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AL East Weekend Preview

The division-leading Boston Red Sox will look to stay in front this weekend.

The division-leading Boston Red Sox will look to stay in front this weekend.

Less than two months from the end of the regular season, divisions across baseball are starting to take shape. Although the addition of the second Wild Card berths in each conference have prolonged some teams’ chances, we’re starting to see pack leaders emerge while pretenders are falling by the wayside. Then there’s the AL East.

With four teams still in the hunt for the postseason, the AL East remains one of baseball’s most intriguing divisions. While the Boston Red Sox continue to pace the division, the Tampa Bay Rays are certainly giving them a run for their money. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles are only one sustained run from adding their name to the mix, not to mention a definite Wild Card threat. Add to this a New York Yankees side that, while it may look dead in the water, has proven too resilient this season to write off just yet.

With no divisional games this weekend, it’s unlikely we’ll be any clearer as to who will eventually emerge from the division come early October. Still, there’s plenty of action for bettors to sink their teeth, and cash, into.

Read on for the BettingSports.com AL East weekend preview.

Boston Red Sox at Kansas City Chiefs

The division-leading Red Sox (70-47, 31-26 road) came up short in Thursday’s series opener in the City of Fountains, falling 5-1 to the Kansas City Royals (59-53, 30-25 home). John Farrell’s club will look to do better over the remainder of the series.

20130808_AL_EastDoing better could be tough though. The Royals – who, at 4 ½ games back, remain in the hunt for a Wild Card berth – own a 3-1 record over the Red Sox this season. The AL Central club has also won 14 of its last 16. This is certainly not going to be a walk in the park for Boston.

Sunday should serve up an intriguing pitching matchup between Boston’s John Lackey (7-9, 3.21 ERA) and KC’s James Shields (6-8, 3.36 ERA), two pitchers that really should have fared better this season. Who will come out on top in the series finale?

Odds and trends for Friday night’s game can be found here.

Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Dodgers

Having won 23 of 27 games between June 29 and July 30, Tampa Bay (66-47, 29-26 road) has struggled over the past week, recording just two wins in six games. The club heads to Chavez Ravine having dropped two straight to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Evan Longoria and the Rays are looking to gain ground.

Evan Longoria and the Rays are looking to gain ground.

The Los Angeles Dodgers (64-50, 31-25 home) meanwhile remain one of baseball’s hottest team. Since June 22, Don Mattingly’s clubs has gone 33-8, going from the bottom to the top of the NL West standings. The club arrives back at Dodger Stadium having put together a 7-1 road trip which included three wins over the highly-touted St. Louis Cardinals.

With both teams looking like a good bet to make the postseason, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the national television schedules are all over this series. Sunday’s finale (on ESPN) will see a pair of 10-game winners go at it, as Tampa’s Jeremy Hellickson (10-5, 4.77 ERA) faces Clayton Kershaw (10-7, 1.91 ERA).

Odds and trends for Friday’s game can be found here.

Baltimore Orioles at San Francisco Giants

20130808_AL_WildcardHaving closed out the month of July with eight wins in nine games, August hasn’t been quite so good for postseason-chasing Baltimore (63-51, 30-26 road). Buck Showalter’s club has gone 6-8 since the calendar flipped over. A pair of wins over the San Diego Padres this week may have righted the ship though.

The Orioles, currently 1 ½ games back in the Wild Card race, will have an opportunity to build a bigger winning streak this weekend with three games against the San Francisco Giants (51-63, 30-29 home). The defending champions have had a rough season and look out for the count. Whilst this is disappointing for baseball, it’s ideal for a Baltimore club that needs to pick up wins over the next 10 days in preparation for what will be a torrid part of the schedule; between August 19 and September 4, the O’s face Tampa Bay, the Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians, all teams vying for a postseason berth.

Chris Tillman (14-3, 3.89 ERA) will look for his 15th win on Thursday as he bids to become Baltimore’s first 20-game winner since 1984. He’ll be up against Ryan Vogelsong (2-4, 7.19 ERA), who returns from the disabled list. The right-hander hasn’t pitched since May 20.

The latest odds and team trends for Friday’s series opener can be found here.

Detroit Tigers at New York Yankees

11 games back in the division and 7 ½ back in the Wild Card race, the Yankees (57-56, 29-25 home) are on the precipice of waving goodbye to the season. Of course, this is the Yankees so nobody writes them off until the very end.

A-Rod makes his return to the Bronx.

A-Rod makes his return to the Bronx.

With Derek Jeter (calf) back on the disabled list and Alex Rodriguez officially appealing his 211-game PED-related suspension, the club will now look to somehow find a way to postseason play. If the Yankees are to be successful, they’ll need to do better than the side that lost three straight to the Chicago White Sox this week.

A weekend series against the Detroit Tigers (68-45, 31-26 road) isn’t exactly appealing for a club that has lost four straight and is just 6-12 since the All-Star break. The Tigers secured a 12th straight win Thursday, sweeping divisional rivals, Cleveland, while the Yankees will not send a pitcher with a winning record to the mound. Then there’s the expected hostility that will accompany Rodriguez as he plays his first game of the season at Yankee Stadium. A chorus of boos will assuredly escort No. 13 wherever he goes this weekend.

All in all, this has become a must-see matchup, even if it’s not necessarily for baseball reasons. As an aside, a win on Friday would give Detroit its first 13-game winning streak since 1934.

Visit our matchup page for the latest odds and trends in this series.

Oakland Athletics at Toronto Blue Jays

All of the hope and expectation that accompanied an inflated checkbook at the beginning of the year is now long gone. The Toronto Blue Jays (53-61, 28-28 home), while not numerically eliminated from the postseason race, are done and dusted. It’s time for the front office to consider its next move.

The Blue Jays will be in spoiler mode.

The Blue Jays will be in spoiler mode.

Still, that doesn’t mean the Jays aren’t relevant on the field. In fact, with 12 of the club’s 14 remaining series against teams looking to make the postseason, the Jays could still have a huge role to play in shaping who makes it to October and who doesn’t.

This weekend Toronto meets Oakland (64-49, 29-29 road) in a four-game series that stretches into Monday. The A’s have dropped their last three, and six of the last seven, leaving them in a virtual tie with the Texas Rangers at the top of the AL West. While the Rangers are surging, the A’s are simply trying to bail enough water to keep up. Losses to the Jays this weekend would be unthinkable.

The two clubs met in a three-game set at the O.co Coliseum last week, a series that saw the A’s emerge with a pair of victories. The same result at Rogers Centre would be considered a good weekend.

For detailed team trends and the latest odds, click here.

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