I'm certainly right more than wrong when dealing with baseball predictions -- perhaps not as much as I'd like to be -- but I'll eat crow when necessary. Have you seen the MLB standings entering the weekend? The Minnesota Twins are tied for first in the AL Central. I absolutely didn't see that coming and, like most, expected slight improvement this season for the team but still a last-place finish in perhaps MLB's deepest division. The Twins also have the best home record in the American League. Paul Molitor was a great player. Apparently he knows what he's doing as a manager as well. I still don't believe this lasts because of questionable pitching, but at least Twins fans have a reason to care until the Vikings get going.
Blue Jays at Twins (-125, 8.5)
This is your earliest start at 2:10 p.m. ET. The Twins entered Friday on a five-game winning streak, and they have won four straight series: Rays, Pirates (on road), White Sox (on road) and Red Sox (sweep). I defy you to name five Twins -- Joe Mauer, Torii Hunter and Phil Hughes don't count. It's Kyle Gibson (4-3, 2.72) for Minnesota on Saturday. He has been a big reason why the Twins are so good, allowing more than three runs just once all season. Last time out he beat the White Sox, allowing a run and four hits over eight innings and striking out a season-high eight. Toronto's Josh Donaldson is 1-for-2 with a double off him. Edwin Encarnacion is 0-for-3. The Jays' Aaron Sanchez (4-4, 3.98) has had back-to-back quality starts. He has control issues at times, leading the AL in walks. Sanchez has never faced the Twins.
Key trends: The Twins are 7-0 in Gibson's past seven against teams with a losing record. They are 0-6 in Gibson's past six vs. the AL East. The "over/under" has gone over in nine of Gibson's past 11 at home.
Early lean: Twins and over.
Indians at Mariners (-149, 8)
Been quite a week for Indians first baseman Carlos Santana. He was hit by a pitch on his hand/wrist on Tuesday but avoided any injury from it and kept playing. That's fortunate. Now he's on the paternity leave list, meaning he likely misses this series. He's hitting .221 with six homers and 27 RBIs. Shaun Marcum (1-0, 6.28) goes here for the Tribe. He's simply a rotation fill-in, and Marcum was shelled last time out, allowing seven runs over 2.2 innings vs. the Rangers. Seattle's Robinson Cano is 6-for-17 with two extra-base hits off him. Nelson Cruz has a homer and five RBIs in seven at-bats. Lefty Roenis Elias (2-1, 2.56) has won two straight starts for the Mariners, allowing a run in each. Yan Gomes is 1-for-3 with a solo homer off him. Michael Brantley is 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Key trends: The Tribe are 4-0 in their past four on the road against lefties. Seattle is 0-5 in Elias' past five at home. The under is 5-1 in Cleveland's past six against lefties. The under is 5-0 in Elias' past five at home.
Early lean: Mariners and under.
Nationals at Reds (+119, 7.5)
Washington got bad news Thursday on outfielder Jayson Werth. A CT scan of his left wrist revealed two small fractures. That means he is out until August, and that's only if everything goes well. Werth was hurt May 15 when he was hit on the left wrist by a pitch from Padres right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne in the top of the second inning. Lefty Gio Gonzalez (4-2, 4.53) goes for Washington. The Nats have won his past five. He held the Phillies to a run over 6.1 innings last time out. Joey Votto is 3-for-10 with a double, homer and three RBIs off him. Raisel Iglesias goes for Cincinnati. He took the place of a scratched Johnny Cueto on Sunday in Cleveland and lasted only three innings, allowing two runs and four hits. He has never faced Washington.
Key trends: The Nats are 5-2 in Gonzalez's past seven following a quality start in his last appearance. The under has hit in seven of his past 10 against the NL Central.
Early lean: Nationals and over.
White Sox at Astros
I'll be curious to see how Astros ace Dallas Keuchel (6-1, 1.98) rebounds here. The lefty had allowed just one homer in 64.2 innings this season before giving up two in a loss at Baltimore on Monday. Keuchel allowed a season-high four runs as well. It was the first time he allowed multiple homers in a game since July 27, 2013, against the Blue Jays, a span of 48 appearances (all starts). He also had won eight straight decisions before Monday's loss. Chicago's Melky Cabrera is 3-for-7 with a double off him. Avisail Garcia, assuming he plays as he has battled a minor knee injury, is 1-for-2 with a three-run homer. Fellow southpaw Jose Quintana (2-5, 4.67) goes for the Pale Hose. He was bombed by the Twins last time out, allowing seven runs in six innings. Quintana had been very good the previous five outings. Jason Castro is 4-for-11 with two doubles and three homers against Quintana. Jose Altuve is 3-for-13.
Key trends: Chicago is 1-8 in Quintana's past nine in Game 2 of a series. Houston is 7-1 in Keuchel's past eight at home. The over has failed to hit in Quintana's past 10 on Saturday. The under is 7-1 in Keuchel's past eight at home vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Astros at +130 on runline, under.
Braves at Giants (-169, 7)
Have you noticed the very nice bounce-back season that San Francisco's Tim Lincecum is having? He hasn't finished a season with an ERA under 4.37 since 2011 but is 4-2 with a 2.56 ERA thus far. It seems like he has been around for 15 years, but the "Freak" is only 30. Lincecum didn't pitch great in his last start, allowing four runs and five hits in five innings but still beat the Brewers. New Brave Juan Uribe has plenty of experience vs. Lincecum, going 10-for-36 with two homers, five RBIs and 10 strikeouts. Freddie Freeman hits only .211 off him. Andrelton Simmons .111. Williams Perez (0-0, 4.05) goes for the Braves. The rookie has been good in his two starts, allowing two combined runs in 11 innings with 14 strikeouts and two walks. He has never faced the Giants.
Key trends: The Giants are 5-0 in Lincecum's past five at home vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 4-0 in his past four against the Braves. San Francisco is 7-2 in Lincecum's past nine at home vs. Atlanta.
Early lean: Giants and under.
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