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MLB News and Notes May 31

MLB News and Notes May 31

Weekend Series
Scott Rickenbach

There are three series' going this weekend in the bases that run from Thursday through Sunday – the Dodgers/Mets, the Rockies/Cubs and the White Sox/Rays - all are four-game series'. There are three others – the Pirates/Cardinals, the Red Sox/Orioles, and the Yankees/Twins - that are four-gamers running from Friday through Monday. I'll examine all six of these four game sets in a quick run-down and point out any particular value to consider.

Los Angeles Dodgers at New York Mets – Who would have thought, before the season, that each of these teams would enter this late May/early June series without a winning record. While the Dodgers are right at .500 on the season and the Mets are a game under .500, it is quite clear who has the momentum heading into this series. The Mets have won three of their last five games and their big win on Wednesday night should certainly give them a boost in this series. The Mets tied their game in the bottom of the 9th with the Marlins on Wednesday. Then, after allowing a run in the top of the twelfth inning and seeming doomed for another frustrating loss, the Mets got a big two run triple to win the game in the bottom half of the inning. The Mets offense has now produced at least five runs in four of their last six games and they are catching the Dodgers while they are struggling. Los Angeles has lost five of their last six games and while they scored four runs in the one win they only scored a total of four wins in the five losses! Jeff Kent’s back spasms are also a cause for concern. Also, the Dodgers have missed Rafael Furcal, out with lower back problems, at the top of the lineup.

Colorado at Chicago Cubs – You will be hard pressed to find many bettors putting down their hard earned money on the Rockies in this series! Colorado has fallen unbelievably fast after their solid season last year. After finishing last season on a red hot run and marching all the way through the postseason to make it to the World Series, the Rockies are now in the midst of a miserable first third of this season. The Rockies enter this series at 13 games below .500 and their road record is particularly of concern as they are just 8-19 on the road! Overall, the Rockies enter this series on a 5-12 skid and they have averaged only 3.5 runs per game in this stretch of 17 games. They’ll be facing a Cubs team that has been at the opposite end of the spectrum. The Cubbies are 13-6 their last 19 games and they’ve averaged about six runs per game during this solid stretch.

Keep an eye on some line value with the Cubs throughout this series!

Chicago White Sox at Tampa Bay – Just like the Rockies are a surprise so far this season, who would have thought the White Sox and Rays would be leading their respective divisions as we get ready to enter the month of June! Indeed these two teams have been pleasant surprises so far this season but the key in this series is it’s hard to ignore the home/road dichotomies of these clubs. Certainly the White Sox are a respectable road team with a 16-14 mark but, simply put, this just does not hold a candle to what the Rays have done at home this season. At Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay is now 21-9 on the season. Even though Troy Percival, the Rays closer, is going on the disabled list, Tampa Bay still has plenty of capable arms that can carry the load in the bullpen. It’s simply hard to fade the Rays right now as they have won 17 of their last 19 at home.

Pittsburgh at St Louis – Good NL Central battle here. Even though the Pirates and Cardinals enter this series in opposite areas of the standings they are only separated by five games in the loss column heading into Thursday’s action. The problem for Pittsburgh though is they just can’t get the job done on the road where they’re 9-17 this season. As for the Cardinals, they’re a rock solid 18-11 at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals have also won seven of their last ten games overall, heading into Thursday’s action, and it will be hard to fade them with a Pirates team that is just 3-6 their last 9 games!

However, the Pirates did take two of three games at Busch Stadium the middle of this month and they are worth a look with some of their talented, young pitching taking to the mound in this four game set.

Boston at Baltimore - We could see some good value in this series with Baltimore. A glance at the standings would lead one to believe that there is quite a disparity between these two clubs. However, the only true disparity that does exist here is the home/road disparity of these two clubs. Boston is fantastic at home but an awful 11-19 on the road this season. The Orioles are dreadful on the road but a rock solid 16-8 at home. As you can see, there could be some value in spots for the Orioles in this series this weekend. The first three pitchers that Baltimore sends out for this series (Cabrera, Olson, and Burres) are a combined 7-1 at home this season! The Red Sox first two starters in this series (Beckett and Lester) are a combined 3-6 on the road this season. The other two BoSox starters both have issues. We feel Bartolo Colon has seen his better days and doesn’t have much left in the tank while Daisuke Matsuzaka just had an MRI on his shoulder and appears fatigued right now.

New York Yankees at Minnesota – A couple of hot teams particularly on offense. The Yankees are 6-2 in their last 8 games and they’ve averaged nearly seven runs per game during this stretch. As for the Twins, they’ve been solid throughout the month of May as they’ve averaged 5.5 runs per game heading into Thursday night’s action. The Twins were 16-11 heading into their series finale with the Royals and we expect their sticks to remain hot as they head back home to take on the Yankees this weekend. The sides may be tough to call in this series but, based on the way these two offenses are going, we’ll be looking to potentially cash in on some overs in this series!

Florida at Philadelphia – Florida is coming off of a rather deflating loss on Wednesday night as they allowed the Mets to tie them up in the bottom of the 9th on a solo homer. Than they lost the game in the bottom of the 12th despite scoring a run in the top of the 12th to take the lead. That is a tough loss to take and, after losing two straight to the Mets, the last place the Marlins needed to visit was Philadelphia. The Phillies are red hot and knocking the cover off of the ball. The Phils have won four straight and averaged 12 runs per game as if they’ve been playing in a Church Softball League! More of the same should be on tap this weekend and we’ll be looking at the Phillies or the Over for potential value spots in this series.

Atlanta at Cincinnati –With a win on Thursday afternoon the Braves are now 4-4 in their last eight games. However, they’ve been very inconsistent as they scored four runs or less in six of those eight games. They’ve also got an overworked bullpen and that’s why they left Tim Hudson in the game way too long on Tuesday night. The Braves are a hard team to trust right now but, the fact is, so are the Reds! Cincinnati had won four of their last five games heading into Thursday’s action. However, after scoring just eight runs over a period of four games, the Reds suddenly exploded for an average of over eight runs in their past four games! We’ll look for some value spots with the Reds in this series. Their offense has come alive.

Houston at Milwaukee – While the Astros have had a great month, the Brewers are a tough team at Miller Park. We really like the Astros lineup much more than that of Milwaukee’s. Houston has scary hitters in the middle of their order and the Brewers offense just is not as potent as it was last season. The Brewers only scored five runs in the three game set they just finished up with the Braves. The Astros should take two of three here.

Washington at Arizona – The Diamondbacks are fading like a cheap shirt that’s run through the wash a couple of times. However, we do not trust the Nationals on the road either. Washington is miserable on the road but the Diamondbacks can’t be trusted right now. Especially at the prices you will be asked to lay with Arizona in this series.

San Diego at San Francisco – Both these teams are known for rather anemic offenses but the Giants are actually showing signs of turning things around. Thanks to guys like Bengie Molina, Aaron Rowand, and Ray Durham, the Giants offense has looked much better of late. Heading into Thursday’s action the Giants had averaged over 6 runs per game in their last 9 games. The Padres have had a couple of “break out” games recently on offense but for the most part they still struggle in most of their games. San Diego has scored 4 runs or less in 42 of their 55 games this season! Yesterday’s 5-2 win was a rare exception and they could definitely struggle in San Francisco where, if the Giants keep hitting like they have been, they’ll dominate this series.

Oakland at Texas – There could be some struggles for Oakland in this series. The Rangers offense is very capable at home and the Athletics offense is still very inconsistent. Texas ranks second only to Boston for team batting average at home while Oakland is ranked second to last in the American League in terms of team slugging percentage on the road. The Rangers bats are likely to lead the way in this one as the A’s just don’t have the “pop” in their lineup to keep up. We’ll be looking at spots for Texas or the Over in this series based on the pitching match-ups.

Cleveland at Kansas City - The Royals losing streak reached disastrous proportions with their loss to the Twins on Wednesday night. The fact is that not many teams are capable of losing a tenth straight game by allowing five runs to score in the top of the 9th after you’ve already got two outs in the inning and just one man on base. Needless to say, the Royals bullpen is in very poor shape right now and the psyche of this team is becoming permanently damaged. So the play here must be the Indians, right? Well, not so fast with that move! Cleveland has lost ten of their last twelve games and they’ve scored three runs or less in seven of those twelve games!

Toronto at Los Angeles Angels – There could be some line value possibilities with Toronto in this series. It’s always tough to fade the Angels at home but they are just 16-12 at Angel Stadium this season. Toronto is a respectable 15-15 on the road and they’ve been particularly hot of late. The Blue Jays are an amazing 8-2 their last 10 road games and they’ve averaged a solid 4.7 runs per game in this stretch. The key for the Jays is their pitching and there may be opportunities to back them for a plus money return in this series. McGowan, Marcum, and Burnett have all been throwing quite well.

Detroit at Seattle - This is an ugly series with the way these two teams are going. Detroit is off of a win on Wednesday but they have struggled badly on the road this season and previously they had lost three straight while scoring a total of just three runs. Seattle finally won a couple of games as they took advantage of home field and a “road adverse” Red Sox team. However, the Mariners are still hard to trust. Even in taking two of three from Boston they only scored a total of eight runs. It’s hard to see a lot of value either way in this particular series because we do respect the Mariners at home but we also respect the Tigers lineup much more than Seattle’s lineup.

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Re: MLB News and Notes May 31

The Pitching Game
By Josh Jacobs

With an introduction into what bettors can expect from this weekend’s various series’ taking place already in the books let’s dive into a quick portfolio of the hurlers who will take the mound. These starting pitchers listed have excelled on the mound this season and as a result, are reason to research a possible investment.

Success Stories


The Chicago Cubs will send 10-year veteran starter, Ryan Dempster (6-2, 2.56 ERA) to toe the slab on Saturday in hopes of earning a ‘W’ against the slumping Rockies at 1:05 p.m. EDT. A good reason for Dempster’s six wins in 11 starts has been 6.8 runs of support (per start) by Chicago’s group of sluggers. In five of his six victories, the B.C. (British Columbia) native has surrendered just three earned runs or less, while 104.2 pitches per game has translated into the starter going 6.4 innings per game (four of his starts have gone seven innings plus). There’s been no method to the madness in the totals department when Dempster takes the mound (the ‘under’ is 5-5-1), but don’t overlook his 6-0 record with a 2.84 ERA at home versus his 0-2 record with a 2.08 ERA on the road.

Jair Jurrjens (5-3, 2.86) began his career in 2003 as an undrafted free agent with the Detroit Tigers. Fast forward to October, 2007 and the opportunity to become a starting pitcher in the Atlanta rotation became reality when Edgar Renteria was dealt to Detroit in exchange for the 22-year old Jurrjens. With 11 starts under his belt, Jurrjens has held opposing batters to a .233 BA, while recording an effective 1.24 WHIP. Fellow right-handed hitters are swinging at flies with a .209 BA versus the six-foot-one slinger. The Braves will throw Jurrjens out on the diamond to face a Cincinnati team swinging for a .251 BA with only 2.7 runs per game versus conventional righty pitchers (and this is a club who’s got an ample amount of left-handed hitters to use – although their production is a separate topic in itself).

Milwaukee finds itself as a mediocre club in the ultra competitive world of the NL Central. Taking the hill for the Brewers will be ace star Ben Sheets (5-1, 2.93), a slinger receiving the most run support (in terms of pitchers receiving the most run support on the team) from a club relatively dry of offensive production this season. Sheets has been graced with five runs of support per start and his last two starts have net 12 strikeouts, zero base on balls with only three earned runs sacrificed (in a total of 15 innings – a nine inning contests was logged in his last win over the Pirates on May 21). Factor in Sheets’ WHIP of 1.06 (third best in the NL) and Houston is sure to have a tough time clocking the three-time All-Star. Game time for the Brewers vs. Astros is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. EDT.


For Sunday action, Atlanta will pencil in ace Tim Hudson (7-3, 2.90). Four wins in his last six starts is worth mentioning as well as a 1.09 WHIP over the course of the season. Right-handed hitters have had a world of problem keying in on Hudson, accounting for a .218 BAA with a basement dwelling .234 on base percentage. Testament to Hudson’s ability is that most books have installed the Braves as favorites eight times in the last 10 games that the ace has climbed on top of the hill (the highest price reached $2.06 in a win over Washington on Apr. 21). His road numbers have been more mortal then at home, with a 2-2 record and an ERA sitting at 3.00. Take into consideration that Atlanta will be playing in Cincinnati at 1:15 p.m. EDT, and Hudson’s numbers during the day go something like this: a 2-1 record, 3.94 ERA, 10 strikeouts, two walks and zero homers in 16 innings.

Continuing the National League dominance of starting pitchers this weekend focuses on San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum (7-1, 2.33). While Frisco has been battling from behind this year, a 6-4 showing in the last 10 and only seven games behind first place Arizona in the NL West has given backers and fans just a glimmer of hope for the future. Lincecum has been the star in the rotation with a seven wins on the season, three wins in the last four and has logged in a league leading 76 strikeouts. Giants’ backers will be glad to know that with the team playing at home, Lincecum has been dominant with a 5-1 record and a 2.81 ERA (versus a road, 2-2 record with a 3.00 ERA). The ‘under’ has gone 5-1-1 in Lincecum’s last seven.

Darrell Rasner (3-1, 1.80) received his first loss of the season on Monday, but some of the blame can be pinned on a Yankees’ offense that’s had off and on problems giving their pitchers reliable run support. But the anomaly is that New York’s bats have come through for the third-year veteran. Rasner has received 5.5 runs per start of support and has shown his appreciation by giving up a total of five runs on 19 hits in 25 innings of work. This will be the third game in a four-game series in Minnesota for New York. The Yanks are 5-2 in seven head-to-head games with the Twins this season. The ‘under’ is 4-2-1. Game time is scheduled to begin at 2:10 p.m. EDT.

Other Notables:

-- Tampa Bay sends out Scott Kazmir (4-1, 1.50) on Saturday versus the Chicago White Sox at 6:10 p.m. EDT. Kazmir has dominated opponents in his last four outings, giving up only two runs on 13 hits. His last start against Texas yielded 10 strikeouts, one earned run saced on three hits.

-- Brandon Webb (9-2, 3.01) may have dropped two in a row against Florida and Atlanta, but we can’t overlook nine straight wins in nine starts to begin the season. The best news coming out of a Saturday home game against the struggling Nationals is that Webb is 5-0 with a .224 BBA in home cooking scenarios. Game time is set for 8:10 p.m. EDT.

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Re: MLB News and Notes May 31

Can Florida's hot bets keep winning?

Florida isn’t exactly the center of the baseball universe. In fact, shuffleboard is more likely the sport of choice for Floridians, judging by attendance numbers for the state’s two ball clubs.

But if you’re a betting man, there’s no better place to find a winner this season than Florida. In case you hadn’t noticed, the Marlins were 30-22 and No. 1 in the Money Teams list with +1265 units in the bank as of May 30, and the Rays were right behind them at No. 2 with +1040 units and a 32-22 record.

Nobody would have expected this last year after the Florida Marlins finished the 2007 season 20 games below .500 and the Tampa Bay Rays were even worse at 30 games under the break-even mark, but that’s part of what has made these clubs such good bets this year.

Well, that and the fact that they’re tearing up their respective leagues. Those are the kind of numbers that bettors can’t ignore but the question is, when the two smallest payrolls in the major leagues are the two biggest money-winners, it makes a lot of bettors wonder if the windfall can continue or if they should try to profit off the inevitable collapse.

For now, according to Caesar’s Palace sportsbook manager Chuck Esposito, it seems bettors are jumping on for the ride.

“To a degree the bettors have caught on,” Esposito says, “especially with the Marlins who are getting bet on almost nightly. Baseball bettors, for the most part, follow hot teams and both (the Marlins and Rays) have been hot so far.”

But bettors should be warned, if either team is going to fall back to earth, it’s probably going to be the Marlins. A noticeable lack of talent in the starting rotation is a problem that is bound to show itself as the season goes on.

Mark Hendrickson started the season as the Florida ace and has held on for a 7-2 record thus far, but how much can you expect from a 33-year-old with a career 4.95 ERA?

Some people think that Scott Olsen is finally emerging as the dominant starter the Marlins hoped for when they drafted him in 2002, but if you read Dave Malinsky’s article from last week, you’ll know that Olsen has allowed 12 earned runs in his last three starts, which equals the total he gave up in his first seven starts.

Essentially, the Marlins are winning with offense and a solid bullpen. Without diminishing the importance of those two elements, starting pitching is still the most important ingredient to winning in the major leagues. Without that, the Marlins can’t possibly hope to keep making money as they have in the first two months of the season.

Malinsky points to rookie Andrew Miller as a starter who could get better as the season goes on and he may be a good bet down the road, but for the most part, he believes the Marlins rotation will be their downfall.

“Mark Hendrickson and Scott Olsen are not nearly as good as their numbers indicate,” the Covers Experts handicapper says, “and will have a very tough time maintaining their good early form.”

There’s also a question about the Marlins offense. Although they’re producing runs at an impressive rate, they’ve been living and dying by the home run. The Marlins rank second in the majors with 76 homers, but their .259 team batting average indicates that there isn’t enough consistency in this young lineup to maintain their current production.

Bettors shouldn’t expect the Marlins to keep making money as the season goes on and they should be looking for the right time to start betting against them.

The Rays are in a slightly different situation than the Marlins. Although they are also a young team, they have a bit more balance on offense. They have a good lineup full of players like Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton and Eric Hinske who do more than just swing for the fences and should be able to maintain their .265 team batting average throughout the season.

But the offense is not really a surprise. The production of their pitching rotation, however, comes as a bit of a shock. If anything hurts the Rays later on this summer, it will be their pitching staff.

The club has an ERA of 3.78, which is the fifth best mark in the American League. That has helped get them to the top of a very competitive AL East division, but with Boston, New York, Toronto and Baltimore on the doorstep, it seems unlikely that this young rotation will be able to keep them on top.

“Young pitchers are even more likely to hit a wall late in the season as their arms are not used to the extended innings pitched,” says Steve Merril of Covers Experts. “I think Tampa Bay will eventually fade and could present value as a play-against team later this year.”

Keep an eye on the Rays when pitchers like Andy Sonnanstine and Jason Hammel get their starts as the year goes on. Both have performed well so far, but youth and inexperience could cost them in the second half of the season.

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Re: MLB News and Notes May 31

Lawrence's MLB weekend cheat sheet

The opening week of June signals the NHL finals are underway, the NBA finals are right around the corner and MLB is just six weeks from the All-Star game.

The two biggest surprise teams in baseball this season have been the Florida Marlins and the Tampa Bay Rays, both picked to finish in last place in their divisions, yet somehow sit in first place as we enter June.

The Marlins travel to Philadelphia in one key National League series this weekend while the L.A. Dodgers battle the Mets in New York in a battle of disappointing performers. Meanwhile, the Rays host the Chicago White Sox in a matchup of first-place combatants while Toronto travels to the west coast to take on the Angels in Los Angeles.

Here’s our take on 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…


Florida Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies

Most Recent Series Result: Phillies 3-2 last five games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Phillies are 12-4 last 16 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Phillies 14-6 last 20 home on Sundays; Marlins 5-13 last 18 away on Sundays

Best Arm in the Series: Moyer 7-0 3.05, ERA career

Worst Arm in the Series: Eaton 1-5, 8.56 ERA last six starts

L.A. Dodgers at N.Y. Mets

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

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

Key Day/Month Stat: Dodgers 0-5 away Sundays in May

Best Arm in the Series: Vargas 2-0, 6.10 last two here

Worst Arm in the Series: Penny 1-10, 6.35 ERA last 11 here


Chicago White Sox at Tampa Bay Rays

Most Recent Series Result: White Sox 15-5 last 20 games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: White Sox 6-1 last seven here

Key Day/Month Stat: Rays 8-1 home Sundays

Best Arm in the Series: Danks 2-0, 1.50 ERA career

Worst Arm in the Series: Shields 0-2, 5.79 ERA career

Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Angels

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

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Blue Jays 11-7 last 18 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Angels 18-3 home Fridays; Blue Jays 5-15 away Fridays

Best Arm in the Series: Garland 11-2, 4.04 ERA last 13 starts

Worst Arm in the Series: McGowan 0-3, 3.66 ERA career

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Re: MLB News and Notes May 31

Matsuzaka placed on DL with shoulder injury

BALTIMORE (AP) -Daisuke Matsuzaka was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday by the Boston Red Sox, who opted to take a cautious approach after an MRI exam revealed a mild strain of his right rotator cuff.

Matsuzaka was examined in Boston by Dr. Thomas Gill. It is the first trip to the disabled list by Matsuzaka, who joined the Red Sox last season after pitching in Japan.

''The real good news is there were no structural changes,'' Boston manager Terry Francona said. ''The best way we can see to attack this, we'll DL him, take the time down and get him ready to pitch the rest of the season. That's kind of where we are.''

The move was retroactive to Wednesday. Matsuzaka is 8-0 with a 2.53 ERA in 11 starts this season. Opponents are batting .195 against him.

Francona said Dice K put up a mild protest, hoping to pitch through the injury.

''I think that's first of all good news because it means he feels good about himself,'' the manager said. ''That's what good pitchers and good players do. That's part of the reason they're good.''

Matsuzaka joins Boston starter Clay Buchholz (finger) on the disabled list. Buchholz was scheduled to pitch Friday night in a rehabilitative assignment for Triple-Pawtucket.

Asked what the loss of Matsuzaka does to the rotation, Francona replied, ''Nothing for right now, just keep everybody on track. On Tuesday, we'll need a starter (against Tampa Bay).''

To replace Matsuzaka on the roster, the Red Sox recalled first baseman/outfielder Jeff Bailey from Triple-A Pawtucket. He was batting .318 with 16 homers and 44 RBIs.

''He knows this could be short term,'' Francona said. ''When we send guys down we always tell them if you do good there's a chance you'll get called up. He got called up. He's a great kid. He's always made a good impression on the staff in spring training. He does his work. Doesn't complain.''

Francona was not immediately sure how he would use Bailey, who played in three games with the Red Sox last season.

''He's done a little bit more work in right field now which helps a little bit here, maybe the next couple of days,'' Francona said. ''It gives us a little flexibility, gives us that right-handed bat.''

Right fielder J.D. Drew has been battling vertigo and was not in the starting lineup Friday night against Baltimore.

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Re: MLB News and Notes May 31

Baseball Today

Washington at Arizona (8:10 p.m. EDT) The Diamondbacks' Brandon Webb goes for his major league-leading 10th win against Jason Bergmann and the Nationals. Webb has lost his past two starts after beginning the season 9-0.


-Grady Sizemore, Indians, homered twice and drove in three runs, then made a catch at the wall with two outs in the ninth inning to preserve a 5-4 victory over Kansas City.

-Russell Martin, Dodgers, went 4-for-4 with a homer and a double, driving in three runs and scoring three more in a 9-5 win over the Mets.

-Todd Wellemeyer, Cardinals, gave up six hits and a run over seven innings in a 5-4 victory over Pittsburgh that moved his record to 6-1 on the season.

-Ryan Braun, Brewers, went 4-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs in a 5-1 victory over Houston.

-Jay Bruce, Reds, was 4-for-5 and scored the winning run in the 11th inning for a 3-2 victory over the Braves.

-Jim Edmonds, Cubs, homered as part of his three hits, driving in three runs and scoring twice more in a 10-9 victory over the Rockies.

-Adrian Beltre, Mariners, hit a pair of solo homers in a 7-4 loss to the Tigers.


Kansas City lost its 12th straight, this time blowing a 4-1 lead in a 5-4 loss to the Indians. It's the longest losing streak in the majors since Pittsburgh lost 13 straight in June 2006, though the Royals also lost 13 in a row in May of that year.


Rangers rookie outfielder Brandon Boggs, no relation to Hall of Famer Wade Boggs, filled in admirably on short notice for Milton Bradley. Boggs had two doubles and matched a career high with three RBIs in the Texas' 3-1 victory over Oakland.


Baltimore committed three errors in the 13th inning, and the Red Sox turned the miscues into a 5-2 victory. The bumbling began when catcher Ramon Hernandez dropped a foul popup. David Ortiz was retired anyway, and Manny Ramirez followed with a one-out bouncer to third. Melvin Mora's throw soared over the head of first baseman Kevin Millar, and Mike Lowell drove him in with a single to left. Two more unearned runs scored on a throwing error by Freddie Bynum.


Daisuke Matsuzaka was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday by the Red Sox, who opted to take a cautious approach after an MRI exam revealed a mild strain of his right rotator cuff. ... Travis Hafner was sent home after taking practice swings before the Indians played at Kansas City. The Cleveland DH will be placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right shoulder.


The Giants turned a triple play in the eighth inning against the Padres, the second in the majors this year. Pitcher Keiichi Yabu had just entered with runners on first and second and got Kevin Kouzmanoff to ground into the Giants' first triple play since June 14, 1999, on his first pitch. Third baseman Jose Castillo fielded the hard grounder near the bag and retired Brian Giles on the forceout, then relayed to second baseman Ray Durham to get Adrian Gonzalez. Durham then fired the ball to first baseman John Bowker for the third out.


It was a tough night for third base umpire Mike Winters in Los Angeles. He had Angels manager Mike Scioscia and Blue Jays manager John Gibbons both in his face on close plays an inning apart involving baserunners he called safe - both of whom eventually scored.


``Anytime you lose it doesn't sit with you very well. But obviously if you're going to get beat in this game, you'd rather have them beat you and not have it happen the way it did.'' -Orioles manager Dave Trembley, whose team went more than 4 1/2 hours without scoring before the Red Sox tacked on three runs in the 13th inning for a 5-2 victory. The runs were all unearned after three Baltimore errors.

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Re: MLB News and Notes May 31


L.A. Dodgers (27-27) at N.Y. Mets (26-27)

The Mets and Dodgers continue their four-game weekend series at Shea Stadium, with Chad Billingsley (4-6, 3.68 ERA) set to take the ball for L.A. opposite struggling Mike Pelfrey (2-6, 5.33) in a battle of young right-handers.

After scoring just seven runs in losing the first four games of this seven-game road trip, Los Angeles busted out the bats in a 9-5 victory on Friday, halting a five-game road losing skid. Still, Joe Torre’s club is in the midst of a 2-6 funk, having been held to one run or less in five of the six defeats. The Dodgers have lost 19 of their last 28 games on Saturday.

The Mets had a three-game winning streak end with Friday’s loss, and they’re now just 4-8 in their last 12. New York is now 15-11 at Shea Stadium this season.

Los Angeles holds a slim 3-2 edge in the season series, but is still just 2-5 in its last seven games at Shea Stadium.

Pelfrey dropped to 0-6 in his last six trips to the mound with Monday’s 7-3 home loss to Florida, as he allowed six runs (four earned) on six hits and three walks in just four innings. The Mets are 0-7 in the youngster’s last seven outings, with Pelfrey allowing at least four runs in five of those contests. Going back further, New York is 5-16 in Pelfrey’s last 21 outings, including 0-4 in his last four at Shea Stadium.

At home this season, Pelfrey is 2-4 with a 3.60 ERA in six starts. Today marks his first career start against Los Angeles.

Billingsley was a tough-luck loser in Chicago on Monday, giving up four hits and two runs (both on a first-inning home run) over six innings, as L.A. fell 3-1 to the Cubs. Billingsley is 4-2 with a 2.13 ERA in his last six outings, allowing two runs or fewer in five of the games. He’s also gone at least six innings in six of his last seven trips to the bump.

Billingsley is just 2-3 despite a decent 3.68 ERA in five starts on the highway. Also, his lone career start against New York came at Dodger Stadium on May 5, and he limited the Mets to a single run on five hits and four walks in six innings, winning 5-1.

The under is 4-1 in Billingsley’s last five outings, including the May 5 start against the Mets, while Pelfrey has followed a 5-1 “under” streak by topping the total in his last two starts.

L.A. has followed up an 8-0 “under” run by topping the total in the first two games of this series. Also, the over is 6-1-1 in New York’s last eight overall and 11-3-1 in its last 16 at Shea. The over is also 4-0 in the last four battles between these clubs this season.



Chicago White Sox (30-24) at Tampa Bay (33-22)

Scott Kazmir (4-1, 1.50) tries for his fifth straight outstanding start when he leads the Rays against Javy Vazquez (5-3, 3.52) and the White Sox in the third game of this four-game series at Tropicana Field.

Chicago took Thursday’s series opener 5-1, but Tampa Bay came back Friday and got a run in the bottom of the ninth to win 2-1. The Rays have alternated wins and losses in their last five, but they’re 16-6 in their last 22, including 12-3 at home. In fact, dating to April 22, Tampa Bay has won 18 of 21 at Tropicana Field.

Meanwhile, despite Friday’s setback, Chicago is still on a 12-4 run, going 8-2 on the road during this stretch. Also, the White Sox still lead the season series against the Rays 3-2, and they’re 8-2 in the last 10 meetings, including 7-2 at Tropicana Field.

Kazmir missed the first five weeks of the season while recovering from an elbow injury, and in his first start back, he lasted just four innings at Boston, giving up four runs (three earned) in a 7-3 road loss. Since then, the southpaw is 4-0 with a 0.69 ERA in four starts. During the winning streak, Kazmir has surrendered a total of two runs, 13 hits and seven walks with 27 strikeouts in 26 innings.

Kazmir’s most recent outing on Monday was his best of the season, as he limited the Rangers to a run on three hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts in seven innings, cruising to a 7-3 home victory. With that win, he improved to 3-0 with a ridiculous 0.47 ERA in three starts at Tropicana Field. Finally, against the White Sox in his brief career, Kazmir is 2-1 with a 4.19 ERA, though he did give up four runs in each of his two starts versus Chicago in 2007, winning 11-5 on the road and losing 5-1 at home.

Vazquez gave up three runs on nine hits (two home runs) in six innings on Monday at Cleveland, failing to get a decision as Chicago rallied for a 6-3 victory, improving to 4-0 in Vazquez’s last four starts. The veteran hurler has pitched at least six innings and allowed three earned runs or less in eight of his last 10 starts. Including one suspended game, the Sox are 7-3 with Vazquez on the mound this year, including 4-2 on the road, where the veteran right-hander is 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA.

Vazquez dominated the Rays in a 9-2 road win on April 18, allowing tow runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. He’s 5-2 with a 4.48 ERA in 10 career starts versus Tampa.

The over is 8-2 with Vazquez on the hill this year, including 4-2 on the road. Meanwhile, Kazmir’s start against the Rangers on Monday hurdled the total, ending a 3-0 “under” streak with the lefty on the hill.

The first two games of this series have stayed low, making the under 9-1 in the last 10 series meetings, including 4-0 in the last four. Also, for Chicago, the under is on streaks of 22-9 overall (12-5 last 17), 13-4 as an underdog and 11-1 on artificial turf. Meanwhile, Tampa has followed a four-game “over” streak with a three-game “under” run. The under is also 9-3 in the Rays’ last 12 against the A.L. Central and 17-6 in the last 23 games played at the Trop.


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Re: MLB News and Notes May 31

Fight for first in weekend spotlight

A battle for first place in the National League East headlines the MLB weekend schedule when the Florida Marlins take on the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Marlins enter the three-game series with a half-game lead on the Phillies in the East. That lead has been dropping quickly recently, as the Phillies have won their last four games while the Marlins are riding a short two-game losing streak.

In the opener on Friday the Marlins send Mark Hendrickson (7-2, 4.14) to the hill and the Phillies counter with Brett Myers (2-6, 5.79). Hendrickson picked up a win in his last start despite getting touched up for five runs in five innings against the Giants. Myers’ frustrating season continued in his last start, a loss to Houston in which he allowed four runs in six innings. Myers is now 0-5 in his last six starts.

In Game 2 on Saturday the Marlins start Ricky Nolasco (4-3, 4.70) and the Phillies go with ace Cole Hamels (5-3, 3.18). Nolasco recorded his third straight win in his last start after allowing three runs in five innings versus the Mets. Hamels had his 17-inning scoreless streak snapped in his last start after getting pounded for six runs in four innings against Houston. Hamels went without a strikeout in the loss after racking up 17 punch-outs in his previous two starts.

In Sunday’s finale the Marlins hand the ball to young gun Andrew Miller and the Phillies go with veteran Jamie Moyer. Miller struggled against the Mets in his last start, surrendering four runs in four 2-3 innings. Moyer, who was drafted before Miller was even born, has posted three wins in a row after allowing four runs in seven innings with seven strikeouts against Colorado in his last outing.

Besides the starters, the players to watch in this series will likely be the middle of the infield on both sides. Both the Marlins and Phillies have received plenty of power from second base this season, as Florida’s Dan Uggla has cracked 16 home runs and Philadelphia’s Chase Utley leads all of baseball with 17 home runs. At short, Florida’s Hanley Ramirez has been struggling at the plate in May with a lackluster .250 batting average, one home run and only five RBI. Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins has yet to find his power stroke since coming off the DL earlier in the month with only one home run in May, but he’s still getting on base at a .314 clip this month.

Whichever team gets the most out of their All-Star middle infielders will likely be atop the NL East after the weekend.

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