Potentially devastating injury for the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday. All-Star left fielder Alex Gordon was carted off the field with what is now being called a Grade 2 left groin strain suffered while making a great catch on a ball hit by the Rays' Logan Forsythe at Kauffman Stadium. Gordon, who was to have an MRI on Thursday, said he heard the muscle in his groin pop, and Manager Ned Yost said Gordon could miss "months." Early reports are it will be eight weeks. Gordon, a free-agent-to-be, is easily the Royals' best player. He's hitting .279 with 11 homers and 39 RBIs, numbers that don't sound all that amazing. But he's without peer as a defensive left fielder and is the heart and soul of the club. Gordon also was one of four Royals selected to start the All-Star Game.
Blue Jays at Royals (-110, 8)
Kansas City will use some combination of Jarrod Dyson and Paulo Orlando in Gordon's spot for now, but if the eight weeks is accurate then the team probably will have to make a trade. I still think the Royals can win the Central if Gordon does two months, but mainly because I don't trust the Twins, and the Tigers aren't their usual selves. Lefty Danny Duffy (2-4, 5.14) is on the mound for K.C. He allowed two runs over 6.1 innings last time out against the Twins. He is 0-2 with an 11.42 ERA in three career games against the Blue Jays. Jose Bautista is 3-for-4 with an RBI off him. Toronto's Marco Estrada (6-4, 3.59) beat the Tigers last time out, allowing two runs over five innings. This will be his first career start against the Royals.
Key trends: The Jays are 4-0 in Estrada's past four against teams with a winning record. The Royals are 9-1 in Duffy's past 10 series openers. The "over/under" has gone over in five of Estrada's past six vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 9-4 in Duffy's past 13 at home.
Early lean: Blue Jays and under.
Tigers at Twins (-138, 8)
How's that Justin Verlander contract looking for you, Detroit? Verlander (0-2, 6.75) is making $28 million this season and $140 million more through 2019. I seriously don't understand why teams give pitchers in their 30s such huge long-term deals. They almost never work out. Verlander was shelled for seven runs last time out over five innings against the Jays. This will be his first start of the season vs. Minnesota. Joe Mauer is a career .369 hitter off him with three homers and 10 RBIs. Verlander is opposed by Ervin Santana. He made his season debut off a drug suspension on July 5 and pitched well at the Royals, allowing two runs and three hits over eight innings. Ian Kinsler is a .351 hitter off him in 57 at-bats.
Key trends: The Tigers are 1-7 in Verlander's past eight road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Twins are 1-6 in their past seven Friday games. The over is 7-0 in Verlander's past seven vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Twins and over.
Phillies at Giants (-159, 6)
You should see Giants star catcher Buster Posey back in the lineup Friday. He hasn't played since Monday due to a tight hamstring. It's the pitching matchup of the day here and the only time the Phillies are relevant is when lefty ace Cole Hamels pitches. Hamels (5-6, 3.02), who could always be making his final start in a Philly uniform, was fantastic last time out, shutting out the Braves on six hits over seven innings. The Phillies had lost his previous four. Posey rakes him, going 9-for-18 with four doubles and a homer. It's All-Star lefty Madison Bumgarner (8-5, 3.34) for the Giants. Should he be an All-Star? Probably not. Having a good year but not great. Bumgarner was shelled in his last start, allowing six runs over five innings at Washington. Jeff Francouer is 2-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs off him.
Key trends: The Phillies are 2-8 in their past 10 against a lefty. They are 5-1 in Hamels' past six vs. the NL West. The Giants are 1-5 in Bumgarner's past six at home vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 7-3 in his past 10 vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Giants and under.
Padres at Rangers (-111, 9)
Keep an eye on the status of San Diego's Justin Upton on Friday after he was scratched from Wednesday's game with oblique soreness. Upton is slumping with just three hits in his past 30 at-bats. Ian Kennedy (4-8, 4.84) starts here for San Diego, which has lost his past three. Kennedy has been hurt by the long ball this season, allowing 18 of them and at least one in five straight starts. Lefty Wandy Rodriguez (5-4, 4.23) goes for Texas. He doesn't like pitching in Arlington, going 0-4 with a 7.42 ERA in six starts there this season. The Padres' Matt Kemp is 6-for-24 with three doubles , a homer and seven RBIs against him. San Diego will add the DH in this interleague series.
Key trends: The Padres are 2-7 in Kennedy's past nine series openers. The Rangers have lost eight straight at home. The under is 5-0 in Kennedy's past five.
Early lean: Padres and over.
Diamondbacks at Mets (-140, 6.5)
Have you noticed that Arizona isn't half bad all of a sudden? On Wednesday, the Snakes got to .500 after going 0-12 in previous attempts to get to that mark. Chase Anderson (4-2, 3.71) gets the call here for Arizona. He got a no-decision against the Mets on June 6, allowing a run and eight hits over 5.2 innings. The Diamondbacks also have won his past two outings. Only a few Mets have seen him. Michael Cuddyer is 2-for-9 with a double, but he's iffy with an injury. The Mets have won the past two starts of big Noah Syndergaard (3-4, 3.38). He has allowed just two runs over 14 innings and seven hits in those two outings. The rookie has never faced Arizona.
Key trends: Arizona is 1-7 in Anderson's past eight road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Mets are 0-5 in their past five following an off day. The under is 5-2 in Anderson's past seven series openers.
Early lean: Mets and under.
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