The series of the weekend is a potential ALCS (or DS) preview between the Red Sox and Astros. Houston is running away with the AL West and is the +240 pennant favorite at BetOnline . The Red Sox (+450) were spring AL favorites but are currently fourth on the odds behind the Astros, Yankees (+350) and Indians (+400). Expect Houston and Boston to be out looking for a lot of the same pitching help. Both staffs have been hit hard by injuries this season. The Red Sox got a double dose of bad news on Thursday. Starter Brian Johnson, who is in the rotation because Eduardo Rodriguez is out at least until after the All-Star break, was placed on the DL with a left shoulder impingement. I don't really know what an impingement is, but something in your pitching shoulder is never good. Meanwhile, the Red Sox clearly got hoodwinked by the Brewers this past offseason as Milwaukee sent excellent reliever Tyler Thornburg to Boston for Travis Shaw and three prospects. Seemed like a fair trade at the time. But Shaw has been one of the Brewers' best hitters, while Thornburg has yet to pitch this season and now won't. He was to undergo season-ending surgery Friday for thoracic outlet syndrome. Another Boston starter, Steven Wright, was already lost for the season. If you are a non-contender with pitching to spare this summer, you should do very well.
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Indians at Twins ( +105, 11 )
Game 1 of a doubleheader at 2:10 p.m. ET. Monitor whether the Tribe will have outfielder Michael Brantley for this game/DH. His wife went into labor on Thursday and he left the team. He has the right to go on the paternity list if he wants and thus would be away for three games maximum. Just recently, Cubs closer Wade Davis spent just one day on the list; it's up to the player. Brantley is hitting .296 with 28 RBIs. It's expected to be Ryan Merritt in the opener for the Tribe. He will be called up from Triple-A and be pitching in the big leagues for the first time since his 4.1 scoreless innings in Game 5 of the ALCS vs. Toronto. Minnesota counters with rookie Adalberto Mejia (1-2, 5.75). He lost for the first time since May 21 on Monday vs. Seattle, getting bombed for a career-high nine runs in 3.2 innings. Mejia hasn't faced Cleveland.
Key trends: The Indians are 1-4 in their past five on Saturday. The Twins have lost their past four Game 1s of a doubleheader. The "over/under" has gone under in seven of the Indians' past eight on Saturday.
Early lean: Twins and under that mammoth non-Coors Field total.
Cardinals at Orioles (-115, 10)
St. Louis will add the designated hitter for this interleague matchup at 4:05 p.m. ET. The Cards, however, have lost second baseman Kolten Wong to the DL due to a forearm injury, his second stint there this year. Wong is hitting a career-high .301 (current six-game hitting streak) with a great .393 on-base percentage. Paul DeJong was recalled from Triple-A Memphis and should take Wong's spot most nights. Adam Wainwright (7-4, 4.73) is on the mound for the Cards. He was blown up on June 6 in Cincinnati but bounced back with a solid effort (5 IP, 2 ER) in a win over the Phillies last time out. JJ Hardy has faced him more than any Oriole, going 5-for-26 with two RBIs. Baltimore lefty Wade Miley (2-4, 3.97) was rung up for the second straight start Monday, allowing six runs in 2.1 innings at the White Sox. Miley's strong beginning to the season is starting to look like a mirage. The Cards' Dexter Fowler is 6-for-19 with a homer off him.
Key trends: The Orioles are 5-1 in Miley's past six interleague starts. The over is 20-8-1 in Wainwright's past 29 on the road. The over is 5-2 in Miley's past seven.
Early lean: Cardinals and over.
Yankees at A's (+128, 9)
Oakland GM Billy Beane might be close to cleaning house - and Manager Bob Melvin could well be next. On Thursday, Beane released free-agent signee Trevor Plouffe, expected to be the club's every-day third baseman, and fired pitching coach Curt Young, replacing him with bullpen coach Scott Emerson. The low-budget A's can't really afford to make $5.25 million free-agent mistakes but that's what they signed Plouffe for this offseason. He was solid last year with the Twins but hitting only .214 with a .276 on-base percentage this year. This makes Oakland a bit more interesting as one of its top prospects, Matt Chapman, now will man the hot corner in the majors. Chapman was the team's 2014 first-round pick. The A's go with Jesse Hahn (2-4, 3.56) here. Oakland has won once in his last eight trips to the mound. Hahn took a no-decision last time out at Tampa Bay, giving up three runs over five. The Yanks' Didi Gregorius is 3-for-5 against him. The Bombers could be without both Gary Sanchez and Aaron Hicks as they are dealing with minor injuries suffered Thursday. New York had lost five straight starts by Masahiro Tanaka (5-6, 6.07), but he allowed one earned run over 6.2 at the Angles on Monday in a no-decision (Yankees won). Tanaka dominated Oakland on May 26 (7.1 IP, 1 ER, 13 Ks).
Key trends: The Yankees are 1-5 in Tanaka's past six. The A's are 5-1 in Hahn's past six at home. The over is 6-2 in Tanaka's past eight. The over is 6-2 in Hahn's past eight at home.
Early lean: A's on runline and over.
Rays at Tigers (-107, 9)
A Fox Sports 1 game at 4:10 p.m. ET. No doubt plenty of scouts will be in attendance any time Rays ace Chris Archer takes the mound from now until the trading deadline as he could be the top arm available - for a big price. Archer (4-4, 3.80) hasn't won in his past three starts, although he keeps striking out a ton of guys, ranking second to Chris Sale in the AL in Ks with 114. Archer took a no-decision Sunday vs. Oakland (6 IP, 4 ER). He also had a ND vs. Detroit on April 19 (5 IP, 4 ER, 9 Ks). Miguel Cabrera is 6-for-15 with a homer and five RBIs against him. Detroit's Michael Fulmer (6-4, 3.40) has given up five runs in each of his past two outings and thus had his last turn skipped. He also was dealing with some minor shoulder inflammation. Fulmer lost at the Rays on April 18, allowing three runs in six innings. Tim Beckham is 1-for-2 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Rays are 1-4 in Archer's past five vs. Detroit. The Tigers are 0-4 in Fulmer's past four on Saturday. The under is 4-1 in Archer's past five on five days of rest.
Early lean: Rays and under.
New York has lost two more players to the disabled list in second baseman Neil Walker and pitcher Matt Harvey. They will each miss several weeks. Harvey was diagnosed with a stress injury to the scapula in his throwing shoulder; Walker has a partially torn left hamstring. Harvey wasn't sharp Wednesday vs. the Cubs and Walker left that game after pulling up lame running to first. T.J. Rivera will serve as the starting second baseman in Walker's absence. The Mets are 100 percent done for 2017, and so is Harvey's career as an ace. They go with Seth Lugo. He made his season debut off injury Sunday and allowed one run in seven innings in Atlanta. Some rare good news this year for the team. Washington's Stephen Strasburg (7-2, 3.27) was roughed up for a season-high six runs but struck out 10 Braves over five innings in a no-decision Monday. He lost at home to the Mets on April 29 (7 IP, 3 ER). Jay Bruce is 5-for-16 off him with a homer.
Key trends: The Nats are 5-0 in Strasburg's past five at the Mets. The over is 5-1-1 in his past seven there.
Early lean: Nats and under.
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