TUESDAY SERVICE PLAYS
Re: TUESDAY SERVICE PLAYS
Larry Ness' 15* NL Game of the Week (54-39 in '08 / 175-89 two-year run)
My 15* play is on the Mil Brewers at 8:05 ET. The Cubs had to face CC Sabathia last night, who was 4-0 with a 1.36 ERA since coming to the Brewers and entered Monday's game with three consecutive complete-game efforts. However, the Cubs, losers of 13 of the previous 19 road games, rose to the challenge. Sabathia never made it out of the 7th inning, as the Cubs reached him for nine hits and four runs (three earned). Chicago then broke a 4-4 tie in the 9th, winning 6-4 and upping their lead in the NL Central to two games. As the four-game series continues tonight, the Cubs will send their ace, Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano is 11-4 with a 2.96 ERA in 20 starts this year (team is 13-7) and has pitched very well since returning from a short stay on the DL on July 4. He's gone 3-1 in his four starts since his return, with a 2.31 ERA. However, Zambrano does own a 3.84 ERA in nine road starts this year, more than a 1 1/2 runs higher than his home ERA (2.28) in 11 starts at Wrigley. Milwaukee sends Ben Sheets to the mound and the key this year for Sheets has been his return to health. The last three years he's made just 63 starts (never more then 24 in any one season), but he's been injury-free in '08, missing only one turn with a sore arm in late April. He's already made 20 starts this year, going 10-3 with a 2.87 ERA (team is 14-6). Zambrano and Sheets opened the '08 season against each other (March 31), with each pitcher getting into the 7th, neither allowing a run. Both teams scored three runs in a wild ninth inning in that game, with the Brewers taking it 4-3 in the 10th, on a sac fly. I'm giving the edge here to the Brewers, as I won't overlook the fact that Zambrano's road ERA is 1 1/2 runs higher on the road or more importantly, that while the Cubs are 29-11 vs right-handers at Wrigley, they are just 13-21 against them on the road. A further breakdown also reveals that Chicago is just 8-15 in night games (against righties), averaging a paltry 3.2 RPG. NL Game of the Week 15* Mil Brewers.
Larry Ness' Oddsmaker's Error (41-26 MLB run since June 30)
My Oddsmaker's Error is on the Det Tigers at 7:05 ET. The Tigers are one of MLB's best hitting teams (.276 team BA ranks 5th), averaging 4.99 RPG. However, last night's 5-0 loss at Cleveland was the team's 11th shutout loss, the most of any AL team. It was not the start Jim Leyland had hoped for, as his team (6 1/2 games back of the White Sox) began a 10-game road trip. The Indians, winners of 96 games last season, are going nowhere fast this year in the AL Central. They enter tonight's game 46-58 and in last-place, 13 games back of the division lead. The Indians will giver Matt Ginter his third straight start tonight and that's story in itself. He began his career back in 2000 with the White Sox and through 2003, made 63 appearances, all in relief. He had 15 appearances (14 starts) in 2004 with the Mets (1-3 with a 4.54 ERA) and 14 appearances (one start) for the Tigers in '05 (0-1, 6.17 ERA). He did not pitch in the majors in either of the last two seasons but the Indians brought him up from the minors to face the Tampa Bay Rays on July 12. He won that game 8-4, his first start since 9/18/05 (with Detroit) and his first major league win since 5/21/04 (with the Mets). It's really difficult to see him having much success here against a talented (if erratic) Detroit lineup. Getting the nod for the Tigers will be Armando Galarraga. Galarraga (a rookie) has replaced the injured and ineffective Dontrelle Willis in the Detroit rotation, going 8-4 with a 3.27 ERA in 18 appearances (17 starts). The Tigers are 12-5 in his starts this year and Galarraga has pitched very well, allowing just 86 hits in his 107.1 innings. In fact, he took a perfect game into the 7th inning of his last start (7-1 win last Wednesday at KC) and that excellent road effort is indicative of his season-long numbers. He's had some trouble at home (4.24 ERA in seven starts where he's 2-2 and the team is 5-2) but he's been much better on the road (2.39 ERA, where he's 6-2 and the team 7-3). The Tigers will have to face Cliff Lee (14-2, 2.29 ERA) tomorrow and Fausto Carmona on Thursday, so a win here is imperative. Expect another good effort from Galarraga (Indians own the AL's second-lowest team BA at .251) and look for those Detroit bats to have little trouble solving Ginter. At this price, it's a bargain to take the Tigers. Oddsmaker's Error on the Det Tigers.
Larry Ness' Las Vegas Insider (27-17 with MLB Insiders since May 26)
My Las Vegas Insider is on the Mion Twins at 8:10 ET. The Twins opened this important four-game home series with the White Sox, 2 1/2 games back of Chicago in the AL Central. The White Sox swept the Twins in a four-game series in Chicago back on July 6-9 and the Twins are looking to "return the favor" here. They are off to a good start, as Kevin Slowey pitched a complete-game shutout last night, as the Twins won 7-0. On the mound tonight for the Twins is another one of their highly thought of young hurlers, Glen Perkins. Perkins first appeared in the majors in '06 and over the last two seasons, had made just 23 appearances, all in relief. He pitched a total of only 34.1 innings, with a solid ERA of 2.88 so what's he's done this year, has to be a surprise. He began this season in the minors but since getting called up on May 10, has been an important part of Minnesota's starting rotation. He's made 15 starts this year, going 7-3 with a 4.08 ERA. While he lost his most recent outing 5-1 Wednesday at Yankee Stadium (6 IP / 8 hits / 5 ERs), he had been 5-0 with a 3.81 ERA over his previous nine starts (team was 7-2). In that nine-start stretch, he had allowed more than three ERs in an outing just ONCE! Getting the nod for the White Sox will be Clayton Richard, who made his major league debut last Wednesday at home vs the Rangers, allowing seven hits and four ERs in just four innings (he did strike out seven!) of a 10-8 Chicago win. The going won't get much easier for the young lefty here, as the Twins are an impressive 35-19 at home this year (outscoring opponents by an average of 5.17-to-3.69 RPG). While Minnesota may be just 16-16 vs left-handers this year, their troubles have come on the road, not at home, where they are 11-5 after last night's 7-0 win over the veteran Buehrle. Last night's win made it four straight home wins by the Twins over the White Sox and EIGHT wins in their last nine home games against them. Make that FIVE straight and NINE of 10, after tonight! Las Vegas Insider on the Min Twins.