Diamond Preview June 23 - 29

Diamond Preview June 23 - 29

This week's streaking and slumping MLB teams
By ASHTON GREWAL

Summer officially began over the weekend which means you can depend on a few season traditions: Unoriginal Hollywood-sequel garbage and the boys of summer dominating the sports pages.

Covers catches you up on all the latest betting up and downs in the world of big league ball.

Stats current through Sunday June 22.

Cold

Toronto Blue Jays


Don’t worry Blue Jay backers you’re not hallucinating. That really is Cito Gaston monitoring the field in the Toronto dugout. Yes, the same Gaston who was canned by the Canadian club in 1997 and hasn’t managed since.

Gaston replaces John Gibbons who simply could not find an answer to the Jays' offensive problems. Toronto’s 1-0 loss on Friday dropped the team’s record to 10-19 in one-run games.

Before Sunday’s 8-5 win, the Jays had lost seven straight. Overall Toronto has won just five of 19 in the month of June.

Arizona Diamondbacks

The D-backs still lead the National League West but things aren’t going so smooth for the World Series contenders. Despite a red-hot start to the campaign, Arizona is now just two games above .500.

Many expected the Diamondbacks would not maintain their earlier productivity (28-16 on May 19) but few could have predicted this type of swoon. Arizona hasn’t won more than two games in a row since mid May.

Quiet bats are the chief culprits for the slump. June hasn’t been a kind month for talented players like Justin Upton (.109) and Chris Young (.231). The All-Star break can’t come soon enough for the D-backs. Look for them to be recharged after the layoff.

Hot

Detroit Tigers


Maybe there’s still some rock left in the city of Detroit after all. Two weeks ago the Tigers appeared to be an unmotivated group of underachievers. But after winning 11 of their last 14 some suggest the ballclub is hitting its stride.

Marcus Thames power surge has been a pleasant surprise for Detroit supporters. The left fielder has nine big flies in the last 15 days adding to a lineup already loaded with pop.

Perhaps the most promising sign was a strong start for staff ace Justin Verlander. The big right hander struck out 10 in five and 1/3 innings Sunday against the San Diego Padres en route to only his fourth win of the season.

Total trend

I was all set to write about how the Atlanta Braves’ offense is muck. I had a beautiful paragraph ripping the preseason faves to win the NL East for an overdependence on 36-year-old Chipper Jones.

No sooner did have these wonderful pros lined up did I realize Mark Teixeira lit up the Seattle Mariners for three hits (all round trippers) and four RBI. Well one thrashing of the worst team in the majors isn’t going to get the Braves off the hook.

Atlanta has played under the number in 11 of its last 16 contests thanks in large part to large total numbers. Oddsmakers have placed the total for Atlanta games lower than 9½ just six of the club’s last 18 contests.   

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Re: Diamond Preview June 23 - 29

Chan's MLB money arms: Week of June 23rd
By DAVID CHAN

Our money arms have gone 7-2 over the past two weeks, proving that a little homework can go a long way when it comes to building bankrolls. 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.

Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox, Monday vs. Arizona

I’ll start it off with a bit of a public arm. Josh Beckett always gets plenty of love from oddsmakers are well as the betting majority, but on Monday it’s deserving. He doesn’t lose many games at Fenway Park, but did come out on the short end of the stick against the Orioles the last time he took this mound. In his last start, he was masterful over seven shutout innings against the Reds. With the Diamondbacks slumping at the plate, Beckett will be able to extend his shutout streak, which currently sits at 11 innings. After a disappointing weekend against the Cardinals, the Red Sox will come out highly motivated on Monday.

Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox, Tuesday at Los Angeles

It took some time, but it looks like Mark Buehrle is finally settling in here in 2008. He has lasted eight innings in each of his last three starts, giving up a grand total of 18 hits and four earned runs. The Dodgers have hit lefties well this season, but in my opinion, this is an offense that can never be trusted, especially against crafty veterans such as Buehrle. The White Sox have been having a tough time finding the win column on the road, but that only serves to give us additional value on Tuesday.

Josh Banks, San Diego Padres, Wednesday vs. Minnesota

Banks got a taste of the major leagues with the Blue Jays last summer, and he’s making the most of his second opportunity with the Padres. Ever since he worked six innings in relief of a marathon 12-9 18-inning win over the Reds, Banks has been in top form. Over his last 31 1/3 innings, Banks has given up 25 hits and six earned runs. He should be brimming with confidence after keeping his team in the game at Yankee Stadium in his last start. Now he gets the chance to silence a Twins lineup that hasn’t exactly lit it up on the road this season.

John Danks, Chicago White Sox, Thursday at Los Angeles

Danks hasn’t received a decision in his last five starts, but this looks like a good spot for him to get back in the win column. The White Sox have lost each of his last two outings, by no fault of his. Over his last 12 innings pitched, Danks has given up only 10 hits and one earned run. He has struck out 11 and walked only one over that period. In five of his last six starts he has given up two earned runs or less.

Rich Harden, Oakland Athletics, Thursday vs. Philadelphia

This might look like a bit of a no brainer, but we should get some value thanks to the Phillies standing as the superior team in the eyes of the betting public. Harden has still yet to lose a decision this season, posting a spotless 4-0 record through 10 starts. Go back over his last seven outings, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a sub par effort. He has given up two earned runs or fewer six times over that span. The Phillies enter this series in a bit of a downward spiral, so it may be that Harden is catching them at just the right time. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard make this offense go, and they’re both struggling at the plate.

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Diamond Preview
By Matt Fargo

Monday, June 23rd

Arizona Diamondbacks at Boston Red Sox 7:05 PM ET


A battle of first place teams takes place on Monday. Arizona remains 3.5 games in front of the Dodgers in the National League West but it has been a struggle for the Diamondbacks. Since May 20th, Arizona is a dismal 11-21 over its last 32 games including a sweep at the hands of the Twins over the weekend. Boston avoided a sweep against St. Louis thanks to an extra-inning win on Sunday. Despite losing two of three, Boston still owns the best home record in the American League.

Tuesday, June 24th

St. Louis Cardinals at Detroit Tigers 7:05 PM ET


Interleague play continues including this matchup of teams trying to keep pace in their respective divisions. The Cardinals are coming off a big series win at Boston to remain 4.5 games back of Chicago while Detroit is playing its best baseball of the season with wins in 12 of its last 15 games. The Tigers are just five games back. The pitching duel should be great with the Cardinals going with Braden Looper and the Tigers countering with Kenny Rogers. Both pitchers have identical 1.23 ERA’s over their last three starts.

Wednesday, June 25th

Cincinnati Reds at Toronto Blue Jays 7:05 PM ET

The best pitching matchup of the night takes place north of the border as Aaron Harang looks to turn things around while Roy Halladay is just happy to be on the mound. Harang is one of the better pitchers but is struggling with a 3-10 record to go along with a 4.33 ERA. Cincinnati has dropped six of his last seven starts. Halladay meanwhile is thankful after taking a line drive to the right temple, forcing him to leave his last start. Everything checked out and he will look to improve upon his 2.90 ERA which is 6th in the A.L.

Thursday, June 26th

Tampa Bay Rays at Florida Marlins 12:10 PM ET


The Florida rivals conclude their three-game set Thursday afternoon. The surprising Rays entered the week just a game and a half out of first place in the American League East while Florida remains just a game back in the National League East. Tampa Bay took two of three in the first meeting this season and this pitching matchup between Matt Garza and Mark Hendrickson is a rematch of the game 12 days ago. Both pitched well but it was Garza who got the win however he comes in 1-3 with a 6.25 ERA on the road.

Friday, June 27th

New York Mets at New York Yankees 2:05 PM ET


The final edition of the 2008 subway series starts on Friday. This game is a makeup of the rainout from May 16th and after this game, the two head from the Bronx to Queens to start the three-game set at Shea Stadium with gametime at 8:10. The Mets took the two games in the first series last month but right now it is the Yankees who are playing the best baseball. They have won eight of their last 10 games and are 21-10 over their last 31 games. The Mets are back to .500 but are still stuck in neutral

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