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Friday's Diamond Notes
Hottest team: Yankees (17-2 last 19)

In spite of falling to the Red Sox last night, 5-4, New York is still playing well and captured its third consecutive series against a playoff team from last season. The Yankees fell behind, 4-0 and following a nearly hour rain delay, New York tied the game at 4-4 before Boston eventually took the lead for good late. New York had its 11-game home winning streak snapped in the defeat, as the Yankees and Red Sox enter the weekend tied for first place in the AL East.

The Bronx Bombers remain at home this weekend as they welcome in the Athletics, who were swept at home by the Astros. Former Oakland right-hander Sonny Gray heads to the mound in the series opener, as the Yankees have compiled a 3-4 record in his seven starts. Gray is facing his old team for the first time, but the Yankees are 0-6 since acquiring the righty last season when the Yankees won his last start.

Coldest team: White Sox (1-9 last 10)

Things aren’t looking up on the South Side of Chicago as the Sox remain in last place of the AL Central following a 1-5 homestand. The Sox rallied from a 5-1 deficit to stun the Twins to start the homestand, but proceeded to drop five in a row, including blowing a four-run lead in the finale to the Pirates. Chicago dropped to 3-15 at home this season, while being the only team that hasn’t reached 10 victories in 2018.

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The White Sox make the short trip to the North Side this weekend to face the rival Cubs at Wrigley Field. Carson Fulmer will look to slow down the Cubs’ lineup after allowing four home runs in his last outing against the Twins. Fulmer has cashed an underdog three times this season, including as a +200 ‘dog at Toronto in early April.

Hottest pitcher: Max Scherzer, Nationals (6-1, 1.74 ERA)

Scherzer isn’t having any kind of letdown following his third Cy Young award last season. The Washington ace is unbeaten in his previous six starts, while coming off a 15-strikeout performance last Saturday as the Nationals rallied past the Phillies, 5-4. Washington’s offense provided Scherzer with a total of five runs in his first three starts combined, but the Nats have turned it around by plating at least five runs in each of his last five outings.

Coldest pitcher: Luke Weaver, Cardinals (2-2, 5.60 ERA)

The first three starts for Weaver seemed like a continuation of last season, when he finished 7-2 with an ERA of 4.88. Weaver allowed four earned runs in 17.1 innings of work, as the Cardinals posted a 2-1 record. However, the right-hander has given up four earned runs or more in each of his past four trips to the mound as the Cardinals own a 1-3 record in this current stretch. The lone victory came in his last start against the Cubs as St. Louis erased an early 4-0 deficit. Weaver faces the Padres tonight as his best start last season came against San Diego in which he struck out 10 batters in seven scoreless innings.

Biggest OVER run: Marlins (4-1 last five)

Miami’s pitching staff was lit up for the third time in the past four games after the Braves blasted the Marlins on Thursday, 9-2. In this stretch, the Marlins have allowed 14, 13, and 9 runs since Monday, as Miami tries to end a four-game losing streak. Dan Straily makes his third start of the season for Miami as another OVER could be in the cards. In Straily’s first two outings, he lasted four innings each time, but the OVER hit as the Marlins scored eight runs each in a pair of wins.

Biggest UNDER run: Rays (7-0-2 last nine)

Tampa Bay’s offense has dried up of late by scoring three runs in the last three games, while dropping each contest to Toronto and Atlanta at home. Since plating 12 runs against the Red Sox on April 28, the Rays have been limited to three runs or less seven times in the past nine games. Tampa Bay’s pitching has been completely at fault, as the Rays have yielded three runs or fewer seven times in the last nine contests. The Rays travel to Baltimore to face the Orioles, as Jake Faria heads to the mound in the opener. Faria has given up one earned run or less in four of the past five starts, resulting in a 3-1-1 mark to the UNDER.

Matchup to watch: Giants vs. Pirates

Andrew McCutchen makes his triumphant return to Pittsburgh following a 10-year run as the face of the Pirates’ franchise. The 2013 National League MVP heads into PNC Park as the enemy when the Giants invade the Steel City, looking to rebound from an ugly four-game sweep at the hands of the Phillies. San Francisco squandered a 3-0 lead in Thursday’s series finale as the Giants lost, 6-3, while getting outscored by Philadelphia, 32-8 in the four losses.

The Pirates bounced back from a four-game sweep at the hands of the Nationals to begin May by winning four of five games against the Brewers and White Sox to close their road trip. Pittsburgh erased a three-run ninth inning deficit in Wednesday’s 6-5 victory at Chicago, as the Pirates have totaled 25 runs in their past three games.

Jameson Taillon started the season off on a positive note as Pittsburgh put together a 3-0 record in the right-hander’s outings. However, the Bucs are winless in his last four appearances, in spite of allowing one earned run in five innings of a 5-3 loss at Milwaukee in his previous trip to the mound. Taillon’s worst start last season came against the Giants in which he was tagged for 10 runs in three innings of an 11-3 setback at AT&T Park.

Andrew Suarez counters for San Francisco, as the southpaw picked up his first Major League victory in a 4-3 triumph at Atlanta last Sunday. After allowing four earned runs in his debut against Arizona, Suarez settled down in his last two outings by giving up a total of two earned runs against the Padres and Braves. San Francisco has excelled in series openers this season by posting an 8-4 record, including a 4-2 mark on the road.

Betcha didn’t know: The Rangers and Astros hook up for their Lone Star showdown in Houston this weekend. The road team has excelled this season by posting a 5-2 record, including Texas capturing a pair of games as heavy underdog at Minute Maid Park in mid-April. The Rangers are 1-7 in Cole Hamels’ eight starts this season, including an 0-2 mark against the Astros. Justin Verlander has allowed four earned runs in his last five starts, but Houston has gone 2-3 in this span, including a loss to Texas as a -320 favorite on April 15.

Biggest public favorite: Astros (-250) vs. Rangers

Biggest public underdog: Rays (+110) at Orioles

Biggest line move: Giants (+135 to +115) at Pirates

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at rogers@vegasinsider.com

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

  
HEADLINES
· News: 2018 MLB Playoff Results
· News: World Series Props
· Ausmus named new manager of Angels
· David Bell hired as Reds manager
· Dodgers to face Red Sox in World Series
· Brewers' bullpen runs out of gas in Game 7
· Astros 2B Altuve has right knee surgery
· Dodgers' Bellinger wins NLCS MVP award
· Boston's Sale 'back to normal,' ready
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