MLB News and Notes April 14

MLB News and Notes April 14

Wednesday's Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

Another full card on Wednesday will usher in eight games where left-handed pitchers take the mound. Putting this situation in perspective, the eight southpaws who will see action at mid-week have a combined 11-18 record, while a makeshift 5.79 ERA has been far from impressive.

Is there any value in these contests? How does the opposition perform against these lefties and is there anything else that stands in between making away with profits? Let’s attempt to unmask these selected matchups.

Boston (J. Lester) at Baltimore (D. Cabrera) – 3:05 p.m. EDT

The Red Sox slid through a four-game series with the Twins, dropping three of four. Can lefty Jon Lester (2-2, 4.06) get his Boston club back on track? Lester is coming off a no-decision contest against Minnesota (5.1 innings, eight hits and five runs given up). The 24-year-old slinger is giving up almost one run per game this season to right-handed hitters and has held this side of the plate to a .263 BAA. However, out of all the starting slingers in the Red Sox rotation, Lester is receiving the least amount of run support (currently standing at 4.1 runs per game).

The Orioles are at the bottom of the barrel with 27 runs scored off lefties. A .261 BA with a .330 on base percentage hasn’t been all that bad (ranked in the middle of the pack), but without a consistent supply of runs, these numbers are just fluff. Baltimore is just 2-4 at home (2-2 at home during the evening) versus southpaw slingers. The O’s can just hope that Ramon Hernandez and Adam Jones continue there success, as a combined .335 BA and a .805 OPS against left-handers can be considered a success run.

Atlanta (T. Glavine) at Philadelphia (B. Myers) – 7:05 p.m. EDT on ESPN

In was in August of last year that Atlanta’s starter Tom Glavine (0-1, 4.03 ERA) worked for his 300th career win, becoming the 23rd player to do so in Major League history. But in his 21st year in the big leagues, Glavine has been snubbed in some tight games this season (every loss has come from three runs or less). While right-handed batters are hitting .272 with five RBIs in 81 at bats versus Glavine, fellow southpaw sluggers are swinging for a .360 BA with six RBIs and two long balls. Atlanta must be concerned that Philadelphia will be ready to field lefties such as Ryan Howard (19 RBIs, 7 HRs), Chase Utley (.327 BA, 28 RBIs) and Jimmy Rollins (.283, 9 RBIs). All three of these Phillies have combined for 22 RBIs against southpaw hurlers (although Howard continues to struggle for contact with a .171 BA).

And while the Braves’ Glavine has received 5.8 runs of support per game, this number can become twisted with two games packing scores of 25 runs combined. Glavine’s last three starts have seen an average of six hits, 3.3 earned runs and a total of 10 base on balls sacrificed. In the last three years of pitching versus Philadelphia, the Atlanta veteran has crafted a 4-3 record with a 3.88 ERA in 11 total starts.

The Phillies are 8-6 versus leftie pitchers, going 5-3 at home and 3-1 at home during the evening.

Oakland (J. Blanton) at Cleveland (C.C. Sabathia) – 7:05 p.m. EDT

It might be a rebuilding year for the A’s but how’s about a 3.29 ERA, tops in both leagues? Oakland is up +871 units on the money line and a 5-2 record in the last seven has helped the club retain first place positioning in the AL West for the time being.

The Indians’ ace C.C. Sabathia (2-5, 6.55) has been attacked this year by both left and right-handed hitters (.353 BAA against righties and .286 against lefties). Since throwing a gem in Kansas City (six innings, giving up four hits and zero runs), Sabathia has gone 2-2, while lowering his high ERA from a high 13.50 to a current 6.55. Cleveland has improved its offense in the last five wins, crossing the plate for 5.8 runs per game.

The A’s are 7-7 versus southpaw hurlers this season, going 2-4 on the road and 2-2 at night (at home).

San Diego (J. Peavy) at Chicago Cubs (T. Lilly) – 8:05 p.m. EDT

Chicago’s Ted Lilly (3-4, 5.24) might not own the most impressive record this year, but a .231 BAA with a .682 OPS versus right-handed batters has given his team plenty of opportunity to wrangle up some much needed ‘Ws’. And Lily has been effective in his last four starts, tossing a total of 26 innings and giving up a skimp 1.8 runs per game. The Cubs are 19-7 in their last 26 home games but squaring off against San Diego’s Jake Peavy (4-2, 2.47) should provide enough challenge in itself.

Peavy has been stellar by allowing just 1.9 runs per game in eight starts this season. But not all is well on the Bay with the Padres sitting in last place in the NL West. The team is scoring just 3.3 runs per game in the last 10 (averaging a league worst 3.4 runs per game on the season) and having the bats in the lineup swinging through pitches for a dreaded .233 BA has been counterproductive. The Padres are 2-9 versus lefty pitchers this season and are 2-5 on the road.

San Diego is 13-7 in its last 20 versus the Cubs and is 6-3 in the last nine played in Chicago. The Padres are 3-8 in 11 played in Game 3’s this season.

Houston (B. Moehler) at San Francisco (P. Misch) – 10:15 p.m. EDT

When the Giants send lefty starter Patrick Misch (0-0, 5.63) to the mound on Wednesday, their hoping that a fired up Astros club hitting .301 with 44 RBIs can be contained over the course of nine-plus innings. Houston has been smoking hot in May with a 9-1 record. Not only has Houston raked in a fifth best 61 runs in May, but a 3.43 ERA with a .239 BAA has only highlighted a balance of chemistry.

Since becoming a major leaguer in 2006, San Francisco’s Misch has been hammered for a .325 BA with 24 RBIs and an .855 OPS in a total of 120 at bats. While only starting in four of his last 10 appearances, the Giants have an incredible 8-1-1 record on the ‘over’ when Misch does log time on the hill (eight of the ‘over’ platys have all come in consecutive order when Misch has been penned into the game).

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Dodgers place Furcal on 15-day DL
May 13, 2008

LOS ANGELES (AP) -Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday retroactive to May 6 because of a lower back strain.

The Dodgers said Furcal received a cortisone shot Tuesday and would rejoin the team this weekend in Anaheim, where they face the Los Angeles Angels in a three-game interleague series.

The club purchased the contract of infielder Luis Maza from Triple-A Las Vegas to take Furcal's spot on the roster and transferred infielder Tony Abreu from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list.

Maza, a career minor leaguer, was hitting .402 (51-for-127) with seven doubles, three triples, and 26 runs scored for Las Vegas. Maza, from Venezuela, came up in the Minnesota Twins' organization and was signed by the Dodgers last year.

Furcal, a switch-hitter, is the National League's third-leading hitter with a .366 average. He's eligible to come off the disabled list May 21.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 14

Weekly Diamond Preview
By Matt Fargo

Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks


Arizona had the best record in baseball entering May but it has not started the month very well. The Diamondbacks dropped seven of the first 10 games in May following a sweep at the hands of the Cubs in Chicago . The good news is that Arizona won five of the first six meetings against the Rockies already this season and it sends ace Brandon Webb to the hill in this second game of the three-game set. Webb is 8-0 in his eight starts with seven of those being quality outings.

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Gagne back in as closer for Brewers
May 14, 2008

Eric Gagne was a former closer for only two days.

Manager Ned Yost suddenly scrapped his closer-by-committee approach and turned to Gagne with the game on the line for the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night.

``I just think that he just needed a day to get away from closing,'' Yost said, ``and that day was (Monday).''

Gagne earned his 10th save in 15 opportunities, helping the Brewers beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3.

``It feels good,'' Gagne said. ``A little relief, you know?''

Gagne was yanked from the closer's role Sunday after blowing five saves, but said Monday that he was ready to close again. He got another chance Tuesday in a pressure situation against the Dodgers.

``Sure, I could not pitch him so that nobody thinks that I'm stupid for pitching him,'' Yost said. ``But I've never done that. I believe and I trust in my guys, and Eric Gagne's my closer.''

It wasn't without a little drama, though. Gagne allowed a single and a walk before getting Juan Pierre to hit a pop fly to seal the victory, but the closer didn't breathe easy until the ball ended up in shortstop J.J. Hardy's glove.

``The way it's been going, you never know,'' Gagne said. ``Maybe a bird was going to fly out or something.''

In other NL games, it was: Arizona 8, Colorado 4; San Diego 4, Chicago 3; San Francisco 4, Houston 2; Cincinnati 5, Florida 3; Philadelphia 5, Atlanta 4; New York 6, Washington 3; and Pittsburgh 8, St. Louis 4 in 10 innings.

At Milwaukee, Ryan Braun hit a two-out, two-run double that put the Brewers ahead for good in the fifth inning. Prince Fielder followed up with a single to score Braun.

``It's huge,'' Braun said. ``I am definitely seeing the ball well right now. For me, any pitch that I am getting that I should hit, I am hitting.''

Coming off one of the worst outings of his career last week, Brad Penny (5-4) gave up two runs in the first four innings, then led off the fifth with a four-pitch walk to Brewers pitcher Carlos Villanueva (2-4).

``I made the crucial mistake,'' Penny said. ``I walked the pitcher and that was the difference in the game. I just didn't throw strikes.''

At Phoenix, Randy Johnson went five shaky innings for his 287th career victory. The Big Unit (3-1) gave up four runs and nine hits, striking out four and walking none.

Stephen Drew hit a three-run homer and Chris Young had three hits as the Diamondbacks hammered Colorado starter Jeff Francis (0-4), a 17-game winner for the NL champions a year ago. Francis went 4 2-3 innings, his shortest start, and gave up eight runs on 13 hits, both season highs.

Garrett Atkins hit his seventh homer for the Rockies, who fell nine games behind the NL West leaders.

San Diego's Khalil Greene hit a three-run homer to help Shawn Estes earn his first victory since 2005. Estes (1-0) pitched 5 1-3 innings and the Padres' bullpen secured the win with 3 2-3 innings of hitless relief.

Trevor Hoffman pitched a scoreless ninth for his seventh save, and 531st of his career.

Alfonso Soriano led off the first inning with a home run and Reed Johnson had a two-run double for the Cubs, but Jason Marquis (1-3) couldn't hold the early lead at home.

At San Francisco, Matt Cain hit a solo home run and earned his first victory in three starts, and the Giants snapped Houston's four-game winning streak.

It was the fourth career homer and second this season for Cain (2-3), whose drive to left leading off the fifth put the Giants up 4-1.

Carlos Lee homered in the eighth inning for Houston, but Brandon Backe (2-5) took the loss.

At Cincinnati, Edinson Volquez (6-1) pitched six effective innings and Joey Votto homered in the Reds' win, but shortstop Jeff Keppinger fouled a pitch off his leg in the second and X-rays revealed a broken left kneecap.

Keppinger, the Reds' leading hitter, is scheduled for an MRI exam Wednesday.

Marlins starter Mark Hendrickson (5-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings.

Jayson Werth drove in four runs and Kyle Kendrick (3-2) pitched six effective innings to lead Philadelphia to the victory at home.

Brad Lidge finished for his 10th save, though he allowed his first earned run of the season.

Chipper Jones went 3-for-4 for the Braves, raising his major league-leading average to .415.

Ryan Church homered, doubled and drove in four runs against his former team and John Maine (5-2) pitched six sharp innings to lead New York.

Maine allowed just two runs - one earned - and two hits, retiring 11 of the last 12 he faced after giving up Ryan Zimmerman's two-run homer in the third.

Ronny Paulino drove in the go-ahead run in a four-run 10th to lead visiting Pittsburgh to its seventh win in eight games.

Troy Glaus hit a three-run homer and Albert Pujols tied it with a homer in the eighth for the Cardinals. Pujols also walked twice and has reached base in all 40 games.

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NATIONAL LEAGUE

Atlanta (19-19) at Philadelphia (22-18)


Tom Glavine (0-1, 4.03 ERA) tries once again for his first victory of 2008 – and the 304th of his career – when he leads the Braves against the Phillies and Brett Myers (2-3, 5.33) in the middle game of a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies snapped a modest two-game slide with Tuesday’s 5-4 victory, overcoming a 3-0 first-inning deficit. Charlie Manuel’s club has still been lacking consistency the last few weeks, going 8-7 in its last 15 games, but it is 6-2 in its last eight home contests and 6-1 in its last seven as a favorite. On the downside, Philadelphia is 2-4 in its last six divisional games and 1-6 in its last seven on Wednesdays.

Atlanta has followed up a season-best six-game winning streak by losing four of its last five. Bobby Cox’s club has one of the biggest home-road splits in the majors, going 14-4 at home, but 5-15 on the road. Also, the Braves are on further negative runs of 0-6 as a road underdog, 0-5 against the N.L. East and 1-4 on Wednesdays.

This is the first meeting of the season between these rivals, who split their 18-game season series last year. However, the Phillies are now 10-5 in the last 15 battles.

With Myers on the hill, the Phillies are 30-12 when he pitches on five days’ rest, but they’re 3-10 in his last 13 starts overall, 3-9 in his last 12 at home, 1-7 in his last eight as a favorite and 2-12 in his last 14 against the N.L. East. Meanwhile, going all the way back to Glavine’s first stint in Atlanta, the Braves are 8-1 when he pitches on Wednesdays, but 1-7 in his last eight starts overall (1-5 this season) and 0-5 in his last five on the highway (0-4 this season).

Glavine is coming off his longest outing of the season, as he went seven innings at Pittsburgh on Friday, giving up two runs on five hits and four walks. But it wasn’t enough, as the veteran southpaw got a no-decision in a 3-2 Braves loss. Glavine has a 2.79 ERA in four road starts, but his team has lost all four.

Glavine is 28-17 with a 3.68 ERA in 64 lifetime starts against Philadelphia, including 2-2 with a 4.06 ERA in seven games at Citizens Bank Park. Going back to the 2006 season, Glavine has tossed seven consecutive quality starts against the Phillies (at least six innings pitched and three or fewer earned runs allowed), and his ERA during this seven-game stretch is 2.64.

Myers got rocked in Arizona on Thursday, yielding seven runs (six earned) on nine hits and three walks in five innings of an 8-3 defeat. The Phillies are 0-3 in his last three efforts, and the righthander has registered a 6.75 ERA in his last four starts. Myers has also given up 12 home runs in 49 innings, allowing at least one big fly in each of his last seven trips to the bump.

Myers is 4-6 with a 4.16 ERA and four saves in 24 career appearances (17 starts) against the Braves. On the bright side, he’s 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in four home starts in 2008.

The under is 5-1 in Glavine’s last six starts overall, 4-0 in his four road starts this season and 6-0-1 in his last seven against the Phillies. The under is also 4-2 in Myers’ last six outings against Atlanta, but 7-3 in his last 10 overall and 14-6 in his last 20 efforts on Wednesday.

For Atlanta, the under is on streaks of 37-16-2 overall, 19-5-1 on the road, 17-5 as an underdog and 18-4-1 on the road against right-handed starters. Conversely, the over is 5-3-1 in Philly’s last nine overall and 7-4 in its last 11 as a favorite.

ATS ADVANTAGE: PHILADELPHIA and UNDER


AMERICAN LEAGUE

N.Y. Yankees (19-21) at Tampa Bay (23-16)


The red-hot and record-setting Rays go for their seventh consecutive win overall and their 12th straight win at home when they send ace James Shields (4-2, 3.14) to the mound opposite New York’s Mike Mussina (5-3, 4.36) at Tropicana Field

After pounding out a 7-1 victory in Monday’s series opener, Tampa Bay needed 11 innings to pull out a 2-1 win Tuesday. Not only have the Rays won six in a row overall and 11 straight at home, but they’re 15-5 in their last 20 and have climbed seven games over .500 for the first time in team history. The Rays have outscored their opponents 29-9 during their six-game winning streak, and they’re now 15-7 at home.

The Yanks have followed a three-game winning steak by going 2-5 in their last seven to fall back below .500. New York entered this series having won four straight against the Rays – all in Tampa – before losing the last two, so the season series is now tied 4-4.

Shields is coming off the best start of his career, as he pitched a complete-game, one-hitter against the Angels on Friday night, getting the 2-0 when rookie Evan Longoria hit a one-out, two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth. Tampa Bay is 3-1 in Shields’ last four outings, with the righthander giving up two earned runs or fewer in all three victories. In fact, Shields has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 13 of his last 16 outings.

Shields has thrived at Tropicana Field this season, going 3-0 with a 1.16 ERA in four starts, with the Rays also prevailing in his one no-decision at home. The one negative for Shields: He’s been horrific against the Yankees in his career, going 0-5 with a 7.83 ERA in six starts, including a 2-0 road loss on April 6, when he gave up two runs on eight hits in five innings. That was easily Shields’ best outing against the Yankees in his career.

Mussina has seemingly turned back the clock over the last three weeks, going 4-0 with a 3.13 ERA in his last four starts, including a pair of road wins over the Indians (5-2) and White Sox (6-4). He’s 2-1 with a 4.08 ERA in three starts on foreign turf this season.

Mussina dominated the Rays in a 6-1 home win on April 7, giving up just the one run on two hits and one walk in six innings. He’s now 17-7 with a 3.44 ERA in 30 starts versus Tampa Bay, but only 7-5 with a 4.29 ERA at Tropicana Field. The Yanks have won seven of his last nine starts against the Rays.

The under is 6-2 in Mussina’s eight start this season, including 3-0 in the last three, but the over is 4-1 in his last five starts against the Rays (2-0 in Tampa Bay). Also, the over is 4-2 in Tampa’s last six overall.

The under is 6-1 in the last six meetings between these rivals overall (2-0 in this series), but the over remains 9-4-2 in the past 15 clashes at Tampa Bay. Other than that, the under is on runs of 10-1 for the Rays at home, 28-10-1 for the Yankees overall, 8-0 for the Yankees against right-handed starters, 7-1 for the Yankees on the road, 14-5 for the Yankees against A.L. East rivals and 42-18 for the Yankees on Wednesdays.

ATS ADVANTAGE: TAMPA BAY and UNDER

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Baseball Today

SCOREBOARD


Wednesday, May 14

Atlanta at Philadelphia (7:05 p.m.) Tom Glavine of the Braves and Brett Myers of the Phillies hook up as the NL East rivals meet in the second of a three-game series. Glavine (0-1, 4.03 ERA) is winless in six starts this year and Myers (2-3, 5.33 ERA) allowed six earned runs and nine hits over five innings in an 8-3 loss at Arizona on Thursday.

STARS

Tuesday

- Matt Cain, Giants, hit a solo home run and earned his first victory in three starts to lead San Francisco past Houston 4-2.

- Jered Weaver, Angels, allowed one hit over seven innings and combined with two relievers to three-hit Chicago in a 2-0 win.

- Ramon Vazquez, Rangers, hurt the Seattle Mariners for the second straight night driving in the go-ahead run in a 5-2 win. Vazquez went deep in the 10th inning Monday night to give the Rangers a 13-12 victory over the Mariners in the opener of the three-game series.

- Ryan Church, Mets, homered, doubled and drove in four runs against his former team as New York beat Washington 6-3.

- Matt Stairs, Blue Jays, homered and scored twice for Toronto's struggling offense in a 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

IT'S BEEN A WHILE

Shawn Estes pitched 5 1-3 innings for his 100th career victory - and first since 2005 - and San Diego's bullpen secured the 4-3 win at Chicago with 3 2-3 innings of hitless relief. Estes only made one start in 2006 for the Padres and missed the 2007 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

THROWING ZEROS


Cleveland starting pitchers continue to rack up scoreless innings. Paul Byrd threw 7 1-3 shutout innings in the Indians' 4-0 win over Oakland. The right-hander extended the Indians' scoreless streak to 34 innings by their starting staff. The last run allowed by a Cleveland starter came Friday night in the fifth inning against Toronto by C.C. Sabathia - the only run yielded by an Indians starter in the last 39 innings.

CLOSING TIME, AGAIN

Two days after being yanked from the closer's role, Eric Gagne pitched a scoreless ninth inning to save the Milwaukee Brewers' 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Milwaukee's closer situation has been up in the air since Saturday, when Gagne said after another rough outing that he didn't deserve to pitch the ninth anymore. He changed his mind before Monday's game, saying he wanted another shot at closing.

SLUMP BUSTER

Luke Scott was mired in a 7-for-55 skid before getting three hits with a homer against Josh Beckett in Baltimore's 5-4 win over the Red Sox. It was Scott's second home run; the other came April 8. He finished 3-for-4, his first three-hit game since April 6.

KING ALBERT

Albert Pujols homered and walked twice in St. Louis' 8-4 loss to Pittsburgh in 10 innings, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. He has also reached base in all 40 games, the majors' longest streak at the start of the season since Derek Jeter's 53-game run in 1999 for the Yankees.

TOUGH BREAK

Jeff Keppinger's broken left kneecap took all the luster away from the Cincinnati Reds' second straight win over a first-place team. Keppinger, the team's leading hitter, fouled a pitch off his leg in the second inning of the Reds' 5-3 win over Florida and X-rays revealed the injury. The shortstop drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 2-0 and played defense in the third and fourth innings before departing. He was scheduled to have an MRI on Wednesday.

QUICK STRIKES

Alfonso Soriano hit his 45th leadoff homer in Chicago's 4-3 loss to San Diego, passing Brady Anderson for third-most in major league history.

MILESTONE WIN

Randy Johnson went five shaky innings for his 287th career victory, tying Bert Blyleven for 26th place on the all-time list, as the Arizona Diamondbacks beat Colorado 8-4. The Big Unit (3-1) gave up four runs and nine hits, striking out four and walking none.

BREAKING THROUGH

Brad Lidge earned his 10th save in Philadelphia's 5-4 win over Atlanta, but he allowed his first earned run of the season. He hadn't given up an earned run in 17 2-3 innings before Brian McCann hit an RBI double with two outs in the ninth.

STATS

The Red Sox are 1-8 on the road against AL East foes. - The Jays scored just four runs in the four-game series against the Indians and became the first team in nearly 20 years not to score a run in the first nine innings of both games of a doubleheader. - Texas' Eddie Guardado pitched the ninth for his first save since Aug. 12, 2006, for the Cincinnati Reds. - Mark Grudzielanek went 3-for-3 off Detroit starter Nate Robertson and is 8-for-9 in his career against the pitcher. -  Yankees closer Mariano Rivera allowed his first run of the season in New York's 2-1 11 innings loss to Tampa Bay. - The White Sox, who lead the AL with 45 home runs, are 0-10 when they don't hit one.

STREAKING

Jose Guillen was booed after going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts to drop his average to .165 on May 5. Guillen has put together a five-game hitting streak since, going 10-for-18, with five doubles, to raise his average to .216.

SPEAKING

"The way it's been going, you never know. Maybe a bird was going to fly out or something." -Milwaukee's Eric Gagne's after shortstop J.J. Hardy caught Juan Pierre's popup to secure the Brewers' 5-3 win over Los Angeles and the closer's 10th save in 15 tries. Gagne had been removed as the closer before Sunday's game, but was back in the role two days later.

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