Thursday's MLB Tip Sheet

Thursday's MLB Tip Sheet

Thursday's NL Tip Sheet
By Brian Edwards

There are six National League games on Thursday’s card, including three afternoon affairs. Let’s take a look at a few of the highlights.

**Braves at Marlins**

--Florida will give the starting nod to Ricky Nolasco, who is 1-0 with a 4.22 ERA in three starts this year. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 1.82 ERA in four lifetime starts against Atlanta.

--Braves slugger Chipper Jones is 3-for-7 (.429) off Nolasco with a pair of doubles. Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann are both 4-for-10 off the righty with one double apiece. Francoeur also has a home run against Nolasco.

--John Smoltz (2-0, 0.82 ERA) owns a 14-6 record and 2.71 lifetime ERA against Florida. In 11 innings of work this season, the ageless veteran has fanned 11 batters.

--Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez is 5-for-16 (.313) against Smoltz with a pair of doubles, while second baseman Dan Uggla is 7-for-22 (.318) with one double and a homer.

--Atlanta is 1-4 in five games against right-handed pitching.

--Bobby Cox has serious concerns with his bullpen right now. Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez were already on the disabled list, and they were joined by Peter Moylan on Wednesday. With Atlanta’s bullpen woes in mind, bettors shouldn’t be surprised that the Braves were winless in six one-run games prior to Wednesday’s contest.

**Rockies at Padres**

--San Diego will give the ball to its ace Jake Peavy (3-0, 1.64) in this spot. The hard-throwing righty has been dominant to date, but he’s just 4-4 with a 4.45 lifetime ERA against Colorado.

--Colorado slugger Todd Helton is 13-for-38 (.342) with six doubles and three homers off Peavy. Helton has been even better against San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman, going 13-for-22 (.591) with three doubles and one homer against off the legendary closer. Matt Holliday and Garrett Atkins have also enjoyed success against Peavy, as both are 7-for-18 (.389)

--Colorado LHP Jeff Francis (0-2, 9.53) has struggled mightily versus the Padres, compiling a 5-10 ledger to go with a 5.83 ERA in 16 career assignments.

--San Diego’s big bats from the left-handed side of the plate have been completely ineffective against Francis. Jim Edmonds is 1-for-12 (.083), Brian Giles is 9-for-40 (.225) with zero homers and Adrian Gonzalez is a futile 4-for-23 (.174). On the flip side, Khalil Greene and Kevin Kouzmanoff have feasted on the southpaw. Greene is 10-for-31 (.323) with a pair of doubles and three homers, while Kouzmanoff is 7-for-15 (.455) with three doubles and two dingers.

--The Padres were winless in two games against lefties going into Wednesday’s game versus Colorado LHP Mark Redman.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--St. Louis will send Kyle Lohse to the mound for his third start of the year when the Cards host Milwaukee at 1:05 p.m. Eastern. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA in his first two assignments. Lohse is 3-3 with a 5.66 ERA in six career starts versus the Brewers.

--Philadelphia will play host to Houston at 1:05 p.m. ET. Brett Myers will go for the Phillies, while the Astros counter with Brandon Backe. Speaking of Backe, you have to admire the moxy to some extent but seriously, is there any reason to talk trash to Albert Pujols?

--The Braves remain unsure about the status of Tom Glavine, who left Sunday’s game at Washington with a strained hamstring after facing just four batters. The veteran left-hander was planning on throwing a side session Wednesday night before determining if he’ll make his next start.

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Re: Thursday's MLB Tip Sheet

Thursday's AL Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

The final day of teams playing out a mini two-game series will close out just before the weekend is upon us. Highlighting the 13-game slate will be a pitching duel between New York’s Mike Mussina and Boston’s Josh Beckett.

Today’s tip sheet will focus on the American League. While several pitchers (including Baltimore’s Jeremy Guthrie and Detroit’s Justin Verlander) will be looking to earn their first win of the season, other hurlers are looking to continue early season momentum.

Diving head first into the diamond, here’s your list of the five AL showdowns taking place on Thursday.
   
Boston at New York Yankees

In a rematch from this past Saturday, both Josh Beckett and Mike Mussina will once again attempt to duel their way into the win column. Boston’s Beckett hung in for 6.2 innings in the previous contest, giving up three runs on five hits. The right-handed Beckett has only pitched in one road game this season resulting in a loss against Toronto (4.2 innings, three hits and five earned runs surrendered). Negative talk about New York’s offense is beginning to subside with the team averaging six runs per game in its last three contests. Yankees’ Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon and Alex Rodriguez have combined to produce 11 RBIs in the last seven days. The Red Sox are 3-7 in their last 10 meetings versus the N.Y. Yankees.

Detroit at Cleveland

Looking to turn the corner is a Tigers club who’s combined to score 17 runs in a two-game series versus Minnesota. It’s been a tough start to the season for Detroit. The team’s .250 BA (22nd worst in the league) and 3.57 runs per game (ranked 26th), combined with a 5.88 ERA has resulted in -10.29 units on the season. Cleveland is in a funk of its own, dropping five of the last six. Indians’ hurler Fausto Carmona (1-1, 2.20 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season. The hard sinking slinger is coming off a disappointing performance in Oakland, a start which witnessed Carmona tossing 82 pitches in only 3.1 innings. Cleveland closer Joe Borowski, who was responsible for two blown saves in only five games, was placed on the 15-day DL with a triceps injury. The Indians are 7-1 in Carmona’s last eight home starts.

Chicago White Sox at Baltimore

Chicago’s starting pitching on the road has been ineffective with a 5.74 ERA but the bullpen has picked up the slack with a 2.61 ERA (tops in the AL). In 38.2 innings, the pen has averaged 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings, has registered six holds and has surrendered only one long ball. The Orioles are 8-2 on the ‘under’ in their last 10 and are an even 5-5 in the win/loss column. Baltimore is 3-4 when playing inside its own division, but a 5-2 record versus teams in the Central and West has turned heads for the moment. The O’s will place Jeremy Guthrie on hill. His 4.34 ERA largely reflects the nine hit, six run outing in his first start versus Tampa Bay. Baltimore is 3-0 in its last three head-to-head meetings with the White Sox, while the ‘over’ has seen a success with a 9-3 frequency in the last 12 head-to-head contests.

Kansas City at L.A. Angels

The Royals enter the fourth contest of a seven-game stint out West with No. 5 starter/reliever Brett Tomko toeing the slab. With a 1-1 record and an efficient 2.08 ERA, Tomko is coming off a loss against Minnesota (2-0) in which the righty hurled six innings, giving up only six hits and two runs. The Angels may be without star slingers John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar, but there’s no questioning that Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders (combined for a 4-0 record) have made major contributions to the team. Off-season acquired starting pitcher John Garland will try to shake off two fruitless starts, in which the righty was tagged for a combined 20 hits and 13 runs in only 10 innings. With most books setting the total to 8 ½ runs, it should be noted that the Angels have hit the nine run mark 67 percent of the time. On the road, Kansas City is 5-2 on the ‘under’. L.A. opened as a $1.50 favorite.

Seattle at Oakland

While the Mariners are floundering financially, down 2.15 units on the year, the Athletics have been smoking on the money line. Oakland is up 5.95 units on the season, thanks in part to a 3.35 team ERA in conjunction with 104 strikeouts. The A’s have also won the hearts, minds and pockets of gamblers with an 11-4 record on the run line, translating to a +655 bankroll. Seattle will place two win starter Carlos Silva on the mound. Silva’s ERA has been a bit high to begin the season but surrendering only three runs in an 8-3 win over the Angels should only boost his confidence. Gearing up to face the A’s lefty starter Lenny DiNardo, the Mariners bats should be poised to strike with a .306 BA and 21 RBIs versus southpaw pitchers. Most books have set the total at nine runs.

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