Boston gave up a lot in prospects to acquire lefty Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox this past offseason, but the Red Sox are thrilled so far with the trade. All eyes in baseball will be on Sale on Friday night as he brings a streak of seven straight double-digit strikeout starts into Oakland. The record is eight consecutive, held by Sale (2015) and former Red Sox star and Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez. They are the only guys with two streaks of at least seven straight. Martinez had eight twice, his last coming in the final starts of his AL Cy Young Award-winning 1999 season. Sale's 85 strikeouts through eight starts are tied with Hall of Famer Randy Johnson -- then with Houston in 1998 -- for the most ever by a pitcher after their initial eight starts with a new team. Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and Johnson are the other pitchers to put together two similar double-digit streaks of at least six games.
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Brewers at Cubs (TBA)
A 2:20 p.m. ET matinee from Wrigley and on the MLB Network (out of market). Chicago is expected to activate outfielder Jason Heyward from the DL, but I don't see how the club can send top prospect Ian Happ back down to the minors with how well he has hit in Heyward's place. I'm not saying that Happ will take his spot permanently, but Happ can play basically everywhere on the diamond. Heyward has been out since May 5 with a hand injury. He got off to strong start but is down to .253 with three homers. The Cubs have a gaping hole at No. 5 in their rotation and are hoping former Rockies top prospect Eddie Butler can fill it. Butler made his Cubs debut last Friday in St. Louis and was great in shutting out the Redbirds on two hits over six innings. Only a few Brewers have ever faced Butler, who has a career 6.26 ERA in the majors over 37 appearances. Milwaukee was to go with Wily Peralta (4-2, 6.08), but he was just demoted to the bullpen. All indications are the team will call up 30-year-old Paolo Espino, who was scratched for non-health reasons from his Triple-A start on Wednesday. Espino is 4-0 with a 2.54 ERA down there this season but obviously isn't a prospect at his age. He has never pitched in the majors.
Key trends: The Brewers are 8-20 in their past 28 at Wrigley. The "over/under" is 5-0 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: TBA until Brewers make Espino move official. Take Milwaukee on the runline. The Cubs don't know this new guy and Butler can't be trusted yet.
Blue Jays at Orioles ( -133, 9 )
The Blue Jays might get back shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from the DL here. They were thought to activate him Wednesday, but the team decided to give him another game or two in the minors. In addition, the Jays were hoping to activate third baseman and former AL MVP Josh Donaldson off the DL for Friday's series opener. He has been out since April 13 with a calf injury and off to a nice start with a .310 average and two homers in nine games. Alas, Donaldson isn't quite ready and won't return this weekend. It's Blue Jays young ace Aaron Sanchez (0-1, 2.95) on the mound. He came off the DL (blister) to pitch Sunday vs. Seattle and allowed one unearned run over five innings. That finger started bleeding, but Sanchez appears fine to go here. He lost to Baltimore on April 14, allowing a season-high five runs in 5.1 innings. Chris Davis is 8-for-18 against him with four homers and 10 walks. Adam Jones is just 3-for-23 off Sanchez. The Orioles' Chris Tillman (1-0, 2.89) has made two starts after beginning the season on the DL and not topped five innings yet. He was 1-0 with a 3.63 ERA in four 2016 starts vs. the Jays. Kevin Pillar is 8-for-23 against Tillman with three HRs. Tulowitzki is 5-for-12 with three dingers.
Key trends: The Jays are 4-0 in Sanchez's past four series openers. The under is 8-2 in Sanchez's past 10 on the road.
Early lean: Orioles and under.
Giants at Cardinals (-145, 7.5)
San Francisco activated closer Mark Melancon on Wednesday, two days sooner than the team had said as it was expected to happen for this series opener. The Giants did so because fill-in closer Derek Law had been overworked of late. Melancon didn't pitch Wednesday. He has six saves and a 2.53 ERA. The Cards are expected to activate outfielder Stephen Piscotty. He injured his right hamstring suffered May 4 while running out a ground ball.Piscotty was hitting .241with two home runs, 10 runs scored and 11 RBIs. Lefty Matt Moore (2-4, 5.67) is on the bump for the Giants as he pitches in St. Louis for the first time in his career. Moore has been largely great at home this season but awful on the road (0-3, 10.50 ERA). The Cards' Michael Wacha (2-1, 3.19) was skipped in his last scheduled spot simply for rest and because he had shoulder issues last year. Wacha has gone at least 6 IP in all six starts this year and allowed more than three earned once. The Giants' Brandon Crawford is 4-for-5 off him.
Key trends: The Giants are 0-5 in Moore's past five on the road. The Cards are 5-2 in Wacha's past seven at home. The over is 4-0-1 in Moore's previous five road starts.
Early lean: Cardinals and over.
Red Sox at A's (+177, 7)
Sale (4-2, 2.15) leads the American League in innings (58.2), strikeouts (85) and WHIP (0.77) while ranking fourth in ERA. Last time out, Sale beat the Rays by going seven innings and allowing three runs and two hits (both homers) while striking out 12. He has hit at least 12 Ks three times in this run with a high of 13. The A's rank 24th in the majors in batters' strikeouts. Last year, Sale was 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 16 strikeouts in two starts against them. Trevor Plouffe hits .325 off Sale in 40 at-bats but has struck out 13 times. Khris Davis is 1-for-8 with 4 Ks. Oakland's Kendall Graveman (2-2, 3.95) has allowed four or more runs in two of his last three starts after giving up no more than two in any of his previous four. Boston's Mitch Moreland is 3-for-9 off him with a homer. Dustin Pedroia is 3-for-6.
Key trends: The Sox are 1-6 in their past seven Friday games. The A's are 0-6 in Graveman's past six vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 6-2 in Sale's eight starts.
Early lean: Red Sox on runline and under.
White Sox at Mariners (-120, 8)
Supposedly the Seattle Mariners were going to have second baseman Robinson Cano (quadriceps) back in the lineup on Tuesday but instead put him on the 10-day DL. This new shorter DL is really being manipulated by clubs. Cano's DL move is retroactive to May 13. He hadn't been shelved there since 2006. That's impressive playing a middle infield position. It's White Sox lefty ace Jose Quintana (2-5, 4.38), who keeps bringing that ERA down after a rough beginning to 2017. He comes off a no-decision vs. the Padres, allowing three earned over seven innings. It was the 60th no-decision of his career, tops in the majors since 2012. Seattle's Nelson Cruz is 7-for-20 off him with a homer. Kyle Seager has just two hits in 19 at-bats off him, both homers. Seattle lefty Ariel Miranda (3-2, 4.79) has had back-to-back no-decisions, one strong start and one where he was bombed. Not many White Sox have faced him. Jose Abreu is 1-for-2 with a homer.
Key trends: The White Sox are 10-1 in Quintana's past 11 vs. the AL West. The Mariners are 6-1 in Miranda's past seven at home. The under is 6-1 in Quintana's past seven.
Early lean: Like under more than the side (White Sox).
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