MLB News and Notes July 10

MLB News and Notes July 10

Thursday's MLB Tip Sheet
By Brad Young

The baseball All-Star break is quickly approaching, meaning teams are trying to end the first-half of the season on a winning note for the upcoming pennant chase. The Summer Classic is the traditional midway point of the season, even though most teams have already played 90-plus games in a 162-game schedule.

Now let’s break down a couple of Thursday’s key contests.

**Diamondbacks (Haren) at Nationals (Bergmann)**

-Caesars Palace opened Arizona as a $1.55 road ‘chalk’ over Washington, with the total set at seven ‘over’ (minus $1.25). First pitch for this National League matchup is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.

-Arizona’s Dan Haren (8-5, 2.83 ERA) is off Friday’s setback to San Diego as a decided $2.10 home favorite, 5-1. The right-hander was reached for two runs on seven hits with a walk and seven strikeouts over seven innings.

-The combined six runs failed to eclipse the 8½-run closing total. The ‘under’ has occurred his last three outings.

-Haren blanked the Nationals June 1 as a $2.00 home ‘chalk,’ 5-0, going seven innings on four hits with three walks and five strikeouts. The five runs went ‘under’ the eight-run closing total.

-Washington right-hander Jason Bergmann (1-6, 4.15 ERA) is still trying to get into the win column for the first time since mid-May. The Rutgers product fell to Cincinnati Friday as a $1.35 road underdog, 3-0.

-The four-year veteran went six innings, surrendering two runs on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts. The three runs never seriously threatened the 9 ½-run closing total, helping the ‘under’ cash his third consecutive contest.

-Bergmann fell to the D’backs May 31 as a $2.10 road underdog, 4-0, allowing all four runs on seven hits (four home runs) with no walks and eight strikeouts over eight innings. The four runs failed to eclipse the 7 ½-run closing total.

**Marlins (Johnson) at Dodgers (Park)**

-Caesars Palace installed Los Angeles as a $1.55 home favorite over Florida, with the total listed at 8½ ‘under’ (minus $1.20). This contest is scheduled to begin at 10:10 p.m. ET.

-Florida pitcher Josh Johnson will be making his first start of the season with the parent club after having Tommy John ligament replacement surgery last August. The 24-year-old has earned his ticket back to the big show, tossing eight scoreless innings Friday during a rehab assignment for Double-A Carolina against Tennessee.

-That marked his third Double-A outing of the season, allowing five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts against Tennessee. The right-hander finished his rehab assignment by tossing 28 1/3 innings.

-Johnson, a major leaguer with Florida since 2005, has a career record of 12-10 with a 3.50 ERA in 39 games (29 starts) encompassing 185 innings.

-Los Angeles hurler Chan Ho Park (4-2, 2.36 ERA) picked up a no-decision against San Francisco Saturday despite tossing a solid six innings. The South Korea native yielded one run on three hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.

-The Dodgers eventually dropped that affair as a $1.45 road ‘chalk,’ 5-2, while the combined seven runs went ‘under’ the 8 ½-run closing total. The ‘under’ has cashed his last two starts.

-Park fell to the Marlins last year as a $1.42 home favorite, 9-6, lasting four innings while yielding seven runs on six hits (two home runs) with two walks and four strikeouts. The combined 15 runs soared ‘over’ the 9 ½-run closing total.

**Rays (Sonnanstine) at Indians (Laffey)**

-Caesars Palace lists Cleveland as a $1.15 home ‘chalk’ over Tampa Bay, with the total set at 8½. This American League contest is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. ET.

-Tampa Bay’s Andy Sonnanstine (10-3, 4.31 ERA) continued his winning ways after beating Kansas City Saturday as a $1.45 home favorite, 3-0. The 25-year-old went seven innings, surrendering no runs on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts.

-The three runs never seriously threatened the 8½-run closing total, helping the ‘under’ cash his second consecutive contest.

-Sonnanstine fell to the Indians last year as a $1.80 road underdog, 10-2, being reached for three runs on seven hits (one home run) with two walks and three strikeouts over six innings. The combined 12 runs eclipsed the 10-run closing total.

-Cleveland southpaw Aaron Laffey (4-5, 3.49 ERA) picked up a no-decision against Minnesota Saturday despite tossing a subpar five innings. The two-year veteran allowed four runs on five hits (one home run) with four walks and four strikeouts.

-The Indians eventually dropped that affair as a $1.23 road underdog, 9-6, while the combined 15 runs soared past the eight-run closing total. The ‘over’ is 6-2 his last eight starts.

-Laffey has not started against the Rays in his brief major league career.

**White Sox (Buehrle) at Royals (Greinke)**

-Caesars Palace opened Chicago as a $1.10 road favorite over Kansas City, with the total listed at eight ‘over’ (minus $1.20). This AL Central affair is slated to start at 8:10 p.m. ET.

-Chicago’s Mark Buehrle (6-7, 3.91 ERA) had won three consecutive starts before Friday’s setback to Oakland as a $1.60 home favorite, 7-1. The veteran left-hander went 5 2/3 innings, yielding four runs on 10 hits (one home run) with three walks and five strikeouts.

-The combined eight runs slithered ‘under’ the 8½-run closing total, helping the ‘under’ cash his last three starts.

-Buehrle went 1-0 against the Royals last year in three starts, going a combined 18 1/3 innings while being tagged for 10 runs on 18 hits (three home runs) with six walks and 15 strikeouts. The White Sox prevailed as a $1.25 road favorite, 7-4, a $2.40 home ‘chalk,’ 5-4, and as a $1.45 home favorite, 4-3.

-Kansas City counters with Zack Greinke, hoping the right-hander can improve on his 7-5 ledger and 3.62 ERA. The 6-foot-2 hurler fell to Tampa Bay Saturday as a $1.35 road underdog, 3-0, going six innings while surrendering two runs on seven hits with a walk and seven strikeouts.

-The Florida native fell to the White Sox June 3 as a $1.13 road underdog, 9-5, tossing six innings while being reached for eight runs on nine hits (four home runs) with two walks and three strikeouts. The combined 14 runs toppled the eight-run closing total.

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Thursday’s streaking and slumping starters


Chan Ho Park (4-2, 2.36)

We were as surprised to put Chan Ho Park in the Streaking section as you probably are reading it, but you can’t argue with the numbers. Since the Dodgers put Park back in the rotation on June 21, he has allowed just two runs over more than 18 innings while picking up two wins (one of which was in a spot relief appearance).

What’s probably more shocking about the mercurial veteran is that he has also a 23:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio since making that spot start back on June 21 as well.

"He was the old Chan Ho," catcher Russell Martin told reporters after Park went six scoreless against the Angels at the end of last month. "He's sneaky with his fastball and he was ahead of the hitters."

Kevin Slowey (6-6, 3.78)

Slowey was smacked around a bit in his last start, allowing six hits and five earned runs over six innings, but the Twins’ offense helped him by putting nine runs on the board against the struggling Indians. Minnesota is now 7-2 in Slowey’s last nine trips to the hill.

It has been a nice change of fortune for the 24-year-old after he lost seven of his first nine starts to begin the season. Slowey has only been hit hard twice all year – that last outing against the Indians and back in early June when he allowed eight earned against the White Sox. Outside of those two blips and he hasn’t given up more than four runs in a start all year. Plus, for a young kid, he has great control, piling up 60 strikeouts to just 11 walks.


Jason Bergmann (1-6, 4.15)

Jason Bergmann probably wouldn’t be today’s slumping pitcher if he wasn’t throwing for the futile Washington Nationals. He has allowed more than three earned runs in just three of his last nine outings, but hasn’t registered a win since May 15. So he definitely isn’t the whole problem here.

However, the longball hasn’t been kind to Bergmann. He has allowed 13 jacks in 73 2/3 innings so far and he gave up 18 homers in just over 115 innings last season.

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Breaking down baseball's left-handed advantage

A look at a list of the greatest hitters in baseball history finds something illuminating. Most are left-handed hitters. This is the opposite of what we find in society, in that the majority of people are righties. For whatever reason, lefties make up roughly 20 percent of the population. Yet, in baseball, lefties excel.

In the American League from 1956-88 (32 years), a switch or left-handed hitter won the batting title 28 times. I include switch-hitters because they bat lefty most of the time, as most starting pitchers are righties. That list includes talented hitters like Mickey Mantle (S), Ted Williams (L), Carl Yastrzemski (L), Rod Carew (L), Fred Lynn (L), George Brett (L) and Wade Boggs (L). And it's not just that time frame. Ty Cobb won 11 batting titles and was left-handed, along with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Baseball is a game where lefty/righty dynamics are essential to study carefully. For instance, the Red Sox are a terrific hitting team against lefties, winning 10 of 12 games against southpaw starters. There’s an old adage that opposing managers don’t like to start lefties in Fenway park as southpaws can get psychologically shaken up afraid of the Green Monster. The theory goes that southpaws will try to go away, away, away as they don’t want righties pulling the ball to left field for doubles or singles off the wall. They are more predictable and can get away from their normal game of working all sides of the plate. Regardless, Boston’s offense has feasted on lefties thus far.

Meanwhile, the Orioles are just 5-10 against southpaws, the Twins began 6-12, the Nationals started 11-18, while the Padres are 7-13. Of course, the Padres can’t hit anybody! Part of the reason is that managers will often change their lineup, using lefty hitters as often as possible against righty pitchers. But many times lefty batters struggled against southpaws, sometimes significantly so. Former Boston and Cleveland RF Trot Nixon was a good example, a fine all around player and a left-handed hitter. He's always been terrific against righty pitchers, but struggles against lefties. Last season was no exception: .307 against righties, .229 against lefties. From 2004-2006, Nixon hit .297 against righties, .207 against southpaws.

In addition, hitters are used to seeing righties more often that, perhaps, seeing lefties less makes it more difficult to adjust or pick up the ball. There are many theories, but the bottom line is the stats don't lie. This is important for handicappers to grasp and dissect. One must examine which righty pitchers struggle with lefties, which major league lineups have an excess of lefty sluggers, and the tendencies of managers to sit players or maximize lefty/righty differences.

The Twins have a winning record against righties, but a poor mark against lefties. This one can be explained by their batting order, with their three top power hitters all left handed in Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel. Morneau has far better power numbers against righties while Kubel is terrible against lefties.

The Angels are another team which has been successful against southpaws. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, either, as the power part of the lineup is able to bat righthanded with righty Vladimir Guerrero, newcomer Torii Hunter and switch-hitter Gary Matthews Jr. I've just scratched the surface here. The important thing to remember is that in the competitive world of sports wagering, it's essential to go deep inside the numbers to grind out consistent profits.

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Baseball is built for lefties

ST. LOUIS (AP) -David Peters was born left-handed. It took a few raps on the hand by teachers, but like many in his generation, he switched to being a righty.

Maybe that's why Peters, now 61, became a scholar instead of a first baseman.

Peters is an engineering professor at Washington University in St. Louis who happens to be a baseball nut. He looked at baseball from an engineer's perspective and determined that southpaws have a decided advantage.

''Ninety percent of the human population is right-handed, but in baseball 25 percent of the players, both pitchers and hitters, are left-handed,'' Peters said.

''Do lefties have an advantage? They definitely do. The statistics bear that out.''

Peters' observations were for an article on the university Web site, not a scholarly journal. Still, they drew the interest of experts at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., who at the request of The Associated Press crunched the numbers of lefties and righties in the Hall, the first time they had done so.

Of the 61 enshrined pitchers, 13 are left-handed, according to John Odell, curator of history and research at the Hall of Fame. At 21 percent, that's more than twice the percentage of lefties in the general population.

The numbers for hitters were even more startling. Odell said 71 Hall of Fame position players batted right-handed, 59 left-handed, and eight were switch-hitters.

''Almost parity there,'' Odell said. ''That's way up over what you'd expect to see if people were playing the way their handedness would suggest.''

Among the left-handed hitters are some of the game's greatest names: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Barry Bonds and George Brett.

Peters said left-handed hitters are simply taking advantage of a game set up to favor them, starting with the direction the hitter runs to first base.

As a right-handed hitter swings, his momentum carries him the wrong way - toward third base. A lefty, already standing roughly 5 feet closer to first base, swings and naturally spins in the correct direction.

''And that means the lefty travels the 90 feet to first roughly one-sixth of a second faster than the righty,'' Peters said. That translates to more hits and a higher batting average.

Because most pitchers are right-handed, the left-handed hitter also tends to have a matchup advantage.

''You see the ball better'' as a left-handed hitter facing a right-handed pitcher, Peters said. ''You get depth perception. A right-handed batter facing a right-handed pitcher actually has to pick up the ball visually as it comes from behind (the batter's) left shoulder. You've lost a lot of that split-second timing to pick up the ball.''

According to the Web site, left-handers hit .272 against right-handed pitchers last season. Righties vs. righties hit .261. Against left-handed pitching, righties hit .281, lefties just .251. But there were 122,053 at-bats against right-handed pitchers last season, nearly three times as many as the 45,730 against lefties.

Peters even sees a bias toward lefties in the design of many ballparks that feature shorter distances to right field, where a left-hander pulls the ball. Yankee Stadium is famous for its short porch. In Boston, ''Pesky's Pole'' in right field is just 302 feet from home plate.

Musial was so dominant at old Sportsman's Park in St. Louis that Peters, a lifelong Cardinals fan, recalled the team for one season removed a screen aimed at turning cheap homers into doubles. The move backfired: opposing teams hit more homers there than Musial and his St. Louis teammates did, and the next season, the screen went back up.

While many of the left-handed oddities favor hitters, Peters said southpaw pitchers have built-in advantages, too, especially at youth league levels where hitters simply don't see them very often. And, he said, many people think lefties tend to have a natural tail on their pitches that move away from right-handed hitters.

Not all advantages go to lefties. Catchers are nearly all right-handed - a lefty trying to cut down a base stealer would have to throw over or around the right-handed hitter. Infielders except for first basemen are virtually all right-handed because a left-hander would have to make an awkward turn to get into throwing position.

Odell notes that it's not being left-handed, but rather hitting left-handed, that appears to be the advantage, at least among Hall of Famers. Just 22 of the 138 position players were pure left-handers - batting and throwing left. But 37 right-handed throwers hit left-handed. Among left-handed throwers, none hit right-handed.

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Baseball Today

Baltimore at Toronto (7:07 p.m. EDT). Roy Halladay (10-6) takes the mound for Toronto in search of his third straight win. Halladay hasn't lost since June 14 against the Cubs.


- Scott Olsen, Marlins, gave up four hits and a run over eight innings, before Kevin Gregg and the bullpen held on for a 5-2 win over the Padres.

- Garrett Atkins, Rockies, went 3-for-4 with a pair of home runs that drove in three during an 8-3 win over the Brewers.

- Derek Lowe, Dodgers, gave up two hits and a run pitching into the eighth inning, beating Tim Hudson and the Braves, 2-1.

- Carlos Quentin, White Sox, hit a pair of two-run homers to help spur a rally from five runs down in a 7-6 win over the Royals.

- Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox, went 3-for-5 with a homer, four RBIs and three runs scored in an 18-5 rout of the Twins.

- Mariano Rivera, Yankees, pitched two scoreless innings for the second time in four days, striking out four to help beat the first-place Rays, 2-1 in 10 innings.

- John Lannan, Nationals, allowed two walks and three hits over six innings before turning it over to a trio of relievers in a 5-0 shutout of the Diamondbacks.

- Ryan Howard, Phillies, went 2-for-3 with a home run in a 4-2 win over the Cardinals.

- Matt Joyce, Tigers, went 3-for-4 with a double and a homer, driving in a pair of runs in an 8-6 win over the Indians.

- Carlos Zambrano, Cubs, gave up a run and a hit over eight innings, striking out five without issuing a walk in a 5-1 rout of the Reds.


Scott Olsen pitched eight strong innings and appeared to be on his way to Florida's first complete game in 267 tries, the longest drought in major league history. But the left-hander was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of a 5-2 victory over the Padres. Anibal Sanchez pitched Florida's last complete game on Sept. 16, 2006, a 2-1 loss at Atlanta.


Bobby Abreu doubled home Derek Jeter from first in the 10th inning, helping the Yankees beat division-leading Tampa Bay 2-1. New York swept a two-game series from the Rays and has won four straight - against the two teams ahead of it in the division - after losing five of six.


Cardinals left-hander Mark Mulder left his comeback start against the Phillies after throwing only 16 pitches and recording one out in the first inning. Coming back from two shoulder operations, Mulder struck out Jimmy Rollins to start the game, then walked Shane Victorino and Chase Utley. He was left the game moments later with shoulder discomfort.


The Twins lost a triple play - and their manager - after umpires changed a call during their game against Boston. When Jason Varitek's sinking liner dropped in front of sliding center fielder Denard Span, the umpires originally ruled that he made the catch. Span threw to second to double off Sean Casey, then second baseman Alexi Casilla threw to third to get Mike Lowell, who had already crossed the plate. The call was reversed - correctly, replays confirmed - and irate Manager Ron Gardenhire came out of the dugout for an argument that led to an ejection.


Demolition crews smashed the historic walls of Tiger Stadium on Wednesday. The ballpark opened in 1912 as Navin Field and hosted thousands of Tigers games, Babe Ruth's 700th career homer in 1934 and a speech by South African president Nelson Mandela in 1990. The final major league game was played there Sept. 27, 1999, and the Tigers moved to Comerica Park in 2000.


Glendon Rusch won as a starter for the first time in exactly two years, going six innings and giving up one run in the Rockies' 8-3 victory over the Brewers. Rusch had not won as a starter since beating the Brewers in his last start for the Chicago Cubs. He missed all of last season while recovering from a blood clot in his lung.


A judge denied bail to a Cape Cod man accused of beating a New Yorker with a bat because he thought he was a Yankees fan. Judge Michael Creedon said 20-year-old Robert Correia is a danger to the public and ordered him held in jail for up to 90 days while awaiting trial on assault charges. Correia is accused of beating William Nestor, of Northport, N.Y.


It was a busy day on the disabled list, particularly regarding pitchers. The White Sox put closer Bobby Jenks on with bursitis near his left (non-pitching) shoulder, the Rangers put Vicente Padilla on with a stiff neck and the Blue Jays put Dustin McGowan on the DL with soreness in his right shoulder. Also headed to the 15-day list were Colorado outfielder Ryan Spilborghs (left oblique) and Mets right-hander Tony Armas Jr. (strained abdominal).


``I made an emergency call last night and had a root canal at 10:30 p.m. and then a filling at 9:00 a.m. this morning, so I was all numbed up for a while. It wore off in time, luckily, but it didn't bother me at all. ... That's just my tooth. I don't need that to throw.'' - A.J. Burnett, who struck out seven in 5 1-3 innings to help the Blue Jays beat the Orioles, 9-8.

``This is New York, and the fans deserve a team with marquee players. Where we want to end up is a tremendous mix of young talent and veterans. And the veterans, the free agents, they cost money. And we realize that. We are going to have a lot of money come off the payroll, and that's going to give us some options. But believe me, we're going to use a good portion of it to get this city the team it deserves.'' - Hal Steinbrenner on the state of the Yankees.

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Florida Marlins (47-44) at L.A. Dodgers (45-46)

Right-hander Chan Ho Park (4-2, 2.36 ERA) will toe the slab for the Dodgers when they open a four-game home series against the Marlins. Los Angeles wrapped up a three-game series against Atlanta on Wednesday night with a 2-1 victory, improving to 7-2 in their last nine games. L.A. has won four straight series.

Right-hander Josh Johnson is scheduled to make his first start of the year for the Marlins, who head north to Los Angeles after taking two of three from the Padres in San Diego, capped by Wednesday’s 5-2 victory. Despite winning that series, Florida is just 3-4 in its last seven, all on the road.

Los Angeles is on a 4-0 run in this rivalry, having swept a three-game set at Florida from April 29-May 1 in the only other series this season between these teams.

Park, who has 20 relief appearances this year, will make just his fifth start. On Saturday at San Francisco, he yielded just one run on three hits in six innings and left with a 2-1 lead, but the bullpen couldn’t make it stand up in a 5-2 loss. In his four starts, Park has allowed just three earned runs in 21 innings (1.29 ERA).

Johnson returns to the mound for the first time since July 4, 2007, when he gave up no runs on four hits in five innings of a 1-0 loss at San Diego. A month later, he had ligament replacement surgery in his right elbow. He made only four starts last season, going 0-3 with a bloated 7.47 ERA, after going 12-7 with a 3.10 ERA in 31 appearances (24 starts) as a 22-year-old in 2006.

Park is 2-0 with a stingy 0.62 ERA in 10 appearances (two starts) at Dodger Stadium this season, but he’s a middling 4-3 with a 5.04 ERA in 14 career appearances (12 starts) against Florida. He has not pitched against the Marlins this season. Johnson is 1-1 with an inflated 9.00 ERA in two career starts against Los Angeles, facing the Dodgers twice in August 2006. He got pelted for five runs on eight hits in three innings of a 10-2 home loss, then gave up four runs on six hits in six innings of a 15-4 road victory.

The under for Los Angeles is on streaks of 13-4 overall, 9-1 at home, 13-3 at home against winning teams and 20-7 overall against winning teams. On the flip side, the over for Florida is on runs of 5-2 against the N.L. West, 12-5-1 in series openers, 36-16-6 overall and 35-17-6 on the highway. Finally, the over is 5-1 in the last six clashes in this rivalry overall and 4-0 in the last four meetings at Dodger Stadium.



L.A. Angels (54-37) at Texas (48-44)

Fresh off a dramatic walk-off win over the Angels last night, the Rangers send Scott Feldman (3-3, 4.39 ERA) to the mound as they wrap up a four-game series against Los Angeles. MVP candidate Josh Hamilton smacked a two-run homer off Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez with two outs in the bottom of the ninth Wednesday night to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 victory.

Texas, which scored three runs in the ninth to win it, has won four of its last five overall and is also on streaks of 11-4 against divisional foes, 29-13 against right-handed starters, 8-3 on Thursdays and 7-1 in the fourth game of a series. The Rangers have also evened this season series at 4-4.

The Angels look to rebound from consecutive losses when they give the ball to ace John Lackey (6-2, 1.93 ERA). Los Angeles still has the best road record in baseball this season at 28-17, including 12-6 in their last 18.

After coming off the disabled list in mid-May, Lackey had been lights-out in his first nine starts of the season, posting a minuscule 1.44 ERA while going 6-1. But Toronto finally got to him Saturday, plating six runs (five earned) on eight hits in six innings as the Angels lost 7-5 at home. That snapped a five-game win streak for Lackey – during which he gave up five combined earned runs over 38 2/3 innings (1.18 ERA) – and it also marked the first time he’s gone less than seven innings this year.

Feldman, meanwhile, has been in the rotation all season, but he has nine no-decisions among his 15 appearances (13 starts). That said, he’s on his first two-game win streak of the season, following a 5-3 victory Saturday at Baltimore in which he allowed all three runs on five hits in six innings, and the Rangers have won four in a row behind the 25-year-old right-hander.

Lackey is 4-1 with a sterling 1.40 ERA in five road starts this year, and the Halos have won 16 of his last 21 outings on foreign turf. But he’s 9-8 with a 5.21 ERA in 23 career starts against the Rangers (4-5, 6.24 ERA in 12 outings in Texas). Meanwhile, Feldman, in his first year as a starter, is 1-0 with a 3.20 ERA in eight appearances (six starts) at home this season. This will be Feldman’s first career start against L.A., though he’s 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA in nine relief stints against the Angels.

The under has been the play the last two nights, but the over is still 10-4-2 in the last 16 series meetings between these rivals. However, for the Halos, the under is on streaks of 48-23-5 overall, 23-8-2 on the highway and 16-5-2 when Lackey starts (8-1-1 this year). The under is also 6-0 in Feldman’s last six starts overall, 5-1 in his last six at home and 11-1 in his last 12 on grass.


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Every Game Every Day

Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers

Love the Tigers here tonight at this price.  Just look what the Tigers are capable of.  Last night Detroit was down 6-0.  In just two quick innings they were able to put together hit after hit and actually even up the score.  Matt Joyce tied the game up for them in the seventh inning.  The Tigers just find a way with their line-up.  Don’t look at their overall record, look at what they have done for a month plus.  They have been playing almost .600 baseball.

Kevin Slowey is just .500 on the road.  We recognize that Kevin has been solid for the Twins but he is as over-rated as they come.  In his last start he went six innings and allowed five hits and five runs to go along with a home-run and two walks.  Crafty Kenny Rogers has been able to get the job done.  He hasn’t allowed more than five runs in nine starts.  Even better than that his ERA has steadily declined in his last eight starts.  He has allowed three or less runs six times in those eight starts.  When he goes out there the Tigers win.  Kenny is above .500 at home and he knows how to pitch.

The Tigers will take advantage of an over-aggressive Minnesota Twins team.  They were just blitzed against the Red Sox.  It takes a few games to get over a game in which you allow 18 runs and over 20 hits.

Detroit Tigers (-)

Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics

You wouldn’t know it by his record but Greg Smith has been one of the better pitchers in the American League.  Greg has made seventeen starts on the season.  Greg’s only problem has been the fact he has walked too many batters.  It has forced him to come out of too many games too early.  Just looking at some of his starts, it is scary how few hits he has let up.  In his last fourteen innings he has allowed just nine hits.

We know many people don’t want to believe in the Athletics but it is time.  They have a way of just winning and competiting in every game.  They don’t have a great offense, but they have a top level bull-pen and they get good pitching.  Every pitcher has to step up  a little more now that Rich Harden is gone.

R.A. Dickey is a converted knuckle-baller and a guy that you can’t have much faith in.  He is just 2-4 on the season and he allows more than a hit per inning and has just 35 strikeouts to go along with his 22 walks.  Against a team that knows how to win at home he isn’t going to cut it.  Dickey doesn’t go deep in to games and the Mariners are still one of the worst teams in all of a baseball.

Oakland Athletics (-)

Tampa Bay Rays at Cleveland Indians

Don’t get fooled in this game.  Don’t go out there and just look at a few numbers and pick the Rays.  If you do that you are going to lose.  The Rays are not the same team on the road as they are on at home.  You can’t avoid those facts.  You can’t avoid the fact that they are fantastic at home and less than average at home.

The Rays are coming off of three straight losses.  Is there any surprise that two of those three losses have come on the road?  Tampa played a Yankees team that is just average so far this season and didn’t even have a shot.  Sure they went to extra innings yesterday but they scored one run.  They got one solo home-run from their clean-up hitter and didn’t do anything else.  They are now two games under .500 on the road.

The Indians on the other hand are struggling all together, but does that mean they aren’t capable of winning ball games?  Not at all.  They still have a very respectable mark at home.  In fact at home they are right around the .500 mark.

Aaron Laffey is a more than capable starting pitcher.  Don’t look at his 4-5 record, look at the fact that he has an ERA top 12 in the American League.  Laffey has allowed less than a hit per inning and is now the Indians number two starter.  There is a reason why this guy is a top level prospect.  It hasn’t taken him too long to get accustom to the Major leagues.  The Indians still have a few guys that can get the job done.

Cleveland Indians (-)

Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays had a big lead and almost blew it, but the key word is almost.  The Blue Jays held on for the win.  With all their problems and all their ups and downs the Blue Jays are just three games from the .500 mark.  The Blue Jays normally have an issue putting runs on the board.  That wasn’t the case last night though.

The Blue Jays pounded out twelve hits last night.  Their top four hitters had a combined eight this.  That is what we call table-setting.  Eckstein two hits, one run, two RBI.  Scutaro two hits, one run, two walks.  Rios two hits, one run, two RBI.  Wells two hits, two runs and an RBI.  The Blue Jays have talent and the Blue Jays have players that can stroke it.

While the Jays bats have come around, they may not have to do much here tonight.  Roy Halladay goes for the Jays.  Roy is arguably the best pitcher in the American League.  He averages almost eight innings a start!  He has an ERA under three and he is four games over .500.  There isn’t much this guy can’t do.   We love him and the Jays at home tonight.

Toronto Blue Jays (-)

LA Angels at Texas Rangers

John Lackey has been on another level so far this season.  This guy hasn’t been good, this guy has been fantastic.  John does something that many pitchers don’t do and that is winning on the road.  You would be happy if your starting pitcher has a .500 mark and an ERA of 4.50 or so, on the road.  You would take that from almost every one of your starters.  Well Lackey blows those numbers out of the water.

Lackey is 4-1 on the road.  Not only is John 4-1 on the road but he has an ERA of 1.40!  He has thrown 38 road innings and allowed a total of seven runs and just six earned runs.  Those numbers are almost unfathomable.  John has almost a 4 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio both on the road and for the season.  The Angels don’t mind playing on the road.  In fact they have the best road record in all of baseball.  You don’t get that mark by being a soft baseball team.  This guy and this team is a winning proposition on the road.  Remember that good pitching shuts down good hitting.

LA Angels (-)

Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals

These two rivals have been playing some crazy games.  Tonight we like the Royals to take care of business.  A great pitching match-up tonight in Kansas City.  Mark Buehrle has been very solid for the White Sox.  His record isn’t great so far this season but his numbers are.  He is just 6-7 on the season but he has thrown 117 innings and he has an ERA under 4.00.

Zack Greinke has been special though so far this season.  He is another pitcher that is under-rated.  This guy has a ton of talent and he is putting it together.  Zack has the best record on a team that is ten games under .500.  You may not think 7-5 is all that special but for the Royals it really is.  117 innings as well for Zack and just 114 hits allowed.  When you watch this guy you will think of a young John Smoltz.  He features a 95 mph fastball and a devastating second pitch.  Look for the Royals behind their ace to get the job done here on get away day.

Kansas City Royals (-)

National League    

St. Louis Cardinals at Philadelphia Phillies

Very even game here tonight folks.  We have two teams that have similar records and similar talent and we also have two very even pitchers.  There is one glaring difference though and that is the bull-pen.  It is not as if the Cardinals have a bad bull-pen it is the fact they are overly taxed.  Last night Mark Mulder was out of the game after just 16 pitches.  It is a shame but Mulder has not been able to recover from his surgery.  It looks as if his career may be over.

St. Louis had to turn to multiple arms for multiple innings last night.  Even though the Phillies didn’t explode they still had to work hard against a top notch line-up.  We know Philadelphia hasn’t been consistent.  They still are a team that can put up double-digit runs at any-time.

Jamie Moyer goes tonight for the Phillies and he has been a god-send for Philadelphia.  It isn’t just the fact that he has seven wins, it is the fact that he actually works deep in to ball games.  He has made eighteen starts this season and has already logged 107 innings.  Jamie has been pitching in to some bad luck his last few starts.  Look for the home team to get the job done.  The line isn’t too high and it is worth jumping on.

Philadelphia Phillies (-)

San Francisco Giants at New York Mets

We hope you don’t make a crucial mistake here tonight.  We hope that you don’t think Barry Zito is back or Barry is a pitcher worth taking a gamble on.  Sure has put together a few decent starts, but come on?  It is going to take a lot more than a hot few weeks.  Just a few starts ago Barry couldn’t get out of the third inning.  He ended up throwing just two innings and allowing five hits, five runs with four walks.  This guy is just a disaster waiting to happen.

There is no pitcher in baseball that puts more base-runners on.  Even when he allows a few less hits, he still walks batters almost every other inning.  For the season Barry has accumulated 12 losses.  Barry is just four and twelve on the season and he sports an ERA near 6.00 (5.73 to be exact).  In 92 innings he has walked 54 batters and has allowed a staggering 111 hits.  Barry has been struggling for a few years’ folks.

The Mets are playing their best ball all-season right now folks.  They took care of the Phillies winning three straight and then they went on to beat Tim Lincecum and the Giants.  Zito won’t be able to hold down this offense.

New York Mets (-)

Colorado Rockies at Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers are making their run folks.  They just made a big trade and they are coming for not only the division crown but the National League pennant.  Everyone speaks about hitting being contagious but so is pitching.  You better believe that it is the same with starting pitchers.  Milwaukee got a solid start from Sabathia and then Sheets took it to another level.

David Bush has been on his best streak all season.  David hasn’t been pitching well just for a start or two, his last five starts have all been real solid.  He has four quality starts out of five and is beginning to limit the home-runs that burned him earlier in the season.  David hasn’t given a home run up since June 7, 2008 and that was in Colorado.  Look for the Brewers to become the team they are looking to be.  They have to get good starts time in and time out for that to happen and it will.

Milwaukee Brewers (-)

Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs

How can you not like the Cubs tonight?  We have them in their ball park, we have them with one of their pitchers and we have them playing solid baseball.  Ted Lilly goes tonight for the Cubs.  Ted has been fantastic all-season.  Not only is he 9-5 but the Cubs have won 12 of his nineteen starts.  Don’t sneeze at 63% folks.

Ted like most pitchers has been his best at home.  He is 5-2 at home on the season.  Ted has really been locked in for a long while right now.  Since the final week of May Ted has gone out there and pitched himself deep in to ball games.  Six of his last seven starts are of the quality fashion.  His worst start was a game he won and in that game he went seven innings and allowed just four runs.  His last two starts were on the road.  Ted will have no problem pitching deep in to this game.  The Reds have a tough time against left-handed starters.  Take the Cubs they still have the magic at Wrigley.

Chicago Cubs (-)

Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals

Love the Diamondbacks to bounce back here tonight in Washington.  The main reason is because of the pitcher they send to the hill.  Danny Haren has been the Diamondbacks best pitcher.  We know that Brandon Webb is starting the all-star game, but we don’t care.

Danny hasn’t been of these guys that have feasted in their home ball park.  Sure he has been great at home, but on the road this guy has an ERA of 3.35.  In fifty one road innings he has allowed just nine walks and five home-runs.  Those are staggering numbers folks.  Overall for the season Haren has a mark of 8-5 and an ERA of 2.83.  Danny just doesn’t beat himself.  Haren is one of the rarest types of power pitchers.  He throws 92 plus MPH but he has impeccable control.  Just 20 walks all season.  A full five to one strikeout to walk ratio.

The Nationals are one of the worst offenses in the league.  They also struggle in their own ball-park.  We know that Arizona has struggled for a long time but that is due to their number three, four and five starting pitchers.  When Webb and Haren go to the hill and you get a fair price, you make sure to get on that game.  We’d be surprised to see him let him more than a run.

Arizona Diamondbacks (-)

Florida Marlins at LA Dodgers

The Dodgers are having a tough time putting together a streak.  We know that they are under .500 and we know they have been up and down all-season.  That doesn’t mean we have given up home.  We have said this time and time again but we really feel the Dodgers have the best chance of winning the National League West.  They still do have a winning mark at home.

The Marlins on the other hand are coming off a grueling series against the Padres.  They also send a starter to the mound for the first time in the 2008 season.  Josh Johnson makes his long awaited return.  Josh pitched a total of 15 innings in the 2007 season.  Josh was very good in 2006 we know that, but we aren’t at the point we can trust him.  In 2007 we know he had some arm problems but he did go 0-3 and have an ERA over 7.00.  If nothing else it shows us that he has a tough time battling.

The Marlins bull-pen has been over-worked all week.  They will have to be in the bull-pen early in this game.  Even if Josh pitches well he doesn’t have a prayer of pitching past the fifth inning.  Look for the Dodgers to win the way they always do.  They will keep the number low and they will come up with a few hits in the later innings.

LA Dodgers (-)

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 10

Thursday’s best MLB bets

Baltimore at Toronto (-175, 7½)

Maybe, just maybe, the Blue Jays’ bats are coming around. The Jays have scored at least six runs in all but two of their last eight, putting 14 on the board through their first couple of games against the Orioles after an offensive outburst in Texas.

Today they’re up against Jeremy Guthrie, a guy who has had a great start to the season even though his record doesn’t show it. He has racked up 14 quality starts in 19 outings so far, but the Orioles have scored just 10 runs in his seven losses. However, Baltimore’s defense has looked shabby in this series and the Jays are dialed in at the dish.

With Dustin McGown heading to the DL, Toronto sends John Parrish to the hill for just his second start of the year against the team he broke into the league with before he had a cup of coffee with Seattle last year. 

Pick: Over

Tampa Bay at Cleveland (-120,  8½)

No rest for the wicked – or the wickedly bad, anyway. The Cleveland Indians look to snap a 10-game losing skid when they host the AL East-leading Rays tonight.

With Andy Sonnanstine taking the ball for Tampa, which has won 14 of his 17 starts this season, not to mention the fact that he coming off a seven-inning shutout of the Royals and hasn’t had a bad start since way back on May 21, it’s hard to see how the books are favoring the Tribe.

Especially when they’re answering with Aaron Laffey, who’s overall numbers are OK, but is anything but overpowering and just had a couple of so-so outings recently. 

Pick: Rays

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 10

Afternoon delight: Thursday's MLB day game betting briefs

Minnesota vs. Detroit (+100, 9) 1:05 p.m. ET

Detroit's Miguel Cabrera hit a walk-off, two-run homer Wednesday, leading the Tigers (46-44) to an 8-6 win and a two-game sweep of Cleveland. He was coming off a two-homer game the night before and is batting .478 (11-for-23) with five home runs over his last five games.

The Twins, meanwhile, are reeling after being swept in three games by Boston, including an 18-5 rout on Wednesday. Minnesota allowed seven runs in the seventh inning, all after a triple play call was reversed.

Minnesota, which now hands the ball to starter Kevin Slowey (6-6, 3.78 ERA), who is 4-0 with a 2.06 ERA over his last five starts. Slowey has won both of his previous starts against the Tigers. He threw six scoreless innings in a 9-4 win at Detroit on May 23.

Detroit starter Kenny Rogers (6-6, 4.60) has lost two of his last three starts after going undefeated in his previous six outings.

The Twins lead this season series 7-4, which is the same over/under ratio when these teams have met in 2008.

St. Louis vs. Philadelphia (-140, 10) 1:05 p.m. ET

The NL East-leading Phillies look to get their bats untracked and win a series at Citizens Bank Park for the first time in a month when they wrap up their three-game set with the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday.

Philadelphia (49-43) defeated the Cardinals 4-2 on Wednesday to snap a four-game home losing streak and win for the second time in its last 11 at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies are fourth in the majors with 461 runs, but are averaging 2.8 in their last 11 home games. Under bettors have cashed winning tickets in the first two games of this series.

St. Louis' offense has also been in a bit of a rut, as it has scored two runs or less in five of its last six games. The Cardinals (51-41) have dropped 4 1/2 games back of the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs.

Philly sends 45-year-old left-hander Jamie Moyer to the mound tonight. He is 2-0 with a 0.78 ERA in his last four starts versus the Cardinals. St. Louis counters with Braden Looper (9-6, 4.15), who makes his first career start versus Philadelphia.

San Francisco vs. New York (-215, 8½) 1:10 p.m. ET

New York is now in position to complete its first three-game sweep by shutout since doing it at Philadelphia from Sept. 26-28, 1969. That hasn't happened to San Francisco since Sept. 4-6, 1980, against Montreal.

The Mets' winning streak is at five games, pulling them into a tie with Florida for second in the division, 1 1/2 games behind first-place Philadelphia.

The Mets will look to John Maine (8-6, 3.91 ERA) to help them match all those accomplishments. Maine, though, had his last outing cut short by cramping in his left forearm, as he was forced to leave after 5 2-3 innings Saturday. Maine is 5-1 with a 3.12 ERA in 10 home starts dating to last season. He's 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two career starts against the Giants, and held them to two runs - one earned - and seven hits in six innings of a 5-3 win June 4.

Barry Zito responds for San Fran. He has been solid in his last four road games, going 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA after losing his first four road outings with a 6.75 ERA. However, another loss for Zito will tie his career high set in 2005 with Oakland and matched last year.

Colorado vs. Milwaukee (-160, 9½) 2:05 p.m. ET

The Brewers look to avoid another disappointing game at the plate versus the defending NL Champions when the teams conclude a four-game series Thursday at Miller Park. The Brewers have hit five round-trippers in the season series, but are batting .232 and averaging 3.66 runs per contest over six games.

Not many teams have struggled at the plate against the Rockies, who have a 4.87 ERA and a .277 opponents batting average. Milwaukee will now face Jorge De La Rosa (3-4, 6.58 ERA), one of Colorado's worst starters. The left-hander has yet to win on the road this season, going 0-3 with a 5.91 ERA in four starts and two relief appearances. Milwaukee will counter with Dave Bush (4-8, 4.74), who has allowed one run in three of his last four starts.

The Rockies will be without outfielder Ryan Spilborghs, who was just placed on the DL an oblique injury. The right fielder was batting .314 with six home runs and 33 RBIs.

Cincinnati vs. Chicago (-170) 2:20 p.m. ET

As usual, oddsmakers held off on setting an early total for today's game at Wrigley Field. The forecast is calling for a a hot day with sunny skies and the wind was blowing out to right center at 13 mph in the morning, favoring hitters.

The NL Central-leading Cubs try to sweep the Cincinnati Reds at home for the first time in seven years when the teams wrap up their three-game set on Thursday afternoon. Chicago sits 4 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Cardinals and five games up on third-place Milwaukee in the NL Central.

The Cubs have won Thursday's starter Ted Lilly's last seven outings at Wrigley.Lilly (9-5, 4.47 ERA) looks to become the third straight Cubs pitcher to earn his 10th win of the season after All-Stars Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano reached that mark Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Lilly will want to make up for an April 17 start against the Reds when he gave up five runs and six hits in six innings of a 9-2 home loss.

Bronson Arroyo (6-7, 5.82) has allowed two runs and 10 hits over 12 innings to win his last two starts.

Seattle vs. Oakland (-175, 8½) 3:35 p.m. ET

In Thursday's series finale, the Athletics look to bounce back from a loss and take three of four games from the Mariners before the AL West leaders come to town for an important weekend set. The A's remain five games back of the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels, who arrive in Oakland Friday for a three-game series.

The A's have lost 11 of 14 home games to Seattle since the start of last season. The Mariners put an end to a three-game overall losing streak Wednesday with a five-run fifth inning. Seattle had scored four total runs during its skid.

Right-hander R.A. Dickey climbs the mound for Seattle. He began the season in the bullpen and is 1-1 with a 1.86 ERA over his last three outings. Oakland counters with rookie left-hander Greg Smith (5-7, 3.62), who makes his first career start against the Mariners.After giving up four hits and two walks in a complete-game 6-1 win over the Angels on June 30. Smith has allowed nine runs in 12 innings to lose his last two starts.

Six of Oakland's last seven games have fallen under the total while five of Seattle's last six have played under.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 10

Thursday MLB Research (AL and 1 Interleague Game)
By IndianCowboy

Twins vs. Tigers

Minny comes off getting drilled 18-5 to Boston and now heads to Detroit who ends up winning on a late inning home run and a come from behind win over the lowly Indians. Slowey is in for a bounce-back today despite picking up a win in his last start as he had a 7.5 ERA in his last go and is 4-0 over his last 5 starts, in fact, it is his highest ERA of his last 6 starts, he didn't yield a run in 6 innings against Detroit on the road in his last start, Rogers has struggled in his last 3 starts, and has a 4.05 ERA in his last start against the Twins, nothing against Rogers here but he has not looked his best and Slowey is coming off a bounce-back for his standards, I actually think Minny should be favored in this ballgame, decent value here on the Twins, 60% favor the Tigers as well as they are one of the public favs for tomorrow.

Seattle vs. Oakland

****ey might have a 6.17 ERA, but it is misleading. In his first 2 starts in the majors, he gave up 12 runs and had a 37.95 ERA in his 1st start, then in his next start he had a 12.30 ERA, then he began to settle in - why? Because he knew that this one of the few chances he has in the majors and he needs to pick it up and the Mariners showed faith in him keeping him in there and it has paid off, he went to New York, and at New York gave up 0 runs in 7 inns, he won that game 11-0, he faced Toronto at home and had a 2.82 ERA, and had a 3 ERA at home against Detroit beating Galaraga 3-2. Greg Smith has a 3.30 ERA at home and is in for a bounce-back considering he had a 7.20 ERA against the White Sox on the road, and he is not the type of pitcher to put up back to back non-quality starts. I like Oakland here but ****ey has been pitching well, lean on the under more and 8.5 is not a horrible price here for the U.

Tampa Bay vs. Cleveland

The Indians I believe have lost 9 in a row, but of course, that does not stop them from being favored today, however, it hasn't kept the public from taking the favorite here as over 60% are on TB, Sonn has pitched 3 quality starts in a row, and has given up just 3 runs in the last 19 innings, he hasn't faced the Indians this year, Laffey is 4-3 with a 2.15 ERA at home however, he comes off a horrible start on the road against the Twins and a 9 ERA against the Reds at home as he looks to bounce-back here. I know that Laffey has struggled a bit of late, but I believe he shows up for this game, having said that, getting this price with the Drays and Sonnanstine is tough to pass up, heck, Sonn is 5-1 with a 3.88 ERA on the road. Unfortunately, it doesn't fit enough into my system for taking the Drays despite the fact that I lean on them. This is primarily because Laffey is expected to have a strong start for this ballgame given his 2 previous weak outings.

Baltimore vs. Toronto

Guthrie has consistently come off a strong start after a weak start and such is the case as he was hit for a 5.69 ERA against Texas at home, so he is in for a bounce-back as he has consistenly done throughout the season after a weak start, he had a 1.29 ERA and actually beat Burnett on the road at Toronto earlier this year, Halladay beat the O's last time he faced them but only by 1 run by a score of 5-4 as he was more than a -200 favorite in that ballgame, he does come off back to back quality starts yielding just 2 runs in his last 16 innings, the total here is low for a reason, but I just can't take a 7.5 total, and frankly, I wouldn't past Toronto to make the upset here, heck, Guthrie is on the bounce-back and in a tossup ballgame, the value is nice and I do trust the O's offense far more than the Bluejays offense, I might just bite here in a tossup ballgame that pays over +170. At least maybe the +1.5.

Angels vs. Rangers

Lackey is a big road favorite today, keep in mind that the Rangers look to even the series up here and the last 2 ballgames in this series have gone under after the first one went well over, Lackey is due for a bounce-back here given that he got shelled in his last start against Toronto at home, he has not faced the Rangers this year and don't forget Feldman is much better than his ERA indicates. He is 2-0 over his last 4 starst and has pitched very well at home as he is 1-0 with a 2.54 ERA and in fact, helped the Rangers win every one of his road starts on the last 3 starts that were on the highway. I think this is going to be a pitcher's duel that could go either way.

White Sox vs. Royals

Buehrle had essentially pitched 6 straight quality starts in a row but struggled in his last start as he gave up 10 hits in less than 4 inns as he picked up the loss at home against Oakland, he has not started against the Royals this year, the White Sox are hot overall, Buehrle has a 3-4 record with a 4.43 ERA, while Greinke pitched a game on the road at TB but did lose, he has a 12 ERA start against the White Sox on the road and frankly, I think this game could go either way with a lean on the under.

Yankees vs. Pittsburgh

The Moose came back strong at home against the Red Sox as he held them to 0 runs in 6 inns in front of the Yankee faithful, and the Moose has quietly gone 5-1 with a 3.50 ERA on the road, he of course has not faced Pittsburgh this year and Malholm has pitched some quality starts of late including going 4-1 with a 3.47 ERA and comes off a no-decision but Pitt lost to Milwaukee despite the fact he pitched a gem, on the road. I actually lean on Pitt here given the value and Pitt does play a bit better at home, but Moose has been solid on the road, likely a 4-5 ballgame and can go either way.

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