The last Thursday before the All-Star break brings us an abbreviated schedule, but we’ve still go 10 games and there are some pretty cool matchups along the way. Let’s get to it. 

Thursday’s scores

Break up the A’s

Even when it looks like the Athletics can be stopped, they can’t.

Nick Martini had three hits, including a pair of doubles, and two RBI to pace Oakland in their Thursday win over the Astros. The A’s bullpen also allowed only one run in 5 1/3 innings, which set the A’s up for an eighth-inning comeback after falling behind 4-0 early in the game.

Speaking of the Oakland relief corps, check out Ryan Buchter’s glovework from this one … 

The win means that the A’s have taken three of four from the reigning champs on the road. And now for the longer view of the A’s recent dominance … 

Yep, things are going pretty well for Oakland of late, especially considering they’ve got, oh, pretty much an entire rotation on the disabled list, though Trevor Cahill returned to the mound in the win. Thursday’s triumph means they’re on pace for 91 wins, and they’re 5 1/2 games behind the Mariners for the second wild-card spot and eight games behind the division-leading Astros.

As for the SportsLine Projection Model, it pegs the A’s for 87 wins and gives them a 12.3 percent chance of making the playoffs. While that number sounds low, it’s been trending in the right direction for some time. Really, the A’s are the only team with a shot to break up the current Red Sox-Astros-Indians-Yankees-Mariners playoff alignment that’s firmly in place right now. 

Freeland sparkles again for Rox

Lefty Kyle Freeland, 25, had himself a strong, if somewhat abbreviated day against the Diamondbacks on Thursday … 

That’s fully in keeping with what Freeland’s been doing lately, by the way … 

For the season, he’s now pitched to a 3.11 ERA in 115 2/3 innings this season. As for those excellent numbers at Coors, Freeland is of course a Denver native. The former No. 8 overall pick has frontline stuff, and he’s obviously accustomed to succeeding at a mile above sea level. This season, Freeland’s looking like the Rockies’ ace for a long time to come.

Showdown in Cleveland

The Indians are hosting the Yankees and there are all kinds of cool aspects to this one. First off, it’s a rematch from the ALDS last year that saw the Yankees storm back from a 2-0 deficit to stun the 102-win Indians. Secondly, this is between two teams in pretty firm playoff position this time around with the Indians having an 8 1/2 game lead in the AL Central and the Yankees in the first AL Wild Card spot and having tons of cushion (nine games from the first team out). As such, we could call it a possible playoff preview. 

Most juicy, though, is the pitching matchup. 

  • Luis Severino: 14-2, 2.12 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 143 K, 31 BB, 123 1/3 IP
  • Corey Kluber: 12-4, 2.49 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 123 K, 15 BB, 126 1/3 IP

Both are All-Stars. Both are options to start the All-Star Game, though the hunch is Severino gets the nod. Kluber won last season’s Cy Young (his second) and Severino is the frontrunner for this season’s Cy Young. Kluber is 32 and an established true ace while Severino is 24 and in his second season of acedom. 

This is must-watch stuff, people. 

Red Sox going for 10

The longest winning streak in baseball still belongs to the Boston Red Sox. They’ve ripped off nine straight and are playing .691 ball. That’s winning at a pace of 112-50. In the history of the Red Sox franchise, they have only won 100 games three times.

  • 105 wins in 1912
  • 104 wins in 1946
  • 101 wins in 1915

Yes, this team has the chance to be the best Red Sox team ever. 

Thursday, they’ll send the embattled David Price (9-6, 4.44) to the bump against Blue Jays All-Star starter (remember, every team has to have one) J.A. Happ (10-5, 4.44). 

Can Scherzer get Nats on track?

The Nationals were supposedly back on track last Saturday, when they crushed the Marlins 18-4 for their third-straight win. Since then, though, they’ve lost three of four, all to sub-par teams. They’ve fallen back to .500 again and are 5 1/2 games out in the NL East. 

Thursday is a game they should take, though that hasn’t meant much to this point. It’s Max Scherzer (11-5, 2.33) against the 37-53 Mets. Lefty Steven Matz (4-6, 3.31) gets the ball as Scherzer’s counterpart. 

Paxton takes ball for Mariners

The Mariners continue to be a great story, holding a solid grip on the second AL Wild Card with a 58-35 record and six-game lead over the A’s. Thursday, they visit the Angels and send their ace, should-be All-Star James Paxton (8-3, 3.49), to the hill. The Angels are 11 behind the Mariners and if they hope to have any chance whatsoever at a now-unlikely playoff run, a win here would be a start. 

Quick hits

  • The Phillies have shown interest in Orioles lefty reliever Zach Britton, reports NBC Philadelphia
  • Twins first baseman/designated hitter Logan Morrison was placed on the DL with a hip injury. Infielder Ehire Adrianza has been activated from the DL as a corresponding move. 
  • Red Sox third baseman Rafeal Devers was placed on the DL with left shoulder inflammation. Infielder Tzu-Wei Lin has been activated as a corresponding move. 
  • Starting pitcher Shelby Miller has been placed on the DL by the Diamondbacks with inflammation in his right elbow.

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