballpark tonight as Adam Wainwright heads to the hill. St. Louis owns a 6-1 record in Wainwright’s last seven starts, while the Cardinals are 3-0 to the UNDER in his past three outings.

Matchup to watch: Astros vs. Athletics

Houston still owns a comfortable 8 ½-game lead in the American League West over Oakland in spite of losing four of its past five contests. The A’s held off the Astros in the opener of their four-game set at the Coliseum, 7-6, as Matt Chapman’s second home run of the night broke a 6-6 tie, marking the second win in the last seven matchups for Oakland.

After scoring only one run in the second game of the doubleheader loss to the White Sox on Wednesday, the Astros have put up 15 runs in the last two games. The only problem is, Houston lost both those games, as the Astros have dropped nearly nine units since their 23-2 blowout of the Orioles last Saturday.

Justin Verlander (15-4, 2.82 ERA) looks to rebound from the biggest favorite loss of his career last Sunday against the Orioles as a -430 favorite. Granted, Baltimore walked-off past the Houston bullpen with three runs in the bottom of the ninth, but Verlander still allowed four runs and nine hits in five innings. Verlander did rack up double-digit strikeouts for the fifth consecutive start, while the Astros fell to 7-2 in his last nine outings.

Tanner Roark (7-8, 4.06 ERA) makes his third start for Oakland since getting dealt from Cincinnati as the right-hander lost a 3-2 decision to the White Sox his last time out. Roark pitched well by striking out seven in 6.2 innings, but he allowed three runs as Oakland’s offense didn’t a score a run until the ninth inning. The A’s have won seven of their last eight home contests, while beating the Astros at the Coliseum for the first time since June 2.

Betcha didn’t know: The Dodgers and Braves both lead their divisions (you probably knew that). The two defending division champions hook up tonight at SunTrust Park. Los Angeles swept Atlanta earlier this season at Dodger Stadium as Mike Soroka makes his first home start since July 20. The Braves had won Soroka’s last six home starts prior to a loss to Washington on July 20, while Atlanta owns a 6-3 record in its past nine home series openers.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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