MLB News and Notes April 17

MLB News and Notes April 17

Saturday's MLB Preview
By Josh Jacobs

Continuing coverage of Interleague opening weekend resumes here at Between the Yankees and Mets in the “Subway Series” and the L.A. Dodgers versus the L.A. Angles in the cross town rivalry there’s plenty of blood boiling in cities around the nation. But these intrastate events aren’t the only matchups making headlines.

Moving right along, here’s a breakdown of some highly anticipated ballgames on this weekend’s docket.

N.Y Mets (O. Perez) at N.Y. Yankees (A. Pettitte) – 1:05 p.m. EDT

The first of two series this season between teams representing the boroughs of Queens and the Bronx is sure to make headlines throughout the hardball world. However, there’s a more important factor surrounding both clubs; inadequate performances.

The Pin Stripes finished their series with Tampa Bay, dropping three of four games. The Yankees were outscored 16-6 in the series (New York averaged a disappointing 1.5 runs per game) as the bats in the lineup fell silent for yet another stretch.

While the Yanks’ Robinson Cano seems to be stepping up his game after a slow start, the rest of the bunch logged in a .241 BA with 13 RBIs (2.7 RBIs per game) over a six-game slump.

If there’s one positive coming out of the Bronx it’s that total players looking to profit on low scoring affairs have been packing brown paper bags with bundles of money. The Yankees have now hit the ‘under’ in five straight contests, while a 15-2-1 record on the same ‘under’ has been ridiculous.

Those looking to back the Mets this weekend should load up with plenty of antacids because manager Willie Randolph and his crew are beginning to turn stomachs across the tri-state.

Not only are the Metropolitans 4-6 in their last 10, but a 25-35 record versus the Yankees in Interleague play brings doubt to the weekend.

In their last 10, the Mets’ bullpen has been bullied around the diamond for a 4.56 ERA. Relievers Nelson Figueroa (2-3, 5.12), Duaner Sanchez (5.68) and Pedro Feliciano (1.98) are just three pen players who were tagged for a combined 6.40 ERA in a total of 11 innings over the last six games.

And the numbers aren’t any prettier when playing on the road. The Mets are 8-10 this season when catching the ball away from Shea Stadium and are coughing up a 4.57 ERA.

Again, total players should concentrate on the recent 6-4 ‘over’ play that’s been manufactured in the last 10. More support for the total includes an 8-2 ‘over’ record in the last 10 head-to-head meetings inside Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees’ starter Andy Pettitte is 0-3 in his last four starts, giving up 4.3 runs per game. The Mets’ Oliver Perez hasn’t been lights out, raking in a 1-3 record in the last four starts.

L.A. Dodgers (C. Park) at L.A. Angels (E. Santana) – 3:55 p.m. EDT on FOX

Dodgers right-handed slinger Chan Ho Park (1-0, 2.16) will take the title of starter on Saturday despite being absent from this roll since Apr. of 2007 (with the Mets). Park’s stats have been less then stellar against the American League, Angels but a 3-1 record against this same squad with the Dodgers is something to jot down in the notebook.

The Halo’s will place shutdown pitcher Ervin Santana (6-0, 2.63) on the mound. Five straight wins before receiving a no-decision on May 11 in Tampa Bay was an impressive feat in itself. Minus the unraveling in Tampa (Santana bowed down to five runs on nine hits in only 5.2 innings of work), Santana has gone on to surrender a low 1.3 runs per game in nine starts dating back to Apr. 3.

The Angels have worked for a 7-4 record during day games this year, while the Dodgers have struggled for five wins in 13 games when the sun is shinning.

Offensively, the Angels are batting around the lineup for a .269 BA with 4.8 runs per game on the road this season. Casey Kotchman (.308, 24 RBIs) and power swinger Vladimir Guerrero (.269, 20 RBIs) have been fire on the road, combining for a .324 BA with 25 RBIs.

The Halos will enter this series with a distinct advantage in records over the Dodgers. The Angels are 12-8 in their last 20 head-to-head meetings, and will look to build upon a 7-1 run in the last eight meetings with the Dodgers.

The Dodgers have gone ‘under’ the total seven times in their last 11 road games.

Toronto (A. Burnett) at Philadelphia (A. Eaton) – 7:05 p.m. EDT

The Blue Jays are 11-13 on the road, are batting just .220 versus lefties (on the road) but will now get a chance to turn the bats around when they face Philadelphia’s sub-par starter Adam Easton (0-1, 5.40) on Saturday.

Despite it problems this season, Toronto is in the midst of a four-game winning streak which it started in a 3-0 win over Cleveland to begin the week. The ‘Jays’ bullpen has responded to the call to arms, putting together a 2.89 ERA with a WHIP of 1.18 in the last three outings. On the season, Toronto’s pen is now sitting with a 2.85 ERA.

Philadelphia might be closing on the Marlins for first place honors in the NL East, but a 2-3 effort in the last five has garnered attention to a pitching staff whose responsible for producing a 4.81 ERA in the last 10. Starters Jamie Moyer and Brett Myers are good indications that the depth of the rotation is lagging behind. Both Moyer and Myers have equated to a sky high 12.98 ERA in one start apiece this week.

The ‘under’ in this contest is looking like a solid trend with a 7-2 outcome in the last nine head-to-head meetings.

Detroit (A. Galarraga) at Arizona (M. Scherzer) – 8:10 p.m. EDT

For starters, the Tigers are a deplorable -1391 on the money line and the end to this run appears nowhere in sight. The big picture indicates major pitching problems. Both starters, relievers and closer (Todd Jones) have all been responsible for being rocked for a 5.05 ERA on the season and in just the last seven days, this same staff hasn’t improved much with a 4.71 ERA and a ballooned 1.74 WHIP.

The bottom line is that the Diamondbacks are 4½-games in first and three straight wins against Colorado (outscoring the Rockies 20-12) has helped obscured the 6-7 record in May. While production from the plate hasn’t shifted from Arizona’s yearly average versus the month of May’s production (with the exception of 5.6 runs on the year versus 4.9 runs per game for the month of May), the pitching has taken the brunt of the punishment.

The D-Backs have tossed an eighth best 3.71 ERA in ’08 but have almost increased that number by a full point this month. Arizona has logged in a 4.74 ERA with a 1.40 WHIP in 13 games played so far in May. Starters Micah Owings (5-1, 3.81) and Dan Haren (4-2, 3.04) have combined for a 1-2 record in five starts this month.

The Diamondbacks will enter this contest with a money hogging 10-4 record in Game 2 contests. For the Tigers, a 5-9 record in the second game of a series compliments the rest of the negative action this team has been catching.

Arizona is 11-7 in the last 18 head-to-head games versus the Tigers.

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Nationals activate Young from 15-day disabled list
May 16, 2008

BALTIMORE (AP) - First baseman Dmitri Young was activated from the 15-day disabled list Friday by the Washington Nationals, who used him as their designated hitter in the first of three interleague games against the Baltimore Orioles.

Manager Manny Acta hopes the switch-hitting Young will spark Washington's offense.

``He is a guy who doesn't go into slumps,'' Acta said of Young. ``He's a natural hitter from both sides of the plate. We need some offense right now and he can give it to us.''

Aaron Boone started at first base for Washington on Friday, a day after the Nationals placed first baseman Nick Johnson on the 15-day disabled list with a tear in the tendon sheath in his right wrist. Johnson is expected to miss four to six weeks.

Young, who has not played since April 2 because of a lower back sprain, should see most of the action at first base in Johnson's absence. Subbing for Johnson last year while Johnson recovered from a broken right leg, Young hit .320 with 13 homers and 74 RBIs.

``It feels good not to be hurt. ... I just want to do what I can to contribute,'' said Young, who was 3-for-8 in a two-game rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Harrisburg.

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Cardinals closer goes on disabled list
May 16, 2008

ST. LOUIS (AP) -Jason Isringhausen pitched three times after cutting his pitching hand, apparently from striking a television in frustration, before the St. Louis Cardinals placed their bedraggled closer on the 15-day disabled list.

The team admitted on Friday that the injury made for an easier decision about what to do with Isringhausen, their ninth-inning specialist since 2001 but with six blown saves in 17 chances and an 8.00 ERA. The move came a day after Isringhausen gave up a three-run, go-ahead home run to Jason Bay in the eighth inning of an 11-5 loss to the Pirates, although Isringhausen worked a pair of scoreless innings earlier in the week.

``You know what? He's not effective right now, so something's bothering him,'' general manager John Mozeliak said. ``I think medically right now, that's part of it.

``Are there other aspects that are affecting him as well? I'm sure there are.''

Manager Tony La Russa characterized the cut as an ``aggravation'' for the 35-year-old Isringhausen, who was not at Busch Stadium after requesting an examination by a team physician earlier in the day.

``It was irritating when he threw and it got infected,'' La Russa said. ``It's not his biggest issue, but it probably would have shut him down for a few days.''

Isringhausen was 32-for-34 in save opportunities last year, a season after he missed the team's World Series run because of hip surgery. He's been stuck on 292 career saves since May 5, absorbing three losses and three blown saves in his last five outings, and lasted only one-third of an inning on Thursday.

Isringhausen and La Russa have said repeatedly that the pitcher's problems are not physical, but now say they've been referring to the hip. That also was checked out during the exam, and Mozeliak reiterated that the hip was not a concern.

The team purchased the contract of rookie right-hander Chris Perez, the closer at Triple-A Memphis, and transferred right-handed reliever Josh Kinney from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list. Kinney is recovering from elbow surgery.

The 22-year-old Perez is 1-1 with eight saves and a 2.04 ERA in 18 games in the minors, with 22 strikeouts and nine walks in 17 2-3 innings. He'll likely be used as one of a group of setup men for stand-in closer Ryan Franklin, who had two saves in four chances entering Friday night's interleague game against the Rays.

Perez was close to getting called up after Isringhausen's self-inflicted wound last weekend, purchasing a ticket to Milwaukee where the Cardinals were playing, before Isringhausen assured the team he would be able to pitch. Mozeliak said the cut on Isringhausen's hand has gotten worse since then.

Perez found out he would be making his major league debut during batting practice Thursday night while with Memphis, and was held out of that game. When manager Chris Maloney gave him the news, Perez said, ``I looked at him twice and said 'Are you sure this time?'''

Perez' numbers reinforced a positive impact made in spring training, when he was 1-0 with a 4.22 ERA in nine games with 10 strikeouts in 10 2-3 innings. He last pitched Tuesday.

``I put as much stock in how he handled himself in spring training, when he knew he was being looked at closely,'' La Russa said. ``He didn't faint.''

Assurances from Kyle Lohse, who skipped his bullpen session on Thursday due to tightness in the back of his shoulder, that he'll be able to make his start on Sunday should provide further relief for the staff. One of the reasons La Russa was forced to use Isringhausen in a one-run game was that he was holding rookie right-hander Mike Parisi in case Lohse couldn't go.

Lohse was surprised by the level of concern, saying it was something pitchers deal with.

``You're going to have little things come up and I've never missed a start due to injury and never been on the DL,'' Lohse said. ``I think the track record kind of speaks for itself that I'll be ready on my day.''

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Astros put RHP Geary on DL
May 16, 2008

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -The Houston Astros put right-handed reliever Geoff Geary on the 15-day disabled list Friday because of a strained right groin.

Geary, who has not allowed a run in 10 consecutive appearances since April 26, left Thursday's game at San Francisco because of the injury. Geary is 1-1 with a 1.47 ERA in 19 appearances.

Fernando Nieve was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock. The right-hander was 1-3 with a 5.08 ERA in nine games (eight starts)

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Weekly Diamond Preview
By Matt Fargo

New York Mets at New York Yankees

The subway series continues on Saturday. The Mets and Yankees each took three of the six meetings last season, the third year in a row they have split the season series. Neither team has lived up to their early expectations as both have been inconsistent through the first quarter of the season. The Yankees will have the edge here with Chien-Ming Wang facing Nelson Figueroa. Wang dominated the Mets in his lone career start last year as he went 8.2 innings, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out 10.

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Lawrence's MLB weekend cheat sheet

As the second round of the NBA playoffs come to a conclusion, Major League Baseball begins its opening round of interleague play this weekend.

On tap on the basepaths are four same-state rivals, including the New York Mets at the New York Yankees, the Cleveland Indians at the Cincinnati reds, the Houston Astros at the Texas Ranger and the Los Angeles Dodgers at the Los Angeles Angels.

Here’s our take each of these series (all pitcher records are team starts unless noted otherwise; best and worst arm records are versus this weekend’s opponent). Enjoy the games…

New York Mets at New York Yankees

Most Recent Series Result: Yankees 2-0 last two games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Yankees 13-6 last 19 games here

Key Day/Month Stat: Yankees 13-1 Fridays away

Best Arm in the Series: Santana 4-1 0.90 ERA away career

Worst Arm in the Series: Martinez 4-13 2.79 ERA last 17 starts

Cleveland Indians at Cincinnati Reds

Most Recent Series Result: Indians 5-3 last eight games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Indians 5-3 last eight games here

Key Day/Month Stat: Reds 2-11 Saturdays in May

Best Arm in the Series: Harang 3-0, 0.88 ERA career

Worst Arm in the Series: Sowers 1-2, 9.60 ERA career

Houston Astros at Texas Rangers

Most Recent Series Result: Rangers 3-1 last four games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Rangers 8-4 last 12 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Astros 3-14 Sundays away

Best Arm in the Series: Chacon 4-0, 5.50 ERA career

Worst Arm in the Series: Oswalt 0-3, 3.27 ERA last three here

Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels

Most Recent Series Result: Angels 7-1 last eight games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Angels 16-4 last 20 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Angels 17-3 Fridays home

Best Arm in the Series: Lackey 4-0, 0.34 ERA last 4 starts

Worst Arm in the Series: Lowe 0-3, 4.39 ERA here career

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Tips for betting MLB Interleague play

Interleague play is upon us and whether you’re a supporter of it or not, there’s no denying it adds a different element to the marathon baseball season.

There’s the obvious contrast in styles between American League and National League teams, as well as the vast number of unfamiliar matchups from year to year. So here are a few tips that can help you keep your bankroll intact while some AL pitchers dig out their batting helmets from the bottom of the closet.

AL dominance is no fluke

In 2006 the American League posted a .611 winning percentage in interleague play. While the junior circuit cooled off considerably in 2007, it still held a substantial 137-115 (.544) edge. This isn’t a short-term trend by any stretch. The AL has won the battle in each of the last four, and six of the last eight seasons. It’s simply a case of the AL bats being significantly stronger while the pitching has essentially become a wash. Despite the AL’s apparent dominance, remember that National League teams have still won 213 interleague games over the last two seasons.

Keep an eye on the underdogs

While the home teams have a more pronounced advantage during interleague play, it doesn’t mean you should blindly bet them. With players switching leagues more than ever thanks to the current state of free agency, it isn’t as big of a deal for an American League pitcher to take his hacks over in a National League park. By the same token, the AL teams aren’t the only ones that benefit from having a DH in their lineup. Most NL teams have at least one big bat on their bench that is just itching to fill the role. More often than not oddsmakers will overvalue home teams and that opens the door for us to cash some healthy underdogs.

Let the runline be your friend

Don’t hesitate to lay the extra run when value presents itself. For whatever reason, we tend to see a higher percentage of lopsided results over the course of interleague play. During the opening weekend of IL action a year ago, 34 of 42 games (81 percent) were decided by at least two runs. I try to avoid laying the extra run with big favorites. Instead I’ll look to turn teams priced in the –110 to –150 range into substantial plus-money payouts by giving the run-and-a-half.

Teams to watch

It may surprise you to find out that the Oakland A’s are tied for the most wins all-time in interleague play. At 113-81 they’re just a few percentage points behind the Yankees for the best IL record in baseball. In the NL, it’s the Florida Marlins leading the charge at 105-81. All three of those teams were .500 or better last season. The Baltimore Orioles own the worst record in the American League at 79-114 while the Pittsburgh Pirates pull up the rear in the NL at 57-94. Not surprisingly, both teams suffered through losing IL campaigns a year ago.

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Baseball Today

Oakland at Atlanta (7:10 p.m.) The Athletics send Rich Harden (1-0, 3.68 ERA) to the mound against Tim Hudson and the Braves. Harden hasn't won since March 26 after a stint on the disabled list and a pair of no-decisions. Hudson (6-2, 2.54) has won three straight.


-Jayson Werth, Phillies, became the 18th Phillies player to hit three home runs in a game and tied the team record for RBIs with eight in a 10-3 win over the Blue Jays.

-Alfonso Soriano, Cubs, homered twice and drove in four runs to help Chicago win for the seventh time in eight games, 7-4 over the Pirates.

-Josh Hamilton, Rangers, went 5-fot-5 with two home runs, a triple and five RBIs in a 16-8 rout of the Astros. Hamilton also scored four times.

-Jose Guillen, Royals, had three hits and drove in a pair of runs to help Kansas City win its fifth straight, 7-6 over the Marlins.

-Andy Sonnanstine, Rays, gave up a run and eight hits over eight innings as Tampa Bay moved eight games above .500 for the first time in franchise history with a 3-1 win over St. Louis.

-Eric Byrnes, Diamondbacks, homered and drove in a pair of runs in a 4-3 win over Detroit.

-Joe Saunders, Angels, went 7 1-3 innings and gave up five hits and a pair of runs in a 4-2 win over the Dodgers. Saunders improved to 7-1, despite striking out just one batter.


The Braves beat Oakland 3-2 on Friday night, their eighth straight win at Turner Field. Atlanta has the best home record in the majors at 15-4, but after losing five of seven on a road trip that ended Thursday in Philadelphia, the Braves have the worst road record at 6-16.


Albert Pujols was 0-for-4 with two groundouts, an infield popup and a strikeout, ending his streak of reaching base in all 42 games to start the season in a loss to Tampa Bay. It also ended Pujols' 14-game hitting streak, and he made his first error of the year at first base, muffing B.J. Upton's soft liner in the seventh.


Tampa Bay's 3-1 win over the Cardinals moved the AL East leaders eight games above .500 for the first time in franchise history. Akinori Iwamura provided three hits and is on a 9-for-21 tear for the Rays (25-17), who have won eight of nine while outscoring the opposition 38-15.


Jayson Werth became the 18th Phillies player to hit three home runs in a game and tied the team record with eight RBIs in a 10-3 win over the Blue Jays. Ryan Howard was the last to hit three for Philadelphia - on Sept. 3, 2006, against Atlanta in the first game of a doubleheader. Werth joined Mike Schmidt (1976), Kitty Bransfeld (1910), Gavvy Cravath (1915) and Willie Jones (1958) as the other Phillies to drive in eight runs.


Alfonso Soriano homered in his first two at-bats and Geovany Soto and Mark DeRosa also went deep for the Cubs, who beat Pittsburgh 7-4 for their seventh win in eight games. Soriano connected on the first pitch from Tom Gorzelanny for his third leadoff home run in four games. Soriano launched a three-run shot in the second inning that made it 6-0.


The White Sox fired director of player personnel David Wilder and two scouts in the club's Latin American operation, Victor Mateo and Domingo Toribio. The terminations followed a two-month investigation by Major League Baseball's Department of Investigations. The three were dismissed ``for actions in Latin America that were violations of club policy and standards,'' the team said without elaborating.


Peter Magowan, the owner who brought Barry Bonds to San Francisco, built a new ballpark and kept major league baseball in the city, is stepping down as managing partner. Magowan will retire from his duties at the end of the season on Oct. 1 but maintain an ownership stake.


Colorado's 4-2 to Minnesota on Friday night was the Rockies' eighth in 11 games. The defending NL champs fell to 7-11 at home. At 15-27, Colorado is 12 games below .500 for the first time since Sept. 16, 2006, when it was 68-80.


Alexei Ramirez hit his first major league homer, a two-run shot in the seventh inning that gave the White Sox a 2-0 win over the Giants. San Francisco had a baserunner aboard in every inning against White Sox starter Gavin Floyd (4-2), who withstood each threat. Four relievers finished the five-hitter for Chicago's fourth shutout.


Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a single leading off the seventh inning of the Mariners' 6-4 loss to the Padres. ... Royals closer Joakim Soria allowed a run for the first time this season when he gave up a two-run homer to Jeremy Hermida. Soria then struck out Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu for his 11th save.


``We're not bad here. We stink on the road.'' - Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, who helped Atlanta win its eighth straight at Turner Field with a 3-2 victory over Oakland.

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