With tight divisional races tightening up all over the MLB, the dogs days of summer and the month of August will make or break many MLB teams. With no team more than five games ahead of the next, each division could see some shake ups this month and even this week.
Here are some important MLB games to watch for on Monday Aug. 11:
New York Yankees (61-56) at Baltimore Orioles (67-50)
Chris Capuano (1-2, 3.91 ERA) vs. Bud Norris (9-7, 3.68 ERA)
Along with the Toronto Blue Jays who trail Baltimore by five games, the Yankees trail by just six since being an even .500 at the All-Star break. The Orioles have improved immensely since being below .500 on May 30. The Orioles are led by Adam Jones and Nick Markakis. This is a big series for the Yankees who can cut the margin in half with a few wins and can turn the AL East into the tight division it is every year.
Oakland Athletics (72-45) at Kansas City Royals (63-53)
Sonny Gray (12-5, 2.87 ERA) vs. Yordano Ventura (9-8, 3.47 ERA)
This is a big game for both teams but absolutely huge for the Kansas City Royals. The Royals just swept one of the best NL teams, the San Fransisco Giants and now have the best team in baseball with the A’s at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals have won 15 of 18 games and have worked the AL Central lead by the Detroit Tigers all the way down to half a game. With a win and a Detroit loss, the Royals could be atop the AL Central for the second time this year. Oakland leads the Los Angeles Angels by just four games and must keep winning on the road to hold off Mike Trout and the scrappy Angels.
Los Angeles Dodgers (67-52) at Atlanta Braves (60-57)
Kevin Correia (5-13, 4.94 ERA with Twins) vs. Julio Teheran (10-8, 2.92 ERA)
The Braves have contended neck and neck with the Washington Nationals all year for the top spot in the NL East and now the Nationals have gained a 3.5 game lead. The Braves need to keep it close if they’re going to win the division and gain a big confidence booster in beating the NL leading Dodgers on ESPN. The Dodgers still lead the San Fransisco Giants by 4.5 games, but the race is only going to get tighter unless they show they can consistently win even when Kershaw isn’t pitching. With newly acquired pitcher Kevin Correia on the mound, it’s a big game for the Dodgers that can set precedence for their rotation the rest of the year.
Detroit Tigers (63-52) at Pittsburgh Pirates (62-55)
Justin Verlander (10-10, 4.57 ERA) vs. Jeff Locke (3-3, 3.78 ERA)
This is the only inter-league matchup of the day. The Tigers are streaking in the wrong direction and have given up a seven game lead on the Royals in the last three weeks to where it’s just half a game. If Detroit loses and Kansas City picks up a win, they will once again lose the AL Central lead and deal a huge blow to team confidence especially after having to put pitchers Anibal Sanchez and Joakim Soria on the DL. The Pirates sit at third place in the NL Central but only trail half a game to the Cardinals and only 2.5 to the Brewers. It’s anyone’s division and if the Pirates are going to win it, they’re going to have to prove they can take care of star-powered teams like the Detroit Tigers.