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MLB News and Notes July 9

MLB News and Notes July 9

Wednesday's Predictions
By Josh Jacobs

While it hasn’t become a religious event just yet, Wednesday has been designated as a day for predictions on the Major League card. Out of three games supplied to readers last week, two evolved into winners. Let’s try to improve our winnings with another packed day of hardball action.

Florida (Olsen) at San Diego (Baek) – 3:35 p.m. EDT

The Marlins are still trying to shake off a nasty three-game slide in Colorado over the weekend. While the ‘Fish were able to leave the Rocky Mountains with some dignity in a 10-5 win on Sunday, they’re not out of the danger zone just yet. The West Coast trip continues on Wednesday in Game 3 versus San Diego.

Just 3-4 in July, Florida’s pitching game has been shelled for an average of 7.6 runs per game allowed. Closer Kevin Gregg (2.79, 16 saves) was responsible for blowing two saves in consecutive days in Colorado and starter Mark Hendrickson (7-7, 6.24 ERA) continues to expose the delicate balance of the rotation. Hendrickson is 2-5 in his last 10 starts, and has been responsible for giving up 4.8 runs per game.

But bettors won’t have to worry about Hendrickson’s woes as southpaw starter Scott Olsen (4-4, 3.96) is slated to toe the slab. However, the third-year pro is no stranger to poor outings. In Olsen’s worst performance of the year, Colorado was able to overcome a nine-run deficit on Jul. 4. The Rockies where able to pulverize the Marlin’s slinger for nine runs (eight of them earned) on 11 hits in only five innings.

If we’re going to key on one specific angle it has to be Florida’s hot swinging lumber. The Marlins may be ranked 20th with a .258 BA on the season, but July has seen this club making contact for a .308 BA with 7.3 runs per game scored in the last seven. Center fielder Cody Ross (.267, 47 RBIs) has been just one part of this success story with a .516 BA and 15 RBIs brought in during the same seven-game stretch. A total of seven players have been able to keep their batting averages above .300 (four players above .400) in July.

The Padres have been a total player's dream as of late. San Diego has now registered six straight ‘under’ games thanks to the team’s bats working for 2.2 runs per game. Out of the nine hurlers that have been credited with at least one start this season, the Pads’ offense has supplied an average of 3.6 runs per game of support per start.

South Korean native Cha Seung Baek (2-4, 4.93) will make his eighth start of the season (seventh with San Diego since being acquired from Seattle in May). Baek is coming off a 5-1 win over Arizona on Jul. 4, a game which was summarized by the righty tossing six innings, giving up only two hits with no runs.

Pick: As the analysis points out, the Marlins’ offense has been blistering, while the pitching game is suffering down the stretch. Look for the Marlins to be listed as a slight underdog in this contest, supported by their 20-23 road record. With a run difference of -19, it’s imperative that Florida’s starter Olsen gets off to a good start. The Marlins will take Wednesday’s contest by a close margin, supported by the Padres deplorable Game 3 record at 7-20.

Houston (Moehler) at Pittsburgh (Benschoten) – 7:05 p.m. EDT

Does a 1-6 record in the last seven lend itself to a smart wager on that specific club? That all depends, but when the Astros waltz into PNC Park for the third and final game of the series, they’ll be facing a Pirates team who hasn’t been much better with a 4-6 record in their last 10.

Turning back the hands of time we can see that Pittsburgh – despite its overall lack of solid performances – is 7-3 in its last 10 games played at home versus Houston (currently 3-0 in its last three in head-to-head games). Out of the 10 games played at home, the Pirates have been favorites in eight of those contests. Then there’s Pittsburgh’s 15-10 record in Game 3 of a series this season.

That’s all great news in favor of the “Peg-Legs” but a 7.47 ERA tagged to the starting rotation in the last 10 outings hasn’t given the offense a whole lot of room to work with. In-fact, the Pirates have lost their last 11 games by a difference of 5.1 runs per game. Books have noticed this club’s inferior complex, tagging Pit as an underdog in 19 straight games before a win on Monday against Houston (10-7) broke that streak.

And it’s not like Houston has been knocking the sox off opponents. Crossing home plate for 4.38 runs per game and touching the ball for a .259 BA has the Astros ranked 20th and 17th respectively.

What could come into play here is Houston’s drop of production from the bats on the road (not that it’s much better at home). The ‘Stros are swinging for a strangling .240 BA with four runs per game and 40 long balls.

Trends on both sides of the ball aren’t helping us to pick a clear cut winner as Pittsburgh is 3-13 in John Van Benschoten (1-2, 10.64) last 16 starts. Houston has been poor overall with a 4-14 record in its last 18 road games.

Pirates’ pitcher Van Benschoten typified his role as a starter on Jul. 2 in a no decision effort against Cincinnati. The right-hander out of Kent State tossed 45 pitches in only 2.1 innings, falling victim to five earned runs on five hits.

Pick: There’s no case to make on picking a side in this contest. While Astros’ starter Brian Moehler (4-4, 4.13) is far from being an automatic, shutdown slinger, only one glance at Pittsburgh’s Benschoten can make bettors nauseous. There’s no total installed just yet (as of Tuesday afternoon) but you can bet your bottom dollar that most books will set this contest at a sky high figure. Over the last 20 head-to-head games, sports books have set an average total of 8.9 runs. The ‘over’ has only gone 5-14-1. This contest has the makings of an ‘over’ game (it's about that time), regardless if both offenses have been despicable this season.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 9

Diamond Preview
By Matt Fargo

Wednesday, July 9th

San Francisco Giants at New York Mets 7:10 PM ET

The best pitching matchup of the week takes place on Wednesday as Tim Lincecum takes on Johan Santana. Lincecum is 10-1 with a 2.49 ERA through 17 starts. That ERA is 2nd best in the National League and it actually goes down to 1.87 in his nine road starts where Lincecum is a perfect 7-0. Santana has a 2.96 ERA on the season but his record is at only 7-7 which is in part due to no run support. The Mets have scored two runs or fewer in his last four starts and they have dropped his last six outings.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 9

Every Game Every Day

Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees

Don’t look at the names of the starting pitches.  Look at there numbers and look at what they have done for their respective teams.  Edwin Jackson comes in with a big upside there is no doubt about that, but he hasn’t found his groove yet.  He still walks too many hitters and doesn’t go deep in to games.  On the season Edwin is the only starting pitcher under .500 for the Tampa Bay Rays.  He has won only two games while pitching on the road this season.  It is not as if this guy is just having a tough couple of months.  His ERA in 2006 was 5.45.  In 2007 he was 5-15 for these same Rays.  He had an ERA of 5.76.  He isn’t exactly winning the CY Young award with those numbers.

Ponson this season is pitching as well as he has in five years.  Sure you may not like him, sure teams may grow tired of him but he still is effective.  For the season he is 5-1.  That includes an undefeated mark at home.  He pitched a big game already for the Yankees.  In a Subway Series game he went out there and battled and put up zeros.  This guy isn’t pretty but he fins ways to win.  Even on the Rangers earlier this season he had an ERA in the three’s and he had a winning mark (4-1).  The Yankees will win the final game of this mini two game set.

New York Yankees (-)

Minnesota Twins at Boston Red Sox

Two top level teams square off tonight.  Trust us though this is a miss-match.  The line is sky high and it should be.  There isn’t a chance Josh Beckett and the Red Sox lose this game.  There is no starter in baseball that is better in a big game.  Josh has been stellar once again this season.  Last season he finished up with 20 wins and should have been the CY Young award winner.  This season his numbers ERA isn’t the same but that is just a few un-lucky bounces.  He has thrown 107 innings and allowed just 97 hits on the season.  You want to talk about his location or his walk total?  Try 105 strikeouts to 22 walks.  A staggering five to one ratio is not something you find often.

Josh is 4-1 in Fenway this season.  He pitches to the situations.  Josh is about one thing, about winning.  If the Sox are up 10-1 he doesn’t mind giving up a few runs, he just will not allow teams to rally.  He has an ERA of 4.32 at home but so what?  He has lost just one game, does it matter what his earned run average is?  Trust us when Josh needs a big out he gets it.

Boston is the best home team in all of baseball.  It doesn’t matter what happened last night.  Sure they came back and won but tonight it won't even be close.  They win games 10-9 and they can win ball games 1-0.  Either way you better believe the Red Sox come out on top.

Boston Red Sox (-)

Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers

It is sad to say it but the Indians are a dead team.  This team was just one win away from being in the World Series a year ago.  In fact they were up a few games against the Red Sox in that series.  They ran in to Josh Beckett and the Sox and haven’t recovered since.  Would you believe the fact that this team is 37-52 on the season?  That includes 30 losses on the road.  They have 30 road losses and they haven’t the all-star break.  They have been not just their fans but all the “investors” out there.  It is time to jump ship and stay off the boat.

The Tigers on the other hand are picking up steam.  Don’t forget this team was just 2-10 to start the 2008 baseball season.  Did the Tigers panic?  Did their manger panic?  Did they make any trades?  No their manager, general manager and players knew they would bounce back and they have.  Their offense is clicking on all cylinders.

This team is still killing the ball without one of their best players.  Going through a line-up with: Granderson, Polanco, Guillen and Cabrera is no easy task.  Look for the Tigers to put up more runs then they did last evening.

Detroit Tigers (-)

Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays

Look for Toronto to have a much better game here tonight at home.  A.J. has been on roll for a long time.  Sure he had a few clunkers in there.  The problem for A.J. is the fact that he gets hit very hard when he is not on.  He will be on against a weak team tonight.  Just two starts ago he threw an absolute gem.  Seven innings of four hit ball and no runs.  Even more impressive was the fact he struck out 11 batters.

At home A.J. sports a 5-3 mark.  His ERA is high but as we said earlier that is due to a few rough starts.  Garett Olson on the other hand hasn’t succeeded away from Camden.   On the road he has an ERA of 5.75 he also is just 3-3.  He averages just five innings per start and that taxes the bull-pen.  It is too tough to go out there and attempt to get six or nine or twelve outs against a team.  The Jays are up and down but they still have the talent to win, especially in their building.

Toronto Blue Jays (-)

LA Angels at Texas Rangers

How impressive are the Angels on the road this season?  There isn’t even a team close to their stature on the road.  They are a good team at home, as they are 26-20 but that doesn’t compare to the damage they have done on the road.  The Angels will not blow you away.  Their offensive is below average, they don’t hit a ton of home-runs and they don’t steal a ton of bases.  They just know how to win.

They have the best manager in all of baseball.  They are able to play this season in and out.  They also have a fantastic bull-pen led by one of the best closers in all of baseball.  Before we get to Rodriguez we have to take a look at a few other key parts.  Jose Arredondo has done a fantastic job coming out of the bullpen.  He has appeared in 18 games and allowed a grand total of three runs.  Scott Shields has been his usual self.  This guy has four wins out of the bullpen and an ERA of 2.57.

Then we finally get to the man to K-Rod.  This guy has a shot to break the all-time saves record.  He already has saved 35 games on the season!  38 innings for K-Rod, 23 hits and 36 strike-outs.  Scary numbers for a guy who has appeared in 41 games.  Bobby Thigpen has to watch out.  Weaver and the Angels will show why they are the best road team in baseball.

LA Angels (-)

Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals

The Royals continue to get no respect on the season.  People look at their record and think oh this team isn’t capable of beating good baseball teams, well don’t make the same mistake that so many people have already this season.  This is a team that just a week ago beat the Diamondbacks two of three in Arizona and followed that up with a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Royals are the definition of scrappy.  The only difference this year is the fact they actually have a few talented players.

The Royals have five players that have eighty hits on the season.  They are led by their slugger and All-Star Jose Guillen.  Jose has stepped up in a big way for the Royals.  He is hitting right near .300 and already has 64 RBI with 13 home-runs.  Their offense doesn’t end there though folks.  DeJesus is hitting .316, Grudzielanek hits .313 and the list goes on and on.  Behind Brian Bannister at home the Royals are more than capable.  Taking them tonight will prove to be the right play.

Kansas City Royals (+)

Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics

You may look at this pitching match-up and think it is even.  You take a look at Miguel Batista and see he is just 4-10 on the season with a high ERA.  You then take a look at Joe Blanton and see he is just 5-11 with a high ERA.  Don’t fall in to that trap though.  Listen we aren’t here to tell you Joe Blanton has been pitching like an ace.  He has been disappointing but he is better than his numbers indicate.  Even his ERA which isn’t good isn’t terrible.

Joe also has been hit very hard on the road.  He has an ERA that is 5.73 on the road.  He also has allowed six long balls and over a hit per inning.  He has been better at home.  He has logged 83.1 innings and has an ERA of just 4.32.  No matter how we slice it we know that his numbers won’t blow you away, but if you know Joe you know he is capable of a big game.  He has won twelve or more games for three straight seasons.  Last season he won 14 games with an ERA under 4.00.  The guy still knows how to pitch and now will have to step up with Rich Harden gone.

Oakland Athletics (-)

National League    

Florida Marlins at San Diego Padres

We have two pitchers heading in opposite directions tonight.  Scott Olsen has been getting hit very hard.  In his last three starts he has allowed thirteen runs.  His last start was especially terrible.  We know it was in Colorado but he didn’t even compete.  This was a game he had a nine run lead in folks.  We don’t care what ball-park you pitch in you have to protect that lead.  Five innings last start, eleven hits, nine runs, eight earned runs, just three strikeouts and three home-runs.   Those numbers are putrid.  Scott’s ERA is up to 3.96.  Not only that but he has won just four games all season.  In 18 starts four wins, this guy is not a guy that battles, make no mistake about that.  There is a reason why he has one road win, one road win all season!

Cha Seung Baek is the complete polar opposite.  Baek was fabulous in his last start.  On the road he went in against the Diamondbacks and threw six innings of two hit ball.  Not only did he allow just two hits, but he walked one batter and struck out seven.  In Baek’s last seventeen innings he has 19 k’s.  That really shows us that his stuff is coming around.  We all know how much up-side and how he is an A-level prospect, maybe this is the time he puts it all together.  At home against a free-swinging line-up we will take our chances.

San Diego Padres (-)

St. Louis Cardinals at Philadelphia Phillies

Look for the Phillies to bounce back tomorrow night.  Their bats were just silenced last night.  Just two nights ago they were down 10-1 to the Mets and actually got the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning.  They were down 10-9 with a man on second.  Last night they were just shut down by a pitcher on his game.  Tonight the Phils don’t have to worry about that.

Mitchell Boggs goes tonight for the Cardinals.  Don’t be fooled and look at his record.  He is 3-1 but that is a mirage and that won’t be the trend.  Why is that the case you ask?  Well he gets hit hard and he walks batters, on top of that he doesn’t go deep in to ball games.  Mitchell has thrown 28.2 innings in his five starts.  He has allowed 32 hits and already walked 15 batters.  Against a top notch line-up in this ball park those numbers won’t cut it.

J.A. Happ goes for the Phillies.  He threw very well in his first and only big league start.  He is a lefty that moves the ball in and out.  Happ will do enough for the Phillies to win.  Look for Philadelphia to get back on track.

Philadelphia Phillies (-)

Houston Astros at Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates are so good in their building. In fact they don’t get nearly enough credit for being that force at home. It isn’t just their record, which is very good. They have a record of 26-19 at home, beyond that though they have just played well there. They hit over .260 with power. They also pitch exceptionally well.

They have a team ERA of just 4.04 at home, in comparison look at the Astros, they have an ERA over 4.30. The Pirates hit .263 at home. The Astros hit .240 on the road. These numbers may not seem that different but they are huge folks. Overall there difference is clear, the Pirates are the better team in their building.

Pittsburgh Pirates (-)

Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals

John Lannan doesn’t get enough credit. Sure we know that his record isn’t great, there is no denying that. Lannan is just 4-9 on the season. Has he deserved better or what though? John has an ERA that ranks in the top 20 of all National League starters. You want to see how tough a pitcher is? Just take a look at their road numbers. We know John is home but this shows a lot.

John is 3-4 on the road. You may look at that and dismiss it, but don’t.  Remember he plays for a last place team. Not only does he have three wins on the road but he shuts down teams. He has an ERA of 2.53 and has allowed just four home-runs. 64 road innings and just 60 hits allowed. John overall has almost a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio. He will be able to get the free-swinging Diamondbacks here tonight.

Washington Nationals (-)

San Francisco Giants at New York Mets

It is time for Johan Santana to get it going. Johan hasn’t been bad folks he has been terribly un-lucky. How many pitchers can go out there and throw 21 innings, allowing three total runs and not win any games?

Last start for Johan he threw eight innings and allowed two runs. The start before he threw six innings and allowed three runs. The start before that Johan threw seven innings and allowed one earned run. Are you starting to get the drift? In Johan’s last nine starts he hasn’t given up more than four earned runs in any of them. Johan is just 7-7 on the season, but he is top ten in the league in ERA and is a guy that knows how to win. Three wins at home with a sub 3.00 ERA. Don’t think Johan has forgot how to win, or forgot how to pitch. The Mets have won four straight, he won’t get in that way.

New York Mets (-)

Colorado Rockies at Milwaukee Brewers

Another high line game here in Milwaukee. Another game that you jump all over the favorite. Sure the line is high but did you expect anything else? The Brewers are now going for it all here in the 2008 season. Fresh off their trade for C.C. Sabathia the Brew Crew send their “other” ace to the hill.

Ben Sheets has been their horse all season. He just continues to get better and better and better. So far this season he already has ten wins. Even more impressive is the Brewers record in his seventeen starts. Would you believe Milwaukee is 12-5 in his seventeen starts? Incredible numbers as they win almost 70% of his games.

It isn’t just about Sheets here tonight either. Milwaukee’s bats have been lighting it up. Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Corey Hart and company are putting up some massive totals. Did anyone see the ball Braun hit in the first inning last night? He may be one of the best hitters in all of baseball. Milwaukee is going for it. They know every game matters. They will get it done again here tonight.

Milwaukee Brewers (-)

Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs

Is this NL Central shaping up to be a fantastic race? Is this now the great arms race of 2008 or what? Just when the Brewers make a splash the Cubs make just as big of one. C.C. Sabathia heads over to the Brewers for a few top prospects and then within 48 hours the Cubs get Rich Harden. Rich Harden may not have the same name recognition but when healthy there may not be a better pitcher.

One guy who is on that level is Carlos Zambrano. Big Z is back off the DL and rearing to go. He sure didn’t miss a beat in his last start. Carlos missed three weeks but came back nasty as ever. Six innings, four hits, no runs with five strikeouts.

There may not be a more determined pitcher at home than Carlos. He is 4-0 at home this season with an ERA of 2.40. Not too shabby on the road either with a 5-3 mark. The bottom line is Zambrano wins any where, any time against any one. Here against the Reds he will do just that. He shut them out in his last start against them, the same thing looks likely tonight.

Chicago Cubs (-)

Atlanta Braves at LA Dodgers

When you can give us Tim Hudson at the price you better believe we are going to be on it. Tim’s name doesn’t come up with the other “big boys” of the National League but it should. This season he is 9-6 with an ERA of just 3.19. His control has been better than ever this season. That has really allowed him to work deeper in games and pick up more victories.

19 starts for Tim on the season and he already has logged 120 plus innings. In those 121 innings he has walked just 36 batters. You may say well he must allow a ton of hits, not so fast. 121.1 innings and just 109 hits. Tim has had a few wins stolen from him by his spotty bullpen. He knows when he has to go deep in to ball games to have a chance at a victory. Take for example his last start. Tim went back out there for the seventh and ended up allowing just one earned run and four hits in his seven innings. Against a line-up that still struggles to score runs, look for the Braves to claim this road victory.

Atlanta Braves (+)

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 9


St. Louis (51-40) at Philadelphia (48-43)

The struggling Phillies send left-hander J.A. Happ (0-0, 3.86 ERA) out for just his third career start in the middle game of a three-game series against the Cardinals. Philadelphia dropped its fourth in a row in Tuesday’s series opener, losing 2-0. The Phillies are now 7-15 in their last 22 outings overall, 1-9 in their last 10 at home and 2-8 in their last 10 against winning teams.

The Cardinals will trot out left-hander Mark Mulder (0-0, 13.50), who will make his first start since last September as he comes back from two shoulder operations. With Tuesday’s win, St. Louis improved to 10-5 in its last 15 on the highway, 24-11 in its last 35 against winning teams and 12-4 in its last 16 versus the N.L. East.

St. Louis leads the season series 3-1, the lone defeat being a 20-2 home shellacking. The visitor is now 13-6 in the last 19 series clashes going back to 2006, while the Phillies remain 10-6 in the last 16 head-to-head matchups.

Happ made his first start of the year on Friday, getting a no-decision after allowing two runs on three hits in 4 2/3 innings as Philadelphia beat Johan Santana and the Mets 3-2 at home. The 25-year-old, whose only other big-league start came in 2007 against the Mets, was called up from Triple-A last week and will face the Cardinals for the first time in his career.

Mulder, meanwhile, is hoping to get his career back on track. He pitched only three games last season, all in September, and he went 0-3 with a whopping 12.27 ERA. Since coming off the disabled list, he’s had two relief stints totaling 1 1/3 innings. On Thursday against the Mets, he allowed two runs on two hits in just one-third of an inning to blow a 5-4 lead, but St. Louis came back for an 8-7 home win.

Mulder is 0-3 with a 5.21 ERA in three career starts against Philadelphia, though he hasn’t faced the Phillies since his first start of 2006. In that April outing, he got a no-decision, allowing three runs on seven hits in seven innings in a 4-3 St. Louis road win.

With last night’s 2-0 final, the under is now 23-10 in the Phillies’ last 33 games overall. However, in this rivalry, the over remains on a 7-3 tear and is 11-3-2 in the last 16 meetings at Citizens Bank Park.


Atlanta (43-48) at L.A. Dodgers (44-46)

Right-hander Derek Lowe (6-8, 4.02 ERA) will toe the slab for the Dodgers in the rubber match of a three-game home set against the Braves. Los Angeles, which nearly got a perfect game from Hiroki Kuroda in a 3-0 series-opening win Monday, came back Tuesday and got slaughtered 9-3. Still, Joe Torre’s troops are still on hot streaks of 6-2 overall, 52-24 at home against losing teams and 14-3 with Lowe facing losing teams at Dodger Stadium.

The Braves, who will counter with right-hander Tim Hudson (9-6, 3.19 ERA), remain on a 3-7 slide, though they have alternated wins and losses in their last four. Tuesday’s victory aside, Atlanta is in funks of 17-36 on the road and 2-6 in Hudson’s last eight starts. On the bright side, they are 17-5 in their past 22 behind Hudson against the N.L. West.

This is the second series this season between these teams, with Atlanta having swept a three-game home set in April. The Braves are 6-1 in the last seven clashes and 5-1 with Hudson on the hill against the Dodgers.

Lowe has been up and down over his last seven starts, going 4-3, but he has given up three earned runs or fewer in seven of his last nine outings. One exception came on Friday at San Francisco, as he allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits in five innings, but still got the win as L.A. rallied for a 10-7 victory.

Hudson is 2-3 with three no-decisions (all Braves losses) in his last eight starts, though he was solid in Friday’s 6-2 home victory over Houston, yielding just one run on four hits in seven innings. However, he’s given up six earned runs in each of his last two road games and didn’t make it past the fifth inning in either contest, losing 7-5 at Texas and 9-5 at Toronto.

Lowe is 4-4 with a 3.26 ERA in nine home starts this year, and he’s 2-4 with a 3.88 ERA in 16 career appearances (nine starts) against the Braves. In the April series at Atlanta, he was dealt a 6-1 loss, allowing five runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. Hudson, meanwhile, is 2-5 with a 4.34 ERA in 10 road starts this season, but he’s 5-1 with a 4.07 ERA in nine career starts versus the Dodgers (none this season).

For L.A., the under is on streaks of 12-4 overall, 19-8 at home, 4-1 behind Lowe and 12-3 with Lowe going in the third game of a series. For Atlanta, the under runs include 4-2 overall, 37-15-1 on the road, 12-5 against the N.L. West, 7-2 in Game 3 of a series, 9-3-1 with Hudson hurling on the road and 9-4-1 in Hudson’s last 14 starts overall. Finally, the under is 4-1 in this year’s season series, with the lone “over” coming Tuesday night.



L.A. Angels (54-36) at Texas (47-44)

The road-warrior Angels will trot out right-hander Jered Weaver (8-8, 4.17 ERA) for Game 3 of a four-game series against the Rangers at the Ballpark in Arlington. Los Angeles opened the series with a 9-6 win Monday night, but came out on a the short end of a 3-2 final Tuesday. The Angels are still 5-2 in their last seven games, and they continue to own baseball’s best road mark at 28-16, including 12-5 in their last 17. They’re also 7-3 in Weaver’s last 10 outings.

The Rangers have won three of their last four overall and they’re on runs of 10-4 run against the A.L. West and 28-13 against right-handed starters. However, for the second night in a row, because of injuries, Texas has been forced to call up a minor-league pitcher to make his big-league debut. The Rangers will go with Michael Ballard, who has spent the entire year in Double-A Frisco, where he went 8-3 with a 3.97 ERA in 15 starts.

This is the third series of the season between these two teams, with the Angels having taken four of the last six games.

Weaver has gotten a decision in each of his last nine starts, going 6-3, but he’s alternated wins and losses over his last five outings. On Friday against Toronto, he yielded two runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings in an 8-2 home victory, and he’s thrown at least six innings in five of his last six starts.

Weaver is 4-4 with a 4.85 ERA in nine road starts this season, and he’s 2-1 with a 2.36 ERA in seven career starts against the Rangers, including a 2-1 home victory on April 5 in which he scattered three hits over seven shutout innings.

Although last night’s game stayed well under the posted total, the over is still 10-3-2 in the last 15 meetings in this division rivalry, including 4-2-1 in the last seven in Texas. Also, the over is 5-2 in L.A.’s last seven overall and 11-6 in Texas’ last 17 home contests.


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Re: MLB News and Notes July 9

Wednesday's MLB streaking starting pitchers


Edwin Jackson, Tampa Bay Rays (5-6, 4.08 ERA)

After five straight so-so performances, Jackson has settled into a groove and rattled off three straight impressive performances.

Maybe it’s the red-hot Rays who have inspired him during a recent eight-game winning streak, but Jackson has allowed just 15 hits and six earned runs in 21 innings over his last three outings. Unfortunately, the Rays only managed to turn that into one run, but you can see the value shaping up here.

Jackson doesn’t get his results with flash. He doesn’t rack up strikeouts. Doesn’t give up many walks either. He just keeps the ball on the ground most of the time so his fielders can make plays.

He’s been favored in his last four starts but that trend should come to a halt Wednesday in an early afternoon game at Yankee Stadium.

Carlos Zambrano, Chicago Cubs (9-3, 2.96 ERA)

Zambrano started licking his chops last week when he saw the Cincinnati Reds coming up on the schedule. Zambrano has roasted the Reds the last three times he’s faced them, which includes two starts this year.

Most recently he shut them out on May 6 when he allowed just three hits over eight innings as a slight favorite. He also held them to just two runs in seven innings in a 12-3 victory in April.

Besides that, Zambrano loves pitching at home where he is 4-0 this season with a 2.40 ERA.


Johan Santana, New York Mets (7-7, 2.96 ERA)

Don’t ask Santana how he is doing lately. The guy is pitching the lights out, but can’t buy a win no matter what he does.

The Mets have lost Santana’s last six starts despite the fact the lefty gave up just 11 runs during that span and went at least six innings in all six starts. He has held opponents to three runs or fewer in eight of his last nine outings and has only been pulled before the seventh inning twice.

Under bettors might want to take a look at Wednesday’s matchup against the Giants. Santana has received just seven runs of support in his last four starts.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 9

Are MLB home teams still a bargain?

Check out more of this kind of sports betting coverage at Vegas Watch.

A little over a month ago I wrote about the impressive rate at which home teams were winning - 58 percent over the first two months of the season. This was not unprecedented over a smaller sample, but varied enough from the usual average of about 54 percent that it was worth looking into.  There were various theories as to why this was happening, but none that were particularly convincing.

At that point in the year, the Covers money standings showed that home teams were raking in the cash, averaging a mark of +169, while road teams were registering significantly in the red at an average of -274. This didn’t seem like a trend that could be taken advantage of going forward - plenty of people had noticed how much the home teams were winning, and the linesmakers certainly weren’t oblivious to that fact themselves.

Interestingly, the oddsmakers have in fact adjusted their lines, but only slightly.  In April, the average home line (at Pinnacle, via the Wagerline numbers, which are further discussed here) was -123, meaning that home teams would have to win over 55.1 percent of the time for betting on all home teams to be a profitable strategy. They did and, obviously, it was.

In June, though, it was a different story. The average home line rose to -125. If home teams had kept winning at such an astronomical rate, this wouldn’t have been enough; the all-home strategy only needs them to win more than 55.5 percent of the time to work with that line.  However, the trend did not continue.  Home teams went 214-190 in July, which is a rate of 53.0 percent.  If you’d bet exclusively on home teams, you would’ve gotten destroyed.

That’s not to say you should’ve gone the opposite way and focused on betting on road teams - that would’ve only made you a slight profit at Pinnacle, and in the black at a book with higher juice.  Tthe lesson here is that there are no quick fixes. You can’t just see that the home teams are winning and have been profitable so far, so you’re going to start betting on them more often. The fact that they’ve been winning recently doesn’t mean they’ll be winning in the future. And if it’s part of a large trend, the oddsmakers aren’t stupid; they’ll adjust, and the inefficiency will be no longer.


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Re: MLB News and Notes July 9

Baseball Today

Minnesota at Boston (1:05 p.m EDT). Livan Hernandez looks for his 10th win of the season for the Twins and Josh Beckett his ninth for the Red Sox.


- CC Sabathia, Brewers, won his Milwaukee debut, giving up two earned runs and five hits in six innings for a 7-3 win over Colorado.

- Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, hit two home runs and went 4-for-4, lifting Detroit to a 9-2 win over Cleveland.

- Ryan Dempster, Cubs, pitched seven strong innings to run his home record to 10-0 in a 7-3 win over Cincinnati.

- Chase Headley, Padres, had three hits and four RBIs to help San Diego beat Florida 10-1.

- Mike Pelfrey, Mets, won his fifth straight start in New York's 7-0 win over San Francisco.


One day after the Milwaukee Brewers landed an ace, the Chicago Cubs answered by acquiring talented right-hander Rich Harden in a six-player deal with the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday. With CC Sabathia going to Milwaukee, Harden was the best available pitcher, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said.


Both Chicago and Kansas City used six pitchers in a 4-hour, 20-minute game eventually won 8-7 by the White Sox in 13 innings Tuesday night. The teams combined for two errors, three wild pitches, a passed ball, a hit batter and four double plays. Perhaps the weirdest sight of all was the two-run sacrifice fly by A.J. Pierzynski that gave the White Sox a 7-5 lead in the top of the 11th.


Red Sox slugger David Ortiz reported no pain Tuesday, a day after he took his first on-field batting practice since injuring a tendon in his left wrist almost six weeks ago. Ortiz will continue to take batting practice with the team and work up to the point where he can test his wrist with a swing similar to the one he injured it on in the ninth inning on May 30 in Baltimore. Ortiz will spend some time in the minors on a rehab stint after he is cleared to play.


The addition of Rich Harden to the Cubs' roster gives them two Canadians from British Columbia, along with Ryan Dempster.


Detroit beat Cleveland 9-2 Tuesday night, and the Tigers lead the majors with 21 wins since June 7.


Jeremy Sowers (0-5) took recently traded CC Sabathia's turn in the Cleveland rotation and was roughed up after getting through the first two innings of a 9-2 loss to the Tigers unscathed. Sowers ended up allowing seven runs and 10 hits over 5 2-3 innings.


Andy Pettitte gave up only four hits over eight innings in leading the Yankees to a 5-0 win over Tampa Bay. He walked none. ... Matt Harrison pitched seven strong innings in his major league debut to help Texas beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-2.


Braves right fielder Jeff Francoeur played his first game since returning from a three-game minor league stint in Double-A Mississippi. He had a single in five at-bats Tuesday night as Atlanta beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-3. He also threw out a runner in the third inning. The assist was his 51st in the outfield since his big league debut on July 7, 2005, the most in the majors during that stretch.


Manny Ramirez hit a game-tying two-run homer as part of a four-run eighth-inning rally to help the Boston Red Sox past the Minnesota Twins 6-5 on Tuesday night. It was the second straight game Ramirez came through in the eighth inning to rally the Red Sox. Ramirez drove home Boston's only run in a 1-0 victory on an RBI single Monday night against Minnesota.


The Pittsburgh Pirates sent the Houston Astros to their seventh loss in eight games with a rain-soaked 4-3 win Tuesday night.


``The only two words I can give you for me out there are: `I stink,''' Scott Linebrink, who blew a 7-5 lead for Chicago in the 11th before the White Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 8-7 in 13 innings.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 9


Pirates are over the top in betting circles

Pittsburgh can hit but can't pitch much, pushing plenty of its games past the over/under total.

Over the first half of the major league baseball season, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been the league's steadiest team when it comes to over/under combined run total bets.

Featuring a combination of poor pitching and sneaky home run power, the Pirates led the majors with 53 over wins before their game against Houston on Tuesday night.

The Florida Marlins had the second-most over wins with 52 but only four teams in the league had more than 45 as of Tuesday.

For the Pirates, everything starts and ends with a suspect pitching staff, with the major's worst team earned-run average at 5.17 a game.

Keeping the ball inside the park and preventing big innings have been Pittsburgh's two biggest problems.

Before Tuesday, the Pirates had given up a whopping 102 home runs and allowed 10 or more runs in a game 13 times.

Pittsburgh's most reliable pitcher? Probably left-handed starter Paul Maholm, with a 5-5 record and a team-best ERA of 4.05.

But it's not just inconsistent pitching that makes the Pirates a strong over/under play. Pittsburgh's bats have also had an impact.

The Pirates, who have a solid .260 team batting average, rank among the best in the National League with 90 home runs and 178 doubles, led by Jason Bay (17 homers) and Nate McLouth (29 doubles).


After heading into the season as a longshot to win this year's World Series, the Tampa Bay Rays have been upgraded to legitimate contenders.

Tampa Bay, which was listed at 150-1 in March, is now at 8-1 according to Only Boston (11-4), the Chicago Cubs (3-1) and the Angels (11-2) have better odds than the Rays.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 9

Wednesday's best MLB bets

San Francisco at N.Y. Mets (-210, 7)

San Fran starter Jonathan Sanchez has some solid numbers - an 8-4 record with a sub-4.00 ERA on a terrible Giants team. Also, he has given up more than three earned runs just three times all year and won the NL Player of the Week award for the last week in June.

The only problem is when he does get hit, he gets hit hard. Sanchez allowed seven earned in each of those tough starts and does have control problems from time to time.

Today he faces a Mets offense that's knocking the rawhide off the Rawlings. New York beat up on Giants ace Tim Lincecum last night and has now plated at least seven runs in six of its last eight games. The Mets are hitting .322 over their last 10.

Pick: Over

Cleveland at Detroit (-150, 10)

It'd be a stretch to say CC Sabathia got out while the getting was good considering we haven't seen much good from the Indians all season, but it does look like things are only going to get worse from the Indians. Possibly much worse.

The Tribe heads into today's game having dropped nine straight and the blame should be spread equally across the entire clubhouse. Over the last 10 games the offense is hitting just .240, while the rotation works on a 6.20 ERA and the bullpen checks in with a 8.20 ERA. It isn't pretty.

Neither are Paul Byrd's recent numbers. He has allowed at least four earned runs in five of his last six starts, five of which ended up as losses.

Pick: Detroit

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 9

Early action: Today's MLB day game betting briefs

Tampa Bay vs. New York (-115, 10), 1:05 p.m. ET

The major league-leading Rays look to avoid dropping three in a row for the second time in two months when they conclude a two-game road set with the New York Yankees on Wednesday.

The Rays will need to get their bats back on track in order to avoid another defeat. They were held to four hits in the series opener, and have been held to two runs or less in three of their last four games versus New York. Tampa Bay had an outstanding game at the plate on May 26 against Sidney Ponson (5-1, 4.19 ERA), who will take the mound for the Yankees on Wednesday. He was pitching for the Rangers then, and allowed five runs and 12 hits in a 7-3 win for the Rays.

The Rays will counter with Edwin Jackson (5-6, 4.08 ERA), who is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in his last three starts and has matched his win total from last season.

The last six meetings between these clubs have fallen under the total and nine of their 11 meetings in 2008 have gone under.

Minnesota vs. Boston (-250, 9), 1:05 p.m. ET

Manny Ramirez will be trying to lead the Red Sox to their first sweep of the Twins in nearly three years when the teams wrap up their three-game set at Fenway Park on Wednesday. Ramirez connected for a game-tying, two-run homer as part of a four-run eighth as the Red Sox (54-39) rallied to beat Minnesota 6-5 on Tuesday.

Ramirez singled in the only run a night earlier in Boston's 1-0 series-opening win.

The Twins had won five straight coming into the series, thanks to some strong recent pitching. The Twins' rotation is 15-2 with a 2.99 ERA over the last 23 games.

Livan Hernandez (9-5, 5.18 ERA) will try to keep that going in the series finale. He gave up three runs in six innings to win 12-3 over Cleveland on Friday. The start was the fourth straight at home for the veteran right-hander, who is 2-4 with a 7.00 ERA in eight road outings.

Boston counters with Josh Beckett (8-5, 3.70), who gave up three runs in six innings of Friday's 6-4 win at Yankee Stadium - his first victory in three starts and the ninth straight outing in which he has gone at least six innings. 

Florida vs. San Diego (-110, 8½) 3:35 p.m. ET

San Diego (36-55) defeated the Marlins 10-1 in Tuesday's series opener to snap a nine-game home losing streak - the Padres' longest drought at home since 1980. Before the game, the Padres brought up three players from Triple-A Portland and their starting lineup featured five players who played for the Beavers at some point this season.

San Diego has won just four of its last 16 games, scoring 34 runs in those victories but only 25 in the losses. The Marlins (46-44), meanwhile, remained 1 1/2 games back of NL East-leading Philadelphia but fell into a second-place tie with the New York Mets.

The Marlins fell to 2-4 on their season-high 11-game road trip, which began with three losses in four games at Colorado.

Scott Olsen (4-4, 3.96 ERA) hopes things go well at spacious Petco Park, as he seeks his first victory in two months. Olsen got roughed up at Coors Field on Friday, as he was pounded for a season-high nine runs and 11 hits in an 18-17 loss.

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