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There are few things that are more American than the game of baseball and the 4th of July; this week has both. There has been some movement in the divisions around the league; a few have new leaders, but lead changes aren’t the only interesting developments. With the All Star break less than 2 weeks away and the trade deadline on the horizon, everything can change in the blink of an eye. Half the the 2016 season is almost over and this is what’s going on this week in baseball.
Since it’s America’s Birthday every team is playing Monday. The Cleveland Indians have continues to surge through the AL Central and is now 6 games up on the World Champion Kansas City Royals. The Indians as starting a 3 game series against the Detroit Tigers. The tigers have been trying to gain some ground in the the division and though they are 5.5 behind the Tigers, they jumped ahead of the Royals into 2nd place and the Wild Card after sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays in the 4 game series.
The other match up that starts Monday I’ll be keeping my eye on this Miami Marlins vs the New York Mets. The reason why this series peaks my interest is because the Marlins have the chance to take over the 2nd place spot in the NL East; somewhere they have not been in a while. Not much changed by way of players, but the addition of manager Don Mattingly and hitting coach Barry Bonds has been working. I’m not a Mets hater, but it would be awesome to see the Marlins put the in their dust.
One team that is going to have a challenging week is the Pittsburgh Pirates. They start of the week in St. Louis vs the Cardinals, who they currently sit 2.5 games back from. Tuesday the Pirates rookie Jameson Taillon is starting vs Mike Leake. Taillon has had 5 starts; 2 against the Mets, and single starts against the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Seattle Mariners. He’s kept his ERA under 4, racked up 21 strikeouts, and has a record of 2-1. The first time a pitcher faces a team, particularly a division rival, so this game should be a good one.
After St. Louis the Pirates head home to face the Cubs. Although the Cubs are no longer the best team in the league, they are still near the top and are still on top of the division. The Pirates have yet to win a series vs the Cubs so this one is important. They will face Jake Arrieta this series and will have to step up their game is they want to win this series.
Another team to keep an eye on is the one that, as of Sunday, in the best team in baseball with 52 wins, The Texas Rangers. They start out the week in Boston playing the Red Sox and finish it out at home vs the Minnesota Twins. The Red Sox finished out June with a 10-16 record and the Twins, well they are the Twins so no doubt that the Rangers will be racking up some more wins the first full week in July. Speaking of the AL West, the Houston Astros have quietly crept out of mediocrity and into 2nd place in the division. I guess winning 12 of their last 15 games in June will do that.
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