MLB News and Notes July 5

MLB News and Notes July 5

Saturday's Tip Sheet
By Chris David

Afternoon Action – Regional Coverage on Fox at 3:55 p.m. EDT

Chicago at St. Louis: The NL Central race heats up Saturday afternoon when the Cubs and Cardinals square off. Chicago holds a 2 ½-game lead over St. Louis but Lou Pinella's team has been in a bit of funk.

The Cubs are concluding a 10-game road trip this weekend, which has watched the team go 2-5 in the first seven games. The club has averaged four runs per game, while allowing 5.4 runs. The ‘over’ has gone 5-2 during this stretch. This will be the Cubs second trip to St. Louis this season. The first go ‘round watched the Cubbies lost two of the three battles. The ‘under’ went 2-1.

The Cardinals have been playing better ball of late, winning four of their last six games. The pitching staff just got roughed up by the Mets though, allowing 26 runs in their recent four-game set. The ‘over’ went 3-1 in the four games.

St. Louis will send Kyle Lohse to the hill and he’s been the ace of the staff this year with a 10-2 record and 3.67 ERA. However, he did get touched up by the Cubs on May 3 for nine hits and eight earned runs in six innings.

Boston at New York: After losing five straight games, the Red Sox have bounced back strongly with back-to-back wins over the Yankees. Boston will send Justin Masterson (4-2, 3.75 ERA) to the mound against Mike Mussina (10-6, 3.87 ERA). After winning his 10th game on June 14 against Houston, Mussina has suffered two losses in a row despite decent outings. Moose dropped a 4-2 decision to Cincinnati and a 2-1 setback to Texas more recently.

The Yankees’ offense better step up Saturday considering Mussina is 0-2 vs. Boston this year, giving up 15 hits and nine earned runs in less than nine innings. Speaking of the attack, it’s been missing in action lately. If you take away the 18-run outburst on Wednesday against Texas, the Yanks have been held under three runs or less in five of the last six games. The ‘under’ is on a 6-2 run.

Pitchers Duel – Toronto vs. Los Angeles

It’s not often that you see totals listed at 7 runs in the American League, but Saturday’s matchup between Toronto’s Roy Halladay (9-6, 2.95 ERA) and Los Angeles’ John Lackey (6-1, 1.44 ERA) definitely warrants the low number.

Halladay hasn’t faced the Angels this season but fared well in his two starts last year. He posted a 1-1 record, scattering 17 hits over 17 innings to go with just four earned runs. Halladay is off a 2-0 complete game victory over Seattle on June 30, giving up four hits while striking out six.

Even though Lackey only has nine starts this year, the hurler has completely dominated anybody he’s faced. He’s won five straight decisions, giving up just five earned runs over this stretch. To maker matters worse for the Blue Jays, Lackey has posted a 2-0 mark this year versus them. The ‘under’ has gone 8-2 in his 10 starts this year.

Mismatch on Paper – Detroit (-140) at Seattle

Saturday’s slate features 15 games and only two of the contests have the road team listed as a favorite. Detroit (43-42) and San Diego take the honors and while the Padres have a tough battle against the Diamondbacks, it looks like the Tigers should have their way with Seattle (33-52).

For starters, the Tigers have won six of the first seven meetings against the M’s this year and the pitching matchup really favors the road team in this spot. The Tigers’ Armando Galarraga has been lights out on the road this year, posting a 5-1 record over seven road starts to go with a sizzling 2.23 ERA. The youngster has given up just 31 hits in 44 innings away from home. The Tigers have gone 11-2 on the year when Galarraga takes the rubber.

Seattle hasn’t been as fortunate with R.A. Dickey, who has been blasted at Safeco Field by giving up 14 earned runs and 23 hits in 11 2/3 innings in his three starts. The M’s are 1-4 when he takes the hill, including 0-3 at home.

Sometimes things look too good to be true, but laying wood on the road doesn’t seem like a bad choice. If you’re looking to limit your risk, then back Detroit on the run-line at a premium price (+125).

Lefty Luck

Ten lefthanders take the hill on Saturday. Here are the matchups and how teams have fared against the southpaws and who they’ll be facing.

National League

New York at Philadelphia (Moyer): Mets are 15-10 and average 4.8 runs per game
Milwaukee vs. Pittsburgh (Maholm): Brewers are 16-8
Houston at Atlanta (Reyes): Astros are 11-13 with 4.7 runs scored
Florida at Colorado (De la Rosa): Marlins have gone 11-12 vs. lefthanders
San Diego at Arizona (Davis): The Padres have struggled to a 7-20 ledger
Los Angeles at San Francisco (Zito): Dodgers have gone 12-12

American League

Texas at Baltimore (Burres): Rangers have averaged 4.5 vs. lefties en route to a 9-17 mark (1-8 on road at night)
Chicago vs. Oakland (Smith): White Sox are 19-13, including 12-5 at home
Minnesota vs. (Cleveland): Twins have gone 9-13, but 7-4 at home

Saturday Special

Some clubs have performed better on the weekend, while others have failed. Here is a look at a handful of the top and bottom clubs for Saturday:

Good

St. Louis: 10-3
Tampa Bay: 9-4
Baltimore: 9-5
Boston: 9-5

Bad

Washington: 2-11
Cleveland: 4-9
Philadelphia: 4-9

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Big Six on Tap

The Big Six for this Weekend's Series

I'll examine six of the weekend sets in a quick rundown and point out the particular value as to why I consider these to be The Big Six to keep an eye on this weekend.

New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies
This is the only four game set among the six series that I am taking a look at and this one where, once the Phillies get past the unknown of starting J.A. Happ on Friday, they really could dominate in this series. For one thing, the Phillies are rolling again now that inter-league action is behind them. The Phils just got finished sweeping the Braves and they’re now facing a Mets team that was just 19-25 on the road before their surprising win over the Cardinals Thursday. Moyer is a wily veteran who has pitched surprisingly well at home in the past. Kendrick just continues to win for the Phillies and seems to be really putting it all together now and Eaton has been a Mets killer often in recent seasons. Keep an eye on the Phils although the unknown of J.A. Happ keeps us away on Friday night.

Houston Astros at Atlanta Braves

Look for some value with the overs in this series. Yes, Tim Hudson is pitching on Friday but he’s not unhittable by any means and the Astros middle of the order is so dangerous. Also, other than Hudson, all the other starters slated for this series (Moehler, Sampson, Reyes, Rodriguez, and Morton) are all far from being proven entities!

Chicago Cubs at St Louis Cardinals
These teams are known for their fierce rivalry but ye the upper hand in this series could simply come down to home turf! While the Cardinals home record is roughly identical to the Cubs it makes a big difference for the Cubs. While Chicago is a stellar 33-10 at home they are also a poor 18-25 on the road! Also, Zambrano is making his first start in over two weeks on Friday and Marshall is making just his third start of the season on Sunday. Lilly gets the ball on Saturday for the Cubs but the Cards will have Kyle Lohse going and he is 5-1 at home this season! Cardinals should take at least two of three here.

San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks
The pitchers going in this series are all capable of giving strong performances. Yes this includes Cha Seung Baek who is still "new" to the Padres and it also includes Dbacks veteran Randy Johnson who is a veteran hurler who certainly has experience at bouncing out of a slump. With Peavy, Banks, Haren, and Davis rounding out the other starting spots this weekend the under is likely the way to look. The Padres just can’t score runs more often than not while the Diamondbacks have been on a downhill slide themselves every since April!

Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins
Should be an opportunity for "over players" in this series as the match-up is truly conducive to that. The Twins have been one of the hottest teams in the league and we don’t foresee them struggling with any of the pitchers they will see in that series and yes that includes Cliff Lee. He was fading before recently making a resurgence but the Twins are too hot for him to shut down again at the Metrodome n in what will essentially be a "rematch" setting. As for Aaron Laffey and Paul Byrd they have little chance at success against these Twins and the Indians bullpen is one of the worst in baseball. The Indians lineup has been producing even though they’ve been losing and their sticks should stay hot against the mediocre group of pitchers they will face in Minnesota.

Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Angels
This series is shaping up to be an "under players" delight as the Angels and Blue Jays square off in Anaheim. The Blue Jays are known for their offensive futility and the Angels play a lot of low scoring ball games and their home ball park certainly helps in that regard. The real key here is the pitching match-ups as Burnett versus Weaver, Halladay versus Lackey, and even Litsch vs Garland all feature starting pitchers who have come up with a lot of strong pitching performances this season. These guys give their club a lot of quality starts and we look for more of the same from them this weekend.

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"Every Game Every Day "

Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees

Have to like the Yankees to bounce back here tonight at home. They have had a tough stretch, but that is not new to this team in 2008. The Yankees have been up and down all season. Today they send their most reliable starter to the hill.

It is hard to imagine that Mike Mussina would be the Yankees best starting pitcher this season but that is the truth. Mike Mussina has earned his ten wins this season. Mike has thrown 95.1 innings this season and has a whip under 1.24. Mike hasn’t bee getting lucky by any stretch of the imagination. In fact he has been very good.

Mike Mussina has allowed more than four runs one time all season. In his last five starts he has allowed either 3, 2 or 1 in four of them. Mike feels rejuvenated. Mike is healthy and Mike knows how to beat the Red Sox.

The Yankees still have a big offense and can put up a big total in any game. Mussina normally gets solid run support.

New York Yankees (-)


Texas Rangers at Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles do not get enough credit. We have told you time and time before that the Orioles are a good play and especially at home. The Orioles are 25-14 at home. That is not a good record that is a great record. Remember that the Orioles play one of the toughest schedules in all of baseball. After all they play the: Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays and Red Sox time after time.

Eric Hurley goes for the Rangers today. He has made just two starts on the road and four all season. Those two road starts were not good though. He has allowed 15 base runners in just 12 innings and allowed six earned runs. He also allowed a home-run in each of his starts.

The Rangers have a big offense but the Orioles put runs on the board as well. Just look at last night’s game, the Orioles pounded out 12 hits and 10 runs. The Orioles will score runs again tonight.

Baltimore Orioles (-)


Oakland Athletics at Chicago White Sox

The Athletics are a good baseball team. In fact they are right there in the AL West and have a shot at another division crown. The White Sox are still red hot though. The White Sox are another team that doesn’t get enough respect. Everyone thought the White Sox were dead after they lost that three game set to the Cubs in Wrigley.

Since then the White Sox have been on a tear. They took two of three games against the Dodgers in LA. After that they went on to sweep the next two series. They swept their rival Chicago Cubs at home, and then swept the Indians at home. A loss or two against the Athletics does not change that this team is a very solid baseball team.

Don’t forget that the White Sox have both offense and pitching. They rank first in pitching and they are sixth in runs scored. Put those two factors together and a great closer and it adds up to a lot of wins. Tonight behind Floyd the Sox will win again.

Chicago White Sox (-)


Kansas City Royals at Tampa Bay Rays

What is there not to love about the Rays right now? How many people thought that they would be the best team in baseball on July 4 weekend? Yes you can all lie and say you did but we will just move past that. Tampa is not doing this with smoke and mirrors folks. They are this good.

The Rays protect their home field. That is so important for a young team looking to get in to the playoffs. Overall they are 34-13 at home. 34-13!!! Twenty games over .500 is no easy accomplishment.

The Rays are a balanced team. That is one of the reasons they haven’t had a long losing streak and why they are a first place team. They are fourth in the league in pitching and they are eighth in the league in runs scored. One last stat, they have 96 stolen bases. Remember that speed doesn’t slump.

Tampa Bay Rays (-)


Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins

How hot are the Twins right now? This is a team that is steam rolling through the American league. Tonight we get the Twins hottest pitcher. Kevin Slowey has been very reliable this season.

Kevin has gone 2-0 in his last three starts. 21 innings pitched in those three starts and he has allowed just 14 hits. Over those 21 innings he has allowed just one earned run. Kevin has actually been great his last four starts. In his last four starts he has allowed a total of three runs. His last two starts he didn’t allow a single run. One road win against the Padres and a complete game shutout at home against the Brewers. Look for Kevin to keep the ball down in the zone and win another ball game at home.

Minnesota Twins (-)


Toronto Blue Jays at LA Angels

Too good of a line to pass up here tonight in Anaheim. John Lackey has been great, but Roy Halladay is still the crème of the crop. Roy has been especially strong as of late. Roy’s last start was his best all-season. Roy and the Blue Jays were on the road but they got the job done.

Roy went the distance for another complete game shutout. Roy threw nine innings, allowed just four hits, had six strikeouts and didn’t walk a batter. How about Roy’s control this season? Would you believe Roy has thrown 130 innings and walked just 19 batters all season. 106 strikeouts to 19 walks. Roy is one of the few pitchers that doesn’t mind being on the road. Roy has five road wins and an ERA of under 2.50 (2.43). He just doesn’t get intimated. He goes out there and wins ball games regardless of run support, regardless on location and regardless against the competition. Look for the Blue Jays to steal one here tonight.

Toronto Blue Jays (+)


Detroit Tigers at Seattle Mariners

Look for the Tigers to bounce back here tonight. They had a tough game yesterday. They scored just one run and looked flat. There is a reason why that was the case though. Yesterday they faced Erik Bedard. Erik has electric stuff. A southpaw that is capable of shutting down any line-up.

Tonight the Tigers are going to have a much easier shot at scoring runs. R.A. Dickey goes the Mariners tonight. R.A. is a converted knuckle-baller that gets hit hard. On top of allowing 54 hits in just 47 innings Dickey struggles with his control. On the season as a starter the Mariners have won just one of his five starts.

Galarraga on the hand has been great for the Tigers. Armando is 7-2 and the Tigers are 11-2 in his thirteen starts. He has pitched 82 innings and allowed just 64 hits. He has electric stuff. He will shut down a weak line-up.

Detroit Tigers (-)

National League    

Houston Astros at Atlanta Braves

Solid match-up here tonight in Atlanta. It is hard to believe but Jo-Jo Reyes is the more reliable pitcher. Roy Oswalt is just 7-8 in 2008. In his 18 starts the Astros are just 8-10. The Braves on the other hand are an even 6-6 in Jo-Jo Reyes starts. Jo-Jo has not gotten the run support he has needed. He will get them tonight though.

Roy is not the same pitcher as the Roy of “old”. Roy has thrown 115 innings this season and he has allowed 132 hits. Those numbers are scary high for Roy. When Roy was dominating he was barely allowing a hit per inning. Roy’s strikeouts are also dramatically down. He has struck out 206, 184, 166 and 154 the last few years. This season he has just 94 in this 115 innings thrown.

On the road Roy has his struggles. Roy is just 3-5 with an ERA in the mid 4’s. The Braves still have that power in their line-up.

Atlanta Braves (-)


Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers have already put their terrible loss behind them. On Thursday the Brewers lost their worst game all season. This was a team that was winning 5-0 in the bottom of the ninth inning in Arizona. It was a terrible loss, there is no denying that. The Brewers did the best thing though, they bounced back.

Yesterday the Brewers pounded out 14 hits. Not only fourteen hits but they scored nine runs and hit two home-runs. The Brewers took advantage of two Pittsburgh Pirates errors.

Paul Maholm is just an average starter for the Pirates. He is 5-5 on the season with a high earned run average. The Brewers bats are heating up and they will knock this guy out of the game early.

Milwaukee Brewers (-)


New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies

The Mets just can’t figure it out right now. Last night they couldn’t win with their ace on the hill. Two nights ago they couldn’t win with their number two on the hill. Tonight they won’t win with there number three on the mound.

John Maine has just been average this season. There was a lot made out of his spring and he could be a 20 game winner. Well John is just 8-6 on the season. The Mets are just 9-8 in his seventeen starts.

On the other hand Jamie Moyer has been pitching and winning. The Phillies are 10-7 in his seventeen starts. Jamie has his best ERA since 2004. This guy just finds ways to win ball games. Jamie has three wins at home already this season. Tonight his record will improve to 8-6 and the Phillies will continue their winning ways against the lowly Mets.

Philadelphia Phillies (-)


Washington Nationals at Cincinnati Reds

You have to look at Tim Redding from a step back. Sure Tim is 6-3 on the season. We are not here to knock him. Tim has been the Nationals best pitcher. He has already thrown 102 innings and he is the Nationals most reliable starter. He hasn’t been great lately though.

Redding’s last start was a tough one. Time threw just five innings and allowed eight hits and four earned runs. Tim walked two batters and let up another long ball. The long ball has been a real problem with Tim this season. Heading to Cincinnati is not the place to help those long balls. Tim has let up 13 home-runs this season.

The Reds took care of business yesterday. They will take care of business again tonight.

Cincinnati Reds (-)


Florida Marlins at Colorado Rockies

Jorge De La Rosa is better than his numbers indicate. This is a guy that has electric stuff. Jorge is a 6”1 left-hander that can flat out deal. He has thrown 48 innings on the season and he has 51 strikeouts. Just a few starts ago at home Jorge pitched against the Indians. Jorge went out there and throws six innings, allowed four hits, one walk and struck out ten batters. The start before that he faced one of the best teams in the league, the White Sox and threw five innings of just one hit ball. That included eight strikeouts.

The Marlins are an ultra-aggressive baseball team folks. They are top three in the league in strikeouts. They will be free swinging here tonight in Colorado, especially after their outburst last night. The Rockies can still score. Just look at last night’s game. The Rockies scored in the first six innings of the ball game, and scored double-digit runs. Look for the Rockies to win again tonight.

Colorado Rockies (-)


San Diego Pares at Arizona Diamondbacks

Big game here tonight for Arizona. The Diamondbacks are a team that has struggled for a long time. Don’t forget that this team was red hot right out of the gate. There was not a better team in baseball during the first two weeks of baseball. With that said the Diamondbacks are still a first place team and they still are a team with a ton of talent.

This pitching match-up is a lot closer than you would think. Sure Jake Peavy goes tonight for the Padres and he is great, but on the season he is just 5-5. The Padres are just 5-8 in his thirteen starts. Doug Davis on the other hand has the same .500 mark and his team is .500 in his starts. The Diamondbacks at home are still a tough beat. They will be able to put a few runs on the board, and will take this Saturday affair.

Arizona Diamondbacks (-)


LA Dodgers at San Francisco Giants

When the Dodgers hit they are almost un-beatable. Would you believe that the Dodgers are within just a few games of first place? With all of their struggles they have managed to stay around and hang in the race. In fact if you ask our staff we like the Dodgers to take the NL West division crown and head to the playoffs. After all they do have the calming influence of Joe Toree on their side.

Last night the Dodgers got the bats going early and they got them going often. LA ended up putting ten runs on the board and thirteen hits. Andre Either has been swinging the bat well and he hit his tenth home run of the season.

Tonight the Dodgers face a soft-throwing left-handed pitcher. LA will be able to knock him around. The Giants are not a great home team, and do not protect their ball park the way they should.

LA Dodgers (-)

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Saturday's streaking starting pitchers
By JUSTIN BANKS

Streaking

John Lackey, Los Angeles Angels (6-1, 1.44 ERA)


Lackey has been impressive since returning from a tricep injury that kept him sidelined for the first month of the season.

The righty has 54 strikeouts in nine starts and has not conceded more than two earned runs in his last six starts. Lackey is 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA in his last three outings and is 2-0 at home with a 1.50 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP.

Lackey is 1-0 with a solid 1.20 ERA this season and is 3-2 with a 2.98 ERA in nine-career starts against Toronto. L.A. is 4-1 in Lackey’s last five starts against the AL East.


Kevin Slowey, Minnesota Twins (5-6, 3.47)

Slowey is rebounding from a miserable 0-4 start. The right-hander is 2-0 in his last three contests with a 0.43 ERA and 0.76 WHIP and is 5-2 in his last eight.

The second-year starter is coming off a complete against the Brewers. Slowey pitched nine scoreless innings, striking out nine and surrendering a mere three hits.

Slowey, victorious in his last two at home, is 2-3 with a sturdy 3.30 ERA at the Metrodome. Minnesota is also 4-1 in Slowey’s last five against a team with a losing record.


Slumping

Barry Zito, San Francisco Giants (3-12, 5.99)


Zito is one setback away from matching last season’s career-high 13 losses. The left-hander is 1-2 with a soaring 6.59 ERA in his last three tilts, conceding 10 earned runs and nine walks in 11.2 IP.

Zito is 0-8 with a lofty 7.33 ERA at home. He has also conceded at least four earned runs in each of his last four starts at AT&T Park.

San Fran is 2-8 in its last 10 home games, while the Dodgers are 13-3 in their last 16 tilts at AT&T Park.


Aaron Harang, Cincinnati Reds (3-10, 4.47)

Harang conceded 13 earned runs and five home runs in his last three starts. He is 0-1 in that span with a 6.62 ERA and 1.75 WHIP.
Harang is winless with a 6.62 career ERA against the Nats. Washington starter Tim Redding, on the other hand, is a stellar 6-1 in his last seven road tilts and 13-3 in his last 16 overall.

The Reds, winless in their last two road outings, are a meager 2-7 in their last nine outside Cincy. The Nationals, conversely, are 6-1 in their last seven contests against the Reds.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 5

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Chicago Cubs (52-35) at St. Louis (49-39)


This N.L. Central rivalry continues with two veteran pitchers scheduled to square off as the Cubs send southpaw Ted Lilly (9-5, 4.56 ERA) to the mound at Busch Stadium to take on the Cardinals’ Kyle Lohse (10-2, 3.67).

Chicago got a boost from the return of ace Carlos Zambrano on Friday with a 2-1 victory over the Cardinals, moving 3½ games ahead of St. Louis in the N.L. Central. The two teams have split four games this season after the Cubs won 11 of 16 last year. Despite last night’s win, the Cubs are still on slides of 3-8 on the road, 0-7 as a road ‘dog, 2-6 on the highway against right-handed starters and 2-4 against teams from the N.L. Central.

Meanwhile the Cardinals are just 2-6 in their last eight at Busch Stadium,  but they are on positive streaks of 13-3 on Saturdays and 4-2 against N.L. Central Division foes.

Lilly is 2-0 with a 3.74 ERA in his last three outings, and the Cubs have won his last five starts, including Monday when he held the Giants to two runs over eight innings of a 9-2 victory in San Francisco. He beat the Cards back on May 3 when he gave up three runs over seven innings of a 9-3 victory, improving to 4-2 with a 3.06 ERA in seven lifetime starts against St. Louis.

Lohse is 5-1 with a 2.77 ERA at Busch Stadium this season and he allowed just one unearned run over seven innings of a 7-1 home win over the Mets on Monday. The Cardinals have won eight of his last nine starts, and the right-hander has held the opposition to three earned runs or less in eight of those outings. Lohse was on the opposite side of that May 3 start against Lilly and gave up eight runs on nine hits in six innings, falling to 1-2 with a 5.92 ERA in five career starts against Chicago.

The Cubs are on runs of 6-0 when Lilly opposes teams with a winning record, 4-0 when he gets four days of rest and 5-2 when he pitches on Saturday. St. Louis is on streaks of 6-0 when Lohse faces a team with a winning mark, 4-0 when he toils at home and 5-1 when he goes on four days’ rest.

For Chicago, the over is 7-2 in its last nine against right-handed starters, 5-2 against winning teams, 8-3 overall and 7-3 on the highway. For the Cardinals, the over is 11-4-1 as a favorite, 9-3-1 as a home favorite and 5-2-2 at home against southpaws. However, the under is 5-1-1 in the last seven meetings in this rivalry and 5-1-1 in the past seven clashes in St. Louis.

ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Boston (52-37) at N.Y. Yankees (45-42)


The Red Sox have taken the first two of this four-game weekend set and now send young Justin Masterson (4-2, 3.75 ERA) to the hill to face the Yankees and veteran right-hander Mike Mussina (10-6, 3.87) in the Bronx.

Boston won Friday’s Fourth of July contest 6-4 after taking Thursday’s series opener 7-0. The Red Sox have now won five of the last six meetings between these two and three straight in New York. The two straight wins to start this series come on the heels of Boston’s five-game road losing skid.

New York has lost four of five on this current homestand and five of six overall, and the Yankees are just 1-5 in their last six games as chalk. On a positive note, Joe Girardi’s club is 5-1 in its last six Saturday outings and it is on a 39-12 roll in the third game of a series.

The Red Sox are 5-3 in Masterson’s eight starts this season, but in Tampa Bay on Monday he gave up four runs on five hits in six innings of a 5-4 loss.

The Yankees have lost three of Mussina’s last four starts, and they’re also 0-5 in his last five against the Red Sox as he’s allowed 23 earned runs in 26 1/3 innings. For his career, Mussina is 19-17 with a 3.80 ERA in 54 starts against Boston.

New York is 4-1 with Mussina on the hill on Saturday and 5-0 when he starts the third game of a series. Boston is on skids of 10-21 on the road against winning teams and 5-10 as a ‘dog.

The under is 7-4-1 in Boston’s last 12 overall, 6-2 in the Yankees’ last eight overall, 7-3 in the Yankees’ last 10 at home and 13-5 in their past 18 versus A.L. East foes. With Mussina on the hill, the under is 4-1 in his last five and 10-4-1 when he faces a team with a winning record at Yankee Stadium. Conversely, the over has been the play in five of the last six series battles between these rivals this season.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER


Toronto (41-46) at L.A. Angels (52-34)

The Angels send the hottest pitcher in baseball to the hill today when John Lackey (6-1, 1.44 ERA) takes on the Blue Jays and Roy Halladay (9-6, 2.90) in a battle of aces at Angels Stadium in Anaheim.

Jered Weaver delivered a quality start for the Angels on Friday and the offense carried him to an 8-2 victory. Los Angeles has won six of the last eight meetings with Toronto and five of the last seven when the Blue Jays have sent Halladay to the mound. Overall, the Angels are on hot streaks of 5-1 against the A.L. East and 62-25 in the second game of a series, while the Blue Jays are just 2-10 in their last 12 on the road and 1-4 in their last five on Saturdays.

Lackey is 3-0 with a 0.74 ERA in his last three starts and he’s 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA at home this season. Only twice this year hast the right-hander allowed more than one earned run in a game, and in his most recent effort on Sunday, he shut out the Dodgers over 8 2/3 innings, giving up three hits in a 1-0 Angels’ win. For his career, Lackey is 3-2 with a 2.98 ERA in nine starts against Toronto, and in two starts versus the Jays this season he’s allowed two earned runs in 15 innings with Los Angeles winning both games.

Halladay is coming off a complete-game shutout in Seattle on Monday, limiting the Mariners to four hits in a 2-0 Toronto win, snapping a string of three straight Blue Jays’ losses with Halladay on the hill. He’s 5-5 with a 4.80 ERA in 13 career starts against the Angels, and in his last one he gave up three runs on 12 hits over eight innings of a 3-0 loss last August.

Toronto is 68-33 in Halladay’s last 101 starts and 35-16 when he gets four days of rest, but they are just 2-5 in his past seven on Saturday and 6-13 in his last 19 on grass. The Angels are 36-15 in Lackey’s last 51 outings and 40-18 in his last 58 as a home favorite.

The under is on runs of 16-6 when Halladay is an underdog, 12-4 when he’s a road pup, 13-3-2 when Lackey is a favorite and 5-1-1 when Lackey works in front of the home crowd.

As a team, the Blue Jays have stayed under in 43 of their last 67 against the A.L. West. The under is also 45-21-5 in the Angels’ last 71 overall, 28-14-3 in their last 45 as a home favorite and 35-16-4 in the second game of a series. Finally, even though last night’s game topped the total, the under is still 39-13-5 in the last 57 meetings between these teams, including 19-8-2 in the last 29 when playing in Los Angeles.

ATS ADVANTAGE: L.A. ANGELS and UNDER

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 5

Baseball Today

SCOREBOARD


Toronto at Los Angeles Angels (9:05 p.m. EDT). Roy Halladay (9-6) and the Blue Jays take on John Lackey (6-1) and the Angels. Halladay is coming off a complete-game shutout of the Mariners and Lackey has won his last five starts.


STARS

- Garrett Atkins and Matt Holliday, Rockies. Atkins had five hits, including a homer, and three RBIs, and Holliday had three hits, including a grand slam and a solo homer, in an 18-17 victory over Florida.

- J.J. Hardy, Brewers, went 4-for-5 with a home run for the second straight day and Milwaukee routed Pittsburgh 9-1. Hardy has 10 homers for the year.

- Andre Ethier, Dodgers, had three hits including his 10th home run of the year, and drove in three runs in Los Angeles' 10-7 win over San Francisco.

- Mike Lowell, Red Sox, hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in a 6-4 victory over the New York Yankees.

- Carlos Pena, Rays, hit his first home run in more than a month and drove in a season-high five runs to help Tampa Bay trounce Kansas City 11-2.

- Carlos Zambrano, Cubs, gave up four hits in six scoreless innings of a 2-1 victory over St. Louis.

- Delmon Young, Twins, went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs in Minnesota's 12-3 win over Cleveland.

- Cha Seung Baek, Padres, threw six shutout innings for his first win in seven starts this season as San Diego beat Arizona 5-1.

- Shane Victorino, Phillies, had a two-out RBI single in the ninth inning to lift Philadelphia to a 3-2 victory over the New York Mets.


ON THE FENCE

Kevin Youkilis' drive squirted out of the webbing of Johnny Damon's glove and bounced up off the top of the left-field wall in the third inning. And bounced. And bounced. The ball came to rest on top of the fence, which was shaking from the impact of the Yankees left fielder crashing into it as he tried to make a leaping catch. Finally, the ball dropped back in and landed near Damon, who was sprawled on the warning track. Youkilis cruised into third base with a two-run triple that tied it at 3 for Boston.


COORS CLASSIC


Colorado homered six times to rally from a nine-run deficit for the biggest comeback in franchise history and an 18-17 victory over Florida on Friday night. In the highest-scoring game at Coors Field since the humidor was introduced in 2002, the Rockies and Marlins combined for 35 runs on 43 hits, 21 of them for extra bases with eight home runs. Ryan Spilborghs and Matt Holliday homered twice, and Garrett Atkins and Chris Iannetta once for Colorado. Hanley Ramirez and Matt Treanor hit one each for Florida.


FALL FROM GRACE

Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur, hitting only .234, was sent to Double-A Mississippi and told he'd be recalled within three weeks. Francoeur has taken hours of extra batting practice but has been unable to match the power he showed in 2006 when he hit 29 homers or the improved discipline at the plate when he hit .292 last season. Braves general manager Frank Wren and manager Bobby Cox said the move is not a demotion. "We look at it as stepping back for a few days and decompressing and getting his game going again,'' Wren said. "It gives him the ability to do that.''


BACK TO WORK


Jered Weaver recovered nicely from a history-making loss to the Dodgers last Saturday, allowing two runs and six hits over 7 1-3 innings in the Los Angeles Angels' 8-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. Weaver pitched six hitless innings against the Dodgers, allowing an unearned run on his own fielding error and a sacrifice fly in a 1-0 loss. The Dodgers went the entire game without a hit, making them the fifth team in modern major league history to win a game under those circumstances.

AILING


San Diego catcher Michael Barrett was placed on the 15-day disabled list and will require surgery for facial fractures. He may be out six weeks. Barrett left Wednesday night's game at Colorado in the third inning after fouling a ball off his face. ... Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon sprained and bruised his left shoulder when he crashed into the left-field fence trying to catch a drive by Kevin Youkilis. The ball popped out of Damon's glove, bounced several times on top of the fence and finally came back into play for a triple. An MRI revealed a sprained acromioclavicular joint, and Damon said he would be out at least a few days. ... The Athletics placed reliever Keith Foulke on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder.


NO SUPPORT

Johan Santana again had nothing to show for a strong outing. Santana gave up two runs and six hits in eight innings and the Mets lost to the Phillies, 3-2. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner is 0-4 in his last six starts despite a 2.48 ERA in that span. Santana has never lost five straight decisions.


WARM WELCOME

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa wasn't exactly overjoyed to see his former star center fielder back in town wearing a Chicago Cubs uniform. Miffed by Jim Edmonds' comments that he was happy to be with the Cubs and tired of talking about his past, La Russa said he'd ignore the four-time All-Star in his first visit as an opposing player. The sellout crowd at Busch Stadium did no such thing, giving Edmonds a prolonged ovation before his first at-bat leading off the second. Edmonds stepped out of the box and doffed his helmet before Braden Looper struck him out on a 2-2 pitch.


SPEAKING

"When you're in a game like that you never know what's going to happen. You know you have a chance no matter what. We just kept battling and kept coming.'' - Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta, after singling home the winning run off Kevin Gregg in the bottom of the ninth inning to complete Colorado's 18-17 victory over Florida on Friday night.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 5

MLB Weekend Betting: Cubs at Cardinals

The Chicago Cubs enter the weekend leading the NL Central, but that could change if things don’t go their way in St. Louis. The Cubs and Cardinals collide for the three-game series starting on Friday with Chicago trying to hold off the hard-charging Cards in the Central.

In Friday’s series opener the Cubs are expected to send Carlos Zambrano (8-3, 3.13) to the mound after removing him from the disabled list. Zambrano has been out since the middle of June with a strained right shoulder. In his last start the shoulder injury appeared to hinder him, as he allowed four runs on seven hits in six 2-3 innings.

Starting for the Cardinals on Friday will be Braden Looper (9-5, 4.26). In his last start Looper lasted only three 1-3 innings after giving up two runs on six hits. Looper may have been able to go further in that game, but the Cardinals were likely handling him with kids glove due to a twisted knee he suffered in his previous start.

On Saturday Chicago will send lefthander Ted Lilly (9-5, 4.56) to the mound, while St. Louis will start Kyle Lohse (10-2, 3.67). Lilly is 4-0 in his five last starts and limited San Francisco to two runs in eight innings last time out. Lilly faced the Cardinals back in May and earned the win after giving up three runs in seven innings.

Lohse has been lights-out lately, with a sparkling 7-0 record in his last 10 starts. In his last outing Lohse allowed only one unearned run in seven strong innings versus the Mets. Lohse went up against the Cubs (and Lilly) back in May and was roughed up for eight runs in six innings.

Closing out the series on Sunday will be Jason Marquis (6-5, 4.78) for Chicago and Todd Wellemeyer (7-3, 3.86) for St Louis. Marquis took the loss in his last start despite allowing only two runs in seven innings versus the Giants. When Marquis faced St. Louis back in May, he struggled while allowing five runs on seven hits and five walks in five 1-3 innings.

Wellemeyer is coming off a rough outing against the Mets in which he was pounded for six runs in five innings. In his lone start against the Cubs in May, Wellemeyer allowed two runs over five innings to pick up the win.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 5

Saturday's best MLB bets
Covers.com

Cubs vs. St. Louis (-115, 9)

Cards manager Tony LaRussa didn't like the way home plate umpire Ted Barrett was calling balls and strikes late in yesterday's game against the Cubs. The fiery manager said Barrett's strike zone was a little too elastic for his liking with the Cards trailing 2-1 in the ninth.

Troy Glaus struck out for the first out of the inning after a couple of strikes that both Glaus and LaRussa questioned.

"Those pitches were not consistenly in the zone that he had called all game long, so you've got a complaint," La Russa said. "What I think is happening is they're sitting in there and complaining about Troy Glaus getting upset and Yaddy looking."

"Check the tape and I think they'll see there was a legitimate gripe."

Dana DeMuth is behind home plate tonight and don't expect the Cards to get any more calls than they did yesterday. DeMuth has a small strike zone, with just 61.9 percent of his calls going for strikes and the home team is a sad 6-12 in his games this year.

Pick: Cubs -105


Milwaukee vs. Pittsburgh (-150, 9)

Over bettors love home plate umpire Scott Barry. The guy sees an average of more than 11 runs per game and the over has paid out in 10 of his 15 games when he's worn the mask this year. That puts him in the top 10 in the majors when it comes to umpire over/under ratios.

Barry also sees an average of 2.6 home runs per game, which is the second highest for any ump who has called more than three games this year.

Both these teams are also hitting well lately, especially Pittsburgh with 36 runs over its past four games.

Pick: Over

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 5

Saturday MLB Research (Only American League to focus on moving trends)
By INDIANCOWBOY

Texas vs. Baltimore

Don't underestimate Feldman, this is the same guy that went to New York and beat Chamberlain by holding the Yanks to 4 hits and 1 run in about 6 inns, he has pitched 3 straight quality starts although the Yanks game was his first big successful road start, Burres has already beat Texas this season, and he comes off a sound home start against KC but before that he was horrendous. This could go either way but I lean on Baltimore, although I think this is a very high total but likelly staing away.

Oakland vs. Whitesox

Smith has pitched 3 of 4 quality starts and beat the White Sox earlier this year on the road against Buehrle, Floyd has had back to back rough starts a bit so he needs a big home start today but he is 6-1 with a 2.87 ERA, wouldn't be surprised to see an under here although I lean on the White Sox but hate going against the A's who can beat anyone on any given day such as the winning streak they stopped against the White Sox recently. Lean on the under here but 8.5 is not the greatest cushion in the world. Granted the Wsox are looking to avoid 3 in a row to the A's in this series.

Kansas City vs. Tampa Bay

Greinke has had back to back rough starts so he is line for a solid start today, but Sonn is 3-0 over his last 6 starts in part b/c of the great TB offense. I actually lean TB here but don't want to pay the juice, not to mention I don't think Greinke will be all that bad today as I think he will pitch well given the bounce-backs.

Cleveland vs. Minny

There is no doubt Laffey struggled in his last start but he is a bounce-back pitcher, granted I love the Twins as they play solid defense and actually have an offense to boot this year, Laffey already beat Minny this year at home, Slowey has pitched 4 straight quality starts and has won each of those 4 starts of late, but I do expect Laffey on the bounce-back here, but the Twins have just been rock solid of late while the Indians have lost 7 in a row I beleive - tough call either way, do lean on the under.

Bluejays vs. Angels

Halladay pitched a copmlete game on the road against Seattle in his last start, in fact he has a 2.51 ERA on the road better than at home this year, Lackey is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA at home this year, he has pitched 7 straight consecutive starts, beat the Bluejays twice this year, nothing against Halladay but Lackey has been rock solid as well but Halladay has pitched well on the road but the Bjays offense is horrendous, lean on the Angels here as well as the under, but 6.5 is too rich for my blood.

Detroit vs. Seattle

As you know I am a fan of Galaraga, he is 5-1 with a 2.23 ERA on the road, ****ey has pitched quality back to back starts for Seattle, but he has given up plenty of hits of late, but so has Galaraga and frankly I think teams are beginning to figure out Galaraga, and I don't want to take the road chalk with the young kid here, a lean on the over, but likely staying away.

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