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MLB Today: Division Leaders Ready to Rumble

Dodgers-Rangers and Braves-Brewers in Showdowns

Most of the MLB news on Thursday was focused on the Baltimore Orioles going into Tampa Bay and handing the team with the best record in the major league a loss in extra innings to give Baltimore sole possession of first place in the American League East.

That was far from the only game in town on Thursday. Corbin Burnes had another brilliant pitching effort to lead Milwaukee past Philadelphia and the Cincinnati Reds topped San Francisco behind rookie pitcher Andrew Abbott to avoid falling further behind Milwaukee in the NL Central race.

MLB Today: Division Leaders Ready to Rumble
Corbin Burnes #39 of the Milwaukee Brewers | stacy revere/getty images/afp

When looking at the MLB predictions, six of the 10 teams favored won on Thursday. Not long after the most runs were scored on any day this season, there were four shutouts and the losing team managed just one run in two other games.

The MLB odds has Atlanta favored on the road in Milwaukee in a matchup of National League division leaders while a meeting of the teams leading the AL West and NL West has host Texas listed as the favorite.

When looking at MLB news, Texas outfielder Adolis Garcia is among the prominent players dealing with injury issues going into Friday’s action.

According to MLB playoff odds, the Atlanta Braves (+375) have the best odds to win the World Series, followed by the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers coming in at +600, with the defending World Series champion Houston Astros priced at +750.

Division Leaders on Collision Course

All the buzz surrounding the series between the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays is understandably dominating the headlines as they continue to battle for the best record in the American League East and the top seed in the American League. However, that is far from the only show in town.

Four of the six division leaders will be involved in two other high-profile series.

Mike Soroka will be the starter when the National League East-leading Atlanta Braves head to face a Milwaukee Brewers team that just recently reclaimed the lead in the National League Central. The Braves put their explosive offense up against a Milwaukee team that has the best ERA in the majors since the MLB All-Star break. Veteran Freddy Peralta will look to continue the hot streak for the Brewers.

Tony Gonsolin will get the start as the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers head to Texas to face Andrew Heaney and the Texas Rangers. Texas continues to hold off defending World Series champion Houston in the AL West race. The MLB spreads favors Texas in the series opener.


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Ready for the Sho

Thankfully, all the chatter surrounding Los Angeles Angels pitcher-designated hitter Shohei Ohtani will be focused on what he does with his arm and his bat on Friday rather than what team he might be traded to. The Angels play host to the Pittsburgh Pirates this weekend.

Ohtani, listed by the MLB betting lines as the front-runner in the American League Most Valuable Player Award race, will make his third pitching start in July He has struggled in the last two outings with 12 hits and 10 runs allowed in 10 innings as the Angels lost both those games.

After homering in three straight games, Ohtani does not have a home run in his last two contests. He did have a triple, however.

Of course, it is hard to hit a home run when he is walked five times in two games, as was the case in the last two games against the New York Yankees.

Ohtani has been on base multiple times in eight games in a row.

Baltimore Takes Round 1

The Baltimore Orioles made all the sacrifices when it came to the series opener with Tampa Bay. What proved to be the game-winning run came after a successful sacrifice bunt by Adam Frazier and then a sacrifice fly by Corbin Cowser. Two of Baltimore’s runs in the 4-3 win came courtesy of the sacrifice fly as The Orioles took over sole possession of first place in the AL East for the first time this season.

Tampa Bay had multiple opportunities to break the game opener. However, the Rays were just 2-of-14 with runners in scoring position and hit into a game-ending double play.

The teams continue the much anticipated four-game series with the Rays favored by the Las Vegas odds to tie the series.

Friday’s Best Bets

The last time Justin Steele took the mound for the Chicago Cubs, things didn’t go well as he allowed 10 hits and six runs in six innings in a loss to Boston. He had allowed two runs or less in five of his previous seven games (not including a scoreless inning in the MLB All-Star Game).

With that in mind, why not go with the +270 odds to Steele to have at least six strikeouts in a win by the Cubs against the St. Louis Cardinals.

There isn’t much history between Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Max Muncy and Texas starter Andrew Heaney. However, Muncy is 5-for-10 against Heaney. After homering the last time out against Baltimore, it is worth a chance to go with Muncy at +350 to hit another home run on Friday.

San Francisco’s Michael Conforto has at least two hits in four of his last eight games. He hasn’t shown much power with one extra-base hit over the last seven games, but Washington starter Jake Irvin has allowed a home run in four straight games. So it might be worth going with the +450 odds set by the sportsbook for Conforto to hit a home run.

It has been a rough stretch for Miami as the Marlins have lost six games in a row. Bryan De La Cruz is doing his part with two home runs during that stretch. That makes the +600 price for him to hit another home run pretty tempting.

Injury Update

Here is a look at injuries that could impact Friday’s games.

One of the biggest names recently added to the injury report is Texas Rangers outfielder Adolis Garcia, who left the last game with an arm injury so keep an eye on his status. Garcia is tied for the major league lead with 80 RBIs.

Seattle lost outfielder Jarred Kelenic when he was injured kicking a water cooler in frustration.

The St. Louis Cardinals are without infielders Tommy Edman and Brendan Donovan. Edman could be back before the end of July, but Donovan will be out longer than that. Pitcher Adam Wainwright is also on the injured list.

Chicago Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson continues to be sidelined with a heel injury and the story is the same with Baltimore outfielder Cedric Mullins due to a groin injury.

San Francisco infielder J.D. Davis and outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. are questionable to face Washington on Friday. The Giants are already without infielders Thairo Estrada and Brandon Crawford as well as outfielder Mitch Haniger.

The New York Yankees might be without outfielder Harrison Bader for Friday’s series opener against Kansas City.

Chicago White Sox first baseman Andrew Vaughn has missed two games in a row with a toe injury and it is unclear if he will pay on Friday.

The New York Mets are waiting to see if outfielder Tommy Pham can be in the lineup against Boston on Friday. Outfielder Starling Marte is already on the injured list.

Oakland first baseman Ryan Noda could miss multiple weeks with a jaw injury.

Not all the injury news is bad. Houston pitcher Framber Valdez is expected to make his scheduled start on Friday and the Astros could get outfielder Yordan Alvarez back on Monday.

Tampa Bay catcher Francisco Mejia is dealing with a knee issue and he is questionable for Friday’s matchup with Baltimore.

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