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THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE: Home to the Rockies for three, at the Giants for three.
THE SKINNY: You have to hand it to the Diamondbacks, who closed Sunday’s action with a four-game lead on San Francisco in the NL West. They are the majors’ biggest surprise story, and it just continues to roll on.
All Arizona did last week was run off six consecutive victories. Did they beat good teams? No, they whacked Washington and San Diego, but wins are wins, and if you’ve been riding this team, you’re not going to complain.
The pitching has been outstanding -- Arizona allowed just two runs total to the Padres in a three-game set -- and how about the underrated addition of second baseman Aaron Hill? He was an All-Star in 2009, and he delivered a triple and a home run in Sunday’s 6-1 win.
Listen, they’re not going to creep up on anyone anymore, and their playoff run -- should this continue -- probably won’t last but a week. But it’s been a heckuva ride, and if you need a win down the stretch, you can do worse than leaning on Arizona.
COLD TEAM: Toronto Blue Jays
THIS SEASON: 66-67
LAST WEEK: 1-5
THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE: Home to the Rays for one, at the Orioles for three, at the Yankees for three.
THE SKINNY: The Blue Jays still have a little sock, and are probably right where most people thought they’d be as we hit September: Around the .500 mark. They had a decent start, and turned some heads early. But lately, they’ve been lifeless, and have become a quality fade down the stretch, as a result.
Heading into Monday’s series finale with Tampa Bay, the Blue Jays had already allowed 24 runs to the Rays ... not exactly the AL’s strongest lineup. And the bats have not been able to pick up the pitchers, which shouldn’t come as a surprise when you look at the numbers.
OVER TEAM: Colorado Rockies
O/U THIS SEASON: 68-62-4
O/U LAST WEEK: 5-1
THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE: At the Diamondbacks for three, at the Padres for three.
THE SKINNY: With little to play for, the Rockies have shown a little life these days, and keeping them on your over radar may be worth your while. Runs have come in bunches this month for Colorado, home and away, and last week, the Rockies scored 38 times in six games.
That’ll get you some over wins at the window, especially when you consider Colorado has a pitching staff that is now minus Ubaldo Jimenez, and sported a 4.33 ERA through Sunday’s action.
And the offense figures to be there till the end. Colorado should finish with two players -- Troy Tulowitzki (28) and Carlos Gonzalez (24) -- over the 30 home-run mark. If you’re an over player, you might want to monitor the Rockies the rest of the way.
UNDER TEAM: Minnesota Twins
O/U THIS SEASON: 59-65-9
O/U LAST WEEK: 2-4-1
THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE: At the White Sox for three, at the Angels for three.
THE SKINNY: Lot of teams hit a lot of overs last week, so we’ll give this honor to the scuffling Twins, who not only posted a decent under streak, but also lost Jim Thome to Cleveland. With a weaker lineup, and the season already decided, Minnesota looks like prime under material the rest of the way.
The Twins -- who entered the week 17 games out of first place in the AL Central, a division they used to own -- broke out with the bats over the weekend vs. Detroit. But keep in mind Saturday’s 6-4 loss to the Tigers snapped a run of five straight games in which the Twins scored one run. If that’s not an under play, we don’t know what one is.
In fact, heading into Monday’s series opener with the White Sox, Minnesota had scored one run or less 14 times in August. Sunday’s lineup featured two hitters below the .200 mark, and only one -- Jason Kubel (.283 average, nine homers, 45 RBIs) -- over the .280 mark. You get the idea.