MLB News and Notes April 15

MLB News and Notes April 15

Thursday's MLB Report
By Josh Jacobs

Thursday ushers in a bonanza of afternoon games for bettors and fans alike to direct their attention to. Instead of running through the daily card, let’s take a different approach by analyzing the hot and cold clubs when the sun is high in the sky. Just remember that these day/night statistics and trends should be combined with other factors to help get a leg up on the books.

Day time is the Right time

Tampa Bay (23-16, +838)

The Rays are 7-3 during day games but looking at the team’s performance you would be hard pressed to back this club on statistics alone (especially on offense). Tampa Bay is hitting a 25th worst .242 batting average and has crossed home plate with 43 runs in 10 day games this season (4.3 runs per game). But if the phrase, “defense wins championships” is correct then the Rays are in prime position to succeed even against the staunchest of opponents.

The pitching staff is ranked among the league’s elite during the day. Both the starting rotation and pen have combined to produce a suffocating 2.86 ERA with a league second best .215 BAA. While the arms holding this team together haven’t blown away batters in the strikeout department (66 SO), location around the plate has been key, giving up only 27 base on balls. And we can’t leave out the club’s 1.10 WHIP, tops in the majors in day contests.

Individually speaking, starters James Shields (4-2, 3.14 ERA) and Edwin Jackson (2-3, 3.47) have both contributed for a 4-2 record with a 2.56 ERA and a BAA of .206 during the day. Shield himself has sacrificed 15 hits and four runs in 21 innings pitched with the sun up this year.

Hosting the Yankees for the fourth and final game of the series this week, Tampa will send out newly recovered starter Scott Kazmir (1-1, 2.70) who notched his fist victory of the season in his last start. Kazmir took the ball for his first start on May 5 in a daytime loss versus Boston, 7-3. Game time is scheduled to begin at 4:10 p.m. EDT.

The Rays have cashed tickets for a +400 profit on the money line in day games. Most books have opened Tampa Bay as a chalky $1.39 favorite. A total of nine runs has been installed.

Toronto (19-22, -580)

Ok, so the Blue Jays are far from being a legitimate competitor in an AL East division undergoing a major power shift. But to bettors that’s all hear say as Toronto continues to march through its daytime schedule with an 8-1 record.

Although meaningless for Thursday’s contest in Minnesota, the Jays’ starting slinger Jesse Litsch (5-1, 4.11) has been credited with three day wins. Toronto is averaging 5.6 runs per game in the nine games played during the day and an OBP of .349 has placed runners in primetime scoring position. But, as is the case with Tampa Bay, pitching has been instrumental. A 2.52 ERA during the day with seven saves has placed the Jays at the higher tier of day performers. Toronto doesn’t necessarily have to rely on its low 56 strikeouts when its holding batters down to a fifth best .225 BAA.

The Blue Jays will place Dustin McGowan (2-3, 4.47) in the starting roll on Thursday. McGowan has already logged in a day win this season, going seven innings against Detroit on Apr. 19. In that contest, the right-hander hit his spots by giving up seven hits and two runs on a 105 pitch count.

Most books have Toronto as a $1.11 visiting favorite, with a total installed at 8½.

Sunny Side Down

Detroit (16-23, -1158)

The Tigers lost 10 back-to-back afternoon games before turning the tables for a brief period. It wasn’t until Aug. 21 that Detroit finally won its first day game in Toronto by the score of 5-1. But what’s more dire is the damage backers have witnessed during this horrible run. With the Tigers going 3-12 during the day, a money line deficit of -1378 has turned even the most seasoned bettors into complete faders of this club (or has deterred them from even touching a Tigers contest).

Encompassing the entire season thus far, the team from Motown has posted a sketchy three runs per game during the day (the team is averaging just under 4.7 runs on the season – ranked 13 in the league). Even more disturbing is how the pitching staff continues to struggle. Detroit has maintained a high 4.60 ERA during sunup contests, a statistic which ranks this team among the worst in both leagues. Sixty-seven base on balls combined with a .346 OBP has helped exacerbate four blown saves.

Gearing up to face the Kansas City Royals would have been considered a freebee in years past but Detroit isn’t close to performing as we’ve grown accustomed to. The Royals are 4-0, have allowed a BAA of .221 and have been blistering with their pitching staff versus the Tigers. Kansas’ hurlers have worked for a 1.66 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP against Detroit this season.

The stats across the board have indicated a major handicap for the Tigers (whether on the road, at home, during the day or night). Game time for Thursday’s contest is scheduled to begin at 2:10 p.m. EDT. has opened the Tigers as $1.03 visiting favorites with a total hovering around nine runs.

Night Time Bonus

Colorado (Cook) at Arizona (Webb)

Straying away from daytime events, both the Rockies and Diamondbacks will get together for the ninth time this season. Most books have opened Arizona as a $1.60 home favorite with a total set at eight runs.

The D-Backs have put together a clinic versus the Rockies this season. Batting .323 with 49 RBIs (7 RBIs per game), Arizona’s Mark Reynolds, Stephen Drew, Justin Upton and Conor Jackson have been just a slice of the production coming out of the desert. Mix in the Diamondbacks’ 26-11 record in their last 37 home games and there’s reason for books to open this club at such a chalky price.

Colorado is struggling in every category on both sides of the ball. With an offense scoring 4.3 runs per game and their slingers getting rocked for 4.80 ERA on the season, the Rockies are merely a shadow of last year’s World Series participants.

And from a gamblers perspective, fading this Colorado team, especially on the run line, has been a strategy to take up. The Rockies are -1241 on the run line (16-23) and are an unpredictable 20-19 on the ‘under’. Thus, other then betting against this crew, there’s been no true method to the Rockies’ madness.

Colorado lefty, Jorge De La Rosa will get tossing duties on Thursday. With De La Rosa working for a 10.24 ERA, his first start of the season on May 3 in a loss against the Dodgers equated to a nine hit, nine run contest.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 15

Top Teams When Wagering
By Brad Young

The baseball regular season is just a fourth of the way completed, and interleague action will take center stage this weekend. Even though there have been just around 40 games played in a 162-game schedule, there are many profitable trends forming. Today’s column is going to focus on the top teams through the first month and a half of the schedule, and which teams have been solid fade selections.

Surprisingly, the top two teams in baseball to wager on this season reside in Florida. Baseball is usually an afterthought in the Sunshine State once Spring Training wraps up in late March, but the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays currently reside in first place of their respective divisions.

Florida has won two World Series championships since entering the league in 1993, but has never won the National League East. The Marlins advanced to the postseason both times as a wildcard, and have a history of finishing way back in the standings. Florida endured its usual season last year by finishing fifth in the NL East, 18 games behind first-place Philadelphia.

However, Florida is currently atop the NL East standings heading into Wednesday’s action 1½ games ahead of the Phillies. More importantly, the Marlins have been kind to backers all year with a +1,065 money-line record. Being seven games over .500 has helped, but backing a Florida team that is routinely listed as an underdog has been a money-cashing proposition.

The Chicago Cubs have an identical record with Florida, but their money-line profit is just +347 because they have been favored in their games more than Florida. A great example of this can be pinpointed by checking out some recent games.

Florida hasn’t even been listed as a favorite since a May 6 home game against Milwaukee, resulting in a 3-0 victory as a $1.15 home ‘chalk.’ The Marlins have won since then as an ‘even’ money selection twice, +100, +115 and +120 underdogs. Even though first-place Florida as playing NL Central cellar-dweller Cincinnati, the Reds have been a $1.70, $1.65 and $1.40 home favorite the first three games of a four-game set.

The biggest surprise in baseball so far has been Tampa Bay, a franchise that has been the definition of a doormat. Since their inception in 1998, the Rays have finished last every year in the American League East except in 2004 when they finished fourth 30 ½ games behind the New York Yankees.

Tampa Bay is currently seven games above .500 and off to its best start in franchise history. This is also the first time ever that the Rays are in first place beyond the first week of the season.

The biggest stat concerning Tampa Bay is its +909 money-line record, second best in baseball. During its current six-game winning streak, the Rays have prevailed as a $1.25 and $1.10 underdog, while also winning as a home ‘pick’ and as a $1.10 favorite.

An interesting look at the money-line record involves the New York Yankees. The Bronx Bombers are usually prohibitive favorites, but backing the pinstripes in every game this season will have set you back -785. New York is just two games under .500 and 4 ½ games out of first place, but have the fifth-worst record concerning the money line. Just this month alone, the Yankees have lost games when favored at -120, -130 and -140 twice.

However, it is another American League team that should be faded with the worst money-line record in baseball. Seattle has stumbled its way to a 16-26 record after Wednesday’s triumph over Texas as a $1.10 road underdog, 4-3. The Mariners improved their money-line record to -1408, which still keeps them in last behind Detroit (-1181) and San Diego (-1272).

Another interesting angle concerning the wagering aspect is how teams are doing when playing at home and on the road. There are just three National League teams that have winning road records, led by the Florida Marlins (11-7) ahead of Arizona (9-8) and Philadelphia (11-10). There are also three American League teams above .500 on the road, highlighted by Oakland (11-8) along with Los Angeles (12-9) and Cleveland (8-7).

Atlanta is an interesting team to focus on, armed with the best home record in baseball (14-4) while going a dismal 5-15 on the road. The Braves are just 3 ½ games off the pace in the NL East, but -426 concerning their money-line record.

Lastly, totals have also seen quite of trend early this season. Pittsburgh has the best ‘over’ record in baseball right now, seeing the ‘over’ go 14-5 on the road but just 10-9 at home. Other ‘over’ teams to wager on include Arizona (22-13), Florida (21-17), the New York Mets (20-16) and Texas Rangers (21-17).

The best team to back concerning the ‘under’ is the Toronto Blue Jays, going an incredibly profitable 17-5 on the road and 10-7 at home. Other ‘under’ teams include Atlanta (26-11), Milwaukee (24-14), San Diego (23-16), Baltimore (24-14), Chicago White Sox (21-16), Cleveland (22-15), Kansas City (24-12), the New York Yankees (26-12) and Oakland (22-13).

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 15

Weekly Diamond Preview
By Matt Fargo

Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies

The Braves and Phillies conclude their first series of the season on Thursday. The Braves have had a rough time of it on the road this season, going 4-13 away from home including losses in six straight heading into Monday’s doubleheader in Pittsburgh . Facing Cole Hamels does not sound like a fun way to end this set but he has had his share of struggles as he has allowed four runs or more in four of his last five starts and has a career ERA of 4.42 in six starts against Atlanta .

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 15


Colorado (15-25) at Arizona (25-15)

The Rockies, who have struggled out of the gate after advancing to their first World Series last fall, trot out their one bright spot this season when right-hander Aaron Cook (6-1, 2.26 ERA) faces the Diamondbacks and their unbeaten ace Brandon Webb (8-0, 2.41) at Chase Field.

Arizona continued its dominance of the Rockies on Wednesday, holding on for a 4-3 victory after taking Monday’s opener 8-4. The DBacks are now 7-1 against Colorado this season, which is in sharp contrast to last season, when the Rockies won 10 of the final 12 series meetings, including a four-game sweep in the National League Championship Series.

The DBacks are on runs of 27-11 at home, 19-5 against the N.L. West and 7-2 on Thursdays.

The Rockies have now dropped four in a row overall and nine of their last 13. They’re in the midst of further slumps of 6-17 overall, 2-10 on the highway and 3-11 against the N.L. West, though they are 7-2 in their last nine games on Thursday.

Cook has reeled off six straight wins for the struggling Rockies, posting a 1.90 ERA during this stretch while going at least seven innings in five of those outings. He allowed one run on three hits in seven innings in Friday’s 4-2 victory at San Diego, moving to 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA on the highway this season.

Cook is 5-3 with a mediocre 5.09 ERA in 16 appearances (14 starts) against Arizona, but he has Colorado’s lone win over the DBacks this season, allowing three runs on eight hits in eight innings of a 13-5 road rout on April 13.

Webb kept his perfect record intact with last Thursday’s complete-game effort against Philadelphia, as he allowed three runs on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts in an 8-3 victory. Webb is 4-0 at home this year, but his ERA is a bit higher at 3.41. He is 10-7 with 3.69 ERA in 23 starts against the Rocks (2-0, 1.80 ERA this year), most recently allowing two runs on four hits in eight innings of an 8-2 Arizona home rout on April 11.

For Colorado, the under is on streaks of 6-2 overall, 8-1 on the road, 5-1 on Thursday and 5-1 against the N.L. West. Conversely, the trends all lean toward the “over” for Arizona, including 4-2 in the last six overall, 12-5-1 in the last 18 against the N.L. West and 5-3-2 in the last 10 at home. Finally, the total had gone high in four straight meetings between these clubs – all in Arizona, and all double-digit contests – before last night’s game stayed low.



Chicago (19-20) at Los Angeles (24-18)

The White Sox will have right-hander Javier Vazquez (4-3, 3.63 ERA) toeing the slab at Angel Stadium against fellow righty Jon Garland (4-3, 4.30) as these teams cap a four-game series.

Los Angeles outslugged Chicago for a 10-7 victory in Monday’s opener, then won a pitching duel with two runs in the eighth inning of a 2-0 victory Tuesday. On Wednesday night, though, the White Sox broke through with a 6-1 victory to halt a four-game slide. The White Sox still just 5-10 in their last 15 games.

This is the first series this season between these two teams. Chicago took last year’s season battle 5-4, including winning two of three games played at Los Angeles last May. The White Sox are now 11-4 in the last 15 clashes in Anaheim.

Vazquez, who will make his ninth start of the year, allowed four runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings Saturday as Chicago took an 8-4 victory at Seattle. That followed back-to-back one-run efforts for Vazquez, who yielded four hits in eight innings in a suspended game against Baltimore, then scattered eight hits in 7 2/3 innings but got no offensive support in a 1-0 loss at Toronto.

Vazquez, who is 2-2 with a 4.01 ERA on the road this season, is 0-1 with a 2.95 ERA in three career starts against Los Angeles, but he hasn’t pitched against the Angels since 2004 when he was with the Yankees.

Garland matched his longest outing of the year with a sterling start Friday at Tampa Bay, allowing no runs on four hits in eight innings, but neither his bullpen nor his offense could pick him up in a 2-0 loss as Rays rookie Evan Longoria belted a two-run homer off Justin Speier in the bottom of the ninth. Garland also went eight innings in the previous start, giving up one run on three hits in a 3-1 home win over Baltimore.

Garland, who is 2-2 with a bloated 6.04 ERA at home this year, spent his first eight years in the majors with the White Sox before being traded to the Angels this past offseason.

Chicago is mired in slumps of 3-9 overall on the road, 11-25 on the road against right-handed starters, 3-6 in roadies against winning teams, 6-16 against the American League West and 3-8 in Vazquez’s last 11 road starts against winning teams. However, Chicago is 4-1 in its last five on Thursdays, 6-1 in Vazquez’s last seven outings on four days’ rest, 9-3 in Vazquez’s last 12 starts overall.

The Angels are on positive runs of 4-1 at Anaheim Stadium, 5-2 against the A.L. Central, 4-1 on Thursday, 4-2 against losing teams and 62-30 in their last 92 home games against right-handed starters.

The over is 6-1 in Vazquez’s last seven starts overall, 8-0 in his last eight when pitching on four days’ rest and 5-1 in his last six on the road. Conversely, the under is 4-1 in Garland’s last five outings.

For Chicago, the under is on streaks of 12-4 overall, 11-3 on the road and 10-4 against the A.L. West. Meanwhile, L.A. carries under trends of 10-4-1 overall, 8-2-1 against the A.L. Central and 7-1-1 against losing teams. Finally, the under is 12-4 in the last 16 Angels-White Sox clashes, including 7-2 in the last nine in Anaheim.


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Baseball Today

Chicago White Sox at Los Angeles Angels (10:05 p.m.) Jon Garland (4-3, 4.30 ERA) makes his first start against Chicago since the White Sox traded him to the Angels for shortstop Orlando Cabrera in the offseason. Javier Vazquez (4-3, 3.63 ERA) gets the ball for the White Sox.

Friday, May 16

New York Mets at New York Yankees (7:05 p.m.) Interleague play starts with Johan Santana on the mound for the Mets in the first game of the Subway Series. The two-time Cy Young winner's start was pushed back a day so he could pitch at Yankee Stadium against Darrell Rasner.


-C.C. Sabathia, Indians, pitched a five-hitter and struck out 11 to beat Oakland 2-0. He won consecutive starts for the first time this season and has a 1.49 ERA over his past five starts.

-Matt Stairs, Blue Jays, hit a grand slam to lift Toronto to a 6-5 victory over Minnesota. Stairs homered for the second straight game.

-Robinson Cano, Yankees, went 4-for-4, raising his batting average over .200 for the first time since the season opener, and New York beat Tampa Bay 2-1.

-Todd Wellemeyer, Cardinals, gave up a run and two hits in seven innings, improving to 4-1 with a 5-1 victory over Pittsburgh. He struck out five with three walks.

-Jay Payton, Orioles, hit his fourth career grand slam to help Baltimore complete a two-game sweep of Boston with a 6-3 win.

-Micah Owings, Diamondbacks, pitched six shutout innings in a 4-3 victory over Colorado. He scattered five hits and a pair of walks with five strikeouts to move to 5-1 on the season.


Cleveland starters have pitched 43 1-3 consecutive scoreless innings - the longest run by a major league team in one season since a 54-inning streak by Baltimore's starters from Sept. 1-7, 1974, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It's the Indians' longest stretch since they tossed 47 scoreless innings in August 1948. Cleveland became the first team to pitch five shutouts in an eight-game span since Oakland from July 12-19, 2002, according to Elias. Cleveland shut out Oakland in back-to-back games for the first time since 1966.


Sidelined since March 21 because of a strained triceps, John Lackey allowed one run and six hits in seven innings against the White Sox. He retired 14 of 15 batters during one stretch and finished with four strikeouts and one walk. He threw 99 pitches but got no decision.


Tampa Bay left-hander Scott Kazmir agreed to a $28.5 million, three-year extension through 2011, a deal with a club option that could raise the contract's value to $39.5 million over four seasons. The 2007 AL strikeout champion is 36-30 with a 3.63 ERA in 100 major league appearances, including 99 starts. He began this season on the 15-day DL after straining his left elbow, but returned to the rotation on May 4 and is 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts.


Jarrod Washburn made his first relief appearance since 1999 and earned a save in the Mariners' 4-3 win in 12 innings over Texas. J.J. Putz, the regular closer, worked two scoreless innings to earn the win before Washburn came on to close out the game. He was making only his 11th relief appearance in 265 games.


Guillermo Mota became the latest Brewers reliever to blow a game, filling in perfectly - depending on how you look at it - for Eric Gagne, who had blown five of 15 save chances. Mota walked Delwyn Young with one out and allowed a single to Andre Ethier that put runners on the corners. Juan Pierre drove a pitch to left-center that put the Dodgers ahead 5-4, then stole third and scored on Andruw Jones' groundout. Milwaukee has lost 10 games in which it led.


Albert Pujols had two hits and reached base for the 41st straight game to start the season in the Cardinals' 5-1 win over Pittsburgh. He has a 13-game hitting streak and also drew his major league-leading 12th intentional walk. Pujols' streak of reaching base is the best in the majors to start the season since Derek Jeter's 53-game run in 1999 for the Yankees.


So much for all those flashy wins late last season in the desert. Colorado lost for the seventh time in eight games against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, after sweeping Arizona in the NL championship series last fall. The D-backs improved to a major league-best 25-15 - including 19-5 against the feeble NL West - and dropped the Rockies 10 games back in the division race.


Pirates C Ryan Doumit will be sidelined at least a month after breaking his left thumb on a passed ball. He was put on the 15-day DL after an examination in Pittsburgh confirmed the break. Surgery will not be necessary. ... Reds SS Jeff Keppinger is out 4-to-6 weeks with a broken left kneecap. He fouled a pitch off his knee on Tuesday night but stayed in the game for two innings, until the pain and swelling in the knee started limiting his range.


``When you're missing Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada, that makes it tough. The injuries make a huge difference. At the same time, you've got to get it done. We still have plenty of good hitters. We need to get the job done.'' -Hank Steinbrenner, who said Wednesday that the Yankees need to play ``smarter and harder,'' hours before New York beat Tampa Bay 2-1.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 15

Centerfielder Jim Edmonds scooped up by Cubs

CHICAGO (AP) -Jim Edmonds wasn't out of work long. The Chicago Cubs agreed to a contract with the 37-year-old outfielder on Wednesday, five days after he was released by the San Diego Padres.

''Hopefully Jimmy still has something left and it was just a bad start,'' general manager Jim Hendry said.

Reed Johnson has performed well in center and Hendry said Edmonds will have to earn playing time.

''The game is full of history of people that a lot of people were willing to write off and they had a change of scenery and did well again,'' Hendry said.

''Maybe it will give us a little extra that we didn't anticipate and give Jimmy a fair shot. ... He has to play well and he knows that.''

To make room for Edmonds, the Cubs optioned outfielder Felix Pie to Triple-A Iowa.

Edmonds flew to Chicago on Wednesday and then passed a physical and will be in uniform Thursday when the Cubs wrap up a four-game series with the team that let him go.

An eight-time Gold Glove winner and four-time All-Star, the 37-year-old Edmonds strained his right calf in a spring training game on March 6 and started the season on the disabled list. He was activated on April 5 and batted .178 in 26 games with one homer and six RBIs - well below his .286 career average.

''I think he's going to be a motivated player,'' Hendry said earlier. ''Obviously we're not going to ask him to have to go out there every single day.''

Hendry said scouts reported that Edmonds was improving before he was released. Hendry said Edmonds may have tried to come back too soon from the calf injury.

Edmonds had an $8 million salary this year, which is being mostly paid by San Diego. The Padres received $2 million from the St. Louis Cardinals when they acquired Edmonds on Dec. 15 for minor league third baseman David Freese. Chicago will pay Edmonds a prorated share of the $390,000 minimum, which comes to about $290,000.

Edmonds was a key figure in the very heated Cardinals-Cubs rivalry during his eight years in St. Louis. He has 32 career homers against the Cubs, including 17 at Wrigley Field. A left-handed hitter, he might platoon with Reed Johnson in center field.

''There are really no negatives in it,'' Hendry said. ''You're not giving up players and you're not spending a lot of dollars. ... Hopefully, he'll be able to give us a great portion of the Jim Edmonds we all knew and used to fear in a lot of ways. He used to play well against us and played well in this park.''

The Cubs have been looking for a left-handed hitter.

''When he's ready, we'll get him go out there and let him play some in center field,'' Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. ''We'll put him out there to play and we'll see what happens.''

The addition of Edmonds could make for an interesting situation in the Cubs' clubhouse. During a 2004 game with the Cardinals, Chicago pitcher Carlos Zambrano twice hit Edmonds with pitches twice and was ejected.

Edmonds also homered in that game and stood at the plate to admire the flight of the ball, angering Zambrano who began to yell at him as he neared the plate after running the bases.

''I just told him to run the bases and don't try to be cocky,'' Zambrano said after that game.

Zambrano declined comment Wednesday when asked about the arrival of Edmonds in the Cubs' lineup.

Padres manager Bud Black said he sensed that Edmonds still wanted to play, even after he was released.

''The Cubs know what they need,'' Black said. ''He just felt bad that it didn't work out. Like I said, he feels like he still has some baseball in him. He's a competitor. He has a lot of pride. I think it could be a good fit.''

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