Washington's Bryce Harper is one of the five most popular players in baseball. So you think he would know better than to criticize his own team's fans. The vastly underachieving Nationals opened a huge series with the Mets on Monday -- maybe the most important regular-season series in team history. Washington lost 8-5, and Harper had this to say about the fans: "I mean, they left in the seventh, so that's pretty brutal," Harper said. "I don't know. Whatever." Harper can take part of the blame for that loss, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. At least Washington fans have Redskins football to look forward to starting Sunday. Oh, yeah, sorry.
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Cubs at Cardinals (-122, 7)
This is your only matinee with a 1:45 p.m. ET start, and I don't know why it's not nationally televised. There's a chance the Cubs will get star rookie Kyle Schwarber back from a rib-cage strain for this finale. Schwarber hasn't yet experienced the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry up close and badly wants to play. It's lefty Jon Lester (9-10, 3.59) for the Cubs. He lasted only 5 innings last time out but got the win over Arizona, allowing two runs and five hits. Lester is 1-2 with a 1.96 ERA in three starts against the Cardinals in 2015. Jhonny Peralta is 8-for-34 with three homers and 10 strikeouts off him. Jason Heyward is 8-for-18 with four doubles. It's Carlos Martinez (13-7, 3.04) for St. Louis. After allowing three runs in just three of his first 18 starts, Martinez has allowed at least three in each of his last seven. He may be hitting the wall. Martinez is 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA in 10.2 innings this year vs. Chicago. Anthony Rizzo is 1-for-6 with a homer off him.
Key trends: The Cubs are 7-1in Lester's past eight vs. the NL Central. The Cards are 4-1 in their past five vs. a lefty. They are 7-2 in Martinez's past nine at home. The "over/under" has gone under in eight of Lester's past nine vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 5-1-1 in Martinez's past seven against teams with a winning record.
Early lean: Cardinals and under.
Mets at Nationals (-119, 7)
This is the first game of the ESPN doubleheader and will have live betting at sportsbooks. Jacob deGrom (12-7, 2.40) gets the call for New York. The Mets have lost his past two even though both were quality starts. DeGrom is 1-2 with a 3.47 ERA in four starts this year against Washington. Ian Desmond is 4-for-13 with a homer and five RBIs against him. Harper is 5-for-13 with a double. Washington's Stephen Strasburg (8-6, 4.35) hasn't lost since Aug. 13. He missed his last turn through the rotation, however, with back spasms. He is 1-1 with a 4.22 ERA this year in two starts vs. the Mets. David Wright is 6-for-19 with seven strikeouts vs. him career. Lucas Duda is 2-for-9 with a homer.
Key trends: The Mets are 6-1 in deGrom's past seven on the road. The Nats are 5-0 in Strasburg's past five at home. The over is 7-2 in deGrom's past nine vs. the NL East. The over is 4-1 in Strasburg's past five vs. the Mets.
Early lean: Nationals and under.
Dodgers at Angels (-135, 8)
This is your late ESPN game and also will have live betting at sportsbooks. The Dodgers aren't sure when shortstop Jimmy Rollins will be able to play with a sore knuckle, although X-rays on him came back negative on Monday. The Halos had to face Zack Greinke on Monday and then Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday, so things should be significantly easier here against Mat Latos (4-9, 4.92). He might lose his rotation spot with another poor performance. Latos hasn't even gone five innings in four straight starts. He made his Dodgers debut (following trade from Miami) vs. the Angels and that's been his only good start, allowing one run over six innings. Albert Pujols is 3-for-11 with three RBIs off him. Mike Trout is 1-for-6. It's Garrett Richards (13-10, 3.77) for the Angels. He hasn't faced the Dodgers in 2015. Andre Ethier is 2-for-6 off him with two doubles.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 9-1 in their past 10 on Wednesday. The Angels are 8-1in Richards' past nine interleague starts. The over is 4-1 in his past five.
Early lean: Angels and over.
Astros at A's (+137, 7.5)
Now here's an injury I wouldn't want: the A's aren't sure when catcher Stephen Vogt will return to the lineup after taking a foul tip directly in the groin on Sunday. Clearly he wasn't wearing a cup when you saw his reaction as he fell to the ground, did a 360-degree roll and gathered in a fetal position while the A's medical crew rushed to help. Josh Phegley takes over as the everyday catcher. Aaron Brooks (1-2, 6.91) goes here for Oakland. The former Royals prospect was roughed up for six runs in 2.1 innings last time out vs. Seattle. The rookie's best outing thus far was Aug. 6 vs. Houston where he allowed a run and four hits over 7.0 innings. Houston's Collin McHugh (15-7, 3.75) comes off one of his best starts of the year, shutting out the Twins over 7.2 innings in his last start. Since Aug. 1, McHugh has a 1.54 ERA.
Key trends: Houston is 1-5 in McHugh's past six road starts vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 8-0 in his past eight vs. clubs with a losing record.
Early lean: Astros and under.
Orioles at Yankees (-128, 8.5)
Orioles All-Star Adam Jones had to leave Monday's game with soreness in his shoulder and some wrist soreness, so monitor his status for the next few games. Jones thinks he's fine but missed eight games in June with a sore right shoulder. The free-falling Orioles go with Ubaldo Jimenez (10-9, 4.24) here. He actually won in Toronto last time out but lasted only 5.2 innings. He hasn't lasted six since Aug. 8. Jimenez is 1-1 with a 12.27 ERA in two starts this year against the Yankees. Chase Headley is 8-for-26 with three doubles and a homer off him. Carlos Beltran is a career .350 hitter off Jimenez with two homers. The Yankees are expecting to activate lefty CC Sabathia (4-9, 5.27) off the DL for this one. There was some talk his season might be over with knee issues, but Sabathia will try and pitch with a brace on. He is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA in two starts this year vs. Baltimore. Jones is a .311 hitter off him with four homers in 61 at-bats.
Key trends: The Orioles are 0-7 in their past seven vs. lefties. The over is 4-1 in Jimenez's past five. The Yanks are 7-1 in Sabathia's past eight at home vs. Baltimore. The under is 4-1-1 in his past six at home vs. Baltimore.
Early lean: Yankees and over.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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