MLB News and Notes September 9

MLB News and Notes September 9

Tuesday’s streaking and slumping starters
COVERS.com

Streaking

Scott Kazmir, Tampa Bay (11-6, 2.99)


Scott Kazmir has himself on a roll again, shutting out opposing batters through his last two trips to the mound. He's piling up his usual tally of strikeouts along the way (27 over his recent four-game winning streak) but has had a little trouble with his location.

That said, the Rays have won eight of his last nine starts and he has given up more than three runs just once over that stretch.


Slumping

Vicente Padilla, Texas (12-7, 4.98)


It’s been a while since Padilla climbed the mound. This is Padilla’s first start since he hit the disabled list back on Aug. 24 with inflammation issues in his back as well as a strained hamstring.

Bettors hope the time off served him well because he allowed at least eight hits in four of his last five starts before hitting the DL. Texas has also lost each of his last three outings.


Jorge Campillo, Atlanta (7-7, 3.97)

Campillo had a decent start his last time out against the Marlins, but he still wasn’t able to snap a slump that’s nearly a month old at this point. He allowed just two earned runs over a three-start stint back in July, but hasn’t won a game since Aug. 8 and has given up at least five earned runs in four of his last six outings.

Walks are becoming a problem for Campillo as well. He has walked eight batters over his last three outings – 13 2/3 innings.

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Sports Advisors

Chicago Cubs (86-57) at St. Louis (77-66)


The slumping Cubs look to get back on track and extend their lead in the N.L. Central when they send Ryan Dempster (15-6, 2.99 ERA) to the mound to open a three-game series against the archrival Cardinals and Kyle Lohse (13-6, 3.76).

Chicago blew a 3-1 ninth-inning lead at Cincinnati on Sunday, falling 4-3 for its seventh loss in its last eight games. Despite that result, the Cubs are still 14-3 in their last 17 road games, 4-1 in their last five on Tuesdays, and they lead the N.L. Central by 4½ games over Milwaukee.

St. Louis, which was idle on Monday along with Chicago, capped a weekend home series versus Florida with a pair of wins on Saturday (5-3) and Sunday (3-1), which came on the heels of a 1-6 slump. The Redbirds are 8-5 in their last 13 games at Busch Stadium, but on the downside, they’re mired in skids of 1-4 against division rivals, 1-4 after an off day and 0-6 with Lohse on the hill.

The Cubs are 15-7 in the last 22 series meetings in this rivalry, but only 5-4 this year. In fact, the home and road teams have alternated wins and losses in all nine clashes in 2008, with Cubs winning the most recent battle at home.

After a seven-start stretch in which he yielded two earned runs or fewer each time, Dempster has stumbled a bit the last two times out, giving up seven runs in 13 innings (4.85 ERA). Still, the Cubs are 4-1 in his last five starts, and he’s 3-3 with a 3.15 ERA in 11 road efforts. In his only start against the Cardinals this season, the right-hander gave up two runs in 6 2/3 innings, winning 6-2 at home.

Lohse has been a tough-luck pitcher of late, delivering four straight quality starts (2.77 ERA) but he’s got nothing to show for it. Not only are the Cardinals winless in his last six starts, but they’re 1-8 in his last nine, scoring three runs or fewer in seven of those contests. Lohse is 7-2 with a 3.16 ERA at home and 0-1 with a 6.92 ERA in two starts against Chicago in 2008.

The under is on runs of 4-0 for the Cardinals overall, 4-1-1 for the Cardinals at home, 12-5-1 for the Cardinals following a day off and 6-2-1 when these teams face off in St. Louis. Conversely, Chicago sports over streaks of 16-5 on the road, 20-6 on the road against right-handed starters, 4-1 behind Dempster overall and 5-0 when Dempster hurls on the highway.

ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Tampa Bay (85-57) at Boston (85-58)


The Rays, clinging to a half-game lead over the Red Sox in the A.L. East, send ace Scott Kazmir (11-6, 2.99) to the mound opposite Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka (16-2, 2.88) in the middle game of a crucial three-game set at Fenway Park.

The Red Sox shutout the Rays 3-0 last night to continue to close in on Tampa for the division lead. Boston has won six of its last seven overall and is on rolls of 56-20 at home, 7-1 against the A.L. East and 21-4 in Matsuzaka’s 25 starts this season (12-2 at home). Going back to last year, the Red Sox are 40-18 behind Matsuzaka, including 23-6 in his last 29 at Fenway.

Tampa Bay has lost six of its last seven overall, five straight on the road and five of its last six against A.L. East rivals. On the bright side, the Rays are 17-5 in Kazmir’s last 22 outings, including 8-1 in his last nine.

Boston now holds a slim 7-6 lead against the Rays in the season series, with the home team winning all 13 meetings. Additionally, Boston has beaten Tampa Bay nine straight times at Fenway dating back to last season, and the Red Sox are on a 46-9 run against the Rays in Beantown and 99-46 against them overall dating back several years.

Kazmir is 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA in his last four starts (all Tampa wins), and he hasn’t scattered four hits and eight walks over 11 1/3 innings in his two most recent starts (both at home). The southpaw is only 4-5 with a 3.96 ERA on the road and 0-1 with a 7.00 ERA in two starts against Boston this season. For his career, though, he’s 6-6 with a 3.02 ERA against the Red Sox, including 4-4 with a 3.02 ERA at Fenway Park.

Matsuzaka has won five straight decisions and the Red Sox are undefeated in his last seven trips to the mound. On Wednesday against Baltimore, the right-hander gave up four runs (three earned) on four hits and four walks in six innings, getting a no-decision in his team’s come-from-behind 5-4 victory. The Japanese native has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 18 of his 25 outings.

Matsuzaka is 9-2 with a 3.05 ERA at home, but 1-3 with a 3.79 ERA in six career starts against the Rays. One of those starts came on July 2 at Tampa Bay, and Matsuzaka gave up a run on two hits and five walks in five innings, getting a no-decision in his team’s 7-6 defeat.

For Tampa Bay, the over is on runs of 8-2 against the A.L. East, 8-2 overall and 5-3 on the highway. However, the under is 5-1 in Kazmir’s last six road starts, 24-9-2 in his last 35 versus winning teams and 7-3 in his last 10 outings at Fenway Park. For the Sox, the under is on runs of 8-2-1 in their last 11 overall, 5-1-1 at home, 5-1-1 behind Matsuzaka overall, 4-0 when Matsuzaka pitches at home.

ATS ADVANTAGE: BOSTON and UNDER

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Baseball Today

SCOREBOARD

Tuesday, Sept. 9

Tampa Bay at Boston (7:05 p.m. EDT). The Rays try to stay atop the AL East against the Red Sox, who are a half-game back. Scott Kazmir (11-6, 2.99 ERA) matches up against Diasuke Matsuzaka (16-2, 2.88).


STARS

Monday

-Gary Sheffield, Tigers, hit two home runs, including a grand slam, in 14-8 victory over the Oakland.

-Aubrey Huff and Adam Jones, Orioles, both went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs in a 14-3 rout of Cleveland.

-Brandon Wood, Angels, hit two home runs and Los Angeles lowered its magic number to two with a 12-1 rout of the Yankees.

-Tim Lincecum, Giants, have up two runs - one earned - and seven hits in 8 1-3 innings with nine strikeouts in a 6-2 win over Arizona.

-Jimmy Rollins, Phillies, had three hits and three steals to help lead Philadelphia past Florida, 8-6.

-Jon Lester, Red Sox, struck out nine in 7 2-3 innings, and Boston shut out Tampa Bay 3-0 to pull within a half game of the Rays in the AL East.

ONE SWING

It took one swing for Mark Saccomanno to make a name for himself. Pinch-hitting for Houston, Saccomanno homered on the first pitch he saw in the major leagues to help the surging Astros beat the Pirates 3-2. Saccomanno hit a solo shot in the fifth inning, becoming the fourth Houston player to homer in his first big league at-bat. The last Houston player to homer in his first career at-bat was Charlton Jimerson on Sept. 4, 2006, at Philadelphia. Kevin Kouzmanoff was the last player to hit a home run on his first pitch in the majors. He did it for Cleveland on Sept. 2, 2006, becoming the first big leaguer to hit a grand slam on his first pitch.

BRAWL

Yankees catcher Ivan Rodriguez took an openhanded swing at Torii Hunter after getting shoved in the back by the Angels star, and both players were ejected following a bench-clearing scuffle between the teams. The dustup began after Hunter got hung up between third and home on Mike Napoli's grounder to third base in the sixth inning. Hunter came in standing up and bumped into Rodriguez, who tagged him out. Rodriguez appeared to nudge Hunter with his left elbow after the tag, then walked toward the mound. Hunter turned, took a few steps and pushed Rodriguez in the back - hard. The catcher whipped off his mask and charged at Hunter, but was restrained by plate umpire Ted Barrett while missing on a wild swing.

DIZZY

Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland was helped to his feet in the dugout by teammates and escorted by a trainer up the runway toward the clubhouse after a brawl between the Yankees and Angels. The 42-year-old Eiland was in the middle of the tussle as players pushed and shoved each other near home plate. Replays showed someone's hand scraping across Eiland's face, but the coach did not appear to get knocked down. Eiland left the game after feeling dizzy and losing his balance in the dugout. He was examined by a doctor and felt fine, a Yankees spokesman said.

CLOSING

With Chris Carpenter limited to relief duty the rest of the season, the Cardinals may be calling on their ace to get the final outs. Whenever he's available, perhaps once a series, manager Tony La Russa said the 2005 NL Cy Young winner will be his first choice as the closer. "I'm looking forward to giving it to Carp,'' La Russa said Sunday, echoing remarks from the previous day. "We'd have some fun.'' The Cardinals have been leaning on 22-year-old rookie Chris Perez since demoting Jason Isringhausen for the second time this year. Perez had six straight saves before blowing two straight, although he got the last two outs for his seventh save in 10 opportunities overall in Sunday's 3-1 victory over the Marlins.

OUT

Billy Wagner is out for the rest of this season and likely all of next. The Mets closer will have surgery after an MRI exam showed a torn medial collateral ligament in his pitching elbow has gotten worse during more than a month of rehabilitation. His injury could send the Mets into the free-agent market for a top reliever this winter, perhaps Francisco Rodriguez.

AILING

Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson will likely miss the remainder of the season because of a hairline fracture in his right index finger. The Pirates said Wilson will not be placed on the disabled list and hope he could be available late in the season as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner. Wilson, who missed the last six games, injured the finger Aug. 31 while fielding a ball against Milwaukee. It was believed to be just a bruise.

RETURNING

The Red Sox activated right fielder J.D. Drew from the 15-day disabled list before the game against the Rays. Drew, sidelined since August 18 because of a strained lower back, was hitting .280 with 19 homers and 64 RBIs before the injury. Drew did not play against the Rays.

MILESTONE

Gary Sheffield still needs four home runs to reach 500. In the meantime, he provided a milestone for Major League Baseball. His second home run of the night was the 250,000th in major league history as the Tigers beat the Athletics, 14-8. Sheffield was mostly thinking about hitting No. 500. "It really probably won't hit me until I get one or two away. Really, to me, four isn't close,'' he said. "You have to be at one or two.''

SELLOUT

Red Sox owners, players and former infielder Johnny Pesky greeted fans and handed out commemorative tickets to mark the team's record-breaking 456th straight regular-season sellout. Just down the street named Yawkey Way in honor of former Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey, Boston pitchers Tim Wakefield and Mike Timlin, two of four players who have been with the team throughout the streak, smiled and handed out the souvenir tickets. A few feet away, team owners John Henry and Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino shook hands with and thanked fans at the turnstiles as they entered the park.

SCRATCHED

The Angels' Jered Weaver was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday night against the Yankees because of cuts on the middle and ring fingers of his right pitching hand. Right-hander Ervin Santana will start in place of Weaver, who was scratched from Friday's start against the Chicago White Sox for the same reason. Weaver cut his fingers on staples under the dugout bench at Detroit during last week's series there.

SPEAKING

"We've had so many games where people have come through at the right time. We just haven't lately.'' -Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli after Tampa Bay's 3-0 loss to Boston. The Rays have seen five games shaved from their AL East lead in eight days and are clinging to a meager half-game edge going into Tuesday night's second game of the three-game series.

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Tuesday's best MLB bets
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Chicago Cubs at St. Louis (+110, 8½)

If the slumping Cubs can’t get up for a September set against the hated Cardinals while they’re trying to hold on to the division title, Lou Pinella’s boys have some serious problems heading down the stretch.

Chicago has lost seven of its last eight, but still sits 4 ½ games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers. Ryan Dempster, who has helped the Cubs to 20 wins this year, gets the call today against Kyle Lohse. The Cards have dropped each of Lohse’s last three outings and have been held to four or fewer runs in five straight games.

Pick: Cubs


Toronto at Chicago White Sox (-125, 9½)

Nice value with the streaking Blue Jays today after rain postponed yesterday's game. Toronto has won eight straight, allowing only eight runs over the club’s last four games. That has helped under bettors cash in seven times during the winning streak.

Jesse Litsch, today’s starter for the Jays, is coming off a complete-game shutout of the Twins in his last outing and has only allowed three runs over his last four starts.

Pick: Jays

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