Will 2016 be the Year of the Brawl? The Rangers and Blue Jays, centered around Rougned Odor and Jose Bautista, had a big one about three weeks ago. And on Tuesday night, there was another pretty intense one between the Orioles and Royals, centered on Kansas City pitcher Yordano Ventura and Baltimore superstar and MVP candidate Manny Machado. Both are going to get suspended, but Ventura deserves a long one. He basically lost his mind in the game. He nearly hit Machado in the second inning with Baltimore already up 5-0 and the two exchanged words after Machado flew out. In the fifth inning, Ventura's first pitch was right at Machado. He charged the mound and appeared to get a few punches in to Ventura's head before a pile-up ensued. Both guys aren't likely to serve their suspensions for a while as it usually takes MLB a day or two to issue them and then players always appeal. Ventura is known as a major hot head and basically started a brawl with the White Sox last season and nearly so with the Angels in 2015 as well. Ventura has all the talent in the world but now a 5.32 ERA because he can't seem to control his temper. That's why the Royals reportedly recently called other teams about a potential trade.
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Astros at Rangers (-115, 9.5)
This 2:05 p.m. ET matinee -- I bet it will be rather warm in Arlington that time of day locally -- will be nationally televised by the MLB Network and should have live betting at sportsbooks. Collin McHugh gets the call in the series finale for Houston, which has been largely dominated by the Rangers this season. McHugh (5-4, 4.97) allowed four runs in 5.1 innings last time out in a no-decision against Oakland as the Astros won his third straight outing. He has not faced Texas this year and was 3-0 with a 4.43 ERA in four starts against the Rangers in 2015. Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre are each 6-for-14 career against him. Prince Fielder is 8-for-11. Texas goes with lefty Martin Perez (4-4, 3.24). The Rangers won his third straight start Saturday as Perez allowed three runs in six innings vs. Seattle. Perez hasn't faced Houston this year and was 1-2 with a 2.00 ERA against the Astros last season. Jose Altuve is 7-for-18 off him. Evan Gattis 5-for-9.
Key trends: The Astros are 4-1 in McHugh's past five vs. Texas. The Rangers are 8-2 in Perez's past 10 at home vs. teams with a losing record. The "over/under" is 5-1 in McHugh's past six road starts.
Early lean: Rangers and under (due to early start after a night game; usually favors pitchers).
Pirates at Rockies (-135, 11.5)
A 5:10 p.m. ET start in Denver. I have a feeling the Pirates might rest some regulars here. This is a makeup game from one postponed earlier this year. It's quite unfortunate for Pittsburgh as it's in the middle of a homestand, so the team had to fly to Denver on Wednesday night, play this game and then fly back to Pittsburgh on Thursday night to start a home series with the Cardinals on Friday. The Bucs go with lefty Jeff Locke (5-3, 4.28) in this one. He has won four straight outings. On Saturday, he beat the Angels, allowing three runs in seven innings. Locke pitched in Colorado on April 25 and shut out the Rockies on five hits over six innings. Nolan Arenado is 6-for-14 with a homer and four RBIs off him. Colorado's Chad Bettis (4-5, 5.58) has lost three starts in a row and allowed 17 runs in them. He lost to Pittsburgh on April 25, allowing four runs in 6.2 innings.
Key trends: The Pirates are 3-7 in Locke's past 10 on the road. The Rockies are 0-5 in Bettis' past five at home vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 8-2 in Colorado's past 10 at home vs. a lefty.
Early lean: Rockies and over.
Orioles at Blue Jays (-150, 9)
If you had Baltimore's Mark Trumbo has the first player in baseball to 20 homers this season, kudos to you. He looked somewhat done last year but has been terrific with the O's after coming over in trade. He's also among the AL RBI leaders and hitting at a surprisingly good average. Trumbo and Co. will face Jays starter Marcus Stroman (5-2, 4.82). Toronto's presumed ace has really not pitched like one of late, allowing at least six runs in three of his past four starts. Stroman pitched in Baltimore on April 19 and gave up three runs in seven innings. in a win. Trumbo is 1-for-2 off him career. Machado is 1-for-6 with a homer. It's Tyler Wilson (2-5, 4.39) for Baltimore, which has lost his past four. He allowed five runs in four innings last time out vs. the Yankees. Wilson pitched two innings of relief vs. Toronto on April 19 and allowed a run. Jose Bautista is 1-for-2 with a double off him.
Key trends: The Jays are 8-2 in Stroman's past 10 at home vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 7-2 in his past nine at home.
Early lean: Blue Jays and over.
Nationals at White Sox (+125, 9)
It was to be a pair of lefties and high Chicago draft picks in this one. Washington's Gio Gonzalez (3-4, 3.94) was the 38th overall pick of the 2004 draft by the White Sox. He never pitched in the majors with them, however, being traded to Philadelphia in December 2005 in a deal that landed Chicago Jim Thome. The Sox traded for Gonzalez from Philly in December 2006. But he still never pitched for the big club as the Pale Hose traded him to Oakland in January 2008. Gonzalez had been fantastic this season but has been really roughed up in losing three straight starts, allowing 18 runs combined. This will be his first time facing Chicago. Todd Frazier is 2-for-8 off him with a double. The Sox were to go with go with 2014 first-round pick Carlos Rodon, but he has been scratched due to discomfort in his neck area. That's obviously not good, but the Sox think a skipped start will solve the issue. So former No. 5 starter Miguel Gonzalez (0-1, 3.93) will come out of the bullpen. Washington's Bryce Harper is 1-for-3 career off him with a homer. Danny Espinosa is 2-for-3 with a homer. The Nationals will have the DH here.
Key trends: The Nats are 8-3 in Gonzalez's past 11 on Thursday. The White Sox are 1-6 in their past seven vs. lefties. The over is 9-1 in Gonzalez's past 10 in Game 3 of a series.
Early lean: Nationals and over.
Indians at Mariners (-130, 8)
Cleveland is starting to look like the team to beat in the AL Central even though the club is now fearing that injured outfielder Michael Brantley might not make it back this season due to his shoulder problems. The Indians might also be without catcher Yan Gomes again Thursday as he suffered a testicular contusion (yikes) on Tuesday thanks to a foul tip. The Tribe start Josh Tomlin (8-1, 3.54) here. He bounced back from his first loss of the season by throwing 6.2 innings of one-run ball against Kansas City on Saturday. Tomlin didn't allow a homer for the first time since April 22. The Mariners' Kyle Seager hits him well, going 5-for-9 with four doubles. Robinson Cano is 5-for-14 with a homer and four RBIs. The Mariners go with Nathan Karns (5-2, 4.23). He was roughed up for a season-high seven runs in four innings on Saturday in Texas. Karns pitched in Cleveland on April 21 and that had been his worst start, allowing five runs in 5.1 innings. Jason Kipnis is 4-for-9 off him with two doubles. Rajai Davis is 2-for-4 with a homer.
Key trends: The Indians are 8-0 in Tomlin's past eight on the road. The Mariners are 8-2 in Karns' past 10 overall. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Mariners and under.
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