MLB News and Notes July 1

MLB News and Notes July 1

Tuesday's MLB Tip Sheet
By Brad Young

The calendar has switched over to July, meaning the All-Star break is just two weeks away. However, the break doesn’t signify the middle of the lengthy 162-game regular season. Teams around the league have already been in over 80 games, but there are still 10 plus games to be played before the three-day break in mid-July.

Interleague action is in the rear-view mirror after an exciting two-week stretch. There will be no more interleague games this season until the World Series. The trading deadline for players to clear waivers is at the end of the month, meaning teams will be jockeying for position until then. Now, let’s break down a couple of Tuesday’s main matchups.

**Phillies (Kendrick) at Braves (Morton) **

-Caesars Palace installed Atlanta as a $1.25 home ‘chalk’ over Philadelphia, with the total set at nine ‘over’ (minus $1.20). This National League East affair is slated to start at 7:10 p.m. ET.

-Philadelphia’s Kyle Kendrick (7-3, 4.59 ERA) heads to the hill for the first time since blanking Oakland Wednesday as a $1.10 road underdog, 4-0. The two-year veteran tossed eight scoreless innings on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

-The four runs never seriously threatened the 8 ½-run closing total, ending back-to-back ‘over’ outings for the right-hander.

-The 23-year-old picked up a no-decision against the Braves June 7, going 5 1/3 innings while being reached for two runs on four hits (one home run) with five walks and three strikeouts. The Phillies eventually won that contest as a $1.15 road underdog, 6-2, while the combined eight runs went ‘under’ the 10-run closing total.

-Atlanta right-hander Charlie Morton (1-1, 4.24 ERA) heads to the hill for the first time since last Tuesday’s setback to Milwaukee as a $1.35 home favorite, 4-3. The 6-foot-4 hurler went six innings, surrendering four runs (two earned) on seven hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

-The combined seven runs failed to topple the 9 1/2-run closing total, enabling the ‘under’ to cash his second consecutive start.

-Morton, a rookie, has never started against the Phillies in his brief major league career.

**Cubs (Marquis) at Giants (Cain)**

-Caesars Palace opened San Francisco as a $1.20 home favorite over Chicago, with the total listed at 8½ ‘under’ (minus $1.20). First pitch is scheduled for 10:15 p.m. ET.

-Chicago pitcher Jason Marquis (6-4, 4.96 ERA) was riding a personal five-game winning streak before falling to Baltimore Thursday as a $1.60 home ‘chalk,’ 11-4. The New York native was tagged for seven runs on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts over just four innings.

-The combined 15 runs soared ‘over’ the 10 ½-run closing total, helping the ‘over’ cash his second consecutive contest.

-Marquis picked up a no-decision against the Giants last year despite yielding just one run on three hits with five walks and five strikeouts over seven innings. The Cubs eventually prevailed as a $1.28 road underdog, 5-1, while the combined six runs went ‘under’ the eight-run closing total.

-San Francisco right-hander Matt Cain (4-6, 4.44 ERA) has alternated wins and losses his last five starts after falling to Cleveland Thursday as a $1.48 road underdog, 4-1. The four-year veteran went five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits with two walks and four strikeouts.

-The combined five runs failed to eclipse the eight-run closing total, helping the ‘under’ improve to 3-1 his last four starts.

-Cain went 1-1 against the Cubs last year in two starts, going a combined 11 innings while surrendering seven runs on 12 hits with six walks and seven strikeouts. The Giants prevailed as a $1.15 home underdog, 4-1, while losing as a $1.55 road ‘dog, 12-1.

**Red Sox (Wakefield) at Rays (Garza)**

-Caesars Palace lists Tampa Bay as a $1.20 home ‘chalk’ over Boston, with the total set at nine ‘under’ (minus $1.15). This American League East tilt is slated to start at 7:10 p.m. ET.

-Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (5-5, 3.88 ERA) is off Wednesday’s victory over Arizona as a $1.47 home favorite, 5-0. The veteran right-hander tossed seven scoreless innings on just two hits with a walk and six strikeouts.

-The five runs failed to topple the nine-run closing total, enabling the ‘under’ to cash his second consecutive contest.

-Wakefield received a no-decision against the Rays April 25 after yielding four runs (three earned) on six hits with five walks and a strikeout over six innings. The Red Sox eventually dropped that contest as a $1.03 road underdog, 5-4, while the combined nine runs went ‘under’ the 10-run closing total.

-Tampa Bay hurler Matt Garza (6-4, 3.76 ERA) went the complete-game route in Thursday’s victory over Florida as a road ‘pick,’ 6-1. The right-hander was reached for the lone run on just one hit (a home run) with a walk and 10 strikeouts.

-The combined seven runs failed to topple the 9 ½-run closing total, helping the ‘under’ improve to 8-2 his last 10 starts.

-Garza is 0-1 against the Red Sox this year in two starts, going a combined 10 1/3 innings while allowing 10 runs (eight earned) on 11 hits (two home runs) with five walks and four strikeouts. The Rays and Garza beat Boston and Wakefield in that April 25 encounter, while falling June 3 as a $1.10 road underdog, 7-4.

**Athletics (Harden) at Angels (Santana)**

-Caesars Palace opened Los Angeles as a $1.15 home favorite over Oakland, with the total listed at seven ‘under’ (minus $1.25). This AL West matchup is scheduled to begin at 10:05 p.m. ET.

-Oakland pitcher Rich Harden (5-0, 2.15 ERA) gets the starting nod after blanking Philadelphia Thursday as a $1.70 home ‘chalk,’ 5-0. The 26-year-old tossed eight scoreless innings on just two hits with a walk and 11 strikeouts.

-The five runs failed to eclipse the eight-run closing total, helping the ‘under’ improve to 4-2 his last six starts.

-Harden received a no-decision against the Angels June 8, going six innings while surrendering three runs on six hits (one home run) with three walks and nine strikeouts. The Athletics eventually triumphed as a $1.33 road underdog, 7-3, while the combined 10 runs went ‘over’ the seven-run closing total.

-Los Angeles right-hander Ervin Santana (9-3, 3.32 ERA) picked up a no-decision against Washington Wednesday, tossing six innings while yielding four runs on four hits (one home run) with five walks and eight strikeouts.

-The Angels eventually dropped that contest as a $1.60 road favorite, 5-4, while the combined nine runs eclipsed the eight-run closing total. The ‘over’ is 3-1 his previous four outings.

-Santana is 1-0 against the Athletics this season in two starts, going a combined 13 innings while being reached for three runs (two earned) on 11 hits with four walks and 12 strikeouts. The Angels prevailed as a $1.50 home ‘chalk,’ 6-1, while losing as a $1.33 road underdog, 7-3.

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Tuesday's streaking and slumping MLB starters
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Streaking

Joba Chamberlin New York (2-2, 2.03)


All that talk earlier this year about keeping Chamberlin in the bullpen seems pretty ridiculous right now. The converted reliever threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Pirates in his last start, striking out seven while walking just one in the process.

The Yankees are now 4-1 in Chamberlin’s starts and he has allowed just five earned runs over that stretch.

Cliff Lee Cleveland (11-1, 2.34)

It doesn’t look like Cliff Lee’s resurgent season is about to slow down anytime soon. The Indians have won all but one of his last five starts as Lee continues to keep batters on their toes with pinpoint control that has his strikeout-to-walk ratio at 96:16.

Only once this year has he walked more than two batters in an outing and he is just coming off a career-best 11-strikeout performance against the Giants.


Slumping

Mark Hendrickson Florida (7-6, 5.93)


Mark Hendrickson had critics shaking their heads when the Marlins won six of his first eight starts of the season. Since then though, the wheels have fallen off.


The big lefty hasn’t won since May 25, allowing at least four runs in five of his last six trips to the hill. In his last outing he walked five and allowed five earned over 4 2/3 innings in a loss to Tampa Bay.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 1

This week's MLB situational bets
By MATT FARGO

Tuesday, July 1

Oakland A’s at Los Angeles Angels 10:05 PM ET

Another great A.L. series continues Tuesday as the A’s look to keep pace out west with the Angels. They enter the week four and a half games back and send one of the hottest pitchers in baseball to the hill in this one. Rich Harden has tossed seven quality starts in his last eight games and it would be 8-8 but he was a third of an inning short in one of those. Harden has yet to lose this season. Not to be outdone, Ervin Santana is 9-3 with a 3.32 ERA on the year and he is 8-1 with a 1.38 ERA in 11 career starts against Oakland.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 1

Chan's money arms: Week of June 30th
By DAVID CHAN

Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners, Tuesday vs. Toronto

King Felix has done well to sustain a winning record despite pitching for a Mariners team that sits almost 20 games under .500. The M’s have actually won his last four starts, and he owns a personal 4-0 record over that stretch. In four career starts against the Blue Jays, Hernandez is 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA. For the first time in a long time, the Mariners should have some confidence entering this series. They swept the Padres in San Diego over the weekend, thanks in large part to their starting pitching. Felix keeps the momentum building on Tuesday.

Scott Baker, Minnesota Twins, Tuesday vs. Detroit

Would I be wrong in saying that Scott Baker is one of the most consistent starting pitchers in all of baseball? The guy gives his team six solid innings just about every time he takes the mound, and that’s certainly more than I can say about a lot of millionaire hurlers. He has won back-to-back starts to improve to 4-2 on the season. The Metrodome has been kind to the 26-year old, as he is 2-0 with a 2.28 ERA on this mound. The Tigers are playing much better these days, but Baker steals the show on Tuesday.

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Every Game Every Day

Texas Rangers at New York Yankees

This line is big, this line is real big. We still love the Yankees and love Joba Chamberlain here tonight. The Yankees had a terrible game last night. Do you expect the Yankees offense against the Rangers to score just one run? When the Yankees have a game like this they almost always follow it up with a big offensive out- put. Not only do we get the Yankees tonight after a down night we get their best pitcher.

Joba Chamberlain is the Yankees best pitcher now folks, make no mistake about it. The Yankees are 4-1 in Joba’s five starts. Each start Joba has made he has gotten just a little bit better. His last three starts his ERA sits under 1. 18 innings, 16 hits and 21 strikeouts. Those are numbers of an ace.

For the season Joba has an ERA of 2 and allows very few long-balls. The Rangers are an aggressive team and watching Mussina last night will help Joba do the same thing tonight.

New York Yankees (-)

Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays

Look for the Boston Red Sox to bounce back here tonight in game two of this series. Last night they come up just a few feet short of tying the game in the ninth inning. The Red Sox actually knocked the Rays closer out of game, while still in a save situation. Very rarely do you see a manager pull his closer with a one run lead and two outs. J.P. Howell came in and got the save.

I know that Troy pulled up lame, but he was fine and begged to stay in the game. It sends a terrible message to the team though. They had to hang on by the skin of their teeth and they had to mix and match roles. The Rays are good, that is clear by their record, they are in first place and they have 50 wins on the season. They send just an average pitcher to the mound though tonight.

Matt Garza is just 6-4 on the season and has an ERA right near 4. Tim Wakefield has similar numbers but is a veteran and wins big games. The Red Sox have won six out of the last seven meetings with the Rays. Look for that number to be seven out of eight after tonight.

Boston Red Sox (+)

Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins

Have to like the Twins to bounce back here tonight. They lost a tough game last night but send one of the most reliable pitchers in baseball to the hill today. Don’t look at Scott Baker’s record. HE is just 4-2 but the Twins are 7-4 in his eleven starts, this guy can pitch.

2-1 in his last three starts he has really cut down on the walks. His ERA for the season sits at 3.57 and he has beaten the Tigers at home before. The Twins did lose at home last night but trust us that are the mirage and that are not the trend. On the season the Twins are 27-18 at home and they are 8-2 at home in their last ten.

Everyone wants to make a big deal of Detroit’s better play of late, and it has been better but they are still chasing the Twins and the White Sox. Look for the Twins to restore order.

Minnesota Twins (-)

Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox

Are the White Sox rolling or what? Just last week they were swept against the Cubs. So many people buried the White Sox. If you turned in to Chicago sports talk radio you would have thought the White Sox just traded Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye and Nick Swisher for a single a prospect.

The Sox responded and responded in a big way. They went to Los Angeles and took two of three and won the series. After that emotional tough series, they returned home and they blitzed the Cubs. They outscored the Cubs 21-9 in those three games. Each game they were medium favorites and they delivered.

The White Sox rank in the top ten in both offense and pitching. With 109 home runs and a team ERA of 3.41 this team is for real.

Chicago White Sox (-)

Oakland Athletics at LA Angels

Have the love the Angels tonight at home. How about these Angels? This is a team that just wins ball game. They have one superstar player and a ton of role players surrounding them.

Vladimir Guerrero is that superstar but there other players know how to win. Even while scoring one run they play great defense and win games. See this is the best defensive team in baseball and make no mistake about it. On the season they have committed the second fewest errors with just 40. Their outfield covers more ground than any outfield in baseball.

Ervin Santana is 9-3 on the season and should be in the Bronx next week for the all-star game. Look for the Angels to take care of business and win this game here at home.

LA Angeles (-)

Toronto Blue Jays at Seattle Mariners

Don’t be fooled by this game. People are thinking Felix Hernandez is going to start and they are deal wrong. Manager Jim Riggleman says that he doesn’t even know when Felix will be able to throw again. They surely won’t know when he can pitch. The Mariners are now down Felix and don’t forget that Miguel Batista is suffering from back spasms and he won’t be able to go. The Mariners will have to use a reliever in this contest. Whatever choice they make it isn’t going to be a strong one.

Are you going to be confident with Ryan Rowland – Smith (Most likely choice) or Roy Corcoran? How about Sean Green or Mark Lowe? The Mariners have plenty of problems winning with their best pitchers on the mound. They didn’t hit a lick last night and face another quality arm tonight. Seattle is dead and buried. Don’t think that a few wins last week all of a sudden show us they have bounced back, that is not the case.

Toronto Blue Jays (Even)


National League    

Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves


Many people expect the Braves to get it going.  We just don’t see it happening.  This is a team that has no bullpen, no starting pitching depth and they are now without their best player.  There isn’t one team in the league that depends more on their superstar player than the Braves.

Chipper Jones makes the entire Braves offense go.  They do have other hitters, but pitchers have to pitch to those guys when Chipper is in the mix.  Chipper's is hitting .394 on the season with 16 home runs.  As we said Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann can hit, but these guys are seeing fat fastballs at bat after at bat, no longer.

The Braves dropped the final two games to the Blue Jays over the weekend.  They came out strong in that series, winning the first game 4-0 but then couldn’t put it together.  They lost 9-5 in the second game and were shutout by A.J. Burnett 1-0 in the final game of that three game set.

Atlanta is just 2-4 in their last six contests.  They have also dropped four of their last five series.  The Phillies know they can’t sputter along all season.  They will want to head in to the break with a cushion.

Philadelphia Phillies (+)

Washington Nationals at Florida Marlins

The Nationals send one of their top prospects to the mound tonight.  Colin Balester goes for Washington tonight.  This kid has the goods.  He is a 6 foot 5 starter out of California.  He is only 22 years old on the season.  He features three major league pitches.  Fastball, curve and slider.  His fastball can get up 92-93 mph.

Do not like how the Marlins have played as of late.  You can’t look at their record as a whole.  This team hasn’t been playing well for a while.  They started off hot.  They were actually division leaders for a few weeks.  Now they are a few losses away from dropping under the .500 mark.  Let’s be honest here this team isn’t  a good baseball team.  Sure the Marlins have some power, but outside of that they don’t have much.  Their all-star second baseman is banged up and their stud SS had been slumping for the last 14 games.

The Marlins will have no read on this rookie and that will cause them some problems.  Take the road team here tonight.

Washington Nationals (+)

Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds

This line is just too good too pass up.  I know that Edinson Volquez is on the mound for the Reds tonight.  He is not a machine though.  He is now 10-3 on the season and the team has lost four games in which he has started.  Even worse for Reds fan is the fact that Mr. Volquez is coming off his worst start of the season.

Just a few days ago Edinson traveled and went in to Toronto.  The Blue Jays are not a team that has a powerful offense whatsoever.  They were still able to get to him and get to him in a big way.  Volquez threw just 4 and a third innings in that contest.  In those 4 plus innings he walked three batters allowed six hits.

The problem for Edinson he has begun to walk more batters.  In fact this season he has walked a batter each and every start.  Really disturbing for Edinson is the fact that his last start he struck out zero, his start before that just five.  These innings begin to add up.  It will be tough for him to keep this pace all season.

The Reds won in dramatic fashion last night, tonight will be a let down.   Take the Pirates.

Pittsburgh Pirates (+)

LA Dodgers at Houston Astros

The Dodgers came out last night and actually scored a run in the first inning.  You may not think that is important, but for Los Angeles it is.  This is a team that just can’t find their offense.  Over the weekend they had just four hits in the final two games.  In fact they actually had no hits on Saturday night and still managed to win a game.  Last night their offense still wasn’t good.

The Astros on the other hand came out and matched them in the first inning and put up a big fourth inning.  The “big puma” was back in the saddle and he hit a monster shot for his 22nd home run.

The Astros have begun to play better baseball as of late as well.  The have won three straight series.  Most impressive about those three series wins is the level of competition.  They beat Tampa, Texas and then took care of the Red Sox.  They also beat some top level pitchers.  Look for Houston at home to take care of business in game two of this series.

Houston Astros (-)

NY Mets at St. Louis Cardinals

This is a high line, there is no doubting that, but it is a correct line.  Anyone that watched last nights game will know exactly why this line is just due.  Face it, the Mets are a bad baseball team.  Almost everyone is expecting this huge turn around for the Mets.  Mets management felt that it wasn’t the players but it was the manager.  Well since Jerry Manuel has taken over the Mets are just 6-6.  Not exactly an earth shattering record so far huh?  Last night the Mets came in to St. Louis and got spanked.

John Maine didn’t even see the fifth inning.  The Cardinals are a much better team now then they were just a few days ago.  You want to know why?  Well how about getting the best player in baseball back.  Albert Pujols is back and he is crushing the ball.  Sure didn’t take him long to have his first four hit game since his DL stint, now did it?  The Cardinals are not going anywhere folks.

The Mets are a team that is under .500 and bad on the road, they played sloppy last night with three errors, look for St. Louis in their home ball park to win this game and win this series.

St. Louis Cardinals (-)

San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies

Aaron Cook is under-rated folks. Make no mistake about it, but this guy can pitch. This guy has ten wins on a bad baseball team. The Rockies really missed him down the stretch last year and when he came back it was a big jolt. Not only does this guy have ten wins, but he deserves it.

Aaron has thrown 116 innings this season. The key to Aaron’s success his location and that sinker that he features. Aaron has walked just 28 batters in his 116.1 innings. Colorado is a tough park to pitch in, but this guy keeps the ball down pitch after pitch after pitch. Hitters compare it to hitting a bowling ball! Look for the Rockies ace to take care of business and win at home.

Colorado Rockies (-)

Milwaukee Brewers at Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona is so happy to be back at home. They had an unbelievable tough road stretch the last week plus. Arizona had to play nine straight games on the road. That road trip began on June 20 and did not finish until Sunday June 29. Arizona dropped seven of those nine road games and really brought them back to earth in this weak NL Central. See people think this is a bad baseball team and they are wrong.

There nine game road trip brought them all over the country. They went and played a Twins team that was/is the hottest team in baseball. After that they went and played the best team in all of baseball the Boston Red Sox and finally they flew to Florida and played a scrappy team over .500 in Florida.

Arizona is back home where they have a great record and Randy Johnson has three of his wins. Look for Arizona to rock and roll in this contest.

Arizona Diamondbacks (-)

Chicago Cubs at San Francisco Giants

The Giants are actually playing better baseball right now than the Chicago Cubs. We know that you find it hard to believe but that is the case. The Cubs are coming off a disastrous weekend. This was a team that had everyone smiling and everyone so confident about before they went to play the White Sox. After all they did just sweep the White Sox last week!

It actually started before their road series against their cross-town rivals. The Cubs got beat up by the Baltimore Orioles. They were outscored 27-16 at home. After those three games they went and played the White Sox and lost game one, game two and game three. 21-9 was the final series total.

The Giants are coming off a series win against the Athletics and are actually a decent team. When they get good starting pitcher (they will tonight with Matt Cain) they are right in every ball game.

San Francisco Giants (-)

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NATIONAL LEAGUE

Milwaukee (44-38) at Arizona (42-41)


Randy Johnson (4-6, 4.94) looks to snap a personal five-game losing skid and pick up his first victory since May 18 when he battles the Brewers at Chase Field. In fact, the DBacks are 0-7 in Johnson’s last seven trips to the mound (0-2), but that’s not their only issue. Despite Monday’s 6-3 win over the Brewers, Arizona is mired in funks of 3-7 overall, 8-20 against winning teams, 6-7 at home, 2-6 against right-handed starters and 3-8 versus the N.L. Central.

Milwaukee has followed an 8-1 hot streak by losing four of its last five. Still, the Brewers are on positive runs of 10-5 against the N.L. West, 7-2 versus left-handed starters and 19-7 on Tuesdays. Finally, Milwaukee is 9-3 in the last 12 head-to-head meetings between these squads, including sweeping a three-game home series in early June. The Brew Crew has outscored the DBacks 47-10 in its last six victories against Arizona.

Jeff Suppan (4-6, 4.05) takes the ball for Milwaukee looking to halt a two-game losing skid, as the right-hander gave up 10 runs (seven earned) on 16 hits over just 7 2/3 innings in his last two efforts against Baltimore (8-5 home loss) and Atlanta (4-2 road defeat). Suppan is just 2-5 with a 5.73 ERA on the road this year and 2-3 with a 3.86 ERA in seven lifetime starts against Arizona, including getting a no-decision his teams’ 4-3 home victory over the Snakes on June 2.

Johnson pitched well enough to win on Wednesday in Boston, yielding two runs on eight hits in six innings, but falling 5-0. In his three starts prior to that, though, the Big Unit had given up 20 runs (18 earned) and 27 hits in just 18 innings of work (9.00 ERA). At home this year, the southpaw is 3-2 with a beefy 6.23 ERA. Also, Johnson is 18-8 with a 3.46 ERA in 31 starts against the Brewers, including a 7-1 loss in Milwaukee on June 3. However, Arizona is 4-1 in the Unit’s last five home starts versus the Brewers.

The under is 8-2 in Suppan’s last 16 starts overall (5-0 on the road), 4-2 in his last six starts against Arizona, 27-11-2 in Johnson’s last 40 starts overall (6-2 last eight) and 4-1 in Johnson’s last five against the Brewers. Additionally, the under is on runs of 6-1 for Milwaukee overall (3-0 last three), 8-2 for Milwaukee as an underdog, 7-0-2 for Arizona overall, 11-4-1 for Arizona as a favorite and 7-3-1 in this rivalry.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Boston (50-35) at Tampa Bay (50-32)


Matt Garza (6-4, 3.76) returns to the mound for the first time since a complete-game, one-hitter against Florida when he leads the first-place Rays against Boston in the middle game of this series between the A.L. East’s top two teams. Tampa Bay held off Boston 5-4 on Monday and now leads the division by 1½ games. The Rays have won 10 of their last 13 games overall, going 6-1 in the last seven. They’re also on an incredible 27-6 roll at Tropicana Field.

The Red Sox, who hand the ball to Tim Wakefield (5-5, 3.88) tonight, have lost three in a row (all on the road), and they’re now 17-36 in their last 53 contests on an artificial surface. However, they have won nine of their last 14 against winning teams, and they’re 11-3 in their last 14 on Tuesdays.

The host is on a 11-0 run in this rivalry, with the home team winning all 10 meetings this year. Boston still owns an astounding 98-44 record in the last 142 clashes against the Rays, but it has lost five straight at Tampa.

Garza gave up only a solo home run to Hanley Ramirez in the seventh inning Thursday at Florida, walking one and striking out 10 in a 6-1 victory. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA in his last three starts, and he’s 4-1 with a 2.51 ERA in seven contests at Tropicana Field. Finally, in four career starts against the BoSox, Garza is 2-1 with a 4.71 ERA. However, two of those outings came this year, and surrendered 10 runs (eight earned) in just 10 1/3 innings of work.

Wakefield was nearly as good as Garza in his most recent start, scattering two hits and a walk over seven scoreless innings en route to Wednesday’s 5-0 home win over the Diamondbacks. The veteran knuckleballer has strung together six straight quality starts (2.09 ERA), pitching eight innings in the first outing and going exactly seven frames in the last five. However, Boston is just 3-3 during this six-start stretch and 4-5 in his last nine trips to the hill.

Wakefield is 1-3 with a 4.37 ERA in nine road starts in 2008 (six of which Boston has lost), but he’s an incredible 19-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 39 career appearances (29 starts) against the Rays, including 9-1 with a 2.52 ERA at Tropicana Field. The Sox have won seven of Wakefield’s last nine starts against the Rays.

The under is 5-2-1 in Boston’s last eight overall, 7-4-2 in Boston’s last 13 against winning teams, 22-9-1 in Tampa’s last 32 home games and 10-4 in Garza’s 14 starts this year (6-1 at home). Finally, in this rivalry, the under has cashed in four of the last five meetings at Tropicana Field, with Monday’s contest barely topping the posted total.

ATS ADVANTAGE: TAMPA BAY and UNDER


Oakland (45-37) at L.A. Angels (49-34)

Rich Harden (5-0, 2.15) will try to keep his perfect record intact when he toes the rubber at Angel Stadium, hoping to carry the A’s closer to first-place Los Angeles in the A.L. West. Oakland pounded out a 6-1 victory Monday to improve to 10-6 in its last 16 games overall and 6-2 in its last eight on the road. However, the A’s are still only 10-19 in their last 29 games inside the division. On the bright side, with Harden on the bump, Oakland is on impressive streaks of 40-14 overall, 17-5 on the road and 17-4 on the road against A.L. West clubs.

The Angels, who now lead the A’s by 3½ games, are set to give the ball to Ervin Santana (9-3, 3.32), who is coming off one of his worst starts of the season. The Halos have lost four of their last five games, scoring a total of two runs in the last four. However, they are on streaks of 5-1 against winning teams, 5-2 within the division, 18-4 on Tuesdays, 61-25 in Game 2 of a series, 17-7 in Santana’s last 24 starts at home and 20-7 in Santana’s last 27 outings versus the A.L. West.

The season series is knotted a 4-4, with the road team winning five of the eight battles, including four of the last five.

Harden, who has given up two runs or fewer in nine of his 11 starts, dominated the Phillies on Thursday afternoon in Oakland, yielding just two hits and a walk while striking out a season-high 11 over eight innings en route to a 5-0 victory. The A’s are 9-2 in the right-hander’s starts this year, including 5-0 in the last five.

Santana gave up four runs on four hits and five walks on Wednesday at Washington, getting a no-decision in his team’s 5-4 loss to the Nationals. The Angels are just 3-6 in the right-hander’s last nine outings.

Harden is 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA on the road and 5-3 with a 3.99 ERA in 13 career games (12 starts) against the Angels. Meanwhile, Santana is 3-2 with a 3.27 ERA at home, but 8-1 with a 1.38 ERA in 12 lifetime appearances (11 starts) versus the A’s. All 11 of Santana’s starts against Oakland have been quality outings, including a 6-1 home victory on April 30. He also opposed Harden in Oakland on June 8, with neither getting a decision as the A’s won 7-3 on a walk-off grand slam in the 12th inning.

The under is 9-2 in Santana’s 11 career starts against the A’s and 7-1 in his last eight home starts. Also, the under is on streaks of 6-1 for Oakland overall, 38-15-3 for Los Angeles overall (8-2 last nine), 15-5-2 for L.A. at home and 40-17-3 in this rivalry, including 29-10 in the last 39 meetings at Angel Stadium.

ATS ADVANTAGE: L.A. ANGELS and UNDER

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 1

Baseball Today

Cleveland at Chicago White Sox (8:10 p.m.). Cliff Lee (11-1, 2.34 ERA), tied for the major league lead in wins and second in the AL in ERA, matches up with John Danks (5-4, 2.62 ERA) who has the AL's third lowest ERA.

STARS

- Nick Swisher, White Sox, homered from both sides of the plate, hitting his second grand slam in four games and adding a solo shot Monday night to lead Chicago past Cleveland, 9-7.

- Mark DeRosa, Cubs, hit a grand slam and also a two-run homer to match his career high with six RBIs as Chicago ended a four-game skid with a 9-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

- Miguel Olivo, Royals, homered off George Sherrill with two outs in the ninth to force extra innings and Kansas City went on to beat the Orioles 6-5.

- Roy Halladay, Mariners, pitched his 10th career shutout, limiting the Mariners to just four singles in a 2-0 victory.

- Josh Willingham, Marlins, homered twice, including a winning solo shot in the 10th inning to lead Florida past Washington 6-5.

- Kyle Lohse, Cardinals, allowed an unearned run in seven innings to win his seventh straight decision with a 7-1 victory over the New York Mets.

- Ken Griffey Jr., Reds, hit a two-run homer - the 603rd of his career - in the bottom of the ninth to send Cincinnati to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

- Edgar Gonzalez, Padres, homered twice and drove in three runs in San Diego's 15-8 voctory over the Colorado Rockies.

POWER DISPLAY

J.D. Drew hit his 16th homer for Boston in a 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay. It gave him 12 homers in June, third most by a player in Red Sox history behind Jackie Jensen (14 in 1958) and Ted Williams (13 in 1950).

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Cleveland's Jhonny Peralta went 5-for-5 with three doubles, his 12th homer and three RBIs in a 9-7 loss to the White Sox. The five hits were a career high.

WELCOME BACK


Mark Mulder got the last three outs of St. Louis' 7-1 victory over the New York Mets on Monday night, making the first relief appearance of his career in his season debut. He missed most of the previous two seasons with a shoulder injury. Throwing from a lower arm angle after problems cut short one rehab assignment earlier in the year, he allowed two hits with a strikeout.

OUCH!

Plate umpire Brian O'Nora was struck near the ribcage by a pitch that deflected off New York catcher Brian Schneider's glove in the second inning of the Mets' 7-1 loss at St, Louis on Monday night. O'Nora, who was able to resume after catching his breath, was hospitalized with a mild concussion last week after getting struck by a broken bat in Kansas City.

MILESTONE

Alex Rodriguez hit his 534th home run, tying Jimmie Foxx for 14th place on the career list, in the Yankees 2-1 loss to Texas.

GOING THE DISTANCE

Oakland rookie Greg Smith (5-6) threw a four-hitter to beat the Angels 6-1, his second complete game in 16 big league starts.

WALKOFF WILLINGHAM

Josh Willingham's winning homer in the 10th inning came after Hanley Ramirez's tying shot in the ninth forced extra innings, and the Marlins rallied to beat the Washington Nationals 6-5 on Monday night. Ramirez also hit a tying homer in the ninth a day earlier. The Marlins have eight wins in their last at-bat this season, tying them with the Nationals for best in the majors.

TAKE IT DOWN

Crews began the process of tearing down Tiger Stadium on Monday. At least one hole was punched in the side of the stadium, which closed following the 1999 season. A back hoe could be seen removing trash and other debris from the interior of the old ballpark. An Aug. 1 deadline still stands for a nonprofit group seeking to raise enough money to save part of the stadium.

LINEUP SWITCH

Pittsburgh became the third NL Central team to bat its pitcher eighth, using Paul Maholm in the eighth spot and shortstop Jack Wilson ninth Monday against Cincinnati. It was the first time since 1957 that a Pirates pitcher batted someplace other than ninth in the starting lineup, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Maholm went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

UH-OH-SWALT

Houston's Roy Oswalt struck out nine and allowed one run and six hits, then walked off the field with a trainer after throwing his warmup pitches for the seventh inning. Manager Cecil Cooper said Oswalt strained his left hip abductor in the sixth and was ``day-to-day.'' Oswalt picked up the win in the Astros' 4-1 victory over Los Angeles.

STAYING AFLOAT

With a 6-3 victory over Milwaukee on Monday night, Arizona avoided the embarrassment of falling below .500. The Diamondbacks are 42-41 and have a comfortable 3 1/2-game margin in the woeful West, where the other four clubs are a combined 54 games below .500.

RESTRICTED

The Cleveland Indians placed right-handed reliever Scott Elarton on the restricted list Monday after he told manager Eric Wedge he needed to leave the team for personal reasons. Wedge said Elarton would be gone ``indefinitely.'' Elarton, signed to a minor league deal in February, had his contract purchased from Triple-A Buffalo on May 24. He made eight appearances for the Indians, going 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA.

SIDELINED AGAIN

Arizona outfielder Eric Byrnes is headed for the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, one week after coming off the DL with a right hamstring injury. Manager Bob Melvin said the club would place Byrnes on the DL on Tuesday.

STATS

The Rangers' 2-1 win over New York win moved them to 43-41 - that may seem to be a modest achievement, but it marked the first time since Sept. 22, 2006, Texas has been two games over .500. ... The Royals rallied from a four-run deficit to win their sixth straight on the road - 6-5 over Baltimore - the team's longest run since 1999. ... After not allowing an earned run in 24 1-3 innings, Minnesota relievers gave up three to the Tigers on Monday. ... Eric Chavez had two RBIs to increase his career total to 776, tying Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson for seventh place on Oakland's career list. ... Ted Lilly has 17 career wins in June, matching his winningest months of May and September. He's 9-2 over his last 14 starts after starting the year 0-3.

SPEAKING

``I don't think that I put much fear in any of those pitchers. I guess once the scouting report gets out, I'm done now.'' - Chicago pitcher Ted Lilly, who had been campaigning to be used as a pinch hitter, but struck out five times in the Cubs' 9-2 win at San Francisco on Monday night.

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Tuesday MLB Gameday

The month of July begins with some key American League action, including Rich Harden and the Athletics taking on the Angels. Here's a look in your MLB Gameday . . .

Texas Rangers at New York Yankees, 7:05pm ET

Millwood is 3-1 with three no-decisions over his past seven starts, but that defeat came in his most recent outing. The veteran righthander was knocked around for seven earned runs on 12 hits over just five innings of work against the Astros on June 26, which bumped his ERA up to 5.08 on the season. Millwood struck out six in that contest.

Chamberlain has pitched well in each of his past three starts, and he finally earned a win for his efforts last time out versus the Pirates. The righthander held Pittsburgh scoreless over 6 2-3 innings on June 25, giving up just six hits and fanning seven batters. Chamberlain had given up just two earned runs over his previous 11 2-3 innings.

Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays, 7:10pm ET

Wakefield is coming off a strong outing against the Diamondbacks on June 25 in which he gave up just two hits (and fanned six) over seven shutout innings. That effort moved the knuckleballer back up to the .500 mark on the season (at 5-5), and it pushed his ERA under 4.00. Wakefield, though, is 2-4 with three no-decisions in his past nine starts.

Garza has allowed three or fewer earned runs in each out his past four outings, but his record is just 2-2 over that span. The righthander is coming off a stellar performance against the Marlins on June 26 in which he surrendered just one earned run on one hit over nine innings, walking one and fanning 10. Garza dropped his ERA under 4.00 too.

Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox, 8:11pm ET

Lee is 5-0 with two no-decisions over his past seven starts, and he's given up just six earned runs combined over his past four outings. The lefthander dazzled the Giants in his start on June 26, holding them to one run on four hits over eight innings (while striking out 11 batters). Lee has fanned 90 batters and walked just 16 so far this season.

Danks has pitched well lately as well - he's allowed just one run over his past three outings. The lefthander, though, was just 1-0 with two no-decisions over that span, and he's had six no-decisions in his past nine games. Still, Danks has given up three or more runs in just three of his 16 starts, and he pitched his team over the Tribe on April 3.

Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels, 10:05pm ET

Harden continues to avoid the disabled list, and he continues to pitch well for the A's. The oft-injured righthander is 5-0 with six no-decisions on the season, and Oakland is 9-2 in the games he has started for them. Harden blanked the Phillies over eight innings last time out, allowing just two hits and fanning 11 to drop his ERA to 2.15 on the year.

Santana picked up a no-decision against the Nationals last time out, but his team got the loss after he allowed four earned runs on four hits over six innings of work (with eight strikeouts). The righthander has already pitched against Oakland twice this year, getting a no-decision on June 8 despite a solid outing, and picking up a win on April 30.

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Tuesday's best MLB bets
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Chicago Cubs at San Francisco -110, 8

The Chicago Cubs hope they can continue to put their road struggles behind them at the expense of the major league's worst home team.

The NL Central-leading Cubs try to win two in a row for the first time in a little more than a week as they continue their four-game series with the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night.

Mired in a season-high four-game losing streak and having been swept by the crosstown rival White Sox over the weekend, Chicago (50-33) broke out with a 9-2 rout of San Francisco on Monday night.

"It was fun to watch," said Monday's winning pitcher Ted Lilly. "After what happened against the White Sox, it's nice for us to get this one going."

The win snapped the Cubs' six-game road losing steak while dropping the Giants' major-league worst home mark to 14-25. Though Chicago is 17-23 away from Wrigley Field, it still owns the best record in the NL and a 2 1/2-game lead over St. Louis in the Central Division.

The Cubs are 2-5 since sweeping the White Sox at home from June 20-22.

With outfielders Alfonso Soriano (finger) and Reed Johnson (back spasms) still on the disabled list, Chicago also managed to get by Monday without RBI leader Aramis Ramirez, who will miss the first three games of the set to be with his pregnant wife in the Dominican Republic.

Starting in the third baseman's place, Mark DeRosa went 3-for-4 with two homers - including a grand slam - for a career-high six RBIs as the Cubs' offense came alive after scoring 13 total runs during their losing streak.

Pick: Cubs

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati -180, 9

Volquez (10-3, 2.08 ERA) allowed no more than two runs in 13 of his first 15 starts - he gave up three in the other two. He remains the NL leader in ERA and strikeouts (110), but failed to strike out a batter Thursday for the first time.

After the road loss, Volquez should be more than happy to be back in Cincinnati, where he is 5-0 with a 1.83 ERA in seven home starts. He allowed three hits in five scoreless innings in a 1-0 loss at Pittsburgh on April 11 in his only career appearance against the Pirates.

Teammate Jerry Hairston Jr. also enjoys playing at Great American Ball Park. The shortstop went 2-for-4 with a homer Monday and is batting .453 in 18 home games, compared to .232 in 26 road games.

Hairston now faces Zach Duke (4-5, 3.99), who is winless in 12 road starts since winning at Cincinnati on May 27, 2007. He has not faced the Reds since that game and won both his starts against them last year despite allowing eight runs and 13 hits in 11 innings.

Duke had won his last two decisions before giving up four runs and seven hits in five innings of a 10-0 loss to the New York Yankees on Wednesday. Still, the left-hander has a 3.11 ERA over his last six starts.

Pick: Under

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Tuesday MLB Research (Only American League to focus on moving trends)
By Indiancowboy

Wake has actually pitched 6 straight quality starts and lost his last time out to the Devil Rays, I mentioned how much revenge the Drays had in their last game with Shields and the brawl with Coco Crisp recently, this is a chance for them to get them back as Boston has had great success against Garza shelling hime last time out for a 8.44 ERA. Last time these 2 faced, Garza got the better end of the deal in a 4-5 no decision but the rays won, I think the Sox have the edge here off the loss yesterday and Wake wanting a little revenge and he has been pitching quality baseball for more than a month now.

Cleveland vs. White Sox

I dook the White Sox RL which paid a nice dog price yesterday as Sowers is still very hittable and lacks consistency, not very often you see a 11-1 pitcher with a 2.34 ERA get this price here and although Danks has been stellar in his last 3 starts, there is no reason why the Indians can't bounce-back here as even their limited offense can be held up by Lee's great pitching this year as he is on a vengenace from getting booed out of his home stadium last year before being sent down to the minors. Lean on the under here, but great price on Lee to get it done and the Indians on the bounce-back. But, beware, it is the Indians after all.

Detroit vs. Minny

Robertson had an interesting outing against the Cards last time, he gave up 11 hits in less than 7 innings and didn't yield up an earned run. He has a 5.69 and 4.27 ERA against Minny in both starts this year but the Tigers did manage to win both games, do note that Robertson has not pitched back to back quality starts in quite some time so he could get shelled today, Baker did win his last 2 starts and pitched well against the Tigers both times this year and has pitched 6 quality starts out of his last 7 in fact. I do like the Twins here especially coming off a loss yesterday, don't necessary like the juice, might even buck up and just do the run-line on the hot twins here.

Oakland vs. L.A. Angels

As you know I rode the A's yesterday on the road at L.A. as I didn't trust 3 straight quality performances from Garland and that proved to be the cake, Harden has pitched 6 of 7 quality starts including a gem against Philly in scoreless 8 innings of ball while Ervin Santana got roughed up in his last start with a 6 ERA and looks to bounce back here, Ervin has pitched solid against the A's both times out with less than a 3 ERA each time, Ervin on the bounce-back and the A's are scrappy, no thanks.

Toronto vs. Seattle

Litsch goes for the Bluejays here and he comes off a great performance at home against Cincy but in his last 2 road starts he has given up to a tune of over 7 as he has struggled. Although he gave up 10 hits to Seattle last time, he only gave up 3 total runs but the jays did lose 2-3 so Litsch has a bit of revenge today. Despite Toronto winning yesterday 2-0, road chalk with the Bluejays is simply terrible as this is the same team that didn't win back to back ballgames on the road in ages, no thanks, I don't like either of these teams.

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