MLB News and Notes April 21

MLB News and Notes April 21

Wednesday's Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

Yesterday’s tips and trends focused on clubs that have taken bettors to the woodshed for a financial beating. Although it’s only been a full day since that story was released, San Diego and San Francisco continued its losing ways on Monday, burning holes through the pockets of investors.

With the negative comes the positive so its time to shift gears in anticipation for Wednesday full lineup of Major League action. Can money leading clubs such as Boston, Tampa Bay and Florida get things done on this packed schedule or can we look for “unremarkable” teams to make the doe?

Tampa Bay (26-19, +796) at Oakland (24-22, +402) – 3:35 p.m. EDT


Just when the Rays looked to be slowing down the pace in two straight losses in St. Louis over the weekend a close, 7-6 victory over the Athletics on Monday put the brakes on that thought. While Tampa’s 26-19 record is just a partial look into this club’s success, being installed as the favorite nine times in the last 12 games is evidence coming right from the books themselves. To put this in perspective, the Rays were tagged as the favorite just 42 times out of 162 games last season!

The Athletics can’t be overlooked when discussing finance. The only problem that has begun turning bettors the other way is a 2-8 record in the last 10. This is the same club who closed out the month of April on an 8-4 run, while continuing that success to begin this month on a 5-2 victory jog. But things have changed, and a long nine-game road trip which began on May 9 has turned the tide of this battle. In their last seven games, Oakland starters Justin Duchscherer (3-3, 2.67 ERA), Greg Smith (2-3, 3.26) and reliever Alan Embree (4.22) have combined for a 6.16 ERA. But compute this ERA carefully as Embree himself has accounted for an 11.25 ERA all on his own.

There’s no sugar coating Tampa Bay’s 6-24 record in its last 30 games played in Oakland.

Probable Starters: TB (A. Sonnanstine) at OAK (D. Eveland)

Baltimore (23-20, +641) at N.Y. Yankees (20-24, -1091) - 7:05 p.m. EDT

There’s been a lot of stink made about the condition of the Yankees, but what about an Orioles’ team who’s up 6.41 units on the money line and 1.18 units on the run line?

Ok, so Baltimore sure doesn’t look to have the pieces set in place for a serious run to the top of the AL East, but we can’t overlook a 7-3 run in the last 10 which has been responsible for placing a total of $384 into backers’ pockets ($100 bet on all 10 games). The reason for this short burst of success comes from the improved effort by the pitching staff. In Baltimore’s last 16 games, starters and bullpen alike have combined for a 3.50 ERA, while giving up close to 3.4 runs per game. Relief slingers Matt Albers (2.15) and Jim Johnson (1.13) have held opposing lumber down for a combined eight holds during the month of May, and closer George Sherrill hasn’t recorded a blown save since May 7. Sherill has now worked for a total of 17 saves this season (tied for No. 1 in both leagues), with seven of those saves coming in the last 16 contests.

The Orioles may be 14-29 in their last 43 games played in Yankee Stadium but it’s a new season and the Bronx Bombers are in prime position to let the door open for an emerging clubhouse such as Baltimore.

The ‘over’ is 9-4-1 in the last 14 head-to-head meetings between these two teams. Receiving mixed messages on a totals play in this contest is the Orioles 19-8 record on the ‘under’ in their last 27 road games. Baltimore is swinging for a non-effective .235 BA in 23 road games this season.

Probable Starters: BAL (G. Olson) at NYY (D. Rasner)

Arizona (28-16, +908) at Florida (24-19, +904) - 7:10 p.m. EDT


Two of baseball’s top money earners will meet under the humid air in South Florida for the first time this season. Since traveling to Cincinnati on May 12 (losing 8-7 on that day), the Marlins have had a tough time maintaining the same intensity and consistency that many were praising this young club for possessing. In Florida's recent 1-5 slide, the pitching staff has been knocked for an unbalanced 5.44 ERA and an inflated 1.70 WHIP. Even though the bats are ringing for 5.3 runs per game in the last six, it’s been the pitching game unable to hold or protect leads. Total players take the ‘over’ into consideration as it’s been on a 7-2-1 tear. Eight of these last 10 games have had totals installed anywhere from nine to 9½-runs.

The Diamondbacks look to have turned a 3-7 slump (from May 2 to May 11) into a 180 degree success story. Since then, Arizona has dropped just cone contest do Detroit (3-2) during the interleague weekend. The offense has been firing on all cylinders (averaging 5.6 runs per game in the last five wins) and starters Brandon Webb (9-0, 2.56), Micah Owings (5-1, 3.81) and Dan Haren (5-2, 3.14) continue to blow the sox off batters this season. Even ‘ol veteran Randy Johnson has stepped up into the primetime spotlight for a 4-1 record with a 4.42 ERA. Not to harp on the Johnson resurrection, but the six-foot-10 hurler has now won four of his last five starts, giving up three runs per game while whiffing out 24 batters over the same stretch.

Probable Starters: ARI (B. Webb) at FLA (R. Nolasco)

Chicago Cubs (28-17, +609) at Houston (25-21, +795) - 8:05 p.m. EDT

The Astros are four games above .500, have been accountable for a +795 money line sum and have helped backers prosper on the run line, up 12.34 units (25-20 run line record). While Houston has been slinging for a 4.66 ERA, the bats have on fire at home with a .281 BA. Add a sixth best 24 homers with an .821 OPS (on-base plus slugging) and there’s no doubt that the Astros can out bang opponents with just the wood alone (at home).

The Cubs have made big strides in the month of May. Batting .286 with 91 runs and a second best .368 OBP (on-base percentage) have shown improvement across the board. Thus the reasoning for a 9-2 performance in Chicago’s last 11 games. During this victory lap, the Cubs have crossed home plate for 6.1 runs per game, while the pitching game has allowed a staunch 3.2 runs per game.

For head-to-head numbers, an 8-2 record on the ‘under’ in the last 10 has been a consistent trend to key on, while the ‘under’ is 17-5 in the last 22 meetings in Houston.

Probable Starters: CHC (S. Gallagher) at HOU (S. Chacon)

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NATIONAL LEAGUE

New York Mets (22-21) at Atlanta Braves (24-21)


The Mets send right-hander Mike Pelfrey (2-4, 4.17 ERA) to the hill at Turner Field to take on 22-year-old righty Jair Jurrjens (4-3, 2.82) and the Braves in the third game of a four-game series.

These National League East rivals opened their third series of the season against each other with a doubleheader Tuesday, and the Braves won both games by scores of 6-1 and 6-2. Atlanta is 6-3 in its last nine contests and enters tonight on a 23-6 run at home, including an MLB-best 18-5 home record this season.

The Mets, who took two games at Yankee Stadium over the weekend before getting swept last night, continue to struggle with consistency, as they’ve now dropped 10 of their last 18 overall, going 5-5 on the road during this stretch.

The Braves are 5-2 this season against the Mets, winning all four games at home. Atlanta is now 39-18 in the last 57 head-to-head clashes at Turner Field. Also, Pelfrey and Jurrjens squared off last month in New York, the Braves winning 6-3, as Jurrjens gave up all three runs on just two hits and four walks in six innings, while Pelfrey got tagged for five runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Including the loss to the Braves on April 25, the Mets are 0-5 in Pelfrey’s last five starts, with the pitcher dropping four straight decisions. On Thursday against Washington, he gave up just one run on three hits in 7 2/3 innings, but New York provided no offense in a 1-0 loss. Pelfrey, set to make his eighth start of the year, is 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA on the highway this season, and he has a 1-2 mark with a 5.40 ERA in three career starts (four appearances) against the Braves.

Jurrjens, who will make his 10th start, allowed two runs on eight hits in five innings Friday against Oakland, getting a no-decision in Atlanta’s 3-2 home victory. The youngster, who pitched for Detroit in his major-league debut last season, is 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA at home this season. His start last month against New York was the first time he had faced the Mets.

The Mets are 5-2 in their last seven Wednesday outings and 7-3 in their last 10 when playing Game 3 of a series, but they are just 2-6 in Pelfrey’s last eight road starts. The Braves, meanwhile, are on runs of 9-2 at Turner Field against winning teams and 4-0 in Jurrjens’ last four home starts, but they are 3-6 in their last nine inside the division.

With Pelfrey starting, the under for New York is on a 5-1 run overall, 4-0 against the N.L. East and 5-2 in his last seven road outings. Also, the under is 8-0 in Jurrjens’ last eight starts (3-0 at home).

Also, with both of yesterday’s games staying under the total, the under is now 10-3 in the last 13 meetings between these rivals and is 10-1 in the last 11 battles in Atlanta. Finally, the under is on runs of 40-15-2 for Atlanta overall, 7-1 for Atlanta at home and 20-8-2 for New York against winning teams.

ATS ADVANTAGE: ATLANTA and UNDER


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Cleveland (22-23) at Chicago White Sox (24-20)


Paul Byrd (2-3, 3.61 ERA) is scheduled to toe slab for the Indians when they face the White Sox and Javier Vazquez (4-3, 3.53) in the middle game of a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.

Chicago ran its winning streak to six in a row with Tuesday’s 4-1 victory over the Indians, who have now followed up a 6-1 run with four straight losses.

Although the season series is tied 2-2, Cleveland is still 7-4 in the last 11 meetings overall and 7-4 in the last 10 head-to-head clashes at U.S. Cellular.

Byrd, who will make his ninth start of the year, scattered five hits in 7 1/3 innings scoreless innings in his most recent start on May 13, a 4-0 home win. However, the veteran right-hander is 0-3 with a 6.53 ERA on the highway this season, but he’s 8-2 with a 4.22 ERA in 13 career starts against Chicago, including 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA in four outings last year.

Vazquez has helped the White Sox to wins in his last two starts, though he got a no-decision last Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels, allowing three runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings, leaving with the game tied at 3 as Chicago went on to a 4-3 road win. Vazquez is 2-1 with a 3.29 ERA at U.S. Cellular this season and is 5-4 with a 4.08 ERA in 12 career starts against Cleveland.

The Indians are on runs of 5-1 against winning teams, 26-11 against American League Central rivals and 10-4 in Wednesday contests. Also, with Byrd throwing, they are 16-5 in their last 21 inside the division and 11-5 against winning teams. However, Cleveland has dropped its last five roadies and is 0-4 in Byrd’s last four road starts.

The White Sox are 5-1 in their last five home games, and with Vazquez starting, they are on hot streaks of 10-3 overall, 7-1 against the A.L. Central, 5-1 at home and 5-2 when he pitches on five days’ rest. However, Chicago is 2-5 in its last seven Wednesday contests and 1-5 in Vazquez’s last six Wednesday starts.

The under is 6-0 in Byrd’s last six overall and 4-1-2 in his last seven against winning teams, but the over is 10-2 in his last 12 Wednesday outings. Chicago, meanwhile, has a bevy of “over” trends with Vazquez starting, including 10-3 overall, 7-1 inside the division, 6-1 at home and 10-4 with Vazquez on five days’ rest.

For Cleveland, the under is on runs of 23-6 overall, 7-0 against winning teams, 7-1 on the highway and 7-2 against division opponents, but the over is 7-3-1 in its last 11 on the road against winning teams. For Chicago, the under is on streaks of 6-1 overall and 5-1 against the A.L. Central. On the flip side, the over is 4-2 in the last six series meetings overall and 4-2 in the last six head-to-head battles in Chicago.

ATS ADVANTAGE: CLEVELAND

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Baseball Today

Arizona at Florida (7:10 p.m.). Brandon Webb (9-0, 2.56 ERA) looks to stay undefeated and become the majors' first 10-game winner when the Diamondbacks take on Ricky Nolasco (2-3, 5.18) and the Marlins.

STARS

- Hunter Pence, Astros, hit a grand slam to lead Houston to a 4-2 win over the Chicago Cubs.

- Dan Uggla, Marlins, scored the tiebreaking run and then hit his 14th homer to lead Florida to a 3-2 victory over Arizona.

- Greg Dobbs, Phillies, had a pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth inning to lifted the Phillies to a 1-0 win over Washington.

- Justin Masterson, Red Sox, allowed one run on three hits over 6 1-3 innings in a 2-1 victory over Kansas City.

- Glen Perkins, Twins, pitched six scoreless innings for his first major league win as Minnesota beat Texas 11-4.

- Jorge Campillo, Braves, gave up three hits and struck out seven in six scoreless innings for his first major league win in a 6-2 victory over the New York Mets.

- Kevin Kouzmanoff, Padres, hit a three-run homer to lead San Diego to a 3-2 victory over St. Louis.

- Chad Billingsley, Dodgers, pitched seven scoreless innings and singled home a run in a 4-1 victory over Cincinnati.

NOT ENOUGH

Although Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run homer in his return to the lineup, the New York Yankees lost 12-2 to Baltimore on Tuesday night. Adam Jones hit a three-run double during the Orioles' seven-run first inning against Mike Mussina, taking advantage of a two-out throwing error by Derek Jeter. Jeter later left the game after being hit by a pitch on the left hand in the third inning.

SLUGGING

Dan Uggla homered leading off the sixth inning of Florida's 3-2 victory over Arizona on Tuesday night. It was his sixth homer in 10 games, and 14th of the season, making him the first Marlins player to hit 10 home runs in a month since Cliff Floyd in April 2002.

COMING BACK

Diamondbacks left-hander Doug Davis, who has been recovering from thyroid cancer surgery, will return to the rotation Friday at Atlanta. Davis' cancerous thyroid gland was removed April 10. He was declared cancer-free this month and rejoined the Diamondbacks for this week's series at Florida. Davis' cancer was discovered before the season, but he made two starts before undergoing surgery April 10. He is 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA.

SIDELINED

Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy was placed on the 15-day disabled list by the San Diego Padres on Tuesday with a strained and swollen right elbow. The move was retroactive to Thursday, a day after he lasted just four innings against the Chicago Cubs. ... An MRI on Washington outfielder Austin Kearns' sore right elbow showed no tear or other serious problem. Nationals manager Manny Acta said he expects Kearns to miss a few more days as he waits for the elbow to heal. ... Athletics reliever Andrew Brown underwent an appendectomy and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. The move was retroactive to May 14, one day after the last day Brown pitched.

SHAKY START, STRONG FINISH

After getting the first out against his former team, Tom Glavine gave up a home run to Luis Castillo. A single to David Wright, a walk to Carlos Beltran and single to Ryan Church then loaded the bases for the New York Mets. Glavine then retired the next 17 batters in a row, finishing with four strikeouts in six innings to lead the Atlanta Braves to a 6-1 victory over the Mets in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.

NOT COMING BACK SOON

Marlins left fielder Josh Willingham could be sidelined another month or more because of a herniated disc that has kept him out since April 27. Willingham underwent an MRI Monday in Los Angeles and was examined by orthopedist Dr. Robert Watkins. Willingham said Watkins told him his back needs to be strengthened, and it will be 10 days to three weeks before he can resume baseball activity. A three-week layoff would likely mean it would be at least mid-June before Willingham rejoins the lineup.

MILESTONE

Miguel Tejada doubled in the fourth inning of Houston's 4-2 win over the Chicago Cubs for his 1,800th hit. He is the 44th shortstop in major league history to reach the milestone and has the most RBIs (34) and hits (64) of any player at his position this season.

LATE SCARE

While trying to break up a game-ending double play in the second game of a day-night doubleheader, Ryan Church of the New York Mets sustained a mild concussion when his head banged into the right knee of Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar on Tuesday night. Church had a red scrape on the right side of his forehead, and the Mets said he would be taken to Piedmont Hospital for a precautionary examination since he sustained a concussion in spring training.

STREAKS

Randy Winn extended his hitting streak to a major-league leading 15 games with a double in the first inning of San Francisco's 6-5 victory at Colorado on Tuesday night. ... The Dodgers' 4-1 victory over Cincinnati was the Reds' eighth straight loss at Chavez Ravine.

CALLING IT A CAREER

Mike Piazza is retiring from baseball following a 16-season career in which he became one of the top-hitting catchers in history. The 39-year-old Piazza batted .275 with eight homers and 44 RBIs as a designated hitter for Oakland last season, became a free agent and did not re-sign. Taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers on the 62nd round of the 1988 amateur draft, Piazza became a 12-time All-Star, making the NL team 10 consecutive times starting in 1993.

NO MORE UPDATES

After another test on his ailing right shoulder, John Smoltz declared Tuesday he will give no more updates until he's back on the mound for the Atlanta Braves. Smoltz, who has been on the disabled list since April 29, felt some reporters misinterpreted his most recent comments by writing his comeback had run into problems and could be delayed for a lengthy period.

SNAPPED

Adam Dunn went 1-for-3 with a single in Cincinnati's 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night, ending his home-run streak at five games and leaving him in a tie with Ken Griffey Jr., Ted Kluszewski and Johnny Bench for the Reds' franchise record. Dunn's RBI streak also ended at eight games, three shy of the club record set by Joe Morgan in 1976. ... Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur did not play in the second game of a doubleheader sweep against the New York Mets on Tuesday night, ending the majors' longest current streak of consecutive games played at 370.

SPEAKING

``We had all the momentum in the world coming into the series and we couldn't do anything with it. We've got too much talent to be a .500 team. We've got too much talent to be mediocre the whole way through the season.'' - Mets third baseman David Wright after New York was swept by Atlanta 6-1 and 6-2 in a day-night doubleheader Tuesday. Coming off a two-game sweep of the Yankees, the Mets slipped to 22-21 overall - fourth in the NL East.

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