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MLB News and Notes July 31

MLB News and Notes July 31

Men In Blue
Brad Young

Major league umpires calling games have more of an impact than any other official in any sport. The men in blue behind the dish are involved in every pitch, and different strike zones come into play.

The National Football League has the head umpire, but any number of refs can throw a flag for an infraction ranging from offensive holding to defensive pass interference. The National Basketball Association has three refs working the game, but none have as much authority as the home plate umpire in baseball.

An umpire with a big strike zone is usually involved in pitching duels since there are more strikeouts and less walks. Umps that tend to have smaller strike zones favor hitters, who can be more selective to drive scores higher.

Some trends concerning totals start to form midway through the year involving certain umpires. So the next time you plan on wagering on totals, check out what umpire is calling the game and not just the starting pitchers.

Unfortunately, the home-plate umpire is unknown for the first game of a series. From there, umpires rotate in a clockwise formation meaning that Friday night’s first-base umpire will move to home plate for Saturday’s game, home plate moves to third base, third moves to second base and second moves to first. So outside of the opening game of a series, you will know in advance what umpire will be calling the game.

Now let’s take a look at some of this year’s best home plate umpires concerning the ‘over.’

Umpire Gary Darling has called 22 games this season with the ‘over’ going a solid 16-6 with an average of 9.86 runs scored per contest. There has also been an average of 12.9 strikeouts and 6.3 walks per game.

Another home plate umpire that has seen numerous ‘over’ outings is Jim Reynolds. The ‘over’ is 16-4 when he is calling the game with an average of 11.50 runs per outing, along with an average of 13.8 strikeouts and 6.5 walks.

The man in blue with the highest average of runs per game when behind home plate is Chad Fairchild. There is an average of 11.58 runs when he’s calling a game, helping the ‘over’ go a solid 16-9.

There are also numerous ‘under’ umpires when calling balls and strikes, and the most notable is Wally Bell who has seen the ‘under’ go an incredible 16-3 when calling games. In his 22 outings behind home plate, Bell has seen an average of just 7.64 runs per contest along with 13.8 strikeouts and 6.5 walks.

vegasinsider.com.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 31

Thursday’s streaking starting pitchers
COVERS.com

Streaking

Rich Harden, Chicago Cubs (0-1, 1.07 ERA)


The Cubs have to be feeling pretty good about their trade for Harden right about now. The Canadian right-hander has allowed just three earned runs in 17 1/3 innings since coming to the Windy City. He picked up 10 strikeouts in each of his three of his Cubs starts so far and he’s allowed only eight hits.

Unfortunately for Chicago, that only translates to a 1-2 record but you’d have to think the wins will follow if he keeps pitching like this.

This marks Harden’s second straight day start. He held the Marlins to just one run in five innings last time on the mound.

Derek Lowe, Los Angeles Dodgers (8-8, 3.74 ERA)

Lowe is coming off his best start of the season, a one-hit performance through eight innings in a 6-0 victory over the Nationals.

The win marked the fourth straight for Los Angeles with Lowe on the hill. Many bettors might shy away from Lowe on Thursday when he goes up against the Diamondbacks and Brandon Webb. However, Lowe and the Dodgers beat the D-backs just last week and the big righty should see some solid value here. 


Slumping

Fausto Carmona, Cleveland Indians (4-3, 4.33 ERA)


Carmona’s ERA has exploded to 12.34 over his past three games, all losses for the struggling Indians. The right-hander’s latest two starts were the most troubling, when he allowed a combined 15 earned runs and was chased out of the game after the second inning each time.

The good news for him is that he pitches well against Detroit. He already has a win against the Tigers this year (11-1 on April 17) and has had quality starts in five of his last six starts against them.


Anibal Sanchez, Florida Marlins (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Technically, it’s hard to say Sanchez is slumping because this is his first start since May 2, 2007. But you can expect a little rust when he climbs the bump Thursday against the Rockies.

Sanchez missed a ton of time due to a shoulder injury that required surgery and he’s finally able to give it another shot in the bigs. It will be interesting to see how his start plays out on Thursday, though. Sanchez is involved in a dispute with the Marlins over his salary from last season.

Prior to Sanchez’s injury, he was demoted to the minors and now they’ll be a hearing on Aug. 8 to determine whether he was entitled to receive a big-league salary while he was on the DL.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 31

Baseball Today

Arizona at Los Angeles Dodgers (10:10 p.m. EDT). Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb (14-4) faces fellow sinkerball specialist Derek Lowe (8-8) in the opener of a four-game series. Arizona leads the NL West by one game over the Dodgers.

STARS

- Chad Billingsley, Dodgers, pitched a five-hitter in a 4-0 victory over San Francisco for his first career shutout and Los Angeles' fourth in five games. The Dodgers have 10 shutouts this season, all at home.

- Garret Anderson, Angels, went 4-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs as Los Angeles beat Boston 9-2 to finish 8-1 against the Red Sox this season with victories in their final eight meetings.

- Ryan Dempster, Cubs, allowed one run and struck out nine in seven superb innings to lead Chicago past Milwaukee 7-2.

- Kelly Shoppach, Indians, tied a major league record with five extra-base hits, including a game-tying homer in the ninth, but Detroit beat Cleveland 14-12 in 13 innings. Shoppach had two homers and three doubles.

- Carlos Quentin, White Sox, homered and drove in four runs to help Chicago extend its AL Central lead over the Twins to 1 1/2 games with an 8-3 victory at Minnesota.

- Bobby Abreu, Yankees, hit two homers and scored four times in a 13-3 rout of Baltimore.

CATCHING ON

Ivan Rodriguez is ready for pinstripes. The 14-time All-Star catcher was traded from Detroit to the New York Yankees for hard-throwing reliever Kyle Farnsworth in a surprising deal that addressed obvious needs for both playoff contenders. The Yankees jumped at the chance to upgrade behind the plate on the same day catcher Jorge Posada had season-ending shoulder surgery. The 36-year-old Rodriguez, winner of 13 Gold Gloves, waived his no-trade clause to go to New York. Defensive whiz Jose Molina had been doing most of the catching for the Yankees. ``Honestly, I was shocked by this, but that's baseball,'' said Rodriguez, in the option year of a $50 million contract he signed with the Tigers in February 2004. ``Now, I'm just looking forward to playing for the Yankees and maybe I will play against Detroit again in the playoffs.''

AGELESS WONDER

Jamie Moyer won his third straight decision, pitching Philadelphia to an 8-5 victory at Washington that moved the Phillies back into first place in the NL East. The 45-year-old Moyer (10-6) earned his 240th career win, tying Frank Tanana for 12th place among left-handers in major league history.

UNFAMILIAR TERRITORY

Kansas City beat the Athletics 4-3 in 10 innings to complete its first three-game sweep in Oakland in 20 years. The Royals last swept the A's in a series in 1999 in Kansas City, but had not done so in Oakland since June 1988. The A's dropped to 2-10 since the All-Star break, the worst record in the majors, and fell under .500 (53-54) for the first time since April 6.

BACK ON THE MOUND

Chris Carpenter pitched four solid innings for St. Louis in a 7-2 victory at Atlanta, his first start since April 2007. The 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner spent the past year recovering from ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow. He allowed one run and five hits. He threw 67 pitches, striking out two and walking two.

SURGING

Aaron Cook (14-6) tossed seven innings in Colorado's 7-4 victory at Pittsburgh to tie for the major league lead in wins. The Rockies improved to 10-3 since the All-Star break. ... Dan Haren (11-5) pitched seven solid innings to win his third straight start and Arizona beat San Diego 7-3 for its seventh victory in nine games. Haren leads the NL with a 2.62 ERA.

SNAPPED

Mike Pelfrey (9-7) lost for the first time in eight decisions when he lasted only four innings for the New York Mets in a 7-5 loss at Florida. The right-hander's previous defeat also came against the Marlins, on May 26. ... Josh Johnson pitched 6 2-3 innings for Florida to earn his first win since Aug. 28, 2006. It was his fourth start since returning from reconstructive elbow surgery in August 2007. ... Adam Dunn homered twice, Ken Griffey Jr. added a three-run shot and Cincinnati ended an eight-game losing streak against Houston with a 9-5 victory. Edinson Volquez (13-4) helped the Reds stop their five-game skid overall.

SPEAKING

``He's hotter than doughnut grease.'' - Nick Swisher on Chicago White Sox teammate Carlos Quentin, who homered and drove in four runs during an 8-3 victory at Minnesota.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 31

Braves a Fade After Teixeira Trade
by Robert Ferringo

Monday I wrote a story discussing the impact of Major League trades from the perspective of clubs that are surrendering the better player in the deal. I, personally, thought it was a bad story and a bit convoluted. Click Here to check it out yourself.

But my point in that article - if I wasn't clear on it - was that it may be easier to make a buck betting against the team that is giving up the feature piece in the deal than it will be trying to piggy back on the strong team that has gotten stronger.

We now have a perfect example with the Braves trading Mark Teixeira to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday for Casey Kotchman and some scrub minor league arm. Now, the Angels are likely going to see a sizeable bump in their prices following the deal. (Incredibly enough, they are HUGE dogs today to the Red Sox. This is so unusual that I can't even describe it. Normally after making a blockbuster move like acquiring Big Tex that team would be a monster chalk for at least a week or so afterwards. Just ask the 2007 Braves.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, the Angels - Wednesday aside - are going to see their prices skyrocket. And they are a better team with Teixeira in the lineup than Kotchman, who was a solid stick in his own right. But I say that instead of trying to roll with the Angels - the rich team getting richer - I think your best bet to earn will be by fading the Atlanta Braves.

The trading of Teixeira is a tremendous statement made by Braves brass. Yes, they needed to unload Teixeira now because with their budget they know they aren't going to be able to give him the deal he's looking for in the open market this winter. The Braves had to get something for him. But it's bigger than that. This move is a clear statement that Atlanta's front office does not see this team as a legitimate threat this year. And I feel that this move is going to have a ripple effect in the psyche of the Braves.

Think about it: in the last 72 hours the Braves lost their three best bats. Chipper is on the D.L. Brian McCann is sitting out with a concussion he sustained on Sunday. And now Tex is traded. That is a TREMENDOUS blow to this lineup and that clubhouse. They had Mark Friggin' Kotsay hitting cleanup the other day for chrissakes! Atlanta is still going to get some respect from oddsmakers and squares simply because they are the Braves. However, right now this lineup is one of the worst in the National League. Their bullpen is garbage, they are relying on Mike Hampton for innings as a starter, and they just lost their one legit ace (Tim Hudson) for the year. Things are not good.

Also, and this is a more subtle piece of collateral damage from the trade: with the trade of Teixeira, a local boy, the Atlanta fan base was just given the green light to mail it in for the season as well. Atlanta sports fans are some of the worst in the country. And now that Braves management made a move that crippled their club's chance of being competitive the Atlanta market will now completely shift its attention to the Georgia Bulldogs, the true love of this area. The Braves had been tough at home. But now with sparse crowds and little area support I think even that advantage will be lost.

Further, the schedule in August offers a bloody gauntlet for thee Braves.

Atlanta will wrap up a four-game set with the Cardinals on Thursday before welcoming Milwaukee for the weekend. The Braves will get the Brewers off a grueling four-game series with bitter rival Chicago so Atlanta may be able to steal one early in that set. After that the Braves head west to face San Francisco and Arizona before another home stand against Chicago and San Francisco. And beyond that lies the grinder: at New York, at St. Louis and home to Florida. Three of the next five series are at home, but six of the next eight series are against teams with more talent and embroiled in the thick of the playoff hunt.

I will be a solid Braves-fader for the next two months. And, as a New York Mets fan living in the Atlanta area, I will enjoy every single moment of it. What we need to hope for is for Atlanta to not get embarrassed by Milwaukee over the weekend and then make a respectable (3-4 or 4-3) showing on the Left Coast. If that is the case they will be a perfect fade against the Cubs, Mets and Cardinals. They could be a moneymaker and I think that over the next 30 games if you blindly played against the Braves you will make more money than if you blindly played on the Angels over the same stretch.

Carpe diem, my friend, and good luck.

Docsports.com

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 31

Rockies Ready For Another Run?
by T.O. Whenham

As I was reading up on the baseball trade deadline the other day I was caught totally off guard by something - Colorado GM Dan O'Dowd emphatically stating that his team was not going to be a seller. Up to that point we'd heard that Brian Fuentes and Matt Holliday were very much in play, and other players might be available for the right price. At first I though that O'Dowd had lost his mind, driven to insanity by the ridiculously bad performance of his team through the first 100 or so games. But then a sad realization struck - despite how bad this team is, their division is even more pathetic, so they aren't out of it. A team that is 48-60 should be so far out of it that they would trade the hot dog vendor if they got the right offer.

So, the question needs to be asked - can this team actually make a run for a playoff spot? Can they recapture last year's unlikely magic again? I don't want to believe it, but let's see if I might have to get used to the idea.

Standings - At first glance it isn't pretty - the Rockies are seven games out of first place. They've been here before, though. As late as July 16 last year they were 6.5 games out of first place in the NL West, but they were ahead by the end of the season. That being said, this is a big hole to climb out of. Seven games is seven games, but the task of catching up is made a bit easier given that the target is likely just .500 or so. It's not very likely given past performance this year that either the Diamondbacks or the Dodgers are going to go on a runaway winning streak, so the Rockies could at least make the race interesting without having to mount quite the winning streak they put together last year. It helps that a good portion of their lineup was around last year, so they know what it takes to win, and they have that to fall back on.

Recent form - Though they have lost two in a row in Pittsburgh, the last two weeks has given fans some reason to be optimistic. Before these two losses they had won nine of 10. Included in that stretch the Rockies took two of three from the Dodgers and swept the Reds in Cincinnati. That last sweep was particularly impressive for a team that had won just twice in their previous 13 tries on the road, even if it only came against the Reds. Overall, they are 16-9 in July. While you can't necessarily say that they will maintain that pace, even the harshest critic has to admit that this team should be much better than they were up to the end of June. That means that July hasn't been a total fluke, and it isn't as ridiculous to suggest that this team could be competitive as it might otherwise seem. They were 10 games out at the end of June, so they closed the gap slightly without playing at a truly superhuman level.

Batting - The Rockies have been hitting very well of late, but that's not actually a good thing in my eyes in this case. The team has eight positional players that are hitting at .300 or better since the beginning of July. Three - Ryan Spilborghs, Ian Stewart and Troy Tulowitzki - are at .435 or better. That's an obvious contributor to their solid month of July, but it hardly seems sustainable for the last two months of the season. To get to the top of the division standings they will need to win at least the same pace they have up to now, but they will almost certainly have to find a way to do that while not hitting as well. That's a tough order.

Pitching - This doesn't make me any more optimistic, either. The hitters haven't done all of the work to keep winning in July. The starting pitchers are 14-6 this month. It's hard to believe that that is sustainable given the number of pitchers that are pitching way beyond their whole season results. Ubaldo Jimenez is just 7-9 on the year, yet he is 5-1 in his last six. Glendon Rusch has spent time with two different AAA teams this season, and he hasn't been a full-time starter since 2002, yet he is 3-0 since being pressed into emergency starting action due to injuries. They aren't the only guys who are beyond expectations, and over the long run they could be expected to come back to earth a bit. Combine even slightly worse pitching with worse hitting and you have troubles. The one hope the team has is that Jeff Francis is expected back soon. He's had a setback with soreness in his shoulder, though, and he hasn't exactly torn it up so far this year - 3-7 with a 5.67 ERA.

So what does it all mean? Given the way the NL West has struggled, and the recent history of the Rockies, I wouldn't be comfortable with entirely ruling them out of the playoff race. If I had to bet, though, I would pretty comfortable be on the Dodgers or the Diamondbacks over the Rockies. Bodog has the Rockies at 20/1 to win the NL pennant - ninth out of the 16 teams in the league. I wouldn't touch that for anything - even if someone else gave me the money.

Docsports.com

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Thursday's best MLB bets
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Seattle at Texas (-150, 12)

Here’s the story on Seattle’s R.A. Dickey: when he starts, the Mariners lose. To be more precise, the M’s are 2-7 with the converted knuckleballer on the hill, which is bad, but with the most proficient offense in the major leagues waiting in the wings, this one could get really ugly.

Of course, the Rangers’ Matt Harrison hasn’t looked all that great in his four major league starts either, as evidenced by his 7.32 ERA, but the Mariners simply don’t have the firepower to take advantage of a weak starter like the Rangers do. The Mariners are ranked 27th in the major leagues with  427 runs this season, the Rangers have produced 605 runs.

Pick: Rangers

Arizona at L.A. Dodgers (-108, 6½)

The under has been the hot bet in the Dodgers’ recent games with five of their last six playing under the total. Three of those games were shutouts, including Derek Lowe’s last start, a 6-0 win. That – and L.A.’s unimpressive bats – goes a long way in explaining the lowest-of-the-low total set for this game.

Brandon Webb is the other reason oddsmakers decided on this number, but when six of eight meetings between these two clubs have played over, you really have to take a long, hard look at the over. And here’s another interesting stat: as dominant as Webb is, the over/under is 12-7 in his starts this season.

Pick: Over

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Thursday's MLB Research
By IndianCowboy

Seattle vs. Texas


I won with R.A. earlier this year but he has struggled in his last 2 starts with a 6 and a 13.51 era, this was after he had 4 straight quality starts, he is on the road here where he last struggled against Boston, but did have quality starts against the Mets and Oakland on the road, heck, they were shutouts, when he left, Harrison bounced-back well at home in hist start on the road at Oakland, Texas comes off a 4-3 win yesterday, Harrison is 2-2 in quality starts as you truly don't know what you get with the young gun, plus, R.A. is on the road as well, this could be another barn-burner with scoring in another texas high scoring home game. No wonder the total sits at 12, lean on the over, given only 7 runs were scored yesterday, but staying away from this one.

Whitesox s. Minny

Danks won his last start despite having a 6 era as he defeated Detroit and Verlander on the road, against Minny he has 27.04 era, 3.6era and 6 era in that order - all of those games were at home though, on the road he is even better than at home as he is 5-1 with a 2.31 era, Baker is technically on a bounce-back despite beating the Indians on the road - remember he had a 5+ era in that start, didn't matter though as his team won comfortably 11-4, he faced Danks earlier this year on 4/9, he had a 5.4 era but defeated the Whitesox and Danks 12-5. Frankly, staying away, I respect both of these teams ability to come back, especially against young pitchers, heck, Chicago won 8-3 on the road yesterday and Minny is strong at home.

Detroit vs. Cleveland

Verlander is on a great bounce-back here today, remember he had 6 straight quality starts and was 5-0 in his last 6 starts before getting roughed up at home against the White Sox, he is 1-2 against Cleveland thsi year but did defeat them last time out at home, of course Cleveland is furious from losing their lead yesterday as they gave up their lead countless times over and over again, heck, they were up 5-0 early on and 11-7 later in the game until the Tigers putting up a 4 spot in the 8th, Carmona has given up 15 runs in just over 4 innings of late as he has been horrible of late, he does have a 1.33 era at home against Detroit this season defeating Verlander in the end 11-1 - so Verland has revenge for that, but Cleveland has revenge from losing yesterday, remember, Carmona has been struggling of late while Verlander is on a bounce-back, lean on the Tigers based on that, as I just don't trust Carmona - but given his horrible starts of late, Carmona probably will show up - wouldn't be suprised tos ee a pitcher's duel here, however, this being an afternoon game, anything can happen in this game imo given the lineups, no thanks.

Angels vs. Yankees

The Angels come off dominating the Red Sox on the road and now face the Yanks on the road as well - wh had their own troubles with the Orioles. Garland comes off a horrible start in his last attempt as he had a 8.44 era on the road, the Angels still managed to win the game by putting up 11 runs on the board, I do expect Garland to pitch well today however, but he has struggled in his last 2 road starts overall, Pettitte has pitched 3 of 4 quality starts, but he too struggles when having to put together 3 straight quality starts, heck, Petitte is worst at home than on the road this year, at home this year he has a 4.01 era and for the season he has a 3.76 era. The public is split on this game, but it is tough to ignore the Angels at this value here and anytime the Angels are at +150 when on the road.

St. Louis vs. Atlanta

My Braves continue to spiral in losses as they look to turn it around at home today again. Hampton continues to make his comeback for the Braves and remember, the Braves have simply gotten their butts handed to them by the Cardinals at home in this series. It seems that 65% of the public are taking the road fave here in the Cardinals. However, are they really siding with Joel Pineiro? I know the Braves are struggling, but Damn, Pineiro has given up the following hits of late:

6/27: 10 hits @ KC (8.22 era)
7/02: 11 hits (H) against Mets (7.2era)
7/08: 5 hits @ Philly (0 era)
7/13: 10 hits @ Pitt (9.54 era)
7/21: 10 hits (H) Milwaukee (4.5 era)
7/26: 10 hits @ Mets (11.25 era)

Pineiro has not faced the Braves this year. Hampton in his first start back in 4 innings gave up 8 hits and 6 runs to the Phillies at home for a 13.5 era. Horrible, yes. But, at least he is pitching again for the Braves and actually attempting to earn a paycheck. A bit surprised the total is just 10 here, if anything a lean on the Braves as well as an over. Given the Braves have stunk it up the last 2 ballgames, I think this game is likely to go the Braves and over here.

Arizona vs. Dodgers

As a baseball fan, I picked this game to research in the NL along with the Braves game because of the pitching matchup here. Webb is 8-3 on the road with 2.81 era and has a 14-4 record with a 3.27 era overall, he faced the Dodgers at home earlier this year and gave up just 1 earned run, but the Dbacks went on to lose that game 5-6, Lowe, has a 1.8era at home against Arizona and a 6.85 era on the road against Arizona, the Dbacks went on to win both of those games. Do note that Lowe typically struggles for back to back quality starts - however, the Dodgers are on a bounce-back here, but the Dbacks have ended up losing 2 ballgames in which Lowe has started this year and they are getting a beat on his pitches, also notice this trend:

1.69, 6.14, 1.29, 7.20, 1.17, 6.75 and 0.00...

See a trend? Lowe doe not put together back to back quality eras, lean on the Dbacks for all of these reasons today.

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Re: MLB News and Notes July 31

Griffey agrees to trade with White Sox
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

Ken Griffey Jr. agreed Thursday to accept a trade to the Chicago White Sox, leaving it up to the commissioner's office to approve the deal because money is involved, a person with knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press.

The Cincinnati Reds outfielder had the right to block any deal, but agreed to move to the White Sox after getting more information about the proposed trade on Wednesday morning. The person familiar with the talks spoke on condition of anonymity because the teams are not commenting.

Griffey joined his hometown team before the 2000 season, agreeing to a nine-year, $116.5 million deal. The 38-year-old outfielder makes $12.5 million this season, and there's an option for 2009 at a $16.5 million salary. If a team doesn't want to pick up next year's option, Griffey will be owed a $4 million buyout under his contract.

Griffey became the sixth player to reach 600 career homers this season, but has struggled at the plate. He's batting .245 with 15 homers and 53 RBIs despite playing in one of the most homer-friendly ballparks in Cincinnati.

The Reds were interested in dealing Griffey because of the size of his contract and their plummet after the All-Star break, which dropped them back to the bottom of the NL Central. The Reds haven't had a winning season since 2000.

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