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MLB News and Notes August 16

MLB News and Notes August 16

MLB weekend cheat sheet

The pennant race is on and like the summer weather it’s heating up.

Other than the American League West, the other five divisions in MLB find the first and second place teams separated by no more than four games as we head in to action this weekend.

Let’s check in on four key matchups on this weekend’s card in this edition of the MLB Weekend Cheat Sheet. Remember, pitcher records are ‘team start’ results and team matchup records are those from within each series.

Enjoy the games.


Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox

Most Recent Series Result: Blue Jays 8-2 last 10 games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Red Sox 4-2 last 6 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Red Sox 10-0 home Sundays; Blue Jays 0-3 Sundays

Best Arm in the Series: Burnett 5-0 1.98 ERA career; Marcum 4-0 2.88 ERA career

Worst Arm in the Series: Beckett 2-6 5.45 ERA last 8 starts

Tampa Bay Rays at Texas Rangers

Most Recent Series Result: Rays 5-3 last 8 games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Rangers 13-9 last 19 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Rangers 7-1 on Sundays

Best Arm in the Series: Kazmir 6-0 1.95 ERA career; Shields 3-0 4.29 ERA career

Worst Arm in the Series: Padilla 1-3 7.49 ERA career


Chicago Cubs at Florida Marlins

Most Recent Series Result: Marlins 12-2 last 14 games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Marlins 6-0 last 6 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Cubs 14-5 Sundays

Best Arm in the Series: Zambrano 6-0 2.51 ERA last 6 starts

Worst Arm in the Series: Lilly 0-3 5.19 ERA here career

Milwaukee Brewers at Los Angeles Dodgers

Most Recent Series Result: Dodgers 13-7 last 20 games

Most Recent Series Result at the Site: Dodgers 15-5 last 20 here

Key Day/Month Stat: Brewers 7-1 Saturdays

Best Arm in the Series: Penny 5-0 4.12 home career; Suppan 6-1 3.00 last 7 starts

Worst Arm in the Series: Sheets 1-3 4.81 here career

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Saturday's streaking starting pitchers


Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs (13-5, 2.92)

The Cubs have created some separation atop the NL standings, partially due to Dempster’s sensational campaign. He is 2-1 and has a 2.41 ERA in his last three starts and is 2-1 in his last four outside the Windy City.

Dempster is fresh off a victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in which he registered six strikeouts and surrendered just two earned runs. He is also 1-1 and has a 2.40 ERA in 11 career starts against the Florida Marlins.

The Cubs are 7-1 in Dempster’s last eight starts with five days of rest and are 17-8 in his last 25 overall.


Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers (8-13, 4.77)

Verlander has lost four straight and has relinquished 24 earned runs in that stretch. He also has a shaky 8.66 ERA and 1.47 WHIP in his last three starts.

Verlander is 1-2 in his last three home starts and is 5-6 overall at Comerica Park. He has also conceded three HRs in his last four home starts.

Detroit is 1-5 in Verlander’s last six Saturday starts and is 1-6 in its last seven against the AL East.

Aaron Harang, Cincinnati Reds (3-12, 5.17)

Harang has just one win in his last 10 and is 0-2 in his last three with a 9.98 ERA. He has also relinquished 14 earned runs and five HRs in his last eight IP.

Harang is winless in his last three home starts and is 0-1 in one start this campaign against the St. Louis Cardinals. He is 5-7 with a 4.47 career-ERA against the Cardinals.

The Reds are 1-5 in Harang’s last six starts versus the NL Central and are 1-4 in their last five against the Cardinals.

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Re: MLB News and Notes August 16

Baseball Today

Kansas City at New York Yankees (1:05 p.m. EDT). Zack Greinke (9-8, 4.09 ERA) and the Royals try to finally find some success at the big ballpark in the Bronx when they take on Sidney Ponson (7-3, 4.27) and the slumping Yankees.


- Matt Garza, Rays, gave up two hits in his second career shutout, striking out nine in a 7-0 win over the Rangers.

- Francisco Liriano, Twins, gave up two hits and two walks in seven innings, striking out five in a 9-3 rout of the Mariners. The two runs he allowed were unearned.

- Cliff Lee, Indians, improved to 17-2 by giving up two runs and eight hits in a complete-game, 3-2 victory over the Angels.

- Daryle Ward, Cubs, hit a pinch three-run homer in the ninth inning to give Chicago a 6-5 victory over the Marlins.

- Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks, gave up four hits and two runs in eight innings with six strikeouts in a 12-2 win over the Astros.

- Randy Winn, Giants, went 4-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs in a 5-1 win over the Braves.

- Melvin Mora, Orioles, finished a double shy of the cycle, driving in four runs in an 11-2 victory over the Tigers.

- Mike Pelfrey, Mets, pitched seven shutout innings in a 2-1 win over the Pirates.


Several of the top picks in baseball's amateur draft agreed to contracts in the hours before the midnight deadline, including No. 2 selection Pedro Alvarez and the Pirates. Also agreeing were No. 4 pick Brian Matusz and the Orioles, No. 5 pick Buster Posey and the Giants and No. 7 pick Yonder Alonso and the Reds.


Cliff Lee became the AL's first 17-game winner by pitching his third complete game, a 3-2 victory over the Angels. Lee (17-2) struck out six and moved closer to becoming Cleveland's first 20-game winner since Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry did it in 1974. He also has a shot at giving Cleveland its second straight Cy Young Award winner after CC Sabathia.


Matt Garza didn't allow a hit against the slumping Rangers until a debatable call with two outs in the sixth inning, then finished with a two-hitter as the AL East-leading Rays won 7-0. Both of Garza's shutouts have come in his past four starts, but the franchise still doesn't have a no-hitter in its record book.


Mariano Rivera's first wild pitch of the season - and second in six years - allowed the tiebreaking run to score in the ninth inning, giving the Royals a 4-3 win over the Yankees. Esteban German doubled with one out in the top of the ninth and moved to third on Mitch Maier's infield single. With Mike Aviles up, Rivera bounced a pitch that skipped off catcher Jose Molina and far enough behind the plate for German to scurry home without a play. ``It was a sinker. I was trying to get a groundball. It just happened,'' Rivera said.


Daryle Ward connected off Marlins closer Kevin Gregg for a pinch-hit, three-run homer in the ninth inning that gave the Cubs a 6-5 victory and their ninth straight road win. The Cubs are finding success wherever they go, unbeaten on the road since a 9-2 loss at Arizona on July 22.


Pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki hit a game-winning two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Oakland Athletics rallied to beat the Chicago White Sox 6-4. Pinch-hitter Emil Brown doubled off Horacio Ramirez (1-2) leading off the ninth and pinch-runner Cliff Pennington was sacrificed to third. Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen replaced Ramirez with reliever D.J. Carrasco, who worked a full count on Suzuki before Oakland's catcher hit his sixth home run of the season over the left-field wall. Suzuki's second career walkoff home run and second pinch-hit homer this year gave the Athletics just their fourth win in the past 21 games.


Melvin Mora finished a double shy of the cycle, driving in four runs to pace Baltimore to an 11-2 victory over Detroit. Since the All-Star break, when he had a cortisone shot in his sore shoulder, Mora is hitting .404 (44-for-109) with seven home runs and 37 RBIs in 26 games.


Francisco Liriano allowed no earned runs in seven solid innings in the Twins' 9-3 rout of Seattle, helping Minnesota win for the sixth time in eight games. Liriano won his third straight start since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester.


Carlos Quentin hit his 33rd home run for Chicago to tie Philadelphia's Ryan Howard for the major league lead. Meanwhile, Quentin's streak of being hit by a pitch ended at six games. Quentin became the only player since 1920 to get hit by a pitch in that many consecutive contests, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The White Sox lost 6-4 to the Athletics.


Brandon Webb struck out six in eight sharp innings, helping Arizona snap the Astros' eight-game winning streak with a 12-2 victory. Webb (18-4) won his seventh straight decision and fifth straight start against Houston. He was efficient, too, throwing 59 of 84 pitches for strikes.


``I've been a catcher, a broadcaster, a coach, a manager - I can't remember him throwing a wild pitch. You never see it.'' New York manager Joe Girardi after Mariano Rivera threw a wild pitch in the ninth inning that allowed the tiebreaking run to score in Kansas City's 4-3 win.

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MLB Weekend Preview

The Cubs continue to hold off the Brewers in the NL Central, but they'll be in tough this weekend when they take on the Marlins in Florida. The Brewers also get a difficult weekend matchup, as they'll be in Los Angeles to face the Dodgers.

The Brewers reeled off eight straight wins last week, but they still trail the Cubs in the Central. That's because the Cubs won six of seven contests at the same time. The Brewers will send Manny Parra, Dave Bush, and Jeff Suppan against the Dodgers this weekend, while Los Angeles will counter with Chad Billingsley, Derek Lowe, and Clayton Kershaw.

On tap this weekend for the Cubs against Florida are Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, and Sean Marshall. Scheduled to pitch for Florida are Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, and Chris Volstad.

The Marlins and Dodgers will also be scoreboard-watching all weekend, as they remain in the playoff hint in their divisions. Florida entered the weekend behind both the Phillies and the Mets in the NL East, while the Dodgers were a half-game behind Arizona in the NL West heading into action late on Thursday night. On tap for the Phillies this weekend are three games in San Diego, while the Mets travel to Pittsburgh. The Diamondbacks and newly-acquired slugger Adam Dunn will head to Houston.

In the AL this weekend the race for first place in the East is slowly becoming a two-team battle between Tampa Bay and Boston. The Rays were ravaged by injuries last week, losing both Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria, and they'll need all the runs they can get this weekend versus the heavy-hitting Rangers. The Red Sox welcome the Blue Jays to Fenway Park this weekend, where Paul Byrd will make his Boston debut on Friday night.

The race for the AL Central division is even tighter, as the Twins and White Sox have flip-flopped between first and second place all week. Minnesota could be getting a gift at just the right time this weekend with three games against the AL-worst Mariners, while Chicago heads to Oakland to take on the Athletics.

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Re: MLB News and Notes August 16 Saturday MLB Picks

Kansas City Royals (55-67) at New York Yankees (64-58)

The once-proud and once-mighty New York Yankees are searching for answers.

As they fall further and further behind in the playoff chase, the Yankees look to bounce back from another difficult loss as they continue a three-game home series against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday.

New York (64-58) is in jeopardy of having its string of 13 straight appearances in the playoffs come to an end. The Yankees have lost eight of 11 games to fall 10 1/2 games behind first-place Tampa Bay in the AL East race and seven games behind Boston, the wild-card leader.

Sidney Ponson (7-3, 4.27 ERA) will make his ninth start of the year with New York. Ponson, who began the season with Texas, is 3-2 with a 4.72 ERA with the Yankees.

He allowed four runs over 7 2-3 innings in a 4-0 loss at Minnesota on Monday.

Ponson is 4-1 with a 3.18 ERA over his last six starts against the Royals. He beat them on May 1 when he was pitching for Texas by allowing one run over eight innings in a 2-1 victory in which he outpitched Zack Greinke, who suffered his first loss after a 3-0 start.

Pick: Kansas City

Chicago White Sox (68-53) at Oakland A’s (56-65)

The Chicago White Sox's continued struggles in Oakland cost them sole possession of first place in the AL Central.

Now they hope John Danks, who has pitched well on the road and has two solid starts this season against the Athletics, can help them bounce back Saturday when they continue the three-game series.

Chicago (68-53) fell to 6-28 against Oakland on the road since 2001 after losing 6-4 to the Athletics (56-65) on Friday. A.J. Pierzynski and Carlos Quentin homered in the first inning to give Chicago a 3-0 lead, but Oakland scored twice in the sixth and eighth innings and won on pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki's walk-off, two-run homer.

Greg Smith (5-11, 3.92) counters for Oakland, looking to win his first start since June 30 against the Angels, going 0-5 with a 5.17 ERA in the seven starts since.

He pitched 4 2-3 innings against Detroit on Sunday, allowing one run and three hits in a 6-1 loss. Smith walked seven and was pulled after throwing 95 pitches.

Pick: Chicago White Sox

Tampa Bay Rays (74-47) at Texas Rangers (61-62)

With Carl Crawford potentially out for the season and AL Rookie of the Year candidate Evan Longoria also on the disabled list, it seemed the Tampa Bay Rays' underwhelming offense might finally catch up with them.

Instead, the Rays are scoring more often.

Tampa Bay will look for its fourth win in a row and seventh in eight games on Saturday as it continues its road trip in Arlington against the slumping Texas Rangers.

Since they pulled a season-high six games over .500 on Aug. 5, the Rangers' pitching has reached a new low. They've lost eight of nine and have allowed 69 runs in their last seven games.

Not only is Texas having trouble getting outs, but it's also having problems scoring runs - something that's not normally an issue for the best offense in baseball. The Rangers have recorded eight hits - all singles - in getting shut out in their last two games.

Pick: Tampa Bay

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Milwaukee (70-53) at L.A. Dodgers (63-59)

Two teams looking to enhance their playoff chances clash in the middle game of a weekend series at Dodger Stadium, with Los Angeles set to give the ball to Derek Lowe (9-10, 4.11 ERA) opposite the Brewers’ Dave Bush (7-9, 4.35).

Los Angeles ran its winning streak to five in a row with Friday’s 5-3 victory. The Dodgers are on surges of 7-2 overall, 12-3 at home (7-0 in their last seven) and 4-0 when Lowe hurls on Saturday. Also, L.A. is 42-20 in the last 62 meetings with Milwaukee (4-1 this year), including 21-8 against the Brew Crew in the past 29 battles at Dodger Stadium (11-3 in the last 14).

The Brewers have dropped two in a row following an eight-game winning streak. Despite that, they’re still on runs of 6-2 against the N.L. West, 20-9 on the highway and 4-0 on Saturdays.

Lowe bounced back from his worst outing of the season (eight runs, 13 hits allowed in 3 1/3 innings in St. Louis) with a quality effort against the Phillies on Monday, giving up three runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings, winning 8-6. The Dodgers are 5-2 in Lowe’s last seven trips to the hill, including 3-1 at home, where the veteran right-hander is only 7-5 despite a solid 2.83 ERA.

Bush has been dynamite in his last two starts, giving up one run on three hits over seven innings of an 8-1 win in Cincinnati on Aug. 5, then yielding a run on five hits in 6 1/3 innings en route to Monday’s 7-1 rout of Washington at home. Milwaukee is 7-2 in Bush’s last nine outings, with the right-hander giving up only one run in six of those outings. However, despite the performance in Cincinnati 11 days ago, Bush has struggled in a big way on the road, going 2-6 with a 6.19 ERA in 10 appearances (nine starts). Also, the Brewers are 8-22 in his last 30 starts as a visitor.

Lowe is 2-1 with a 3.82 ERA in seven lifetime appearances (five starts) versus the Brewers, including a no-decision on May 18 in Milwaukee, where he allowed four runs on six hits in six innings as L.A. prevailed, 6-4. Meanwhile, Bush faced the Dodgers twice back in 2006, going 1-1 with a 4.72 ERA, losing a 10-2 decision in the one start in Los Angeles.

The under is 8-3-2 in the Brewers’ last 13 games overall, 11-2-1 in their last 14 road tilts and 5-2-1 in Bush’s eight road efforts. For Los Angeles, the under is on streaks of 9-5-1 overall, 19-9-1 at Dodger Stadium, 4-0 on Saturdays, 16-7 against the N.L. Central and 5-1 when Lowe pitches at home.


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