Hottest team: Royals (7-0 past seven overall)
The Royals have ripped off seven consecutive victories, but unfortunately for them they cannot make up any ground on the first-place Indians. Cleveland won its fifth consecutive game in dramatic fashion with a walk-off grand slam from Edwin Encarnacion on Tuesday. Still, the Royals continue to get good pitching and timely hitting in low-scoring games lately. The Royals are 7-0 over their past seven against AL Central teams, 7-0 over their past seven against teams with a losing record and 19-7 over their past 26 games vs. right-handed starting pitching. Kansas City has also been successful on 13 of their past 19 road outing while winning seven of Ian Kennedy’s past eight outings overall.
Coldest team: White Sox (1-10 past 11 games, 8-22 past 30 overall)
On the flip side of things in the AL Central, the White Sox continue to scuffle. They have won just once over the past 11 outings, and they have traded off key pieces to contenders for prospects. As such, they continue to be in full rebuild mode. Bettors have been having a lot of luck fading the Pale Hose lately, as they have won just once over the past 11 overall, they have dropped five in a row at home and they’re 2-8 over their past 10 interleague outings. In addition, they’re just 1-8 over their past nine following a loss, 1-5 across James Shields’ past six outings and 5-11 in their past 16 at home against teams with an overall winning mark.
Hottest pitcher: Chris Sale, Red Sox (12-4, 2.48 ERA)
Sale checks into Wednesday’s series finale at Safeco Field with the third-best ERA in the majors at 2.48. He also is tied for the lead in the American League with 12 victories while sitting as the only pitcher in the majors with 200 strikeouts and it’s not even August. The Red Sox have won 11 of Sale’s past 15 outings, including five of his past seven on the road. He should be the key to snapping their four-game losing skid, and the public seems to think so by backing the Red Sox hard on Wednesday. The Red Sox are also 8-2 over Sale’s past 10 when working on four days of rest.
Coldest pitcher: Ricky Nolasco, Angels (4-11, 5.13 ERA)
Nolasco takes the mound at Progressive Field in Cleveland trying to cool off the Indians. They’re on a five-game winning streak, and they’ll be licking their chops to face the league leader in homers allowed (26). He hasn’t faced the Tribe this season, but he has an extensive history against them from his days as a member of the Minnesota Twins. He is 0-2 with a 5.54 ERA over his past six starts and one relief appearance against Cleveland since the start of the 2014 season, and the Indians have clobbered nine homers against him across 39 innings during the span, tied with the White Sox for most of any team in the majors.
Biggest UNDER run: Pirates (27-10-2 past 39 overall)
The ‘under’ has been a regular occurrence for the Bucs lately, going 27-10-2 over their past 39 games overall. The under is also an impressive 21-6-1 across their past 28 games against a right-handed starter, 6-2-1 in their past nine on the road vs. RHP and 12-2 in their past 14 outings following a loss. In addition, the under is 5-1 in the past six outings by Trevor Williams while going 4-1 over his past five when working on four days of rest. However, the over is 6-0-3 in the past nine meetings in San Francisco, while going 5-2-1 in the past eight meetings overall between these two clubs.
Biggest OVER run: Braves (6-1 past seven overall)
The ‘over’ continues to hit for the Braves on their west coast road swing. The total has gone over in six of their past seven overall, and five of six on their road trip, including each of the first two games in Arizona. Tuesday’s game barely inched over the total (10.5), as Atlanta won 8-3 behind Mike Foltynewicz. Atlanta is averaging 5.8 runs per game over the past six outings while allowing 5.4 runs per game over the past seven outings. The Braves turn to Aaron Blair to start Wednesday, and that usually means plenty of runs. The over is 4-1 over his past five starts, and 3-1-1 in his past five on the road against teams with a winning overall mark. The over is also 8-1 in Atlanta’s past nine on the road overall.
Matchup to watch: White Sox vs. Cubs
The Battle of Chicago has been fairly close over the years. However, there is a wide gulf between these two sides right now, as the Cubs are coming off a world championship and challenging for another, while the White Sox have the third-worst winning percentage in baseball, and they’re dead last in the American League. The Cubs have won seven straight on the road, and nine of their past 11 overall. The White Sox have lost 22 of their past 30, and five straight at home. However, the two sides split a pair on the north side earlier this week, with the Cubs winning 7-2 on Tuesday and the White Sox winning 3-1 on Monday.