The clear game that stands out on a very good Friday schedule is the Dodgers at Mets, and not just because those two big-market clubs could meet in the playoffs. It's because Zack Greinke is on the mound for Los Angeles. Greinke brings in a scoreless streak of 43.2 innings. That's the longest in baseball since the Dodgers' Orel Hershiser set the record with 59 straight scoreless frames in 1988. The only other longer ones in league history are 58 innings by former Dodger Don Drysdale and 47 by former St. Louis Cardinal Bob Gibson, both Hall of Famers. New York ranks last in the majors in batting average and 29th in runs per game, so you have to think Greinke has a pretty good chance of keeping it going.
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Dodgers at Mets (+159, 6.5)
While Greinke (9-2, 1.30) can't break Hershiser's record on Friday, he can set another: No pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) has had seven straight scoreless starts in the same season. The only two other than Greinke to have six straight were Hershiser in 1988 and Drysdale in 1968. In those six starts, Greinke has held opposing hitters to a .129 batting average with 42 strikeouts and only four walks. Greinke shut out the Mets on four hits over seven innings on July 4, striking out four and walking none. Lucas Duda is 3-for-10 with a solo homer off him. Wilmer Flores is 3-for-8. Curtis Granderson is hitting just .188 off Greinke in 48 at-bats. The Mets go with lefty Jon Niese (5-8, 3.36). He didn't face the Dodgers in that earlier series. He was great last time out, shutting out St. Louis on five hits over 7.2 innings.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 9-2 in Greinke's past 11 vs. teams with a winning record. The Mets are 0-5 in Niese's past five on Friday. The "over/under" has gone under in four straight Niese starts vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 6-0 in his past six against the Dodgers.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
Nationals at Pirates (+114, 6.5)
Washington could be without infielder Yunel Escobar for a bit. He left Wednesday's game after hurting his hand/wrist while fouling off a curveball from Mets starter Noah Syndergaard. Initial X-rays were negative, but Escobar was sent for further tests. He's having a nice season, batting .321. The Nats shouldn't need much offense to win here as Max Scherzer (10-8, 2.08) is on the mound. Last time he faced Pittsburgh, on June 20, he had a perfect game with two outs in the ninth when he hit pinch-hitter Jose Tabata with a pitch; Tabata may have leaned into it. Scherzer had to settle for a no-no. Andrew McCutchen is 4-for-17 with nine strikeouts off Scherzer. Pirates lefty Jeff Locke (5-6, 4.01) has suddenly turned into a very good pitcher with a 1.96 ERA in his past seven outings. He didn't face Washington in that first series.
Key trends: The Nats are 6-2 in Scherzer's past eight road starts. The Pirates are 1-4 in Locke's past five against teams with a winning record. The under is 8-0-1 in Scherzer's past nine vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 7-1 in Locke's past eight at home.
Early lean: Nationals and under.
Tigers at Red Sox (-126, 9)
Pair of struggling pitchers here with ridiculous contracts. It's Rick Porcello for Boston, and he was of course acquired this past offseason from Detroit for Yoenis Cespedes (who might now be traded by the Tigers). Porcello (5-10, 5.79) has been decent over his past two, allowing four earned and 12 hits over 11 innings. But he has given up 18 homers on the season, among the most in the AL. Cespedes is 0-for-3 off him. Ian Kinsler is 6-for-10 with two extra-base hits and four RBIs. Detroit's Justin Verlander (0-3, 6.62) simply looks done. He was rocked for seven runs and eight hits over just 3.2 innings last time out by Baltimore. David Ortiz hits Verlander well, going 10-for-27 with four doubles, two homers and four RBIs. Dustin Pedroia doesn't, going 1-for-18.
Key trends: The Tigers are 1-4 in Verlander's past five on the road. The Red Sox have lost five straight series openers. The over is 4-0 in Verlander's past four vs. the AL East. The under has hit in eight of Verlander's past 12 vs. Boston.
Early lean: Red Sox and over. Big Papi goes yard.
A's at Giants (-133, 7)
San Francisco will get a key piece back Friday in outfielder Nori Aoki. He has been out since June 20 with a fractured fibula. Aoki is second on the Giants with a .317 average. Aoki will face A's starter Jesse Chavez (5-9, 3.21). He had allowed 16 runs over his previous four starts before shutting out Minnesota on three hits over six innings last time out. San Francisco's Hunter Pence is 1-for-5 with an RBI off him. Aoki is 0-for-3 with a walk. Jake Peavy (1-4, 4.94) goes for the Giants. He got that first win last time out but wasn't great, allowing four runs and eight hits over 6.1 innings against Arizona. Oakland's Billy Butler is 14-for-33 with three homers and eight RBIs against him. Ben Zobrist is 4-for-16 with a homer.
Key trends: The A's are 1-10 in their past 11 on Friday. They are 2-5 in Chavez's past seven road starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Giants are 4-0 in Peavy's past four vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 6-1 in Chavez's past seven. The over is 4-0 in Peavy's past four interleague games.
Early lean: A's and under.
Rangers at Angels (-145, 8)
The Angels were looking for a bat ahead of the trade deadline, and they really need one now as third baseman David Freese was hit by a pitch on his hand on Wednesday and has been diagnosed with a fractured right index finger. He will likely miss four weeks. Freese broke his right middle finger last season when he was hit by a pitch and was out for 16 games. Freese is batting .240 with 11 homers and 43 RBIs. Nick Tropeano (1-0, 0.00) is set to be called up and make a spot start here for L.A. His only big-league outing this season was back on April 23 vs. Oakland where he shut the A's out over six innings. It's Colby Lewis (9-4, 4.63) for Texas. Lewis is 1-0 with a 3.14 ERA in his last two starts. But three starts ago, he was shelled for 10 runs and 12 hits in four innings by the Angels. Albert Pujols is 9-for-20 with three homers off him. Mike Trout is 9-for-24 with two dingers.
Key trends: The Rangers are 5-2 in Lewis' past seven road starts. They are 2-5 in his past seven at the Angels. The under is 5-2 in those seven.
Early lean: Rangers and over.
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