MLB News and Notes July 3

MLB News and Notes July 3

Thursday's Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

Seven games in the NL will trump a small, four-game card in the AL but that doesn’t mean the action won’t be thick in both leagues. Philadelphia is the only team playing on Thursday with a winning road record (23-21), and that’s where we’ll begin on the daily tip sheet.

Philadelphia (Hamels) at Atlanta (Jurrjens) – 7:00 p.m. EDT

As mentioned, the Phillies will be the only club playing with a winning road record on Thursday, and the numbers may surprise you.

Philly is throwing the bat around for a .259 BA on the road, which may seem underachieving to say the least. But with the league averaging a .253 BA on the road, and more specifically the NL swinging for a .252 BA, this club is just above average on the season.
   
Where the Phillies excel in is taking advantage of men on base. Philadelphia has logged in a league second best 226 runs on the road and an on base percentage of .338 ranks the organization third best in both leagues. Even more telling is the organization's 298 runs with men in scoring position (seventh best).

However, in its last seven games on the road, Philly has gone 3-4, while whiffing at the plate for a .227 BA (three games where the club has hit under .200 and only two games recorded when hitting .300 or above).

Atlanta will send out second-year starting sensation Jair Jurrjens (8-3, 2.94 ERA) whose in search of his ninth win of the season. Jurrjens is 7-1 in his last 13 starts and is 10-5 on the ‘under’ in 15 appearances on the mound in ’08.

Philadelphia is now 8-1 in its last nine pairing with Atlanta, while the ‘under’ is 6-3. Most books have set an average total of 9 ½-runs in the last nine.

More support on the total is Atlanta’s 7-3 record on the ‘under’ in its last 10.

The Phillies will put the game in the hands of reliable slinger Cole Hamels (8-5, 3.38). Hamels is 5-2 in his last 10 starts and has sacrificed 2.8 runs per game.

Chicago (Gallagher) at San Francisco (Lincecum) – 7:05 p.m. EDT

Are the Cubs missing third baseman Aramis Ramirez or what (Ramirez is on family leave for at least three days)? There’s no hiding the fact that with or without Ramirez the club was still able to drop four games in a row before snapping that streak on Jun. 30 (in a win over San Francisco, 9-2).

In its last 14 games, Chicago has gone on to produce a decent 4.7 runs per game, but the real problem has come during losses. In the club’s last nine defeats an average of 3.1 runs per game has been the end result. And then there’s the Cubs’ 177 runs produced on the road, which ranks the team 17th in both leagues.

Invest some time in looking at the total which has seen Chicago go 10-5 on the ‘over’ in the last 15.

Then there’s Giants' ace starter Tim Lincecum (9-1, 2.38), who’s not only involved in a ground breaking second-year go around but is also receiving an incredible 5.1 runs of support per start. This is extra special for the right-hander due to the fact that San Francisco is struggling at the plate for a weak .260 BA (ranked 15th) and has brought in a 28th worst four runs per game.

The runs support for Lincecum has also translated into a 7-3 record on the ‘over’ this season. The second-year hurler out of Washington has been a machine on the mound, averaging 104 pitches per start. Lincecum has witnessed just one loss this year in a 3-2 loss against Colorado on Apr. 29.

The Cubs are just 1-7 in their last eight road games, while the Giants are 5-16 in their last 21 home contests.

Both teams have been successful in Game 4 of a series with Chicago building up 3-0 record and San Francisco going 2-1.

Boston (Lester) at N.Y. Yankees (Pettitte) – 7:05 p.m. EDT


There’s no doubt that the explosive play coming out of the Tampa Bay organization has reduced the importance of the Yankees-Red Sox feud, but old habits die hard.

Boston has dropped four games in a row and the prolific offense that has been displayed looks to be taking a backseat in recent days. More specifically, the Sox have averaged just 4.2 runs per game in their last 10 and are batting 15 points below their seasonal average of .279.

Starter Jon Lester (6-3, 3.48) will take control of pitching duties for Boston in Game 1, but coming off a six run pounding against Houston will have the southpaw on his heels for a rebound performance. Before the blowout in the Lone Star State, Lester was giving up just 1.8 runs per game in his last eight starts.

It was in June that New York posted a .282 BA, averaging close to five runs per game, while harnessing a .358 OBP. How times have changed in just a few day. The Pinstripes are now struggling to make contact in the last seven games for a .249 BA. A 2-4 outing in its last six has at given total players something to smile about. With the lack of offensive cohesion, New York has chalked up five straight ‘under’ games, ranging anywhere from totals at 7 ½ to 10 runs.

The ‘under’ is 11-3 in Andy Pettitte’s (9-5, 3.98) last 14 home starts. New York starter Pettitte is 4-0 in his last four starts and has given opponents a low three runs to work with.

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Diamond Preview
By Matt Fargo

Thursday, July 3rd

Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees 7:05 PM ET


It really wouldn’t be 4th of July without the Red Sox and Yankees squaring off. Game One of this four-game series is Thursday and with the Yankees starting to show some life, this series is going to be a big one. Andy Pettitte takes the hill for New York and he is 15-6 with a 3.45 ERA in 27 career starts against Boston. Meanwhile Jon Lester counters for the Red Sox and he has faced the Yankees only once. Last season, he was shelled for seven runs in just 3.2 innings.

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

Garrett Olson, Baltimore Orioles, Thursday vs. Kansas City

Garrett Olson has experienced quite a few ups and downs in his first full big league season. I’m predicting a positive start form the left-hander on Thursday. This will be his second go-round against the Royals this season. He helped the O’s earn a 6-5 win in Kansas City in early May. Olson is 3-0 with a 3.49 ERA at Camden Yards in 2008. He’ll be trying to string together back-to-back solid starts after giving up just a single run in five innings in his last effort. The Orioles are 7-5 in his 12 starts this season. It helps our case that the hometown bats will have a chance to tee off on Kyle Davies.

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AMERICAN LEAGUE

Boston (50-37) at N.Y. Yankees (45-40)


Fresh off getting swept in Tampa Bay, the Red Sox head north to the Bronx to battle their archrivals in the opener of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium. Boston, which will send left-hander Jon Lester (6-3, 3.48 ERA) to the mound tonight, blew a 4-1 lead in Tampa last night and fell 7-4. The Red Sox are in the midst of a five-game losing skid (all on the road), which matches their longest skid of the season

Boston is also mired in funks of 1-7 in series openers and 8-21 on the road against winning teams. On the bright side, Terry Francona’s squad is on hot streaks of 12-4 on the highway against left-handers, 22-7 overall against left-handers, 11-2 behind Lester against A.L. East foes and 36-17 in Thursday contests.

The Yankees dropped the first two games of a three-game home series against Texas, then blasted the Rangers 18-7 on Wednesday night o avoid the sweep. Still, New York is just 3-4 in its last seven games, 2-5 in its last seven at Yankee Stadium and 0-4 in its last four series openers. However, Joe Girardi’s squad is on lengthy runs 102-41 at home against lefties and 65-26 behind Pettitte at home.

Going back to last season, the Yankees have won five of the last six head-to-head battles with the Sox in New York. Also, the Yanks are 4-0 in Pettitte’s last four starts against Boston overall and 9-3 in his last 12 at home versus the Sox.

Lester, who has a no-hitter to his credit this season, hasn’t lost since May 25, going 3-0 with three no-decisions as the Red Sox put up a 5-1 mark in that stretch. The 24-year-old got pounded in his last start, though, allowing six runs on nine hits in five innings of an 11-10 loss at Houston on Saturday. That halted a four-start stretch in which he’d allowed just five earned runs over 27 2/3 innings (3-0, 1.67 ERA).

Lester is 2-2 with a 4.66 ERA and five no-decisions in nine road starts this year. He’s faced New York just once in his career, and that was back in 2006 when he got roughed up for eight runs (seven earned) in just 3 2/3 innings but got a no-decision in Boston’s 14-11 home loss.

The Yankees have won five in a row and seven of their last eight behind Pettitte, who has posted four straight wins and gone at least six innings in nine consecutive starts. Since getting shelled for 10 runs on 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings at Kansas City on June 7, Pettitte has allowed just three earned runs over 27 innings during his current four-game win streak, good for a stunning 1.00 ERA.

Pettitte is 3-3 with a 4.59 ERA in eight home starts this year, and this will be his first 2008 start against Boston. He is 15-6 with a 3.45 ERA in 29 career appearances (27 starts) against the Sox.

For New York, the under is on streaks of 5-1 overall, 6-2 at home, 12-4 in division play, 11-3 with Pettitte throwing at home and 23-8 behind Pettitte overall. The under is also 6-3-1 in Boston’s last 10 games overall and 15-7-2 in Lester’s last 24 starts. In this rivalry, though, the over is 6-1 with Pettitte starting against the Red Sox.

ATS ADVANTAGE: N.Y. YANKEES


Oakland (45-39) at Chicago White Sox (49-35)

The streaking White Sox will hand the ball to right-hander Javier Vazquez (7-6, 4.49 ERA) to open a four-game set at U.S. Cellular Field against the Athletics, who will counter with stingy right-hander Justin Duchscherer (8-5, 1.91). Chicago wrapped up a three-game sweep of Cleveland with Wednesday’s dramatic 6-5, 10-inning victory courtesy of a walk-off homer by A.J. Pierzynski. The White Sox have won seven in a row and are 37-15 at home dating to last season (29-11 this year). They’re also 10-1 behind Vazquez in series openers and 14-3 in Vazquez’s last 17 home starts.

Oakland completed a three-game trip at the Los Angeles Angels with Wednesday’s 7-4 loss. The A’s have lost four of their last five games, but they have won six straight series openers, and they’re 6-0 in Duchscherer’s last six starts against winning teams.

Oakland is 42-18 in the last 60 meetings with the White Sox, including 5-1 in the last six. However, Chicago is 6-2 in its last eight home games against the Athletics, splitting a two-game series at U.S. Cellular in mid-April.

The White Sox have alternated wins and losses in Vazquez’s last seven starts, fending off the Cubs 6-5 Saturday at home. In that contest, Vazquez got a no-decision, allowing all five runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. Vazquez is 2-3 with a no-decision in his last six starts, and in his last five outings, he’s allowed a combined 23 runs in 27 2/3 innings for a bloated 7.67 ERA.

Vazquez is 5-1 with a 4.68 ERA in eight home starts this year, and he’s 1-2 with a 6.60 ERA in five career starts against Oakland.

Duchscherer had his four-game winning streak snapped in his last outing Saturday, despite another sterling effort. The 30-year-old allowed just one run on two hits in eight innings, but he got no offensive support in a 1-0 home loss to San Francisco. The right-hander has given up just one earned run in each of his last four games and hasn’t yielded more than two since May 18 – a stretch of seven starts. He’s thrown at least six innings in each of his last seven starts (eight innings three times), allowing a total of eight earned runs in 51 1/3 innings, for a minuscule 1.41 ERA.

Despite a 2.52 road ERA this year, Duchscherer is just 2-4 in six starts. He’s 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA in 13 relief appearances against Chicago, but this will be his first start.

For Oakland, the under is on streaks of 6-3 overall, 9-2 in series openers, 8-2 as an underdog and 5-1 versus right-handed starters. The under is also 5-1 in the last six in this rivalry. Conversely, the over is 7-2 in Chicago’s last nine at home, and 10 of Vazquez’s last 11 starts at U.S. Cellular have hurdled the posted total.

ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE

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Kansas City Royals at Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles just win ball games. They aren’t the strongest team, they aren’t the fastest team and they surely aren’t the best team but they win games. They win those games at home at an alarming rate.

The Baltimore Orioles are 24-13 at home this season. You can not “fluke” your way to a record like that. We aren’t a month in to the season, or forty games in. We are now just a week away from the all-star break and the Orioles have played 83 games.

The Orioles send a reliable southpaw to the hill tonight. Garrett Olson does it with moxy. He doesn’t have great stuff but he battles and gets wins. He is 6-3 on the season and pitches much better at home.

Baltimore Orioles (-)


Boston Red Sox at NY Yankees

Big showdown here tonight in the Bronx. Both of these teams are coming off tough series. The Yankees dropped two games to Texas. Sure they scored 18 runs last night but their offense was non-existent in game one and game two. The Red Sox are coming off there tough series against the Rays. I think everyone knows what happened in that three game set. The Sox bullpen let them down time and time again.

The Yankees send their ace to the hill tonight. Not only is Andy the Yankees ace, he is their hottest pitcher as well. Andy is 3-0 in his last three starts. Andy hasn’t relied on the Yankees big offense to get these wins either. Andy has thrown nineteen innings and he has allowed just two runs.

Andy is 9-5 this season despite his tough start. Andy knows how to pitch big games, and this is a big game. Look for the Yankees to win this game, as this is a tough trip for Boston, who played well in to the night last night.

New York Yankees (-)


Oakland Athletics at Chicago White Sox

We don’t know if anyone can stop the Chicago White Sox right now. The Chicago Cubs couldn’t stop the White Sox. The Indians couldn’t stop them, even the Indians ace C.C. Sabathia couldn’t beat the red-hot Chicago White Sox.

The White Sox have won eight of their last ten and have won seven straight games. The White Sox aren’t beating bad teams either. They took two of three in Los Angeles, took all three from Chicago and then followed up with another sweep and took of the Indians winning three close games.

The White Sox are the most balanced team in baseball. They are top five in both offense and pitching. In fact the White Sox rank first in earned run average and first in quality starts. Their offense averages close to five runs per game and is second in baseball with 119 long balls.

The Cubs get all the talk, but they shouldn’t The White Sox may be the best team in baseball.

Chicago White Sox (-)


Detroit Tigers at Seattle Mariners

All about the pitching match-up here tonight. If you look at it quickly you may think these guys are even, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure both Carlos Silva and Justin Verlander are 4-9. Sure both guys have thrown around 100 innings but the comparisons end there.

Justin has really been dominating in his recent starts. Carlos Silva on the other hand has been getting hit very hard. In Carlos last 15 innings he has allowed 22 hits and has an ERA over 5. Justin on the other hand hasn’t lost since June 6 and two starts ago had his most dominant start all year. Justin’s last start on the road he threw five innings allowed just five hits and struck out ten batters and picked up the win. This is a guy that can win in any ballpark.

The Tigers will get it going again, they still are red hot.

Detroit Tigers (-)


National League   


LA Dodgers at Houston Astros

It is tough to get on the read on the Dodgers we know that.  You have to trust they are a better team than what they have shown though.   There is one thing that is consistent for the Dodgers, and that is there starting pitching.  The Dodgers have quality starters and have a very deep bull-pen.   They don’t have one or two good arms, they have four or five.  Their bullpen is led by closer Takashi Saito.  On the season he has thirteen saves and three wins.  Saito has thrown 34.2 innings this season and has struck out 48 batters.  You want to know his walk total?  How about just eleven walks this season?  How about over a four to one strikeout to walk ratio?

The Dodgers actually have seven relievers with an ERA under 3, which is absolutely outstanding.  These guys come in late to games and close the door.  Hong-Chih Kuo has been great, Chan Ho Park has had a resurgent and Cory Wade is throwing better than ever.

The last few nights the Dodgers have actually scored a few runs and got a few hits, if the Dodgers hit they are going to win a ton of baseball games.

LA Dodgers (-)


Milwaukee Brewers at Arizona Diamondbacks

Love the Diamondbacks here tonight. Brandon Webb has made just home start out of his last five outings. This is a guy that has been pitching each and every start on the road. To take it one step further he has made just two starts at home since May 16. He has managed to pitch well on the road, he is 6-3 on the road.

At home there isn’t anyone better than Brandon though. He has made eight starts and he is 6-1 in Arizona. He has struck out 39 batters and has walked just eleven. We all know Brandon has a fantastic sinker but allowing just three home-runs at home is almost mind boggling. Arizona is still the class of the NL West, they will get back on the winning track.

Arizona Diamondbacks (-)


Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves

The Braves will be able to get back on track here tonight at home. This is a team that isn’t just three games over .500 or five games over .500. This is a team that is still 12 games over .500 at home.   Playing against Atlanta and those big bats is no easy task.

Jair Jurrjens goes for the Braves tonight. This is Atlanta’s best pitcher, make no mistake about it he is even better than Tim Hudson. Jair has not lost a game since May 12, that is a span of nine starts and he has gone undefeated in those.

Jair has really been picking it up as of late which is no surprise. In fact in his last three starts he hasn’t allowed an earned run. Over 21 innings with no runs allowed. He has walked just five batters in that time-frame as well.

Look for this Curaco native to win this game tonight, when he is on, he can shutdown any line-up.

Atlanta Braves (-)


Chicago Cubs at San Francisco Giants

This line is just too good to pass up. We all know that the Cubs are a good team and four out of five days they are a better team, but not here, not tonight. Tim Lincecum is this weeks sports illustrated cover boy and for good reason. Nicknamed “The Freak” because of his immense talent and small stature Tim is the real deal.

Tim has thrown 109 innings so far this season. Tim sports a 2.38 ERA this season with a whip of just 1.23. Even more impressive is Tim’s record. Let’s remember he pitches for one of the worst teams in baseball. Timmy is 9-1 on the season. 9-1 folks. The Giants are 11-5 in his sixteen starts, what else can you ask?

Tim’s last start was his best. Seven innings, five hits and eleven strikeouts against the Oakland Athletics. That was a 1-0 shutout win! Tim’s only loss came back in April, when he is on, he beats anyone!

San Francisco Giants (-)


Washington Nationals at Cincinnati Reds

There is a ton of talk and a ton of buzz for Edinson Volquez and he deserves it. Johnny Cueto actually came in to this season as the higher rated prospect though. Johnny came to the scene on April 3, 2008. That game he threw seven innings of just one hit baseball. All told he threw seven innings, allowed just one hit, struck out ten and didn’t walk a batter.

Over the middle part of the season Johnny began to issue too many free passes. That has all ended. His last start he was great. He threw 6 plus innings of shutout ball against the Indians. In his start before last he threw five real solid innings against the Yankees and didn’t walk a batter.

The Reds bats came alive last night and we expect a similar result. Look for Jay Bruce to go deep again (He hit two out last night!)

Cincinnati Reds (-)


New York Mets at St. Louis Cardinals

The Mets just can’t get out of their own way. Tonight they are going to drop this game and this series. The Mets will end up going 1-3 against the Cardinals and falling even further back in the NL East. On top of fading out of the NL East, if the Mets aren’t careful they aren’t even going to have a shot at the wild-card.

The Mets send Mike Pelfrey to the hill tonight. Mike is the Mets number five starter. Mike has improved slightly from last year but that wasn’t too tough of a step. Last year Mike went 3-8 and had an ERA over 5.55. This year Mike still hasn’t gotten past his road struggles. Mike has three wins on the road, but overall he has thrown 36 innings and has allowed 77 base runners. He has OVER a 2.00 whip and his ERA is a putrid 6.38 away from Shea.

The Cardinals have taken two of the first three, tonight they take the third game and the series in convincing fashion.

St. Louis Cardinals (-)

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Baseball Today

Oakland at Chicago White Sox (8:10 p.m.) Surprise AL ERA leader Justin Duchscherer (8-5, 1.91 ERA), who has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last seven starts, pitches against Chicago's Javier Vazquez (7-6, 4.49).

STARS

- Nick Blackburn, Twins, allowed three hits in seven innings, struck out four and walked one to lead Minnesota to a 7-0 win over the Tigers.

- Jason Giambi, Yankees, hit a grand slam and drove in a season-best six runs as New York pounded the Texas Rangers 18-7.

- Evan Longoria, Rays, went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs in a 7-6 win over the Red Sox.

- A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox, led off the 10th inning with his second homer of the game and Chicago beat Cleveland 6-5 for its seventh straight win.

- Miguel Cairo, Mariners, drove in three runs with two doubles to help Seattle beat Toronto 4-2.

- Xavier Nady, Pirates, homered twice and drove in four runs, setting up a 9-5 victory over the Reds.

- Garrett Atkins, Rockies, homered and drove in four runs to lead Colorado over San Diego 8-1.

- Troy Glaus, Cardinals, hit his second homer of the game with two outs in the ninth to give St. Louis an 8-7 victory over the Mets.

- Mike Fontenot, Cubs, homered for the third time in eight games, including a tiebreaking shot in the eighth inning to lift Chicago to a 6-5 win over San Francisco.

GOOD TIMING


Alfredo Amezaga hit a go-ahead, two-run home run in seventh inning after a 1-hour, 35-minute rain delay, and the Marlins beat Washington 4-2 on Wednesday. Amezaga's other homer this year was May 28, a 12th-inning drive against the New York Mets' Duaner Sanchez in a game Florida went on to lose.

HANK DEMANDS, YANKS OBLIGE


The Yankees had been struggling at the plate, scoring just seven runs and batting .172 in losing three of their last four games, but they romped the Rangers 18-7 Wednesday night after club co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said things were ``getting ridiculous'' earlier in the day. ``We've got to start hitting,'' Steinbrenner said in Tampa, Fla. ``They've got to start waking up.''

SIZZLING SAUNDERS


Angels starter Joe Saunders (12-4) allowed four runs - two earned - and six hits in 6 1-3 innings to match Brandon Webb for the major league lead with his 12th win, a 7-4 victory over Oakland on Wednesday.

FACIAL

San Diego catcher Michael Barrett left Wednesday night's game against Colorado in the third inning after fouling a ball off his face. He was taken to a hospital for further evaluation for what was believed to be a broken nose. Padres manager Bud Black said that a trip to the disabled list for Barrett seemed likely.

OUCH

Oakland placed six-time Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday because of a sore right shoulder. It was the second trip to the DL this season for the 30-year-old Chavez, who didn't make his season debut until May 29 after back and shoulder surgery during the offseason. He had been limited to designated hitter duty since June 22. ... An MRI on Twins RF Michael Cuddyer's right index finger revealed a sprain at the knuckle; the original diagnosis was a strained tendon. He's eligible to come off the DL on July 12. ... Pirates closer Matt Capps will be sidelined for approximately eight weeks with a shoulder injury. An MRI indicated he has bursitis and tightness that prevents him from getting full extension during his delivery. ... Rockies starter Jeff Francis went on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with left shoulder inflammation.

DONE

Reds shortstop Alex Gonzalez is scheduled for surgery Monday on his troublesome left knee, which has sidelined him all season. Gonzalez sustained a compression fracture in the knee at the start of spring training, and it hasn't fully healed. The surgery will end his chances of returning this season.

STRONG START

The Orioles' Daniel Cabrera pitched a seven-hitter to earn his first victory since May 20, a 5-2 win over Baltimore. Cabrera (6-4) retired 13 straight batters before David DeJesus singled with two outs in the eighth inning. The right-hander struck out two and walked none in his second complete game of the season. ... The Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda (4-6) allowed five hits in seven innings with one strikeout, looking strong in his first start since going on the DL on June 18 with tendinitis in his right shoulder. The Dodgers beat the Astros 4-1.

PRIZED PROSPECT

The Athletics and prized 16-year-old pitching prospect Michael Inoa of the Dominican Republic agreed Wednesday to a minor league contract with a $4.25 million signing bonus. The 6-foot-7, 205-pound right-hander is widely considered the top prospect in his country and much of Latin America and is scheduled to play in the Dominican Summer League. Oakland likes Inoa's athleticism and he already has a fastball clocked in the mid 90s.

STATS

Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez pitched a scoreless ninth for his major league-leading 34th save in 36 attempts, tying John Smoltz's 2003 record for the most before the All-Star break. ... Alex Rodriguez hit his 535th homer, moving him past Jimmie Foxx for 14th on the career list and within one of Yankees Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle. ... With a 7-3 loss to Philadelphia, the Braves (40-45) fell a season-worst five games under .500.

SPEAKING

``It's a really good feeling. I can't tell you that I expected it - I'd be lying - but right now ... we do expect to win on a nightly basis,'' manager Joe Maddon said after the Rays completed a sweep of the Red Sox on Wednesday night and improved the best record in baseball to 52-32.

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Thursday's best MLB bets
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Boston vs. Yankees -130, 9½

The Red Sox and Yankees meet for the first time since April and – surprise! – neither team is leading the American League East. That honor belongs to the Rays, whom Boston trails by 3 ½ games and the Yankees trail by 7 ½.

If there was ever a time New York was going to hack into the deficit it trails the Sox for the Wild Card spot in the AL, it looks like tonight. Boston enters the series on a five-game losing streak and New York sends its hottest pitcher to the mound, Andy Pettitte.

However, the Red Sox hit lefties better than righties (.287) and Pettitte takes the mound with the distraction of the Roger Clemens-Brian McNamee defamation lawsuit hanging over his head. Pettitte could be called to testify any day in the trial following a motion to dismiss by McNamee’s lawyers on Wednesday.

The Yankees have another soap opera on their hands following a report in the Daily News that says cleanup hitter Alex Rodriguez is splitting up with his wife Cynthia.

Pick: Boston +115


Washington vs. Cincinnati -150, 9

If motivation is the biggest worry for last-place teams, Cincy shouldn’t have much trouble finding any tonight in this battle of National League divisional basement dwellers. Even though it was last year when these teams last bumped heads, the Nationals have won the last seven meetings against the Reds.

A year later or not, that has to leave a mark.

Throw in the fact that the Nats are sending one of the hardest luck pitchers in the majors to the mound tonight, and Cincy starts to look worth the chalk even more. Washington lefty John Lannan climbs the hill on a string of seven straight team losses in his last seven starts.

Lannan is 0-5 during that stretch but it’s not because of poor pitching. He gave up just two earned runs in at least six innings in five of his last six starts. That quality pitching, and the lack of run support, has led to seven unders in his last eight outings.

Pick: Reds

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Thursday's streaking starting pitchers
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A look at some of Thursday's hottest and coldest pitchers.

Streaking

Tim Lincecum, San Francisco (9-1, 2.38 ERA)
   

When you think of the worst team in baseball, you don't think of wins. But this guy hasn't been hit with a loss since the Rockies dealt him one back on April 29.

Lincecum is 5-0 during that stretch, while the Giants earned a record of 6-4. He has developed a habit of piling high strikeouts, few walks and fewer home runs this season, though recently he had his two roughest starts of the season during some interleague action.

The righty responded with one of his best outings of the season in his most recent start against Oakland. He served up 11 K's in seven innings in a 1-0 victory.


Jair Jurrjens, Atlanta Braves (8-3, 2.94)

How does a 0.00 ERA grab you over his past three starts? Better yet, what if we told you he was a home underdog today?

That's the position Jurrjens finds himself in today against the Phillies. The 22-year-old Caracao native tossed at least six innings in each of his last three starts and the Braves are 8-2 in his last 10.

The reason he is an underdog today is he is one of those young pitchers that oddsmakers haven't quite caught onto yet and the Braves have also lost seven of eight against the Phillies this season.


Slumping

Mark Redman, Colorado Rockies (2-3, 7.84 ERA)


The Rockies have lost Redman's last four appearances, which includes one relief appearance. He actually pitched 1 2/3 decent innings in that appearance, so he might find himself in the bullpen if he doesn't sharpen up with his starts soon.

Redman has given up a combined 15 earned runs in his last two starts against St. Louis and Los Angeles. He was chased out of the game in the third inning in his most recent start against the Cards after surrendering five earned runs and nine hits in just 2 2/3 innings.

Five of Redman's last six games have played over the total, so you might want to look at the 9 1/2 runs oddmakers have set as the number for today's game against the Marlins.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 3

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

Kansas City vs. Baltimore

I've never really been a fan of Kyle Davies, but I think the Royals pretty much told him its now or never for him as he underpreformed terribly from the Atlanta trade last year. Not that it worked out great for the Braves who ended up getting rid of Dotel anyway. So, both teams got essentially nothing, but the Royals stuck with Davies and he did give them 4 quality starts to start the year. However, he got roughed up against 2 nl teams in san fran and st. louis a bit of late and looks to rebound with friendly territory in American League teams. Olson had a solid start against Washington on the road in a bounce-back, still a lot of juice here on the Orioles pitcher who did win 6-5 against the Royals in his last start but then again, the Royals are likely to get a good bounce-back here from Davies and they do have revenge against Olson a bit, I think the Royals are a solid dog today. Davies is 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA on the road and I think the Cards roughed him up a bit only because he beat them in one of his 4 quality starts earlier this year so they had a bit of a revenge, heck, the Royals got 8 hits in 5 1/3 inning from Olson last time around, I think the Royals can hang here.

Boston vs. New York

Here we go, the fun starts once again with the rivalry, as the Yankees come out to be a -120 favorite heading into this game, but remember, Lester had 4 straight quality starts prior to getting roughed up at Houston so expect a bounce-back here especially pitching against their rivals, Lester did give up 0 runs in 7 innings at Philly in his last road start as well, Pettitte has been rock solid in his last 4 starts giving up just 3 earned runs in 27 innings. I lean on the Red Sox here with Lester on the bounce-back as Pettitte is due to get hit hard soon but also the under as well. Seems like Boston is of solid value today - after all, getting an underdog at +120 on the edge of a coin flip is always something to look at. The under does look tempting.

Oakland vs. White Sox

I typically watch the A's very closely but it is tough to take them here against the White Sox given how well they are playing at home. Duch has pitched 7 straight quality starts and why not put him on the Cy Young radar? Is it because you've never heard of him or most people haven't, so? The guy has pitched stellar this year: he is 8-5 with a 1.91 ERA - if the A's could have more bats this would be even better, he is 2-4 with a 2.52 ERA on the road. Leave it to the A's to keep finding gems of pitchers like they did with Harden, Haren, Hudson etc... Vasquez has been rocked in his last 5 starts, but the White Sox have won 7 in a row, but the A's come off back to back losses so they will look to rebound here behind Duch. Vasquez has also given up 38 hits in 28 innings and roughly 3 walks per start in his last 5 starts, so that is roughly 53 runners on base over the last 28 innings, that says a lot. I like the A's value here today.

Detroit vs. Seattle

Verlander is 2-0 over his last 4 starts, beat Seattle once and then failed to win his last time against them this season as he was hit for 8 times in 7 innings, but he has pitched 5 straight quality starts and 6 of his last 7 have been quality, Silva has come back strong against San Diego on the road, but the Tigers love seeing Silva given that they have hit him for 14 runs in less than 5 innings in 2 starts. That is not a typo, the Tigers have given Silva in his 2 starts against them this year a 15.75 ERA and 95.45 ERA as Silva did not last past the 1st inning in his last start against them giving up 7 hits and 7 runs. Having said that, I wouldn't be surprised to see Silva show up big today with a chip on his shoulder with revenge avoiding not to get beat 3 times in a row to the Tigers in one season. Then again Silva has been inconsistent in 6 of his last 7 starts with Verlander having revenge against Seattle for his loss last time. Also, 67% of the public favors Detroit, I don't like doing run-line in particular road run-line, but that is my lean here, but out of principle, no thanks and plus, Detroit is a big public favorite today and I could easily see Silva showing up here.

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