MLB News and Notes August 17

MLB News and Notes August 17

Sunday Night Baseball
By ASA

The ESPN game of the week on Sunday, August 17 features the Philadelphia Phillies visiting the San Diego Padres. The Phillies are in a heated battle at the top of the NL East standings with the Mets and the Marlins and can’t afford to take a game off as it may cost them in the standings; whereas San Diego has had a disappointing season so far and are now playing the spoiler role for the remainder of the season.

The Phillies will send their “ace” Cole Hamels to the mound in search for his 10th win of the season. Hamels hasn’t had the success he may have hoped for coming into this season record wise but he’s pitched well and always gives the Phillies a good chance to win the game. He is leading the NL in innings pitched (173), ranks 2nd in WHIP (1.07), and fourth in strikeouts (154). The good news for the Phillies and Hamels here is that the Padres don’t hit southpaws very well and are just 8-25 vs. lefties this summer.

The Phillies also have one of, if not, the best hitting lineups in the National League ranking 4th in the NL in runs scored, first in home runs with 165, sixth in on-base-percentage at .332 and third in slugging at .437. Leading the way for the Phillies is Ryan Howard who leads the N.L. in homeruns with 33 and RBI’s with 103. It doesn’t help the Padres any or San Diego’s starting pitcher Cha Seung Baek who is a right-handed pitcher going against the lefty dominated lineup of the Phillies.

Baek is 4-7 with a 5.20 ERA this season. He was acquired from the Mariners in late May where he was mainly used in relief but the Padres have used him as a starter since being acquired. Baek is 0-6 when he pitches at home this summer with a dreadful 7.06 ERA. Baek hasn’t enjoyed the ‘home cooking’ in California as teams are batting a combined .308 against him at home.

Both of these squads have been less than impressive as of late as San Diego is 3-8 at home in their last 11 contests. Philly hasn’t faired much better with a 3-7 record in their last 10 games (including 0-4 away). Philly hasn’t given Hamels much run support lately which has cost them two potential wins. Hamels allowed only four earned runs in his last two starts and Philly is 0-2 in those two games.

With all that, Philly still has to like its chances when they send Hamels to the mound on Sunday, especially against the struggling lineup of San Diego. The Padres rank 28th in the league in runs scored and RBI’s, and are 27th in team batting average.

If you are channel surfing and have watched enough of the Olympics for the day and aren’t interested in the third and fourth string NFL players then you can tune to ESPN for this game between the Padres and Phillies. Unfortunately, on paper it doesn’t look like it will be much of a game unless the Padres find their sticks and the Phillies decided to take the night off. Enjoy the game.

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Re: MLB News and Notes August 17

Sunday's streaking and slumping starters
By JUSTIN BANKS

Streaking

Mike Mussina, New York Yankees (15-7, 3.30)


It’s easy to overlook Mussina but his numbers are tough to ignore. He is leading his club in wins (15) and ERA (3.30) and is 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA in his last three starts.

Mussina has just three losses in his last 10 and is 4-1 in his last four at home. He is 2-0 and has a solid 2.29 ERA in his last three against the Kansas City Royals.

The Bronx Bombers are 6-1 in Mussina’s last seven contests against the AL Central and are 25-5 in their last 30 home meetings with the Royals.


Jeff Suppan, Milwaukee Brewers (8-7, 4.56)

Suppan, who had just two wins in his first 10, is 3-0 with a solid 2.05 ERA in his last three overall.

In his last road start, a victory over the San Diego Padres, Suppan relinquished two earned runs in eight IP. He is also 3-0 in his last three road starts and has not surrendered more than three ERs in each of his last four starts outside Miller Park.

The Brew Crew is 9-3 in Suppan’s last 12 starts with four days of rest and is 5-0 in his last five outside Miller Park.


Slumping

Kyle Lohse, St. Louis Cardinals (13-5, 3.92)


Lohse, who leads the team in wins (15), has struggled recently. In his last three, he is 1-2 and has a shaky 5.94 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.

Lohse is 1-2 in his last four road starts, including a recent loss to the lowly Florida Marlins in which he relinquished four earned runs in four IP. He has a 6.00 career-ERA against the Cincinnati Reds.

The Cardinals are 2-6 in their last eight against the NL Central and are 1-4 in Lohse’s last five overall.

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Re: MLB News and Notes August 17

MLB's five most overachieving teams
By NEATE SAGER

There are a few statistical smoking guns to look for as major league baseball heads into its home stretch.

A bettor who is looking to lay money on a team in late stages of a season should be trying to gauge whether a team has overachieved (or underachieved). This doesn’t mean it’s less important to place emphasis on, for instance, a starting pitcher who’s hot or has a great record against the team he’s about to face. It’s something else you need to take into account. Everything evens out in baseball.

Stats geeks have long seized on run differential as a way to deduce if a team is better than its record. If you check the stats site, baseball-reference.com, which updates every morning, you’ll notice each team’s page like that of the Blue Jays, will show their “Pythagorean W-L,” which shows what a team’s record should have been based on its run differential. For instance, the Toronto Blue Jays are 62-60 on the season, but based on their run differential, should be 65-57. The theory has been fine-tuned quite a bit, but it still holds. By comparing a team’s record with its run differential, you can get a guess of which team might be due to have its fortunes even out big-time – and drag down that red-hot starting pitcher. Covers.com takes a look at five MLB’s five biggest overachievers.

1. Florida Marlins

The Marlins are 3½ games out in the NL East despite the fact they’ve been outscored 600-575 on the season. They’re a potent group of hitters, but their bullpen has been second-busiest in the NL (413 1/3 innings), which means they could soon start to wear down. (Just last night, they blew a ninth-inning lead vs. the Chicago Cubs.) Their middle infield defense, with all-stars Dan Uggla (second base) and Hanley Ramirez (shortstop), is also problematical.

2. St. Louis Cardinals

The site Cool Standings, which projects the final standings and each team’s playoff chances, isn’t overly optimistic toward the Cardinals. St. Louis is 13 games above (69-56) and 2½ games back of the wild card-leading Milwaukee Brewers. The catch is that they have mediocre bullpen (4.09 ERA, .775 opponents’ on-base plus slugging) which could catch up to them. Thirteen of their last 37 games are vs. NL Central bottom-feeders Cincinnati and Pittsburgh – teams who can be dangerous since they’re playing for pride.

3. Chicago White Sox

A team ERA of 5.18 since the all-star break has made it hard for the White Sox to sustain their first-half pace. That’s also not good enough for a team to get on a hot streak, so you should monitor the White Sox carefully, since their luck will probably even out on them when they do put two or three wins together.

4. Minnesota Twins

A lot of the wins the Twins need to win the AL Central could come from the 15 games they left vs. the AL’s three worst teams, Cleveland, Kansas City and Seattle. Minnesota’s overachieved because they hit very well in clutch situations, but they’re more likely to come back to earth in this department. The Baltimore Orioles are the only team in the AL with a better OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position, which might explain why they’ve nosedived after a good run early in the season.

The Twins are also 11th in the AL in OPS this month after being sixth in July. The four-game series they have coming up with AL heavyweights Tampa Bay and Los Angeles could get ugly if they don’t hit.

5. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

This is more of a hunch than the other four. The Angels are a MLB-best 75-45 and have run away with their division, winning 22 of their past 32 games. What seems to be happening is that they have a push on to get a big enough cushion for the AL’s best record that they can dial it down in September. When that happens, you might be able to get some favorable odds on their opponents.

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Re: MLB News and Notes August 17

Tom Glavine out for season
August 16, 2008

ATLANTA (AP) -Braves pitcher Tom Glavine is out for the season, and his illustrious career could be over if he needs major surgery on his injured left elbow.

The 42-year-old Glavine still hopes to return next year - unless he needs elbow ligament replacement surgery.

A 300-game winner, Glavine said Saturday he will be examined by Dr. James Andrews next week in Alabama. Glavine, placed on the disabled list Friday with a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow, plans to have surgery to repair the tendon.

He said he'd give up his comeback hopes for 2009 if Andrews determines the pitcher needs the ligament replacement procedure, known as Tommy John surgery. Rehabilitation after that procedure often takes at least a year.

A two-time NL Cy Young Award winner with Atlanta, Glavine gave up seven runs in four innings against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday in his first start since June 10. He is 2-4 with a 5.54 ERA in 13 games this season, and 305-203 in his career.

Glavine said his elbow began to stiffen in the fourth inning against the Cubs.

``I know it's not going to get any better,'' he said. ``Clearly it's not going to hold up under the stress of me going out there every five days and throwing a lot of pitches.''

Glavine said Braves doctors think the damage in his elbow is limited to the tendon. If Andrews confirms Glavine does not need ligament replacement surgery, the pitcher said he could have the tendon surgery immediately and recover in time for a normal offseason program.

``By no means do I want to go through another year with what I'm going through now,'' he said. ``But at the same time, I don't think I want my career to end this way, either. I think that lends me to think I want to pitch next year. I think it's easier to walk away if you can honestly tell yourself, you know what, I can't do it anymore. And I don't know that I can answer that question right now because my body hasn't allowed me to do it this year as much I wanted to.''

Though his overall numbers are disappointing, Glavine said: ``When I was healthy, I pitched well. When I wasn't, I didn't. That makes it harder to say I can't do it anymore.''

He said he would have the tendon repaired even if he retires so he could play baseball and hockey with his children.

Glavine turned down a $13 million option with the Mets to sign an $8 million deal with the Braves for 2008. He kept his offseason home in Atlanta while pitching five years with the Mets.

Glavine pitched for Atlanta from 1987-2002 and won 20 games or more five times. He said he would only pitch for the Braves in 2009, but he doesn't know if he will be offered a contract.

``I can want to all I want,'' he said. ``If they don't want me to come back, it really doesn't matter.

``I don't want to go anywhere else. At this stage in my life, I've done that. I don't want to do it anymore.''

Braves general manager Frank Wren talked with Glavine on Saturday but said ``it's way too early'' to give a commitment for next season.

``We'll see how things play out over the course of the winter for us and for him, and his prognosis if he does have to have surgery,'' Wren said. ``There's a lot of factors that we just don't have enough answers yet.''

The Braves have lost their top three starters - Glavine, John Smoltz and Tim Hudson - for the season, leaving rookies Jair Jurrjens, Jorge Campillo and Charlie Morton in the rotation.

Rafael Soriano, who began the season as the closer, is on the disabled list for the third time this year with a sore elbow.

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Re: MLB News and Notes August 17

Tigers put RHP Todd Jones on disabled list
August 17, 2008

DETROIT (AP) -The Detroit Tigers placed reliever Todd Jones on the 15-day disabled list Sunday because of a sore right shoulder.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 4.97 ERA and 18 saves in 21 chances. He started the season as Detroit's closer, but was removed from that role July 26. The DL move is retroactive to Saturday.

The Tigers filled Jones' roster spot by purchasing the contract of right-hander Gary Glover from Triple-A Toledo.

The Tigers signed Glover as a minor league free agent Aug. 9. He's pitched four scoreless innings and struck out four batters in three appearances with Toledo.

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Re: MLB News and Notes August 17

Sunday's MLB Picks

It's officially the dog days of summer in baseball. Our team of writers and handicappers gathered three of their top picks for Sunday's MLB action.

Arizona Diamondbacks (63-59) at Houston Astros (62-60)

Chris Young is clearly happy to be back in Houston. Randy Johnson might be, too.

Young's hometown has been a site of great success for both the center fielder and the Big Unit, who look to continue their respective resurgences and help the Arizona Diamondbacks complete a sweep of the Astros on Sunday afternoon.

Johnson has started three games there and won them all, posting a 2.70 ERA and striking out 29 in 20 innings. He also won all five of his starts in the Astrodome - four were complete games - when he pitched for Houston in 1998, with a 0.42 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 43 innings.

Roy Oswalt (10-8, 4.52) gets the start for Houston. The right-hander is 3-0 in four starts since missing 2 1/2 weeks with a hip injury. He has provided Houston with seven-inning, quality starts in his last two outings while beating Cincinnati and San Francisco.

He had been 6-0 with a 1.98 ERA in seven career starts versus the Diamondbacks before losing his most recent outing against them. He gave up six runs and 10 hits in six innings of an 8-4 defeat on May 27, 2007.

Pick: Houston


Milwaukee Brewers (71-53) at Los Angeles Dodgers (63-60)

The Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers were two of the league's hottest teams entering their three-game set this weekend, and with each club embroiled in a tight race for a playoff spot, their margins for error are small.

The distance between the teams has proven to be even less.

After Milwaukee's extra-innings win on Saturday evened the series, the Brewers will look to secure their fifth straight series victory on Sunday at Dodger Stadium.

The Brewers (71-53) had won eight of their previous nine games when they arrived in Los Angeles, but their 5-3 loss on Friday was the Dodgers' fifth straight victory, keeping Los Angeles tied with Arizona atop the NL West.

Clayton Kershaw (2-3, 3.78) will face Milwaukee for the first time. The 20-year-old rookie has begun to live up to expectations in recent weeks, going 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA in his last four starts. He has struck out 23 in 25 innings over that span.

The Brewers have lost four straight series at Dodger Stadium, dropping 11 of 14 there before Saturday's win. They can split the six-game season series with a victory in this game.

Pick: LA Dodgers


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

The Texas Rangers found a cure to satisfy both their struggling offense and their downtrodden pitching staff in their latest game - don't give up any runs.

The Rangers will try to build off an impressive shutout win on Sunday in Arlington as they look to become the first team to win a series against the Tampa Bay Rays since before the All-Star break.

One of the key reasons the Rays are in first - 3 1/2 games up on Boston - is 24-year-old Scott Kazmir (8-6, 3.22). The All-Star left-hander has certainly looked the part in two starts against the Rangers this season, going 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 16 strikeouts without a walk in 15 innings.

With his high strikeout totals, though, Kazmir has a tendency to throw a lot of pitches. That's limited him recently - he's thrown seven innings just once since June 6.

Kazmir hasn't gone past the fifth in his last four starts, and he's won only once since June 27. He gave up two runs in five innings on Tuesday at Oakland and was on the hook for the Rays' 2-1 loss.

Pick: Texas

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Re: MLB News and Notes August 17

Baseball Today

SCOREBOARD

Sunday, Aug. 17

St. Louis at Cincinnati (1:15 p.m. EDT). Kyle Lohse (13-5, 3.92 ERA) and the Cardinals take on the Reds and newfound ace Edinson Volquez (14-5, 2.86) in the day's best pitching matchup.

STARS

- Albert Pujols, Cardinals, hit a pair of solo home runs, and St. Louis matched its season high with four homers during a 9-3 victory over Cincinnati that extended its winning streak to four games.

- Brett Gardner, Yankees, had a career-high three hits and singled in the winning run in the 13th inning of New York's 3-2 victory over Kansas City.

- Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks, hit two home runs including the first grand slam of his career and Arizona routed Houston 11-5.

- Joe Mauer, Twins, went 3-for-4 with his eighth home run of the season and Minnesota beat Seattle 7-6.

- Jeff Francoeur, Braves, went 4-for-5 to raise his average to .233 in Atlanta's 11-5 win over San Francisco. Francoeur had a three-hit game on Thursday.

- Matt Harrison, Rangers, struck out a career-high eight batters in eight innings of three-hit ball and Texas shut out Tampa Bay 3-0. Coming into the game, Harrison had seven career strikeouts in 35 2-3 innings.

LAST MAN STANDING

Cast in the unlikely role of last man standing among the Braves' four former 20-game winners, Mike Hampton prospered. Hampton gave up two runs in six innings and Atlanta beat the San Francisco Giants to end a five-game losing streak, including four straight at Turner Field. Hampton gave the Atlanta rotation a lift on the day 300-game winner Tom Glavine confirmed he'll miss the rest of the season with an elbow injury. John Smoltz and Tim Hudson already have had season-ending surgeries.

SETBACK

Billy Wagner felt discomfort in his pitching elbow after throwing a simulated game and the New York Mets' closer won't come off the disabled list Monday as expected. Wagner, sidelined with a strained left forearm, threw about 20 pitches in what was supposed to be his final step before rejoining the Mets on Monday, the first day he's eligible to come off the 15-day DL. Initially, the report on Wagner was positive. New York manager Jerry Manuel, speaking to reporters about an hour after Wagner threw, said the left-hander was a little rusty but he had good velocity. Wagner later revealed that his elbow had flared up. He will return to New York on Sunday for further evaluation.

OUT FOR THE YEAR

Braves pitcher Tom Glavine is out for the season, and his illustrious career could be over if he needs major surgery on his injured left elbow. The 42-year-old Glavine still hopes to return next year - unless he needs elbow ligament replacement surgery. A 300-game winner, Glavine said he will be examined by Dr. James Andrews next week in Alabama. Glavine, placed on the disabled list Friday with a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow, plans to have surgery to repair the tendon.

HARANGUED

Aaron Harang got hit hard in a 9-3 loss to the Cardinals. The Reds starter has struggled in both of his starts since he came off the disabled list, giving up three homers and a career-high eight earned runs in four innings last Sunday. This time, he gave up the same amount of homers and runs in 3 1-3 innings. The right-hander was sidelined from July 13 to Aug. 9 with a sore right forearm. "I'm concerned about his psyche,'' manager Dusty Baker said. "I've never seen him get hit like this.''

ANGEL SAVIOR

Francisco Rodriguez picked up his 47th save to tie his team record in the Angels' 4-3 win over the Indians. He yielded a single to Jhonny Peralta to open the ninth, then got three quick outs - two on strikeouts - to match his saves mark set in 2006. The All-Star closer narrowly escaped a second consecutive blown save when Ryan Garko lined a 2-2 pitch inches foul with pinch-runner Franklin Gutierrez on second and two outs. Garko fanned on a 3-2 offering in the dirt. Rodriguez bounced back from his fifth blown save on Wednesday, when he yielded three runs to Seattle and drew his first career ejection.

YOU COMPLETE ME

Roy Halladay stopped Boston's potent offense and spoiled Paul Byrd's debut with the Red Sox, pitching his major league-leading eighth complete game in the Blue Jays' 4-1 victory. The loss snapped Boston's four-game winning streak and came after the Red Sox scored 37 runs in a three-game sweep of Texas. Halladay improved to 10-4 in his last 16 starts, limiting the Red Sox to six singles before Dustin Pedroia's homer leading off the ninth. He walked one and struck out four in the seven-hitter, holding an opponent to one earned run or less for the 13th time in 32 starts this season.

JUSTIN TIME

Justin Verlander sure was glad to face the Orioles again. The Tigers pitcher allowed two unearned runs and four hits in six innings, walking three and striking out six to pick up his first victory in almost a month, 5-3 over Baltimore. His last win came against the Orioles on July 20, when he allowed a run and three hits in 8 2-3 innings. Between wins against the Orioles, Verlander went through one of the worst stretches in his up-and-down career, going 0-4 with a 9.97 ERA in four starts.

STAT

Rangers rookie Matt Harrison had seven strikeouts in 35 2-3 innings in his first seven starts. Then, against the AL East-leading Devil Rays, he pitched eight sharp innings, striking out eight in a 3-0 win. ... The Braves beat the Giants 11-5, scoring exactly 11 runs for the fourth time in their last five wins. They have not won a game in which they scored fewer than four runs since May 24.

SNAPPED

Hanley Ramirez homered and Cody Ross singled in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning to help the Florida Marlins snap the Chicago Cubs' nine-game road winning streak with a 2-1 victory. "Let's win another nine and no one will remember this one,'' Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.

DUAL SLAMS

Adam Dunn still hasn't homered for Arizona, but the rest of the Diamondbacks are hitting plenty since he arrived. Miguel Montero and Chris Young hit grand slams - the first time Arizona has hit two in the same game - and the Diamondbacks beat the Astros 11-5. Montero and Young hit the first slams of their careers, both connecting off Brandon Backe. Montero also had a solo homer and double, driving in a career-high five RBIs as the Diamondbacks won for the fifth time in six games.

REHABBING

Yankees designated hitter Hideki Matsui, who homered in Class A Tampa's doubleheader Friday, went 1-for-3, including a line drive single to right, and a walk in his third rehab game for Tampa. Matsui is scheduled to take part in a simulated game Sunday and then return to New York, raising the possibility he might rejoin the team for a road trip that starts Tuesday in Toronto.

SPEAKING

"It's just been a weird year; I don't think anyone would expect it. I wouldn't wish it on any staff to go through.'' - Braves pitcher Mike Hampton after beating the Giants 11-5 on the same day that Tom Glavine found out he'd be out for the rest of the season because of an elbow injury. The Braves had already lost former 20-game winners John Smoltz and Tim Hudson to injuries.

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