White Sox ace Chris Sale was a bit inconsistent to start the season, and some wondered if perhaps it was because he was using his slider less -- presumably to relieve the strain on his valuable left arm. Well, worry no longer. Sale won a third straight start in dominant fashion on Monday vs. the Astros. Sale became the first pitcher in White Sox history to record at least 10 strikeouts in four straight starts, and he is the first pitcher in baseball's modern era (since 1900) to record at least 10 strikeouts in four straight starts and increase his strikeout total in each. He whiffed a season-high 14 against Houston. Sale looks to keep it going Sunday at the Rays.
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White Sox at Rays (+130, 7)
Here's more on Sale (6-2, 3.04): He has joined Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, considered by many the greatest left-hander in baseball history (albeit in a career cut short), as the only pitchers in the modern era with three straight starts of 12 strikeouts and one run allowed or fewer. Koufax did it in 1965. Sale has 13 games of at least 10 strikeouts since the start of the past season. That is tied with the Tigers' David Price for second-most in the majors. Cleveland's Corey Kluber has the most (15). Sale hasn't faced Tampa this season. Evan Longoria is 1-for-8 with four strikeouts off him. Asbdurbal Cabrera is 8-for-32 with a homer and seven RBIs. Nate Karns (3-3, 3.86) starts for the Rays. His past two starts were against the Angels and he allowed four earned in each, not lasting six innings in either. Only a few White Sox have faced him. Jose Abreu is 0-for-3. Avisail Garcia is 2-for-3 with two solo homers.
Key trends: The Sox are 5-0 in Sale's past five on five days of rest. The Rays are 7-0 in their past seven against lefties. The "over/under" has gone over in six of Karns' past eight at home.
Early lean: White Sox and under.
Indians at Tigers (+112, 7.5)
Speaking of Kluber (3-7, 3.53), he gets the start in this series finale. He has lost two straight, to the Mariners and Royals, and struck out only 13 over 15 innings. He faced the Tigers in Cleveland on April 11 and got a no-decision, allowing two runs and seven hits over 6.1 innings, striking out 10. He has four double-digit strikeout games this season. Miguel Cabrera smashes Kluber, going 18-for-33 with four homers and nine RBIs. J.D. Martinez hits .417 with a homer off him. Detroit's Alfredo Simon (6-3, 2.76) is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts this season against the Tribe. Michael Brantley kills him, going 10-for-15 with four doubles and seven RBIs.
Key trends: The Indians are 0-7 in their Kluber's past seven against the AL Central. The Tigers are 4-1 in Simon's past five at home. The under is 14-3 in Kluber's past 17 on the road.
Early lean: Indians, under, Cabrera and Brantley hitting props.
Yankees at Orioles (-117, 8.5)
Baltimore has lost perhaps its best starting pitcher, Miguel Gonzalez, to the disabled list with a right groin strain. The injury occurred during Baltimore's game against Boston on Tuesday night. Gonzalez is 5-4 with a 3.33 ERA in 12 starts. To replace Gonzalez on the roster, the Orioles recalled right-hander Mike Wright from Triple-A Norfolk and he's set to start this one. He made four starts earlier this season and was 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA. Wright has never faced the Yankees. Might Alex Rodriguez become the third player in big-league history with 2,000 RBIs in this game? The Yankees' Adam Warren (4-4, 3.64) hasn't allowed more than two runs in his past four starts. He faced Baltimore on May 8 at Yankee Stadium and allowed two runs and seven hits over 5.2 innings. J.J. Hardy is 3-for-6 with three RBIs off him. Adam Jones 4-for-9 with a double.
Key trends: The Yanks are 4-1 in Warren's past five vs. the AL East. The under is 7-2 in Baltimore's past nine at home vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Orioles and over.
Blue Jays at Red Sox (-131, 9)
Boston's pitching staff has been a massive disappointment this season and everyone expects the Sox to make a deal. Maybe they don't need to if rookie Eduardo Rodriguez keeps this up. The lefty has allowed just eight hits and one run, striking out 21, over 20.2 innings in his first three big-league starts. The Orioles have to be kicking themselves right now for trading him last summer to the Sox. This will be his first look at Toronto, which has the best offense in baseball. The Jays' Marco Estrada (3-3, 3.78) has won back-to-back starts and solidified the back end of the rotation. He pitched three scoreless innings of relief against Boston in April and got the win. David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia are 1-for-5 each off him.
Key trends: Boston is 3-7 in its past 10 on a Sunday. The over is 5-2 in Toronto's past seven against a lefty.
Early lean: Jays and under.
Reds at Cubs (-172, TBA)
This is your Sunday night ESPN game and will have live betting at sportsbooks -- also final Sunday to parlay some baseball bet with an NBA game, sadly. The Cubs start who was supposed to be their ace in lefty Jon Lester (4-5, 4.25), but they have lost his past four. The first two of those Lester pitched well but over his past two he has allowed 11 runs and 18 hits over just 9.1 innings. He is 0-0 with a 6.75 ERA in two starts against the Reds. They are hitting .306 off him. Jay Bruce is 2-for-6 with a double and two RBIs off him. Joey Votto has a triple in six at-bats. Cincinnati's Anthony DeSclafani (5-4, 3.53) has won three straight starts. He loves facing the Cubs as he is 1-1 with a 0.75 ERA in two starts against them in 2015. Anthony Rizzo is 0-for-8 against him. Kris Bryant 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
Key trends: The Reds are 0-4 in their past four against a left-hander. The Cubs are 5-0 in Lester's past five against the NL Central. The under is 4-0-1 in Lester's past five at home.
Early lean: Cubs.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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