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Friday's Diamond Notes
Hottest team: Indians (9-4 last 13)

Cleveland finished off a seven-game homestand by compiling a 5-2 record, capped off by a 5-4 victory over Minnesota on Thursday. The Indians extended their lead atop the AL Central to 11 games over the Twins, the largest advantage in all of baseball. Cleveland is set to play its fifth consecutive series against a team with a losing record, as the Tribe is 4-0 in the past four series since dropping two of three at home to the Pirates in late July.

The Indians head to Chicago to take on the struggling White Sox, who were just swept at home by the Yankees. Cleveland pulled off a three-game home sweep of Chicago in June, outscoring the White Sox, 24-5. Shane Bieber heads to the hill for the Tribe in Friday’s opener as the right-hander ended a two-start skid by beating the Angels in his last outing. Bieber has not faced the White Sox this season, who are 2-7 in their past nine home contests.

Coldest team: Rockies (3-8 last 11)

Colorado rolled to a 13-2 stretch at Coors Field from July 2 through August 6. The Rockies have slipped up lately by dropping the final two games to the Pirates and falling to the Dodgers on Thursday, 8-5. Since sweeping Oakland at home in late July, the Rockies have dropped eight of their last 11 games, including three straight series losses to the Cardinals, Brewers, and Pirates.

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Jon Gray takes the mound for Colorado tonight as the Rockies have won six straight starts made by the right-hander. Gray has tossed at least seven innings in each of his past four outings, while all four wins came against teams with winning records. Gray has not faced the Dodgers this season, but he beat Los Angeles twice last season as a heavy underdog.

Hottest pitcher: Zack Wheeler, Mets (6-6, 3.89 ERA)

New York went through an eight-game stretch from May through mid-June in which Wheeler took the mound and the Mets lost eight times. However, Wheeler has turned things around lately by winning four straight starts, while the Mets are 5-0 in his past five outings. The right-hander hasn’t allowed a run in his last two trips to the hill in victories over the Pirates and Braves, while the Mets are 4-0 in his past four starts at Citi Field following an 0-8 start in Wheeler’s first eight home starts. Wheeler faces the Marlins tonight in Miami as he is 1-1 in two starts against their division rival this season.

Coldest pitcher: Dylan Bundy, Orioles (7-10, 4.38 ERA)

It’s easy to point to Baltimore as a cold department candidate for anything all season as it owns a 35-80 record. Bundy leads the O’s in victories with seven, but has won once in his last five starts. The right-hander pitched well in his last outing at Texas by allowing two runs in six innings, but the Orioles lost, 3-1. The Orioles host the Red Sox tonight as Baltimore has lost all three starts made by Bundy this season against Boston.

Biggest OVER run: Padres (5-1 last six)

San Diego returns home following a successful road trip (by their standards) as the Padres posted a 4-3 record against the Cubs and Brewers. The offense busted out on the back-end of the trip as the Padres plated 29 runs in the final three wins, including an eight-spot in Thursday’s 8-4 triumph at Milwaukee. The Padres host the Phillies tonight as San Diego is riding a 10-game losing streak at Petco Park. Jacob Nix makes his Major League debut tonight for the Padres as he faces a Phillies’ squad that saw the UNDER cash in all three games at Arizona.

Biggest UNDER run: Athletics (9-2 last 11)

Oakland picked up a split with the Dodgers on Wednesday as the offense did just enough in a 3-2 win. The A’s have allowed three runs or fewer in eight of the past nine games to help out this current UNDER run, but Oakland hits the road for the first time since getting swept at Colorado last month and scoring four runs in three losses. The A’s travel south to Anaheim to face the Angels, who are riding a 4-1 UNDER stretch themselves. Southpaw Brett Anderson is coming off his best start of the season for Oakland by tossing seven scoreless innings in an extra-innings victory over Detroit last Friday.

Matchup to watch: Mariners vs. Astros

Seattle rebounded from a pair of losses at Texas to rack Justin Verlander early in Thursday’s 8-6 triumph at Houston. The Mariners are slowly slipping down the Wild Card standings in the American League, but Seattle struck for six runs off Verlander in two innings to help James Paxton beat Houston for the fourth time this season.

The Astros fell to 2-5 in their last seven home series openers as they try to rebound tonight behind Gerrit Cole. The Houston right-hander is coming off a pair of losses to the Mariners and Dodgers his last two times out, while allowing four hits and two earned runs in 6.2 innings of a 2-0 defeat at Safeco Field on July 30. The Astros have won eight of Cole’s 10 starts at Minute Maid Park this season, but Houston hasn’t won at home since before the All-Star break.

Mike Leake counters for Seattle, as the Mariners have lost five of his past seven starts. Leake is coming off four consecutive quality starts, while picking up a no-decision in a 6-3 home win over the Blue Jays his last time out. Seattle has fared well in Leake’s starts away from Safeco Field this season by posting a 7-3 mark, including four wins as an underdog of +140 or higher.

Betcha didn’t know: The Cardinals head to Kansas City for the battle of I-70 tonight. St. Louis has struggled in road series openers recently by going 0-4 in his past four opportunities. The Royals avoided the sweep to the Cubs by blanking Chicago on Wednesday, 9-0, but Kansas City has put together a 2-8 record this season in series openers off a win.

Biggest public favorite: Yankees (-210) vs. Rangers

Biggest public underdog: Blue Jays (+100) vs. Rays

Biggest line move: Twins (-108 to -118) at Tigers

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

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

  
HEADLINES
· Williams: Weekly Total Talk
· Lawrence: August Pitchers Report
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· Lester, Happ lead Cubs to 1-0 win at Bucs
· Buchholz pitches Dbacks past Padres
· Forsythe gets 5 hits, Twins outslug Tigers
· Hoskins helps Phils earn split vs. Mets
· Profar starts triple play, homers in Texas
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