If you follow these stories daily, you know I am pretty much obligated to touch on a pitcher's first start after a no-hitter. And to remind you that just one pitcher in big-league history, Cincinnati's Johnny Vander Meer in 1938, ever had consecutive no-hitters. Houston's Mike Fiers no-hit the Dodgers last Friday, striking out 10 and walking three. It was the fifth no-no in the majors this season, along with Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma, Philadelphia's Cole Hamels, San Francisco's Chris Heston and Washington's Max Scherzer. Detroit's Justin Verlander took a no-no into the ninth on Wednesday vs. the Angels but lost it. Houston nearly got no-hit itself the night before Fiers' start getting just a fifth-inning single against Rays ace Chris Archer. Let's just say I don't expect Fiers to join Vander Meer in the record books.
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Astros at Twins (+135, 8.5)
How unusual was Fiers' no-hitter? He had never even had a complete game before; he had only gone eight innings twice. Fiers threw 134 pitches, 21 more than his previous high. That's why he hasn't pitched in a week. It was Houston's first no-hitter since 2003 (that was a combined one at Yankee Stadium) and the 11th in franchise history. Only the Dodgers with 12 have more since Houston's inaugural 1962 season. Fiers (6-9, 3.63) is 0-1 with a 2.38 ERA in two starts against Minnesota this season. Eduardo Escobar is 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs off him. Minnesota's Mike Pelfrey (6-7, 3.69) lasted only 4.2 innings last time out in Baltimore, allowing nine hits and three runs. Houston's Jose Altuve is 0-for-2 off him. Jason Castro is 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
Key trends: Houston is 2-10 in its past 12 on Saturday. The Twins are 1-4 in Pelfrey's past five vs. teams with a winning record. The "over/under" is 4-0 in Pelfrey's past four with five days of rest.
Early lean: I think all those pitches will take something out of Fiers, even with extra rest. Twins and over.
Tigers at Blue Jays (-251, 9.5)
This is the earliest-starting game on the schedule (1:07 p.m. ET) and will have live betting at sportsbooks with it being shown on the MLB Network. In recent years, you would see a lot of Tigers fans in Toronto because it's so close, but the Jays are playing to near capacity now, so that shouldn't be much the case. Detroit goes with Buck Farmer (0-2, 7.80). He comes off his best outing of the season, going 5.1 innings and allowing three runs in Cincinnati. Farmer took a shutout into the sixth but quickly gave up two homers. Toronto Opening Day starter Drew Hutchison (12-2, 5.06) will be recalled from the minors for this one. He only had one start down there as the Blue Jays didn't need a No. 5 starter for a bit. Toronto has won his past six starts. But in Detroit on July 3, he was rocked for seven runs and 10 hits in 4.2 innings. Red-hot Miguel Cabrera is 2-for-5 with an RBI off him. Victor Martinez is 4-for-6.
Key trends: The Jays are 5-1 in Hutchinson's past six vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 6-0 in Farmer's past six. The over is 5-0 in Hutchinson's past five vs. the AL Central.
Early lean: Jays and over. I'd probably take Detroit at +100 on runline, though.
Orioles at Rangers (-110, 9)
Keep an eye on the status of Orioles All-Star outfielder Adam Jones here. The team is fortunate he didn't suffer any broken bones in his wrist when Jones crashed into the outfield wall on Thursday. He also is experiencing minor whiplash. But X-rays were negative, and he doesn't have a concussion. Still, you'd think he would need at least a few days off. That would be just fine with Rangers lefty starter Martin Perez (1-3, 5.30). He is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his last four starts. Perez hasn't faced the Orioles this season. Baltimore counters with Ubaldo Jimenez (9-8, 4.26). He is really starting to slip. Last time out, Jimenez was pelted for seven runs and 10 hits over 5.2 innings in Kansas City. The Rangers' Adrian Beltre is 9-for-23 with three doubles and two homers off him. Mike Napoli is 4-for-13 with two dingers.
Key trends: The Orioles are 1-6 in Jimenez's past seven road starts vs. teams with a winning record. Texas is 12-2 in Perez's past 14 vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 8-2 in Perez's past 10 against clubs with a losing record.
Early lean: Rangers and over.
Red Sox at Mets (-190, 7)
This also will have live betting at sportsbooks with it nationally televised on Fox Sports 1. New York's Jacob deGrom had been perhaps the NL's best pitcher since the All-Star break, but the wheels fell off last time out as he allowed seven runs and eight hits -- three homers -- at the Phillies. But his offense bailed him out of a loss. DeGrom hasn't lost since July 2. He has never faced the Red Sox. Hanley Ramirez is 1-for-2 with a homer off him. The Sox will lose the DH in this one. Boston goes with Joe Kelly (7-6, 5.18), who makes his first career start at Citi Field. Kelly was awful most of the season but has been good in his past four, all Red Sox wins, allowing a total of five earned runs. The Mets' Daniel Murphy is 2-for-3 off him. Michael Cuddyer is 2-for-4.
Key trends: The Sox are 0-5 in Kelly's past five against teams with a winning record. The Mets are 4-0 in deGrom's past four against teams with a losing record. The over is 6-1 in deGrom's past seven against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Mets and under.
Cubs at Dodgers (+115, 7)
You will not see Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig in this game or probably for quite a while. Puig missed five weeks earlier this season with a strained left hamstring. He tweaked his right hamstring last week and then re-injured it Thursday beating out an infield single. A shame because Puig was finally starting to hit, batting .317 with three homers and nine RBIs over his past 11 games. That's one less concern for Cubs lefty Jon Lester (8-9, 3.44). He dominated the Indians last time out, coming within one out of his first NL complete game. Carl Crawford is 9-for-34 with two RBIs and nine strikeouts career off Lester. The Dodgers' Mat Latos (4-9, 4.81) had been dropped from the rotation for two weeks because he had been struggling since coming over from Cincinnati. He returns here. Latos pitched at the Cubs on July 5 while with the Reds and allowed just one hit over seven innings. Starlin Castro is 8-for-33 off him. Anthony Rizzo just 2-for-15.
Key trends: The Cubs are 4-1 in Lester's past five. The under is 7-1 in his past eight vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Cubs and under.
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