MLB News and Notes June 19

MLB News and Notes June 19

Thursday's Totals Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

Without getting stale on this week’s baseball coverage let’s jump head first into some intriguing matchups primed for financial gain. With the NBA Finals all wrapped up we’ve got plenty of time to donate towards the majors.

As a quick sidebar, the American League once again dominated interleague play, registering a 12-2 record on Tuesday. The AL went on to produce 80 total runs versus the NL’s 43.

Here’s a look at what Thursday’s card has on tap. It should be noted that of the six teams mentioned in this article, only the Brewers hold poitive earnings on the money line (+169).

L.A. Dodgers (Stults) at Cincinnati (Harang) – 7:10 p.m. EDT


A quick look at the only non-interleague matchup waiting to get underway bears witness to a Dodgers team (32-38, -1093) looking for an opportunity to grab consecutive wins in the hopes of catching up to first place, Arizona.

Putting the dogfight in the NL West to the side for a second, here’s what stands out before approaching the window.

The last three games between these two clubs has seen the ‘under’ go 3-0, while a 6-2-1 record on the ‘under’ in the last nine supports this wager even further. For the month of June, L.A. has allowed runners to cross home plate for 4.1 runs per game versus Cincinnati’s slightly worse 4.8 runs allowed per game (so where looking at a combined 8.9 runs allowed per contest in June between both clubs).

As for pitching, the Reds’ (33-39, -775) starting “ace” Aaron Harang (3-9, 4.10 ERA) may be coming off a solid performance against Boston (allowing just four hits and one run in seven innings) but it’s hard to ignore his six defeats in 10 starts. Books have gone on to install Cincinnati totals at an average of 8 ½-runs during Harang’s past 10 starts and the ‘under’ has gone 5-4-1. The six-year vet has yielded 3.4 runs per game in the last 10, but giving up 5.7 runs per game in the last three losses is something to keep in mind.

The biggest question mark hovering overhead is how well Dodgers’ starter Eric Stults (1-4, 5.82) exercises his skills in his first major league start of the season. It was back in 2007 that the southpaw was 1-4 in five starts with a 5.82 ERA. Walking 3.4 batters per start in ’07 garnered criticism for a lack of control.

Toronto (Burnett) at Milwaukee (Bush) – 2:05 p.m. EDT

Talking about ‘under’ plays, the Blue Jays (35-37, -783) currently lead the league with a 43-25-4 ‘under’ record this season. Toronto has allowed an AL third best 274 runs. Mix in an AL third worst offense which has produced just 286 runs (3.9 runs per game) and it doesn’t take much to understand the reasoning behind cashing in on the ‘under’.

Books have been adventurous just three times this season by tagging Toronto games with a total of 10 or more runs. For the most part 8-8 ½-run totals have been the norm, while 7-7½-runs have graced the boards 12 times this year. To put this in perceptive, the Jays have gone ‘over’ 8½-runs 38-percent of the time, 9 ½-runs 32 percent of the time and 10½-runs 30-percent of the time. We’re looking at a club who’s maintained, if not defined, status quo in low scoring fever sweeping the majors.

And what about the high powered, high scoring Brewers (you can’t tell by the tone of my voice – there is none – but I’m being facetious)? Milwaukee (37-33, +169) compliments their Toronto opponent with a 40-27-3 ‘under’ record. It’s hard not to harp on the similarities between the two clubs.

The Brew Crew bats have come through for only 29 more runs scored compared to the Blue Jays, while the Brewers’ pitching has succumbed to giving up 47 more runs.

Heading in an opposite direction in regards to the ‘under’, Milwaukee will try to get a quality start out of right-handed slinger Dave Bush (2-7, 5.73). Bush has seen the ‘over’ go 7-5-1 in 13 starts this season. In six of those starts the Wake Forest product has seen teams pound the ball for five or more runs, with his last six outings equating to 23 runs sacrificed (3.8 runs per game).

Cleveland (Sowers) at Colorado (De La Rosa) – 9:05 p.m. EDT

The Rockies (29-42, -1335) and Indians (33-38, -1562) aren’t strangers to meeting on a yearly basis. Since 2002, Cleveland owns the slight edge in head-to-head meetings with a 7-6 record. While not overwhelming, the ‘under’ has once again reared its head on profit reports by registering a 7-6 record (head-to-head).

The Tribe will enter Thursday with an impressive six straight ‘over’ games in which the total score has averaged 12.3 runs per game (between both Cleveland and its opponents). The Indians have been responsible for scoring an average of 5.3 runs per game, while the pitching staff has been condemned for giving up 5.1 runs per game (a combined total of 10.4).

Picking up its offensive production, Cleveland is currently the second highest scoring team in the majors in the month of June, scoring a total of 97 runs. The lineup has been eyeing the ball for a .286 BA and a .352 on base percentage only reinforces the recent batting surge.

The Rockies will be sending out starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa (1-3, 6.89), a lefty who hasn’t recorded a win in over a month (May 8 win over St. Louis by the score of 9-3). Southpaw batters have rocked and socked De La Rosa for a mind boggling .370 BA with 10 RBIs in only 27 at bats. Even worse is De La Rosa’s 7.31 ERA with a .277 BAA when pitching at home. And books aren’t slow to notice the starter’s pitfalls this season, adjusting lines to 10 or more runs seven out of 10 starts.

The ‘under’ may be a staggering 14-2 in Cleveland’s last 16 interleague road games versus a left-handed starter, but the ‘over’ has gone 6-0 in the Indians last six versus a team with a losing record and 5-0 in the Indians last five versus NL teams with a losing record.

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INTERLEAGUE

Chicago Cubs (45-27) at Tampa Bay (42-29)


The Cubs and Rays close out their interleague series at Tropicana Field, with Tampa Bay looking to complete the three-game sweep when it hands the ball to James Shields (4-5, 3.91), who will work opposite Chicago rookie Sean Gallagher (3-3, 4.54 ERA).

Tampa Bay followed up Tuesday’s 3-2 win with a 5-4 victory on Wednesday, improving to 24-4 in its last 28 home games, including 7-1 in the last eight. The Rays are also 21-7 in their last 28 against right-handed starters and 6-1 in their last six interleague home games. However, the Rays are still a middling 7-7 in their last 14 overall, and they’re 7-20 in their past 27 against the N.L. Central.

Despite suffering a pair of one-run losses the last two nights, Chicago is still on a 26-12 roll, going 6-3 in the last nine, and the Cubs haven’t had a three-game losing streak all season. However, Lou Piniella’s club is just 16-19 on the road this year and 4-13 in its last 17 interleague road games against winning teams.

Prior to this series, these two teams hadn’t met since 2003, when Chicago won two of three at Wrigley Field.

Gallagher has given up three runs or fewer in five of his first seven major-league starts, but he has made it through at least six innings just twice. In fact, he went exactly five innings in his last two outings, both on the road, giving up a total of five runs and 10 hits, losing 3-0 at the Dodgers and 3-2 at Toronto.

In addition to losing at Los Angeles and Toronto, Gallagher suffered a 5-3 setback at Houston in his first road outing. His numbers on the highway: 0-3 with a 5.79 ERA, with the Cubs scoring a total of just five runs in the three contests.

Shields is coming off a league-imposed suspension for fighting and has been idle since June 10, when he gave up six runs and 10 hits in eight innings in a 6-1 loss at the Angels. However, the right-hander has been brilliant at home this year, going 3-1 with a 1.72 ERA in seven starts, with Tampa Bay also winning his three no-decisions at home. In fact, the Rays are 10-1 in Shields’ last 11 outings at Tropicana Field dating to 2007, but they’re 1-5 in his last six interleague outings.

The under is 5-0 in Gallagher’s last five starts (3-0 on the road), 3-0 in Shields’ last three overall and 4-1 in Shields’ last five at home.

For Chicago, the under is on streaks of 37-18-5 on the highway, 7-1-1 against winning teams and 9-3-1 in interleague play. Likewise, for Tampa Bay, the under is on runs of 13-5-1 overall, 21-8-1 at Tropicana Field, 14-7-2 in interleague play and17-7-1 in interleague home games.

ATS ADVANTAGE: CHICAGO CUBS and UNDER


Oakland (39-32) at Arizona (38-34)


A pair of southpaws are set to do battle at Chase Field this afternoon, as the DBacks’ Doug Davis (2-3, 3.99 ERA) opposes Greg Smith (4-5, 3.62) in the finale of a three-game interleague set.

Arizona quickly avenged Monday’s ugly 15-1 loss to the A’s with an 11-1 rout on Tuesday, halting its three-game losing skid, as well as Oakland’s four-game overall winning streak and its five-game road winning streak. The DBacks are still just 10-18 in their last 28 overall, including 4-7 at Chase Field. They’re also in slumps of 8-20 against winning teams and 5-10 against the A.L. West.

Oakland is still 10-5 in its last 15 games, and last night’s defeat snapped a 7-0 run against N.L. West clubs.

These two teams last met in the 2006 season, with Arizona sweeping three games at Oakland. The A’s are 6-2 in their last eight trips to Chase Field, but they haven’t played there since 2001. Also, the road team had won eight straight meetings before the DBacks’ win last night.

Davis, who spent six weeks on the disabled list earlier this year while recovering from cancer treatment, is coming off his best outing of the season, as he scattered six hits and four walks over seven scoreless innings against the Royals on Friday, but he got a no-decision in his team’s 1-0 home win. Four of Davis’ last six starts have been quality outings (at least six innings pitched and three earned runs or fewer allowed).

With his dominating effort against Kansas City, Davis lowered his home ERA to 4.00 in three starts. He’s also 6-1 with a 3.19 ERA in eight career games (six starts) against Oakland, having last faced the A’s in 2002. On the downside, he’s 0-2 with an 8.59 ERA in two daytime starts this season.

After two terrible starts against the Rangers and Angels (11 earned runs allowed in 11 1/3 innings), Smith bounced back on Friday at San Francisco, allowing a run on three hits in five innings, winning 5-1. The A’s are 3-1 in Smith’s last four starts.

Smith, who makes his first career start tonight against the team that drafted him, is 2-3 with a 4.32 ERA in seven starts on the road. He’s also 1-1 with a 5.20 ERA in day starts, compared with 3-4 with a 2.77 ERA at night, but Oakland is 4-1 in the 24-year-old’s five daytime outings.

The under is 7-1-1 in Smith’s last nine starts overall, including 5-1 in his last six on the road. Conversely, the over is 11-4 in Davis’ last 15 overall and 6-2 in his past eight at home.

Although the first two games of this series easily hurdled the total, the under for Oakland is still on streaks of 8-5-1 on the road, 5-2 as an underdog and 45-23-3 against the N.L. West. However, the over is 6-1-1 in the DBacks’ last eight overall, 10-3 in their last 13 against the A.L. West, 12-4-1 in their last 17 in interleague play and 23-10-2 in their last 35 interleague home games.

ATS ADVANTAGE: ARIZONA and UNDER

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Baseball Today

San Diego at New York Yankees (1:05 p.m. EDT). Joba Chamberlain (1-2, 2.48 ERA) tries again for his first win since joining the Yankees' rotation in the finale of the teams' interleague series. He's given up four earned runs and 12 hits in 12 2-3 innings spanning three starts.

STARS

-J.D. Drew, Red Sox, was 4-for-5 with a double and a homer, and drove in four runs in a 7-4 win over the Phillies.

-Placido Polanco, Tigers, was 4-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and scored three times in a 7-2 rout of the Giants.

-Alex Rodriguez, Yankees, went 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs in an 8-5 win over San Diego. A-Rod has homered in four straight games, and added a stolen base and two runs scored.

-Damion Easley, Mets, doubled and hit the go-ahead homer in the 10th inning of a 5-4 victory over the Angels, giving interim manager Jerry Manuel his first win in charge of New York.

-Chipper Jones, Braves, homered and had two hits to keep his major league-leading average at .400 during a 5-2 win over Texas.

-Mark Buehrle, White Sox, carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and wound up allowing four hits and two runs in eight innings of an 8-2 win over the White Sox.

-James Loney, Dodgers, homered and doubled to drive in a pair in a 6-1 rout of the Reds.

NO LOVE IN PHILLY

J.D. Drew tied a career high with four hits and fell a triple short of the cycle in Boston's 7-4 win over the Phillies. Booed each time he came up, Drew has been vilified in Philadelphia since refusing to sign with the Phillies after they drafted him with the second overall pick in the 1997 amateur draft. Now with his fourth team, the rude treatment hasn't changed.

A-ROD, YANKS ROLLING


Alex Rodriguez homered for the fourth straight game in the Yankees' 8-5 win over San Diego. New York has won a season-high six straight and 11 of 14, moving a season-best six games above .500. The Yankees go for their second series sweep in a row Thursday.

METS WIN FOR MANUEL

Damion Easley hit a tiebreaking home run in the 10th inning to give the Mets a 4-3 win over the Angels, and interim Jerry Manuel his first victory since taking over for Willie Randolph.

BACK AT 'YA

Dan Haren allowed one run and drove in three as Arizona routed Oakland 11-1. Haren limited his former team to four hits over seven innings, walking one and striking out eight. Haren, who was acquired from Oakland last winter in an eight-player deal, gave up a one-out single and walk in the first but then retired the next 12 batters.

LATE-INNING POWER

David DeJesus and Alex Gordon homered for the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning to help Kansas City beat St. Louis 3-2. A night earlier, Mike Aviles' eighth-inning homer made the Royals a winner. Kansas City lost its first 37 games when trailing after seven innings.

ONE IS A MAGIC NUMBER

Baltimore beat the Astros 2-1 in 10 innings Wednesday night for its fourth straight one-run decision, three of them wins. The O's are 17-10 in one-run games compared to 13-31 last year.

AILING

Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano was sent back to Chicago to be examined by a doctor after leaving in the seventh inning against Tampa Bay because of discomfort in his right shoulder. ... Ken Griffey Jr. was out of the Reds' lineup for a second consecutive game because of illness. ... Rangers slugger Milton Bradley was out with a strained left quadriceps. ... Cardinals starter Anthony Reyes went on the DL with a strained right elbow.

SNAPPING STREAKS

Marcus Thames had his stretch of consecutive games with a home run end at five against San Francisco. He had tied a Tigers record. ... Corey Hart had two hits to snap an 0-for-18 slide for the Brewers. ... Brian Bannister won for the first time in 11 tries while starting a night game in Kansas City's 3-2 win over St. Louis. ... Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez snapped his franchise-record streak of 25 straight save conversions by giving up David Wright's tying single in the ninth inning of a 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Mets.

SPEAKING

``They're not going to forget, I know that much. It's always one of those situations where you go out there and battle and you're going to hear things that you don't normally hear at other parks. It makes it fun.'' -Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew, who homered and had four hits in a 7-4 win over the Phillies. Drew has been vilified in Philadelphia since refusing to sign there after being drafted with the second overall pick in the 1997 amateur draft.

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Thursday's streaking starting pitchers
COVERS.com

A look at a few of Thursday’s hottest and coldest pitchers.

Streaking


Gavin Floyd, Chicago White Sox (7-3, 3.30 ERA)


Here’s one guy Ozzie Guillen isn’t yelling at these days. The White Sox have won this big righty’s last four starts, making for some nice paydays.

Floyd doesn’t have a pile of major league starts under his belt (53), so he’s managed to fly under the radar to this point. That means he usually sees decent odds, which is nice for a pitcher who always gives his team a shot at winning.

Floyd has only allowed more than four runs in two of his 13 starts this season and he hasn’t done that since May 11.

You might want to keep an eye on the over for Thursday’s game against the Pirates though. Floyd has given up a homer in each of his last five outings and he faces an umpire who forces you to pitch across the plate, Greg Gibson.

Gibson has seen a 9-5 over/under record play out in his games and he has a tight strike zone with just 60.5 percent of his pitches called for strikes.


Slumping

Zack Greinke, Kansas City Royals (5-4, 3.48 ERA)


You’re used to seeing this guy listed as one of the streaking pitchers. But lately Greinke hasn’t been so hot.

He is 0-3 with two no-decisions in his last five starts and he allowed a combined 21 earned runs over those outings. The worse news is that even when he’s pitching well lately, he isn’t getting the run support.

The righty tossed seven innings of shutout ball in his last start against Arizona, which resulted in a 1-0 loss. It should be noted though, that Greinke threw seven walks in that game.


Eric Stults, L.A. Dodgers (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Due to a couple of injuries in L.A.’s normal starting rotation, the lefty Stults will get the call-up from AAA for his first start of the year. Stults has just 18 starts in the majors to his credit over the past two seasons and his most recent appearances haven’t been pretty.

The Dodgers lost the last six times the southpaw appeared on the mound and the over cashed in his last five appearances. He went 1-4 in five starts last year for L.A. with a 5.82 ERA.

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Yankees sign righthander Ponson
June 18, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) -Adding depth to their injury-riddled pitching staff, the New York Yankees re-signed troubled right-hander Sidney Ponson to a minor league contract Wednesday.

With a history of off-the-field problems, Ponson was released Monday by the pitching-starved Texas Rangers for being a disruption to the team. He performed well on the mound, however, going 4-1 with a 3.88 ERA.

In other news, Hideki Matsui was out of the Yankees' starting lineup Wednesday night against San Diego because of a swollen left knee.

Matsui was to be examined by a doctor and have fluid drained from the knee, general manager Brian Cashman said before the game. The designated hitter and part-time left fielder had surgery on his other knee last offseason.

``Last year was much more painful,'' Matsui said through a translator.

Texas designated Ponson for assignment June 6, cutting him loose ``for disrespecting teammates and club personnel,'' general manager Jon Daniels said.

Ponson, who pitched briefly for the Yankees in 2006, will report to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and could be called up to the majors to start one game of New York's two-ballpark doubleheader against the Mets next Friday, Cashman said.

``He's coming into Scranton not to help us in the International League, he's coming in to try to pitch his way into the big leagues,'' Cashman said. ``I think it's just an obvious move.''

The Yankees are missing ace Chien-Ming Wang as well as young starters Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy due to injuries.

``If I can continue to build up some inventory on an incremental basis, that's what I need to do, I think,'' Cashman said.

Ponson started June 4 for Texas against Cleveland on three days' rest for the first time in his 11-year career, and reacted angrily when he was removed from the game after four innings.

Ponson allowed six runs, four of them unearned because of three errors by his teammates, further fueling his anger. The Indians went on to a 15-9 victory.

He was scheduled to sit for six days before his next start, which also upset him, and Rangers manager Ron Washington said Ponson came to his office to ``let me know about his displeasure.''

One report said Ponson had been put on notice by Texas officials after creating a disturbance at a hotel bar in Florida during a road trip. He had been informed that no other problems would be tolerated.

Ponson has had several other problems as well, including two DUI arrests from 2004-05.

Cashman said he spoke with Ponson and others about the pitcher's behavior with the Rangers.

``Hopefully, whatever happened in Texas stays in Texas,'' Cashman said. ``When Sidney was here for a short period of time, he was fine.''

The Yankees also claimed right-hander Oneli Perez off waivers from the Indians and optioned him to Double-A Trenton. The 24-year-old Perez had been pitching in Triple-A this season for Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox.

To make room for Perez on the 40-man roster, the Yankees transferred right-hander Jonathan Albaladejo (elbow) from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.

Cashman joked about the acquisition of Perez because many expect the Yankees to pursue a trade for Indians ace C.C. Sabathia, last year's AL Cy Young Award winner.

``I got a pitcher from Cleveland, like you guys have all been expecting, and we've optioned him to Trenton,'' Cashman said. ``Now we can put the Cleveland rumors to bed.''

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Thursday’s best MLB bets
By COVERS.com

Chicago Cubs at Tampa Bay -150, 8½

As the Chicago Cubs wait for the news about Carlos Zambrano’s shoulder, they are also looking to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the year today in Tampa after dropping the first two games of the series to the Rays.

Today could be better for Cubs bettors with a struggling James Shields on the hill for the Rays. Shields has three complete games under his belt already this year, but has been a different pitcher lately. Two starts ago he couldn’t get out of the first inning against the Red Sox, allowing four runs on three hits and he was smacked for two homers and six earned runs in a 6-1 loss to the Angels in his most recent start.

If you aren’t feeling the underdog here, the over might be a good alternative. Sean Gallagher is throwing smoke for the Cubs, but their bullpen is working on a 6.45 ERA over the last three games.

Pick: Cubs


Houston at Baltimore -125, 9 ½

This total has been a little tricky for some sportsbooks. Betjamaica.com opened the number at 10, then dropped it to 9 ½, and now has it back up at 10 for the time being at least. Most other books still have the over/under at 9 ½ runs, though they’re already juicing the over – and with good reason.

Today’s starters, Shawn Chacon for Houston and Brian Burres for the O’s, have combined to play over the total in 12 of their last 15 starts.

Chacon allowed only one earned run over 6 1/3 innings in his last outing, but surrendered 11 runs over a six-inning stretch before that. Meanwhile Burres is really struggling to hold it together. He’s given up 24 earned runs over his last four starts.

Pick: Over

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Breaking down baseball's betting busts
By BRYAN LEONARD

It's only June, but already there have been some surprises and some busts this baseball season. Here's a look at some of baseball's disappointments.

Mariners: The addition of strikeout king Eric Bedard to potential ace Felix Hernandez gave Seattle a dynamite one-two lefty/righty punch atop the rotation, a goal of every team. Yet, they are second worst in team ERA in the American League. Throw in the fact that Seattle is last in the AL in runs scored with a dysfunctional offense and you can see why they’ve been huge underachievers.

The Nationals came to town as the worst team in the National League, riddled by injuries and losers of 10 out of 12 games. By the time the Nationals left town, however, they had completed a three-game sweep capped by Sunday's 6-2 victory. The Father's Day crowd at Safeco Field was raining down boos upon the Mariners, who lost seven straight at home and now are the worst team in baseball. Pitcher Jarrod Washburn said, "It's been terrible. We find a different way to lose every night. We're just not good. We haven't shown any signs of turning it around. It's frustrating. It's embarrassing." Manager John McLaren won’t last the season.

Indians: The Indians have had a variety of problems, mainly on a struggling offense. However, they are improving, ranked sixth in the AL now in runs scored. Since pitching carries a team though the long summer, Cleveland is in decent shape with four left-handed starters and one right-hander. The lefties are C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers, while Paul Byrd is the lone right-hander. Fausto Carmona is currently on the shelf, but when he comes back they have the staff to make a run. Perhaps their timing has been poor: Tribe pitchers have allowed seven grand slams this year, the most in the big leagues.

Tigers: It’s no secret what has gone wrong in Detroit: Pitching. There hasn’t been enough of it, ranked third worst in the AL in team ERA. They are third in the AL in runs scored, so offense is not a problem. So is there hope? Yes. The potent lineup with Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez posted 22 runs in their three games against the Dodgers to sweep their second consecutive series. Also, Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya are returning from injuries to bolster a weak pen. They’ve gotten ace Justin Verlander straightened out, as well, off a terrific game against the White Sox. Look for Detroit to go shopping for a starter before the trade deadline.

Braves: So why is Atlanta terrible on the road and in a 6-13 rut? Injuries! Batting champion Chipper Jones is battling injuries, while the pitching staff has been positively decimated. Until last week, the Braves had been 0-7 without Jones in the lineup this season. Don’t look for the Braves to turn things around unless several of their pitchers get healthy.

Dodgers: New L.A. manager Joe Torre must feel snake-bitten. Sparkplug Rafael Furcal has been on the shelf, and ace Brad Penny just lasted only 3 2/3 innings of the Dodgers' 12-7 loss to the Detroit Tigers. Penny will have an MRI exam to determine the source of pain. The Dodgers on Saturday ended a 24-inning scoreless streak. L.A. has a losing record as a favorite, so beware of these money-burning Dodgers.

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