Pretty surprising news out of Boston on Tuesday night -- it won't save the Red Sox this season but should be an excellent move going forward. The Sox hired former Tigers team president and general manager Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations. Now, I'm not too shocked that the Sox hired Dombrowski, but so soon is surprising. Apparently the team offered to let GM Ben Cherington keep his job and work under Dombrowski, but Cherington, who put together a World Series roster in 2013, declined. Dombrowski is reunited with Red Sox co-owner John Henry, who purchased the Florida Marlins when Dombrowski was there in 1998 and owned the club for four years. Job No. 1 for Dombrowski? Try and dump either Hanley Ramirez or Pablo Sandoval on some team this offseason. Both have been busts as big free-agent signings. Good luck with that.
Giants at Pirates (-124, 7.5)
This game is nationally televised by the MLB Network and will have live betting at sportsbooks. San Francisco has rarely had its starting outfield in place this season due to injuries, and it won't for a few more weeks. While Nori Aoki is expected to rejoin the team off the seven-day concussion list Thursday, the Giants have placed Hunter Pence on the 15-day DL with a strained oblique. Entering Wednesday, the Giants are 34-17 in games Pence has started and are 31-37 without him in the lineup. Jake Peavy (3-5, 4.18) takes the mound for San Francisco in the series opener. He won his last start vs. Washington despite allowing five runs and nine hits over 5.2 innings. Aramis Ramirez has faced Peavy more than any other Pirate, going 7-for-30 with two doubles and a homer. It's Charlie Morton (7-4, 4.36) for the Bucs. They have won his past four. In 11 career starts against San Francisco, Morton has a 2.84 ERA. Buster Posey is 5-for-15 with two doubles off him.
Key trends: The Pirates have lost seven straight Morton starts on Thursday. The "over/under" has gone over in five of the Giants' past seven on Thursday. The over is 7-1 in Morton's past eight vs. teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Pirates and under.
Twins at Orioles (-156, 8.5)
If Minnesota has a save opportunity here, it won't be usual closer Glen Perkins finishing things off but Kevin Jepsen. Perkins left the team on Wednesday to travel back to the Twin Cities to get a cortisone injection in his neck. Perkins has allowed runs in three of his last six appearances and blown two saves in that stretch. Rookie right-hander Tyler Duffey (1-1, 6.75) goes for the Twins here. He was shelled in his first career outing, but No. 2 was great as he held the Indians scoreless and to one hit over six innings. First look at Orioles. Baltimore's Miguel Gonzalez (9-8, 4.42) hasn't won in his past four starts. He did have a quality outing last time out, allowing three runs over seven innings against Oakland. The Twins' Torii Hunter is 2-for-5 with a homer off him.
Key trends: The Orioles are 6-2 in Gonzalez's past eight in Game 1 of a series. The over is 7-3 in his past 10 overall. The Twins have won four straight meetings vs. Orioles.
Early lean: Orioles and over.
Rangers at Tigers (-113, 9)
Texas is hoping to get back outfielder Josh Hamilton on Thursday, but if he's not able to play by then -- and right now it doesn't look promising -- with a sore knee he might land on the disabled list. Because Hamilton is so brittle, the Rangers have picked up some outfield depth in trading for San Diego's Will Venable. Lefty Martin Perez (1-2, 5.29) gets the start for Texas in this series opener. Perez is 1-0 with a 2.21 ERA in his last three starts, beginning to look like the guy he was pre-Tommy John surgery. He hasn't faced Detroit in 2015. Only a few Tigers have ever faced him. Victor Martinez is 1-for-3 with a solo homer. Detroit has won four straight starts by Alfredo Simon (10-7, 4.84), but he was beaten in Houston last time out, allowing four runs over five innings. He is 4-2 with a 3.92 ERA this season at Comerica Park. Adrian Beltre is 2-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs off him. Venable is 2-for-2 with a homer and four knocked in.
Key trends: Texas is 7-0 in Perez's past seven road starts vs. teams with a losing record. Detroit is 1-4 in Simon's past five vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 8-1 in Perez's past nine vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 4-1 in Simon's past five at home.
Early lean: Rangers and over.
Phillies at Marlins (-143, 8)
It looks like the Phillies will be without excellent rookie third baseman Maikel Franco for the rest of the season. He has been placed on the disabled list with a fractured wrist. GM Ruben Amaro said the Phillies have not decided whether Franco will return this season but admitted that they would be "cautious." Franco has 14 homers and 48 RBIs in only 77 games. So that's a weakened lineup for Miami lefty Brad Hand (2-3, 4.74) to deal with. He was clobbered last time out, allowing six runs and 11 hits over six innings in St. Louis. Chase Utley is 3-for-16 career off him. Philly's Jerome Williams (4-8, 5.47) has been very good in his past three outings, allowing just three earned runs combined. Miami's Dee Gordon is 4-for-9 off him. Marcell Ozuna is 2-for-5 with two RBIs.
Key trends: The Phillies are 4-1 in their past five against a lefty. The Marlins are 1-5 in Hand's past six vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 7-1 in Hand's past eight at home.
Early lean: Marlins and under.
Nationals at Rockies (+179, 10)
Colorado manager Walt Weiss has reinstalled John Axford as his closer a few weeks after demoting him from that role. His replacement, Tommy Kahnle, had struggled of late. Axford lost the closer's spot to Kahnle in early August after he blew four save opportunities in a five-game stretch. I'm doubting the Rockies have a save chance on Thursday as they face Nationals ace Max Scherzer (11-9, 2.73), although he looks a bit tired. In his last 15 innings (three games), Scherzer has allowed 13 runs. One of those was against the Rockies as he allowed four runs over six innings on Aug. 9 in a no-decision. Carlos Gonzalez is 3-for-9 off him with three solo homers. Colorado goes with lefty Yohan Flande (2-1, 4.19). He was opposite Scherzer on Aug. 9 and gave up three runs and six hits in 4.2 innings. Ryan Zimmerman is 4-for-6 with two homers off him.
Key trends: Washington is 4-1 in Scherzer's past five road starts vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 4-1 in his past five overall. The over is 6-1 in Colorado's past seven at home vs. a righty starter.
Early lean: Nationals and under.
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