Dog Days of August Fading: Pennant Race September Looms

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 25: The Baltimore Orioles honor former player, coach, and executive Mike Flanagan with a moment of silence before a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on August 25, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Baseball's playoff races are getting ready to exit the dog days of August for the heady days of pennant fever in September.

Here's a taste of what's on tap for this week's early baseball wagering action.

In a showdown between National League Wild-Card contenders the Cardinals and Pirates start a three-game series at PNC Park Monday night. Pittsburgh has owned one of the NL Wild-Card spots for much of this season, but a recent slump has cost them that perch, which is now occupied by defending World Series champion St. Louis.

Heading into Monday's play the Cardinals are a game and a half up on the Dodgers for that second WC spot, with the Pirates two games back.

Over in the American League the Orioles, who are tied with the A's for the second AL Wild-Card spot, host the AL Central-leading White Sox for four games starting Monday. Baltimore is pushing toward its first playoff berth since 1997, while the Sox are looking to get in for the first time since losing in the divisional round five years ago.

And down in Arlington the Rays and Rangers get together for a three-game series, a rematch of playoff series from the last two seasons. Tampa leads the AL Wild-Card race, while Texas leads the AL West, so these teams could very well meet again this October.

As of Monday morning, Vegas sportsbooks like theLVH.com is listing the Cardinals at -125 to win their series with the Pirates, who are "getting" -105; the Orioles and White Sox are both lined at -115 to win that series; and the Rangers are listed at -145 to win their series with the Rays, who are getting +115.

Kansas City +105 at Boston -110, Total 9.5 - Luke Hochevar (7-11) | Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-3) | Matchup Report | SBNation MLB Odds
Trends: The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Kansas City's last 13 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Boston's last 5 games

Toronto at NY Yankees - Henderson Alvarez (7-11) | David Phelps (1-2) | Matchup Report | SBNation MLB Odds
Trends: The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Toronto's last 9 games when playing NY Yankees
NY Yankees are 5-0 SU in their last 5 games when playing at home against Toronto

Oakland -135 at Cleveland +130, Total 8 - Brett Anderson (1-0) | Fausto Carmona (0-2) | Matchup Report | SBNation MLB Odds
Trends: The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Oakland's last 5 games when playing on the road against Cleveland
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Cleveland's last 5 games

Chi White Sox -101 at Baltimore -104, Total 8.5 - Francisco Liriano (5-10) | Wei-Yin Chen (12-7) | Matchup Report | SBNation MLB Odds
Trends: Chi White Sox are 5-0 SU in their last 5 games
Baltimore is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games at home

St. Louis -116 at Pittsburgh +111, Total 8 - Kyle Lohse (13-2) | AJ Burnett (15-4) | Matchup Report | SBNation MLB Odds
Trends: St. Louis is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Pittsburgh's last 5 games when playing at home against St. Louis

Tampa Bay -119 at Texas +114, Total 8.5 - David Price (16-4) | Derek Holland (8-6) | Matchup Report | SBNation MLB Odds
Trends: Tampa Bay is 10-2 SU in its last 12 games on the road
Texas is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games

Milwaukee -129 at Chi Cubs +124 - Marco Estrada (1-5) | Justin Germano (2-2) | Matchup Report | SBNation MLB Odds
Trends: Milwaukee is 5-0 SU in their last 5 games when playing Chi Cubs
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Chi Cubs's last 5 games

Seattle -160 at Minnesota +155, Total 7.5 - Felix Hernandez (12-5) | Liam Hendriks (0-6) | Matchup Report | SBNation MLB Odds
Trends: Seattle is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing Minnesota
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Minnesota's last 7 games when playing Seattle

LA Dodgers -157 at Colorado +152, Total 10 - Josh Beckett (5-11) | Jeff Francis (4-4) | Matchup Report | SBNation MLB Odds
Trends: The total has gone UNDER in 4 of LA Dodgers's last 5 games when playing Colorado
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Colorado's last 5 games

Cincinnati at Arizona - Bronson Arroyo (10-7) | Tyler Skaggs (1-0) | Matchup Report | SBNation MLB Odds
Trends: The total has gone OVER in 10 of Cincinnati's last 12 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Arizona's last 5 games when playing at home against Cincinnati

Atlanta at San Diego - Paul Maholm (11-8) | Jason Marquis (8-11) | Matchup Report | SBNation MLB Odds
Trends: The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Atlanta's last 5 games when playing San Diego
San Diego is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games

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