I'm just going to flat-out admit that if the Cubs can't win the World Series, I hope the Kansas City Royals do. Did you happen to catch Monday's nationally-televised game against Detroit? It was the home Royals debut of Johnny Cueto, and he was treated like a king. He got standing ovations all night. Great to see how into the game those title-starved fans are. And Cueto dominated in shutting out the Tigers. That made the former Red the first pitcher since Cliff Lee in 2009 with a shutout in both the AL and NL in the same season. Alas, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus had to rain on the parade by complaining after the Cueto's delivery isn't legal because he takes a pause during his wind-up. Sounds like sour grapes to me.
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Red Sox at Marlins (+104, 7.5)
Boston has ruled out closer Koji Uehara for the rest of the season after he was diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture in his right wrist. Uehara was having another fine season with a 2.23 ERA and 25 saves. And the injury might have cost Boston a prospect as Uehara was an August trade candidate. Junichi Tazawa likely gets the first shot at closing now. Boston goes with rookie Eduardo Rodriguez (6-4, 4.17) in this interleague finale in south Florida. This will be his first chance to hit in the majors; assuming he's still in the game when his spot comes up. The Red Sox also lose the DH, so they would have to sit David Ortiz or put him at first base. It's fellow rookie lefty Adam Conley (1-0, 4.05) for the Marlins.
Key trends: The Red Sox are 1-4 in their past five interleague games vs. lefties. The Marlins are 0-4 in their past four interleague games vs. lefties. The "over/under" has gone over in five straight Rodriguez starts following a quality start in his previous appearance.
Early lean: Red Sox and over.
Pirates at Cardinals (-119, 6.5)
This game is on ESPN and will have live betting at sportsbooks. Pittsburgh ace Gerrit Cole (14-5, 2.39) had to face All-Star and Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw in his last start; Cole got a no-decision, but the Pirates would eventually win the game. Now he has to face Cardinals All-Star and Cy Young candidate Michael Wacha (13-4, 2.92). Cole has faced the Cardinals once this season and beat them, allowing two runs and six hits over seven innings on July 10. Matt Carpenter is 4-for-13 with two homers off him. Matt Holliday is 6-for-12 with three RBIs. Wacha is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in two starts against Pittsburgh in 2015. Andrew McCutchen is 5-for-12 with a double off him. Pedro Alvarez is 0-for-9 with three strikeouts.
Key trends: The Pirates are 6-1 in Cole's past seven vs. teams with a winning record. They are 1-4 in his past five vs. the NL Central. The Cards are 10-1 in Wacha's past 11 vs. the NL Central. The over is 5-2 in Cole's past seven against St. Louis.
Early lean: Cardinals and under.
Rockies at Mets (-180, 7)
How crazy-hot is Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez these days? He homered Monday in the series opener against the Mets, his 16th homer and 36th RBI in his past 28 games. He remains a possible August trade candidate as he'd likely clear waivers because of that big contract. CarGo looks to keep it going against the Mets' Jacob deGrom (10-6, 2.13). New York has won deGrom's past five outings, and he hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of them. He is 5-2 with a 1.60 ERA at home this season. Gonzalez has never faced him. Colorado has won two straight starts by Jorge De La Rosa (7-4, 4.85). It's his first look at the Mets this season. Juan Uribe is 9-for-38 with eight strikeouts off him. Michael Cuddyer, who was just activated off the DL, is 1-for-10. Curtis Granderson is 1-for-6 with a homer.
Key trends: The Rockies are 5-1 in De La Rosa's past six vs. teams with a winning record. The Mets are 5-0 in deGrom's past five vs. the NL West. The over is 4-0 in De La Rosa's past four. The over is 6-0 in deGrom's past six at home vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Mets and under.
Tigers at Royals (-179, 8)
Lefty Daniel Norris makes his third start for Detroit since coming over in the David Price deal. Norris (2-2, 4.24) was very good in his debut but not last time out as he was knocked around for five runs and nine hits over 3.1 innings by the Red Sox. Norris hasn't faced the Royals this season. It's Edinson Volquez (11-6, 3.11) for Kansas City. He dominated the White Sox last time out, allowing a run and four hits over seven innings. Volquez is 1-3 over his career against the Tigers with a 4.98 ERA. Ian Kinsler is 4-for-9 with two RBIs off him. Victor Martinez is 0-for-10.
Key trends: The Royals are 5-0 in Volquez's past five at home. The under is 4-1 in his past five overall. The under is 6-2 in Kansas City's past eight vs. a lefty.
Early lean: Royals and over.
Nationals at Dodgers (-213, 6)
Fine pitching matchup here as well. It's Jordan Zimmermann (8-7, 3.44) for Washington, which has lost his past three starts. He faced the Dodgers on July 17 and lasted four innings, allowing two runs and three hits. The Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez is 5-for-18 with a homer off him. Jimmy Rollins is 8-for-35 with two homers. Yasiel Puig is 2-for-5 -- he is now a part-time player, by the way. It's Kershaw (9-6, 2.51) for the Dodgers. His streak of 37 straight scoreless innings ended against the first Pirates batter he faced on Friday as Gregory Polanco went yard off him. Kershaw would allow four runs overall, his most since June 17. He beat the Nationals on July 18, shutting them out on three hits and with 14 strikeouts over eight innings.
Key trends: The Nats are 4-1 in Zimmermann's past five starts vs. teams with a winning record. The Dodgers have won six straight on Wednesday. The over is 6-0 in Washington's past six against a lefty. The under is 7-1 in Kershaw's past eight.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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