Memorial Day has come and gone, and it's with great pleasure that I can
introduce the unofficial start of summer with a day of unforgettable
baseball moments. The day got off to a slow start, with New York and
Baltimore combining for just five runs in a 3-2 O's win. However, the game
in Minnesota between the Twins and visiting Houston Astros more then made
up for the lack of runs. The Astros trailed 8-2 heading into the eighth
inning before flipping the switch and belting out six singles, a double, a
three-run home run, two walks, one hit batsmen and one balk, for a grand
total of 11 runs. What makes this 16-8 final even more shocking is the fact
that the Twins' starting pitcher, Ervin Santana, tossed seven solid innings
of five-hit, one run baseball before exiting and turning it over to the
bullpen. And finally, the fireworks display was in full effect in San
Francisco between the Giants and the visiting Washington Nationals. With
the Nats up 2-0 in the eighth inning, Giants reliever Hunter Strickland
drilled Bryce Harper with a fastball in the hip. Many claimed it was
payback after Harper took Strickland deep twice in the 2014 NLDS. If that's
the case, I don't blame Harper for standing up for himself. It's not his
fault Strickland threw him two meatballs that he absolutely crushed.
Unfortunately we will never know Strickland's true intentions. I just hope
MLB gets the suspensions right and doesn't come down too hard on Harper for
standing up for himself. It'll be interesting to see if the Nats will go
after Buster Posey or Brandon Crawford in either of the next two games.
Tuesday's MLB slate features all 30 teams in action , and I'm sure all eyes will be on AT&T Park in San Francisco as the aforementioned Giants and Nationals face off in game two of their three-game series. The Giants are currently -119 favorites with Jeff Samardzija taking the bump against Gio Gonzalez. Another big game is taking place in Chicago, where Chris Sale is set to make his first start against his former team. The Red Sox are currently -166 favorites against Jose Quintana and the White Sox. And lastly, it'll be interesting to see how the Blue Jays follow up their 23-hit, 17 run performance against a terrible Cincinnati bullpen.
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Los Angeles Dodgers vs St. Louis Cardinals
While it may be too early to declare the Dodgers' sweep of the Cubs a statement series, Dodgers' fans must be pretty happy with their team right now. The Dodgers sit just a half-game back of the first-place Colorado Rockies in the NL West and have won five in a row and seven of their last eight games. Their only blemish came at the hands of these very Cardinals, whom they play tonight. In that game, Mike Leake held the Dodgers to just four hits. However, with the way the Dodgers are rolling I don't expect them to be contained.
The Dodgers have scored 30 runs during their five-game winning streak while posting two shutouts and limiting the Cardinals to just one run in yesterday's 5-1 win. They are getting solid production up and down the lineup thanks in large part to Yasmani Grandal and Cody Bellinger. Grandal has been on a tear in the month of May, hitting for a .351 average, with 27 hits, 10 doubles and 16 RBIs. His teammate, rookie Cody Bellinger, has hit 11 home runs in just 32 games, which has only been done by four players in the last 100 years - the last being Jose Abreu. If these two guys can keep up the production, the Dodgers will be sitting pretty come playoff time. But since we are still in May, we will focus on tonight's game.
The Dodgers have Kenta Maeda on the mound for game two of this three-game series, and Maeda has been good so far this season. He owns a 4-2 record with 44 strikeouts and 11 walks. His ERA might be a tad high for the Dodgers' liking (5.08), but in the end the only thing that matters is wins and losses. In his last outing, Maeda tossed five innings of three-run baseball against the Cardinals. He took the win that night, and I have a hard time coming up with reasons why he shouldn't be victorious again.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, send out Michael Wacha, whom was defeated by Maeda in his latest start. He will get a chance at redemption. However, with the way the Cardinals' bats have been struggling, run support might be limited. The Cards have scored just 11 runs over their last five games while losing four of them. Pitching aside, the Cardinals just haven't been playing good fundamental baseball. They've been missing cut-off men, which allow a runner to take an extra base, and they have had a few base running errors that cost them some runs.
I fully expect the Dodgers to take this game with ease, and I would recommend playing them for the full game, as well as in the first five innings.
Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers -0.5 (+115) - First Five Innings
Boston Red Sox vs Chicago White Sox
When the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox square off tonight in game two of their three-game series, it will be Chris Sale's first game against his former team since being traded to Boston for a pair of top prospects. Sale's first season in Boston is going just as both parties hoped it would. Sale owns a 5-2 record with a 2.34 ERA. He has struck out a major-league-leading 101 batters in 73 innings. Sale has pitched at least seven innings in three straight starts, with his latest outing being a six-hit, three-run performance against a good-hitting Texas team. Sale has been a big reason why the Red Sox are just a couple games back of the AL East-leading New York Yankees, and I expect him to have a solid outing against his former club tonight.
On the flip side, the White Sox will send out Jose Quintana to the bump tonight, hoping he can regain his form from 2016. So far this season, Quintana has struggled to a 2-6 record with a 4.82 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. In his latest outing, he was shelled for eight hits and eight runs over just 4 1/3 innings against an Arizona team that was playing some solid baseball. Quintana has spoken in depth about how cool it would be to face off against Sale, whom he looked up to when he was first introduced to the majors.
In yesterday's game, both teams combined for nine runs on just nine hits. The odds say that won't happen again, especially against Sale and a fired-up Quintana.
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