MLB News and Notes June 23

MLB News and Notes June 23

Monday Pitching Profile
By Josh Jacobs

Only a handful of games will commence on Monday, but with starting pitchers like Ben Sheets and John Lackey taking the hill bettors have plenty of action to wager on.

Ben Sheets (8-1, 2.74 ERA)

Milwaukee ace Ben Sheets is looking to build upon a four-game winning streak. With the Brewers struggling through May with a 13-16 record, June looks to have served as a cleansing of sorts. Milwaukee is now 12-6 this month and a 5-1 run in the last six has kept the team in striking distance of the Cubs and Cardinals.

Sheets has been phenomenal in his last six outings, allowing a scant 6.8 hits per game and 1.6 runs per game. The ‘over’ is 3-0 is his last three starts mainly die to the fact that the batting order is supplying their ace star with 5.1 of support per start.

What’s more impressive is Sheet’s spotless 5-0 record on the road versus three wins and one loss at home. In 58.1 innings in away games, Sheets has kept his statistics consistent by allowing 1.8 runs per game, while logging in 48 strikeouts.

Both right and left handed hitters have struggled to pick up the ball when Sheets receives the start. Southpaws are looking at a .235 BA versus the seven-year vet and righties are floundering with a .226 BA.

A reflection of the Brewers as a whole, June has been a great month so far for Sheets, who’s now 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA. Situational wise, after a one 1-2 count batters are swinging toothpicks for a .105 BA.

It should come as no surprise that books have listed Milwaukee as an underdog twice in a total of 13 games when Sheets is scheduled to start. has listed the Brewers as a slight $1.10 visiting favorite, while the total has opened up at nine runs.

Johan Santana (7-5, 3.04 ERA)

Johan Santana was on a 4-1 role not too long ago, but the negativity swirling around the Mets’ clubhouse seems to be far reaching. Since Jun. 1, Santana has gone 0-2 in three starts. The real trouble emanating from the entire team was in a 5-4 loss against Arizona. Santana tossed a masterful contest, giving up three hits and no runs with 10 strikeouts, but reliever, Billy Wagner (16 saves, 2.10 ERA) found a way to record his fifth blown save of the season.

Santana and the Mets will face off against the Mariners on Monday at 7:10 p.m. EDT on ESPN. It’s worth mentioning that Santana is a smoking 4-0 with a 3.08 ERA in his last six starts against Seattle.

The Mets are 6-0 in Santana’s last six starts in Game 1 of a series, are 4-1 in Santana’s last five home starts and are 9-2 in their last 11 interleague games. Right-handed hitters have flopped against Santana this season, batting .213 with a .213 on base percentage.

Most books have installed New York as a chalky $1.52 home favorite, with a total set at a low 7½-runs.

John Lackey (4-1, 1.73 ERA)

Angels’ starter John Lackey is looking to extend his three-game winning streak heading into a 7:10 p.m. EDT contest against Washington. Lackey has been fire since returning from the DL on May 14, locking down teams to a meager 1.6 runs per game and a .214 BAA in seven starts.

Night time has been the right time for Lackey. During the evening hours, the right-handed hurler has gone 3-1 with an outstanding 1.61 ERA. Tossing 32 strikeouts is almost more then the 35 hits surrendered in 44.2 innings of work at night.

One trend that many are looking to buck is the 6-0 ‘under’ record that Lackey has been a part of this season. Books have gone so far to adjust the total at seven runs in his last two starts due to the fact that an average combine score of 5.2 runs per game have been recorded in Lackey’s seven starts.

And this is an L.A. team who’s put together only 3.1 runs of support per start for Lackey.

In the last three years of his career, Lackey has been less then stellar in June, hurling for a 5-4 record with an uncharacteristic 3.69 ERA.

The Halos are 13-3 in Lackey’s last 16 interleague starts and are 40-19 in his last 59 appearances on the mound. has listed L.A. as a $1.64 visiting favorite.

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Baseball hot streaks and meltdowns

With the summer upon us, hot weather is being fused with hot baseball streaks of all kinds. So what gives with these Detroit Tigers, winning 10 of 12 games? They’re actually living up to their potential. Just a few months later than expected. Look at the offense during their 5-of-6 win streak over the Dodgers and Giants: 5, 12, 5, 6, 5, and 7 runs.

Marcus Thames is not one of their big boppers, at least before the season starter, yet the last eight hits for Thames were home runs during that stretch. He hit seven home runs in his last seven games and six in the last five. He became the first Tiger since Willie Horton in 1969 to hit more than four home runs while connecting for at least one in four consecutive games. Even an ace pitcher like San Francisco's outstanding right-hander Tim Lincecum, who had allowed only three home runs all year and not more than one per customer, found himself serving up two to Thames in one game.

And how about Placido Polanco hitting .367 in his last 47 games? They are also getting some quality pitching from Justin Verlander and veteran Kenny Rogers, which will go a long way to stabilizing the rotation. Getting Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney back throwing smoke out of the pen would also help things.

Contrast that with the NL’s most disappointing team, the New York Mets. Willie Randolph got the ax and Jerry Manuel takes over. So how do the Mets shape up statistically? Well, they are not bad in runs scored, ranked seventh in the NL, and they are not bad in pitching, also ranked seventh in the NL, plus in the middle of the pack in fielding. They should be better, especially when you realize they can throw Johan Santana and John Maine two out of every five games.

It was interesting that Manuel's first lineup card was a departure from the norm, as he gave third baseman David Wright his first break of the season from fielding duty by having him serve as the Mets' DH. Wright began the day as the only player in the big leagues to have played every inning of every game this year, which was in part a function of Randolph managing for his job and needing his best players in the lineup every day.

Another disappointing team making a change is the Mariners, dumping manager John McLaren for bench coach Jim Riggleman. The Mariners also fired general manager Bill Bavasi, replacing him on an interim basis with Lee Pelekoudas. The change at manager was not a surprise. McLaren was in over his head and had little talent or experience for handling pitching, which is the chief role of a manager.

It was interesting that the new manager moved Ichiro Suzuki back to right field, where he first came up. It’s going to take a lot more than that to get the punchless Mariners more wins, however. This team is dysfunctional, ranked last in the AL in runs scored, and second to last in pitching. At least their defense is sound – oh, wait a minute. They’ve made the fourth most errors in the AL. Stick a fork in ‘em.

At the other end of the spectrum the White Sox have turned things around, taking charge in the struggling AL Central. They lead the majors with a 3.33 team ERA and have an even stingier 3.04 ERA over the last 61 games. In that span, the starters are 23-20 with a 3.26 ERA, and the bullpen is 10-7 with a 2.47 ERA. The pitching has been strong enough for the Sox to remain in first place in the American League Central despite an offense that ranks near the bottom of the league. It doesn’t help the offense that first baseman Paul Konerko is on the 15-day DL. That’s similar to last season.

The additions of Scott Linebrink (2-1, 1.29 ERA) and Octavio Dotel (3-4, 2.87) have been part of the turnaround, but the Sox also have seen dramatic improvement in holdovers Matt Thornton (3-1, 2.70), Boone Logan (2-1, 2.16) and Nick Masset (0-0, 3.45). So with great pitching and a suspect offense you would expect the White Sox to be a strong team under the total. They are, especially on the road, starting 23-13 under the total .

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Monday's streaking and slumping pitchers

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


Ben Sheets, Milwaukee Brewers (8-1, 2.74 ERA)

At 8-1 this season, the Brew Crew’s Sheets is pretty good. He gets even better when you throw him on the mound during a road start at night.

Sheets is 5-0 on the road and 5-0 at night with a spectacular 1.82 ERA. He’s also 4-0 over his last six starts and the righty gave up only one earned run through six innings in the only game Milwaukee lost during that stretch.

Sheets also loves playing the Braves. He’s won his last five starts against them dating back to 2005.

John Lackey, L.A. Angels (4-1, 1.73)

How solid has Lackey been?

If you’re an ‘over’ bettor, you’d say not very good at all. The under is 8-0-1 in the right-hander’s last nine starts and it’s largely because scoring runs on him doesn’t come easily.

Lackey has allowed just 10 earned runs in seven starts this season, despite tossing at least seven innings in every outing. He’s allowed more than two runs only once, when the White Sox did it in late May when Lackey tossed eight innings.

The Angels have won his last four starts and there aren’t any signs of him slowing down. He faces a struggling hurler on Monday, who made our ‘slumping’ list for the day. 


Jason Bergmann, Washington Nationals (1-5, 5.03 ERA)

Bergmann is having a tough time. The Nats have won just one of his nine starts this season which includes a streak of six straight losses heading into Monday’s start against the L.A. Angels.

Washington is 0-4 in Bergmann’s home outings, where he sports a costly 6.35 ERA. That’s not entirely all his fault, however. The Nationals are just 15-22 at home this season and they’ve lost nearly $1000 for supporters risking $100 per game.

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Baseball Today

St. Louis at Detroit (7:05 p.m. EDT). The Cardinals' Braden Looper (8-5, 4.10 ERA) matches up with veteran Kenny Rogers (5-4, 4.36) of the Tigers. St. Louis has won 12 of 18 on the road, and in his last road start, Looper picked up his first career complete game and shutout, a three-hitter at Cincinnati on June 11. Looper has walked just three batters in 40 innings away from home this season.


-Mark Teixeira, Braves, hit three home runs - including homers from both sides of the plate - and finished with four RBIs in an 8-3 win over the Mariners.

-Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox, hit a pair of homers including the game-winning, two-run shot in the 13th inning for a 5-3 win over the Cardinals.

-Andy Pettitte, Yankees, ran his scoreless streak to 19 innings, scattering four hits and two walks over six in a 4-1 win over the Reds.

-Prince Fielder, Brewers, hit a pair of homers, a double and finished with three RBIs in a 7-3 win over the Orioles.

-Justin Duchscherer, Athletics, gave up a run and six hits over 7 2-3 innings to drop his AL-leading ERA to 1.99 in a 7-1 rout of the Marlins.

-Magglio Ordonez, Tigers, homered and drove in three runs in a 5-3 win over the Padres.

-Vicente Padilla, Rangers, gave up three runs on five hits and a pair of walks to win his 10th game of the season with a 5-3 victory over the woeful Nationals.


Mark Teixeira homered three times to lead Atlanta over Seattle 8-3. Teixeira hit solo drives batting left-handed in the second and fourth innings, and a two-run shot from the right side in the seventh for his 13th homer of the season. It was his second career three-homer game and the first for an Atlanta player at Turner Field. Teixeira's first three-homer game came on July 13, 2006, for Texas at Baltimore. It's the fourth time in his career he has connected from both sides of the plate.


The Florida Marlins called up outfielder Jai Miller from Triple-A Albuquerque on Sunday to provide some depth after center fielder Alfredo Amezaga injured his left groin while running the bases Saturday. It was a short stay for Miller, who made his major league debut in the seventh and struck out in his only at-bat. He was optioned back to Triple-A after the Marlins' 7-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics.


The Red Sox led off the 10th, 11th and 12th innings with doubles, yet failed to put away the Cardinals. Kevin Youkilis's second home run, in the bottom of the 13th, sealed things in Boston's 5-3 win over St. Louis. Youkilis is hitting .407 (11-for-27) with four homers during his current seven-game hitting streak.


Prince Fielder hit two of the Brewers' four homers and Milwaukee beat Baltimore 7-3 for their sixth win in seven games. The Brewers have hit 45 home runs in their last 22 games, going 15-7 in that span.


Carlos Beltran hit a two-run homer and the New York Mets beat the Colorado Rockies 3-1 to wrap up a winning road trip under interim manager Jerry Manuel, who took over for the fired Willie Randolph after the Mets beat the Los Angeles Angels to open a six-game trip last Monday. New York lost in Manuel's debut on the bench, but rebounded to beat the Angels and take two of three from the Rockies.


Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez pitched a scoreless ninth in Los Angeles' 3-2 win over Philadelphia. He picked up his major league-leading 30th save in 32 chances. Rodriguez has saved at least 40 games each of the last three years, but had never picked up his 30th before Aug. 13. Bobby Thigpen, who holds the single-seas mark with 57 saves in 1990, picked up his 30th that year on July 15.


Pirates starter Ian Snell lasted just four innings in Pittsburgh's 8-5 loss to Toronto. Snell has won only once since April 12, and manager John Russell said he would undergo an MRI exam on Monday. The right-hander complained about irritation in his elbow after the loss. Snell allowed four runs and eight hits, walked four and struck out. His ERA climbed to 5.99.


Braves starter Tim Hudson allowed four hits in seven scoreless innings in Atlanta's 8-3 win over Steattle to finally win an interleague game with Atlanta. Before Sunday, Hudson was 0-10 with a 7.82 ERA in 12 interleague starts with the Braves. He was 0-3 with an 11.25 ERA against AL West teams. ... Justin Verlander of Detroit gave up two runs in 5 1-3 innings in Detroit's 5-3 win over San Diego for his first road win since last September. He had been 0-5 on the road in six starts this season.


Matt Holliday went 1-for-4 in Colorado's 3-1 loss to the Mets. He has hit safely in 24 straight games against New York. ... Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte tossed six innings of four-hit ball in New York's 4-1 win over Cincinnati. He hasn't allowed a run in 19 straight innings. ... The Twins beat the Diamondbacks for their sixth straight win. ... Giants outfielder Fred Lewis went 3-for-4 in San Francisco's 11-10 loss to Kansas City. He has hit in 12 straight games.


Reds manager Dusty Baker sat slugger Adam Dunn, mired in a 6-for-55 skid. ... Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek went 0-for-5 against the Cardinals and is hitless in his last 24 at-bats. ... Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb gave up five runs - four earned - and eight hits in seven innings in Arizona's 5-3 loss to Minnesota. The 2006 NL Cy Young winner started the season 9-0, but is 2-4 with a 4.64 ERA since.


``There were so many things when you lose a game like that. It goes to show that you have to play hard for nine innings, and they did. They shut us down the last four innings and we had trouble shutting them down. This was an ugly game for both sides, really.'' -Giants manager Bruce Bochy, after watching his team squander a seven-run lead in an 11-10 loss to the Royals.

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Milwaukee (41-34) at Atlanta (38-39)

The red-hot Brewers send ace Ben Sheets (8-1, 2.74 ERA) to the mound at Turner Field to take on the Braves and young left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes (3-4, 4.05) in the opener of a three-game series in Atlanta.

Milwaukee has won six of its last seven overall, including Sunday’s 7-3 victory over the Orioles. The Brewers are 6-1 in their last seven Monday games and 6-1 in their last seven when facing a southpaw, but they’re 7-15 in their last 22 on the road and 34-71 in their last 105 road games against a team with a losing record.

Atlanta is coming off a pair of wins over the lowly Mariners, rallying for a 5-4 victory Saturday and cruising 7-3 on Sunday. The Braves are on a 37-15 roll at Turner Field dating back to last season, including 27-12 this year. Also, Bobby Cox’s club sports streaks of 22-7 at home against right-handed starters and 4-0 on Mondays, but it has lost six straight games against the N.L. Central and is 2-7 in its last nine versus winning teams.

The Brewers took two of three against the Braves in Milwaukee a month ago, but Atlanta is 6-4 in the last 10 series clashes. Finally, the home team is 4-1 in the last five meetings.

Milwaukee has won 10 of Sheets’ 14 starts this season, including seven of nine on the road where the right-hander is a perfect 5-0 with a 2.62 ERA. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in six straight starts and gave up two runs on four hits in six innings of a 5-4 home win over the Blue Jays on Wednesday.

For his career, Sheets is 8-3 with a 4.80 ERA in 11 starts against the Braves, including 4-2 with a 5.27 ERA in 41 innings of work at Turner Field. The Brewers have won his last five starts against Atlanta, including a 5-4 victory last season with Sheets yielding three runs on 11 hits in six innings.

Reyes has a 2.82 ERA in his last three starts but he’s just 1-1, with the victory coming Wednesday in Texas, where he surrendered two runs (one earned) in seven innings of a 5-2 win. At home this season, he’s gone 2-2 with a 5.17 ERA, including a 6-2 loss to the Phillies in his most recent outing at Turner Field, as he gave up four runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings.

Reyes was a tough-luck loser against the Brewers last month, yielding just one run on two hits in seven innings but losing 1-0. In two career starts against Milwaukee he’s allowed four earned runs on six hits in 12 1/3 innings (2.92 ERA).

With Sheets on the hill, the Brewers are on hot streaks of 24-9 overall, 10-2 on the road, 13-3 against the N.L. East and 4-1 on Mondays. Meanwhile, Atlanta is 6-2 in Reyes’ last eight at home and 9-4 in his last 13 overall.

The over is 7-2-1 in Sheets’ last 10 with four days of rest and 7-3 in his last 10 against the Braves (4-1 in Atlanta), but the under is 4-1-1 in his last six Monday outings. For Reyes, the under is 8-2-1 in his last 11 overall.

Milwaukee has topped the total in eight of its last 11 overall, but otherwise the team is on “under” runs of 6-2 against southpaws, 17-5 against the N.L. East, 10-3-1 in series openers and 4-1 on Mondays. The Braves are on “under” streaks of 41-19-3 overall, 37-16-3 against right-handed starters, 20-8 in series openers, 20-7-4 against the N.L. Central and 4-2 at home.

Finally, the under is 17-8 in the last 25 series meetings in Atlanta and 6-1 in the last seven head-to-head battles overall.   



Arizona (39-37) at Boston (47-31)

A pair of division leaders are set square off at Fenway Park as the Diamondbacks send Danny Haren (7-4, 3.26) to the mound opposite Red Sox ace Josh Beckett (7-4, 3.87).

Arizona arrives in Boston after getting swept in Minnesota over the weekend, capped by Sunday’s 5-3 setback. The Diamondbacks, who were outscored 18-6 in Minnesota, have lost six of their last eight and 12 of 19. They’ve also really struggled on the road, going just 6-17 in their last 23 on foreign turf.

Boston needed to go 13 innings versus the Cardinals on Sunday to avoid a rare three-game sweep at Fenway Park, getting a walk-off, two-run homer from Kevin Youkilis for a 5-3 victory. The Red Sox have been the kings of interleague play in recent years, going 49-13 in their last 62 against the National League. Boston is also on a 40-12 roll at Fenway since last season (29-9 this year), and the team is 41-11 in its last 52 games when hosting N.L. squads. The Sox also carry streaks of 5-0 against the N.L. West and 38-16 at Fenway against teams with a winning record.

These teams met last year in Arizona, with the Red Sox taking two of three. In the only previous meeting in 2002, the DBacks swept a three-game set in Boston.

Haren held the A’s to one run on four hits in seven innings en route to an 11-1 win over his former team on Wednesday, as Arizona improved to 4-0 in the right-hander’s last four starts. Haren is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his last three outings, but on the road he is 0-3 with a 4.62 ERA in six starts.

Going back to his days in Oakland, Haren is just 1-3 with a 3.26 ERA in five lifetime starts (30 1/3 innings) against Boston. He saw them last season as a member of the A’s and allowed two runs on four hits in 7 2/3 innings of a 5-4 victory.

Beckett has been sidelined since June 15, when he pitched seven innings of shutout ball against Cincinnati, as he and the Sox got an easy 9-0 win. The veteran righty hasn’t lost at Fenway this season, going 4-0 despite a 4.81 ERA. Against the DBacks, Beckett is 1-3 with a 5.65 ERA in five career starts, but the lone victory was a 10-3 blowout triumph in Arizona last June, when he held the DBacks to three runs (two earned) on five hits (no walks) in eight innings work.

Terry Francona’s club is 35-16 in Beckett’s last 51 starts, 21-6 in his last 27 when facing a winning team, 10-1 in his past 11 interleague starts and 10-4 in his last 14 series openers.

The under is 7-3 in Haren’s last 10 outings for Arizona, but the over is 5-2 in Beckett’s last seven at home, 4-1-1 in his last six Monday starts and 4-1 in his last five series openers.

For the Diamondbacks, the over trends include 8-0-1 against the A.L. East, 4-2 in interleague road games and 5-2 against right-handed starters. Additionally, Boston is on over streaks of 4-2-2 overall, 6-2-2 against right-handed starters and 4-1-1 against righties at home, but the under is 20-8-3 in the squad’s last 31 games on Mondays.


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Monday's news you need to know

Chipper still out; Escobar could play - Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Shortstop Yunel Escobar (hip flexor strain) said he hopes to play Monday in the series opener against Milwaukee, but Cox said third baseman Chipper Jones (quadriceps tear) would miss a third consecutive start. Braves have a tough assignment in Sheets, who's 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in his past five starts and hasn't lost on the road (5-0, 2.62 ERA in nine starts, with 48 strikeouts and 15 walks). He's 8-3 in 11 starts against the Braves, including 6-1 with a 3.20 ERA in his past seven while piling up 62 strikeouts and only six walks in 50-2/3 innings. He's won five in a row against the Braves.

Byrnes is back - Arizona Republic

The Diamondbacks are hoping their offense will get a spark Monday. Eric Byrnes is expected back The Diamondbacks left fielder, out since May 27 with tears in both hamstrings, finished a three-game rehab assignment on Saturday for Class A Visalia and is scheduled to meet the team in Boston, where he will be activated from the 15-day disabled list.

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Monday's best MLB bets

Milwaukee at Atlanta +105, 8

The Milwaukee Brewers are known for a few things like home runs, excellent fans and a fantastic mascot, but what doesn’t get as much attention as it should is the way this team can play some defense.

The Brewers turned five double plays Sunday night to help starter Manny Parra figure in a 7-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

"Any time you walk 10 guys and only one scores, you've got some marvelous defense in there somewhere," manager Ned Yost told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

The Brewers probably won’t have to worry about that many free passes today with Ben Sheets on the hill against a red-hot Jo-Jo Reyes and his Atlanta Braves. Sheets hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs since May 15 and Milwaukee is 10-4 with their ace on the hill.

Pick: Brewers

Arizona at Boston -160, 8½

It must seem like an eternity ago since the Diamondbacks got off to their blistering start this season. After opening up a big lead in the NL West, Arizona is only 11-21 since May 20, and has lost 6.65 units for the club’s bettors so far this season.

Still, the D-Backs sit 3 ½ games ahead of the second-place Dodgers in the NL West as the club gets ready for a three-game set at Fenway Park and have Danny Haren on the hill to go up against Josh Beckett today. Haren has allowed just six earned runs over his last four starts.

Pick: Under

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