MLB News and Notes July 7

MLB News and Notes July 7

Monday's MLB Tip Sheet
By Brad Young

The Fourth of July holiday weekend is over, and there is still another week of baseball before the All-Star break. To give you an idea of how crazy this season has been already, Tampa Bay has the best record in baseball and the long-suffering Chicago Cubs have the best National League ledger.

There are just nine games on Monday’s schedule, but a couple key contests we can focus on. There’s an important National League East matchup between New York and Philadelphia, while all four teams in the American League West play one another. Now, let’s take a closer look as some of these contests.

**Mets (Martinez) at Phillies (Eaton)**


-Caesars Palace installed Philadelphia as a $1.25 home ‘chalk’ over New York, with the total set at 10½ ‘under’ (minus $1.20). This National League East affair is slated to start at 7:05 p.m. ET.

-New York’s Pedro Martinez (2-2, 7.39 ERA) has struggled to an 0-2 record his last three starts after picking up a no-decision in Wednesday’s matchup with St. Louis. The veteran right-hander went five innings, allowing five runs on seven hits (two home runs) with a walk and four strikeouts.

-The Mets eventually dropped that affair as a $1.00 road selection, 8-7, while the combined 15 runs eclipsed the nine-run closing total. The ‘under’ had cashed his previous three outings.

-The Dominican Republic native received a no-decision against the Phillies last year in his lone start against them, going six innings while surrendering one run on seven hits with no walks and nine strikeouts. The Mets ended up losing that matchup as a $1.40 road underdog, 5-3, while the combined eight runs went ‘under’ the nine-run closing total.

-Philadelphia right-hander Adam Eaton (3-6, 4.79 ERA) gets the starting nod fresh off Wednesday’s victory over Atlanta as a $1.27 road underdog, 7-3. The 30-year-old was reached for two runs on five hits (one home run) with five walks and two strikeouts over five innings.

-The combined 10 runs slithered ‘over’ the 9 ½-run closing total, ending an incredible streak that saw the ‘under’ cash his previous nine outings.

-Eaton has two no decisions against the Mets this season, going a combined 11 innings while yielding seven runs on 11 hits with three walks and nine strikeouts. The Phillies prevailed as a home ‘pick,’ 5-4, while losing as a $1.50 road underdog, 4-3.

**Braves (Campillo) at Dodgers (Kuroda)**


-Caesars Palace opened Los Angeles as a $1.25 home favorite over Atlanta, with the total listed at 7½ ‘over’ (minus $1.15). First pitch is scheduled for 10:10 p.m. ET.

-Atlanta pitcher Jorge Campillo (3-3, 3.73 ERA) dropped to 1-3 his last four starts after falling to Philadelphia Wednesday as a $1.37 home ‘chalk,’ 7-3. The four-year veteran was tagged for five runs on eight hits (two home runs) with two walks and no strikeouts over five innings.

-The combined 10 runs slithered ‘over’ the 9½-run closing total, enabling the ‘over’ to go 2-1 his last three outings.

-Campillo, pitching for the Seattle Mariners the past few years, has not started against the Dodgers the previous couple seasons.

-Los Angeles righty Hiroki Kuroda (4-6, 3.73 ERA) is off Wednesday’s victory over Houston as a $1.10 road favorite, 4-1. The rookie tossed seven scoreless innings on five hits with a walk and a strikeout.

-The combined five runs failed to topple the nine-run closing total, helping the ‘under’ improve to 6-1 his last seven starts.

-The Japanese native fell to the Braves April 20 as a $1.00 road selection, 6-1, going six innings while allowing two runs on seven hits (one home run) with four walks and four strikeouts. The combined seven runs went ‘under’ the 9 ½-run closing total.

**Twins (Baker) at Red Sox (Matsuzaka)**

-Caesars Palace lists Boston as a $1.65 home ‘chalk’ over Minnesota, with the total set at nine. This American League contest is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. ET.

-Minnesota’s Scott Baker (5-2, 3.65 ERA) has strung together three wins in a row after upending Detroit Tuesday as a $1.43 home favorite, 6-4. The Oklahoma State product went six innings while being reached for three runs on seven hits (one home run) with no walks and five strikeouts.

-The combined 10 runs eclipsed the nine-run closing total, helping the ‘over’ improve to 2-1 during his personal winning streak.

-Baker, a four-year veteran, has not started against the Red Sox the past few seasons.

-Boston hurler Daisuke Matsuzaka (9-1, 3.12 ERA) received a no-decision in Wednesday’s matchup with Tampa Bay despite tossing a solid five innings. The Japanese native surrendered one run on two hits with five walks and five strikeouts.

-The Red Sox eventually dropped that affair as a $1.30 road underdog, 7-6, while the combined 13 runs eclipsed the 7 ½-run closing total.

-Matsuzaka beat the Twins May 10 as a $1.60 road ‘chalk,’ 5-2, pitching seven innings while getting reached for both runs on six hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. The combined seven runs failed to topple the 8½-run closing total.

**Angels (Santana) at Rangers (Mendoza)**

-Caesars Palace opened Los Angeles as a $1.40 road favorite over Texas, with the total set at 10 ‘under’ (minus $1.20). This AL West contest is slated to start at 8:05 p.m. ET.

-Los Angeles pitcher Ervin Santana (9-3, 3.28 ERA) is off back-to-back no decisions after Tuesday’s effort against Oakland. The Dominican Republic native went seven innings, surrendering two runs on eight hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.

-The Angels eventually prevailed as a $1.03 home selection, 5-3, while the combined eight runs eclipsed the seven-run closing total. The ‘over’ is now 4-1 the last five games Santana has started.

-The 25-year-old right-hander beat the Rangers April 14 as a $1.10 road ‘chalk,’ 7-4, tossing seven innings while yielding three runs on seven hits (one home run) with a walk and six strikeouts. The combined 11 runs slithered ‘over’ the 10½-run closing total.

-Texas pitcher Luis Mendoza (0-2, 6.91 ERA) is still searching for his first victory of the season after Wednesday’s no-decision against the Yankees. The Mexico native was reached for six runs (one earned) on four hits (one home run) with two walks and no strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings.

-The Rangers eventually dropped that matchup as a $1.65 road underdog, 18-7, while the combined 25 runs soared ‘over’ the 10 ½-run closing total. The ‘over’ has cashed his last three starts.

-Mendoza received a no-decision against the Angels last season after going 4 2/3 innings and allowing two runs on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts. The Rangers eventually won that game as a home ‘pick,’ 16-2, while the combined 18 runs went ‘over’ the 10½-run closing total.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 7

Monday's streaking and slumping starters
By JUSTIN BANKS

Streaking

Matt Garza, Tampa Bay Rays (7-4, 3.47)


Garza, who spent two average campaigns with the Twins, has been nearly unhittable since suiting up for the Devil Rays.

The right-hander has 58 strikeouts in 13 starts and has not conceded more than three earned runs in any of his last five starts. Garza is also 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA in his last three outings and is 5-1 this season at Tropicana Field with a 2.16 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP.

Garza is coming off a spectacular triumph against the league-leading Boston Red Sox in which he pitched seven scoreless innings, striking out three.

Tampa Bay is also 18-6 in their last 24 tilts against the Royals in Florida.

Jarrod Washburn, Seattle Mariners (4-7, 5.08)

Washburn is rebounding from a terrible 2-7 start. The right-hander is 2-0 in his last three tilts with a 2.37 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.

The veteran starter is coming off a respectable victory against the Blue Jays. Washburn lasted six innings, striking out four and surrendering two earned runs.

Washburn, dominant in his last four road starts, is 2-4 with a 4.94 ERA outside Safeco Field. Seattle is also 10-1 in its last 11 contests in Oakland.

Slumping

Pedro Martinez, New York Mets (2-2, 7.39)


It may be time for Martinez to hang up his cleats. The veteran righty has started just 12 contests in the past two seasons.

Martinez is 0-2 with a 10.20 ERA and 1.93 WHIP in his last three and has conceded 17 earned runs on 22 hits in that period. He is also 1-1 with a lofty 8.37 ERA outside the Big Apple.

The veteran right-hander is 7-5 with a 3.27 ERA against the Phillies. The Mets are a meager 3-7 in their last 10 trips to Philly.

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NATIONAL LEAGUE

N.Y. Mets (44-44) at Philadelphia (48-41)


These two N.L. East rivals conclude a four-game set with the Mets sending veteran Pedro Martinez (2-2,7.39 ERA) to the hill to battle the Phillies’ Adam Eaton (3-6, 4.79) at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

New York scored a 4-2, 13-inning victory on Sunday and has won six of the last eight in this rivalry after losing nine in a row dating back to last season. Overall, the Mets have alternated wins and losses on their current road trip, while the Phillies have won four of their last six overall despite yesterday’s setback.

Philadelphia is on streaks of 36-17 at home against teams with a losing record, 8-2 in the fourth game of a series and 6-1 on Mondays. Meanwhile the Mets are on slides of 1-7 on Mondays and 4-8 against N.L. East rivals.

Martinez has been beaten up in his last three starts, going 0-2 with a 10.20 ERA and the Mets have lost all three and four of his last five. In St. Louis on Wednesday he gave up five runs in five innings of an 8-7 loss, dropping to 1-1 with an 8.37 ERA in five road starts. Also, Martinez is 7-5 with a 3.27 ERA in 22 career games against Philadelphia.

The Phillies have lost three of Eaton’s last four outings, with the victory coming on Tuesday in Atlanta as the veteran right-hander gave up two runs in five innings of a 7-3 win. The Mets have seen Eaton nine previous times, going 1-8 in those contests, with Eaton posting personal numbers of 5-0 with a 3.29 ERA. That includes a 5-4 home victory against New York on April 20, with Eaton yielding four runs in five innings.

Philadelphia is on runs of 5-2 with Eaton on the hill at home and 5-2 when he faces N.L. East rivals. Meanwhile the Mets are just 2-8 when Martinez faces a winning team on the road and 1-6 when he goes up against N.L. East foes.

The Mets have topped the total in 16 of Martinez’s last 22 road outings, including four of five this year, and the over is 6-0 on the road when he’s faced a team with a winning record and 4-1 in his last five outings against Philly. For the Phillies, the under trends include 17-5-1 in Eaton’s last 23 starts overall, 10-1 when he pitches at home, 4-1 against the N.L. East and 5-1 versus the Mets.

Finally, as a team, Philadelphia is on under streaks of 22-9 overall, 9-3 against the N.L. East and 5-1 at home.

ATS ADVANTAGE: PHILADELPHIA


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Minnesota (50-38) at Boston (52-39)


The streaking Twins pay a visit to Fenway Park and send Scott Baker (5-2, 3.65 ERA) to the mound to take on Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka (9-1, 3.12) in the opener of this three-game series.

Minnesota has won 19 of its last 23 games, including five in a row after a weekend sweep of the Indians, which was capped off by Sunday’s 4-3 come-from-behind win inside the Metrodome. The Twins are 5-1 in their last six on the highway and have gone 22-7 lately against right-handed starters. Minnesota also has had success against the Red Sox recently, winning 11 of the last 17 series clashes, including three of four in Minnesota in May.

Boston concluded a four-game set in New York on Sunday night with a 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Yankees, splitting the series with their division rivals and concluding a 3-7 road trip. But the Red Sox are now back at Fenway, where they have dominated the opposition, going 40-12 in their last 52 (31-10 this year), and they are 28-11 in their last 39 contests against the A.L. Central.

Baker is 3-0 with a 3.50 ERA in his last three starts, and the Twins have won six of his last nine outings. On Tuesday, he held the Tigers to three runs over six innings of a 6-4 victory. He’s only faced the Red Sox once, in a relief appearance, and gave up one run on three hits in three innings.

Matsuzaka is 5-1 with a 4.10 ERA at Fenway this season and he’s unbeaten under the lights at 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA. However, Boston has lost three of his last four outings, but he was tough in his last two, allowing one run on four hits over his last 10 innings of work. He’s beaten the Twins twice, including May 10 this season when he surrendered two runs on six hits in seven innings of a 5-2 victory. In both starts combined against Minnesota, he’s 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA in 15 innings of work.

With Matsuzaka on the hill, Boston is on runs of 16-5 overall, 17-5 at home and 5-0 when he faces team from the A.L. Central. With Baker pitching, the Twins are 7-2 in the last nine against the A.L. East and 5-2 in the past series openers.

The under is on runs of 7-2 when Baker faces a winning team, 5-2 in his last seven overall and 6-2-1 when Matsuzaka faces squads from the A.L. Central. Also, in head-to-head matchups between these teams, the under is 18-8-2 in the last 28 overall and 4-1 in the last five at Fenway Park.

ATS ADVANTAGE: BOSTON and UNDER

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Every Game Every Day

July 7, 2008

Kansas City Royals at Tampa Bay Rays

Not much left to say about the Rays. This team is just on a fantastic run. This isn’t a run that should be taken lightly. This is a run that shows how strong of a team they have become. The Tampa Bay Rays are on a seven game winning streak. Even better than that record is the fact that this team is coming off an 11-1 mark.

The Rays haven’t done it with any smoke and mirrors either. They have pitched well, they have played solid defense and they sure have hit. So far in these first three games against the Royals they have scored a total of 23 runs. They have actually out-scored the Royals 23-4 in these first three games.

Matt Garza is more than a capable starter. He is 7-4 on the season and has one of the lower ERA’s in the American League. A 3.47 mark and a whip of just 1.17 shows us how real this guy is. Take the home team, it doesn’t matter how high the line is.

Tampa Bay Rays (-)


Minnesota Twins at Boston Red Sox

Sure the Red Sox played late last night but they return to the place where they do just one thing and that one thing is winning. The Red Sox still sport the best home record in all of baseball. This team has found a way despite their injuries to still be the second best team in baseball. At home this team is 31-10 and they pour it on.

The Red Sox average over 5.60 runs per game in their building. They are also hitting an amazing .290 as a team in Fenway. Don’t you think for a second they are just a team that scores runs and does nothing else in Boston? They have an ERA of just 3.38 and allow less than four runs per ball-game.

The Twins have been great there is no question about that but the Red Sox at home with Dice K on the mound is too good to pass up.  This is a guy that has lost a total of one game all season. The Sox are 11-3 in his starts and he will get the job done here tonight.

Boston Red Sox (-)


LA Angels at Texas Rangers

This line is just too good to pass up. The Rangers are coming off a big win yesterday against the Orioles. In a slugfest they came out victorious. They put up 11 runs and held on to win that game 11-10. That is the Rangers M-O. They are a big time offensive team and they don’t hide that fact. They go out there and they give up runs but they can put them up with the best of them.

The Rangers lead all of baseball in runs scored and they are top three in almost all important statistics. This line-up hits over .280 as a team. They have hit almost 110 home-runs. They have an OPS that leads all of baseball .806. We could go on and on about their offense but we think you get the hint.

The Angels can’t match the Rangers offense. The Angels are just 22nd in the league in runs scored and they hit just .257 as a team. Look for this game to be high-scoring and look for the Rangers to take care of business at home.

Texas Rangers (+)


Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics

Real tough loss for the Mariners yesterday. They had to play fifteen innings against the Tigers and came up on the losing side of things. In fifteen innings the Mariners managed just one run and six hits. The Tigers didn’t do much better but they were able to win a tight one run game.

After that game you expect them to fly to Oakland and beat a tough left-handed pitcher? We just don’t see it. The Athletics are coming off a tough loss themselves. They head home though and they will bounce back. The Athletics sport a 27-21 mark in Oakland. The Mariners on the other hand are just 16-26 on the road. Jarrod Washburn goes for the Mariners. He is just 4-7 on the season and the Mariners are just 5-11 in his sixteen starts.

Dana Eveland has been throwing the ball exceptional all season. Look for him to get his seventh win and the Athletics bounce back from a tough loss to a first place team.

Oakland Athletics (-)


National League    

Houston Astros at Pittsburgh Pirates

This line is just too good to pass up for the Pirates. The Astros are coming in here and they are exhausted. Houston was part of a 17 inning game last night. The Astros used everyone on their team (outside of their starting pitchers). They ended up using seven pitchers in this contest. These pitchers didn’t throw a batter or two. Each and every pitcher threw over 20 pitches and over an inning. Some of the relievers even threw two or three innings.

With no off night the Astros have to head in to Pittsburgh. The Pirates are as under-rated as any team at home. This is a team 25-19 at home this season and they have been able to have a very positive return this season.

The Pirates can hit folks, make no mistake about it. Even last night in a game the Pirates lost, but they pounded eight hits and six runs. The Pirates are the third best offense in the National League. They have hit 90 home runs this season. Look for the Buckos at home to take care of the Astros. Houston is not a bad team, but they aren’t a team that makes you profits on the road.

Pittsburgh Pirates (-)


New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies

A big game from the New York Mets last night. In fact the Mets have played three straight solid games against the Phillies. They lost a tough game 3-2 opening night, but they then bounced back to win the game Saturday 9-4 and then followed that up with an impressive extra inning win 4-2 on Sunday.

Pedro hasn’t been great this season, there is no doubt about that, but it is time for him to turn it around. Pedro always takes a while to get going during a season, well this is no different. Pedro didn’t have April or May to get in to his groove. His groove is about to hit right now.

Last start against the Cardinals he did allow seven hits and five runs, but most of that damage came in the first inning. Pedro cruised after the first inning allowing just one solo home run and one run in total. The Mets are better than a .500 baseball team. They will take the game and the series.

New York Mets (+)


Colorado Rockies at Milwaukee Brewers

Have to like the Brewers here tonight at home. This is a team that is starting to pick up their play as of late. Sure all the talk is about the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals but that is all about to change. Late last night the word came down that the Brewers are making a big push for it this season. The Brewers have agreed in principal for starter C.C. Sabathia. They are giving up their best prospect but it will be well worth it.

A trade like this lifts the entire team each and every day. It is not just the games where C.C. Sabathia gets the ball. He immediately brings a cache to the Brewers and he makes them from pretenders to contenders in just a few moments.

The Brewers have been playing solid baseball for a while now. In their last 26 games as a favorite (23 home games) they are 19-7. When these guys are supposed to win, they do win. Seth McClung goes tonight for the Brew Crew. He is 5-3 on the season and he hasn’t lost a start in close to a month.

Milwaukee Brewers (-)


Florida Marlins at San Diego Padres

Look for the Padres to get the job done here tonight. They are coming off an impressive series against the first place Diamondbacks. They were able to take two of three from those Diamondbacks. They did it with timely hitting and good pitching. There only loss came yesterday and that was a 3-2 game that they were in to the entire time.

The Padres are still a very capable baseball team especially at home. Greg Maddux goes for the Padres here tonight and he has been pitching excellent. Don’t look at his record, because at 3-6 it is very deceiving. The Padres are 9-9 in Maddux’s 18 starts. Greg has an ERA right around 4. The Padres haven’t played well at home, but that will all change tonight. Take the bull dog and the Padres.

San Diego Padres (-)


Atlanta Braves at LA Dodgers

All over the Dodgers here tonight. The Dodgers return home after a week long road trip. They really have picked it up lately. You aren’t going to know by their record but Los Angeles is in prime position to win this NL West. On the road trip they went 5-2. That included four straight victories against the Giants and the Astros. The Dodgers were able to win both series. Two against the Giants and three against the Astros.

The Dodgers bats was what needed to get going and they did. We all know the Dodgers can pitch. After all they have an ERA that is ranked fourth in all of baseball. On the road trip though they had run outputs of: Seven, Four, Five, Ten and Five. Those are incredible numbers for the Dodgers who rank 24th in the league in runs scored.

We all know the Dodgers have a ton of talent. LA is also starting to get healthy. Getting back Nomar and Andruw Jones will only help this team. Look for LA to rattle off a nice winning streak before the all-star break.

LA Dodgers (-)

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Chan's money arms: Week of July 7th
By DAVID CHAN

This column has produced a 13-4 record over the past four weeks, proving that a little homework can go a long way when it comes to building baseball bankrolls.

It’s the start of another busy week on the diamond and here are five starters that could earn you some extra loot over the next four days.

Dana Eveland, Oakland Athletics, Monday vs. Seattle

If there’s a common theme with the pitchers featured in this column, it’s consistency. Eveland certainly fits the mold. He has given up three earned runs or fewer in six consecutive starts entering Monday’s matchup with the Mariners. The young left-hander is just another in a long line of smart acquisitions by the Athletics. He has been spot on here in Oakland, posting a 4-2 record while recording a 2.84 ERA. In his only previous start against Seattle, he earned the win despite lasting only 5 1/3 innings and giving up three runs. I’m predicting a better performance on Monday, and he’ll get plenty of help from an underrated A’s offense.

Manny Parra, Milwaukee Brewers, Tuesday vs. Colorado

Is there a quieter 8-2 starter in the league than Manny Parra? His last loss came way back on May 3rd against the Astros. Since that point he owns a personal 6-0 record, and the Brewers are 8-3 when he takes the mound. Here at home, Parra is 5-0 with a 2.75 ERA. The Rockies used up a lot of offense over the weekend, scoring 41 runs in a four-game set against the Marlins. But that was in Denver; they’ve been far weaker on the road, where they have only 12 wins in 43 games. Parra has faced the Rockies once, but it was in relief duty, and that was nearly a year ago. They’ll be seeing a much different pitcher on Tuesday.

Justin Duchscherer, Oakland Athletics, Tuesday vs. Seattle

To say that Duchscherer has made the most of his opportunity to pitch in the A’s starting rotation would be an understatement. He’ll be gunning for his 10th win of the season on Wednesday, and I’m confident that he’ll get it done. What’s not to like about this guy? He has given up two earned runs or fewer in eight straight starts and has worked into the seventh inning in seven of those appearances. Opponents have yet to figure him out in this park, where he is 5-1 with a 1.46 ERA in six starts. In those outings, opposing batters are hitting just .152 and he has recorded a ridiculous 0.77 WHIP.

Brandon Webb, Arizona Diamondbacks, Wednesday at Washington

This looks like as good a time as any to buy low with Brandon Webb. He is coming off an ugly outing against the Brewers, a game the D’Backs still managed to win 6-5. In his last start against Washington, back in Arizona on the final day of May, Webb pitched a complete game shutout. Webb is only part of the equation on Wednesday. After salvaging the final game of their weekend series with the Padres, I expect the D’Backs to build some momentum in this trip to Washington. The Nationals are coming off a miserable 1-6 road trip, and a non-division matchup isn’t going to provide enough motivation for them to break out of their funk.

Ted Lilly, Chicago Cubs, Thursday vs. Cincinnati


I realize this is a bit of a stretch, but I get the feeling Lilly is finally rounding into form. And to think it only took him three months. The Cubs have won five of his last six starts, and he owns a personal 4-0 record over that period. In his last two outings he has given up only four earned runs in 14 innings. His solid 10:3 strikeout to walk ratio is what has me interested in backing him in this spot. It also helps that he’ll be tackling a Reds squad that has had little success on the road this season. After losing Lilly’s first two starts at Wrigley this season, the Cubs have won each of his last seven.

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Monday's best MLB bets
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Pittsburgh at Milwaukee (-135, 9)

If the Milwaukee Brewers weren’t a serious contender before, they definitely are today when it’s expected they will introduce the reigning AL Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia as their new ace.

This is the kind of move that puts a lot of wind in a team’s sails – especially when the club is already motoring along at an impressive clip. The Brewers have won five of their last six, putting up 39 runs along the way.

Milwaukee may start Sabathia tomorrow, but today the Brewers have Seth McClung on the hill, a guy who should be getting some attention himself. The lanky right-hander has allowed more than two runs in an outing only once since the beginning of June.

Pick: Brewers


L.A. Angels at Texas (+120, 10)

Luis Mendoza made his return to the starting rotation last week after blister and shoulder problems from the top five early in the season.

Those issues don’t seem to be bothering him now. His sinking fastball is pounding the lower part of the strike zone and he has the bite back in his slider again. Still, while the defense behind him should take part of the blame, he hasn’t seen the sixth inning as a starter yet and opposing batters are hitting .302 against him.

Meanwhile, Ervin Santana, who is quietly having a huge year, hopes his problems at Rangers Ballpark are over after he held Texas to just three runs back in April. Before that he was 1-4 with a 8.92 ERA in Texas.

Pick: Under

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 7

The Central Issue: Analyzing the AL Central Division
By JORDAN CAMPBELL

Jordan Campbell writes for Covers Expert Ben Burns. Check out the huge profits Burns has made with MLB plays lately. 

The AL East is a wide open race with the top two teams in American League. That’s the stuff that pennant race history is made of. The AL Central is even more of a logjam, but the teams aren’t so much sprinting to the finish line as much as they are bumping into each other.

It’s a division which is home to two huge underachievers (Indians and Tigers) which has allowed the other teams a legitimate shot at the title.

White Sox

So what are we to make of Ozzie Guillen’s Sox? Are they for real? The Pale Hose are certainly not the prettiest team to watch with a losing road record and one skid of six losses in a row. 

But they have balance and pitching depth, two key ingredients for a pennant winning team. Chicago ranks third in the AL in runs scored and tops in pitching. John Danks has really stepped up, with a 2.50 ERA, along with Gavin Floyd (9-4, 3.45). They also appear to have that "mid-summer magic."

Down recently with two outs against Cleveland Indians closer Joe Borowski, they got a dramatic two-out home run followed by a single, a stolen base and a game-winning hit in the Sox' 3-2 victory in 10 innings. Then they did it again: With the score tied in the 10th inning, catcher A.J. Pierzynski took a Masa Kobayashi offering just over the wall in left-center for a walk-off home run and a 6-5 victory over the fading Indians.

It’s nice to be good, but it’s also better to be lucky. The scrappy White Sox appear ready for the long second half haul.

Twins

Here’s a young team few are really paying attention to. After trading away ace Johan Santana and having Francisco Liriano come up lame again, Minnesota’s season appeared dead in April. Yet, they have been a huge surprise, despite a pitching staff ranked eighth in the AL.

What they have is some decent young starters, a strong bullpen and a terrific offense, ranked fourth in runs scored. While Francisco Rodriguez is getting all the attention as he makes a run at the all-time save record for a season, how about what remarkable Joe Nathan is doing: 23 saves and a 1.30 ERA. Talk about a lights out stopper.

Dennys Reyes, Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier have been sensational in long relief. If you can’t get an early lead on these Twins, forget it. Oddly, the Twins score the same number of runs at home as on the road, but they are far better at home, starting 29-18.

Tigers

The team no one wants to play, the Tigers seem to be their own worst enemy at times. They just won 18 of 22 games to get back in the race, but that still got them to only .500. The offense is sixth overall, which is good, though they were expected to be a monster offensive team.

It’s the pitching and defense that have failed, both ranked second to last in the AL. Injuries have hurt them, with Miguel Cabrera hurting now, and they’ve battled injuries all over the pitching staff. The key will likely be Justin Verlander, who started slow but has been in a groove of late.

Detroit is 3-1 his last four starts allowing two earned runs or less in all of them. Having an ace anchor the rotation has a domino effect, easing the workload on the pen and taking the pressure off everyone else to end losing skids.

Indians

Cleveland has been the biggest disappointment of the AL, going from the ALCS to last place. They are hard to figure at seventh in ERA with excellent starting pitching and tops in team defense. The offense has been poor along with the bullpen.

July has already been a disaster, losing five in a row, including back-to-back one-run crushers to the White Sox.

"Frustrated," said Grady Sizemore this week, when asked to describe the state of the Indians. "This can change day to day, week to week. But we have a long way to go.

"We're going to be meeting, we're going to be talking," Indians' manager Eric Wedge said this week. "We have a lot of things we have to work through right now."

The losing skid could prompt a fire sale, with C.C. Sabathia on the market. His presence could change the AL race, depending on where, and if, he goes.

Covers.com

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 7

Baseball Today

SCOREBOARD

Monday, July 7

Kansas City at Tampa Bay (12:40 p.m. EDT). The Royals attempt to slow down the streaking Rays, winners of seven straight and 11 of 12 overall.


STARS

Sunday

-David Murphy, Rangers, went 3-for-6 with a three-run homer to help rally Texas to an 11-10 win over the Orioles.

-Evan Longoria, Rays, hit a two-run homer in a 9-2 rout of the Royals. Longoria has five homers and 17 RBIs in his last 13 games.

-J.J. Hardy, Brewers, doubled and hit a pair of homers while driving in four runs in an 11-6 victory over the Pirates, delivering an emphatic response to getting left off the All-Star team.

-Cody Ross, Marlins, drove in five runs while finishing a triple shy of the cycle, helping Florida beat up on the Rockies, 10-5.

-Mark Teixeira, Braves, singled off the wall with the bases loaded in the 17th inning, his third hit and RBI, to give Atlanta a 7-6 win over the Astros.

-Fernando Tatis, Mets, delivered a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the 12th inning to give New York a 4-2 win over the Phillies.

-Jon Garland, Angels, pitched a six-hitter in a 7-1 victory over the Angels, his 100th career win and ninth complete game in 241 career starts.

-Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks, gave up a run in the first and nothing else, pitching into the seventh inning while striking out 10 in a 3-2 win over the Padres.

-Brett Gardner, Yankees, singled home the winning run off Jonathan Papelbon with two outs in the 10th inning, and New York overcame a two-run deficit to beat Boston 5-4.


OUT OF OPTIONS

Their bullpen taxed, the Mariners turned to backup catcher Jamie Burke to throw the 15th inning of a tied game against the Tigers. Marcus Thames wound up driving in pinch runner Michael Holliman with a sacrifice fly to give Detroit a 2-1 win. Seattle manager Jim Riggleman bypassed using pitchers Arthur Rhodes, Brandon Morrow or Tuesday's scheduled starter, Carlos Silva. Instead, Burke became the third position player in Mariners' history to take the mound.


MATCHING MICK

Alex Rodriguez hit his 536th homer, tying Yankees Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle for 13th on the career list in the Yankees' 5-4, 10-inning win over Boston on Sunday night.


EXTRA TIME

Mark Teixeira singled off the wall in left-center with the bases loaded in the 17th inning, giving Atlanta a 7-6 victory over Houston in a game delayed 1 hour, 50 minutes by rain. It was the longest game in Turner Field history, lasting 5 hours, 35 minutes.


LONG-ORIA

Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer to help the Rays win their seventh straight, 9-2 over the Royals. His 16 homers this season are tied with Kansas City's Bob Hamelin (1994) for the second-most by an AL rookie before the All-Star break in the last 20 years. Left off the All-Star roster, Longoria could still make it to Yankee Stadium if he's the final fan selection.


THE HARDY BOY

J.J. Hardy went 3-for-4 with a pair of homers, driving in four runs in the Brewers' 11-6 win over the Pirates. After giving up his 16-game hitting streak the previous night with a sacrifice bunt to set up the winning run, Hardy raised his average to .446 over the last 18 games.


GARLAND GRAND


Jon Garland pitched a six-hitter for his 100th major league victory, beating the Blue Jays 7-1. Garland went the distance for the ninth time in 241 career starts and first time in 18 outings with the Angels, who obtained the right-hander in a trade that sent two-time Gold Glove shortstop Orlando Cabrera to the Chicago White Sox in November.


REDS ROLL

So what if the series began with the Reds and Nationals last in their respective divisions? That won't dampen the mood in Cincinnati, which celebrated its first four-game sweep in two years. The four-game winning streak is the Reds' second longest of the season.


ROOKIE REWARDED

Announced earlier in the day as the starting catcher for the NL All-Star team, Geovany Soto backed up the fans' balloting with his 15th homer in a 7-1 win over the Cardinals. Soto's homer total is the most by a Cubs rookie since Mel Hall hit 17 in 1983, and the most for the franchise by a catcher since Randy Hundley hit 19 in 1966.


STREAKING

The Rangers' Ian Kinsler got three singles in an 11-10 win over the Orioles, extending his hitting streak to 18 games. ... The Orioles have lost 13 straight Sunday games after that 11-10 defeat to the Rangers. ... The Rays have won seven straight after pummeling Kansas City, 9-2. ... The Indians have lost eight straight after the Twins rallied for a 4-3 win.


SPEAKING

"We can't correct voting. You know, at some point, if their fans want them to be on the team, they're going have to step up and vote. That's the way it goes. But also, I think we have a responsibility to respect how they've played.'' -Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who will manage the AL All-Star team, on picking Scott Kazmir and Dioner Navarro for his roster after the Rays failed to land a starter despite the best record in baseball.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 7

Monday MLB Research (Only AL)
By IndianCowboy

Kansas City vs. Tampa Bay

Light day in the American League today as it is a travel day. Kansas City has lost the last 3 ballgames to Tampa Bay as they look to avoid getting swept here. They have been outscored 4 to 23 in these 3 games at Tampa Bay. ouch. TB has won 11 of 12 and 7 in a row. After winning his last 3 starts, Meche was roughed up in his last start having a 6 ERA and picking up a loss at Baltimore, he has not faced TB this year, Garza has given up just 1 earned run in his last 16 innings, he comes off back to back wins and quality starts and at home he has been a rock solid 5-1 with a 2.16 ERA. Of course, TB comes in as a huge favorite but keep in mind that Meche is on a bounce-back here and he is likely to pitch well, regardless, I can't go against TB nor take an under in a TB game. Likely to stay away.

Twins vs. Boston

Twins have won 5 in a row including sweeping the Indians at home while Boston has lost 7 of 9 as they return home. Baker has won his last 3 starts and he has consistently pitched 6 inns and 3 runs of late but none of his last 7 starts have been non-quality as they have all been solid of late, he has not faced Boston yet this year, Baker is 2-2 with a 4.59 era on the road, Dice-K is 5-1 with a 4.10 ERA at home this year, he has given up just 1 earned run in his last 10 innings, he gave up 6 hits in 7 innings in a 5-2 win last time on the road at Minny. Boston returns home after a tough stretch on the road and I think they play well at home against young Baker, I think the Twins hit well today as they Dice-K for the 2nd time this year, wouldn't be surprised to see this game go over, could go either way with regards to the side. In esence, decent value here with the Twins given how well they are playing, lean more on the over though.

Angels vs. Texas

Looking forward to this series very much. Angels lead the AL West, have won 53 ballgames and Texas is above .500 this year at 46-43 which is a far cry from last year, Angels have won their last 4 of 5 and Texas has won their last 5 of 7, Santana comes off a quality start at home against Oakland and has pitched 5 of 7 quality starts, he is 6-1 with a 3.36 era on the road, he had a 3.86 era against Texas earlier this year and beat Jennings 7-4 at Texas, Mendoza comes off a quality start against the Yankees his last go around, and he did pitch well at home in his only home start, granted that was against the lowly Bjays, regardless, tough to know what to expect from the kid today, I like Santana here as he is likely to pitch better than his last road start, but I would hate to go against Texas at home, a small lean on the over, but likely just staying away. Texas has seen Santana once already and hit him fairly well, I can see this as a 4-6 or 5-7 type of ballgame.

Seattle vs. Oakland

Seattle has won just 35 games this year, but they have won 4 of their last 6, and 6 of their last 8, Oakland is 2nd in the Al west but have lost their last 2 ballgames, they split a 4 game series with the whitesox on the road as they return home, Washburn has been solid of late 5 straight quality starts and has won back to back ballgames and is 5-0-1 to the under in his last 6 outings, he has not pitched against Oakland this year, Eveland is 4-2 with a 2.84 ERA this year, he comes off a rough outing on the road against the Angels, so I expect him to pitch better here, he did pick up a win but had a 5.07 ERA earlier this year at Seattle, but his road era his about 0.8 higher than at home where he pitches much better, small lean on Oakland here, wouldn't be surprised if this game went under. I would have liked it if this line was 8.5 rather than where it sits now at 8 for the under though.

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