MLB News and Notes April 24

MLB News and Notes April 24

Lawrence's weekend cheat sheet: MLB series stats
By MARC LAWRENCE

Memorial Day weekend is here and with it BBQ grills will be fired up as friends and family gather for the holiday.

Chances are if you’re not grilling, you’re at a baseball game. If you live in Atlanta, you’ll be taking in the Braves and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Those of you in Colorado will be watching the Rockies play the NY Mets. In Chicago, you’ll be at U.S. Cellular Field watching your beloved White Sox take on the L.A. Angels in a battle of first-place clubs. Or if you’re in Oakland, you’ll be watching the A’s play host to the Boston Red Sox.

Here’s our take each of 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 and the BBQ…

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Arizona Diamondbacks at Atlanta Braves


Most Recent Series Result: Braves are 10-3 last 13 games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Diamondbacks are 6-1 last seven here

Key Day/Month Stat: Diamondbacks 0-6 away in May this season

Best Arm in the Series: Glavine 4-0, 1.82 ERA last four starts

Worst Arm in the Series: None

New York Mets at Colorado Rockies

Most Recent Series Result: Rockies 4-0 last four games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Rockies 4-0 last four here

Key Day/Month Stat: Mets 13-1 away on Fridays

Best Arm in the Series: Francis 2-0, 4.66 ERA home career

Worst Arm in the Series: Perez 1-4, 9.14 ERA last four starts

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Los Angeles Angels at Chicago White Sox


Most Recent Series Result: White Sox 6-3 last nine games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Angels 10-5 last 15 here

Key Day/Month Stat: White Sox 8-2 on Fridays

Best Arm in the Series: Weaver 3-0, 0.47 ERA career

Worst Arm in the Series: Lackey 0-4, 4.18 ERA last four starts

Boston Red Sox at Oakland Athletics

Most Recent Series Result: Red Sox 6-1 last seven games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Red Sox 4-1 last five here

Key Day/Month Stat: Red Sox 16-4 on Saturdays

Best Arm in the Series: Colon 4-0, 1.73 ERA here career

Worst Arm in the Series: Blanton 0-4, 4.13 ERA last four starts

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 24

NL Go-Against Vets
By Joe Nelson

Veteran pitchers provide a proven commodity and experience that does matter in a starting role. However many starting pitchers that are well known are overvalued significantly even if the numbers are not there to back it up. The reasons are simple, for example imagine a casual fan that is out in Vegas for the weekend trying to play some games. If he hasn’t been following the numbers closely is he more likely to back Jair Jurrjens and Edinson Volquez, or will he gravitate towards Roy Oswalt or Brad Penny at similar prices? Here is a look at some of better known starters in the National League and some reasons that you should be looking the other direction in their starts until they start to turn things around.

Roy Oswalt 4-4, 5.61 ERA (Houston 5-6, -$176)

Roy Oswalt still brings serious name recognition and he has been favored in eight of his eleven starts despite playing for a Houston team that started the year with fairly low expectations around baseball. The Astros have propelled themselves into the thick of the playoff chase but Oswalt has had little to do with it. The veteran right-hander has allowed three or more runs in ten of his eleven starts and opposing hitters are hitting .302 against him. Oswalt has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past decade but his year-by-year numbers have slipped with an increased ERA and reduced strikeout counts each of the past three seasons. There has been absolutely no evidence pointing towards it, but given the presumed guilt of fellow Houston pitchers Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte there could be some merit in speculation that Oswalt may have been enhanced during his peak years. The Astros are scoring runs but Oswalt is a risky proposition right now, ‘over’ plays may also be worth looking at with Oswalt on the mound.

Derek Lowe 2-4, 5.34 ERA (Los Angeles 6-4, +$118)

With 110 wins since 1999, Derek Lowe is among the league leaders in baseball for that time frame. Lowe was often an overlooked pitcher on good teams earlier in his career but he now brings a higher price as a proven veteran. Lowe has been favored in six of ten starts this season and although the Dodgers are plus money behind Lowe it has had little to do with the starting pitcher. The Dodgers have scored in the ninth inning to take the lead and win in four Lowe starts this season, accounting for the 6-4 mark in his starts. Lowe has only left with the lead twice this season and his numbers are alarming with higher than normal number of walks allowed and opponents hitting .305. Lowe has allowed 28 runs in his last five starts and he has made it past the sixth inning just once this season despite normally being a quality innings-eater. Lowe went 16-8 in 2006 but he had a losing record in his two other seasons with Los Angeles despite playing in a great pitcher’s park. There will be value in going against Lowe in several match-ups especially with the poor early starts from NL West opponents like Colorado and San Diego.

Brad Penny 5-4, 5.34 ERA (Los Angeles 6-4, +$197)

Normally a strong starter early in the season Brad Penny has seen his numbers start to fade much sooner this season. With Lowe and Penny in the rotation it is a credit to the Dodgers that they have kept pace with Arizona in the NL West and the bullpen deserves a lot of credit. The great set of relievers have not been able to bail out Penny in many starts this season however as he has really pitched poorly in recent starts. Like Lowe, Penny was a recent beneficiary to a late Dodger rally to boost his money numbers but he has not pitched well enough to win in most starts this season despite his five victories. Opponents are hitting .306 against the right-hander and he has allowed nine or more hits in a game five times this season. Penny has delivered strong strikeout to walk ratios in past seasons but this year he has just 30 strikeouts compared with 22 walks in nearly 60 innings. Penny has been hit the hardest in recent games with 20 runs allowed in his past three starts, despite two of those three games being played at home. Penny had a career season last year and the numbers are starting balance out though the value on Penny has not. The Dodgers have been a favorite of -130 or higher five times this season and the opposing underdogs will be appealing plays in many upcoming Penny starts.

Brett Myers 2-5, 5.76 ERA (Philadelphia 3-7, -$665)


The experiment to remove Brett Myers from the closer’s role has worked out beautifully for the Philadelphia bullpen as the unit has some of the best numbers in baseball and Brad Lidge has delivered a tremendous start to the season. Inserting Myers back into a starting role has been much less successful however as Myers has been one of the worst money pitchers in baseball on account of being favored in seven of ten starts this season. Myers has allowed 15 home runs this season in just 59 innings pitched and the Phillies have lost five consecutive games that he has started. Opposing hitters are hitting .307 against Myers on the season and his WHIP is 1.60. In road games Myers has been especially terrible with a 0-4 record, a 7.39 ERA, and an absurd 2.00 WHIP. The Phillies have been favored in three of his five road starts which led to the big losses for Myers backers. Philadelphia’s offense makes them appealing to wager on but in reality the Phillies are just a few games above .500 and statistically the offense has not been as productive as the perception. Myers may not last much longer in the starting role but he certainly should be considered as a go-against option until then.

Ian Snell 2-3, 4.84 ERA (Pittsburgh 6-4, +$237)

Snell may not be a household name to casual fans yet but he emerged as a great underdog option with the Pirates in the last two years. Snell is 26-27 the last three seasons despite playing on terrible Pittsburgh teams but this season there are some concerns with backing him. The value is gone with Snell even though Pittsburgh has not proven to be significantly improved. Snell was a favorite in five of ten starts this season despite pitching for a perennial loser. Snell was a great road pitcher in 2006 but this season his numbers on the road have been significantly worse, hurting the big underdog opportunities. Snell has typically had very low walk numbers but this season he has already walked 24 batters in 57 innings despite walking just 68 in 208 innings last season. Opponents hit just .250 off Snell last season but this year opposing batters are hitting .310 and he has allowed eight or more hits in six of his last eight starts. The best case scenario is Snell’s value may climb back up and he will start to return to form but right now he should be avoided as the limited value is not worth the risk of backing the Pirates and shaky recent results from Snell.

VegasInsider.com

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 24

White Sox's Uribe goes on DL

CHICAGO (AP) -The Chicago White Sox placed second baseman Juan Uribe on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring and purchased outfielder DeWayne Wise's contract from Triple-A Charlotte on Friday.

Chicago also sent infielder Danny Richar, who fractured a rib in spring training, to Charlotte on a rehabilitation assignment.

Uribe, batting .198 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 38 games, was injured in the sixth inning against the Angels in Los Angeles on May 15. The move to the DL is retroactive to May 16.

Wise spent parts of five seasons in the majors with Toronto, Atlanta and Cincinnati before signing with Chicago on March 5. He was batting .338 with eight homers, 18 RBIs, 31 runs scored and 12 stolen bases in 43 games with Charlotte.

Manager Ozzie Guillen said the White Sox made the moves involving Uribe and Wise because Paul Konerko is expected to miss the next few games with a sore right hand that's been bothering him for more than three weeks. Konerko, batting .212, is available to pinch hit.

``Uribe did not give me the best answer when I asked him, 'Can we use you because we're a little short?''' Guillen said. ``He did not give me the right answer. That was enough for me to call (general manager Kenny Williams) and say, 'We need somebody out here.'''

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 24

Nats send Chico, Schroder to minors, promote 3

WASHINGTON (AP) -With an 0-6 record, Matt Chico had to feel a trip to the minors was on the way.

The Washington Nationals sent the young left-hander to Triple-A Columbus on Friday, one of a series of roster moves.

``We need to get him back on track,'' general manager Jim Bowden said.

The Nationals also optioned reliever Chris Schroder to Columbus and promoted outfielder Ryan Langerhans, right-hander Brian Sanches and left-hander Charlie Manning.

Right-handed pitcher Ryan Wagner (right shoulder) was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list.

Meanwhile, right fielder Austin Kearns had surgery to remove five loose bone fragments from his right elbow. Bowden said Kearns will be sidelined for about four weeks.

Chico was a pleasant surprise as a rookie last year, going 7-9 with a 4.63 ERA in 31 starts. He began this year 0-5 before being sent to the bullpen, where he pitched well in three relief appearances.

Chico got another chance to start Wednesday, but he allowed four runs in five innings in a 12-2 loss to Philadelphia. His ERA is 6.19 in 11 appearances, including eight starts.

``We thought that was the best thing for him, to go over there and start to get his confidence back and get better at locating his pitches,'' manager Manny Acta said. ``Pitching out of the pen, waiting for somebody to have a rough outing so he can get a couple of outings, that wasn't very good for him.''

Schroder has been up and down between the majors and minors all season. In three stints in Washington, he has a 5.40 ERA in four appearances.

Chico and Schroder were replaced by a pair of 29-year-olds, Sanches and Manning. Sanches had seven saves and a 0.98 ERA in 14 appearances with Columbus. He pitched in the big leagues each of the last two seasons with the Phillies, going 1-1 with a 5.75 ERA in 12 relief appearances.

Manning earned his first big-league promotion after posting six saves and a 1.96 ERA in 19 appearances this year in Triple-A. He was signed by the Nationals as a minor-league free agent in December.

Langerhans was batting .306 with three home runs, 24 RBIs and seven stolen bases in 44 games with Columbus. His .417 on-base percentage ranked second in the International League. He is a career .233 hitter in the majors in 401 games with Atlanta, Oakland and Washington.

Langerhans provides depth in the outfield now that Kearns is on the 15-day disabled list. Kearns, who was batting .187, was placed on the DL on Thursday, and his surgery Friday was performed by Dr. Tim Kremchek in Cincinnati.

``It was definitely necessary. He would not have gotten better without it,'' Bowden said. ``We hate to lose him for a month. Sure, it's devastating. Certainly, when you have five loose bodies in your elbow, we know why he was hitting .187.''

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 24

Indians activate closer Borowski; assign Breslow

CLEVELAND (AP) -Joe Borowski is back in the bullpen for the Indians, who activated the right-hander Friday prior to playing the Texas Rangers in the opener of a six-game homestand.

Left-hander Craig Breslow was designated for assignment to make roster room for Borowski, whose 45 saves led the AL a year ago.

Borowski had been sidelined since April 15 with a strained right triceps that had caused him to lose velocity on his pitches. In five appearances, he went 0-2 with an 18.00 ERA, allowing eight runs and seven hits in only four innings

Borowski made two rehab appearances this week in the minors, working one scoreless inning apiece at Class A Lake County and Double-A Akron.

Breslow, claimed off outright waivers from the Boston Red Sox on March 23, appeared in seven games in relief for Cleveland, compiling no record and a 3.24 ERA in 8 1-3 innings.

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Brewers put Gagne on DL, recall Dillard

WASHINGTON (AP) -The Milwaukee Brewers placed struggling closer Eric Gagne on the 15-day disabled list with right rotator cuff tendinitis before Friday night's game against Washington.

The move is retroactive to May 21.

Gagne, who signed with Milwaukee as a free agent in December, is 1-2 with a 6.98 ERA. The right-hander has blown five of his 15 save opportunities.

Gagne set a major league record with 84 consecutive converted saves from Aug. 28, 2002-July 5, 2004.

The Brewers recalled right-hander Tim Dillard from Triple-A Nashville, where he was 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA in 15 games.

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Re: MLB News and Notes April 24

Baseball Today

SCOREBOARD


Saturday, May 24

Arizona at Atlanta (3:55 p.m. EDT). Two of the top left-handers in baseball history meet at Turner Field. The NL West-leading Diamondbacks send out 44-year-old Randy Johnson to face the Braves' Tom Glavine, who is 42. Glavine has 305 career wins, Johnson 288.

STARS

- Roy Halladay, Blue Jays, won for the third time in four starts, and had his major league-leading fifth complete game in a 7-1 win over Kansas City on Friday night.

- Adam Dunn, Reds, homered off Trevor Hoffman to start the ninth inning and give the Cincinnati Reds a 3-2 win over the San Diego Padres.

- Matt Holliday, Rockies, hit a tying homer in the ninth inning off Billy Wagner, then singled home the winning run in the 13th to rally the Rockies past the New York Mets 6-5.

- Joe Saunders, Angels, one run and three hits in a career-high 8 1-3 innings in a 3-1 win over Chicago that ended the White Sox's eight-game winning streak.

- Barry Zito, Giants, earned his first win of the season after eight straight losses, pitching San Francisco past the Florida Marlins 8-2.

- Doug Davis, Diamondbacks, allowed one run in seven innings in his first start following his return from cancer surgery and Arizona cooled off Atlanta 11-1.

BEST COMEBACK

Doug Davis was relaxed and in control in his first start following his return from cancer surgery, giving up only one run in seven innings, and the inspired Diamondbacks hit five homers and rolled to an 11-1 win over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night. "Everybody kind of realized what they are all about today, a little more than baseball," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said.

BLINDING

Tampa Bay earned its sixth shutout of the season with a 2-0 win over Baltimore. The Rays improved the second-best home record in the AL to 17-8. They have won 11 of 15 games overall, and their 13 wins in May are a franchise record.

GIANT "W"

Making his 10th start this year, Giants left-hander Barry Zito earned his first win and avoided becoming the first starter in franchise history to begin a season 0-9. - Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright won for the first time in five starts, allowing a run and five hits while stranding four runners in scoring position in seven innings in a 2-1 victory over the Dodgers.

STILL THE HURT

Frank Thomas hit a two-run homer to give him 1,701 RBIs in his career. The Big Hurt homered for the fourth time in four games. Thomas, who turns 40 on Tuesday, has seven homers on the year and four since joining the A's after Toronto released him April 20.

PLUNDERED

The Cubs, who lead the NL Central, are 9-1 against the Pirates this season, 4-0 in Pittsburgh, and 12-1 in their past 13 meetings after a 12-3 win on Friday. The Cubs scored 10 or more runs against Pittsburgh for the fourth time this season.

ON THE "L" TRAIN

The Indians' losing streak reached seven games after Texas earned a 13-9 win on Friday night. Cleveland's losing streak is its longest since a nine-game slide in August 2004. Cleveland also lost starting pitcher Fausto Carmona to a strained his left hip. - New York lost its fifth straight and ninth in 13 contests while falling to 22-24. Two games under .500 matches their low-water mark for the season, when they were 2-4 after dropping their home opener to Philadelphia on April 8. - San Diego (18-32), with the worst record in the majors, has lost 13 of 19 games.

LOW TIDE FOR M'S

Seattle has lost 17 of its past 22 games and is an AL-worst 18-31. No team that fell more than 16 games under .500 has ever reached the postseason.

RED-HOT RANGER


Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton is hitting .528 (19-for-36) with four homers and nine RBIs over his past eight games.

HIGH MARK

Marco Scutaro is batting .365 (19-for-52) since taking over at shortstop after David Eckstein and John McDonald were both injured. Scutaro matched a career high with four RBIs and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Kansas City 7-1 on Friday night.

TOUGH LUCK

Gavin Floyd (4-3) took the loss despite holding the Angels to three hits in his first career complete game. He had a rocky fifth inning, when Hunter hit a solo shot. The right-hander also hit Maicer Izturis and Gary Matthews Jr. with bases-loaded pitches. - Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie (2-5) allowed one run and four hits in 6 2-3 innings, but took the loss against Tampa Bay.

QUIETING A NATION

Oakland's Rich Harden has 23 strikeouts in three starts spanning 17 innings this year against the Red Sox.

SPEAKING

"Playing on this team and seeing what's happening around me, I feel that something is beginning to fall apart." - Ichiro Suzuki, on the struggles of the Mariners, who are 18-31 and have the worst record in the American League.

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Battle of AL titans on tap

Two first-place will teams collide in the American League this weekend when the Angels and the White Sox clash in a three-game series in Chicago.

Game 1 could be a low-scoring affair if both starting pitchers bring their A-game. Getting the ball for the Angels is Joe Saunders (7-1, 2.48), while Gavin Floyd (4-2, 2.92) starts for Chicago. Saunders went seven 1-3 innings in his last start, allowing two runs in a win over the Dodgers. Floyd pitched brilliantly in his last start, tossing six shutout innings and allowing only four hits against San Francisco. In two starts against the White Sox last year Saunders was roughed up and went 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA. This will be Floyd’s first-ever game against the Angels.

In Game 2 of the series on Saturday, two up-and-down pitchers square off when Jered Weaver (3-5, 4.73) starts for Los Angeles and John Danks (3-3, 2.94) gets the call for Chicago. Weaver allowed two runs on five hits in five 1-3 innings in his last start against the Dodgers. He dominated the White Sox earlier this season, pitching seven shutout innings, allowing only one hit with six strikeouts. Danks picked up a no-decision in his last start after allowing three runs on six hits over six innings against the Giants. Danks also received a no-decision against the Angels earlier this season despite pitching 6 1-3 shutout innings.

In Sunday’s finale, staff ace John Lackey (1-0, 1.29) starts for the Angels and Jose Contreras (5-3, 3.17) opposes him for Chicago. Lackey made his second start of the season last time out and held Toronto to one run over seven innings. Lackey made his season debut against the White Sox and went seven innings, scattering six hits and allowing one run. Contreras has won his last three starts and limited Cleveland to one run in six innings last time out. He earned a win versus Los Angeles earlier in the season after allowing one run in seven innings.

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NATIONAL LEAGUE

Arizona (29-19) at Atlanta (26-22)


The Diamondbacks continue their disappointing East Coast road trip when they send Randy Johnson (4-1, 4.42 ERA) to the mound at Turner Field, while the Braves are set to counter with rookie Jorge Campillo (1-0, 0.99).

After getting swept in three games at Florida to start the week, Arizona arrived in Atlanta last night and hammered the previously red-hot Braves 11-1, snapping a six-game road losing skid. The DBacks are still just 2-4 in their last six, but they have won 15 of their last 20 games on Saturday.

Atlanta saw its five-game winning streak come to an end Friday night. The Braves still sport the best home record in the National League at 19-6, including 13-2 in the last 15. They’ve also won six of their last seven against N.L. West foes.

The DBacks have now won nine of their last 11 meetings with the Braves, including seven of eight in Atlanta. In fact, the visitor is 9-3 in the last 12 series clashes.

Johnson notched career victory No. 288 on Sunday against the Tigers, scatting six hits and a walk over seven scoreless innings en route to a 4-0 home win, easily his best outing of the season. Johnson is 3-0 with a 4.00 ERA in his last three starts, and the DBacks are 5-0 in the Big Unit’s last five trips to the hill. They’re also 21-7 in his last 28 efforts against the N.L. East.

Johnson has been nearly unhittable in two road starts, going 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA, surrendering four runs (one earned) in 11 innings, beating the Padres 5-1 and getting a no-decision in his team’s 5-4 loss in San Francisco. Also, for his career, Johnson is 5-5 with a 4.56 ERA in 11 starts against the Braves, though he hasn’t faced them since 2006.

Campillo was outstanding in just his second career big-league start on Tuesday, giving up three hits and no walks while recording seven strikeouts in six shutout innings, beating the Mets 6-2. The right-hander’s only other major-league start came in 2005 with the Mariners, and he went just one inning.

The under is 10-1 in Johnson’s last 11 road starts (1-1 this year) and 6-1 in his last seven outings against the Braves.

Last night’s game topped the posted total, ending Arizona’s six-game “under” streak. Still, the under is 5-3 in the team’s last eight on the road and 4-2 in its last six against the N.L. East. Meanwhile, for Atlanta, the under is on runs of 41-17-2 overall dating to 2007 (32-14-3 this year), 8-3 at home, 10-2 against a left-handed starter and 6-1 versus the N.L. West.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Boston (31-20) at Oakland (26-23)


Josh Beckett (5-3, 4.67) looks to bounce back from two dreadful starts when he leads the Red Sox against Justin Duchscherer (3-3, 2.67) and the A’s in the middle game of this weekend series in Oakland.

The A’s crushed the Red Sox 8-3 on Friday night for their second straight victory, while at the same time ending Boston’s seven-game winning streak. Prior to winning its last two, Oakland had been mired in a 2-9 funk. The A’s are now 8-2 in their last 10 against the A.L. East.

Boston, which kicked off a 10-game road trip last night, is only 10-15 away from Fenway Park in 2008, including an ongoing five-game losing streak on the highway.

These teams opened the 2008 season against each other in Tokyo, splitting a pair of games. A week later, they resumed their series in Oakland, with Boston winning both contests by scores of 2-1 and 5-0. Going back to last year, the Red Sox are on a 6-2 roll against the A’s.

Beckett earned an 11-7 win in Sunday’s home outing against the Brewers, but only because Boston’s offense bailed him out, as the right-hander got torched for six runs on six hits (including four home runs) in seven innings. That came five days after a 5-4 loss in Baltimore, where he surrendered all five runs on 11 hits in just 5 2/3 innings. For the season, Beckett is 2-3 with a 4.18 ERA in five road starts.

The first time Beckett faced the A’s in 2006, he got blasted, allowing seven runs in 4 1/3 innings. In three starts against Oakland since, however, he’s 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA, registering a quality start in all three.

Duchscherer got tagged with a 5-2 loss in Atlanta on Saturday, giving up three runs on seven hits in five innings. The reliever-turned-starter had given up exactly one or two runs in each of his previous five starts, but he’s pitched more than five innings just twice.

Duchscherer is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two games at home this year. Also, he’s faced the Red Sox 13 times (all in relief), going 0-1 with a 2.66 ERA (six runs allowed in 20 1/3 innings).

The over is 3-1 in Beckett’s last four starts overall and 3-1 in his four career outings against the A’s. Conversely, the under is 3-0 in Duchscherer’s last three starts after the over was 3-0 in his first three.

Additionally, the under is 6-3-1 in the last 10 series meetings between these clubs, 6-2 in the last eight battles in Oakland and 11-6-2 in the A’s last 19 overall. However, with last night’s contest hurdling the posted price, the over is now 5-1-1 in Boston’s last seven on the highway.

ATS ADVANTAGE: BOSTON

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