MLB NEWS AND NOTES MAY 28

MLB NEWS AND NOTES MAY 28

Wednesday's Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

Getting right to the action, here’s a peak at some highlighted ballgames waiting to commence on Wednesday.

Tribal Fear

Cleveland (23-28, -1380) has been on a freefall from an altitude of 30,000 feet. In layman terms, this crew is 1-9 in its last 10 and has been robbing backers blind with a -1380 on the money line and -300 on the run line. The Indians have moved into to the bottom of the barrel with a .233 batting average and are ranked 23rd in the league with 199 runs batted in. Even more disapointing is the club’s .211 BA in the last seven games. The pitching game has been more then effective to win games (3.04 ERA in the last week), but 3.8 runs of support for seven slingers who have started games this season just won’t get the job done.

Cleveland finishes off a three-game series with the White Sox at 12:05 p.m. EDT. The Indians’ will go with starter Jake Westbrook (1-2, 2.73 ERA) who hasn’t seen a win since Apr. 8. Westbrook is coming off the 15-day DL with a left intercostal strain. The Cleveland veteran is 4-7 with a 4.47 ERA and a .265 BAA in the last three years versus the White Sox.

Rolling Rays

When the positive projections where released by most media outlets during the off-season, Tampa Bay (31-20, +1196) was described as a team looking to build upon the foundation of its youthful ballplayers. But a little more then a quarter through the season has witnessed the Rays going above and beyond the call of duty. In-fact, Tampa is battling tooth and nail with Boston for first place in the AL East. The club’s 15-0 record when leading in the seventh inning can be attributed to a relief staff working for a 3.39 ERA, a 38-year old closer in Troy Percival adding 14 saves to an already impressive 338 in his career and an offense that ranks seventh best with 79 RBIs from the seventh inning onward.

Right-hander Matt Garza (3-1, 4.06) will take starting duties for the Rays in Game 3 versus the Rangers. Garza is 3-1 in his last five starts, giving up 5.6 hits per game with 1.8 runs per game. Texas began May off with a bang, taking eight of its first 10 games, but has since slowed down with an 8-7 record in the last 15.

Flying Fish


While expectations for Tampa where a bit more positive to begin the season, Florida (30-20, +1465) has come from the depths to take first in the NL East. The Marlins began last week sweeping Arizona (outscoring the D-Backs 10-3 in a three-game series), reinforcing the fact that starters Mark Hendrickson (7-2, 4.14), Ricky Nolasco (4-3, 4.70) and Andrew Miller (4-3, 5.33) have been more then effective. A run line profit of +14.50 units has been great for backers and four straight ‘over’ plays continues to feed total players’ wallets. May has been an especially solid month for Florida where the offense has combined to produce a league, sixth best 117 RBIs.

The ‘Fish will prepare to meet up with a Mets team in total disarray at 7:10 p.m. EDT. While New York will place Oliver Perez (4-3, 4.53) on the hill, Florida will turn to southpaw starter Scott Olsen (4-2, 3.38). Olsen struggled in his last game versus San Francisco, surrendering eight hits and seven runs in a short 3.1 innings (an 81 pitch count put the exclamation mark on this outing). The 24-year-old Michigan native has yet to notch back-to-back losses this season.

Halo Heaven

The Angels (32-22, +557) have racked up more win streaks then loosing slides and a 6-2 performance in the last eight has been indication of exponential growth. Giving up just 1.8 runs per game through this stretch has highlighted L.A.’s exceptional pitching game. Leading the way for the Angels, and appearing in Wednesday’s 10:05 p.m. EDT showdown with the Tigers, is the lone lefty starter, Joe Saunders (8-1, 2.31). His 1.06 WHIP and .226 BAA versus righties has been routine. While ace John Lackey (1-1, 2.05) is still adjusting from less than two months of inactivity in the majors, reliever Scot Shields and closer Francisco Rodriguez (21 saves) have been instrumental to the club.

Detroit (21-30, -1516) continues to display a void in offense, one of the slowest defensive infields in the game and pitching staff who’s been responsible for a 4.83 ERA with a .287 BAA in May. And just when the bats looked to be heating up when it posted 19 runs in a win against Minnesota on Saturday, the Tigers have worked for just two runs in the last two defeats.

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Baseball Today

SCOREBOARD

Detroit at Los Angeles (10:05 p.m. EDT). Joe Saunders (8-1) tries for his ninth victory of the season as he Angels face the Tigers and Armando Galarraga (3-2).

STARS

- Josh Hamilton, Rangers, hit a grand slam against Tampa Bay, leading Texas to a 12-6 win over the team that drafted him first overall in 1999.

- Adam Dunn, Reds, hit a three-run homer in Cincinnati's 9-6 win over Pittsburgh.

- Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Kouzmanoff, Padres, homered on consecutive pitches with two outs in the seventh inning to lead San Diego to a 4-2 win over Washington.

- Michael Cuddyer, Twins, hit an RBI single in the top of the 12th to lead Minnesota past Kansas City 4-3.

TRIPLE TRIBE

After completing a rare unassisted triple play a few weeks ago, the Cleveland Indians pulled off an even stranger feat with a triple steal in their 8-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night. With the bases loaded and Ben Francisco batting, White Sox pitcher Ehren Wasserman faked a throw to third and threw to first, catching Jamey Carroll off the bag. When first baseman Paul Konerko got Carroll in a brief rundown, David Dellucci broke from third and Konerko's throw to catcher Toby Hall was in the dirt, allowing Dellucci to score. Dellucci, Carroll and Grady Sizemore, who was on second when the play began, were given stolen bases. The last triple steal came on Oct. 1, 1987, by Atlanta against Houston according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

THE BIG 4-OW!

On the day he turned 40, Frank Thomas doubled against his former team and hurt his leg in the process. Thomas, released by the Blue Jays last month before he rejoined the A's, left the game in the fifth inning of Oakland's 3-1 win Tuesday night with a slight strain of his right quadriceps muscle.

FIVE PENCE

Houston's Hunter Pence was 5-for-5 with four singles and a double Tuesday night in the Astros' 8-2 win over St. Louis.

SHEFF'S HURT

The Detroit Tigers placed Gary Sheffield on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday because of an oblique strain on his left side. This is the 12th time on the DL for the 20-year veteran and nine-time All-Star, who is hitting just .213 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 39 games. It's his second trip to the DL since the Tigers obtained him from the New York Yankees in November 2006.

THIRD TIME'S A CHARM

Baltimore came back after being down 4-0 and 8-4, then rebounded in the 11th after New York again took the lead, finally beating the Yankees 10-9 Tuesday night in 11 innings after a 67-minute rain delay had already prolonged a game featuring nine home runs and 12 pitchers.

ALMOST THERE


Nearly two months into the season, the San Diego Padres have yet to win three straight games. After a 4-2 win Tuesday night, they can change that by beating the Washington Nationals one more time Wednesday night.

SNAPPED


The Seattle Mariners beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3 on Tuesday night to end a season-high seven-game losing streak. ... Tampa Bay had won four straight before falling to Texas 12-6.

STOPPER

Tim Lincecum pitched into the eighth inning and San Francisco beat Arizona 6-3 Tuesday night. Linecum ran his record to 7-1, while the rest of the Giants' pitching staff is 14-30.

SPEAKING

"It's all disheartening and disappointing. I'm not going to sit here and sugarcoat it. It's frustrating. People like playing us right now, and they should.'' - Royals first-year manager Trey Hillman after Kansas City lost its ninth straight, 4-3 to Minnesota in 13 innings Tuesday night.

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NATIONAL LEAGUE

Houston (30-23) at St. Louis (30-23)


The Astros will send left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (1-0, 2.31 ERA) to the mound at Busch Stadium, while the Cardinals will counter with right-hander Adam Wainwright (4-2, 3.06) in the second game of a three-game set between these National League Central rivals.

Houston rolled to an 8-2 victory in Tuesday’s series opener, improving to 17-7 in its last 24 overall, including 5-2 in the last seven. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have followed up a 6-1 tear by dropping their last two, and they need to win the next two contests against the Astros to extend a streak that has seen St. Louis win three consecutive three-game series.

This is the third series this season between these two teams, and the Cardinals now hold a 4-3 edge after last night’s loss, splitting four contests at Busch Stadium. St. Louis is 4-0 all-time with Wainwright going against the Astros.

Rodriguez, who has three no-decisions among his four starts, is returning to the Astros’ rotation after missing more than a month with a strained left groin. In his last outing, he allowed two runs on five hits in four innings, getting a no-decision in a 3-2 home loss to Colorado on April 19. Prior to that, he got the win in a 5-1 victory over Florida, allowing one run on five hits in seven innings on April 13.

Rodriguez was solid in an April 7 home start against St. Louis, throwing 7 1/3 innings of shutout ball, yielding just three hits and leaving with a 2-0 lead. But the bullpen gave up three runs in the ninth as the Cardinals rallied for a 3-2 victory. Rodriguez is 1-4 with a 5.25 ERA in seven career appearances (six starts) against St. Louis. Also, in his lone road start this year, he gave up four runs on eight hits in five innings in a 9-6 loss at San Diego on April 2.

Wainwright allowed one run on five hits in seven innings Friday en route to a 2-1 road victory over the Dodgers. That ended Wainwright’s four-week drought without a win, as he went 0-1 with three no-decisions in his previous five outings. But St. Louis is 7-3 this season behind Wainwright, who is 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in five home starts, all Cardinals victories.

On April 26 against Houston, Wainwright threw a five-hit complete game, allowing three runs as St. Louis earned a 4-3 home win. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA in 10 appearances (four career starts) against the Astros.

The Astros are on hot streaks of 6-1 versus the N.L. Central, 5-1 on Wednesdays, 11-3 against winning teams, 8-3 on the highway, 6-1 overall when Rodriguez starts, 6-0 when Rodriguez faces division rivals and 4-1 when Rodriguez works on the highway.

The Cardinals have now dropped five of their last six in N.L. Central play, but otherwise the trends are all positive, including 8-2 on Wednesday, 10-4 at home against winning teams and 13-6 against lefties. In addition, behind Wainwright, St. Louis has won six in a row at Busch, six in a row against winning teams and five of six against N.L. Central foes.

The under for Houston is 4-1 in Rodriguez’s last five starts, but the over is 10-1-1 in his last 12 road outings against winning teams and is 8-2-1 in his last 11 road starts overall. With Wainwright going, the over for St. Louis is 5-2-2 in division play, but the under is 11-4-1 with him going on four days’ rest and 9-4-2 in his last 15 starts against winning teams.

Furthermore, for Houston, the under is on streaks of 7-3 overall, 8-3 in division games, 11-6-1 on the highway and 35-18-2 against winning teams. For the Cardinals, the under runs include 4-2 overall, 5-2-1 against winning teams and 5-2 vs. left-handed starters. Finally, even though last night’s contest jumped over the total, the under is still 6-2 in the last eight head-to-head meetings overall and 4-1 in the last five clashes at Busch Stadium.

ATS ADVANTAGE: ST. LOUIS and UNDER


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Toronto (28-26) at Oakland (29-23)


Right-hander Roy Halladay (5-5, 3.11 ERA) will toe the slab for the Blue Jays in the second game of a three-game series against the Athletics, who are set to counter with righty Rich Harden (3-0, 2.93) at McAfee Coliseum.

The A’s extended their winning streak to five in a row while at the same time snapping Toronto’s five-game hot streak with Tuesday’s 3-1 victory. Oakland’s five-game streak comes on the heels of a 2-9 slump, and the A’s are now 14-5 in their last 19 home games.

Despite Tuesday’s setback the Blue Jays are still on an 11-4 tear, holding their last five opponents to three runs or fewer. In fact, Toronto has given up more than three runs only twice in the 11 victories during this 15-game stretch.

The A’s have owned this American League rivalry lately, winning the last five clashes, including a three-game sweep last month in Canada. Going back to last year, Oakland is 8-2 in the last 10 meetings. However, the road team is still 11-3 in the last 14 head-to-head contests. In addition, the Jays are 2-5 in Halladay’s last seven starts in Oakland, and the A’s are 1-4 with Harden going against Toronto.

The Blue Jays have notched wins in three of Halladay’s last four starts, with the veteran ace hurling a complete-game gem Friday against Kansas City. Halladay yielded one run on four hits, with no walks and five strikeouts, as Toronto rolled 7-1 at home in Halladay’s third complete game of the year (2-1). The right-hander, preparing for his 11th start of the season, is 2-4 with a 3.40 ERA in six road starts (seven appearances) this season.

Halladay is 4-4 with a 5.35 ERA in 11 career starts against Oakland. In his lone outing against the A’s last season, he tossed nine innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and six walks, getting a no-decision as Oakland prevailed 5-4 at home in 11 innings.

Harden, who had a stint on the 15-day DL with a strained right shoulder following his first two starts of the season, has been lights out in his last two outings, giving up a total of three runs on eight hits and four walks with 16 strikeouts in 13 innings, beating Atlanta 5-4 and Boston 8-3. The A’s are 3-0 in Harden’s three starts since returning from the DL.

Harden is 2-0 with an exceptional 1.59 ERA in three home starts this season, but he’s 0-3 with a 5.59 ERA in five career starts against Toronto.

The Blue Jays remain on streaks of 6-2 on the highway, 7-4 against winning teams and 64-30 in Halladay’s last 94 starts overall. However, Toronto is 4-12 in Halladay’s last 16 road starts, 2-5 in the team’s last seven on Wednesday and 1-4 in the team’s last five versus the American League West.

The Athletics, who have won five in a row against the A.L. East after sweeping the Red Sox in Oakland last weekend, have been money when the oft-injured Harden has made it to the mound, posting runs of 38-15 overall, 24-8 at home and 4-1 against the A.L. East.

The under is 6-2 in Halladay’s last eight starts overall, 5-1 in his last six on the highway, 4-1 in his last five against the A.L. West and 5-0-1 in his last six in Oakland. Meanwhile, the under is 5-1 in Harden’s last six home starts against winning teams and 5-2 in his last seven on Wednesdays.

For Toronto, the under is 34-16-3 overall this season (6-2 last eight), including 19-8-1 on the road, and the under is 5-0 in its last four against the A.L. West. The under is also 6-2-1 in Oakland’s last nine on Wednesday. Conversely, in this rivalry, the over is 6-3-1 in the last 10 clashes overall and 6-2-1 in the last eight battles at the Coliseum, though Tuesday’s contest stayed well below the posted price.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OAKLAND

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Vegas Watch: Three pitchers who are better than they look
By JACOB WHEATLEY-SCHALLER

Last week, I looked at some pitchers who haven’t pitched as well as their records may indicate.  This week we’ll head to the other end of the spectrum, to guys who have gotten some bad breaks thus far.

Barry Zito

Yes, really.  Look, I’m not trying to argue that Barry Zito is a particularly good pitcher, or that the Giants are going to win more often than they lose when Zito pitches. But he is not this bad.

Think about it - what seems easier than betting against San Francisco when Zito pitches? The team can’t score, and he’s terrible, so how can they possibly win?

The problem with that line of thinking is that everything I just said is very public knowledge and already built into the line. Take Friday, for example. Seventy three percent of bettors were on the Marlins when they faced Zito. Do you think the oddsmakers aren’t aware that it isn’t 2002 anymore?

I think they are. And they also know that the public perception of Zito is even lower than his actual skill level right now. He’s not going to be winning any more Cy Youngs and he certainly won’t be worth his contract, but he’s also not going to continue having a win percentage of .111 or a BABIP of .332.

Aaron Harang

After his dominant performance in Cincinnati’s marathon loss on Sunday night, Harang has struck out 72 batters in 78.2 innings while walking only 19.  He gives up too many homers  - always has - but that’s still good for a 3.32 ERA.

Despite this success, his record is only 2-6, making him one of the unluckiest hurlers in baseball thus far. The Reds have managed only 3.27 runs per game in Harang’s 11 starts, while averaging 4.73 runs in their other 40 games.

The fact that he’s something of a “name” starter at this point, having won 16 games in each of the last two years, limits his value, but his unfortunate luck has likely caused him to be somewhat overlooked.

Brett Myers

On May 26, Myers has already allowed 15 home runs. That’s pretty incredible.

Despite getting his fair share of ground balls, Myers has always allowed way too many homers, averaging 1.33 per nine innings in his big league career. It’s never been this bad though.

His fly ball rate of 33 percent is actually down from the last couple years, yet his HR/9 is way up. This is caused by a HR/FB ratio of 21.4 percent. Although this number has always been quite high for Myers — his career rate is 15.3 percent - the current level is ridiculous and completely unsustainable. Add to that a BABIP of .336, and we should expect Myers, who is currently 2-6 with a 5.79 ERA, to see improved results from here on out.

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