MLB News and Notes June 11

MLB News and Notes June 11

Wednesday's Top Pitchers
By Josh Jacobs

We’re going to shift gears for Wednesday’s tip sheet, focusing more on which major league hurlers may hold the key to prosperous financial earnings. With names like Scott Kazmir, Brandon Webb and Jair Jurrjens assuming their positions on the elevated hill, mid-week hardball will provide bettors with heart pounding action on the diamond.

Brandon Webb (11-2, 2.58 ERA)

He rebounded after losing two straight in Florida and Atlanta, going a total of 11.1 innings while giving up 16 hits with seven runs. Right-handers are batting .191 and lefties haven’t had much success with a .233 BAA. His name is Brandon Webb, and Arizona is going to need 110-percent effort from the fifth-year starter if they figure to find themselves deep into postseason play.

With the Diamondbacks beginning to fall flat on offense (hitting a .194 BA with 2.5 runs per game produced in the last six contests), pitching is where the heart is at. It was only three games ago that Webb inflated his ERA to 3.01 before brining it back down to 2.58 in effective back-to-back performances.

Webb has surrendered 2.1 runs per game in his last 10 starts. Playing the Mets in Shea Stadium at 7:10 p.m. EDT, Webb has gone 5-2 with a 2.38 ERA on the road. The ‘under’ is 3-1 in his last four starts.

Scott Kazmir (6-1, 1.40 ERA)

Scott Kazmir was placed on the 15-day DL with a left elbow strain on Mar. 25 before finally making his 2008 debut in a loss over Boston (7-3) on May 4. Since then the Tampa Bay ace hasn’t looked back.

Kazmir has chalked up six straight wins, surrendered only four runs and has supplied his Rays' team with almost seven innings per start. For an offense that generates only 4.6 runs per game (ranked 13th in the league), the batting order has given Kazmir 4.9 runs per start of support.

Just as impressive are opponents’ batting stats versus Kazmir. The southpaw slinger has held down teams to a .140 BAA at home, .229 BAA on the road, a 5-1 record at night with a .161 BAA and left-handed hitters are whiffing through Kazmir’s stuff with a .132 BAA.

Game time is scheduled to commence at 3:35 p.m EDT. This will be the Rays’ third and final game of the series with the Angels. Kazmir is 1-1 in two starts this season with a 2.70 ERA.

Ryan Dempster (7-2, 2.90 ERA)

While we can’t go as far as saying Ryan Dempster has been red hot by logging in 10.1 innings of work with eight hits and six runs sacrificed in his last two starts, a 5-2 record in his last 10 outing can be considered efficient at best for the Cubs.

Dempster will be coming off six days of rest, which has seen the 10-year vet go 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 20 innings. Dempster hasn’t been invincible however, struggling with a .281 BAA with 11 RBIs surrendered when behind the count at 2-0.

In what should develop into a true pitchers’ duel, Atlanta’s emerging star Jair Jurrjens (6-3, 3.77) will enter as the second entity in this matchup with the Cubs.

Jurrjens has hit several bumps in the road since giving up 1.6 runs per game in eight starts dating back from Apr. 20 to May 26. The Marlins where able to touch Jurrjens for five earned runs on 11 hits in his last start (which resulted in a win for Atlanta’s rising pitching star) but not since May 12 has he seen a loss.

Pitching on the road, Jurrjens has been less effective with a 1-3 record and a 4.84 ERA in six total starts. The ‘over’ is 4-0 in his last four starts, while the ‘under’ has been king during the coarse of the season with an 8-5 outcome (eight ‘under’ plays cashed in nicely for total player in eight straight starts earlier this season).

Tim Lincecum (8-1, 2.15 ERA)

Tim Lincecum has been the one bright spot on a relatively dull San Francisco club. Lincecum was worked for four wins in his last six starts without dropping one loss through this period. In eight starts the second-year slinger has hit or gone over the 100-pitch count, while going 5-0 during those marathon workouts.

Facing the Rockies on the road could be a blessing in disguise as Lincecum enters with a 6-0 record and a 1.65 ERA in six starts away from home.

Looking at a quick glance of the past reveals that the Rockies have been able to cash in against the otherwise untouchable Lincecum. In-fact Colorado has been able to wield the wood for a .283 BA with six earned runs and 13 hits in the two starts that the Giants’ starter has worked in. The end result has been one win and one loss in the two starts.

With runners in scoring position, Lincecum has escaped danger with a .170 BAA, while 42 strikeouts have releases the starter from major trouble.

Game time is scheduled to begin at 9:05 p.m. EDT.

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Diamond Preview
By Matt Fargo

Tuesday, June 10th

Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Mets 7:10 PM ET

The Mets looked to have gotten back in line after winning four of five games including a series win in San Francisco. However they were swept in San Diego in their four-game series and maybe even more disturbing was how they lost. New York lost the first three games all by identical 2-1 scores while the finale was won by the Padres thanks to a pinch-hit, three-run home run in the eighth inning. The Mets are now home for a possible make or break homestand as they trail the Phillies by 7.5 games.

Wednesday, June 11th

Tampa Bay Rays at Los Angeles Angels 3:35 PM ET

This is a great pitching battle as Scott Kazmir is to take on John Lackey. Kazmir has been solid once again this season as he is 6-1 with a 1.40 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in seven starts. In three career starts against the Angels, he is 2-1 with a 3.36 ERA including six shutout innings this season. Lackey has started right where he left off last year as he is 2-1 with a 1.70 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in five starts, all of which have been quality outings. In 10 starts against Tampa Bay, Lackey is 8-1 with a 2.35 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.

Thursday, June 12th

Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates 12:35 PM ET

This has the makings of an offensive showcase. Pittsburgh goes with Tom Gorzelanny, who has a 6.83 ERA, one of the worst in baseball for qualified pitchers. He is coming off a quality start against the Diamondbacks but his struggles don’t seem to be too far away. He faces off against Jason Bergmann who had thrown three straight games without allowing a run but has allowed nine runs over his last two outings, covering 11 innings. In his lone starts against the Pirates last season, he allowed six runs in just four innings.

Friday, June 13th

Oakland A’s at San Francisco Giants 10:15 PM ET

The second installment of Interleague games starts on Friday and the big Bay Area rivalry highlights the weekend between Oakland and San Francisco. The storyline in this first game is Barry Zito going against his former team. He faced the A’s twice last season in his first year in San Francisco and the results were not good. He went 0-2 with an 11.25 ERA and 2.88 WHIP which covered just eight innings. He is having a horrendous year in 2008, going 2-9 with a 5.83 ERA and he is winless at home.

Saturday, June 14th

Florida Marlins at Tampa Bay Devil Rays 6:10 PM ET

This game between the two Florida teams used to be for pride only but now there is a lot more on the line as both came into this week well above expectations. Both teams were in second place in their divisions at the start of the week and this is a big series for each side as these out of division games are huge since they are each involved in very tough divisions. The edge goes to the home team with Edwin Jackson on the hill along with a record of 24-10 at Tropicana Field. The Marlins are a game under .500 on the road.

Sunday, June 15th

San Diego Padres at Cleveland Indians 1:05 PM ET

Two of the early season disappointments conclude their series on Sunday. San Diego and Cleveland were both supposed to compete for division titles but neither has come out of the gates strong. The Indians entered the week nine games behind the White Sox while the Padres entered 6.5 games behind Arizona. If for nothing else, the pitching matchup should be a good one as last season’s A.L. Cy Young Winner C.C. Sabathia squares off against four-time Cy Young Winner Greg Maddux.

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Baseball Today

Arizona at N.Y. Mets (7:10 p.m. EDT). Brandon Webb (11-2, 2.58 ERA) goes for his major league-leading 12th win against the Mets, losers of five straight.


- C.C. Sabathia, Indians, pitched a five-hitter for his seventh career shutout as Cleveland defeated Minnesota 1-0.

- Dustin McGowan, Blue Jays, threw his third career complete game, allowing five hits in Toronto's 3-1 win over Seattle.

- Ryan Ludwick, Cardinals, homered and drove in four runs to lead St. Louis to a 7-2 win over Cincinnati.

- Aubrey Huff, Orioles, matched his career high with four hits, including a tying two-run single, and Baltimore came from behind twice to beat Boston 10-6.

- Lance Berkman, Astros, hit his 19th homer and drove in five runs to lift the Astros to a 6-1 win over the Brewers.


Toronto's Brad Wilkerson hit a tiebreaking homer in the fifth against Seattle, the team that cut him earlier this season. Wilkerson signed a one-year, $3-million free-agent deal with the Mariners in January, but was designated for assignment April 30 after hitting just .232 in 19 games. He is batting .243 with three homers and 19 RBIs since joining Toronto May 9.


Royals first baseman Mark Teahen's error in the eighth opened the door for the Rangers to score four runs off three Kansas City relievers with two outs to tie the score 5-all. Teahen dropped shortstop Mike Aviles' throw, which would have ended the inning. The Rangers went on to win 6-5.


Albert Pujols and Rick Ankiel gave the Cardinals their first set of back-to-back home runs this season before Pujols was helped off the field in the top of the seventh inning with a strained left calf he suffered while running out a groundball. St. Louis beat Cincinnati 7-2.


John Smoltz had the labrum in his right shoulder repaired on Tuesday, and the Atlanta Braves said it will be months before the pitcher knows if his career can resume. Dr. James Andrews and an associate performed the arthroscopic procedure in Birmingham, Ala. Smoltz said last week he expected to get a definitive word on his comeback hopes immediately after the operation, but no such announcement was made public. Braves spokesman Brad Hainje said it will be months before it will be known if Smoltz can pitch again.


Tom Glavine was forced to leave the Braves 10-5 loss to the Cubs after three innings with an elbow strain that will send him to the DL. Glavine said the elbow has been bothering him for nearly a month and has gotten progressively worse. He will return to Atlanta and have an MRI.


C.C. Sabathia pitched a five-hitter for his seventh career shutout as Cleveland defeated Minnesota, 1-0, extending the Twins' season-high losing streak to six games Tuesday night.


The Cubs' Ted Lilly worked 6 2-3 innings to get his first win since May 19. He allowed four hits and the three runs with three walks and eight strikeouts. Chicago beat Atlanta 10-5. ... Miguel Cabrera's go-ahead two-run single in the fifth inning helped the Detroit Tigers snap the White Sox's seven-game winning streak.


The matchup between Greg Maddux and Dodgers rookie Clayton Kershaw was the largest gap in career wins between two starters since Aug. 25, 1965, when San Francisco's Warren Spahn (361 wins) faced the Mets' Darrell Sutherland (one). Maddux, who was denied his 351st victory, outpitched the rookie. Maddux, 42, was winning 18 games in his second full season in the majors when Kershaw, 20, was born in 1988.


``It took one second. He asked me to tell him the truth and I told him the truth. If he calls me tomorrow, I'll tell him I'll be ready. I've been feeling really good.'' - Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who got a rare call from manager Joe Girardi to see if he was ready to pitch in New York's 3-1 win over Oakland.

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Atlanta (32-33) at Chicago Cubs (41-24)

The Braves send 22-year-old right-hander Jair Jurrjens (6-3, 3.77 ERA) to the hill at Wrigley Field to take on the Cubs and right-hander Ryan Dempster (7-2, 2.90) in the middle game of a three-game series.

Chicago overcame a 3-0 first-inning deficit and pounded out a 10-5 victory in Tuesday’s series-opener. The Cubs are 12-3 in their last 15 outings, and they improved to 27-8 at Wrigley this season. Meanwhile, the Braves have dropped four in a row, eight of 11 and 10 of 14.

This is the first series of the season between these two teams. Atlanta won the season series last year 5-4, taking two of three in the lone series at Wrigley, and the Braves are still 19-8 in their last 27 contests in Chicago and 19-8 in their last 27 overall against the Cubs.

Jurrjens hasn’t lost in the past month, going 2-0 with three no-decisions, and Atlanta has gone 4-1 in those contests. However, Jurrjens has gotten roughed up in his last two outings against the Reds on the road and Marlins at home, yielding a total of 11 runs on 20 hits and eight walks in 10 1/3 innings (9.58 ERA). The Braves lost 8-7 in Cincinnati, but rebounded to beat Florida 7-5 on Thursday, with Jurrjens getting the victory despite allowing five runs on 11 hits in six innings.

Jurrjens is 1-3 with a 4.84 ERA in six starts on the highway this year, and this will mark the rookie’s first career start against the Cubs.

Dempster has helped the Cubs post a 10-3 record in his 13 outings this year, giving up three earned runs or fewer in 11 of the contests, and he’s 3-1 with a no-decision in his last five outings. On Thursday at Dodger Stadium, he gave up three runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings and left with a 4-3 lead, but he ended up with a no-decision in a 5-4 Chicago victory.

Dempster has been a monster at Wrigley this season, going 7-0 with a 3.10 ERA, with one no-decision in a game the Cubs won. However, Atlanta has been a thorn in his side over the years, as the veteran has gone 1-10 with a 5.65 ERA in 24 career appearances (13 starts).

The Braves are mired in several losing funks, including 16-36 in their last 52 on the road (7-22 on the highway this year), 8-23 on the road against right-handed starters, 1-5 against winning teams, 1-6 against the N.L. Central and 1-5 in Jurrjens’ last six road starts. But with Jurrjens hurling, they are on a 5-0 tear against winning teams.

The Cubs sport a perfect 9-0 mark with Dempster starting at home and they’re 5-1 in his last six starts overall. Furthermore, Chicago is 41-16 in its last 57.

The under for Atlanta is 5-1 in Jurrjens’ last six road starts, but the over is on a 4-0 run in his last four outings overall. With Dempster going for Chicago, the under is 4-1 in the last five overall, but the over is 4-1 in his last five Wednesday stints.

With last night’s game easily topping the total, the over is now 10-4-1 in the last 15 contests between these two teams. On the other hand, for Atlanta, the under is on streaks of 39-18-3 overall, 24-7-1 on the road, 21-5-1 on the highway against right-handers, 4-1-1 in the second game of a series and 17-6-2 against the N.L. Central. Likewise, the under for Chicago is on runs of 5-1 against the N.L. East, 5-1 at home against righties and 6-3 overall at Wrigley.



N.Y. Yankees (33-32) at Oakland Athletics (34-30)

Rookie right-hander Darrell Rasner (3-3, 2.58 ERA) is set to toe the slab for the Yankees against fellow righty Justin Duchscherer (5-4, 2.32) and the Athletics in the second game of a three-game set at McAfee Coliseum.

New York grinded out a 3-1 victory at Oakland on Tuesday, improving to 5-2 in its last seven games. As for the A’s, they’ve lost three of their last four, but they’re still 9-5 in their last 14 home contests.

This is the first series of the season between these two teams. Oakland took four of six from New York in 2007, going 2-1 at home and 2-1 on the road in a pair of three-game series. The A’s are still 8-3 in the last 11 clashes with the Yanks, and they are 4-2 in the last five at home against New York.

Rasner, who has only been in the rotation since May 4, has lost three in a row after winning his first three starts. On Friday against the Royals, he pitched eight solid innings, allowing two runs on nine hits, but the Yanks gave him little offensive support in a 2-1 loss. Rasner has gone at least six innings in five of his six starts, with Friday’s outing being his longest of the year.

Rasner is 1-2 with a 3.63 ERA in three road starts this season. Also, he got a no-decision in his lone career start against Oakland, a 4-3 New York road win last season in which he allowed all three runs (all unearned) on five hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Duchscherer has gotten a decision in all nine of his starts this year. Last Wednesday against Detroit, he yielded two runs on three hits in 6 2/3 innings in a 10-2 blowout win, curbing a 1-3 slide in his previous four starts. Duchscherer has given up two runs or fewer in eight of his nine start this season, and he’s got a 1.74 ERA in his past three outings (four runs allowed in 20 2/3 innings).

Duchscherer is 4-0 with a minuscule 1.69 ERA at the Coliseum this season, but he’s 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in seven career relief appearances against New York.

The Yankees are on a 9-0 tear against the American League West and are on further hot runs of 5-1 in Game 2 of a series, 39-15 on Wednesday and 8-3 against winning teams. However, they are 1-4 in Rasner’s last five road starts dating to 2007.

The A’s are 11-5 in their last 16 against the A.L. East, but they are 2-7 in their last nine against right-handers and 1-5 in their last six at home against righties.

The “under” has been the play in each of Rasner’s last five outings overall and five of his last six on the road. Also, the under is 5-1 in Duchscherer’s last six starts for Oakland.

Additionally, for New York, the under is on runs of 13-5 on the road, 20-8-3 on Wednesday and 6-2 against winning teams. The under is also 7-3-1 in Oakland’s last 11 Wednesday contests, but the over is 5-3-1 in its last nine overall. Finally, the over is 9-5 in the last 15 head-to-head clashes between these squads at the Coliseum, though last night’s battled stayed well under the total.


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MLB streaks, slumps and betting notes

The 162-game schedule can be a grind even for the most dedicated baseball fan. It can be tricky staying wise to the latest especially when the Euro Cup and NBA Finals are drawing your betting attention.

We’ve devised a little cheat sheet to remind you of which teams are making it rain and which ones are just hoping for rainouts.


Chicago White Sox

The Chicago Cubs own the best record in the majors but their cross-town rivals are making noise too. The White Sox have won seven in a row after manager Ozzie Guillen’s explosive comments the weekend before last.

Guillen was beyond frustrated after his club scored just four runs during a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

It’s not just that the Sox are winning; it’s how they’re doing it. The offense has come back to life reaching the 10-run mark three times since Friday.

Philadelphia Phillies

All the talk about the New York Mets losing and the surprising Florida Marlins winning has left little attention for the first-place Phils. The defending NL East champs are 12-2 over their last 14 and they’ve outscored their opponents 99-47 during that same period.

The Phillies still rely on their power with 92 big flies on the year, good for second best in the majors. If slugger Ryan Howard can find his swing, Philadelphia could run away with this division.


Houston Astros

It’s been an up and down year for Houston supporters. The Astros were seven games above .500 as of May 27, but a 2-9 streak has dropped them back to fourth in the NL Central with a 32-32 record.

Outside of first baseman Lance Berkman, who is enjoying a career season, the Astros have few consistent producers. Carlos Lee’s on-base percentage (.301) is an embarrassment and he has just one RBI in his last nine games.

Roy Oswalt – the unquestioned ace of the staff – has an ERA north of 5.00. Ouch.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins were playing above expectations until recently when the pitchers forgot how to pitch. Minnesota has dropped five straight and eight of its last 11.

The Twinkies’ starters rarely make it past the sixth inning and the bullpen isn’t as good as years past. The relievers are tossing beach balls to the batters because of overuse.

“We were complaining about having 13 pitchers right now,” manager Ron Gardenhire told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “but we’ve needed every single one of them.”

Total watch

Things may seem out of sorts with the New York Yankees behind the Rays in the AL East, but there are some things baseball bettors can still depend on. The Texas Rangers retooled the middle of their batting order by signing Milton Bradley and trading for Josh Hamilton.

The moves paid off big time as the Rangers are leading the majors in runs, total bases and batting average. At the same time Texas’ pitching staff owns the highest ERA (5.05).

As a result the Rangers continue to be one of the best over bets on a game-to-game basis. The club has played over the total in 14 out of its last 20 matchups.

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Wednesday's MLB streaking starting pitchers

A look at a few of the hottest and coldest pitchers taking the mound in today's MLB action.


Scott Kazmir, Tampa Bay Rays (6-1, 1.40 ERA)

Kazmir might be the hottest starter in the majors right now and he’s slated at a tempting +105 today against the Angels. The left-hander has won his last six starts and has allowed a measly four runs combined over those wins.

Tampa Bay’s ace hasn’t allowed more than six hits in any of his past six starts and he struck out an impressive 39 batters over the stretch. His ERA is 1.40 on the season and he ranks among the top 25 money starters in the majors with $500 for those risking $100 per game on him.

One caution with Kazmir is that the Rays are 4-0 at home with his 0.35 ERA there, compared to 2-1 on the road with a still respectable 2.84 ERA. Another one is that he isn't quite as sharp with sun shining as he is under the lights. He has yet to lose at night, with a spotless 5-0 team win record but today’s game goes just after noon Pacific Time, where he’s posted a more human 1-1 team win/loss record during the day.

Justin Duchscherer, Oakland A’s (5-4, 2.32 ERA)

If you’re having trouble spelling Duchscherer, you likely won’t for long if he keeps pitching like this. The former reliever-turned-starter is proving he belongs with the ball in his hand for the opening pitch with no more than three runs against in any of his nine starts this season.

Duch has been especially hot lately, where he’s allowed just four runs and 10 hits combined over his last three starts. Unfortunately, run support hasn’t been there for him and the A’s are just 2-3 over his last five starts.

That’s made for some great profits for under bettors, who have cashed in five of his last six outings. They’ll also be happy to know that this righty pitches better at home, where the A’s are 4-0 with him on the mound, compared to 1-4 with him starting on the road.

Duchscherer faces the Yanks and Darrell Rasner tonight in Oakland. 


Ubaldo Jiminez, Colorado Rockies (1-6, 5.43 ERA)

It takes a lot to make you an underdog against the San Francisco Giants. At home, no less.

That’s the situation Jiminez finds himself in today (+100) after no wins and five losses in his last 11 starts. As a team, Colorado is a bankroll draining 1-10 over those 11 outings, which includes a pair of 3-2 losses to the Giants.

Though Jiminez has an 8.40 ERA over his last three starts, the losing skid isn’t entirely his fault. The Rockies haven’t been backing him up with many runs, which is why he keeps getting the ball. In four of his last six starts, he has seen three runs or fewer and not surprisingly all four of those games played under the total.

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