MLB News and Notes June 4

MLB News and Notes June 4

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Tampa Bay (35-23) at Boston (36-25)


The American League East’s top two teams meet for the middle game of a three-game set at Fenway Park, with Rays right-hander Edwin Jackson (3-4, 3.70 ERA) toeing the slab against Red Sox right-hander Josh Beckett (5-4, 4.30).

In the series opener Tuesday night, Boston rode a four-run sixth inning to a 7-4 victory, earning its 11th straight victory at Fenway to improve its league-best home record to 22-5. Despite Tuesday’s setback, a surprising Tampa squad is still on an 18-7 streak, but the Rays are 11-13 in roadies this season and 43-98 in their last 141 as a visitor dating to 2006.

The host has won all seven meetings between these divisional rivals this year, with the Red Sox winning the last four meetings, including a three-game sweep at Fenway a month ago. Boston has dominated Tampa over the years, taking 96 of the last 139 meetings and posting an eye-popping 43-9 mark in the last 52 head-to-head battles at Fenway Park.

Tampa’s success this season hasn’t been as great with Jackson starting, as the Rays are 6-5 in his 11 outings, and Jackson has just one win in his last nine starts, going 1-4 with four no-decisions after starting the season 2-0. On Thursday against the Chicago White Sox, he allowed four runs on 10 hits in six innings in a 5-1 home loss.

Jackson is 1-1 with a 3.09 ERA in four road starts this season, getting blasted for six runs on nine hits in four innings of a 7-3 loss at Boston on May 2. However, a week prior to that, he yielded just one run on five hits in seven innings as Tampa notched a 2-1 home win over the Sox. Jackson is 2-2 with a 5.50 ERA in nine career appearances (six starts) against Boston.

Beckett, who is set to make his 11th start of the year, has gone 1-2 with one no-decision in his last four starts. On Friday at Baltimore, he gave up two runs on four hits in six innings and left with the game tied, and Boston went on to win 5-2 in 13 innings, giving the Red Sox a 4-2 record in Beckett’s last six outings, with the right-hander going at least six innings in five of those games.

Despite a 5.40 ERA, Beckett is 3-0 in three home starts this year, including a 12-4 victory over Tampa on May 3 in which he allowed four runs on seven hits in eight innings. In the start prior to that, he gave up just two runs on four hits in seven innings but got no offensive support in a 3-0 loss at Tampa. Beckett is 4-3 with a 3.86 ERA in seven career starts against the Rays.

The Rays are 4-1 in their last five against A.L. East foes, 10-4 in the second game of a series, 4-1 with Jackson going against a division opponent and 4-1 with Jackson starting Game 2 of a series. But the trends turn negative from there, including 26-64 in road games against winning teams, 33-91 as a road ‘dog and 3-9 on Wednesday, and with Jackson starting, Tampa is 0-7 on the road against winning teams, 1-4 on Wednesday and a dismal 14-29 overall.

The Red Sox are 2-6 in their last eight Wednesday contests, but the trends are all positive after that, including 40-12 at Fenway, 40-16 as a chalk and 31-13 in the second game of a series. And with Beckett hurling, Boston is on a 6-0 tear at home, an 11-1 run at home against winning teams, 20-6 overall against winning teams and 8-3 in division play.

With Jackson starting, the under for Tampa is on streaks of 15-5-1 overall, 12-4 as an underdog and 8-3 against division rivals, but the over is 6-2-1 on the road against winning teams. Meanwhile, with Beckett going for Boston, the over is on a 4-1 run at Fenway.

Tuesday’s contest cleared the posted total of 9½, halting a 5-0 “under” run for Tampa Bay, and the over is now 9-3-1 in the Rays’ last 13 roadies. For Boston, over is 6-1-3 in its last 10 against the A.L. East. Finally, in this rivalry, the under is 4-1 in Jackson’s last five starts against the Red Sox, but the over is 5-1 in the last six head-to-head clashes in Beantown and 4-1 with Beckett pitching against the Rays.

ATS ADVANTAGE: BOSTON


Toronto (32-28) at N.Y. Yankees (28-30)

The Blue Jays will send red-hot Jesse Litsch (7-1, 3.18 ERA) to the mound to take on veteran right-hander Mike Mussina (8-4, 4.26) and the Yankees in the second game of a three-game series in the Bronx.

Toronto routed New York 9-3 on Tuesday, mostly due to a six-run seventh inning. The Blue Jays are a torrid 15-6 in their last 21 starts, including 10-4 in roadies. Meanwhile, the Yankees have lost three in row and are just 14-13 at home this season, though they are still 8-4 in their last 12 overall (5-1 in their last six at home).

The season series is now tied at 2 between these American League East rivals, with New York having taken two of three at home in a season-opening series.

Litsch, a 23-year-old in just his second season, hasn’t lost since April 22, going 5-0 with two no-decisions, though Toronto dropped both those games. He was sterling Thursday at Oakland in his 11th start of the year, scattering seven hits over seven scoreless innings in a 12-0 Blue Jays blowout, and that outing followed a seven-hit, complete-game shutout in a 6-0 home win over Kansas City.

Litsch is 4-1 with a 3.41 ERA in six appearances (five starts) on the highway this season, and he is 1-1 with an inflated 6.08 ERA in three career starts against New York. Those starts all came last season, as he allowed nine runs (all earned) on 15 hits in 13 1/3 innings, but the youngster got his win at Yankee Stadium, yielding just one run on five hits in 7 2/3 innings.

Mussina, gearing up for his 13th start, has been steady all season, pitching at least five innings in seven of his last eight outings as he’s gone 7-1 in that stretch. On Friday at Minnesota, he allowed four runs – all in the first inning – on six hits in six innings, and the Yanks’ offense helped him out in a 6-5 victory.

In his first outing of the year, Mussina gave up four runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings in a 5-2 home loss to Toronto, but he’s 23-12 with a 3.35 ERA in 42 career starts against the Jays. Also, Mussina is 4-3 with a 5.17 ERA at home this season.

The Blue Jays are 8-2 in their last 10 against right-handed starters, 9-3 in their last 12 overall and 5-0 in their last five against losing teams, and with Litsch taking the ball, they are on runs of 4-0 as underdog, 5-0 in the second game of a series and 5-1 on the road. However, Toronto is 3-7 in its last 10 against the A.L. East and 2-7 in its last nine on the highway against losing teams.

Despite their current three-game skid, the Yankees sport positive trends of 38-16 on Wednesday and 53-27 as a home chalk, and with Mussina starting, they are 4-1 on Wednesday, 10-4 as a favorite and 5-2 against winning teams. On the flip side, New York is 2-5 in Mussina’s last seven starts inside the division.

For Litsch, the under is on streaks of 11-4 against losing teams, 7-2 in Game 2 of a series, 6-2 on the road against losing teams and 9-4 in division play. With Mussina hurling, the over is on runs of 9-2 against winning teams, 8-3 with the veteran favored and 9-4 at home, but the under is 8-1-1 in his last 10 Wednesday starts.

Even though Tuesday’s game soared over the total, the under for Toronto is on streaks of 29-13-1 overall, 45-22-3 on the road, 25-12-1 against righties, 36-17-1 in the second game of a series and 58-29-2 against losing teams. Conversely, for New York, the over is on runs of 8-3 overall (4-1 last five), 4-1 in Game 2 of a series and 7-2 at home, but the under is 5-0 in its last five Wednesday games and 20-7 in its last 27 against the A.L. East.

Finally, the under is 25-11-2 in the last 38 meetings between these clubs in the Bronx, and 4-1 in the last five clashes overall, with the lone “over” coming last night.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER

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Re: MLB News and Notes June 4

Winning road records
By Josh Jacobs

Only three teams appearing on the mid-week card own road records of .500 or better. In-fact only four clubs in the entire league are sitting with road performances worth mentioning. Are we wasting our time breaking down these road warriors? We won’t know that answer until the box score is in the books but let’s continue our trip across the MLB by analyzing three clubs playing well on the road.

In parenthesis are the clubs corresponding overall and road records.

L.A. Angels (35-24, 17-11)

From 2004 to 2006 the L.A. Angels have capped off the regular season with winning road records. It was last season that the Halos fell one-game short of just hitting the .500 mark as the visiting team and indications this year point to another close call on the road.

After coming off a tough 0-4 run in Tampa Bay and Kansas City from May 7th to the 11th, the Angels have gone 5-2 in their last seven road games. The Halos haven’t gone on to knock the cover off the ball, averaging just 3.2 runs per game in their recent five road victories, but the pitching has maintained travel on the highroad by allowing opponents to score 1.4 runs per game.

L.A. will place Jered Weaver (4-6, 4.69 ERA) on the mound come Wednesday and his statistics have been fairly predictable. His 2-3 record with a 5.97 ERA in six starts on the road hasn’t provided backers with the strongest feeling of security.

The Angels will be going up against the Mariners in Game 2 of this three-game set. Weaver has already seen Safeco Field this year and the results were not pretty. It only took 5.2 innings for Seattle batters to tattoo Weaver for four hits and five runs, with two homers finalizing his losing effort.

Weaver hasn't been all that poor in Seattle. Over a three period (from 2005 to 2007), the right-hander has registered a 2-1 record. But don’t take the wins and losses at face value, with batters splintering Weaver for a .308 BA with 13 runs in 25.2 innings at Safeco.

With 121 runs and a .249 BA, the Angles have turned to their pitching for wins. Both the starting rotation and bullpen have worked for a league third best, 3.54 ERA a second best 95 runs allowed in 241.1 innings.

In the 28 road contests played, books have gone on to install the Halos as favorites 13 times. With three games played in Seattle already, L.A. was an underdog just once (+112). The coincidence here being that Weaver was hurling in that contest, losing 8-5.

St. Louis (35-25, 13-12)


By the time you read this, the Cardinals might be two games above .500 or sitting at the mediocre number of 13 wins and 13 losses. Either way this is a club who’s got plenty on their plate in regards to battling the Cubs for first place.

Backers can be confident in the Cardinals for several reasons. The offense has produced a .270 BA on the road which currently ranks them tops in the majors. Run production is actually mediocre to say the least with 115 RBIs produced, but mix in a .356 on base percentage and St. Louis has supplied itself with plenty of opportunity to excel at the plate.

Taking a seven-game break from traveling, the Cards will now do a meet and greet with a struggling Washington club. St. Louis’ last road trip witnessed the team pulling in four wins in six contests played in San Diego and Los Angeles. Books had installed St. Louis as a favorite only once during those six road games ($1.06 favorites in a win over San Diego on May 19).

The best angle bettors can feel some comfort in is that Cardinals slinger Todd Wellemeyer (6-1, 3.16) will make the start on Wednesday. But some comfort is not enough, especially with Wellemyer taking only one win in six starts on the road with a 3.89 ERA and a BAA of .245.

The bullpen has held its own with a 3.37 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP (between nine relievers who have appeared in a total of 66.8 innings.

If you’re interested in totals then an 8-5-1 record on the ‘under’ marks a small amount of consistency at keeping the score in the lower tier. Combine that with the ‘under’ going 13-5 in the Nationals last 18 and this could be an option worth investing in.

Philadelphia (34-25, 15-13)

Even though Philadelphia will be a home team, its still worth mentioning the team's success on the road for future bets.

The Phillies continue to press through the NL after ending the month of May on a five-game winning streak. Philadelphia took a slap on the wrist in a 7-3 loss against the Marlins, but has since recorded two straight victories to improve its record to 7-1 in the last eight.

Brett Myers (3-6, 5.52) is coming off a solid win over Florida last Friday. In eight innings, the six-year right-hander held down the 'Fish to just three runs on six hits. This was a world of improvement after dropping four straight games, while going 0-5 in seven starts dating back to Apr. 22 through May 24.

The biggest problem is that Myers has received 4.8 runs of support per start, one full run below what he’s surrendered to opponents in the last 10 (3.8 runs given up per start). That’s given him plenty of opportunity to take wins, only to flounder.

What puts the aforementioned statistic to sleep is Myers’ 0-5 record in six starts on the road, a 7.15 ERA and an embarrassing .361 BAA this season. There’s no doubt that the six-year vet has had major problems surviving games away from home. Again, Philly will be the home team but its worth taking note of his 3-1 record with a 4.12 ERA (at home) versus the road woes Myers has been a part of this year.

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Re: MLB News and Notes June 4

Baseball Today

SCOREBOARD


Wednesday, June 4

Cincinnati at Philadelphia, 7:05 p.m. National League ERA leader Edinson Volquez (7-2, 1.46 ERA) tries again for his first win since May 18 when he faces the Phillies' Brett Myers (3-6, 5.52).

STARS

Tuesday

- Jeff Francis, Rockies, pitched seven shutout innings to help the defending NL champions end a franchise-record 13-game road skid - the longest in the majors since Seattle dropped 15 in a row from June 22-July 28, 2004 - with a 3-0 victory over the Dodgers.

- Chipper Jones, Braves, homered in the first, the 399th of his career, to help Atlanta beat Florida 5-4. He finished 2-for-4 to push his average from .407 to .409.

- Kaz Matsui, Astros, went 4-for-4 with a sacrifice and scored both runs for Houston in a 2-0 win over Pittsburgh.

- Joe Saunders, Angels, allowed one earned run in seven innings to become the AL's first nine-game winner as Los Angeles beat Seattle 5-4.

- Josh Hamilton, Rangers, homered in a career-high fourth straight game to help Texas win 12-7 over Cleveland. He extend his career-best hitting streak to 18 games and leads the AL with 17 homers and 67 RBIs.

STUCK ON 599

Ken Griffey Jr. walked as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning to remain one shy of 600 home runs. Griffey wasn't in the Reds' lineup for the second straight game because of general soreness. He's been bothered by a sore left knee, though he could return Wednesday. Junior represented the tying run when he came up with one out, but walked on four pitches and pitcher Bronson Arroyo ran for him. A sellout crowd gave Griffey a standing ovation and booed when reliever Tom Gordon didn't throw a strike.

STRIKE 'EM OUT


Randy Johnson broke a tie with Roger Clemens to take sole possession of second place on baseball's career strikeout list in the first inning when he fanned Milwaukee's Mike Cameron. That gave the Big Unit 4,673 strikeouts, still far behind Nolan Ryan's 5,714. Despite pitching well, Johnson and the Diamondbacks lost to the Brewers 7-1.

STATS

Chipper Jones of Atlanta went 2-for-4 with his 13th homer, lifting his major league-leading average from .407 to .409. ... Washington ended a 22-inning scoreless drought, which included back-to-back shutout losses at Arizona, when Ryan Langerhans had an RBI groundout in the bottom of the fifth of a 6-1 loss to St. Louis. ... Derek Jeter singled in the ninth inning to tie Mickey Mantle for third on the Yankees' career list with 2,415 hits. ... Eric Chavez hit a tying home run in Oakland's 5-4 win over Detroit in extra innings. It was his first since July 15.

WELCOME BACK

Pedro Martinez came off the disabled list to make his second 2008 start for the New York Mets in a 9-6 victory over the San Francisco Giants, more than two months after leaving his first start of the year April 1 with a hamstring injury.

Martinez (1-0) even got to celebrate a pair of singles and an RBI that helped his cause and improved his line, which read: six innings, seven hits, three runs, three walks and three strikeouts on 109 pitches.

OUCH!

Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols left the game against Washington with tightness in his left calf. He was removed for a pinch runner immediately after being hit in the left shoulder by a pitch from Nationals reliever Jesus Colome in the top of the fourth inning. The game had recently resumed after a 1-hour, 51-minute rain delay. St. Louis won 6-1.

REHABBING

Braves pitcher Mike Hampton worked off a mound for the first time in more than a month, Hampton threw about 25 pitches - all fastballs - and reported no problems from a strained left pectoral muscle. He plans to throw again on Thursday and increase his output to around 40 pitches. ... Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya made his first rehab start for Class-A Lakeland, hitting triple digits on the radar gun twice in his two inning outing. Zumaya is coming back from offseason shoulder surgery.

SPEAKING

"I'm not used to acting in that way. It's not in my character. It was out of frustration. We were losing the game and it was stupid - really stupid. It was not a good decision on my part. But it happened, and we have to deal with whatever happens after it.'' - Dodgers' Matt Kemp after getting into a brawl with Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba in the eighth inning of Los Angeles' 3-0 loss to Colorado on Tuesday night. Kemp was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

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