MLB News and Notes June 5

MLB News and Notes June 5

Thursday's Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

It’s almost the end of the week (already?) and Thursday will usher in a snappy, 11-card special which will include three day contests. Looking forward to the weekend, let’s take one step at a time and analyze what the tail end of the week has in store.

Oh, and instead of giving just a quick synopsis of what we might expect from the various matchups, a quick prediction has been included for good measure.

Toronto (D. McGowan) at N.Y. Yankees (C. Wang) – 1:05 p.m. EDT

After the highly anticipated entrance of Joba Chamberlain fell short of a spectacular showing (Chamberlain finished the evening after only a 62-pitch count, giving up four walks and one earned run on only one hit), the Yankees will look to close out their series with the Blue Jays.

New York has been swept once this season in a three gamer versus Detroit in late April (getting outscored 20-10). Dating back to 2004, New York has been swept nine times in three and four-game series’.

Pinstripe bats have been silenced by Toronto pitching in the four contests played thus far this year. The Yanks have swung threw pitches for a .248 BA, while generating a sporadic 2.5 runs per game.

New York is ranked 19th in the league with 181 RBIs with runners in scoring position.

Bronx Bomber ace Chien-Ming Wang (6-2, 4.14 ERA) has had mild success against the Jays in seven starts over a three-year period. During this stretch, Wang has gone 3-2 with a 4.20 ERA and has surrendered a BAA of .277. In Wang’s first start of the season versus Toronto, a seven inning outing translated into a ‘W’ after giving up six hits and two runs (final score was 3-2).

A 9-3 run in the last 12 can be attributed to the Blue Jays’ run production of 5.5 runs per game, while the balanced pitching staff has held teams to scoring just 2.1 runs per game (a difference +3.4 runs per game).

For Toronto’s starter Dustin McGowan (4-4, 3.95) two straight win have witnessed the right-hander giving up four runs.

The Blue Jays are 7-3 on the ‘over’ in their last 10, while the ‘under’ is 4-1 in the last five head-to-head contests.

Predication: New York on the Money Line

Tampa Bay (J. Shields) at Boston (J. Lester) – 6:05 p.m. EDT

Boston continues to excel inside Fenway Park with a 22-5 record this season and a 40-12 performance in its last 52. The Red Sox have set the league on fire with 309 runs, while maintaining a third best .282 BA.

Even with Boston’s offensive explosion, books have been hesitant to adjust totals at the 10 run mark or above (as is the case with this year’s total trends overall). Only 13 contests have seen the total set at 10 runs or more. The Sox have gone 7-6 on the ‘over’ in those 13.

Boston’s Jon Lester (3-3, 3.67) will make his 14th start of the season. With the offense generating a more then adequate 4.3 runs of support per start, Lester continues to struggle in garnering wins on his record. In Lester’s last 10 starts, a 2-1 record with seven no decisions have been a tough trend to shake (although the Sox have gone 6-4 in those last 10).

Tampa enters Thursday winless in its last four head-to-head contests with Boston. With the Rays courting a hot 24-10 record at home this season, their road performance has been below average with a .250 BA, 112 RBIs and has struggled to get on base with a .317 OBP.

Taking the mound for Tampa will be righty starter James Shields. Not since May 14 has Shields recorded a win in the books and his last four starts have resulted in one loss. The second-year slinger has sacrificed only 2.8 runs per game in the three no decisions, but the clubs has still gone on to record three wins during his three no decisions.

Prediction: Play the ‘under’

Chicago Cubs (R. Dempster) at L.A. Dodgers (C. Billingsley) – 10:10 p.m. EDT

If there’s a team in the majors taking hold of momentum it’s the Cubbies. Working to continue a nine-game winning streak, Chicago has exploded from the plate by outscoring its opponents 52-35. The nine-game run has been a direct reflection of the club’s seasonal stats of 5.8 runs per game (tops in the majors), a .288 BA (ranked first in the MLB) and an .823 OPS (number one in baseball).

Some impressive numbers churning in Chicago’s favor is a 19-1 record when leading in the seventh innings, a 24-1 record when leading in the eighth, 20 wins and six losses when playing outside of its division and a 13-7 record in Game 1 of a series.

Cubs' starter Ryan Dempster (7-2, 2.75) is 4-2 in his last seven starts and a low WHIP of 1.12 should give the right-hander a leg up on the competition. However, Dempster is 0-2 in four starts on the road this season. 

The Dodgers have been hot and cold this season, but have turned sour in their last 12 with a 3-9 record. Five of the nine losses have seen L.A. take deficits as favorites, while down 6.16 units on the money line and 11.66 units on the run line have sent backers packing.

Some good news coming from the hill is that the Dodgers will send out starter Chad Billingsley (4-6, 3.29) to war. The Ohio native has been hot of late, giving up nine runs in his last seven starts. Billingsley’s has been able to toss scoreless outings in two starts and has given up just one run in three trips to the mounds. Maybe 3.8 runs of support per start from L.A.’s offensive unit has been a problem in his starts six defeats on the season.

In Billingsley’s last three trips to the field, the ‘under’ has gone 3-0.

The ‘under’ is 8-4 in the last 12 head-to-head meetings

Prediction: L.A. Dodgers on the money line

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Re: MLB News and Notes June 5

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Florida (31-26) at Atlanta (31-28)


The Marlins will send Ricky Nolasco (5-3, 4.48 ERA) to the mound to face the Braves and rookie Jair Jurrjens (5-3, 3.45) as these N.L. East rivals wrap up a four-game series at Turner Field.

Florida, which lost the first two games of this series, scored four runs in the ninth inning on Wednesday afternoon to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 6-4 victory, snapping a three-game losing streak overall and a three-game losing skid to the Braves. The Fish are still only 2-6 in their last eight (all against the N.L. East), while Atlanta has dropped six of its last nine. On the bright side for the Braves, they’re on runs of 39-17 at Turner Field, 6-1 against the N.L. East, 4-0 in Game 4 of a series, 8-3 against winning teams, 20-6 against right-handed starters and 5-1 on Thursdays.

The season series is now tied at 4, but the Braves are still 37-16 in the last 52 head-to-head battles at Turner.

Nolasco is 4-0 with a 2.76 ERA in his last five starts, including 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA in the last three. On Saturday at Philadelphia, he allowed two runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings as Florida scored a big 7-3 upset win.

With the victory at Philadelphia, the 25-year-old right-hander improved to 4-1 with a 3.99 ERA in seven road starts this season. He’s also 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA in six appearances (five starts) against the Braves. But he got pelted by Atlanta in an 8-0 home loss in April, giving up six runs on nine hits – including four homers – in just 4 2/3 innings. Florida is just 1-4 in his five career starts against Atlanta (0-2 in Turner Field).

The Braves are 3-1 in Jurrjens’ last four efforts, though the 22-year-old is just 1-0 with three no-decisions in that span. In an 8-7 loss at Cincinnati on Saturday, the youngster got knocked around for six runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings, easily his worst and shortest outing of the year.

Jurrjens is 4-0 with a 2.06 ERA in six home starts this year (all Atlanta wins) and 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in his lone career start against Florida – a 4-0 road loss in April in which he gave up two runs on four hits in six innings.

With Nolasco throwing, the over for Florida is on runs of 5-1 overall, 4-0 on the highway, 4-1 in division play and 12-4-1 with the starter going on four days’ rest. On the flip side, the under is 8-4 in Jurrjens’ 12 starts this year (3-3 at home).

The over for the Marlins is on runs of 20-7-3 overall, 11-1-3 on the road, 62-26-9 in divisional play and 24-9-3 in Game 4 of a series, though the under is 6-1 in the team’s last seven on Thursday. For Atlanta, the under trends include 36-16-3 overall, 7-4-1 in division play and 4-0 on Thursday, but the over is 6-1-1 in its last eight against winning teams, 5-1-1 in its last seven at Turner and 36-16-5 in the last 52 when playing the fourth game of a series.

Finally, the over is 3-0-1 in the last four series meetings between these rivals.

ATS ADVANTAGE: ATLANTA and OVER


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Tampa Bay (35-24) at Boston (37-25)


The Red Sox look to extend a 12-game home winning streak – and put the finishing touches on another three-game Fenway Park sweep of the Rays – when they send southpaw Jon Lester (3-3, 3.67) to the mound opposite Tampa Bay’s James Shields (4-3, 3.24 ERA).

Behind a strong outing from ace Josh Beckett, Boston rolled to a 5-1 victory over Tampa Bay on Wednesday night for their 12th consecutive home victory. The Red Sox continue to sport the best home mark in the majors at 23-5, including 5-0 against the Rays. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has followed up a three-game winning streak with consecutive losses, and while the Rays are 18-8 in their last 26 games, they’re now 11-14 on the road this season and 43-99 in their last 142 games as a visitor dating to 2006.

The home team in this American League East rivalry is now 8-0 this year, with Boston winning the last five meetings after Tampa took the first three. The Red Sox have completely dominated this rivalry over the years, winning 97 of the last 140 clashes and going an astounding 44-9 in the last 52 head-to-head battles at Fenway Park, including 7-0 in the last seven in Beantown.

Shields hasn’t earned a win since May 9, going 0-1 with no-decisions in his last three starts, but the Rays won all three of those games and are 6-2 in his last eight trips to the mound. On Friday against Chicago, he threw a solid six innings, yielding one run (a solo homer) on seven hits in Tampa’s 2-1 home victory. That was Shields’ shortest outing of his last five starts, in which he has a complete-game shutout, an eight-inning effort and two starts of seven-plus innings.

Shields is 1-2 with a 6.04 ERA in five road starts this season, and he’s 1-3 with a 4.76 ERA in six career starts against Boston, with the win coming in a dominant complete game in April. In that contest, Shields allowed just two hits and a walk, with seven strikeouts, as Tampa won 3-0 at home. However, six days later at Boston, he got blitzed for seven runs on 10 hits in just 3 2/3 innings as the Rays lost, 12-4. He’s 0-2 with a 7.45 ERA in two career starts at Fenway.

Lester settled for his seventh no-decision in his most recent start on Saturday, a game Boston won 6-3 at Baltimore. Lester gave up all three runs on seven hits in five innings in that start. Including his first career no-hitter, Lester has allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven straight starts, but he’s lasted at least six innings just four times during this stretch.

Lester’s no-hitter came in a 7-0 rout of the Royals in his most recent home start, as the lefty improved to 2-1 with a 2.72 ERA in six outings at Fenway. He’s also 2-0 with a 4.71 ERA in five career starts against Tampa, including a 7-3 Boston victory at home last month in which he allowed one run on four hits in six innings.

The Rays are just 2-10 in Shields’ last 12 road starts against winning teams and 1-4 in his last five Thursday starts. On the positive side, Tampa is on streaks of 6-1 on Thursday, 4-2 in division games, 8-4 overall and 21-9 in the third game of a series.

The Red Sox are on a 41-12 tear at Fenway dating to 2007, and they’re 23-6 in their last 29 on Thursday and 40-17 in their last 56 at home against teams with a losing road record. Also, with Lester taking the ball, Terry Francona’s club is on runs of 18-8 overall, 8-2 at home, 6-1 in Game 3 of a series, 9-2 inside the division and 9-2 when he pitches on four days’ rest.

The over is 5-0 in Shields’ last five Thursday starts. However, with Lester starting, the under is on runs of 12-5-2 overall, 5-1 at Fenway and 5-1-2 in division games.

The under streaks for the Rays including 6-1 overall, 6-1 against southpaw starters, 5-1 against winning teams, 4-1 on Thursdays and 16-6-1 in the third game of series. But the over is 9-4-1 in Tampa Bay’s last 14 roadies. Meanwhile, Boston is riding “over” trends of 6-2-3 against the A.L. East, 4-2 at home against teams with a losing road record and 12-4 in Game 3 of a series.

Finally, the over is on a 4-1 in the last five series meetings between these clubs (all in Boston), with the lone under coming in last night’s contest.

ATS ADVANTAGE: BOSTON

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Baseball Today

Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers, (10:10 p.m EDT). The Cubs try to win consecutive road series after taking one from the Padres, their first away from Wrigley since April.

Tuesday

- Paul Konerko, White Sox, hit a two-run homer in the 15th inning sending Chicago to a 6-4 victory over Kansas City.

- Hanley Ramirez, Marlins, hit two homers, including a two-run shot in a four-run ninth inning, and Florida rallied to beat the Braves 6-4.

- Edinson Volquez, Reds, allowed two hits, struck out eight, walked two and hit two batters in seven innings, lowering his ERA to a major league best 1.32 in a 2-0 victory over the Phillies.

- Brett Myers, Phillies, pitched 6 2-3 innings of no-hit ball, but ended up taking a the loss in a 2-0 Reds' victory.

- Aaron Cook, Rockies, allowed one run and six hits in eight innings, matching a season high with six strikeouts in a 2-1 victory over the Dodgers.

- J.D. Drew, Red Sox, had an RBI double, a single and two runs while batting in David Ortiz's No. 3 spot in a 5-1 victory over Tampa Bay.

- Joe Mauer, Twins, homered and drove in three runs to lead Minnesota to a 7-5 victory over the Orioles.

- Ryan Garko, Indians, drove in a career-high six runs as Cleveland beat Texas 15-9.

PITCHING DUEL

Brett Myers didn't allow a hit until Joey Votto's two-out RBI double in the seventh inning, but it wasn't enough to beat Reds starter Edinson Volquez, who pitched seven shutout innings and lowered his major league best ERA to 1.32 in Cincinnati's 2-0 victory.

STUCK ON 599

Ken Griffey Jr. walked as a pinch-hitter for the Reds in their 2-0 victory over Philadelphia Phillies to remain one shy of 600 home runs. Griffey wasn't in the Reds' lineup for the third straight game because of general soreness.

SURGING

Yankees starter Mike Mussina improved to 8-1 in his last nine starts and grabbed of share of the AL lead in wins with his ninth, working six strong innings in a 5-1 victory against Toronto. It was career victory No. 259 for Mussina - one behind Hall of Famer Ted Lyons for 38th place. ... The Red Sox won their 12th straight game at Fenway Park and took the AL East lead away from the Rays with a 5-1 victory.

PICKING UP FOR PAPI

J.D. Drew, batting third in place of the injured David Ortiz, had an RBI double, a single and two runs in Boston's 5-1 win against Tampa Bay. In Tuesday night's 7-4 win over Tampa Bay, Drew had a two-run homer, a double and two outstanding catches in right field. The Red Sox are 3-1 since Ortiz injured his left wrist on a swing Saturday night.

STATS

Derek Jeter moved past Mickey Mantle on the New York Yankees' career hits list with No. 2,416 hits, good for third place on the franchise list behind Babe Ruth (2,518) and Lou Gehrig (2,721). ... The Los Angeles Angels moved to a season-best 13 games over .500 with a 5-4 victory over Seattle. ... Seattle right-hander Carlos Silva (3-6), whom the Mariners signed to a $48 million, four-year contract before the season, has lost six straight decision - the longest skid of his career.

STILL SEARCHING

Dodgers rookie Clayton Kershaw came up empty in his third attempt at his first major league win. The 20-year-old left-hander threw 104 pitches in five innings, allowing two runs and five hits with five strikeouts and four walks. He took his first major league loss, 2-1 against the Rockies.

OUCH!

Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz will have season-ending shoulder surgery, but he hopes to return in 2009. He turned 41 last month. Smoltz had only returned from the disabled list on Monday, hoping to make it through the rest of the season as a closer after starting five games this season. After Smoltz's announcement, the Braves blew a two-run ninth-inning lead and lost to the Marlins 6-4. ... Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols was to miss Wednesday's game at Washington because of tightness in his left calf, but it was rained out. Manager Tony La Russa said Pujols will now likely get Thursday's doubleheader off. St. Louis outfielder Rick Ankiel has an infected right knee and is also expected to take the twin-bill off.

ON THE MEND

Padres pitcher Jake Peavy moved closer to returning from the disabled list after a successful bullpen session. The NL Cy Young winner threw 45 pitches off the mound in the bullpen and reported no pain in his strained right elbow. He's been on the 15-day disabled list since May 20, retroactive to May 15. If Peavy gets medical clearance, he is scheduled to throw on Saturday in either a rehab assignment in the minors or a simulated game at Petco Park. ... Yankees catcher Jorge Posada was activated from the disabled list, but did not play against Toronto. The All-Star catcher had been out since April 28 with right rotator cuff tendinitis. ... Boston right-hander Curt Schilling took a significant step in his effort to return from an injured right shoulder when he threw 25 pitches off a bullpen mound at Fenway Park.

SNAPPED

Astros starter Roy Oswalt lost to the Pirates for the first time since April 25, 2005. He went six innings, allowed three earned runs and nine hits, struck out four and walked one in Pittsburgh's 5-2 victory. Before Wednesday night, Oswalt was 5-0 with a 1.84 ERA in his past eight starts against the Pirates.

BOUNCE BACK

Jose Reyes homered, doubled and singled to help the New York Mets beat San Francisco 5-3. The All-Star shortstop hit a two-run homer in the top of the fourth after his error on a routine groundball handed the Giants their first run in the third.

GOING NOT SO DEEP


Corey Hart hit a three-run, inside-the-park homer that traveled about 206 feet in the air in Milwaukee's 10-1 victory over Arizona. Hart flared a pitch from reliever Edgar Gonzalez down the right-field line. Justin Upton dove, but couldn't come up with the shallow fly ball. He slipped getting up as it rolled to the wall. Upton's slow recovery allowed the speedy Hart to circle the bases for Milwaukee's first inside-the-park homer since Prince Fielder did it at Minnesota last June 17 on a high popup that was lost in the lights and the Metrodome's roof.

LIMPING HOME


The Tigers finished their nine-game road trip with a 3-6 record after losing 10-2 in Oakland. They return to Detroit Friday for the start of a 10-game homestand.

SPEAKING

``There's no place for that when you intentionally try to hurt somebody,'' Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon on Coco Crisp's high, hard and late slide into Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura in the eighth inning of the Red Sox 5-1 victory.

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