Hottest team: Indians (5-0 past five games)
The Indians were in a 3-7 tailspin from June 2-14, slipping two games behind the Twins for first place in the American League Central Division. A four-game sweep in Minnesota over the weekend has Cleveland flying high again all of a sudden. Now, they’ll look to stay hot in Baltimore against the skidding Orioles. It’s a pretty solid pitching matchup with Corey Kluber on the hill against O’s fireballer Dylan Bundy. The Tribe are 21-6 over Klubot’s past 27 starts, while going 7-3 across his past 10 road outings. The O’s have pieced together four wins over their past five at Oriole Park, but they’re just 3-8 over the past 11 overall. Baltimore has also dropped six in a row against teams with a winning overall record.
Coldest team Giants (0-6 past six games, 4-15 past 19 overall)
The Giants find themselves in a strange spot, as they’re mired in last place in the National League West Division and 19 1/2 games behind the first-place Rockies following their six-game losing streak and sweep in Denver. The Giants have a miserable minus-82 run differential, third-worst in the National League. They’ll turn to Johnny Cueto against the equally disappointing R.A. Dickey in Monday’s series opener at SunTrust Park in suburban Atlanta. The Giants are just 7-21 over their past 28 road games against a right-handed starter and they’re 0-6 in their past six overall vs. RHP. If anyone is going to save the Giants it’s Cueto, as San Francisco is 8-3 over his past 11 road outings against teams with a losing record, and 18-5 in his past 23 against teams with a losing overall mark.
Hottest pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (9-2, 2.23 ERA)
Kershaw was originally scheduled to start Sunday in Cincinnati, but he had his starts pushed back to Monday to start at home, lining him up for a pair of starts in the upcoming week. The Mets are probably not terribly pleased. The southpaw has posted a 2-0 record and 1.71 ERA with six walks and 27 strikeouts over 21 innings, lasting seven innings in all three of the quality starts. The Dodgers have posted an 8-1 record over their past nine series openers, and having Kershaw on the bump gives them a great chance to stay hot in regards to that trend. Los Angeles has managed a 42-11 record over his past 53 starts at Chavez Ravine.
Coldest pitcher: R.A. Dickey, Braves (4-5, 5.35 ERA)
The knuckleballer Dickey was tagged for eight earned runs over five innings in a loss June 13 at Washington in his most recent start, and he has won just once over the past eight starts. And that win came against the lowly Phillies, so don’t get terribly carried away. If anything, Dickey has a chance to win because he faces a team actually colder than he is — the Giants. They enter play with a lengthy losing streak to drop them into the NL West basement. However, San Francisco did rough him up for seven runs – six earned – and five walks over six innings in a loss May 28 in the Bay Area.
Biggest UNDER run: Rangers (7-3 past 10 games overall)
The Rangers were back to their ‘under’ ways after falling to the Mariners 7-3 in Sunday’s series final, coming in by a half-run. The ‘over’ had cashed in three in a row for Texas, but that’s mostly due to the struggles of the Mariners pitching staff. The under has cashed in six of the past eight vs. RHP, while going 13-5-1 in their past 19 series openers. The over is 9-3-1 in Texas’ past 13 at Globe Life Park in Arlington, however. The Blue Jays might help Austin Bibens-Dirkx cash the under Monday, as the under is 6-1-1 in Toronto’s past eight vs. AL West foes. The under is also 4-1-1 in their past six road contests.
Biggest OVER run: Orioles (8-2 past 10 games overall)
The ‘over’ has connected in six consecutive home games for the O’s, and they found their offense against the Cardinals pitching staff over the weekend. Baltimore averaged 8.3 runs per game in the three-game set while their pitching staff was dinged for 7.7 runs per outing. The O’s have given up at least five runs in 15 straight games dating back to June 3. That over will be put to the test, however, as the under is 12-4 over the past 16 meetings with the Indians, while going 7-0 in the past seven meetings at Camden Yards.
Matchup to watch: Dodgers vs. Mets
East meets West when the Mets invade Chavez Ravine to battle Kershaw and the Dodgers. L.A. aims for their fourth consecutive victory heading into a nine-game homestand. The Dodgers were awfully impressive sweeping the Reds at GABP in Cincinnati, although the way the Reds have been going it isn’t very shocking. The Mets should give the Dodgers a much stiffer test, especially with Zack Wheeler on the hill. He was pounded for eight runs over just 1 2/3 innings last time out against the Cubs, but he has three quality starts over the past four outings and five starts with three or fewer runs allowed while going at least six innings in five of the past seven. The Dodgers have won 11 of Kershaw’s past 13 starts against the Mets. The under is 6-0 in Kershaw’s past six against the Mets, while going 5-1 in the past six at Dodger Stadium.
Betcha didn’t know: The top pitching prospect for the Athletics, Daniel Gossett, was torched for seven runs – six earned – while retiring just 10 batters in his major league debut in Miami on Wednesday. He’ll give the home fans a look as the Astros check into O.co for a divisional series. Gossett was 3-3 with a 3.41 ERA and 54 strikeouts over 60 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level. Since that ugly outing in Miami the A’s returned home for a surprising four-game sweep against the first-place New York Yankees. Oakland’s offense has averaged 6.0 runs per game over the past five outings to back their pitchers with plenty of run support lately.