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MLB News and Notes July 24

MLB News and Notes July 24

Chan's MLB money arms: Week of July 21

Ben Sheets, Milwaukee Brewers, Thursday at St. Louis

Given the fact he’s up against the surging Cardinals, we should get considerable value backing Sheets on Thursday.

He looked shaky in his first start following the All-Star break, giving up nine hits and four runs over five innings in San Francisco, but he’s a veteran and should have little trouble bouncing back.

His road numbers remain rock solid at 6-1 with a 2.84 ERA. The Brew Crew are 8-3 the last 11 times he’s taken the ball. The Cardinals have been beating up on some weaker opponents heading into this series, most recently the Pirates and Padres. They should get a bit of a wake-up call in this series, but I’ll likely be staying away until Thursday.

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Thursday's streaking and slumping starters


Gil Meche, K.C. (7-9, 4.48)

Gil Meche is proving to be the ace the Royals were looking for when they broke the bank to sign him. Even though Kansas City is struggling at 11 games under .500, the club has won six of his last seven outings, including a 9-1 shellacking of the White Sox in his last trip to the hill. Meche allowed just two hits over 6 1/3 innings.

It’s a welcomed change for everybody in the locker room. Kansas City lost 10 of Meche’s first 14 starts of the season.


Yoslan Herrera, Pittsburgh (0-1, 19.50)

The Bucs are in a tough spot with a depleted starting rotation. Herrera was called up from Double-A ball before the All-Star break to help out and the Cardinals greeted him with 11 hits and six earned runs in just over four innings of work. Herrera’s first start following the break was worse when the Rockies put seven runs on him over less than two innings.

When Herrera’s on his game, his heater tops out around 92 mph and he has solid curveball to keep hitters off balance.

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Thursday's Tip Sheet
By Brian Edwards

There are only seven games on Thursday’s abbreviated MLB card. The Mets and Phillies will wrap up their three-game series at Shea Stadium, while Tampa Bay will go back on the road to take on cellar-dwelling Kansas City.

Also, St. Louis and Milwaukee will square off as both teams try to keep pace with the Cubs, who open a series at Wrigley Field against Florida. Bettors should keep in mind that three games, including the Phillies-Mets' rubber game for sole possession of first place in the National League East, will take place in the afternoon.

**Marlins at Cubs**

--Florida (53-48, +1,419) lost last night's rubber game of a home series against Atlanta by a 9-4 score. The defeat, coupled with the Mets' 6-3 win over Philadelphia, left the Marlins one game back of the NL East's co-leaders. Meanwhile, Chicago (59-42, +965) maintained a one-game advantage over the Brewers in the NL Central by besting Arizona 10-6 last night.

--Florida LHP Scott Olsen (6-4, 3.84) is 2-1 with a 4.93 ERA in eight road assignments this season. The young southpaw is 1-0 with a 3.80 ERA in four lifetime starts against the Cubs.

--Carlos Zambrano (10-4, 2.98) owns a 3-1 record and 2.54 ERA in seven career starts against the Marlins. The veteran right-hander is 5-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 10 starts at home this year.

--Most books are listing the Cubs as minus 190 favorites. As always, there are no overnight odds for the total or run-line wagers due to uncertain wind conditions.

--The ‘over’ is an MLB-best 63-38 overall for the Marlins, 33-15 in their road games.

--The ‘over’ is 54-48 overall for the Cubs, 27-23 in their home games.

**Rays at Royals**

--After dropping seven in a row prior to the All-Star break, Tampa Bay (59-41, +1,383) returned home and won four of six games, including Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Oakland. The Rays are back in first place, but they are just one-half game ahead of the Red Sox and 3 1/2 games in front of the hard-charging Yankees.

--Kansas City (45-57, -388) has lost three straight after falling at home to Detroit by a 7-1 count in Wednesday’s pick ‘em affair. The Royals are joined in the AL Central cellar by Cleveland with both teams trailing division-leading Chicago by 12 ½ games.

--Tampa Bay RHP Matt Garza (8-5, 3.68) has had tough luck against KC. In fact, Garza is 0-3 despite a 3.42 ERA in four career starts against the Royals. The Fresno State product is 2-4 with a 5.91 ERA in eight road assignments this season.

--Gil Meche (7-9, 4.55) is 1-4 with a 5.40 ERA in nine lifetime starts against Tampa Bay. The right-hander is 3-4 with a 5.25 in 10 home assignments this year.

--Most spots are listing the Rays as minus 115 favorites with a total of 8 1/2 flat (minus 110 either way).

--KC is 22-27 at home, while Tampa Bay is 19-25 on the road.

--The ‘under’ is 56-47 overall for the Rays, but the ‘over’ is 25-22 in their road games.

--The ‘over’ is 54-51 overall for the Royals, but they have seen the ‘under’ cash at a 27-23 clip in their home outings.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Per LVSC rules, all bets for Wednesday's Baltimore-Toronto game were refunded because the score was tied at 1-1 at the end of the fifth inning. The Blue Jays had taken a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth when the game was delayed and eventually suspended due to rain.

--Just when Atlanta appeared to be on the verge of getting healthy, Tim Hudson and Chipper Jones left Wednesday's win over the Fish. Hudson left with tightness in his throwing elbow after pitching six scoreless innings. Jones, who is hitting an MLB-best .369, left in the fourth inning after he apparently strained his hamstring. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Braves GM Frank Wren said Jones' injury was not serious. Atlanta is off Thursday before playing a three-game set at Philadelphia.

--San Diego RHP Greg Maddux is winless in 14 consecutive starts.

--Milwaukee RHP Ben Sheets is 5-14 with a 4.28 ERA in 24 career starts against St. Louis.

--Washington RHP Tim Redding is the majors’ second-best money pitcher. The Nationals are 15-6 with a money total of plus 1,226 in his 21 starts. Redding is a plus 130 underdog Thursday at San Francisco, but gamblers who believe in career numbers will be shying away from a play on the Nats. That’s because Redding is 0-4 with a 6.49 ERA in five lifetime starts against the Giants. 

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Baseball Today


Toronto at Baltimore (12:35 p.m. EDT). Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay (11-7), coming off his first loss in seven starts, takes on the Orioles and Daniel Cabrera.


- Adam Dunn, Reds, hit the team's first grand slam of the season and drove in another run during a 9-5 win over the Padres.

- Carlos Quentin, White Sox, hit two homers, including a three-run shot during a five-run eighth to help rally Chicago to a 10-8 win over Texas.

- Armando Galarraga, Tigers, carried a perfect game into the seventh inning and wound up allowing three hits and one earned run, striking out seven in a 7-1 rout of Kansas City.

- Mike Mussina, Yankees, scattered six hits over eight shutout innings, striking out seven in a 5-1 win over the Twins.

- Jeff Mathis, Angels, went 4-for-5 with his first grand slam in the majors, finishing with a career-high six RBIs in a 14-11 win over the Indians.

- James Shields, Rays, gave up three runs and came within two outs of a complete game in a 4-3 victory over the Athletics.

- Doug Mientkiewicz, Pirates, went 4-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, helping Pittsburgh wrap up its first road sweep with an 8-7 win over Houston.

- Gregor Blanco, Braves, went 4-for-5 with three RBIs and scored three runs, backing a strong performance by Tim Hudson in a 9-4 win over the Marlins.


The Angels pounded out a season-high 19 hits in their 14-11 win over Cleveland, including four by Howie Kendrick, who equaled a franchise record with three doubles. Jeff Mathis had four hits and a career-high six RBIs, including his first grand slam in the majors, and Casey Kotchman had a career-best five hits. It was the first time in Angels history that three players each had four or more hits in the same game.


Ben Zobrist homered and drove in two runs to support a strong outing by James Shields in the Rays' 4-3 win over the Athletics. Afterward, Zobrist was optioned to Triple-A Durham to make room on the roster for starting shortstop Jason Bartlett, who is expected to be activated Thursday after missing 16 games with a strained right knee.


Greg Maddux left with a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning, then watched Cla Meredith serve up a two-run homer in the Reds' 9-5 win over San Diego. The 42-year-old Maddux hasn't won since May 10, going a career-long 14 starts without a victory. He's 0-5 with nine no-decisions and a 4.54 ERA since his last win.


The Braves lost slugger Chipper Jones in the fourth inning with a strained left hamstring while running out a groundball, then saw ace Tim Hudson leave two innings later with tightness in his right elbow. They went on to rout the Marlins 9-4 without two of their best players.


Tigers rookie Armando Galaragga carried a perfect game into the seventh inning against the Royals, then settled for allowing one run on three hits in a 7-1 win. Detroit hit .355 in taking the three-game series, outscoring Kansas City 33-6.


Jason Bay's two-run homer helped the Pirates beat Houston 7-1 for their first road sweep this sason. Pittsburgh has won three straight road games for the first time this season and has its first three-game victory streak since taking six straight from May 6-12.


Mike Mussina baffled Minnesota for eight innings in the Yankees' 5-1 win, their 10th straight at Yankee Stadium. New York wrapped up a 6-0, post-break homestand before heading to a pivotal three-game series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. The winning streak has the Yankees within 3 1/2 games of Tampa Bay in the AL East.


"They can play without me, but I can't manage without them.'' - White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who wasn't around to see his team score five times in the eighth inning for a 10-8 victory over Texas. Guillen had been ejected an inning earlier for arguing strikes.

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Making Sense of the Mess in the NL West
by T.O. Whenham

If I was part of the management team for either the Dodgers or the Diamondbacks I'd be looking for a way to forget that this season ever happened. The two teams are locked in an epic struggle for the lead in the National League West, with the Diamondbacks currently a game ahead. There's just one problem - Arizona is only at .500. That would be good for no better than fourth in any of the other five divisions, but the pathetic group of National League teams on the West Coast are so bad that .500 might be overachieving by the end of the year. Not only are the top two teams mired in intense mediocrity, but they are secure in their position - Colorado is in third place, but they are seven games back.

As pathetic as it may be, the fact is that one of the teams in the National League, and probably the Dodgers or the D-Backs, are going to be in the playoffs. They don't deserve it at this point, but then deserving to be there has never been a criteria for making the post-season. The job for handicappers is to try to figure out which one of the two teams is likely to come out on top, and if that will provide an opportunity.

Though the Dodgers are behind at this point, the oddsmakers seem to think that they will be the team to emerge victorious in the end. Bodog has the Diamondbacks at 10/1 to win the NL pennant, while the Dodgers are at 15/2. The difference is almost as pronounced when it comes to winning the World Series. The Diamondbacks are 25/1, while the Dodgers are, more optimistically, at 20/1. My first reaction to both prices is that they are ridiculously devoid of value, but that's getting ahead of myself.

Let's start with the Diamondbacks. It's not an exaggeration to say that this team is a mess. They are currently at 50-50, but they started the season at 19-7. That puts them at 31-43 since April 28, a pathetic .419 record. That's not the kind of 2 ½-month stretch that a playoff team typically goes through. In the month before the all-star break they were even worse - their 10-17 mark converts to a .370 winning clip. Ouch. They haven't been kind to bettors, either. There are 13 teams that have been profitable over the course of the season, and nine more that have lost bettors less than the Diamondbacks.

Brandon Webb has been very good at 13-4, and Danny Haren has been a nice addition at 9-5, but the rest of the rotation just isn't doing their job - they are at 16-19. Randy Johnson has strung together a nice three-game winning streak, and has looked like the Big Unit of old in two of them, but his team had lost his previous eight appearances. Micah Owings looked like he was going to build on the potential he showed in his rookie year when he won his first four games, but the team is 5-11 in his 16 appearances since. Even Webb isn't the pitcher he was at the start of the year. The team is 3-5 in his last eight games. The pitching just isn't getting it done. The bats aren't picking up the slack, either. The team isn't built to be a bunch of sluggers like the Tigers or the Yankees, but when Conor Jackson is leading your team at the plate in several statistical categories you just aren't doing as well as you should.

The Dodgers aren't much better. The kindest thing you can say about this team compared to Arizona is that they got off to a pretty uninspiring start. While the Diamondbacks were playing out of their minds over the first 26 games, the Dodgers were as mediocre as they are now - 13-13. The Dodgers might not be very good, but at least they have been consistent. Frighteningly so, really - they are 22-22 over their last 44 games. This team can't manage to build any momentum so far in the new Joe Torre era, but they aren't digging themselves a hole, either.

This team doesn't scare anyone. They don't have a hitter batting over .300, and their power leaders have an underwhelming 11 home runs. Pitching hasn't been any better. They have struggled to find a rotation to settle on - eight different pitchers have started three or more games. Only one of them, Chan-Ho Park at 1-0, has a winning record in their starts. When a washed up 35-year-old reliever is leading your team in winning percentage you have problems.

Though I don't like either team, and I think that the whole division should just forfeit the rest of the season and start over next year, I would have to agree with the bookmakers and take the Dodgers to be on top when the season ends. They have a couple of factors on their side. First of all, both teams are underachieving at the plate and on the mound, but the Dodgers have more proven, experienced players who are playing below their best. That means that they have a better chance of rebounding when the pressure intensifies. I also trust Joe Torre a lot more than I do Bob Melvin when it comes to crunch time. Finally, the Dodgers have been underwhelming but they have been consistently so. Arizona has been progressively less impressive as the season has aged.

Unless something changes, one of these teams is going to make the playoffs with a record at or around .500. Back in 2005 the Padres made it out of the NL West with a .506 mark. Their playoff run lasted three games. A team that struggles into the playoffs has to play the team with the best record, and they have to open on the road. Neither of these teams are winners on the road, and the Diamondbacks aren't even close. Remind me again why those 20/1 and 25/1 prices are even remotely attractive?

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Thursday's best MLB bets

Milwaukee at St. Louis (+120, 8)

You can never go wrong betting the hot team – and there is no team in the major leagues hotter than the Brewers right now. They haven’t lost since the All-Star break and with a sweep of the Cardinals and NL Wild Card pole position on the line today, they have good reason to keep the pedal to the metal.

It also helps that Ben Sheets is on the hill. The Cards were stymied by CC Sabbathia yesterday and it won’t get any easier with Sheets’ 98 mph fastball and nasty curve coming at them today. The Brewers are 13-6 in Sheets’ starts this season.

The Cards will give the ball to Todd Wellemeyer, who’s been struggling mightily in recent outings. His club has lost in five of his last six starts and he has a 7.72 ERA over that span.

Pick: Brewers

Tampa Bay at Kansas City (+105, 8½)

The last time these two teams met, the same two pitchers were on the mound and the result was an extra-innings win for the Royals as +168 underdogs. And that game was in Tampa Bay, where the Rays have won about 70 percent of their games this season. On the road, the Rays are just 19-25.

Today’s Tampa starter, Matt Garza has been especially road weary this year. His club has gone just 2-6 in his road starts and the right-hander, although he has an overall ERA of 3.68, has a dismal 5.91 mark away from home.

All that explains the relatively reasonable price on the league’s first-place team against its 10th, but it’s just not enough to sell me on this underdog.

Pick: Rays

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Braves lose Chipper, Hudson in win over Marlins

By the time Chipper Jones pulled up lame, the Atlanta Braves already had plenty of runs for Tim Hudson. Then Hudson departed with a tender elbow.

Jones strained his left hamstring, and Hudson left after six innings with tightness in his right elbow, tempering the glow of the Braves' 9-4 victory Wednesday night over the Florida Marlins.

Jones, the major-league batting leader at .369, was hurt running out a groundout in the fourth inning and immediately left the game. It was an alarming development for a team that's 2-10 without Jones and struggling to stay in the NL East race.

Hudson's status is even more worrisome. He improved to 11-7, allowing only three hits and one walk, but departed after throwing just 68 pitches in six shutout innings.

The team said both players will be evaluated further. The Braves are off Thursday before starting an important series Friday in Philadelphia.

Florida finished its homestand 3-3 and missed a chance to forge a three-way tie atop the NL East with Philadelphia and the New York Mets.

Ricky Nolasco (10-6) allowed eight hits and five runs in five innings. He fell to 0-3 in three starts against Atlanta this year, with an ERA of 10.57, while his ERA against all other teams is 3.10.

The Braves, who totaled one hit Tuesday, had eight after four innings against Nolasco. Hudson singled and scored the game's first run. Gregor Blanco had four hits, scored three runs and drove in three, and Yunel Escobar had two doubles and three RBIs.

Florida leads the NL with 28 come-from-behind wins, but there was no rallying against Hudson and four relievers. The score was 9-0 before Luis Gonzalez hit a three-run homer in the ninth off Buddy Carlyle.

The Marlins head for Wrigley Field in a scoring slump. Dan Uggla went 0-for-4 and is 1-for-22 since his miserable performance in the All-Star Game. Hanley Ramirez is in a 2-for-21 skid. Josh Willingham, who was given the night off, is batting .167 since coming off the disabled list June 24.

The Braves' attack has been sputtering, too, but Hudson got it going with a leadoff single in the third, and Blanco reached when his sacrifice bunt went for a hit. Escobar doubled home a run, and Blanco came home on a groundout by Jones.

The Braves added three runs to make it 5-0 in the fourth. Jeff Francoeur and Kelly Johnson doubled, Blanco hit a two-out RBI single, and Escobar followed with a run-scoring double.

Blanco hit a two-run triple in the eighth.

Notes:@ Blanco got the last word in a fourth-inning quarrel with plate umpire Doug Eddings. After hitting an RBI single, Blanco looked back over his right shoulder and hollered at Eddings while running to first base. ... The Marlins said RHP Justin Miller, who went on the disabled list July 5 with right elbow inflammation, may be activated as early as Friday.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 24

Thursday's MLB Research
By IndianCowboy

Toronto vs. Baltimore

As I write this, I am 2-0 and I'm sitting on seeing if the Orioles game can come out of delay and see if they can pull this game out. Regardless, it sits at 2-1 in favor of Toronto currently. If you remember, Halladay actually got roughed up on the road in his last start at Tampa Bay and his team lost 4-6 so this is actually a bounce-back game for him, Do note that the last time he had a horrible start was against Cincy at home with a 6 ERA and then he came back pitching a complete game shutout at Seattle giving up just 4 hits in a 2-0 win. Who knows what he has in store for this game after the bad outing at Tampa Bay, Halladay had a 4.7 era against Liz in his last start winning 5-4 at home against the O's the last go around, he was 3-0 against the O's last year, Cabrera had a 10.80 era in his last start only to find his team actually end up winning the game 11-10, remember he is on a big-bounceback and facing Halladay typically brings the best out of ya, if anything a lean on the under here as this very well might be a pitcher's duel similar to yesterday, remember he had a 5.69 era at Toronto so this is a bit of a revenge game for Cabrera as well as the ol' guy can pitch a solid game at home as he did against Kansas City pitching a complete game and giving up just 2 runs. Lean on the under here.

Tampa Bay vs. Kansas City

Speaking of Tampa Bay, they face off against KC here after winning 4-3 at home and KC coming off a 7-1 beating at the hands of the Tigers. Garza gave up just 2 hits in about 8 inns his last start as he dominated Toronto at home, he has a 4.05 era against KC in his last start as he picked up a ND but his team lost 4-7 eventually at home to Gil Meche, he gave up 9 hits in about 7 inns in that home start, he lost to KC both times last year as well pitching 1 of 2 quality starts, speaking of Meche, he is 4-1 over his last 7 starts, his team has won 6 of his last 7 starts, he pitched a stellar game at Tampa Bay last time helping defeat the Drays and Garza and actually cashing in as +170 dogs, Tampa bay has revenge here but KC comes off a terrible home loss, lean on tampa bay here but likely staying away.

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