MLB News and Notes August 1

MLB News and Notes August 1

Friday's streaking starting pitchers


Jake Peavy, San Diego Padres (8-6, 2.67 ERA)

Under bettors can tell you how much they love Peavy lately. His last five starts have all fallen under the number and it’s been thanks to some fine pitching.

The Padres ace has only surrendered 12 earned runs in his last seven games, while he went at least six innings in each performance. What’s even better news is that he only gave up three earned runs in three strong starts against the Giants last year, all wins for the Padres.

He faces the Giants’ Tim Lincecum on Friday, so you can expect a total that’s lower than dirt for this game.


Jeff Suppan, Milwaukee Brewers (5-7, 5.04 ERA)

Suppan has been stinking out the joint lately and some timely hitting has prevented his record from taking a bigger dive than just two games below .500.

The right-hander has served up six meat balls in his last four starts and his ERA has jumped to 9.56 over his last three. You won’t be surprised to see that five of his last seven games have played over the total and his teammates know they’re going to have to score some runs to get the win when he’s standing on the bump.

Brandon Backe, Houston Astros (6-10, 4.73 ERA)

You have to feel a little sorry for Backe these days. He’s pitching his heart out and has nothing to show for it but a 1-4 team record over his past five games.

Backe’s ERA is just 2.84 over his past three outings and he’s held the opposition scoreless in two of his past four starts, though he only lasted three innings in one of them.

Houston knows it owes this righty a win and it might come against a rusty Pedro Martinez, who makes his return to the Mets on Friday following an absence from the lineup since July 12.

Bettors might want to know the under has cashed in Backe’s only three starts against the Mets.

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Top 5 MLB runline teams

Many baseball handicappers find themselves leery of laying numbers like -200 and upwards on a single Major League Baseball game. And there are times when underdogs look tempting, but doubt remains, leaving bettors hesitant to take action.

The remedy to these situations, of course, is to play the runline: take the favorite, give a run and a half, and get better odds; or give some on the odds, grab the run and a half, and take the dogs. It's a bit more of a gamble than already is being taken, but it can also be even more profitable than just playing the money lines.

Here's a quick look at the top five runline teams around MLB so far this season.

Minnesota Twins

Minnesota has been the runline player's best friend so far this year. Ron Gardenhire's troops figured to be an afterthought in the AL Central but instead, they trail the division-leading Chicago White Sox by just 1½ games going into Thursday's action. Because this club is consistently being underrated by the oddsmakers and underplayed by the betting public, the Twins are able to be successful versus the runline. While Minnesota is 59-48 straight up on the season, they top the runline charts in both W/L at 66-40 and dollars at +$2,479. Those figures are certainly helped along by the 34 wins the Twins have tallied as underdogs.

Florida Marlins

Another team consistently underrated by both oddsmakers and bettors, Florida owns the second-best runline record this season at 62-45 and ranks fifth on the runline money list at +$1,006. The Marlins are hanging tough in the NL East race, sitting just two games back of the first-place New York Mets. But many hardball observers are wondering how much longer Florida can keep winning. The Marlins rank 26th in team ERA and 29th in team fielding, and while five games over .500, have actually have been outscored on the season.

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels own the best overall record in baseball at 67-40 and the best road record at 36-19, and they top the money list at at +$1,887. But even with a 56-50 record versus the runline, it's a bit surprising that L.A. ranks second on the runline money list at +1,834. That means Angels backers are being given ample opportunity to take advantage of some very favorable runline odds. L.A. has been, for the most part, doing it with pitching while their offensive attack has ranked in the bottom third among majors league clubs in most categories. But the Angels added a big bat this week, trading for slugger Mark Teixeira. Bettors, however, will want to keep an eye on L.A. because an 11 ½-game lead in the AL West could lead to the temptation to ease up down the home stretch.

Chicago White Sox

Like Minnesota, the White Sox were also expected to be non-factors in the AL Central this season but manager Ozzie Guillen is cajoling this team toward another division title, working with less than the best talent. The ChiSox are 59-46 straight up and 60-45 versus the runline, the third-best mark in the majors. Chicago also ranks third on the runline money list at +$1,777. Guillen has been critical of his bats, but the Sox rank in the top third in the majors in several key offensive categories and rank second in team slugging. They also rank fifth in team ERA and own one of the best run differentials, at +75 on the season.

Chicago Cubs / Texas Rangers

The Rangers own the fourth-best runline record in the majors at 60-47, but because of the collective set of lines they've been tagged with, have earned just +$28 for runline backers. And while Texas is also three games above .500 outright, they've been outscored on the season by 32 runs. Meanwhile, the Cubs are 56-51 on the RL, which places them ninth in those standings but rank fourth on the runline money chart at +$1,147. And thanks to the second-highest scoring offense and the sixth-best team ERA, the Cubbies own (by far) the best run differential in the majors at +118.

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This week in MLB betting

Friday, Aug. 1

Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers 10:40 p.m. ET

The Diamondbacks were at one point looking like they were going to run away with the division but they have fallen back to the pack. On May 16, they were 12 games over .500 and 5.5 games in front of the Dodgers. At the start of this week, they were just two games over .500 and only a game up on Los Angeles. After winning four of the first five meetings this season, Arizona dropped two of three in the set played at home last week and bring in a dismal 23-29 road record.

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Friday's MLB Tip Sheet
By Brad Young

The baseball trading deadline has passed, but not before a couple of marquee moves by some contending teams. The biggest deal of course involves Manny Ramirez going to the Los Angeles Dodgers, while Ken Griffey Jr. moving to the Chicago White Sox is also garnering a lot of attention.

Baseball now begins its stretch run for the final two months of the regular season. Today’s tip sheet is going to focus on contending teams that happen to be road favorites. Now let’s break down four of Friday’s bigger matchups.

**Phillies (Hamels) at Cardinals (Lohse)**

-Caesars Palace installed Philadelphia as a $1.30 road ‘chalk’ over St. Louis, with the total set at eight ‘under’ (minus $1.20). First pitch is slated for 8:15 p.m. ET.

-Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels (9-6, 3.27 ERA) is searching for his first victory in almost a month after going 0-1 his last four outings. The 24-year-old left-hander finagled a no-decision against Atlanta Saturday, lasting just 3 2/3 innings while being reached for nine runs (four earned) on six hits (one home run) with three walks and two strikeouts.

-The Phillies rallied to win as a decided $2.70 home favorite, 10-9, while the combined 19 runs soared ‘over’ the nine-run closing total.

-Hamels fell to the Cardinals July 8 as a $2.10 home ‘chalk,’ 2-0, pitching seven innings while surrendering two runs on three hits (two home runs) with no walks and eight strikeouts. The two runs never seriously threatened the nine-run closing total.

-St. Louis right-hander Kyle Lohse (12-3, 3.68 ERA) heads to the hill for the first time since Sunday’s setback to New York as a $1.75 road underdog, 9-1. The 6-foot-2 hurler went five innings, allowing seven runs on 11 hits (three home runs) with a walk and two strikeouts.

-The combined 10 runs toppled the 7 ½-run closing total, ending a string of three consecutive ‘under’ outings for the 29-year-old.

-Lohse beat the Phillies June 14 as a $1.00 road selection, 3-2, tossing a solid eight innings while yielding two runs on four hits (one home run) with two walks and three strikeouts. The combined five runs went ‘under’ the 9½-run closing total.

**Diamondbacks (Johnson) at Dodgers (Kershaw)**

-Caesars Palace opened Arizona as a $1.15 road favorite over Los Angeles, with the total listed at 7½ ‘under’ (minus $1.20). This National League West contest is scheduled to start at 10:40 p.m. ET.

-Arizona southpaw Randy Johnson (8-7, 4.58 ERA) is riding a personal four-game winning streak after upending San Francisco Sunday as a $1.40 road underdog, 7-2. The veteran hurler tossed seven scoreless innings while scattering nine hits with no walks and two strikeouts.

-The combined nine runs eclipsed the eight-run closing total. The ‘over/under’ has alternated his previous seven starts.

-Johnson fell to the Dodgers last year as a $1.40 home favorite, 9-5, lasting just three innings while surrendering four runs (three earned) on six hits (one home run) with two walks and two strikeouts. The combined 14 runs went ‘over’ the 8½-run closing total.

-Los Angeles lefty Clay Kershaw (1-3, 4.53 ERA) recorded his first major league victory after beating Washington Sunday as a $1.48 home ‘chalk,’ 2-0. The rookie hurler tossed six scoreless innings on four hits with a walk and five strikeouts.

-The two runs never seriously threatened the eight-run closing total, ending back-to-back ‘over’ outings for the 20-year-old.

-Kershaw has never started against the D’backs in his brief major league career.

**Angels (Santana) at Yankees (Ponson)**

-Caesars Palace lists Los Angeles as a $1.15 road ‘chalk’ over New York, with the total set at 10. This American League matchup is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. ET.

-Los Angeles pitcher Ervin Santana (11-5, 3.57 ERA) is currently mired in a personal two-game losing funk after Sunday’s setback to Baltimore as a $1.50 road favorite, 5-2. The Dominican Republic native lasted just five innings while getting tagged for five runs on seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts.

-The combined seven runs failed to topple the 9 ½-run closing total, helping the ‘under’ cash his third straight start.

-Santana was roughed up by the Yankees last year as a $1.80 road underdog, 12-0, surrendering nine runs on seven hits (two home runs) with two walks and two strikeouts over just three innings. The 12 runs went ‘over’ the 10-run closing total.

-New York right-hander Sidney Ponson (6-2, 4.59 ERA) fell to Boston Sunday as a $1.65 road underdog, 9-2. The Aruba native was reached for seven runs on 10 hits (one home run) with a walk and a strikeout over four innings.

-The combined 11 runs eclipsed the 10-run closing total, helping the ‘over’ improve to 8-2 his last 10 outings.

-Ponson has not started against the Angels the past few years.

**White Sox (Vazquez) at Royals (Hochevar)**

-Caesars Palace opened Chicago as a $1.25 road favorite over Kansas City, with the total listed at 9½ ‘under’ (minus $1.15). This AL Central matchup is slated to start at 8:10 p.m. ET.

-Chicago’s Javier Vazquez (7-9, 4.73 ERA) dropped to 0-3 his last four starts after Sunday’s setback to Detroit as a $1.10 road underdog, 6-4. The 11-year veteran went seven innings while allowing six runs on 11 hits (two home runs) with two walks and three strikeouts.

-The combined 10 runs landed directly on the closing total.

-The right-hander received a no-decision against the Royals July 9, going 5 2/3 innings while yielding six runs on 11 hits (one home run) with a walk and three strikeouts. The White Sox eventually won that contest as a $1.18 road favorite, 7-6, while the combined 13 runs toppled the 8 ½-run closing total.

-Kansas City right-hander Luke Hochevar (6-8, 5.38 ERA) is off Saturday’s no decision against Tampa Bay. The 24-year-old went five innings while getting tagged for two runs on four hits with a walk.

-The Royals eventually dropped that affair as a $1.45 home underdog, 5-3, while the combined eight runs landed directly on the closing total. The ‘over’ is 3-1-1 his last five outings.

-Hochevar received a no-decision against the White Sox June 4 after yielding four runs on five hits (two home runs) with two walks and two strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. The Royals eventually lost that contest as a $1.70 road underdog, 6-4, while the combined 10 runs went ‘over’ the 8 ½-run closing total.

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Baseball Today

Philadelphia at St. Louis (8:15 p.m. EDT). National League playoff contenders begin a three-game series when Cole Hamels (9-6) faces Albert Pujols and the Cardinals. Kyle Lohse (12-3) gets the ball for St. Louis.


- Jim Edmonds, Cubs, hit a grand slam and another home run, driving in five runs in an 11-4 rout of the Brewers.

- Grady Sizemore, Indians, hit a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs in a 9-4 rout of the Tigers.

- Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks, gave up a run and six hits over eight innings, striking out six to improve to 15-6 with a 2-1 win over the Dodgers.

- Chone Figgins, Angels, went 4-for-5 with an RBI and scored three times in a 12-6 win over they Yankees.

- Clint Sammons, Braves, homered and drove in three runs, finishing 3-for-4 in a 9-4 win over the Cardinals.

- Jimmy Rollins, Phillies, homered and drove in three runs in an 8-4 win over the Nationals.

- Joe Mauer, Twins, went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in a 10-6 win over the White Sox.


Disgruntled outfielder Manny Ramirez was shipped far, far from Boston just before the trade deadline, landing with the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The Red Sox in turn get Jason Bay from Pittsburgh in the three-team trade. The Pirates got outfielder Brandon Moss and reliever Craig Hansen from Boston, as well as third baseman Andy LaRoche and pitcher Bryan Morris from LA.


Fausto Carmona won for the first time since May 12 when the Indians beat Detroit 9-4. He was making his second start after spending two months on the disabled list with a hip injury. Carmona bounced back with a strong outing after being rocked for nine runs in just 2 1-3 innings when he rejoined the rotation last week. He hadn't won since beating Toronto three months ago.


Baltimore's Daniel Cabrera and New York's Edwar Ramirez were suspended and fined for intentionally throwing at batters during a series between the teams earlier this week. Cabrera was suspended six games and fined an undisclosed amount for throwing a pitch at Alex Rodriguez's head in the bottom of the eighth inning on Tuesday night. Ramirez, a reliever, was suspended for three games and fined an undisclosed amount for throwing his first pitch over Kevin Millar's head during the top of the seventh inning on Wednesday.


White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen pulled his team off the field at the Metrodome in the seventh inning after fans threw hats and baseballs onto the field following the ejection of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. The Metrodome public address announcer warned fans that continued behavior would lead to the Twins forfeiting the game, and calm was restored after 5 minutes.


Diamondbacks ace Brandon Webb allowed six hits in eight innings to win his big league-leading 15th game, a 2-1 victory over the Dodgers. Webb (15-4) walked one and struck out six in outpitching Derek Lowe and continuing his domination of the Dodgers. The 2006 NL Cy Young Award winner is 8-0 in his past nine starts against Los Angeles, allowing nine runs in 71 innings.


Anibal Sanchez won his first start in 15 months, helping Florida to a 12-2 win over the Rockies. Sanchez had been out since having shoulder surgery last June, but the young right-hander who threw a no-hitter as a rookie in 2006 didn't seem to have missed a beat. Sanchez allowed two runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings, striking out four.


Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero and Juan Rivera each hit a three-run homer, helping the Angels pound the Yankees 12-6. It was the first time in 30 years the Angels hit a trio of three-run homers in a game, helping them improve baseball's best record to 68-40.


``You got athletes on this team. We're Hyenas. We take advantage of the weak link. You make a mistake and we're gone.'' - Angels outfielder Torii Hunter, who hit one of three, three-run homers in a 12-6 rout of the Yankees.

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History unkind to deals made at trading deadline

Most baseball executives would sooner admit reading romance novels than the sports pages, especially in the days leading up to the trading deadline. Usually, there's some justification.

What GM, after all, needs to learn yet another synonym for ''dunce?'' Or find out the beer vendors at the ballpark vowed to stage a wildcat strike if management didn't bring so-and-so to town?

They get ripped for making one deal and not another. Then they get second-guessed more than the guy who makes the soup down at your corner restaurant every morning - and in the case of trades, no one knows whether the ingredients were right for months or years.

But one thing we do know, even as a flurry of blockbuster deals slid in just under the deadline Thursday, and more than half the GMs in MLB's 30 outposts tempted fate. History is not on their side.

Any one of them could have found that out by reading the Kansas City Star in the morning. The newspaper crunched trade numbers going back to the start of the wild-card playoffs in 1995 and concluded that these last-minute deals typically don't do much for teams, unless they're already in good shape.

Consider that:

- Nearly three-quarters of the teams that were in first place at the trading deadline - 76 of 104; or 73 percent - wound up making it into the postseason.

- Less than half of the teams facing a deficit of 1 1/2 games or less - 11 of 24; or 46 percent - managed to close it by the end of the regular season.

- Things were grim for teams two to five games out. Fewer than one in five of those clubs - 11 of 66; or 17 percent - had someplace to be when October rolled around.

- And, in what amounts to a double whammy, some of the clubs wound up trading away prospects they will regret letting go of for decades to come. The Tigers traded John Smoltz, the Red Sox dealt Jeff Bagwell, and the Mariners got rid of Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek.

Still, even if the numbers hold up this time, we can declare a few instant winners.

Just about every ballplayer in every deal, for example. Each is in line for a raise, including a few who expected to be tightening their belts instead.

LaTroy Hawkins was going nowhere - the Yankees had already designated him for assignment - when he found out he'd been traded to the Houston Astros.

''I was sitting at home doing nothing and all of a sudden, a team wants me,'' Hawkins said Wednesday. ''I'm pretty excited about that.''

Houston GM Ed Wade had to pretend he was excited, too.

''He gives (manager) Cecil Cooper one more weapon to call upon late in the game,'' Wade said. Left unmentioned is that with the Astros already more than a dozen games out in the NL Central, they'll need a lot more than one weapon.

Dodger fans, meanwhile, can start gloating even as Manny Ramirez makes reservations to fly cross-country and start chipping away at the Diamondbacks' slim National League West lead. This might be one of those rare deals, in fact, where everybody makes out. L.A. picks up one of the most potent bats in baseball; and if only half the rumors percolating in Boston are true, the Red Sox will be better for subtracting one of the game's biggest headaches.

White Sox fans, relax. Yes, Ken Griffey Jr. will further weaken an already weak defensive outfield if he winds up in center too often this season. But he will still be hitting several seasons from now, long after Jim Thome's days as a designated-hitter are over. Then, GM Kenny Williams will still be able to claim he got a bargain.

The Cubs look smart for acquiring Rich Harden and the Angels for adding Mark Texeira.

Escalating salaries were supposed to make trades harder to pull off, and more than a few of the GMs who did are going to wish they were harder still.

The Yankees might regret swapping Pudge Rodriguez for Kyle Farnsworth, especially if the bullpen hole he plugged widens into a tear. But all those World Series titles and a new stadium coming on line next season buys some goodwill with the paying customers and, besides, they've got enough money to bury the occasional mistake.

The Brewers don't. They picked up CC Sabathia on loan for the remainder of the season at a good price, about $5 million. But he'll be back on the market next season looking for Johan Santana money and Milwaukee can't afford even Carlos Santana.

There are two days on the baseball calendar when hope springs eternal.

The first is opening day. The second was Thursday. By this point in the season, fans in the half of MLB's towns have already turned their attention to fantasy football forecasts. To those of you who made the cut, good luck.

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MLB Weekend Preview

The trade deadline passed on Thursday with a few big names changing jerseys. Will the newest additions for the Dodgers, White Sox, and Red Sox make a bang right away this weekend?

The biggest name to find a new home on Thursday was Manny Ramirez, who finally wore out his welcome in Boston and got shipped west to the Dodgers. Ramirez should give the Dodgers the power hitter they thought they were getting when they threw all that money at Andruw Jones in the offseason. And Ramirez's powerful bat may be arriving in Los Angeles just in time, as the Dodgers continue a crucial four-game set with their NL West rivals Arizona this weekend. The Dodgers entered Game 1 of that series on Thursday night one game back of the D-Backs in the West. If Manny does make his Dodgers debut on Friday night he'll do it against Randy Johnson. Getting the start for Los Angeles in that game is rookie Clayton Kershaw. The rest of the pitching matchups in this series are projected as Hiroki Kuroda versus Yusmeiro Petit on Saturday, and Jason Johnson versus Doug Davis on Sunday.

The White Sox made a surprising move at the deadline by acquiring Ken Griffey Jr. The Sox hope Griffey can turn back the clock after hitting only 15 home runs through just over 100 games with Cincinnati this season. The ChiSox enter the weekend with the Twins nipping at their heels in the AL Central, but they get what should be a shot at some easy wins this weekend against the Royals. Getting the series started on Friday night is Javier Vazquez for the White Sox and Luke Hochevar for Kansas City. On tap for the rest of the weekend are Mark Buehrle versus Kyle Davies on Saturday, and Clayton Richard versus Zach Greinke on Sunday.

The final big name dealt on Thursday was Jason Bay, who went to Boston as part of the Ramirez trade. Bay had been putting together a pretty good season in Pittsburgh with 22 home runs and 64 RBI. If he can keep it up in Boston nobody will think twice about saying goodbye to Manny. The Red Sox need to start piling up the wins, as they trail the Rays in the AL East and the Yankees are coming on strong as well. Boston hosts the Athletics at Fenway Park this weekend, with knuckleballer Tim Wakefield facing Oakland's Justin Duchscherer on Friday night. Following that is Jon Lester versus Dana Eveland on Saturday, and Daisuke Matsuzaka versus Dallas Braden on Sunday.

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MLB Trendspotting
by Josh Nagel

It's that time of the season in Major League Baseball when teams have declared, through trade -- deadline activity or lack thereof - their intentions for the rest of the season. While some teams are acquiring star players through trades on likely a short-term basis for a pennant run, others are dumping salaries and trying to reload with younger talent through the trade market.

Once the dust settles, this is often a time when you will see teams go on significant winning and losing streaks based in some part on their new personnel - for better or worse - combined with their mindset depending on whether the club is a contender. Teams like the Yankees and Angels, who each made significant upgrades through trades, are prime candidates for a string of wins, while others, such as the Indians and Braves, find themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Here is a look at some MLB betting trends through July 30:

American League East

Boston Red Sox
- The slumping Red Sox have lost five out of six to the Yankees and Angels, and have dropped seven of their last 10 overall to fall back into second place behind the Rays. Despite a record that is 14 games over .500, the Sox are just +431 units to their backers, an indication that quite a bit of juice is lost when this team drops a game as a fairly significant chalk. For instance, those who bet Daisuke Matsuzaka at -165 against the Angels' Jered Weaver -- and lost -- realize that all it takes is a few defeats in that price range to take a big chunk out of your bankroll.

Baltimore Orioles - If they played in the NL West, the Orioles would still be in contention at 51-56. As it stands, their record is not too bad for a team from which much wasn't expected and ranks among the worst in MLB in most pitching and defense categories. Last week, Baltimore stopped a five-game losing streak by winning three-straight and taking home underdog money +135 or better against the Angels and Yankees, boosting its season result to nearly 300 units to the good.

American League Central

Chicago White Sox
- Two three-game win streaks wrapped around a four-game skid pretty much summarizes the inconsistent but successful season for the White Sox thus far. Though daily value might be hard to find - as they often seem to lose games they should win, and vice versa - those who back them for the long haul could find a lucrative investment, as they have brought home 1,052 units this year.

Cleveland Indians - By dumping C.C. Sabathia and Casey Blake in a trade-deadline purge, the Indians effectively threw in the towel on their disappointing season. This team could be a prime candidate for a double-figure losing streak, the type teams with nothing to play for often provide. This could provide a rebate of sorts for anyone who hung their hopes and betting dollars on the Tribe this season; a needed one at that, as the Indians have gashed their backers to a debt of 2,535 units on the season.

American League West

Los Angeles Angels
- By grabbing this year's official Rental Player for the Playoff Race, Mark Teixeira, the Angels defined themselves as the team to beat in the American League. Taking a few games from the Red Sox in Boston in dominating fashion didn't hurt, either. Since they have done most of their damage with an underrated pitching staff, the Angels also are a surprising 21 games over .500 against the under for the season.

Texas Rangers - For a team that is just three games over .500, the Rangers are up an astounding 1,428 units for the year. How do they do it? Put simply, they give bettors bang for their buck. In four of their past five wins, Texas has been at even money or better, and three of those cashes were better than +135. This is what happens you mix the best offense and worst pitching staff on the same team; the Rangers predictably are dogs most of the time, but they have shown they can out-hit their pitching. It's a never too far fetched to take a flyer on them against any other team's ace on a given night; this strategy has proved profitable for those willing to gamble with the Rangers.

National League East

Florida Marlins
- This is another team that is netting big value on a per-win basis, as the 57-51 Marlins have netted bettors just over 1,700 units this season. They are picking it up in big chunks, such as last week's consecutive road wins at Chicago that scored 390 units for wins at +230 and +160.

Atlanta Braves - The Braves have been injured and underwhelming and, now with the trade of Teixeira, they have decided to look toward next season. With Chipper Jones and their top three starters on the injured list, it's no surprise that they could not keep pace in the division. They have lost five in a row, and have cost hopeful bettors more than 1,800 units on the year.

National League Central

St. Louis Cardinals
- The Cardinals have bounced back from a five-game losing streak by winning four of their last five. They have made up for lost time at the cage, too, with 483 units coming in those four wins, bringing their season total to 1,306 units of profit. An overachieving starting staff, led by 12-game winner Kyle Lohse, is the primary reason behind the solid values the club has provided.

Pittsburgh Pirates - The Pirates quietly have had a successful year, at least by their recent standards. They have put together a lineup that scores a respectable 4.94 runs per game, seventh in MLB. However, their team ERA of 5.25 is the league's worst, giving them another hurdle to clear on the road to respectability.

National League West

Los Angeles Dodgers
- This is the best team in a bad division, which really isn't saying much. Even so, the Dodgers could be a dangerous team if they somehow manage to take the division and reach the playoffs. They have postseason-quality pitching and would be a tough team to eliminate in a seven-game series. Now that they picked up Manny Ramirez this club could be a postseason dark horse.

San Francisco Giants - The Giants have some promising young pitchers, but they have been far from enough to carry this team. Barry Zito has been a colossal disappointment, and the Giants must have the least fearsome lineup in the majors. With this season pretty much conceded, they will have to after some big-name free agents on offense in order to return to anything resembling a competitive level of play.

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Friday's best MLB bets

San Francisco at San Diego (+121, 7)

Anytime the Padres are playing at Petco Park, you have to take a good look at the under because the over/under is 22-33-1 in San Diego this season. But when Tim Lincecum is in town, it’s almost guaranteed to be a slow day for the scorekeeper. In five career starts in against the Padres, all five have played under, including the two at Petco which both played under 7-run totals. His opponent today, Josh Banks, is also a solid under bet with an O/U record of 2-6-1 this season, including 0-2 at home.

The over/under record in San Francisco-San Diego matchups this season is 2-6 and both games at Petco (each with a total of 7 runs) played under.

Pick: Under

Arizona at L.A. Dodgers (-103, 7½)

Don’t expect too much out of Manny Ramirez in his Dodger Stadium debut. Even at the best of times, Manny isn’t the most intense character, but after a cross-country flight and the emotional toll of yesterday’s trade, the slugger might not have much left to give to his new club – especially since this game won’t start until 10:40 p.m. Boston time.

The rest of the Dodgers will have to deal with a rejuvenated and red-hot Randy Johnson, who has gotten wins in his last four starts and has not given up a run in 15 straight innings. They’ll also have to deal with a losing history against the Diamondbacks – they are 7-13 against Arizona over the last two seasons.

Pick: Diamondbacks

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The final book on the Manny Ramirez Era in Boston: a .312 batting average, 274 home runs, 868 RBIs, and two World Series titles. Only six players in major league history can match Ramirez's Red Sox numbers in the Triple Crown categories and also played on at least two World Series winners during their tenure with one club: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio with the Yankees, Jimmie Foxx with the Philadelphia Athletics, Hank Greenberg with the Tigers, and Stan Musial of the Cardinals.

Cincinnati Reds OF Ken Griffey Jr. carried his total of 608 home runs from Cincinnati to the south side of Chicago. Only one player had more home runs at the time of an in-season trade: Willie Mays had hit 646 home runs when he was traded by the Giants to the Mets in May 1972.

The Chicago Cubs completed a four-game sweep with a win at Milwaukee Thursday. It's the first time in the history of the franchise-dating back to 1876-that a first-place Cubs team swept a road series of four-or-more games over an opponent that started the series in second place in their league (or, since 1969, in their division).

Arizona SP Brandon Webb led the Diamondbacks to a 2-1 win at Dodger Stadium, his eighth consecutive victory against the Dodgers. (Webb has not allowed more than two runs in any of those eight wins.) It's the second-longest current winning streak by any major-leaguer against the Dodgers; Jake Peavy has won his last 10 decisions against Dodger Blue.

Chicago Cubs

In the team's last 22 games, dating to July 4 - the Cubs starting pitchers have allowed one or no runs in 14 of those contests.  They've compiled a 2.45 ERA while holding opponents to a .211 batting average.SP Jason Marquis is 0-3 in his last five starts, but the club has scored just one run while he's been on the mound in four of those five outings.Chicago is 9-3 against Pittsburgh this season - including a 5-1 mark at Wrigley Field.

Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore is 1-for-5 in stolen base attempts since July 13.
The Orioles are 23-12 in series opening games, including a 12-6 mark in road series openers.SP Garrett Olson is 3-4 with a 6.81 ERA in eight starts on the road this year.

Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers went 7-0 on their last road trip to San Francisco and St. Louis.  The streak is the team's second longest road winning streak in club history.Since the All-Star break, the Brewers are batting .160 with runners in scoring position, including .072 over the last nine games.SP Jeff Suppan is 0-4 with a 7.25 ERA in four starts at Turner Field in his career.

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Re: MLB News and Notes August 1

Friday's MLB Research
By IndianCowboy

Angels vs. Yankees

Santana is on a bounce-back today after having a 9 ERA in his last start, and he is on the road today but the Angels are continuing to win on the highway as they swept Boston and won 12-6 yesterday but the Yankees are no stranger to losing at home, they lost 2 of 3 to Baltimore at home, I understand the Yankees are on a bounce-back but Santana has been great on the bounce-back and he has lost back to back games but he needs a big start today he has not faced the Yankees this year and Ponson himself is on a bounce-back after nearl;y a 16 ERA on the road at Boston. If anything a lean on the under and the Angels here as I simply don't trust Ponson and the Angels are a great contact hitting team, Ponson is 3-0 at home but he has nearly a 5 ERA at home.

Oakland vs. Boston

Duch gave up 9 hits and 8 runs in his last start at home, the Angels consequently lost 4-9 in that game as he had a 12 era in that start, he faced Boston earlier this year and had a 0.00 era as he didn't yield a run in 8 innings at home as the Angels won 3-0. So, in essence, Duch is on a bounce-back here, Wakefield has pitched non-quality back to back starts and the last one was at home to the Yankees, he too is in desperate need of a quality start here, he faced Oakland on the road last time for a 14+ era in his last start, thus it makes sense as to why this total is so low at 8.5 as they are both on a bounce-back, I like the under here, but in the same token, I hate the fact of taking an 8.5 as an under.

Detroit vs. Tampa Bay

Miner has pitched great for Detroit in his first 2 starts this year as he has a 1.5 era in 12 innings, Kaz has made back to back quality starts as well, Kaz has yet to face Detroit this year, Kazmir is a sterling 5-1 with a 1.68 era at home this year, and frankly, Miner and Detroit are decent value here as such a big dog, similar to how the Angels were in New York yesterday, but staying away from this game simply because unsure as to how Miner is going to do on the road against a TB team that is great at hitting fast balls and of course, Kaz is solid at home and a lot of juice, no thanks.

Toronto vs. Texas

Marcum has been horrible in his last 3 starts, giving up 20 hits and 14 runs in 16 innings but before that he had done 4 straight quality starts, of cours he has not faced Texas this year and I still don't see Texas having put up a starter but it is likely a newbie, not enough information on this game frankly, but I'm not surprised that a total of 11 was released for a Texas home game as runs come a flurry, heck, another 13 runs were scored yesterday as the over in Texas just continues to hit over and over again. no thanks.

Cleveland vs. Minny

Cleveland won 9-4 yetserday and Minny won 10-6, so both teams come off wins, Sowers has continued to struggle on the road as he has given up 18 runs in less than 15 innings and he is on the road yet again. Blackburn has had 4 of 5 quality starts and he has dominated Cleveland all 3 times this year, In fact, he helped beat Cleveland twice on the road and once at home, he has given up 3 runs in less than 21 innings, so in short, I don't think the Twins RL is not all that of a bad play as typically I don't like RL, but it might seem to fit the mold here given the better pitcher and Sowers struggling on the road. Heck, the Indians would get rid of him but the season is already done for so they are hoping he pitches out of the funk he is in.

White Sox vs. KC

Vasquez is on a bounce-back today after having a 7.71 era in his last start, and he had a 9.54 era in his last start against KC on the road, so he is on a bounce-back and has some revenge here, Hochevar had a 6.36 era against the Sox on the road and he is on a bounce-back of sorts as well, I wouldn't be surprise if this game dips under with both of them showing up, but I just don't get this overly excited feeling about the game, if anything I am leaning towards the Angels and the Twins rl currently.

Baltimore vs. Seattle

Olson hasn't put together a bounce-back start in quite some time as he rarely pitches a quality start, nevertheless, a bounce-back. He is 3-4 with a 6.81 era on the road while Washburn is 6 of 7 in quality starts and even that 1 start that wasn't necessarily quality was borderline at a 4.50, the cutoff for me for quality, the Orioles have though beaten him both games he was a part of in pitching against him this year, still a relatively cheap price on Washburn and in fact, it is a bit too cheap to be good, reminds me too much of the KC vs. Oakland game in which Oakland looked great for all the reasons above, but lost by 1 run in extras.

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