MLB News and Notes April 5

MLB News and Notes April 5

Monday MLB Plays
By Judd Hall

Monday is the start of the work week for many of us. It also marks the start of a new series for several teams in baseball as well.

There are nine tilts on the card for Monday, but we’re going to focus one quality matchup in each league.

Boston Red Sox (D. Matsuzaka) at Detroit Tigers (J. Bonderman) – 7:05 pm EDT

Things looked as bad as they could for the Red Sox just a week ago. They were mired in a five-game slide and looked lost…especially at the plate.

Boston was just hitting .221 (37 of 167) during that recent losing streak. The funny thing is you can’t really fault guys like David Ortiz (two of 13) or Manny Ramirez (nine of 19), who were reasonable at the plate. Granted Ortiz didn’t get on base a lot, but he did belt a pair of homers that yielded four RBIs.

Now the BoSox are doing just fine, winning four of their last five matches and finally control the American League East. Well, controlling the division as well as you can with a two-game lead right now.

Detroit, on the other hand, is having a lot of fun cutting off its nose to spite its face. The Tigers look like they’re about to break out, winning eight of 10 games as the calendar turned to May. Now the Motor City Kitties have been outscored 15-2 on the road against Minnesota.
   
Looking at that scoring differential you’d think it was because of the pitching, first and foremost. That would be wrong because Justin Verlander and Armando Galarraga pitched 13 innings, giving up just six earned runs. They were victims of bad defense and an offense that can only be found on the back of a milk carton.

Jeremy Bonderman has a 4-4 record against the Red Sox with a 4.35 ERA. And he won one of his two starts against them by pitching five innings and allowing just one earned run. You’d be wise to take the ‘under’ with Bonderman on the mound since it is 4-1-1 in his last five starts.

Daisuke Matsuzaka lends support to the ‘under’ wager as he’s seen it go 3-2 in his past five starts. Plus, he leads the Red Sox with a 2.52 ERA this season.

The last 10 head-to-head meetings between these two clubs have watched the lower totals dominate in eight of the matches.

Philadelphia Phillies (J. Moyer) at Arizona Diamondbacks (M. Scherzer) – 9:40 pm EDT

Could this be an early preview of the National League Championship Series?

Philadelphia has gone 9-4 in its last 13 games this season, while the ‘over’ just barely took advantage with a 7-6 record. The result is a team that is sitting atop an NL East that has three teams just a ½-game separating them.

The Phillies can thank Tom Gordon for finding a little bit of the fountain of youth, helping him go 3-2 with a rather high 5.11 ERA to match up with a 1.30 WHIP. Those numbers are misleading when you consider he’s not allowed an earned run in his last seven appearances…a span of 6 2/3 innings.

Arizona lays claim to the best record in baseball at 21-9 in its first 30 fixtures. And they’re amongst the Top 10 in batting average (.271) and team ERA (3.26) in all of Major League Baseball.

Max Scherzer is making his first start in the big leagues for the D-Backs, but did pitch 4 1/3 scoreless innings on April 29 against the Astros while getting seven strikeouts. That’s a far cry from Jamie Moyer, who will be starting for the 557th time of his career.

The smart money is on the Diamondbacks to notch another victory in their belt since they’re 5-1 since May 2007 against the Phillies.

You might also want to take a look at the ‘under’ in this contest because of Moyer’s ability to keep opposing offenses in check. Philadelphia has watched the combined scores of Moyer’s starts go ‘under’ the closing number in seven of his last 10 appearances.

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NATIONAL LEAGUE

N.Y. Mets (16-13) at L.A. Dodgers (17-14)


The Dodgers try to start a new winning streak when they send Chad Billingsley (1-4, 5.20 ERA) to the mound at Dodger Stadium, while the Mets are scheduled to counter with Oliver Perez (2-2, 4.03) in the opener of a three-game series.

Los Angeles had an eight-game winning streak snapped with Sunday’s 7-2 loss in Colorado. It was the Dodgers’ lowest run output in 10 games, as they averaged 8.8 runs per game during their streak, including producing double-digit runs four times.

New York arrives in Southern California having taken two of three from league-leading Arizona, including Sunday’s 5-2 win in the desert. The Mets have won five of their last seven overall, but they’re still under .500 on the highway (7-8).

These teams split their 10-game series last year, but the Mets did win five of the last seven, including three of four in Los Angeles.

Billingsley was stellar in his last start Wednesday, picking up his first victory of the season by allowing one run on three hits in seven innings of a 13-1 drubbing of the Marlins. At home this year, the right-hander is 0-2 with a 5.56 ERA. Tonight marks Billingsley’s first career start against the Mets.

Perez didn’t stick around long in his last outing on Thursday against the Pirates, getting chased after 1 2/3 innings after surrendering seven runs (only two earned) on two hits and five walks in a 13-1 home loss. Over his last two outings, the southpaw is 0-2 with an 8.59 ERA, allowing 12 runs (seven earned) in 7 1/3 innings.

Perez is 2-1 with a 2.60 ERA in three road games this year and 5-4 with a 3.53 ERA in 10 career starts against the Los Angeles, including 3-2 with a 3.50 ERA in six outings at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers are 4-1 in Billingsley’s last five starts versus N.L. East competition, and they’re on further streaks of 6-1 at home, 10-3 on Mondays, 5-0 in the first game of a series and 7-3 against the N.L. East. Meanwhile, the Mets are just 4-8 in their last 12 games against winning teams, but 5-1 in their last six against right-handed starters.

The over is 4-2 in Perez’s six starts this season (2-1 on the road) and 4-0 in Billingsley’s last four outings (2-0 in the last two).

The under is 4-1-1 the last six times these teams have met, but the over is 7-2-1 in the last 10 meetings on the West Coast. The over is also 4-1-1 in the Mets’ last six overall, 14-7-1 in their last 22 road games and 17-9-2 in their last 28 on the road against right-handed starters six. Meanwhile the Dodgers are on over runs of 9-3-1 overall, 7-1 at home, 22-6-1 on Mondays, 35-16 in the first game of a series and 5-0 at home against teams with a winning mark.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Boston (20-13) at Detroit (14-18)


Fresh off a three-game sweep of the Rays and 5-1 homestand, the Red Sox hit the road and hand the ball to Daisuke Matsuzaka (4-0, 2.52 ERA), while the Tigers counter with ace Jeremy Bonderman (2-2, 3.86) in the first of a three-game set at Comerica Park.

Boston wrapped up its weekend sweep of Tampa Bay with Sunday’s 7-3 win to improve to 5-1 in its last six, a run that comes on the heels of a five-game losing streak. Now the Sox take to the road where they have dropped three straight and are just 6-8 for the season.

Detroit returns home after a six-game road trip that saw the Tigers sweep the Yankees, then get swept by the Twins, concluding with Sunday’s 7-6 loss when they scored six first-inning runs and were shutout the rest of the way. Detroit scored 20 runs in winning three games in New York, then managed just eight runs in Minnesota, including scoring single runs in losses on Friday and Saturday.

The Tigers are on a 4-2 run against the Red Sox, but Boston took two of three earlier this season at Fenway Park. The only win for Detroit came when Bonderman delivered a quality start, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits in five innings of a 7-2 victory. Otherwise the Red Sox are 29-14 in the last 43 series clashes, but just 1-4 the last five games at Comerica.

Bonderman has gone three straight outings of allowing two earned runs, and in Wednesday’s 6-2 victory at Yankee Stadium, he yielded just five hits and a walk in 7 2/3 innings. The Tigers have won six straight games against Boston with Bonderman on the hill, as the right-hander has limited the Red Sox to three runs or less in seven of his last eight starts against them. For his career, Bonderman is 4-4 with a 4.35 ERA against the BoSox.

Dating back to last season, Boston has each of Matsuzaka’s last eight straight starts, including Wednesday’s 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays when the right-hander tossed seven shutout innings, allowing on two hits and two walks. In April, Dice-K blanked the Tigers on four hits for 6 2/3 innings of a 5-0 Red Sox win. But in his lone visit to Comerica last year, he got shelled for six runs on 10 hits in five innings of a 6-5 loss.

Boston is on streaks of 20-7 against the A.L. Central Division, 40-17 against teams with a losing record, 12-5 on the road against losing teams, 11-1 in Matsuzaka’s last 12 starts and 4-1 when he toes the rubber on the road. Meanwhile the Tigers are runs of 6-2 at home, 12-4 when Bonderman opens a series and 8-3 with him on the hill against teams with a winning mark. However, Detroit is on slides of 2-6 when Bonderman works in Comerica and 4-10 overall against winning teams.

The under is 8-3-1 in the last 12 head-to-head matchups , 4-0 in Bonderman’s last four outings against the Sox and 4-1-1 in Bonderman’s six starts this season. The under is also 6-3 in Boston’s last nine and 18-6-1 in its last 25 Monday games. However, the over is 11-5-2 in the Tigers’ last 18 on Mondays and 5-2-2 in their last nine at home.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER

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Monday's best MLB bets
COVERS.com

Angels vs. Kansas City +130, 9½

Chances are, you didn’t know these were the two best fielding teams in the American League. Now you know and it helps bring a little bit of overlooked value to the under for this three-game series.

Both squads have a .989 fielding percentage and have committed just 26 errors between them this season. It is part of the reason K.C. is the third-best ‘under’ team in baseball right now and L.A. also has one more under than overs this year.

These two squads met in mid-April and played under in both matchups. Throw in the facts the Royals enter tonight on a three-game under streak and the Angels’ Ervin Santana has played under in all four of his totals this season and 9 ½ runs starts looking a little steep.

Pick: under 9½

St. Louis vs. Colorado -125, 10

Colorado has one strong pitcher, Aaron Cook, and after that it’s just everybody else. The Rockies are 6-1 when Cook starts and 6-18 when he doesn’t.

One of those ‘everybody else’ guys starts tonight when Ubaldo Jimenez takes the hill. He is 0-3 with a 5.9 ERA in six starts and he has gone as far as six innings only once. Still, the Rockies are favored in this matchup while they still continue to see chalk as last year’s World Series finalists.

That creates a solid value situation against a Cards team that is coming off an 18-win April, the most wins in April in franchise history.

Joel Pineiro  takes the mound for St. Louis and brings a 1.77 ERA over his past three starts.

Pick: Cardinals +115

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This week in MLB betting
By MATT FARGO

Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers 7:05 PM ET

Boston took two of three against the Tigers in the first series meeting this year but this is not the same Detroit team. The Tigers are 13-8 since then and they are slowly climbing back into the American League Central. While Boston started the season on fire, there has been some problems of late as it is 4-6 over its last 10 games heading into Sunday. The Red Sox are 13-5 at home but just 6-8 on the road and Daisuke Matsuzaka will be making his first road start since April 1 after tossing four straight at Fenway Park.

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Baseball Today

Cleveland at New York Yankees (7:05 p.m.) One team will give when the Indians and unbeaten Cliff Lee (5-0, 0.96 ERA) take on the Yankees and equally stingy Chien-Ming Wang (6-0, 3.00), who has won three straight starts.

STARS

-Derek Jeter, Yankees, went 4-for-5 with a double and an RBI in New York's 8-2 victory over Seattle. It was Jeter's first four-hit game since Aug. 30, against Boston.

-Gil Meche, Royals, allowed four hits in seven innings to help Kansas City beat Cleveland 2-0.

-Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox, went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs in Boston's 7-3 victory over Tampa Bay.

-Chipper Jones, Braves, went 3-for-5 with a home run, a double and five RBIs in Atlanta's 14-7 rout of Cincinnati. The NL's leading hitter increased his average to .425.

-Lance Berkman, Astros, hit a homer and two doubles and drove in four runs in Houston's 8-6, 12-inning win over Milwaukee. Berkman had four hits in the game.

INCOMPLETE

Toronto's Roy Halladay failed to pitch a complete game for the first time in five starts, and somehow that was good news for the Blue Jays. Halladay got the win in a 4-3 victory over Chicago, allowing three runs and three hits in 7 1-3 innings. He had lost three straight games despite going the distance. Oddly, Jose Contreras took the loss for the White Sox on Sunday, despite pitching a complete game.

STOPPER

Aaron Cook went to the mound with the Rockies on a four-game losing streak, and for the third straight start, he ended it. Cook pitched 7 2-3 solid innings in Colorado's 7-2 win over Los Angeles. It was the fifth time Cook stopped a Rockies' losing streak. The Rockies are 6-1 when Cook starts and 6-18 in other games. He's given up 13 earned runs and averaged seven innings in his last six starts - all of them Colorado victories. He hasn't walked a batter in his last two starts.

STALLED

The Indians offense struggled again, managing just four singles in a 2-0 loss to Gil Meche and the Kansas City Royals. They managed two runs and eight hits in losing two games to the Royals over the weekend, and have scored more than three runs in a game just once in seven games, dating to April 27. The team's .242 average is 13th out of 14 American League teams.

WELCOME BACK


Rays pitcher Scott Kazmir was chased after allowing four runs in four innings in his season debut, a 7-3 loss at Boston. He had been out since straining his elbow in February. ``My arm felt great, but I was doing a little too much,'' Kazmir said. ``I felt like I was battling myself the whole time, but I'll be fine.''

WHAT A RELIEF

Athletics reliever Santiago Casilla pitched a perfect inning in Oakland's 3-1 win over Texas. Casilla has yet to allow a run in 17 appearances, spanning 16 1-3 innings. He has 20 strikeouts and only two walks, and has allowed nine hits. No pitcher in baseball has pitched more innings without allowing a run this season than Casilla. Jim Johnson of Florida has 15 1-3 scoreless innings and Phillies closer Brad Lidge has 15. Chad Qualls of Arizona had his streak of 16 2-3 scoreless innings snapped in Arizona's 5-2 loss to New York.

NO RELIEF

Brewers closer Eric Gagne gave up two runs in the ninth inning to Houston, and Milwaukee went on to lose 8-6 in 12 innings to the Astros. Gagne has blown five of his 14 save chances and has a 6.14 ERA.

DEMOTED

Struggling pitcher Ian Kennedy was sent to the minor leagues by the New York Yankees. The Yankees promised patience with their young pitchers this season, but Kennedy was optioned to Triple-A after going 0-2 with an 8.37 ERA in six games, including five starts. ... Anthony Reyes was demoted to the minor leagues by the Cardinals after sputtering in a relief role with a 5.27 ERA.

AILING

Twins right-hander Scott Baker was set to have an MRI exam on his strained right groin muscle. Baker left the mound on Saturday night against the Detroit Tigers after only 43 pitches and three innings when he felt an aggravation of the injury that also forced him out early from his previous start. ... Cubs cleanup hitter Aramis Ramirez missed his second straight start with a sore left wrist from getting hit by a pitch.

SNAPPED

Matt Holliday had two hits and two RBIs and Colorado beat Los Angeles to snap the Dodgers' eight-game winning streak. The win also ended the Rockies' four-game skid.

SPEAKING

``When I got to third, Maddux said, 'You're supposed to pull the ball.''' - Marlins OF Luis Gonzalez, a good friend of Maddux's, after ripping a line drive that the pitcher had to duck to avoid in a 10-3 Florida win over San Diego. Gonzalez has 10 homers off Maddux, the most of any player, and a .321 average with 36 hits against the right-hander.

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