MLB News and Notes June 15

MLB News and Notes June 15

Sunday Night Baseball
By Mike Merlet

The much maligned Bud Selig has attracted many doubters in his 16 year reign as MLB Commissioner. One idea that Selig incorporated that nearly everyone agrees is a huge success was the implementation of Interleague Play. This weekend we enter “round 2” of Interleague play and this one began on June 13th and will last through June 29th.

One of the main attractions of Interleague play are the natural regional rivalries that only existed in the dreams of baseball fans across the country before Selig kicked started this idea into reality in 1997. Met vs. Yankees. Cardinals vs. Royals. Twins vs. Brewers. Astros vs. Rangers. Cubs vs. White Sox. Reds vs. Indians. A’s vs. Giants. The list of heated Interleague rivalries goes on and on. The ESPN Sunday Night Baseball prime time game does not have that label, however it should still be a good one.

The Atlanta Braves make their first visit to Anaheim to face the L.A. Angels. In a very similar situation to last Sunday’s prime time match up between the Cubs and Dodgers, we have one team that is hitting on all cylinders entering this weekend and one team that is struggling to get back on track. The Angels have won 9 of their last 11 games entering this series which opened on Friday. Taking that back even further, they have won 17 of their last 24 games dating back to mid-May. The Braves, on the other hand, have lost six consecutive games entering Friday and have been swept in three of their last four series. L.A. has been one of the top money makers this season with a profit of +$1,124 based on $100 per game as of Friday. Atlanta sits in the bottom third of the league at -$952. The number one reason the Braves have been a money eater this year? They have been horrendous on the road. This team is just 7-24 away from home in 2008. Every other team in the Majors has at least 10 road wins this season.

The pitching match up in this game is definitely not a marquis one, but it is an interesting one. Jorge Campillo has found a home and a spot in the rotation Atlanta. In his three previous seasons in the Majors, all with Seattle, Campillo pitched a total of 17.2 innings and started only one game. His career ERA coming into the 2008 season was above 7.00. This year he’s started five games for the Braves and has allowed just 11 runs in 46 innings (2.15 ERA). Four of his five starts this season have come at home. However, his road ERA is a miniscule 0.47 although he’s only pitched a total of 19 innings away from home this season. Campillo would have had a full six days of rest for this one as his last start was on June 8th. However, Bobby Cox opted to bring him out of the bullpen on Thursday, June 12 vs. Chicago. It shouldn’t affect him here as he only threw one pitch. Campillo has started to falter a bit this month however. His ERA in his three appearances in June is 6.52. He has allowed 17 base runners in his 9.2 innings pitched this month.

Left-hander Joe Saunders has been a bit of a surprise for the Angels this season. He has been somewhat of a “spot” starter for L.A. the last three seasons and his ERA has never dipped below 4.44. This season, however, he is already 9-3 and his ERA is only 3.32. Saunders has allowed his opponents an on base percentage of only .289 which is outstanding. The Braves have hit just .233 as a team vs. left handers on the road so that could be a problem here vs. this veteran south paw. For whatever reason, Saunders has shown a chink in his armor at home. His ERA at Angel Stadium is 4.70 this season. He has allowed 19 earned runs in just 22 innings in his last four home starts. He is coming off his worst outing of the season on Monday where he was pounded by Devil Rays in Anaheim. He allowed 8 earned runs and 11 base runners in just 4.2 innings of work.

Finally, if you can’t decide on who to back in this one, you might want to give the “under” a consideration. These teams have the two strongest “under” records MLB this season. Atlanta’s under the total record is 43-21 (67%) while the Angels stand at 39-23 (63%). The average total score in Campillo’s five starts this year is 7.8. The average total score in Saunder’s 13 starts in 2008 is 8.15. Thus, if you’re looking for a lot of action on offense Sunday night, this might not be the game for you. Based on this year’s history, we’re probably looking at a pitcher’s dual.

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Diamond Preview
By Matt Fargo

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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Re: MLB News and Notes June 15


Chicago Cubs (44-25) at Toronto (35-35)

The Cubs send lefty Ted Lilly (6-5, 5.13 ERA) to the mound in the rubber match of a three-game series with the Blue Jays, who are set to go with Jesse Litsch (7-2, 3.42) when the two meet inside the Rogers Centre.

Chicago rebounded from Friday’s 3-2 loss in Toronto with a 6-2 win on Saturday, scoring all six runs of Toronto ace Roy Halladay. The Cubs are 15-4 in their last 19 outings, including 5-1 in their last six. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are mired in a 3-7 slump, alternating wins and losses in their last seven contests (all at home).

In addition to their 15-4 overall run, Lou Pinella’s Cubs are on positive runs of 4-1 on Sundays, 8-2 against teams with a winning record and 17-6 against right-handed starters, but they’re still just 1-5 in their last six against teams from the A.L. East. The Blue Jays also sport several hot streaks, including 29-12 at home against southpaws, 8-1 on Sundays, 6-2 in interleague matchups and 4-1 at home against N.L. squads.

Chicago has won six of Lilly’s last eight starts overall, including Tuesday when he gave up three runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings of a 10-5 victory in Atlanta. Despite that win, Lilly is just 2-3 with a 5.22 ERA in seven starts on the road. Also, he hasn’t faced the Blue Jays since 2003 as a member of the A’s, but for his career he is 1-1 with a 5.32 ERA in 23 2/3 innings against Toronto.

Litsch has a 2.95 ERA in his last three outings, and he’s held the opposition to three earned runs or less in seven of his last eight starts, but he’s come up empty in his last two, losing 5-1 at the Yankees on June 4 and getting a no-decision in his team’s 3-2 home loss to Seattle on Monday. Litsch gave up 10 hits in each of those two contests.

When working north of the border, Litsch is 3-0 with a 2.97 ERA in six contests, but Toronto has dropped all three of his no-decisions at home. The right-hander is 0-1 in two career interleague outings – both against the Phillies – allowing six runs on 12 hits in seven innings of work.

With Lilly on the hill, the Cubs are 6-2 in his last eight and 4-0 when he faces a team with a winning record but just 3-7 with him on the road and 0-4 when he toes the rubber on Sundays. With Litsch pitching, the Jays are 7-1 when he faces a team with a winning record and 6-2 when coming off a loss.

For the Cubs, the under is on streaks of 4-1-1 overall, 36-16-5 on the road, 47-23-5 against right-handed starters and 4-0-1 in interleague. For Toronto, the under runs include 4-0-1 at home, 20-8-2 at home against southpaws, 13-3-2 against the N.L. Central and 24-8 on Sundays.

Finally, in head-to-head battles between these teams, the under is 6-1-1 in the last eight overall and 4-0-1 in the past five in Toronto.


N.Y. Yankees (36-33) at Houston (33-36)

It’s a battle of aces when the Yankees send Chien-Ming Wang (7-2, 4.30) to the hill to take on the Astros and Roy Oswalt (5-6, 5.06) at Minute Maid Park in Houston in this series finale.

New York will be going for the sweep today, having won the first two games of this series by scores of 2-1 and 8-4. Overall, New York is on an 8-3 tear, while the Astros have managed just three wins in their last 11. Also, the Yankees have now won four of the five meetings between these two dating back to 2003.

Joe Girardi’s Yankees are also on runs of 21-7 on Sundays, 40-14 in Game 3 of a series, 11-4 in interleague games against right-handed starters and 20-7 against the N.L. Central. Meanwhile, in addition to their ongoing 3-8 slump, the Astros are on slides of 0-5 against the A.L. East, 1-6 at home, 2-9 against right-handed starters and 0-5 in the third game of a series.

Wang has been a road warrior this season, going 4-0 with a 2.38 ERA in six starts, five of them Yankees victories. On Tuesday in Oakland, he held the A’s to one run on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings of a 3-1 victory, New York’s fourth win in a row with Wang on the hill. In his lone interleague start this season, the right-hander gave up seven runs on six hits in 7 2/3 innings of an 11-2 loss to the Mets.

Oswalt is coming off one of his best efforts to date, as he held the Brewers to one run on five hits in seven innings of a 6-1 victory, improving to 3-1 with a 5.59 ERA in six starts at Minute Maid. Prior to Tuesday’s win, the Astros had lost four straight games with their ace on the mound. In his lone interleague start this season, Oswalt gave up six runs on 11 hits in six innings, losing 6-2 loss at the Rangers.

With Wang on the hill, the Yankees are on runs of 40-15 overall, 20-6 on the road, 51-18 as a favorite, 20-6 with him as a road favorite and 8-1 on Sundays. With Oswalt starting, the Astros sport runs of 47-16 at home, 13-6 in interleague play and 13-5 when he gets four days’ rest, but they are just 1-5 in his last six as an underdog.

The over is 4-1 in Wang’s last five overall and 7-3 in his last 10 on Sunday. Conversely, with Oswalt pitching, the under is on runs of 4-1 overall (3-0 last three) and 5-1 when he’s a ‘dog.

For the Yankees, the under trends include 15-7 on the road, 4-2 overall, 4-2 as a road favorite and 17-8 on the highway against teams with a winning home record, but the over is 5-1-1 in their last seven interleague games. For the Astros, the under is 10-5-1 in their last 16 overall and 11-6-1 in their last 18 against right-handed starters, but their over streaks include 4-1-1 on Sundays, 5-1 as a home ‘dog and 12-5 in interleague play.



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Lawrence's MLB Weekend Cheat Sheet

Big Brown was a big bust when he failed to deliver the Triple Crown at Belmont last Saturday. As a result, we’ll now have to wait at least another year before a new horse breaks the 30-plus year stranglehold on the trio of big races.

We had to wait only three weeks for another dose of interleague play on the major league basepaths. This weekend we focus on the battle of Florida between the hot Marlins and Rays.

Two Midwestern teams looking to make a move up the standings lock horns when Minnesota invades Milwaukee, while a battle of the Bay takes place in Oakland when the Athletics host San Francisco.

Toss a regularly scheduled National League series between Philadelphia and St. Louis and we’ve got a full plate of baseball action on tap this weekend.

With that, here’s our take of each of these series. All pitcher records are team starts unless noted otherwise; best and worst arm records are versus this weekend’s opponent.


Philadelphia Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals

Most Recent Series Result: Phillies 9-3 last 12 games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Phillies 9-2 last 11 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Phillies 8-1 away on Fridays

Best Arm in the Series: Myers 4-0 record, 4.91 ERA here career

Worst Arm in the Series: Eaton 2-5, 6.81 career


Florida Marlins at Tampa Bay Rays

Most Recent Series Result: Marlins 13-6 last 19 games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Marlins 7-3 last 10 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Rays 9-1 home Sundays; Marlins 5-14 away Sundays

Best Arm in the Series: Kazmir 1-0, 0.00 ERA career

Worst Arm in the Series: Jackson 0-2, 11.13 ERA career

Minnesota Twins at Milwaukee Brewers

Most Recent Series Result: Twins 6-3 last nine games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Twins 5-2 last seven here

Key Day/Month Stat: Brewers 10-2 home Saturdays; Twins 0-5 Saturdays

Best Arm in the Series: Sheets 2-0, 0.64 ERA home career

Worst Arm in the Series: Suppan 1-6, 5.80 ERA career; Hernandez 1-5, 5.01 ERA last six starts here

Oakland Athletics at San Francisco Giants

Most Recent Series Result: Athletics 14-6 last 20 games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Athletics 4-0 last four here

Key Day/Month Stat: Athletics 7-1 Sundays

Best Arm in the Series: Harden 3-0, 1.17 ERA career

Worst Arm in the Series: Zito 0-2, 11.25 career

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Sunday's best MLB bets

Chicago Cubs at Toronto -115 8½

The Toronto Blue Jays decided during spring training that they didn't have room on their roster for Reed Johnson. The Chicago Cubs are happy to have him on theirs.

After his three-run homer sparked a win over his former team on Saturday, Johnson and the Cubs will look to make it two out of three over the Blue Jays on Sunday in their series finale at Rogers Centre.

Johnson has started 42 of Chicago's 69 games, and should be playing more after Alfonso Soriano was injured earlier this week.

Soriano was hitting .283 with 15 homers and 40 RBIs when he broke his left finger on Wednesday, an injury that will keep him out for at least a month.

Eric Patterson and Ryan Theriot were 1-for-9 in the leadoff spot in the first two games in place of Soriano, and the Cubs (44-25) had scored just five runs combined.

Manager Lou Piniella decided to try Johnson at the top of the order in an attempt to spark the offense on Saturday, and the move paid off. Johnson hit a three-run homer off Toronto ace Roy Halladay in the second inning, and that was all Chicago would need en route to a 6-2 win.

"It had to feel good for him,'' Piniella said of Johnson, who earned a standing ovation before a pinch-hit at-bat on Friday. "It felt good to me.''

Johnson has 31 RBIs in 171 at-bats after driving in 14 runs in 275 at-bats all of last season.

Pick: Cubs

Philadelphia at St. Louis +125 10

The St. Louis Cardinals have made a habit of losing the first game of a series this season only to win the final two.

Doing the same against the Philadelphia Phillies may be a bit more challenging.

The Cardinals will try to avoid losing their fifth straight series to the Phillies on Sunday when they wrap up their three-game set at Busch Stadium.

St. Louis (41-29) came into the weekend having lost nine of its last 12 and four consecutive series to Philadelphia, and after Friday night it didn't look like anything had changed.

The Phillies (41-29) hit four home runs and routed the Cardinals 20-2, scoring that many runs for the second time this season. But on Saturday, St. Louis got eight solid innings from Kyle Lohse, and he earned his eighth win as the Cardinals won 3-2.

With a victory on Sunday, St. Louis can win its 15th series of the season - and its eighth when it has dropped the first game of a series.

"It's easy to look at the negative things, like (Friday)," said second baseman Adam Kennedy, who hit a two-run homer on Saturday. "But we've been really great about starting over each day. You can tell, it's pretty much the same every day, which is a big part of it."

Albert Pujols has missed the Cardinals' last four games with a strained calf, and is expected to miss at least two weeks. But Ryan Ludwick, who has 16 homers and a team-high 52 RBIs, has picked up the slack.

He's hitting .381 (8-for-21) with two homers and seven RBIs since June 10, the day Pujols was hurt.

Pick: Under

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