Ahh! Meaningful baseball is back. After a couple of evenings of not knowing what to do, Friday evening will again be filled with scores and highlights. Bless you, baseball! There will be recaps to read instead of everyone's first half MVP stories. The division and wild card races will resume. Trade speculation will be rampant. Life will get back to normal. Heck, perhaps even Robinson Cano will get cheered or something.
- The Diamondbacks over the Cubs: Baseball resumes with a day game at Wrigley. Perfect. If Paul Maholm is on, he can be very good. Ian Kennedy has been nowhere near as good as he was last season. But the D-backs are still the better team. Perhaps one day they will even play like one.
- The Yankees over the Angels: This is a tough draw for the Yankees to resume their spiritual second half. Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo killed the Yankees in their last meeting. It will all depend on C.J. Wilson and Hiroki Kuroda. Which one will be sharp? It will be interesting.
- The Orioles over the Tigers: Doug Fister has been sort of a #facepalm this season. Jason Hammel should have been an All Star. Hammel's two-seam fastball will have the Tigers pounding the ball in the dirt.
- The Blue Jays over the Indians: Edwin Encarnacion has a new contract and will belt at least one long ball. Justin Masterson has not been very consistent. And Ricky Romero is usually solid at his home ballpark.
- The Bay Rays over the Red Sox: Franklin Morales had to be a mirage in his early starts. The Yankees roughed him up a bit. The Rays do not have much of an offense, but if Jeremy Hellickson can hold down the Red Sox, the Rays should win.
- The Cardinals over the Reds: These teams do not like each other. And this game will be a pitcher's duel. Mat Latos has been terrific and Adam Wainwright is rounding back into ace form. Going with the experience of Wainwright in this one.
- The Nationals over the Marlins: Josh Johnson could be spectacular. Jordan Zimmermann will be solid. This could become a bullpen game and if so, the advantage goes to the Nats.
- The Braves over the Mets: Tim Hudson always has a physical problem of some sort. But he is hard to pick against. Chris Young starts in place of the injured Dillon Gee and has been good since coming off the disabled list. This is an important series for both teams.
- The Whtie Sox over the Royals: Jose Quintana has been incredible for the White Sox. You keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. But other than a rough outing against the Yankees, he's been great and has only given up three homers in eight starts. Bruce Chen is always capable of seven innings of bedevilment. But the White Sox are the better pick here.
- The Twins over the Athletics: Will Francisco Liriano finally get traded? Will A.J. Griffin finally get a win to show for his good pitching? The Twins are a better offense, so going with that.
- The Brewers over the Pirates: The picks have been going with James McDonald for game after game this season and it has paid off big time. But Zack Greinke at home is an entirely different story. The latter reality trumps the former.
- The Phillies over the Rockies: Cliff Lee gets on a roll after winning his first game before the break. But he will have to pitch well at Coors Field. Christian Friedrich has been pretty good at times for a rookie on a bad ball club with a bad home situation.
- The Dodgers over the Padres: Matt Kemp is back. Everyone hold your breath that he stays this time. Clayton Kershaw should beat Clayton Richard. But that's why they play the game.
- The Rangers over the Mariners: Playing in that big ballpark in Seattle should hold the Rangers' offense down some. But the feeling here is that Derek Holland will enjoy that same reality and completely shut down the Mariners. Of course, that is not very hard to do. Kevin Millwood goes for the M's.
And the Game of the Day!
- The Giants over the Astros: Madison Bumgarner will have to get back to being spectacular after his rough last start before the beak. But that should happen against the Astros and Jordan Lyles will not be able to hold down the Giants.
Games of the Day: 53-40