How can I lead this story with anyone but the Toronto Blue Jays after how they dominated the New York Yankees over the weekend? The Jays are now just 1.5 games behind the Bombers following the three-game sweep in which they allowed just one run; a week ago, the Yankees led Toronto by six. It was the first time since May 2003 that Toronto swept New York in a series of at least three games. I now not only think the Blue Jays are the best team in the American League but all of MLB. That said, Tuesday's home game vs. Oakland simply feels like a huge letdown game. How can it not be? Off a huge sweep with the Yanks and then another series, this time at home, against New York upcoming.
A's at Blue Jays (-200, 9)
Toronto brings an eight-game winning streak into this one and has lost once since acquiring Troy Tulowitzki. Drew Hutchison gets the start here. Hutchison (10-2, 5.42) has won four straight starts even though he hasn't been all that great in them. He gets the best run support of any Jays starter, which I'm sure you surmised when seeing that record and ERA. Hutchison hasn't faced Oakland in 2015. Billy Butler is 1-for-5 with two strikeouts off him. Stephen Vogt is 1-for-3. It's Kendall Graveman (6-7, 3.90) for the A's. He was one of those guys sent from Toronto to Oakland in the Josh Donaldson deal this offseason. Graveman lost to the Jays on July 21, allowing six runs over 5.1 innings.
Key trends: The A's are 1-4 in Graveman's past five on the road. The Jays are 13-3 in Hutchison's past 16 at home. The "over/under" has gone over in four straight Graveman starts vs. the AL East. The over is 5-1 in Hutchison's past six.
Early lean: Can't really go against the A's now, can I? Go over.
Yankees at Indians (-122, 7.5)
New York enters this not having scored in 26 straight innings from that Toronto series. Not since May 1999 against the Angels had the Yankees been shut out in two straight games. That stretch of 2,665 games between consecutive shutouts was the longest in major-league history. The Bombers start top prospect Luis Severino (0-1, 1.80) here. He looked good in his debut last week, allowing two runs and striking out seven against Boston. For Cleveland, it's Carlos Carrasco (11-8, 3.76). He was spectacular last time out, throwing nine shutout innings and allowing just one hit against the Angels. But he got a no-decision. Carrasco hasn't faced the Yankees this season. Jacoby Ellsbury is 3-for-11 off him. Brett Gardner is 3-for-8 with a double and two RBIs.
Key trends: The Yanks are 4-1 in their past five after an off day. The Indians are 1-5 in Carrasco's past six at home vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 4-0 in his past four at home.
Early lean: Indians and under.
Brewers at Cubs (-148, TBA)
This could be another potential letdown game as the Cubs are likely feeling pretty good about themselves off big four-game sweep of the Giants over the weekend. And it looks like Starlin Castro is done as the Cubs' starting shortstop as that job has gone to Addison Russell, who is the future there. Castro will be traded this offseason, although his value is at an all-time low. The Cubs go with Dan Haren (7-7, 3.49) here. He took the loss in his Chicago debut on Wednesday against the Pirates, allowing four runs over five innings. Haren hasn't faced the Brewers this season. Jonathan Lucroy is 2-for-4 with a homer and five RBIs off him. Milwaukee rookie Taylor Jungmann (6-3, 2.26) hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in eight straight starts. That's the amount he gave up vs. Chicago on July 31 over 5.2 innings. Jorge Soler is 2-for-3 off him.
Key trends: The Brewers are 5-1 in Jungmann's past six on the road. The Cubs have won four straight series openers. The under is 4-0 in Jungmann's past four vs. the NL Central.
Early lean: Brewers and under no matter the number (probably 8 depending on wind).
Nationals at Dodgers (-176, 6.5)
Monitor the status of Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick for a few days. He had to leave Sunday's game against the Pirates with a leg injury. It's being called a strained hamstring. Kendrick made two lengthy trips to the DL in 2008 because of strains to the same hamstring. He was to undergo an MRI on Monday. Enrique Hernandez will replace Kendrick in the short term. Zack Greinke (11-2, 1.71) goes here for L.A. He had a pretty unique outing last time vs. the Phillies, allowing a season-high six runs over six innings. The six runs equaled the total Greinke gave up in his previous nine starts combined. Greinke hadn't allowed six earned runs since Aug. 19, 2012. But he also was 3-for-3 with a homer and got the win. Greinke blanked the Nats over eight innings on July 19. Bryce Harper is 1-for-4 off him with two strikeouts. Ian Desmond is 0-for-13. It's Joe Ross (3-3, 2.80) for Washington. Interesting stat here: Ross has 47 strikeouts and four walks, which would be the best ratio for a rookie in baseball history if he qualified for the minimum innings limit (50). He has never faced the Dodgers.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 13-3 in Greinke's past 13 vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 4-1 in Ross' past five vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 4-0 in Greinke's past four against Washington.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
Astros at Giants (-138, 6.5)
Nice matchup of lefties here. It's Scott Kazmir (6-6, 2.08) for Houston. He has been everything the Astros could have hoped for since coming over from Oakland. Kazmir is 1-1 with a 0.44 ERA in three starts with the Astros. He hasn't given up more than one earned run in a start since June 27. Hunter Pence is 2-for-5 with a homer off him. Nori Aoki is 3-for-6 with an RBI. Monitor his status here. Aoki was hit by a pitch in the helmet on Sunday and had to leave. San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner (12-6, 3.28) held the Braves to a run over 7.1 innings last time out , his third straight start going at least seven innings. Jose Altuve is 5-for-14 with a homer off him. Carlos Gomez is 3-for-14. Reminder that Houston loses the DH.
Key trends: Houston is 5-1 in its past six against a lefty. The Giants are 13-3 in Bumgarner's past 16 vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 11-3 in his past 14 on Tuesday.
Early lean: Astros and under.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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