The American League Central race is tightening since the Tribe and the Tigers hit skids this past week. The Twins have taken advantage, winning six of their last eight games and moving to 4 ½ games behind Cleveland.
Minnesota has had success despite its dwindling offense. It only scored five or more runs once during this stretch and averaged three runs per game over the past eight contests. The Twins average 4.61 runs per game on the season.
The lack of production at the plate could come back to bite them today when the Twins face Cleveland’s Paul Byrd. The Indians right-hander hasn’t lost in nearly a month and hasn’t given up more than four earned runs since mid-June.
Pick: Indians -105
The Rangers are happy to be back in the heart of Texas after a 2-7 road trip. Texas was held to four or fewer runs in six of those nine games, including two shutouts.
Today’s game marks the first time the Rangers have played at home since the trade deadline which saw four players, including slugger Mark Teixeira, find new homes.
"It's always nice to get off the road," Rangers manager Ron Washington told MLB.com. "We're starting to play better at home, so it'll be nice to go back with the new group of guys we got and start putting something together."
Left-handed starter John Rheinecker tries to give the new faces in the clubhouse a homecoming to remember when he takes the mound tonight. Rheinecker was hit hard in his previous start but will get a break against the A's, who own one of the worst offenses in baseball. Oakland scores less than five runs per game and bats a collective .251 at the plate.
Pick: Texas +105
Washington has reeled off six straight wins heading into this series with San Francisco – but did we mention these all came at home?
The Nationals are 11-2 at RFK since the All-Star break but 4-6 away from home. This season, Washington is 21-31 on the road, hitting .247 at the plate while averaging less than four runs per road game.
Not only will the Nats have to deal with the Giants' budding ace Tim Lincecum (6-2, 3.75 ERA) tonight but they are ground-zero for sports' biggest show. The media circus surrounding Barry Bonds now that he's tied with Henry Aaron’s 755 home runs should provide quite the distraction despite what the clubhouse says.
"We are just looking at the next series. We are going to try and take three out of four games,” Washington first baseman Dmitri Young told reporters. “We are not worried about the media spectacle that's going to be there because a guy is chasing history. Whoop-de-woo."
Pick: Giants -181
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