AL East Weekend Preview

Brett Cecil and the Toronto Blue Jays will look to continue their impressive winning streak this weekend as the Baltimore Orioles arrive in town.

Brett Cecil and the Toronto Blue Jays will look to continue their impressive winning streak this weekend as the Baltimore Orioles arrive in town.

The American League East serves up three choice cuts of baseball action this weekend, with a triumvirate of series that could have a huge impact on the standings.

20130621_AL_EastThe Boston Red Sox began a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night, providing headlines from the off. The two division leaders look set to make this a notable weekend of play.

The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays also made an early start to the weekend, beginning a four-game set Thursday night in The Bronx. With both teams looking to gain ground within the division, this series is important to say the least.

Last but not least, the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays begin their weekend series on Friday night, with both looking to maintain a current run of good form that could turn the division on its head.

BettingSports.com has the lowdown on all of the action you can expect this weekend.

Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers

In a series that pits division-leading sides against each other, the Boston Red Sox opened a four-game series between on Thursday, traveling to Motown to take on the Detroit Tigers.

The Red Sox took a fourth-inning lead on David Ortiz’s 15th homerun of the season, before Jose Iglesias scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single in the fifth. The Tigers drew level in the bottom of the fifth as Torii Hunter hit a bases-loaded single, scoring Andy Dirks and Brayan Pena. Ortiz once again gave the Sox the lead, adding an RBI single in the eighth inning to give the Sox a 3-2 advantage.

Entering the bottom of the ninth, Boston closer Andrew Bailey took to the mound, immediately walking Victor Martinez. Jhonny Peralta then ended the game with a two-run, walk-off homer, leaving Bailey to lament a third blown save in five games.

Boston manager John Farrell confirmed after the game that he would be looking to make a switch at the closer position, at least for the time being.

Despite David Ortiz's big bat, the Boston Red Sox lost Thursday's series opener against Detroit 4-3

Despite David Ortiz’s big bat, the Boston Red Sox lost Thursday’s series opener against Detroit 4-3

The series continues on Friday as Boston (44-31, 21-16 road) once again looks to put the halters on the American League’s best home side, holding on to its lead at the top of the AL East in the process. Detroit (40-31, 24-12 home) meanwhile will look to continue to pad its lead over the second-place Cleveland Indians, which now stands at four games.

BettingSports.com has all the Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers odds and trends you’ll need.

Boston (+125) once again opens as the underdog against Detroit (-135) on Friday. Jon Lester (6-4, 4.37 ERA) will start for the visitors, looking to record his first win since May 15. He’ll be up against Doug Fister (6-4, 3.21 ERA) who has gone 2-4 since starting the year 4-0.

Things don’t get any easier for Boston as the weekend progresses. In addition to being up against Miguel Cabrera (.359 BA, 19 HR, 71 RBI) – who celebrated 10 years in the majors on Thursday – and the powerful Tigers offense, they’ll also be up against the tandem of Max Scherzer (10-0, 3.08 ERA) and Justin Verlander (8-5, 3.72 ERA) to close out the series.

Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees

In Thursday’s opener, the Rays took advantage of a two-homer performance from Evan Longoria – a performance that included his 500th career RBI – to record an 8-3 win in their first visit to Yankee Stadium this season.

Joe Maddon’s side took an early 4-0 lead before starter Matt Moore made things interesting, yielding three runs on one hit in the sixth inning. An RBI double by Sean Rodriguez in the seventh followed by a pair of homeruns – Longoria’s second and one from Yunel Escobar – put the game out of reach though, giving Moore his ninth win of the season, while handing Andy Pettitte his fifth loss.

Evan Longoria recorded his 500th RBI in Thursday night's series opener against the Yankees.

Evan Longoria recorded his 500th RBI in Thursday night’s series opener against the Yankees.

The Yankees have now dropped seven of their last nine games, and slip to 7-10 during the month of June. They fall to 3 1/5 games back of Boston in the division and are just 1 1/2 games ahead of fourth-placed Tampa Bay.

Both New York (39-33, 20-15 home) and Tampa Bay (38-35, 17-19 road) will be wary of their chances on Friday night as a pair of inconsistent pitchers take to the mound in a matchup that really could go either way.

David Phelps (4-4, 4.08 ERA) will start for the Yankees while Roberto Hernandez (4-7, 5.02 ERA) will toe the rubber for the Rays.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees odds and trends can be found here.

The Yankees (-132) opened as the favorite over Tampa Bay (+122) but most sportsbooks have reduced those numbers.

New York will like its chances on Saturday as C.C. Sabathia (7-5, 3.93 ERA) takes to the mound against rookie Alex Colome (1-0, 0-00 ERA), appearing in just his second major league game.

Chris Archer (1-3, 5.03 ERA) will take to the mound for Tampa Bay on Sunday. Hiroki Kuroda (7-5, 2.78 ERA) was due to start for the Yankees, but Monday’s rainout against the Los Angeles Dodgers saw his start pushed back. The Yankees have yet to name a starter, but it could be Ivan Nova – who has been rehabbing in Triple A – or Vidal Numo (1-2, 2.25 ERA), who was called up back in May when the side was shorthanded.

Regardless of who starts, Old Timer’s Day ensures that Sunday’s game will be well worth tuning in for.

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Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays

While not the most prolific of series on paper, this weekend’s three-game set between the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays north of the border may well be the most promising.

Both teams are flying high at the moment. Baltimore (43-31, 22-16 road) has recorded eight wins from its last 11 games, taking three straight series in the process. Toronto (35-36, 19-17 home) meanwhile has recorded eight straight victories as well as 11-from-13, including sweeps of the Colorado Rockies and Texas Rangers. The Blue Jays side that was so highly touted in the offseason seems to have finally arrived.

Following Boston’s loss on Friday night, the Orioles now sport the AL’s best road record, and will be looking to put this good form to work in the Queen City. Buck Showalter’s side is just one-game back of the division-leading Red Sox and knows that this weekend marks an ideal opportunity to overtake the table-toppers.

Meanwhile, Toronto is on its best run since winning 10 straight back in 2008. The Jays are currently seven games back in the division, but with the next 10 games all against division rivals, that gap could be closed very quickly.

Toronto has gotten solid pitching from its starters and bullpen of late, including reliever Brett Cecil (2-0, 1.46 ERA, 3 holds), who has retired the last 38 batters he has faced, dating back to May 28. Cecil and his compatriots face a tough challenge against a Baltimore side that knows how to hit.

Manny Machado leads the league in at bats (316), hits (103), and doubles (33), while Chris Davis (.337 BA, 26 HR, 66 RBI) is proving to be a viable threat to Miguel Cabrera’s hopes of a second Triple Crown. Adam Jones is third in the league in hits (93).

Leading the league in at bats, hits, and doubles, Manny Machado will pose a threat to the Blue Jays' 8-game winning streak.

Leading the league in at bats, hits, and doubles, Manny Machado will pose a threat to the Blue Jays’ winning streak.

Friday night’s game sees R.A. Dickey (6-8, 4.90 ERA) take to the mound for Toronto, looking to avoid a third loss to Baltimore this season. Jason Hammel (7-4, 5.24 ERA) will start for the Orioles.

Baltimore Orioles vs. Toronto Blue Jays odds and trends are available here.

Toronto (-140) opened as the favorite over Baltimore (+130) on the moneyline, but that advantage has receded as bettors take action.

Baltimore holds a 4-3 advantage over the Blue Jays in the season head-to-head. The two clubs met for a four-game set at Rogers Centre in May, splitting the games evenly.

For those looking to bet the over/under – which opened at 8 1/2 for Friday night’s game – be aware that the early series in Toronto finished with 56 combined runs. None of the four games finished with less than 11 runs. The over may well be where the smart money is here.

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