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MLB News and Notes June 27

MLB News and Notes June 27

Weekend Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

There’s no doubting that this weekend will be chock full of action waiting for gamblers to cash in on the countless intrastate rivalries. Who wouldn’t want to crack some cold ones open with the buddies in preparation for the New York Yankees and Mets going head-to-head. Or maybe your West Coast blood is pumping for the Angels and Dodgers showdown.

Either way, there’s plenty of opportunity out there. Beginning with Friday’s opening three (or four) game series, let’s take a look at some highlighted ballgames which will put a cap on interleague play for 2008. Good luck and let's play ball!


N.Y. Mets (Pelfrey) at N.Y. Yankees (Giese) – 2:05 p.m. EDT

While not necessarily the beginning of a four-game weekend series, this afternoon meeting in Yankee Stadium is a result of a May 16 postponed contest. So what better way to schedule out the last few games of the regular season Subway Series then to have a 2:05 p.m. throw down in the Bronx (makeup game) followed up by an 8:10 p.m. contest at Shea (Game 1 of the weekend series)?   

There’s no sugar coating the inept play of the Mets this season. Bettors are dealing with a club whose -1031 on the money line and -524 on the run line. Although 10-4 in their last 14 interleague games, the Mets have struggled in their last 10 with a .250 BA and a starting pitching staff accounting for a 4.76 ERA.

Getting the start for the Mets will be right-hander, Mike Pelfrey (4-6, 4.30 ERA). Pelfrey is coming off a win over Colorado which saw the second-year pro tossing only 5.2 innings (98 pitches), but giving up a skimp three hits with no runs. However, buyers beware because lefty hitters have tagged Pelfrey for a .350 BA, while road games have been worse with all sided batters tallying up a .357 BA.

The Yankees have already dropped two contests against the Mets back in May, and now a 9-11 record against their cross town rival has placed the Bombers under a microscope.

The Pinstripes have been hitting opposing pitchers for a .308 BA in the last 10, and players Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and Alex Rodriguez have combined to produce a .366 BA with 30 RBIs in the month of June.

Yankees starter Dan Giese (1-2, 0.64) will make his second professional start of his career on Friday. Coming off a loss against Cincinnati (6-0), Giese worked 6.2 innings and was responsible for giving up three runs on four hits.

The Bronx Bombers are 9-3 in their last 12 and 8-3 in their last 11 interleague games.

In the last two games versus the Yanks, the Mets outscored their counterpart 18-6. The ‘over’ is 13-7 in their last 20 pairings together.

N.Y. Yankees (Ponson) at N.Y. Mets (Martinez) – 8:10 p.m. EDT

The double header will end in Flushing, New York when the Mets send out veteran starter Pedro Martinez (2-1, 6.57) to the hill.

Making only his second start of the season at home, Martinez has secured a 12-6 record with a 2.63 ERA in 28 starts at home over the last three years. Batters have struggled to make contact with a .210 BA against the right-hander in those same 28 starts. In Martinez’s last 10 trips to the mound, 2.6 runs sacrificed per game have translated into a five wins and two losses (with three no decisions).

What’s sure to make front page headlines following the game is Yankees' newly acquired starter Sidney Ponson (4-1, 3.88). Ponson is fresh from leaving Texas and the Pinstripes have been desperate to fill the large shoes of Chien-Ming Wang after his departure with a mid-foot sprain and a partial tear in his right foot on June 15.

The Yankees’ Ponson has been a dream for total players. Seven straight ‘over’ games are a result of the righty giving up 4.3 runs per game, while his ex-Texas club tagged on 8.9 runs per game. Combine the run support and Ponson’s own shaky performance and the results are games averaging a combined score of 15.7 runs per game in those last seven mentioned.

The Yankees are 4-5 in their last nine played in Shea Stadium.


Arizona (Webb) at Florida (Miller) – 7:10 p.m. EDT

Even after going 12-23 in their last 35, the Diamondbacks continue to hang onto first place in the NL West (guess it says a lot about the division).

Whichever direction Arizona is traveling in you can be sure that the talk on Saturday will focus on ace Brandon Webb and the recent troubles he’s been involved in. Webb has been shell shocked for a total of 12 runs off 17 hits in the last two outings. To make this even clearer, the five-year vet has given up an average of 3.6 runs per game (2.9 of them earned) in his last 10.

The Diamondbacks are 7-19 in their last 26 road games.

Florida is 22-17 at home this season but has experienced a hard time at the plate. The offense has been bogged down by swinging for an underachieving .246 BA at home, while a .256 BA overall ranks the Marlins 21st worst in the league.

Southpaw starter Andrew Miller (5-6, 5.07) has been hot and cold as of late. In his last six starts, Miller has gone 1-3 (even with the offense giving him 5.1 runs of support per start), giving up three runs per game. Two years in the league has netted the left-hander a 3-3 record with an inflated 6.45 ERA.

The good news which blankets the batting woes is Florida’s +1030 money line profit and a run line record of 45-32 equating to +9.00 units.

The D-Backs are 5-14 in their last 19 meetings in Florida.

L.A. Angles (Weaver) at L.A. Dodgers (Billingsley) – 10:10 p.m. EDT

The intrastate rivalry continues throughout the MLB when the Angels shift venues and head out to Dodger town.

The Halos enter Saturday evening’s contest with an explosive 9-2 record in their last 11 meetings with the Dodgers. Stringing up five wins in a row before dropping a 5-4 contests in Washington has put a current tally of +11.57 units of profit on the board.

With Angels’ slinger Jered Weaver (7-7, 4.56) taking the mound there’s several stats that make his start attractive. His last win netted bettors a hefty +163 pay out (gave up four hits and one run in a 3-2 road victory over Philadelphia last Sunday) and in the Angels last win over the Dodgers (10-2) on May 18, Weaver again came through with a solid outing. His five hits allowed and two runs sacrificed were plenty of defensive support needed for the Halos offensive barrage.

And take a look at the ‘under’ which has gone 12-6-2 in the last 20 head-to-head meetings between these two clubs.
Howie Kendrick and the Angels are 26-12 with a +1563 money line profit on the road.     

Complimenting this total’s play is the Dodgers 6-3 ‘under’ record in their last nine with a total score averaging 8.8 runs per game in the last 10 (combined score).

The Dodgers have been a money pit with a money line deficit of -9.32 units, while the run line loss has been substantial at -16.49 units.

June has been especially damaging to the Dodgers’ offense. The bats have been consistently falling off the charts since the season began, but this month has now seen L.A. swinging for a .246 BA. This is a drop of 32 points since April (.278 in April).

The Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley (6-7, 3.64) is 4-2 in his last eight starts.


Cubs (Marshall) at White Sox (Buehrle) – 8:05 p.m. EDT on ESPN

The final meeting between these two heated cross town rivals will bring with it a hot ‘under’ trend of 7-1 in the last eight meetings in U.S. Cellular Field.

Dominant over the White Sox, the Cubs have compiled a 9-1 record in the last 10 head-to-head meetings. Even though the Sox are a blistering 20-6 in their last 26 home games, the Cubbies offset this trend with a monumental 20-8 record in their last 28 overall games.

Statistically speaking, both clubs have been fairly close (of not offsetting) in the offensive and defensive departments. The Cubs are hitting .295 with both the rotation and pen hurling a 4.03 ERA, while the “South Siders” have topped out with a .299 BA and a team ERA of 4.08.

Just be wary of Cubs’ starter Sean Marshall (0-1, 5.40). The southpaw slinger will see only his second start of the season on Sunday, while a career record of 13-18 in 44 total starts has been far from spectacular. Marshall, who’s been optioned and recalled a total of four times this season, has spent most of his time in relief this year. His first and last start on Jun. 24 saw the lefty go a short 4.2 innings after giving up seven hits and four runs.

White Sox hurler Mark Buehrle (5-6, 4.04) will take the hill for his 17th start of the season. Buehrle is 3-0 in his last four starts, throwing a total of 32 innings. Only five runs have been attached to the veteran southpaw over the same four starts.

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Diamond Preview
By Matt Fargo

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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Baseball Today

New York Mets vs. New York Yankees, (2:05 p.m. and 8:10 p.m.). For the third time, the Subway Series hits both parks in one day. The opener at Yankee Stadium is a makeup of a rainout and the Mets throw Mike Pelfrey (4-6) against Dan Giese (1-2). The nightcap at Shea is the first of three there this weekend. Pedro Martinez (2-1) faces Sidney Ponson (4-1), making his first start of New York.

Flash: http://STARS

-Matt Garza, Rays, struck out 10 in a one-hitter, leading Tampa Bay to a 6-1 victory over the Florida Marlins.

-Albert Pujols, Cardinals, went 4-for-4 with an intentional walk in a 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Detroit Tigers.

-Rich Harden, Athletics, struck out a career-high 11 and allowed two hits over eight innings in a 5-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

-Justin Morneau, Twins, went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs in Minnesota's 4-3 victory at San Diego.

-Evan Longoria, Rays, homered and had three hits in a 6-1 win over the Florida Marlins.

-Aubrey Huff, Orioles, had four hits and two RBIs in an 11-4 win over the Chicago Cubs.

-John Danks, White Sox, allowed four hits over six innings in a 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

-Scott Rolen, Blue Jays, hit a two-run homer off Edinson Volquez and finished with three RBIs in a 7-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds.


Albert Pujols went 4-for-4 with an intentional walk in his first game back from the disabled list for the St. Louis Cardinals, who lost 3-2 in 10 innings at Detroit. Pujols, who missed 13 games with a calf injury, hit an RBI single in the ninth to give the Cardinals the lead. Gary Sheffield, who returned Tuesday from the disabled list, answered with a solo homer for Detroit in the bottom of the inning.


For the first time this season, Reds starter Edinson Volquez got roughed up. The right-hander entered Cincinnati's game at Toronto with a major league-best 1.71 ERA but saw that rise to 2.08 after giving up five earned runs - seven total - in 4 1-3 innings. He had allowed three runs or fewer in each of his previous 16 appearances this season. The Blue Jays won 7-1.


Cliff Lee struck out a career-high 11 over eight innings and tied for the major league lead in victories with his 11th, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 4-1 win over the San Francisco Giants. ... Rich Harden struck out a career-high 11 in eight innings in Oakland's 5-0 win against the Philadelphia Phillies. He is the first A's pitcher to start a season 5-0 since Billy Koch in 2002, and he improved to 18-3 in 29 starts when pitching at least seven innings.


The Minnesota Twins won their ninth straight game - all against NL teams - beating the San Diego Padres 4-3. Twins have gained six games on the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox during this round of interleague play. They have outscored their opponents 56-19 during the winning streak, and their starters are 8-0 with a 2.17 ERA. It's their longest winning streak since taking 11 straight from June 22-July 3, 2006. ... Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts had two hits in Baltimore's 11-4 win over the Cubs to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.


John Danks and four White Sox relievers combined on a five-hitter in a 2-0 victory over the Dodgers. The White Sox bullpen leads the league in ERA and strikeouts per nine innings.


Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, who leads the majors with 76 RBIs, left Texas' 7-2 loss at Houston after he was hit on the left hand by a pitch from Wandy Rodriguez in the first inning. X-rays were negative and Hamilton was considered day to day.


Umpire Brian Runge was suspended for one game for bumping into New York Mets manager Jerry Manuel before ejecting him earlier in the week. Manuel and center fielder Carlos Beltran also were fined by Major League Baseball for arguing with Runge in the fourth inning of the Mets' game against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday.


Florida starter Mark Hendrickson (7-6) allowed five runs, five hits and five walks in 4 2-3 innings in the Marlins' 6-1 loss to the Rays. Hendrickson, Florida's opening day starter, is 0-4 in six starts since beating San Francisco on May 25.


``I'm displeased simply because we didn't play at 1 o'clock today - it was a beautiful day, and we could have played all day long. Now we'll get home at whatever time we get home and we've got a 2 o'clock game tomorrow. It's frustrating, we lose another off day and we play another game.'' - Pitcher Mike Mussina after New York's game at Pittsburgh was washed away by rain with the Yanks leading 3-1 in the third inning. New York plays a day-night doubleheader with the Mets on Friday.

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Friday's streaking and slumping starting pitchers


Ricky Nolasco, Florida Marlins (7-4, 4.31)

Nolasco has been stellar in his last three starts, posting a 2.70 ERA, which includes a dominant 12-strikeout victory against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The 25-year old right-hander is coming off a solid outing on Saturday, lasting seven innings, striking out three and surrendering just three runs in a 6-4 no-decision over the Oakland Athletics.

Nolasco has also lost just two of his last 10 starts and has allowed more than three runs just twice in that span. He is 2-2 at Dolphins Stadium with a 4.18 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP.

Florida is 14-5 in its last 19 meetings against the Diamondbacks at Dolphin Stadium and is 6-1 in Nolascos last seven starts against a team with a winning record. Nolasco is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA this season against Arizona.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston Red Sox (8-1, 3.46)

Matsuzaka has been Boston’s human victory cigar this season, especially on the road. Dice-K is 3-0 outside Fenway Park, posting a solid 2.60 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. He hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his five road starts and has struck out 25 in that span.

Dice-K allowed seven runs in last Saturday’s 9-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals but should find his form against the slumping Houston Astros. He should also get some major run support from his teammates. The Red Sox will face Houston starting pitcher Runelvys Hernandez, who hasn’t started a MLB contest since 2006.

Boston is 51-14 in its last 65 interleague games and 4-1 in Matsuzaka's last five interleague starts.


Jose Contreras, Chicago White Sox (6-6, 3.96)

Contreras will be in tough against the NL-leading Chicago Cubs on Friday. The right-hander gave up nine runs on a mere 10 hits in last Saturday’s 11-7 loss to the Cubbies. He is also 0-3 in his last three starts with a lofty 10.13 ERA.

Contreras has won just one of his last five outings. He is also 1-3 all-time versus the Cubs and has lost his last two tilts at Wrigley Field.

To make matters worse, the Cubs are 6-0 in their last six meetings with the White Sox.

Kevin Correia, San Francisco Giants (1-5, 5.22)

Correia allowed eight runs in his first three tilts outside AT&T Park, resulting in a 0-3 mark and a 5.29 ERA. The right-hander is also 0-2 in his last three overall outings with a lofty 7.59 ERA and 1.79 WHIP.

Correia lasted five innings and relinquished five runs in a loss to Oakland earlier this month. He has also been dealing with an oblique injury all season that has hampered his pitching.

San Francisco is 0-4 in Correias last four starts outside the Bay. It is also 6-16 in its last 22 interleague road games.

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Dodgers, Angels close out interleague play

Teams are set to meet in three-game series at Dodger Stadium

After losing six of their last eight games against Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox, the Dodgers will close out this season's interleague schedule with a three-game set against the Angels, beginning tonight at Dodger Stadium.

Right-hander Chan Ho Park, normally a long reliever, gets his third start of the season for the Dodgers, who have been made +110 underdogs by oddsmakers for tonight's game.

Park, who is taking Hiroki Kuroda's spot in the Dodgers' pitching rotation, has a 2-2 record and a 2.83 earned-run average in 21 appearances.

For the Dodgers, results have been positive when Park takes the mound as a starter. In his last six starts, the Dodgers are 5-1 and in Park's last five starts against a team with a winning record, the Dodgers are 5-0, including a 6-3 victory over the Angels last month.

Although Park did not get a decision against the Angels, he pitched well, giving up three hits and one earned run in four innings.

The Angels, who are 10-2 in their last 12 road games, will turn to reliable left-hander Joe Saunders (11-3, 3.03 ERA) and have been made -120 favorites.

In Saunders' 15 starts this season, the Angels are 12-3, which includes a 4-2 victory over the Dodgers on May 16. In that game, Saunders gave up two runs, five hits and walked two in 7 1/3 innings to gain the victory.

Here are a couple of trends entering tonight's game: The Angels are 14-3 when Saunders has started the first game of a series and 4-0 in Saunders' last four interleague starts. The Dodgers are 0-8 in their last eight games against a left-handed starter and 2-9 against a team from the American League West.

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N.Y. Mets (38-39) vs. N.Y. Yankees (42-36)

The Mets and Yankees kick off a four-game interleague series with a unique split-stadium doubleheader. Game 1 is scheduled for this afternoon at Yankee Stadium, with rookie Dan Giese (1-2, 0.64 ERA) set to oppose the Mets’ Mike Pelfrey (4-6, 4.30). In the nightcap at Shea Stadium, Pedro Martinez (2-1, 6.57) is scheduled to match up against newly acquired Yankee Sidney Ponson (4-1, 3.88)

The Mets, who were idle on Friday, are coming off Thursday’s 8-2 home win over Seattle. The Mets have are a middling 8-6 in their last 14 games. On the bright side, they’ve won 10 of their last 14 interleague games. Also, they swept a rain-shortened two-game series at Yankee Stadium six weeks ago, winning the two contests by a combined score of 18-6.

The Yankees, whose series finale at Pittsburgh on Thursday was postponed because of rain, have followed a seven-game winning streak by losing three of their last five. Despite the recent inconsistency, Joe Girardi’s club is still on a 22-11 overall run, going 13-5 at home during this run (9-6 on the road). Also, the Bronx Bombers have won eight of their last 11 interleague games overall and 40 of their last 54 interleague home games.

Giese made his first big-league start on Saturday against the Reds, allowing three unearned runs on four hits over 6 2/3 innings, losing 6-0. Including relief appearances, the right-hander has allowed four runs (one earned) on 10 hits and one walk in 14 innings – with 13 of those innings coming at home.

The Mets are 4-1 in Pelfrey’s last five starts overall, including 4-0 as an underdog. During this five-game stretch, the right-hander has given up two runs or fewer four times. On Sunday at Colorado, he scattered three hits and five walks over 5 2/3 scoreless innings of a 3-1 road win. Pelfrey is 2-2 with a 6.25 ERA on the road in 2008.

Ponson, who was acquired from Minnesota last week, hasn’t pitched since June 4, when he allowed six runs (two earned) on eight hits in four innings, losing 15-9. The veteran right-hander has just one quality start in his last six outings.

Martinez gave up a season-high six runs on nine hits in just 4 1/3 innings in Sunday’s 7-1 loss at Colorado. Four of the Martinez’s five starts have come on the highway, but the one home start was a gem: two runs (one earned) allowed in six innings of a 4-2 win over Texas. Since signing with the Mets, Martinez has faced the Yankees three times, giving up just three runs in 22 innings, but the Mets have lost two of the three contests.

The over is 4-0 in the last four series meetings overall and 4-0 in the last four clashes at Shea Stadium. Also, the over is 5-2 in Martinez’s last seven starts against the Yankees, 7-0 in Ponson’s last seven starts overall (3-0 on the road), and 4-1-3 in the Mets’ last eight interleague games.



Chicago Cubs (49-30) at Chicago White Sox (43-35)

The Cubs’ Ryan Dempster (9-2, 2.63) looks to shut down the ChiSox for the second time in five days when he squares off against Jose Contreras (6-6, 3.96) as these rivals open a weekend set at U.S. Cellular Field.

The Cubs swept a three-game series from their rivals to the south last weekend, winning the three contests at Wrigley Field by a combined score of 22-11. However, Lou Piniella’s team fell flat after the sweep, losing two of three at home to the Orioles, including Thursday’s 11-4 defeat. The Cubs are just 16-20 on the road this year, compared with 33-10 at home. However, they are still 20-9 in their last 29 overall.

After their debacle at Wrigley Field, the White Sox traveled west and took two of three from the Dodgers, capped off by Thursday’s 2-0 victory. Ozzie Guillen’s club is 24-11 at home this season, including 20-6 in the last 26.

Going back to last season’s six interleague matchups, the Cubs are on an 8-1 roll against the White Sox, including sweeping all three games at U.S. Cellular a year ago.

Dempster dominated the Sox in Sunday’s 7-1 victory in the series finale, scattering 10 hits and the one run over eight innings. The right-hander is 0-2 on the road despite a 2.48 ERA, with the Cubs losing four his six starts on the highway.

Contreras got rocked for nine runs (all earned) on 10 hits (three home runs) in just 3 1/3 innings in Saturday’s 11-7 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The White Sox are 0-4 in his last four starts against the Cubs. Also, at home this year, the veteran righty is 3-3 with a 3.04 ERA

The under is 7-1 in the last eight head-to-head meetings at U.S. Cellular Field, 5-1 in the last six clashes overall, 7-1 in Dempster’s last eight starts overall (3-0 last three) and 11-4 in Contreras’ 15 starts this year (6-1 at home). Also the under is on runs of 4-0 for the White Sox overall, 9-4-1 for the Cubs in interleague road games, 36-18-5 for the Cubs against right-handed starters and 14-4-2 for the Cubs on Friday


L.A. Angels (48-31) at L.A. Dodgers (36-42)

Joe Saunders (11-3, 3.03) goes for his major league-leading 12th victory of the season when he leads the Angels into Dodger Stadium for a three-game Freeway Series against the Dodgers. The Halos, who were idle on Thursday, are 5-1 on their current nine-game interleague road trip, the lone blemish being Wednesday’s 5-4 loss at Washington.

The Angels own baseball’s best road record at 26-13, going 10-2 in the last 12 as a visitor. Mike Scioscia’s club is also on hot streaks of 9-2 against the N.L. West, 25-10 in interleague play, 7-1 in interleague road games and 20-9 as a favorite.

The Dodgers fell to 14-39 in their last 53 interleague games (6-9 this season) with Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the White Sox. Additionally, Joe Torre’s squad is in the midst of negative streaks of 18-43 as an underdog, 4-12 as a home ‘dog, 4-10 in series-openers, 2-9 against the A.L. West and 0-9 versus southpaws.

The Angels took two of three from the Dodgers in Anaheim in mid-May, and they’re 9-2 in the last 11 series meetings. However, the home team is 16-4 in the past 20 clashes.

With Saunders on the hill, the Halos are on impressive streaks of 26-10 overall, 14-3 when he opens a series, 6-1 when he works on the road, 8-1 when he pitches on Fridays and 4-0 in interleague play. Also, Saunders is 6-1 with a 1.89 ERA on the road this season, including Saturday’s 6-2 win at Philadelphia in his most recent outing.

Park got a no-decision in the Dodgers’ 7-2 home loss to Cleveland on Sunday, even though the veteran right-hander yielded just a single run on three hits in five innings. Park is 1-0 with a 0.78 ERA in nine appearances (23 innings) at home this season.

In his first career start against the Dodgers on May 16, Saunders scored a 4-2 victory, allowing two runs on five hits over 7 1/3 innings. Meanwhile, Park is 5-7 with a 5.75 ERA in 18 career starts versus the Halos.

With Park starting, the under is on runs of 31-15-7 overall and 25-9-3 at home. Also, with Saunders on the hill, the under is 6-2 in his last eight overall, 4-1 in his last five as a road favorite and 4-0 in interleague play.

Furthermore, the under is on streaks of 5-2 in this rivalry, 4-0 for the Dodgers overall, 13-5 for the Dodgers at home, 41-18-5 for the Angels overall, 25-12-3 for the Angels as a favorite, 18-7-2 for the Angels on the road, 12-4 for the Angels in series openers and 8-1 for the Angels on Fridays.



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Will Phillies 'under' streak continue vs. Rangers?

Although the Philadelphia Phillies have one of baseball's best offenses, they haven't shown it in interleague play.

They'll try to get untracked against the team that leads the majors in runs when the Phillies open a three-game road series Friday against the Texas Rangers, who may be without major league RBI leader Josh Hamilton.

Philadelphia (43-37) is fourth in the majors in runs with 404, but that production has been limited against the AL this season. The Phillies are 3-9 in interleague play, scoring 41 runs - the third-worst total in baseball. That has lead to six straight games which have played under the total. Interestingly, the Rangers are also struggling offensively and the over/under is 1-6-1 in Texas' last eight games.

They have managed a total of 15 runs in their last eight games, losing seven of them. The Phillies were shut out for the second time in that stretch and had three hits Thursday in a 5-0 loss at Oakland.

"We just have to keep playing," Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino told the team's official Web site. "We're not going to give up. We're in one of those things right now. As bad as we're doing, we're still in first place. We'll take that."

Reigning NL MVP Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are all going through slumps at the same time over these last eight games. Rollins is 6-for-31 (.194) in that stretch, Utley is 5-for-26 (.192) and Howard is 4-for-32 (.125) to continue his season-long woes.

The Phillies may need to get back to their previous high-scoring ways against the Rangers (40-40), who have scored a major league-high 437 runs. Texas, though, may be without Hamilton after he left Thursday's 7-2 loss at Houston when he was hit in the left hand by a pitch from Wandy Rodriguez in the first inning.

X-rays were negative and Hamilton, who has 19 homers and 76 RBIs, is day to day.

"I'm definitely happy it's not broken and he didn't hit me in the face or anything," Hamilton said. "It was just a bruise, but it's sore."

Friday's pitching matchup features a Philadelphia starter who hasn't won on the road against one from Texas who has yet to win at home.

The Phillies' Brett Myers (3-9, 5.51 ERA) is enduring a miserable season. He has the worst ERA on the staff and is 0-6 with a 7.54 ERA in eight road starts this year as he gets ready to pitch against Texas for the first time.

The right-hander has allowed a major league-leading 23 homers, and gave up three last Saturday as he was charged with four runs in 7 2-3 innings in a 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

"I felt like I threw the ball well, but the result wasn't what I wanted," Myers said.

The Rangers will counter with Kason Gabbard (2-3, 4.96), who will pitch at home for the fourth time in 12 outings. He's 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA in the first three.

Gabbard won last Saturday for the first time since his season debut April 4 by yielding three runs over 5 1-3 innings in a 13-3 win at Washington.

The left-hander, who has never faced the Phillies, improved to 2-2 with a 6.00 ERA in four career interleague starts.

Philadelphia swept three games from Texas at home from June 7-9, 2005 in the only previous series between the teams

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Boston big fave despite Dice-K's control problems

Concerns about Daisuke Matsuzaka have taken a lot of the attention in Boston. The pitcher he was supposed to face Friday has done the same in Houston.

Matsuzaka wants to show his dreadful return from the disabled list was simply an aberration when the Red Sox meet the Astros, who are using a fill-in starter after dumping Shawn Chacon following an ugly clubhouse incident.

Oddsmakers don't seem concerned about Dice-K because the Red Sox are listed as -153 road favorites today.

This spot in Houston's rotation originally was expected to go to Chacon, who served as the team's fifth starter as recently as last week, but he was put on waivers Thursday. That decision came a day after Chacon, recently bumped from the rotation, got into a confrontation in which he shoved general manager Ed Wade to the ground.

"As an organization we believe that we have fairly treated this player," Wade said. "His pattern of disrespect and defiance to me, to the manager, the pitching coach and most importantly the organization led us to this decision."

At least for the Red Sox (49-32), their predicament involving Matsuzaka (8-1, 3.46 ERA) is pitching-related. The ace right-hander missed nearly four weeks with a right rotator cuff strain before returning Saturday to start against St. Louis, and it turned into one of the worst starts of his big-league career and easily his worst this season.

He failed to get an out in the second inning - his shortest start in the majors - as he allowed seven runs, six hits and three walks in a 9-3 defeat.

"He just came back from his shoulder and stuff," Boston reliever Manny Delcarmen told the team's official Web site. "I'm pretty sure he'll be able to go out there and dominate like he did earlier this year, and hopefully, we can go out and get some runs for him."

While Matsuzaka said he had no shoulder problems during his return, he felt far from his best during pregame warmups and ended up having his 8-0 start to the season spoiled.

"Even during the bullpen, I didn't feel great," he said. "I made my adjustments."

Still, his lack of control remains an issue. Matsuzaka walked three of the 12 batters he faced Saturday and his 5.68 walks per nine innings would be the most in the majors if he had pitched enough to qualify.

Including his May 27 start against Seattle which he left with the injury, Matsuzaka has allowed at least three runs in three consecutive starts. He did that twice through his first nine outings.

Houston (37-42) counters with veteran Runelvys Hernandez, who makes his season debut while filling Chacon's spot.

It appears the situation involving Chacon could serve as a distraction to the Astros for quite some time. If he's not claimed by Monday, Houston plans to release Chacon and terminate his contract for cause, likely setting off a confrontation with the players' association over the $983,607 remaining on his contract.

"He just told us to move forward," Loretta said after Astros owner Drayton McLane met with the team Wednesday. "Something happened that was unfortunate and let's put it behind us and move on."

Hernandez hopes to help in that cause as he makes his Astros debut and first appearance in the majors since 2006 with Kansas City. He went 6-10 with a 6.48 ERA that season.

The right-hander went 6-3 with a 3.72 ERA in 15 starts at Triple-A this year. He's faced Boston twice and did not receive a decision either time, allowing seven runs and 11 hits in 13 innings.

Four current Red Sox players have homered off Hernandez and one of them is Coco Crisp, who had three doubles in Wednesday's 5-0 win over Arizona and is hitting .379 (11-for-29) in his last eight games. Manny Ramirez also has homered against Hernandez, but he's failed to drive in a run in nine straight games while going 6-for-30.

The Red Sox, clinging to a half-game lead over Tampa Bay in the AL East, have won three of four with Dustin Pedroia going 10-for-18 and Mike Lowell 8-for-15.

Houston, which has won four of six since an eight-game losing streak, was swept in a three-game set at Boston from June 13-15, 2003 in the only previous series between these teams.

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Re: MLB News and Notes June 27

MLB Weekend Cheat Sheet
By Marc Lawrence

While Fresno State out bulldogged Georgia to win the 2008 College World Series, MLB Interleague concludes play this weekend with a bevy of friendly cross-town rivals scuffling for perhaps the final time this season.

If you like rivalries you’ll love when the White Sox host the Cubs in the Windy City in a right back rematch from last weekend, the Mets welcome the Yankees in the Big Apple, the Dodgers entertain the Angels in Los Angeles and the Athletics battle the Giants in Oakland this weekend.

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. Enjoy the games!


Chicago Cubs at Chicago White Sox

Most Recent Series Result: Cubs 9-1 last 10 games

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

Key Day/Month Stat: Cubs 6-1 on Sundays

Best Arm in the Series: Lilly 8-2 6.00 ERA career

Worst Arm in the Series: Contreras 0-4 6.10 last 4; Buerhle 0-3 7.26 ERA last 3

New York Yankees at New York Mets

Most Recent Series Result: Mets 10-7 last 17 games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Mets 8-3 last 11 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Yankees 6-2 on Saturdays

Best Arm in the Series: Santana 4-0 3.21 ERA last 4

Worst Arm in the Series: Martinez 1-7 4.37 ERA last 8 home

LA Angels at LA Dodgers

Most Recent Series Result: Angels 9-2 last 11 games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Dodgers 5-2 last 7 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Dodgers 2-6 on Sundays

Best Arm in the Series: Lackey 4-0 0.34 ERA last 4

Worst Arm in the Series: Santana 0-2 5.73 ERA here career

San Francisco Giants at Oakland Athletics

Most Recent Series Result: Athletics 17-6 last 23 games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Athletics 6-3 last 9 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Athletics 9-1 on Sundays

Best Arm in the Series: Harden 4-0 0.88 ERA career

Worst Arm in the Series: Zito 0-3 9.24 ERA career

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Re: MLB News and Notes June 27

Friday's best MLB bets

Chicago Cubs at Chicago White Sox -110, 8½

The Cubbies are a brutal road team, but does this really count as a road game? Players will be sleeping in their own beds, relaxing with family and enjoying all the comforts of home - save for the ivy walls of Wrigley Field. Considering the Cubs swept the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field last season, home-field advantage probably doesn't count for much in this crosstown series.

You've also got to love Ryan Dempster right now as he's hotter than he has been at any point in his career and has pitched the Cubs to 12 wins and just four losses this season. Jose Contreras, on the other hand, is battling through a three-game losing streak.

Pick: Cubs

Philadelphia at Texas -110, 10½

These are two of the best offenses in the major leagues, so the "over" seems like the logical pick, right? Not so fast. Both teams are in the midst of serious scoring draughts and Philadelphia, in particular, has been struggling mightily at the plate. The Phillies are hitting .210 as a team over their last 10 games, which has led to their current six-game "under" streak.

Texas, the No. 1 offense in the majors, has also been having trouble with the bats. Their batting average has dipped to .239 over their last 10 games and they have averaged only 4.5 runs per game over that span. It also doesn't help that RBI leader Josh Hamilton was hit on the hand yesterday and could be out of the lineup today.

Pick: Under

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Re: MLB News and Notes June 27

By Joe Wiz

National League


Philadelphia Phillies - The Phillies have been an offensive machine and have gotten solid pitching, especially out of the bullpen, which was suspect coming into the season. Second baseman Chase Utley leads the majors in home runs and is tops in the National League in RBI's. He could be the third straight Phillie to win the MVP. The team to Beat.
Grade - B

Florida Marlins - After a fast start, the Marlins have calmed down a bit. Still they are one of the surprise teams in the National League. They have a lot of power and a fine middle infield of Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla. Their young starting rotation will need to be more consistent.
Grade - C

Atlanta Braves - The loss of John Smoltz is devastating to the Braves. Their pitching staff has struggled and veteran Tom Glavine, who had never been on the 15-day disabled list has now been twice already this season. The offense can get hot, with Chipper Jones leading the way. They have the worst road record in baseball. Despite their impressive home record, they just have too many injuries to be a serious threat.
Grade - C-

New York Mets - One of the most disappointing teams in baseball. Front runners to win the East, the Mets have been bad from the start. The firing of manager Willie Randolph turned in a public relations mess and new manager Manuel may not be the answer. The pitching staff has been decent, but still too inconsistent. The offense hasn't gotten on track. They have been horrible away from home. There is no chemistry and no leader on this over rated team.
Grade - D

Washington Nationals - New ballpark is one of the few bright spots for the Nationals. They have been hit hard with injuries and are already playing for next year.
Grade - F


Chicago Cubs - Lou Pinella has the Cubs believing. They have a solid lineup and the pitching staff has done a fine job. Corners Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez are leading the way offensively. The loss of Alfonso Soriano hurts. He is not expected back until August. Kerry Wood has stepped up and done a strong job as the teams closer. The Cubs have the best home mark in baseball.
Grade - A

St. Louis Cardinals - Give Tony LaRussa credit, as he has used a revamped lineup and pitching staff to keep his team right in the thick of things. With Luis Pujols injured, right fielder Ryan Ludwick has taken over as the teams biggest threat offensively. The starting rotation has been much better than expected.
Grade - B

Milwaukee Brewers - The Brewers can be explosive offensively, with Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder leading the way, but the starting rotation has been up-and-down, while the bullpen has struggled. More was expected from this club, after a big run last year. Potential Wildcard.
Grade - C+

Houston Astros - Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee make the Astros dangerous, but they have poor pitching in a tiny ballpark, which makes the opposition even more dangerous. They started off strong, but have faded and unless the pitching turns around, the Astros will be sinking quickly.
Grade - C-

Pittsburgh Pirates - The Pirates are looking to snap a 15-year string of under .500 baseball. The young pitching staff has shown signs, but is still not very good. The offense can get going, with Jason Bay, Xavier Nady and Nate McClouth having solid first halves. Catcher Ryan Doumit is having a big first half. If they can learn to win on the road, the Pirates could finish above .500.
Grade - C-

Cincinnati Reds - It will take Dusty Baker a lot more time to turn the Reds around. He has some fine young players led by pitcher Edinson Volquez, outfielder Jay Bruce and first baseman Joey Votto.
Grade - D


Arizona Diamondbacks - After a thundering start, the Diamondbacks have faltered. In any other division, the Diamondbacks wouldn't be sitting in first place. Like last year, the offense is mediocre. The starting rotation can be very good, with Brandon Webb leading the way. The bullpen has plenty of talent, but has been inconsistent so far. Win this Division by default.
Grade - B-

Los Angeles Dodgers - Joe Torre has the Dodgers hanging around, despite a less than brilliant beginning. The club lacks power and needs to play small ball, which Torre isn't used to, having come over from one of the most powerful teams in baseball. The pitching staff has shown signs, but overall haven't gotten the job done. Dodgers need more offense and could hang around for a Wildcard spot once Furcal comes back of the injury list.
Grade - C-

San Diego Padres - The Padres are one of the most disappointing teams in baseball. After a thrilling 2007 season, a lot was expected of this club. That being said, the Padres are have been plagued by injuries but doubt they make a run to challenge in the weak West.
Grade - C-

San Francisco Giants - On paper it looked like the Giants were a 100 loss team, but they have done a decent job to stay competitive. They have a few young arms that are pitching well. Tim Lincecum could start in the All-Star Game. The Giants are the worst home team in baseball and close to a .500 team on the road, go figure.
Grade - C-

Colorado Rockies - After a World Series appearance last year, the Rockies have to be considered the biggest bust so far. They are hoping to use the same late run as they did a year ago and still have a chance in this division. Injuries have been a big problem and as they get healthy things could change.
Grade - F

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Re: MLB News and Notes June 27

Fatigued Yankees favored in unusual double-header

The final weekend of interleague play wraps up this weekend, highlighted with an extended Subway Series in New York and the boys from the North Side making the short trip to the south in Chicago.

The first game of an unusual four-game series starts Friday afternoon at 2:05 pm ET in what will very possibly be the last time these two teams face off in the historical stomping grounds of Yankee Stadium. This double-header starts Friday afternoon in the Bronx and wraps up Friday evening at Shea Stadium.

With a late arrival home, caused by a weather delayed game in Pittsburgh Thursday night, the Yankees are likely to be fatigued starting this double-header. Nonetheless, the Yankees are considerable -150 favorites.

After a day off Thursday, the Mets send the recently hot Mike Pelfrey to the mound. The Mets have won four of the last five of Pelfrey's starts and has a 2.75 ERA over his last five outings. The right-hander has allowed more than two runs in only one of those appearances.

The Yankees counter with Dan Giese, who is more accustomed to coming out of the bullpen. However, the Yankees’ pitching injuries are no secret and have forced first-year Yankee manager Joe Girardi to make some difficult decisions. Giese has been more than impressive this year, allowing no earned runs, four hits and no walks in 6 2/3 innings in his only start this year. Giese also carries an outstanding 0.64 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP in 14 innings in 2008.

The night game of Friday's double-header moves to Queens and showcases two veterans, Pedro Martinez and Sidney Ponson, at Shea Stadium. Oddsmakers have the Mets listed as -130 favorite at home where they are 21-16 this season. 

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