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Baseball: Weekend Digest (Aug. 26 Edition)

A roundup of news and notes from this weekend in baseball.

Despite homering against his old club, Adrian Gonzalez couldn't lead the Dodgers to victory over Boston on Sunday night.

Despite homering against his old club, Adrian Gonzalez couldn’t lead the Dodgers to victory over Boston on Sunday night.

With football just around the corner, BettingSports.com may have averted some of its attention away from baseball, but that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten it entirely.

After a heavy weekend of football coverage, our Weekend Digest brings you a roundup of the baseball news you need to know as well as a look at some of the important fixtures ahead this week.

Dodgers Appear Fallible

Jake Peavy handed the Dodgers a first series loss in 19.

Jake Peavy handed the Dodgers a first series loss in 19.

A meteoric resurgence has seen the Los Angeles Dodgers (76-54) become the most feared team in baseball, but this weekend a few cracks began to emerge in the club’s seemingly unbreakable façade.

After picking up a 2-0 win over the Boston Red Sox (77-55) on Friday, Don Mattingly’s team found itself on the wrong end of 4-2 score line on Saturday, succumbing to an impressive performance from BoSox starter John Lester (12-7, 3.97 ERA). Then on Sunday, a complete game three-hitter from Jake Peavey (10-5, 3.99 ERA) saw the Red Sox topple the Dodgers 8-1.

Sunday’s loss marks the first time the Dodgers have lost a series since June 14-16; the club was 14-0-4 in its last 18 series. It also marks the second time in eight days that Los Angeles has lost two straight games. Having gone 42-8 between June 22 and August 23, the Dodgers are 4-4 in their last eight games.

It’s hardly time to hit the panic button at Chavez Ravine though. After all, Boston has won more series than any other team in baseball, and is one of the American League favorites to take the pennant in October.

The Dodgers will look to bounce back from this weekend’s disappointment with series against the Chicago Cubs (Mon-Wed) and San Diego Padres (Fri-Sun) this week.

Scherzer Boosts Record to 19-1

Max Scherzer continued his (unexpected) dominance on Saturday, leading the Detroit Tigers (77-53) to a 3-0 victory over rookie sensation Matt Harvey (9-5, 2.27 ERA) and the New York Mets (58-70). Pitching six scoreless innings, Scherzer improved his season record to 19-1.

As well as being the best record in baseball, Scherzer’s tally makes him only the third pitcher in history to win 19 of his first 20 starts in a season. Rube Marquard did it for the New York Giants in 1912 and Roger Clemens did it for the New York Yankees in 2001. Marquard went on to finish the 1912 season with a 26-11 record, while Clemens finished 2001 at 20-3. Both won their respective league pennant.

Scherzer’s success has played a huge part in propelling the Tigers to an American League-best 77-53 record and a six-game lead over the Cleveland Indians (71-59) in the AL Central. His next start is scheduled for Thursday at Comerica Park as the Tigers face postseason hopefuls the Oakland Athletics.

Davis Still Eyeing Baltimore History

A quiet bat has Chris Davis waiting on history.

A quiet bat has Chris Davis waiting on history.

The Baltimore Orioles (70-59) took two of three from Oakland (72-57) this weekend, including a monster 10-3 win on Sunday, to keep pace in the race for the American League Wild Card berths (see below). However, there was one bat that was noticeably quiet, that of Chris Davis.

Davis went 2 for 10 at the plate with three walks and three runs scored over the three-game series. He did not record an RBI or hit a home run, meaning he’s still waiting to close in on a piece of Baltimore history.

Davis, who leads the majors with 46 home runs this season, remains four homers away from tying the Orioles’ all-time single season record of 50 home runs, held by Brady Anderson, who completed the feat in 1996. Davis is also behind Frank Robinson, who cleared the walls 49 times during the 1966 season.

Davis currently stands between Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera and a second successive Triple Crown award. Cabrera bookended the Tigers’ series with the Mets with a pair of home runs to bring his tally to 42. The Motown slugger leads Davis 128-118 in the RBI department.

Cards Catch Bucs Before Head-to-Head

Last week we pointed out how the race for the NL Central title has become one of the most intriguing in all of baseball. This week, things got even more interesting.

The division-leading Pittsburgh Pirates (76-54) split a four-game series with the San Francisco Giants (58-72) to finish 4-3 on a West Coast swing that also took in a series with the Padres. The Pirates are now just 6-10 in their last 16.

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals (76-54) took the opening three games of a four-game set from MLB-best Atlanta Braves (78-52), before dropping Sunday’s finale 5-2. The Cards have now won 10 of their last 14 and moved into a virtual tie with the Pirates at the top of the division. Pittsburgh maintains its advantage by way of an 8-5 record in the season head-to-head.

As fortune would have it, the two clubs are scheduled to meet in a three-game set this coming weekend. Before then, the Cards must fend-off the Cincinnati Reds (74-57), a team that is still very much in the race for the division crown and a postseason berth. Pittsburgh meanwhile will face the Milwaukee Brewers (57-73) starting Tuesday.

Wild, Wild, Wild Card

20130825_AL_WildcardWhile it appears the NL Central will populate the Wild Card berths in the National League, the American League representatives are anybody’s guess as the race for the postseason heats up.

This past weekend, the Tampa Bay Rays (74-57) took two of three from the New York Yankees (69-61) to momentarily move level with Boston in the AL East. New York’s extra innings win on Sunday saw the Rays slip back into the Wild Card race, albeit in pole position. The Yankees meanwhile remain just 3 ½ games back in the Wild Card race. Winners of 11 of 15, and with 17 games left against teams in the postseason hunt, it’s not time to write the Yankees off just yet.

Oakland dropped two of three to Baltimore over the weekend and now trail the Texas Rangers () by 2 ½ games in the AL West. The team remains in the second Wild Card berth though, just ahead of Cleveland, winners of two of three this weekend, and Baltimore. The Kansas City Royals (65-64) snapped a seven-game losing skid on Sunday, but at seven games back now look finished.

The Week Ahead

20130825_Standings_ALMonday sees the start of an important series in the NL Central as St. Louis hosts Cincinnati. The Cards are looking to match pace with Pittsburgh, while the Reds are looking to overtake both teams. Odds and trends for Monday’s opener can be found here.

Oakland will look to gain ground in the AL West and maintain a lead in the Wild Card race as the club begins a four-game set in Detroit on Monday. The Tigers meanwhile will look to pad their lead at the top of the AL Central and make a move towards home field advantage. Odds and trends for the series opener can be found here.

Tuesday sees the start of a big AL East matchup between Boston and Baltimore at Fenway Park. The Orioles are looking to stay in the hunt while the Sox are looking to keep a hold of the division lead.

20130825_Standings_NLTuesday also sees Cleveland travel to Atlanta for a three-game series. As well as being a rematch of the 1995 World Series, this series is vital for the Indians as they look to stay in the postseason conversation. The Braves meanwhile will be looking to improve on a 5-5 record over the last 10, unless they read this article that is.

In terms of this coming weekend’s schedule, in addition to the big NL Central showdown between the Cardinals and Pirates in Pittsburgh, the Orioles will visit the Yankees in another important AL East matchup, while Cleveland will make one last ditch effort to catch Detroit in the AL Central as the two sides meet at Comerica Park. Tampa Bay travels to Oakland in a significant AL Wild Card series.

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