The Baltimore Orioles have an American League wild-card berth in their sights as they prepare for a weekend interleague series against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks. The top three contenders in the American League East – Boston, Toronto and Baltimore – have all excelled against National League opponents this season, with the Orioles having gone 11-6 in interleague play entering this pivotal series. Things haven’t gone nearly as well for the Diamondbacks, who haven’t been able to beat anyone with regularity. Arizona comes into this series with a dismal 5-12 record versus American League foes, including a 3-8 mark against the AL East.
Cards on the Table
It doesn’t get any more challenging for the St. Louis Cardinals, who kick off a three-game series with the powerhouse Chicago Cubs on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field. The Cardinals find themselves in a three-way fight with the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants for the two National League wild-card spots. St. Louis is doing its part, having won four straight before dropping its series finale 11-1 to the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Cardinals were expected to provide some challenge to the Cubs in the NL Central, but are 17 games back with 10 to play and are -655 units for the season. St. Louis and Chicago have split the first 16 meetings in 2016.
The Cleveland Indians may be down an ace, but they still have a shot at clinching the American League Central title this weekend as they entertain the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. The Indians have a comfortable lead over the Detroit Tigers going into Friday, and have two major factors working in their favor this weekend. They’re one of just three teams in the majors with at least 50 home victories, and are a good bet to add to that total against a White Sox team that is a dismal 31-47 away from Chicago in 2016. And their (43-22) record against division rivals has been a major reason for their success this season; the White Sox are just 29-41 versus AL Central foes.
WAG of the Week:
Los Angeles Angels starter C.J. Wilson won’t throw a pitch this season, but he’s still doing just fine – thanks in no small part to wife Lisalla Montenegro Wilson.
* Hanley Ramirez returned to the Boston lineup Thursday following a one-game absence due to shoulder and knee soreness. The Red Sox have seen two significant trends in the nine games he has missed so far in 2016, going 8-1 SU for 695 units and 1-8 O/U in those contests.
* The Tampa Bay Rays’ lost season can be summed up in how much they struggled without OF Steven Souza, who is out for the season with a hip injury. Tampa Bay went a stunning (4-18) with Souza on the sidelines, losing 1,445 units in those 23 games.
* Gary Sanchez can’t stop hitting home runs – he has five over his last four games, and 19 in just 166 major-league at-bats. The Yankees have benefited from their rookie catcher’s power surge, going 10-6 SU and 11-4-1 O/U in games where Sanchez has gone deep.
* The Colorado Rockies will finish with no worse than a .500 record at Coors Field this season – and they have Nolan Arenado to thank for that. Arenado is the MLB leader in homers (24), RBIs (83) and slugging (.648) at home, with his RBI total 20 higher than runner-up and teammate Carlos Gonzalez.
* Chicago Cubs lefty Jon Lester is making an impressive case for National League Cy Young winner, having gone 9-0 with a 1.46 ERA since the All-Star break. He has limited opponents to two runs or fewer in 10 straight starts and has reeled off eight consecutive Unders dating back to Aug. 11.
* At the other end of the spectrum is Chicago White Sox right-hander James Shields, who is 1-8 with a 6.82 ERA in 13 second-half starts. His last victory came back on July 26 against the Cubs, and he has surrendered five or more runs in six of his previous 10 outings.
The Blue Jays are on track to be the best Under bet of the major-league season, entering their weekend series with the New York Yankees at 62-84-6 O/U. A September power outage has played a major role, as Toronto is 1-5 O/U in its last six contests.
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