MLB News and Notes June 9

MLB News and Notes June 9

Monday's Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

The theme circling around Monday’s baseball card is putting the cap on four-game series’. For starters, a battle in the Bronx between the Royals (24-38, -1176) and Yankees (31-31, -1195) will set the pace for the rest of the day. Slated to begin at 1:05 p.m. EDT, New York heads into Game 4 with a mediocre 2-2 record on the season (in Game 4 scenarios).

Kansas City begins the new week with only three wins in its last 27 head-to-head matchups with the Yanks. Toeing the rubber for the Royals will be Luke Hochevar (3-5, 5.13 ERA), a right-hander whose attempting to break out of a three-game losing streak (in his last four starts). Hochevar has been effective against fellow right-handed batters with a .208 BAA, but southpaw swingers have laid the wood down for a .313 BA.

Kansas City is a deplorable 4-17 in its last 21 overall games.

The Yankees are coming off two wins in the last three against the Royals by pulling out ninth inning comebacks. For a club that was known for its late inning heroics in the past, New York is a disappointing 2-13 when trailing in the seventh inning. The Bombers are batting .250 with the downfall directly associated with only 1.3 runs scored per game from the seventh inning onward.

The ‘under’ has been the total play to wager on when these two clubs meet on the diamond. Bettors have been graced with a high powered 6-2 record on the ‘under’. Books have been reluctant to set the total at 10 or more runs. It was in September of last year that most books decided to post a total in the double digit territory (and that contest saw the ‘under’ 10 runs).

New York first baseman Jason Giambi has been red hot with 12 RBIs and five homers in his last 14 outings.

Early lines released have listed the Yankees as a 'chalky' $2.12 home favorite.

Minnesota (G. Perkins) at Chicago White Sox (J. Danks) – 2:05 p.m. EDT

The White Sox have snatched up five wins in a row (books had installed the Sox as favorites in every win) and are now pressing to raise the run line profit past +1901 units. An 18-9 record at home is tops in the AL Central and holding opponents to a suffocating 225 runs allowed this season is good reason why Chicago is 4½-games in first place.

Taking the mound for the White Sox will be southpaw slinger John Danks (4-4, 2.88). His low ERA can be heavily attributed to allowing no more then three runs in a given contest since getting banged around on Apr. 9 in a 12-5 loss versus this same Minnesota team. Right-handed hitters have whiffed at Danks’ delivery for a .238 BA, while a 1.22 WHIP has supplemented the club with plenty of opportunity to capitalize on.

The Twins have been plagued by unpredictable play as an 11-14 record in the last 25 games is direct evidence of this. The offense has been more then adequate, with the lineup batting around for a .270 BA with 4.4 runs produced per game. The problem, as many other teams can attest, rests in the arms of the hurlers. Surrendering 4.4 runs per game is in direct conflict with Minnesota’s offensive production.

With another southpaw taking the mound in Glen Perkins (2-2, 4.50) expectations can’t be that high. His last two starts have registered only eight innings of action, with batters going to work for 19 hits and nine earned runs. In 12 games on the road since joining the majors, Perkins has amassed a 2.46 ERA with a .241 BAA (as a reliever).

Tampa Bay (E. Jackson) at L.A. Angels (J. Saunders) – 10:05 p.m. EDT

This Rays team just continues to impress. Sweeping up the Angels at home in May (outscoring L.A. 12-5), Tampa Bay now charters a flight to the West Coast in a series that L.A. hopes translates into redemption.

There’s no doubt that the arms in the rotation and pen have been a staple part to Tampa’s strategy. While the offense has done just enough to give the club the all important lead, pitchers like Andy Sonnanstine (6-3, 4.88), Scott Kazmir (6-1, 1.40), J.P. Howell (3.38 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) and Troy Percival (14 saves) that have the saving grace.

Tampa will use Edwin Jackson (3-5, 3.95) in the hopes of downing the AL West’s superior Angels. Jackson began the season with two straight wins, while sacrificing just one run, but has since gone 1-5. The five year vet has had major problems with L.A. in the three years he’s been a member of the Rays. Jackson has tossed 13.1 innings for an 0-2 record and a BAA that’s off the charts at .412.

Night and day in quality pitching (compared to Edwin Jackson) will witness the Halos installing nine-win lefty starter Joe Saunders (9-2, 2.63) onto the mound. Saunders has been on a strict diet of tossing bullets by allowing a rock bottom 2.3 runs per game in his last 10 starts. And even with a club hitting only .255 on the season, Saunders represents what the two other weapons in the starting rotation have accomplished. Between Ervin Santana and Jon Garland a total record of 14-5 with a 1.19 WHIP is testament to all star pitching.

Most books have opened the home town Angels as $1.33 favorites with a total set at a low eight runs.

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June Pitchers Report
By Marc Lawrence

June's Good Month And Bad Month Pitchers

In keeping with our game plan of acknowledging good pitchers and avoiding bad pitchers during their GOOD and BAD months of the season below is the list of arms to watch throughout the month of June. Note that the W-L records are those of the team in which the listed pitcher started over the previous three seasons.

Thanks to my good friend Tom Freese, handicapper par excellence, I present a list of the BEST and WORST pitcher performance records during the month of June over the past three years. And, oh yeah hey peanut man, toss over a bag my way, wouldya. Enjoy...

JUNE GOOD PITCHERS

Jeremy Bonderman - Detroit: 11-5
Roy Halladay - Toronto: 13-5
Danny Haren - Arizona: 14-3
Felix Hernandez - Seattle: 8-2
Cliff Lee - Cleveland: 11-5
Matt Morris - Retired 12-5
Scott Olsen - Florida: 9-3
Kenny Rogers - Detroit: 9-3
Johan Santana - N.Y. Mets: 13-4
Claudio Vargas - N.Y. Mets: 9-4
Justin Verlander - Detroit: 9-2
Chris Young - San Diego: 11-5
David Wells - No Team: 7-3

JUNE BAD PITCHERS

Daniel Cabrera - Baltimore: 5-12
Aaron Cook - Colorado: 2-8
Kyle Davies - Atlanta: 3-8
Tim Hudson - Atlanta: 4-10
Jon Lieber - Chicago Cubs: 3-7
Kip Wells - Colorado: 2-11

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NATIONAL LEAGUE

Cincinnati (30-34) at Florida (34-28)


The Marlins try to make it three in a row over the Reds when they send southpaw Mark Hendrickson (7-3, 5.33 ERA) to the mound at Dolphin Stadium in Miami to take on Cincinnati youngster Edinson Volquez (8-2, 1.32).

Cincinnati had won four straight against Florida this season and seven in a row against the Fish going back to last year, including Friday’s 11-3 drubbing in the opener of this four-game series, but the Marlins bounced back with victories on Saturday (8-7) and Sunday (9-2). The Reds are now just 1-5 in the last six meetings in Florida, and the host has won 11 of the past 12 clashes between these clubs.

The Reds have lost 17 of their last 22 on the highway, including going 2-5 on their eight-game road trip that ends tonight. Cincinnati also is mired in slumps of 3-8 on Mondays, 3-15 on the road against teams with a winning home record and 6-15 against left-handed starters.

Florida is 2-1 on its six-game homestand and 7-2 in its last nine in front of the home crowd. However, despite winning the last two days, the Marlins are still just 4-8 in their last 12 overall, 3-12 in their past 15 on Mondays and just 2-4 in their last six against teams from the N.L. Central.

The Reds are 6-0 in Volquez’s last six outings, including a 2-0 win in Philadelphia on Wednesday as the right-hander blanked the Phillies for seven innings, allowing two hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. Volquez, who leads the majors in ERA, has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his 12 starts, including giving up one run or less 10 times.

Volquez is just 3-2 in six road starts despite a sparkling 0.96 ERA. Also, in his first career outing against the Marlins on May 13, he yielded a single run on seven hits in six innings of a 5-3 victory.

Hendrickson has not been sharp his last three starts, giving up 19 runs (all earned) in 14 2/3 innings of work (11.66 ERA). But the Marlins are still 5-2 in his last seven trips to the hill, as the offense has scored three runs or more in each of his 13 outings this season.

At home this year, Hendrickson is 5-1 with a 4.62 ERA. And in five career starts against the Reds, the lefty is 0-2 with an 8.49 ERA in 23 innings of work. He opposed Volquez in Cincinnati in that May 13 contest and surrendered four runs on eight hits in five innings in taking the 5-3 loss.

The Reds are 4-1 when Volquez faces a team from the N.L. East and 4-1 in his last five starts on the road. Meanwhile the Marlins are 9-3 in Hendrickson’s last 12 starts, including six straight wins in front of the home fans.

The under is 5-1-1 in Volquez’s last seven starts and 4-0 when he faces the N.L. East, however the over is 5-2 in Hendrickson’s seven home starts.

The Reds entered Florida on a 5-0 “under” streak, but they’ve hurdled the total in the first three games of this series. Also, the over is 20-6-2 in its last 28 battles against southpaw starters on the road. For the Marlins, the over is on streaks of 21-6-3 overall, 39-14-2 at home against teams with a losing record, 6-0-1 against right-handed starters, 5-0 at home, 43-16-5 against teams with a losing record, 9-0-2 on Mondays and 8-0-2 as an underdog.

Finally, the over is 6-1 in the last seven series meetings overall, and 6-0 in the past six clashes in South Beach.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Tampa Bay (37-26) at L.A. Angels (39-25)


Two of the top three teams in the American League begin a three-game set at Angel Stadium as the Rays’ Edwin Jackson (3-5, 3.95) is set to oppose L.A. southpaw Joe Saunders (9-2, 2.63).

The Rays took two of three from the Rangers over the weekend, though they did drop Sunday’s finale 6-3. Tampa Bay is 20-10 in its last 30 overall, 10-3 in its last 13 against the A.L. West and 8-2 in its last 10 series openers. However the Rays remain under .500 on the road this year (13-16), and going back to 2006, they’re 45-101 in their past 146 road contests, and also 26-56 in their last 82 on the road against left-handed starters.

The Angels had a seven-game winning streak snapped Sunday when the A’s scored a 7-3, 12-inning victory, getting a walk-off grand slam to win it. Los Angeles, which returns home following a 5-1 road swing to Seattle and Oakland, is on hot streaks of 37-17 at home against teams with a winning record, 5-2 at home overall, 7-1 in series openers, 4-0 on Mondays and 4-1 against right-handed pitching.

The Rays swept a three-game series from the Angels a month ago in Tampa Bay, winning a pair of 2-0 contests and an 8-5 game. Despite that feat, Tampa remains just 19-46 in its last 65 contests against the Angels, including 4-24 in its last 28 visits to southern California.

Jackson is 1-2 with a 6.19 ERA in his last three starts and gave up four runs on six hits in five innings of a 5-1 loss in Boston on Wednesday. Tampa Bay has lost three of Jackson’s last four starts overall and three of his last four on the road, where the right-hander is 1-2 with a 3.81 ERA in five outings this year.

Jackson has made three career starts against the Angels (all in Los Angels), going 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in 15 innings of work. His last trip to Angel Stadium was in September when he allowed seven runs (four earned) on 14 hits in 4 2/3 innings, losing 10-7.

Saunders, who is 4-1 at home with a 3.48 ERA, last pitched Tuesday in Seattle and held the Mariners to four runs (one earned) in seven innings of a 5-4 road win. He’s allowed three earned runs or less in six of his last eight starts. Also, he faced the Rays for the first time on May 10 and gave up one run on four hits in six innings but lost 2-0.

With Saunders on the bump, the Angels are on streaks of 24-9 overall (10-2 this year), 14-2 when he opens a series, 13-2 when he gets five days of rest, 5-1 at home and 7-3 against the A.L. East. Meanwhile the Rays are in funks of 3-13 when Jackson starts Game 1 of a series, 1-10 when he’s on the road against a team with a winning record and 14-30 in his last 44 starts overall.

The under is 16-5-1 in Jackson’s last 22 starts overall and 6-2-1 in his last nine against teams with a winning record, but the over is 4-1-1 in his last six Monday outings. With Saunders pitching, the under is on streaks of 4-1, 5-2-1 at home and 4-1 against teams with a winning record, but the over is 7-2 in his last nine when going on five days’ rest and 4-1 in his last five against the A.L. East.

The over is 14-6 in the Rays’ last 20 series openers, but the under is 9-2 in their last 11 overall, 13-3 in their last 16 against left-handed starters and 7-1 in their past eight versus teams with a winning record. For the Angels, the under runs include 20-7-1 overall, 19-8 against right-handed starters, 8-2 at home against righties, 6-1 in series openers and 7-0 at home against teams with a losing road record.

In series clashes, the over is 10-3 in the last 13 meetings in Southern California but the under is 4-1 in the last five overall.

ATS ADVANTAGE: L.A. ANGELS and UNDER

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Monday MLB Gameday

Cliff Lee will be looking for his 10th win of the season when he takes the ball for the Indians against the Tigers on Monday. Here's a look at that matchup in MLB Gameday:

Arizona Diamondbacks at Pittsburgh Pirates, 12:35pm ET

Johnson is winless since May 18, but he's still managed to turn in three quality outings since that date. The veteran lefthander has allowed just six earned runs over 19 1-3 innings in his last three starts, walking just three batters while striking out 27. Johnson won three straight starts from May 6-18 when he was receiving a little more run support.

Duke is coming off a strong outing against the Astros in which he surrendered just two earned runs on seven hits over seven innings of work to earn a victory. That pushed the lefthander to 3-4 on the season, and put an end to his two-game losing skid. Duke has managed to strike out just five batters over his last three starts, and 25 over 73 innings.


Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers, 7:05pm ET

Lee pitched poorly in each of his last two outings, but he still managed to earn the win in both of those games. Against the Royals on May 30 the lefthander gave up four earned runs on 10 hits over six innings, and he was knocked around for six earned runs on nine hits in just five innings of work against the Rangers on June 4. Lee's ERA is up to 2.45.

Willis has made just three starts for the Tigers so far this season, but with Jeremy Bonderman now on the shelf he'll be expected to become a permanent (and consistent) part of the team's rotation. The lefthander tossed four scoreless innings against the A's last time out, allowing two hits and walking five batters before giving way to the bullpen.


Cincinnati Reds at Florida Marlins, 7:10pm ET

Volquez earned his eighth win of the season last time out by holding the Phillies scoreless on two hits over seven innings of work. The righthander walked two batters in that contest, and fanned eight. Volquez has been tagged with just one loss over his past seven appearances, and that came on May 25 when he entered the game as a reliever.

Hendrickson was beaten by the Reds back on May 13, and he's also had his troubles over his last two outings. The lefthander was pounded for 10 earned runs on seven hits over just 3 2-3 innings versus the Phillies on May 30, and he gave up four earned runs on nine hits over six innings against the Braves on Wednesday to boost his ERA to 5.33.


Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Angels, 10:05pm ET

Jackson picked up victories on April 5 and April 10, but since then he's only managed to get back into the win column once (on May 24 versus the Orioles). The righthander has been tagged with the loss in each of his last two starts, surrendering eight earned runs over 11 innings against Chicago and Boston. Jackson also has a suspension looming.

Saunders has won three of his past five starts, but one of the losses came against the Rays on May 10. Still, the lefthander pitched well in that contest, giving up just one earned run on four hits over six innings of work. Last time out, against the Mariners, Saunders surrendered four runs (one earned) over seven innings to get his ninth victory.

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Baseball Today

SCOREBOARD


Monday, June 9

Cincinnati at Florida (7:10 p.m. EDT). Edinson Volquez (8-2, 1.32 ERA) looks to improve his league-leading ERA. He will be opposed by Mark Hendrickson (7-3, 5.33).

STARS

Sunday


- Mark Ellis, Athletics, hit a grand slam with two outs in the 12th inning to lift Oakland to a 7-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

- Tony Clark, Padres, hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning to lift San Diego to an 8-6 victory over the New York Mets.

- Jason Bay, Pirates, hit a two-run double to cap a five-run fourth inning in a 6-4 victory over Arizona.

- Mark DeRosa, Cubs, was 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs in a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

- Ryan Howard, Phillies, was 3-for-5 with three doubles and four RBIs in a 6-3 victory over Atlanta.

- Hanley Ramirez, Marlins, hit a pair of two-run homers in a 9-2 victory over Cincinnati.

- J.D. Drew, Red Sox, hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the sixth inning of a 2-1 victory over Seattle.

STUCK ON 599


Ken Griffey Jr. went 0-for-1 with two walks in Cincinnati's 9-2 loss to Florida on Sunday, remaining one home run shy of becoming the sixth player to reach 600. He hasn't hit a home run since reaching 599 on May 31.

SCUFFLING

Tampa Bay starting pitcher Matt Garza and catcher Dioner Navarro had to be separated after arguing in the dugout during Sunday's game at Texas. Television cameras caught the pitcher and catcher face-to-face in the dugout and in an apparent scuffle that spilled into the tunnel leading to the clubhouse after the fourth inning. Manager Joe Maddon, pitching coach Jim Hickey and others could be seen rushing to break up the fracas.

AILING

Braves third baseman Chipper Jones was held out of Sunday's 6-3 loss to Philadelphia due to a small tear in his right quadriceps, and he said he may miss one or two more games. Atlanta is off Monday and begins a 10-game road trip at Chicago against the Cubs on Tuesday. Jones said he won't test the injury before Tuesday. - Tampa Bay closer Troy Percival was expected to throw a simulated game Monday or Tuesday in Anaheim, and could be closing games again by the end of the week. - Center fielder Josh Hamilton and shortstop Michael Young were out of Texas' lineup Sunday against Tampa Bay. Hamilton, who leads the AL in home runs and the majors in RBIs, was sidelined because of a viral infection. Young was out of the lineup for the second time in three games, this time because of a sore groin.

THAT'S TWO

Barry Zito picked up his second win of the season Sunday, allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings of San Francisco's 6-3 victory at Washington. Zito (2-9) walked four and struck out two to win for the second time in his last three decisions after an 0-8 start.

EJECTED

Baltimore's Jay Payton was ejected after arguing with plate umpire Bill Miller after being retired on a foul popup in the fourth inning of Sunday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays. A frustrated Payton slammed his helmet and bat to the ground in anger, and had to be restrained by manager Dave Trembley as he argued with Miller. Payton was ejected when he continued arguing after walking away.

SIDELINED

Blue Jays outfielder Shannon Stewart was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a sprained right ankle. Stewart is batting .240 with one homer and 14 RBIs in 52 games. He was injured running out a grounder in the first inning of Saturday's 9-5 defeat to Baltimore.

STREAKS


The Chicago White Sox routed Minnesota 12-2 on Sunday for their sixth straight win. The White Sox have scored 54 runs during the streak, including 10 or more in three consecutive games for the first time since July 15-17, 2000, against St. Louis and Milwaukee. - Tony Clark had a pinch-hit, three-run homer off Mets closer Wagner with two outs in the eighth inning, sending San Dieo to an 8-6 victory and a four-game sweep of the New York Mets. It was the Padres' season-high fifth straight win. - The Dodgers' Brad Penny gave up three runs and six hits in six innings of a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs, extending his winless streak to seven starts. - The Blue Jays' Roy Halladay allowed four runs and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings to win his fourth straight start with a 5-4 victory over Baltimore. The win snapped the Blue Jays' four-game losing streak.

STRONG DEBUT

Ryan Tucker pitched five effective innings to win his major league debut, limiting Cincinnati to one run and two hits in Florida's 9-2 victory on Sunday.

SPEAKING

"Every time he takes the ball, the organization's got their chest out a little, as they should. This isn't a fluke. He's been prepared very well how to pitch, how to act and how to compete. It's exciting." - Red Sox manager Terry Francona, after rookie Justin Masterson gave up one run and three hits in Boston's 2-1 victory over Seattle on Sunday. Masterson, called up for the third time this season, improved to 3-0.

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Monday’s streaking and slumping starters
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Streaking

Mike Mussina (N.Y. Yankees): Sometimes it’s easy to overlook Mike Mussina, but his consistency over the years is impressive. Right now he’s won eight of his last nine starts heading into Monday’s matchup with the Royals. And he has allowed more than three runs only once over that stretch.

As always, control is the name of the game for Moose. He has walked only 11 batters in over 67 innings this season.

Jose Contreras (Chicago White Sox): Jose Contreras looks determined to put a nightmare 2007 season behind him. Last year he finished with a 10-17 record to go along with a lofty 5.57 ERA after two solid seasons with the White Sox.

This year the 36-year-old looks like he’s back on track, posting a 2.76 ERA and a 6-3 record so far. Contreras and the White Sox host the Minnesota Twins today.

Slumping

Jarrod Washburn (Seattle): Washburn was supposed to start Sunday, but the Mariners pushed him to Monday so they could get Erik Bedard the ball against the Boston Red Sox. Washburn has to expect that kind of treatment by this point.

The Mariners have won just two of his 11 starts and he’s working on a 9.88 ERA over his last three outings.

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Chan's money arms: This week's hot starters
By DAVID CHAN

It’s the start of another busy week on the diamond and here are five starters that could earn you some extra loot over the next four days.

Matt Cain (San Francisco Giants) Monday at Washington

Cain is coming off a weak performance against the Mets in his last start but that should give him some additional value on Monday. We have some solid day/night splits to work with as the Giants right-hander is 0-3 with a 6.11 ERA in six daytime starts, but 2-1 with a 3.50 ERA in seven outings under the lights. That’s a fairly solid sample size. Here I feel that Cain should have some success against what remains a depleted Nationals lineup. He faced the Nats’ once last year, tossing six innings of three-hit shutout ball.

Greg Maddux (San Diego Padres) Tuesday vs. Los Angeles

Despite pitching for a losing ball club, the veteran Maddux continues to prove his worth. He has really settled in over his last four starts, giving up two earned runs or less each time out. His command is as good as it has been in quite some time. Need proof? He’s issued one walk or less in eight of his last nine starts. In six home starts, Maddux has posted a 1.73 ERA. The Dodgers can’t hit their way out of a wet paper bag right now, so Maddux should run his undefeated streak to five games.

Ian Snell (Pittsburgh Pirates) Wednesday vs. Washington

I’ll pick on the Nationals one more time. Ian Snell is much better than his 2-6 record indicates. He has been the lone bright spot in the Pirates rotation over the last couple of seasons but has yet to find any success in 2008. That should change on Wednesday. Snell has been at his best at PNC Park, recording a 3.26 ERA in five starts. Compare that to his 5.65 overall ERA. With the Nats’ struggling mightily at the plate, this is a good time for the young right-hander to get things turned around.

Adam Wainwright (St. Louis Cardinals) Thursday at Cincinnati

I absolutely love Wainwright’s mental toughness. He has bounced back from poor performances time and time again this season, and while that isn’t what he needs to do on Thursday, I do feel this is a good spot for him to earn his seventh victory. The Cardinals are 9-4 in his 13 starts this season. He has given up two earned runs or less in three of his last four starts overall. His 1.09 WHIP is right around the top of the leader board when it comes to starters. The Reds may hit well in this ballpark, but my money will be on Wainwright on Thursday.

Dan Haren (Arizona Diamondbacks) Thursday at NY Mets

I like Haren to go toe-to-toe with Johan Santana in this one. We’ll be looking at some sizable value with the D’Backs here, as Haren’s 0-3 road record will scare the betting majority away. Not that it’s needed with public darling Santana taking the hill for the Mets. I really like the way Haren has been pitching, giving up only nine hits and three runs over his last 14 innings. He has the stuff to keep the Mets bats at bay, and is always worth a look in the underdog role. This should be no exception.

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Monday's best MLB bets
Covers.com

Tampa Bay at Los Angeles -140 8½

Now that the Rays have gotten used to winning, they aren't taking losing lightly. Tampa had a wild week full of brawls with the Red Sox and capped it off with a heated incident between Matt Garza and catcher Dioner Navarro that spilled from the pitching mound into Tampa's dugout.

At least they care enough to show a little emotion this year. For a young team, incidents like this often pulls the club together, especially when it's already shorthanded due to the suspensions they picked up for the fracas with the Red Sox. The Rays are a tight-knit group, so maybe they can get back to winning ball games now that everything boiled over.

Pick: Tampa Bay


Arizona at Pittsburgh -125 8½


There's no sign that Randy Johnson is ready to slow down even though he's winless in his last three starts. The Big Unit allowed only six runs over those three outings after blanking the Tigers through seven innings back on May 18. What's even more impressive is that he has struck out 27 batters over his last three.

Not bad for a lanky 44-year-old lefty.

"He is a different pitcher," manager Bob Melvin told MLB.com. "He still has the slider, and he doesn't have 97 or 98 mph on his fastball anymore, but he can get up to 93 and we've seen a couple of 94's this year. If he's doing that and he has command of his slider, he's still Randy Johnson and he's still getting the strikeouts, close to the fashion that he used to. He's not giving you 125 or 140 pitches anymore, but his last few times out he's given us seven innings and keeps us in every game and seems to get better as he goes along."

Pick: Arizona

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