MLB News and Notes August 14

MLB News and Notes August 14

Rangers still in the hunt
By Joe Nelson

Although the American League West appears to be all but wrapped up with the Los Angeles Angels continuing to deliver outstanding results, however it is still too early to count the Texas Rangers out of the Wild Card chase. Texas is 15 games out of the division lead but just eight games out of Wild Card position and a favorable schedule will close out the season.

Colorado rode a great offense and timely pitching to the playoffs last season with an incredible run in September and Texas has the offensive power to get on a great roll late in the year. The pitching has been and continues to be what is holding the Rangers back but none of the other contenders in the AL appear ready to take a hold of the Wild Card spot as every team has serious flaws and much tougher schedules await the other teams in Wild Card contention.

The Rangers are greatly aided by the high scoring home ballpark but Texas is hitting .282 on the season while averaging 5.7 runs per game. Texas is also one of the top teams in the AL in taking walks so the Rangers get a lot of extra opportunities. The production is not coming just at home as the Rangers own the fourth best team average in baseball on the road while still averaging 5.3 runs scored per game, more than most teams score at home.
   
The pitching numbers are very poor for the Rangers both home and away but the home ballpark is a huge factor. All batters are hitting .293 in Arlington and there is average of over 12 runs per game being scored. Texas is generally able to outscore opponents at home with its great offense and Texas is actually 30-33 in road games this season, which is the second highest number of road wins in the entire AL.

The upcoming schedule for the Rangers should provide the opportunity to pick up games on the other AL Wild Card contenders. Texas will play 24 of the remaining 42 games at home and 24 of the remaining games are against losing teams that have no hope of making the playoffs. Texas must play the Angels ten times still this season but the Rangers have gone 4-5 against Los Angeles so far this season the Angels will have little to play for down the stretch. Since they are in the same division and are familiar with each other facing the Angels is not as daunting for the Rangers as it would be for most other teams.

After finishing up this week’s series in Boston, Texas will not play any other winning teams on the road other than the Angels for the rest of the season. The Rangers host series with Tampa Bay and Boston so there will also be opportunities to directly gain ground in the standings but Detroit, Cleveland, Seattle, Kansas City, and Oakland will make up most of the remaining games.

Boston is the current wild card leader and the Red Sox are a force to be reckoned with given their recent history of success. If Tampa Bay holds course in the AL East which is questionable, Boston would be the team in the best shape to earn the Wild Card. Boston faces a very tough schedule however. 32 of the remaining 42 games for the Red Sox are against winning teams and although Boston will be at home for slightly more of those games it will be a tough finish and the pitching staff could be worn out. Toronto will hold the key for the Red Sox as those teams face off twelve times in the final six weeks and facing the strong Blue Jay pitching staff is not an ideal way to close the year.

Minnesota and Chicago have been going back-and-forth in the AL Central standings but it does not appear that either team will be strong enough to contend for a Wild Card berth given the schedules ahead. Minnesota is about to embark on an insane road stretch, playing 24 of 30 games away from home featuring travel to both coasts and Chicago closes the year with ten of the last 13 games on the road. The White Sox also have Boston, Tampa Bay, New York, and Los Angeles left on the schedule. Either the Twins or the White Sox will likely make the playoffs via the division title but the Wild Card is more likely to come elsewhere.

A lot of people still believe the Yankees have a late season run in them to get into the division or the Wild Card picture but time is running out. The Yankees have 29 games remaining against winning teams and close the year with 16 of the last 26 games on the road. The Yankees will also face a brutal travel stretch to start September going to Detroit, Tampa, Seattle, and Los Angeles in an eight-day span. With a thin pitching rotation and an offense that has little spark New York will have a tough time getting through this closing schedule, let alone making up ground on several quality teams.

The Rays have suffered key injuries in the last few days and the closing schedule for Tampa Bay is also problematic. This could leave a window of opportunity open for the Rangers if Boston or Tampa Bay fall apart and New York, Chicago, and Minnesota keep playing at a mediocre pace. The Rays play 17 of the last 25 games on the road where they have struggled and September starts with 19 straight games against winning teams in this playoff chase.

The Blue Jays are another team that could be presented with a similar opportunity to the Rangers as Toronto will play most of the remaining games against the teams involved in this playoff picture. Toronto will have to win against a much tougher schedule than the Rangers face but if they get on a roll they will make up ground quickly.

Texas is still a long shot sitting eight games out of the playoff picture with Tampa Bay and Boston looking like legitimate contenders but if one of those teams runs into problems the door could open for a Texas offense that can put up huge numbers. Texas has a lot of ground to make up but the Rangers have a schedule that can provide them with a great opportunity.

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Chan's Money Arms: Week of August 11th
By DAVID CHAN

This column has produced a 23-8 record over the past seven weeks, proving that a little homework can go a long way when it comes to building baseball bankrolls.

Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays, Thursday at Detroit

Roy Halladay was extremely disappointed in himself after his last start, a 4-2 loss Saturday against Cleveland. That should be ample motivation for him to right the ship Thursday afternoon in Detroit. The Tigers have been one of his favorite teams to face. He is 11-2 with a 1.93 ERA in 15 career games against them. Halladay continues to pitch well on the road, winning three of his last four starts. As poorly as the Jays have performed this season, they’ve still managed to record wins in five of Halladay’s last eight starts overall. I’m hoping that we can get them at an underdog price on Thursday.

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Thursday's Tip Sheet
By Brian Edwards

It’s get-away day in the majors Thursday with six games slated in the afternoon. Seven games will go down under the lights. Let’s take a look at the highlights before exploring a few Bonus Nuggets.

**Cubs at Braves**

--Most books are listing Chicago (73-47, +1,451) as a minus 130 favorite with a total of 9 ½ flat (minus 110 either way). Bettors can take the Cubs on the run line (minus 1 ½ runs) for a plus 130 return.

--Atlanta (55-65, -1,776) continues its fade into mediocrity. After 14 consecutive division titles, the Braves are prepping for their third straight absence from the playoffs. They took a pair of pimpslaps (10-2, 8-0) from the Cubs in Wednesday’s doubleheader at Turner Field.

--Tom Glavine (2-3, 4.85 ERA) returns to the mound for the first time since June 10. The veteran southpaw is expected to throw at least 74 pitches, which was his pitch count in a rehab start Saturday at Double-A Mississippi. Glavine is 15-14 with a 3.72 career ERA against the Cubs.

--Lou Piniella’s team is in first place in the National League Central with a 3 ½-game lead over Milwaukee. Sweet Lou will give the starting nod to Ted Lilly (11-6, 4.26) in this spot. The lefty is 2-2 with a 5.70 ERA in six lifetime starts against the Braves.

--The Braves are 16-22 against left-handed pitching, while the Cubs have feasted on southpaws at a 23-11 rate.

--The ‘under’ is 67-53 overall for the Braves, but they have seen the ‘over’ hit at an 18-8 clip in their last 26 games.

--The ‘over’ is on a 15-6 run in the Cubs’ last 21 games.

**Rangers at Red Sox**

--Most spots have installed Boston (70-51, +844) as a minus 280 ‘chalk’ with a total of 11 ‘under’ (minus 120). Bettors can go the run-line route with the Red Sox at a minus 140 price (risk $140 to win $100).

--Texas (61-60, +1,321) has lost back-to-back games at Fenway Park to fall nine games behind Boston in the AL wild-card race. The Red Sox maintained a 2 ½-game wild-card advantage over the Twins by virtue of last night’s 8-4 triumph.

--Terry Francona’s club owns a dominant 42-16 home record. Meanwhile, the Rangers have a 30-34 road mark.

--Texas All-Star OF Josh Hamilton is “questionable” after leaving Beantown to fly back to the Lone Star State last night, when his wife went into labor.

--The ‘over’ is 70-48 overall for the Rangers, 36-25 in their road games.

--Totals have been a wash for the Red Sox with a ‘over/under’ mark of 57-57 overall and 28-28 at home.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--The ‘over’ is an MLB-best 72-49 for the Marlins, but they have watched the ‘under’ go 8-4 in their last 12 games.

--The ‘under’ is an MLB-best 70-42 for the A’s.

--The 'under' is on a 7-1 run for the Pirates.

--Milwaukee has won eight in a row to take a four-game lead over St. Louis in the NL wild-card hunt. C.C. Sabathia got another win last night,  improving to 7-0 with a 1.55 ERA in eight starts since joining the Brewers in July.

--A-Rod gets paid more than the entire Florida Marlins roster. The Fish are two games back in the NL East, while the Yankees are nine behind the Rays in the AL East. What's wrong with that picture? Nothing, I love it!

--Zip those lips, Boss Jr. There's no crying in baseball.

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Baseball replay could be in place by end of August
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON (AP) -Major League Baseball is working out technical issues to start instant replay for boundary calls such as home runs, hoping to institute the system later this year.

''We've got lots of time in August,'' Bob DuPuy, the sport's chief operating officer, said Wednesday as a two-day owners' meeting began. ''There's plenty of August still to go.''

Replay was among the topics discussed but doesn't require a vote because it is not a rule change.

''There's not any opposition to it that I've heard,'' DuPuy said.

Commissioner Bud Selig, once a staunch opponent, appears to be more comfortable with the use of replay. Agreements are needed with the players' association and umpires' union.

''We don't need a lot of lead-up,'' DuPuy said. ''What we need is stuff installed, and what we need is people to make sure it's going to work, and what we need is for the umpires to understand the protocol. What we need is to make sure that everyone who's participating understands it.''

A rash of missed boundary calls - fair or foul, over the fence or not - prompted the Selig to alter his opposition. Replays would not be used to review close plays on the bases or balls and strikes.

Also Tuesday, the owners' executive council approved Bill Neukom as the incoming controlling owner of the San Francisco Giants and also approved participation in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Both are expected to be approved by the full ownership Thursday.

Neukom will take over from Peter Magowan following the season.

The owners also discussed the problem of blackouts in cities that are considered part of a major league team's market, even though fans in the city are not able to watch that team regularly on television. DuPuy said he wanted to collect more data and that the issue will not come to a vote until the next owners' meeting in November.

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Baseball Today

Milwaukee at San Diego (3:35 p.m. EDT). Ben Sheets (11-5, 2.95 ERA) takes the mound hoping to extend the Brewers' lead in the wild card race. He'll face Jake Peavy (8-8, 2.68), who has not allowed more than four runs in any of his 20 starts this season.

STARS

- C.C. Sabathia, Brewers, struck out eight in his 10th straight win during a 7-1 win over the Padres.

- Delmon Young, Twins, homered and drove in three runs in a 4-2 win over the Yankees.

- After striking out four times, Wladimir Balentien, Mariners, hit a three-run homer in the 12th inning in a 10-7 win over the Angels.

- Nomar Garciaparra, Dodgers, hit a walk-off homer in the ninth inning of a 7-6 win over the Phillies.

- Mark Buehrle, White Sox, scattered five hits over seven innings, striking out five to improve to 18-8 lifetime against the Royals after a 4-0 victory.

- Troy Glaus, Cardinals, was 4-for-4 with a double and RBI in a 6-4 win over the Marlins.

- Dan Murphy, Mets, kept up his rookie roll by going 3-for-6 with a home run and three RBIs in a 12-0 rout of the Nationals.

- Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles, gave up a run and four hits over seven innings in a 65-1 victory over the Indians.

- Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox, had three doubles and drove in two runs in an 8-4 win over the Rangers. Youkilis also scored three times.

ROAD WARRIORS

The Cubs couldn't have picked a much better opponent than Atlanta to keep up their recent dominance on the road. Already having swept the Braves this season, Chicago made it five straight with a doubleheader sweep by scores of 10-2 and 8-0. Chicago (73-47) improved to 26 games over .500 for the first time since ending the 1984 season 96-55, and the two wins pushed their road streak to seven straight, their longest since June 12-22, 2004.

GIFT WRAPPED


Giants starter Barry Zito and reliever Billy Sadler matched a major league record by hitting three Houston batters in the sixth inning, along with issuing four walks. The Astros wound up with all of their runs off two hit batters, two walks and two sacrifice flies in a 6-2 victory.

STREAKING

Jeremy Guthrie went seven innings to win his fourth straight start in the Orioles' 6-1 victory over Cleveland. ... The Blue Jays won their third straight by handing Kenny Rogers a loss in his fourth straight start with a 4-3 victory over Detroit. ... Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts went 0-for-5 against Cleveland to stop his hitting streak at 14 games. ... Washington's 12-0 loss to the New York Mets was its six straight. ... Cincinnati has lost 15 of 18 after falling 5-2 to the Pirates.

WALKATHON

Much has been made of the Mets' pitching problems, but they got some welcome relief thanks to the erratic Nationals staff. Washington walked 11 Mets batters in a 12-0 loss. New York sent 13 batters to the plate in the third inning and scored eight runs on just four hits off Washington starter Jason Bergmann (2-9), who walked five in a 51-pitch inning.

MAHOLM COOKING

Paul Maholm (8-7) improved to 6-1 with a 3.06 ERA at PNC Park this season. He threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of the 28 batters he faced in a 5-2 win over Cincinnati. Maholm went eight innings without a walk, allowing seven hits with five strikeouts. The 25-year-old, a No. 8 overall draft pick by the Pirates in 2003, has developed into the team's most reliable starter. He has a 2.81 ERA in his last 14 starts and has pitched at least six innings in his past 18 outings.

EASY TARGET

White Sox slugger Carlos Quentin might not be eager to get back into the lineup after sitting out his second straight game since being hit on his left forearm Monday night by Boston's Josh Beckett. The AL's home run leader has been hit by a pitch in five straight games - the first player since 1920 with that long of a streak, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He has been hit 19 times overall - most in the majors.

RALLYING RANGERS

For the second straight game, Boston jumped out to a big lead, only to be reeled back in by Texas. A day after the teams matched the highest-scoring game in AL history, the Red Sox jumped to an 8-0 lead. But Milton Bradley's three-run homer made it 8-4, then the Rangers put their first two batters on base in the ninth before Ian Kinsler - leading the majors in hits - grounded into a double play.

SPEAKING

``It was a good night for the manager. We needed to have an offensive night like this. That is huge for us.'' - New York manager Jerry Manuel after the Mets' 12-0 win over Washington.

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Thursday's streaking starting pitchers
COVERS.com

Streaking

Ben Sheets, Milwaukee Brewers,


The right-hander is second in the NL in ERA, fifth in strikeouts per nine innings (8.81) and sixth in opponent batting average (.231). However, Peavy has lost his first two starts in August, including a 6-3 defeat against Colorado on Friday in which he gave up three runs in six innings. He struck out three batters while walking a season-high five.

Peavy is 2-2 with a 2.90 ERA in seven career starts against the Brewers, who also have to like their chances behind Sheets (11-5, 2.95).


Slumping

Sean Gallagher, Oakland A’s, (4-5, 4.39 ERA)


Gallagher started the season in the bullpen with the Cubs before Chicago moved him into the starting rotation. The A’s might be wishing they’d left him there after watching the right-hander struggle mightily since moving to the Bay Area.

Oakland is 1-4 in Gallagher’s five starts there and the 22-year-old has provided just one win for his clubs over his past 10 outings.

Tommy Hunter, Texas Rangers, (0-1, 10.61 ERA)

Hunter doesn't seem like the best candidate to reverse the Rangers' struggles after six losses in their last seven games.

The right-hander makes his third major league start Thursday after struggling in the first two.In home outings against Toronto and the New York Yankees this month, Hunter has allowed 11 runs and 16 hits in 9 1-3 innings, with opponents hitting .348 against him.

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Thursday's MLB Research
By Indiancowboy

Toronto vs. Detroit

Litsch goes against Gallaraga today and note that the Bluejays won yesterday 4-3 over Kenny Rogers, Litsch has been terrible of late with ERAS of 10.13, 10.15 and a 11.59 and the Bluejays have lost 6 of their last 7 starts, his team has been outscored 8-24 in the last 3 ballgames he has pitched in, Gallaraga is 3-0 in his last 4 starts and went a little over 5inns and gave up 0 hits when he faced the Bluejays earlier this year on the road and got it done, having said this, sure, it looks great for the Tigers with the better pitcher and on the bounce-back today, but at some point one would think Litsch needs to come through here or his spot on the rotation is in danger even more, plus, I try not taking run-lines, so no thanks.

KC vs. Whitesox

This is the 2nd of the afternoon game today as didn't get a chance to write about yesterday's afternoon game so I'm getting out this research a bit earlier today, the Royals were beat 0-4 yesterday on the road and they look to bounce-back today against the division leading sox, Davies had actually won back to back starts and in his last one he gave up 11+ era though to stop that streak, he is showing some life this season as he is 2-0 on the road this year and 5-3 overall, the last 2 games he pitched against the whtiesox this year, one in which he lost 7-8, the most recent he won 9-7. Broadway is the new gun going for the Whitesox today, line is not out in some books, but either way, I lean slightly on the royals given they are on the bounce-back as is Davies and the new kid will have some nerves likely as the Royals face him the second time through the lineup.

Tampa Bay vs. Oakland

I made a mention that this game is likely to go under yesterday in the comp selection and it did although it wasn't an official pick but was my alternate for the pod, again, 63% of the public backs TB on the road here and another total sits at 7.5, Shields has not pitched back to back overs in over 7 games, he is usually an under pitcher and my fantasy pitcher at that, he had a 5.87 and 3.24 era the last 2 times he faced Oakland and he had won both games and he beat Oakland twice last year too, so he is 4-0 against Oakland the last 2 years, note, he is 3-6 with a 5.74 era of road starts of late, Gallagher had a brutal 12 era start in his last go, but he didn't yield a run to TB the last time he faced them in 6 inns of ball, given yesterday's loss as well, this is a game that Oakland can take imo and is a solid dog today.

Baltimore vs. Cleveland

Baltimore got it done yesterday and I'm glad for it as that was my only as Guthrie comes through once again and avenges previous losses to the Indians, now the Indians are looking to bounce-back here only scoring 1 run yesterday, Cabrera had a great start last go around with a 0 era but he struggles in back to back quality starts, he hasn't faced the Indians this year, young Zach Johnson is on the mound, if anything a lean on the over and the Indians here as the once Brewer pitches here. I might take a shot on the over here as the Orioles can hit the best of them and Zach has had some trouble in past.

Texas vs. Boston

Texas is on the road at Boston again today, note that Boston beat them 8-4 yesterday as another game goes over for Texas, they start Hunter today, who had a 10.8 and a 10.9 era in his last 2 starts at home this year, and now hits the road against Boston as it doesn't get any easier, Dice K is back on track but did have a 5 ERA against Texas earlier this year, still won though and is 13-2 overall this year, simply awesome, but, to make it worthwhile one has to take Boston RL here which I hate doing considering Texas has now lost back to back games and likely will show up here, if anything a lean on the over, I wouldn't be overly surprised to see Texas win this, probably just staying away from the new kid though.

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