One Giant Series
The San Francisco Giants hold a slim lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers atop a competitive National League West – and expanding that edge could be difficult as the Giants visit the NL East-leading Washington Nationals in a three-game weekend set. Both teams will have their aces at their disposal, with the Nationals sending Stephen Strasburg to the hill Saturday and San Francisco riding Madison Bumgarner in Sunday’s series finale. The teams split an entertaining four-game set at the end of July.
Tensions will be high at Kauffman Stadium as the Toronto Blue Jays visit the defending World Series-champion Kansas City Royals in a rematch of the American League Championship Series. The three-game set will feature the Blue Jays debut of left-hander Francisco Liriano, who was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates at the trade deadline. Liriano has had a dreadful season, and has been particularly wretched of late, losing seven of his last eight starts as the moneyline favorite.
The Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays will both showcase their top pitching prospects this weekend at Tropicana Field. The Rays will send deceptive left-hander Blake Snell to the hill Saturday afternoon; Snell has pitched to the under in five of his last seven starts, and has allowed two or fewer runs in four straight outings. The Twins counter with Jose Berrios on Sunday; he’s 4-0-1 against the total in five major-league starts, thanks in large part to 20 earned runs against over 21 innings.
WAG of the Week
Here is a bit of a throwback with former Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brain Roberts’ wife Diana.
* The Minnesota Twins produced the second-most runs of any team in July – and they have outfielder Max Kepler to thank for that. Entering Thursday, Kepler has hit a whopping 13 home runs since July 1 – more than any player in baseball over that span – and has an OPS above 1.000 over that span.
* Houston, you have a problem. And it centers around the play of 3B Alex Bregman, who comes into Thursday hitting an abysmal 1-for-32 in his first taste of major-league action. The Astros have faltered in his eight games, going 2-6 SU despite being a favorite in seven of those contests.
* Thinking about betting on Chicago Cubs lefty Jon Lester to tame the Athletics in Oakland on Friday? Think again. While Lester has been a sensational play at home (6-2, 1.99 ERA), he has stumbled outside Wrigley Field (5-2, 4.03). The over is 8-2 in Lester’s 10 road starts.
* Houston fans will be clamoring to see what Joe Musgrove can do for an encore. The 23-year-old racked up eight strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings in his major-league debut Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays, and has earned himself the start Sunday against Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers.
Aaron Sanchez has made life miserable for opposing hitters, and he’s making things difficult for his Toronto Blue Jays, as well. They’re sending him to the bullpen shortly, but not before he takes the hill Saturday. Sanchez has pitched to the under in 15 of his 21 starts so far this season.
Friday’s Weather Report
* There is a chance of some thunderstorms in D.C. for the opener of the series between the Nats and Giants. There will also be a 5-10 mph breeze blowing out to left field at Nationals Park. The total for this one is set at 8.5.
* There will be thunderstorms in the Pittsburgh area Friday night for the evening game between the Pirates and the visiting Cincinnati Reds. There will be a 25 percent chance of some wet stuff falling from the sky and a 5-10 mph wind blowing from right to left. The total is set at 8.0.
* Detroit will have a 40 percent chance of rain and some thunderstorms in the area as the Tigers welcome the New York Mets to town for a weekend of interleague action. There will also be a 10-15 mph wind blowing from right to left. The total is set at 7.5.
* There will be three cities with games Friday night that will be impacted by a system sweeping through the Midwest carrying with it a 40 percent chance of rain and some potential electricity in the air. Toronto at Kansas City (Total: 9.0), Atlanta at St. Louis (Total: 8.5), and Miami at Colorado (Total: 11.5) could all see weather delays and wet conditions.