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Tuesday's MLB Tip Sheet

Tuesday's MLB Tip Sheet

Rays, Royals Look to Win
By Judd Hall

Where Monday had just seven games for us to peruse in Major League Baseball, Tuesday offers up 15 tilts.

Does it make sense to take a stab at all 15 contests when dealing with your local book? Not really, but we can whittle the card down to two games. And those fixtures could get you a chance to making some sound investments.

Tampa Bay (J. Hammel) at Baltimore (G. Olson)

If I were to tell you that the winner of this three-game series would most likely have first place in the American League East at the start of the year, you’d tell me I was nuts. That’s just what we’ve got to start our discussion of games for the night.

It’s hard to pick a horse in this race, so to speak, as both teams are great plays on the money line.

The Orioles are +$537 on the money line this season, while Tampa Bay is sitting at +$402 for the year so far.

What does jump out to me in this contest is how dominant the Rays have been when playing against the run line, making +$766 in that situation. Meanwhile, the O’s aren’t really a club to back within 1 ½ runs as proven by the +$87 they’ve made this season.

Something to be looking out for right now is how well Tampa Bay’s pitching has performed during its recent six-game winning streak. James Shields, Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson, Andy Sonnanstine and Jason Hammel have combined to 22 strikeouts with a 2.69 earned run average. And the Rays’ bullpen is the best in baseball with a 2.25 ERA this year.

The only thing really that can be thrown in favor of Baltimore and against the Rays is their records at home and road respectively. The Orioles have gone 9-4 at Camden Yards this year, while Tampa Bay is 4-4 away from Tropicana Field. However, the Rays have dominated Baltimore by going 7-2 SU in their last nine head-to-head meetings.

Kansas City (B. Tomko) at Texas (J. Jennings)

I know what you’re thinking…this game should be a pass by almost everyone, but hear me out.

Brett Tomko hasn’t exactly been quality when it comes to his outings this year, barely able to get himself past five innings per start in 2008 and is on pace to have the highest ERA of his career (5.80 in 2007).

That would normally be an issue against any other team, except for the Rangers. Texas is sending Jason Jennings to the mound in retaliation. Yes, this is the same Jason Jennings that is 0-4 with a 7.46 ERA this year.

It also doesn’t help that the Rangers are just 4-7 at home this year, the worst home record in all of baseball. And a 4-5 record against the Royals in Arlington since July 2006 isn’t something that would make me want to back them personally.

If you’re looking at making a totals wager, consider the ‘under.’ Tomko has seen the ‘under’ go 3-1 this season in his past four starts. And Jennings has seen low scoring totals come through in three of his five appearances.

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Diamond Watch
By Matt Fargo

Tuesday, April 29th

San Diego Padres at Philadelphia Phillies

The Padres managed only one victory during their short five-game homestand and they are struggling right now with losses in 10 of their last 12 games. They will play against a relatively hot Phillies team that is 6-3 over their last nine games but the real storyline is Greg Maddux as he tries to secure victory number 350. He has had two chances and came up short both times. He has faced the Phillies only twice since 2004, going 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA. Maddux will become just the 9th pitcher in history to possess 350 victories.

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Milwaukee (14-11) at Chicago Cubs (16-9)

The two teams expected to battle with each other for the N.L. Central crown this season kick off a three-game series at Wrigley Field under the lights. Tonight, the Brewers’ Ben Sheets (3-0, 0.96 ERA) is expected to return from a stint on the disabled list and pitch opposite the Cubs’ Jason Marquis (1-0, 3.47).

Chicago has followed up six-game winning streak by dropping three of its last four, including Sunday’s 2-0 shutout loss at Washington. However, the Cubs have won five straight home games and nine of their last 10 at Wrigley.

Milwaukee, which like Chicago was off on Monday, fell to 3-5 in its last eight games with Sunday’s 3-2, 10-inning home loss to Florida. The Brewers are just 8-10 since starting the season 6-1, and tonight they begin a nine-game road trip.

These teams opened up the 2008 season against one another in Wrigley, with the Brewers taking two of three as the teams have now split their last 12 meetings in the Windy City. On Opening Day on March 31, Sheets outdueled Carlos Zambrano in a battle of aces, scattering two hits and two walks while striking out seven over 6 1/3 scoreless innings, but got a no-decision as the Brewers won 4-3 in 10 innings.

Sheets has been off since leaving his April 18 start at Cincinnati after giving up two hits in five scoreless innings. However, he got the win 5-2, as the Brewers are now 5-0 in his last five starts and 18-5 in his last 23. On the highway this season, Sheets is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in three efforts.

Each of Sheets’ last four starts against the Cubs have come in Chicago going back exactly one year, and Milwaukee won three of the four, with Sheets posting a 1.93 ERA (five earned runs allowed in 23 1/3 innings). For his career, Sheets is 9-7 with a 3.70 ERA against Chicago, including 5-4 with a 3.87 ERA in 13 outings at Wrigley Field.

Marquis got a no-decision in Chicago’s 4-2 loss at Colorado on Thursday, even though the right-hander pitched well, allowing just two runs on eight hits in seven innings. Over his last three outings, Marquis is 1-0 with a 2.50 ERA, and he’s also 1-0 with a 3.97 ERA in two home starts.

In his first season with the Cubs in 2007, Marquis made two starts against the Brewers, going 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA, and he’s 5-6 with a 3.97 ERA lifetime against Milwaukee

The under is 3-1 in Sheets’ four starts this year, but the over is 3-1 in Marquis’ four 2008 outings and 5-1 in his last six starts dating to September.

The Cubs have stayed under the total in four straight games, but the over is 8-1 in their last nine against Central Division rivals. Meanwhile, for Milwaukee, the under is on streaks of 4-0 overall, 4-0 on the road, 5-1 against the Central Division and 20-7-2 on the road against a right-handed starter.



Toronto (11-15) at Boston (15-12)

Roy Halladay (2-3, 3.73) goes for his fifth straight complete game when he and the Blue Jays open up a three-game series at Fenway Park against the Red Sox and Jon Lester (1-2, 5.40).

Toronto was idle on Monday after halting a six-game losing streak with Sunday’s 5-2 victory at Kansas City. The Blue Jays are just 3-9 in their last 12 games, going 1-5 on their current road trip that ends Thursday in Boston.

The Red Sox have lost a season-high five straight games, including getting swept over the weekend in Tampa Bay, as they were outscored 10-5 in the three defeats. Prior to going to Tampa, Boston lost two home games to the Angels, ending a seven-game home winning streak.

Toronto swept a three-game set from the Red Sox back on April 4-6 in Canada, outscoring Boston 23-9. Going back to last September, the Jays are on a 7-0 run in this rivalry, but the home team is 7-1 in the last eight clashes.

Halladay has been an innings eater all season for Toronto, pitching seven or more in each of his five outings. However, despite finishing the last three, he’s just 1-2 with a 3.46 ERA, losing his last two starts to Texas at home (4-1) and at Tampa Bay (5-3), surrendering a total of nine runs on 20 hits in 17 innings in the two contests. On the road this year, Halladay is 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA. Also, going back to last season, Toronto has dropped 13 of Halladay’s last 16 on the highway.

Halladay’s complete-game streak began with a 7-4 win at Boston on April 6, with the right-hander giving up all four runs on eight hits in eight innings. The former Cy Young winner is now 10-10 with a 4.81 ERA in 33 career games (30 starts) against the Red Sox, going 4-6 with a 4.96 ERA in 15 starts at Fenway. Last year in three starts in Beantown, Halladay was 1-2 with a 5.57 ERA.

Forced to pitch on three days’ rest because of an illness to scheduled starter Daisuke Matsuzaka on Wednesday, Lester lasted just five innings against the Angels, giving up four runs on nine hits and taking a no-decision in Boston’s 6-4 home loss. The southpaw has surrendered exactly four runs in four of his six starts, and he’s failed to pitch more than 5 1/3 innings in any of those outings.

Lester has made three home starts this year, going 0-1 with a 5.94 ERA. On the bright side, he was terrific in his one career start against the Blue Jays, allowing a run on three hits in 6 2/3 innings, but getting a no-decision in Boston’s 4-3 road loss.

The under is 4-1 in Halladay’s five starts this year, including 3-0 on the road, and the under is 6-1 in Lester’s last seven starts going back to last season (playoffs included), including 3-0 at home this season. However, the over is 6-3 in Halladay’s last nine outings against Boston, including 4-1 in the last five at Fenway.

The Red Sox stayed under the total in all three games over the weekend against the Rays, but the over is 4-1 in the last five in Fenway. Also, the over was 2-0-1 in the three meetings between these teams in Toronto earlier this month and is 6-2 in the last eight series clashes in Boston. Meanwhile, Toronto is on a 7-2 “under” streak, and the under is 10-4 in its 14 road games this season.



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