MLB News and Notes September 10

MLB News and Notes September 10

Wednesday's streaking starting pitchers
COVERS.com

Streaking

Brett Myers, Philadelphia Phillies (9-10, 4.15 ERA)


Myers is turning it on for the Phillies down the final stretch of the season. He is 4-0 in his last four starts and he held the opposition scoreless in three of those games. He gave up only two runs in the other outing during that span.

With pitching like that, it’s not surprising Myers hasn’t seen the ‘over’ in any of his past nine starts. Philly is 8-1 during those games, bringing in some serious cash for those who have been backing the righty.

Myers struck out at least eight batters in his past five starts and he’s hoping he can keep that trend going against the Marlins.


Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays (18-9, 2.64 ERA)

The Jays will be coming off a double-header against the White Sox on Tuesday, so they’ll be happy to see their ace take the mound on Wednesday.

Halladay has won all of his last five starts and they didn’t exactly come against shark bait opponents. The big righty beat the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees and held them to a combined nine earned runs.

The Doc hasn’t walked a batter in any of his last three starts, though he struck out an impressive 17 in those games.


Slumping

Sean Gallagher, Oakland A’s (4-6, 5.23 ERA)


Gallagher is scheduled to make his first start on Wednesday following a stint on the DL due to tired arm symptoms.

The fatigue was evident recently when Gallagher was unable to make it past the fifth inning in any of his last six starts. He went a miserable 0-2 during that span and was finally shut down after giving up 10 earned runs to the Twins on Aug. 19.

Gallagher says he has the feeling back in his arm and expects to be back to full strength against the Tigers, but you might want to tread cautiously until he can prove it.

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Re: MLB News and Notes September 10

MLB Two Day Outlook
By Josh Jacobs

It’s obvious that the baseball season is entering the home stretch. Week 1 in the NFL has come and gone, temperatures around the country are beginning to drop and October is waiting on the other page of the calendar.

But bettors are dealing with the now and not the later. A quick look ahead reveals that Wednesday ends most series which began on Monday, with Friday revving up our heart rate once again for a packed weekend of hardball.

With Toronto now in an eight-game groove and Minnesota rocking the ‘over’ in seven straight, there’s plenty of angles to focus on.

Wednesday, Sept. 10

Caught in a 3-7 SU slide in its last 10, Arizona (71-72, -1705) will tee off against West Coast neighbor, San Francisco (63-80, -485) at 3:35 p.m. EDT. First the ugly: Arizona is a torturous 0-8 in its last eight road games, slated slinger Dan Haren (14-8, 3.41 ERA) has lost his last two consecutive starts and the club continues to field a batting order with only one player swinging for an average over .300 (second baseman Orlando Hudson batting .305).

Pay attention to the ‘over’ as a 12-4 record in the last 16 head-to-head games has raised eyebrows. While the Giants are slinging for a combined 4.48 ERA at home, the Diamondbacks offset their opponent’s pitching problem with a .232 BA on the road. Even worse is Arizona’s 9.00 ERA produced from the starting pitching staff in the last 10 games. The rotational slingers for the D-Backs have logged in an unimpressive 4.4 innings of work per start in those same 10 games, something ‘Zona backers can’t be secure with to say the least.

Another club caught up in a funk is the Chicago Cubs (86-57, +1095) who will pay a visit to St. Louis (77-66, +1088) in Game 2 of this series at 8:15 p.m. EDT. Before swiping a lone win away from Cincinnati last Saturday (14-9), the Cubs had fallen victim to six straight (getting swept by Houston). Remember that losing starter pitcher Carlos Zambrano (13-5, 3.58) to shoulder tendinitis for an undisclosed amount of time doesn’t help

While Chicago is batting .284 with 24 RBIs in the last seven days, all slingers on the staff combined for a 6.95 ERA, walking 26 batters and giving up five long balls in the same seven day period.

For the +10.95 units in the bank this season by the Cubs, the last nine games have offset that number by losing backers -9.71 units over the last nine games.

The Cardinals will send out 10-year starter, Brandon Looper (12-11, 4.09) to the mound. Looper is 6-3 with a highly impressive 2.40 ERA and a .225 BAA in six career starts versus the Cubbies.

Thursday, Sept. 11

Milwaukee (82-62, +971) will begin a four-game set in Philadelphia (79-65, +24) with Thursday’s Game 1 going live at 7:05 p.m. EDT. Having only seen each other twice this season, no one club holds the advantage with the season series sitting at one apiece for each.

Trying to help his club nudge ever so close to the Cubs in the Central Division will be Brewers’ ace Ben Sheets (2.82, 13-7). Sine his 1987 rookie campaign, Sheets has gone 2-3 with a 4.50 ERA in seven total starts versus Philly. The right-handed specialist has been lights out on the road this season, posting a rock solid 7-3 record with a 2.74 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP.

Although going 6-4 in their last 10, the Phillies have struggled inside the box with a .239 BA but have succeeded on the score board by crossing the plate for five run per game in their last six.

The weakest link (or more appropriately labeled as the unknown factor) will be when Philadelphia sends out greenhorn lefty, J.A. Happ (0-0, 5.14) to the hill. The Northwestern Alum has only started in two professional games this season (three total in his short career), giving up 13 hits and eight eared runs in 10.3 innings of work.

It’s worth taking a look at the third and final contest between the Cubs and Cardinals (again) for all intents and purposes as a major gate keeper to postseason play. Right off the bat, St. Louis hasn’t jumped off the record books with an average 21-21 record in Game 3 of a series. In comparison is a Chicago club house responsible for posting a solid 26-18 record in the same Game 3 situation.

Pitching is expected to take shape with the Cubs listing Rich Harden (9-2, 1.99) as the starter and St. Louis penning in Todd Wellemeyer (12-6, 3.74) from the rotation.

Chicago’s Harden is 4-0 in his last six starts, giving up a total of nine runs (1.5 runs per start), while pulling the trigger for a fired up 45 strikeouts. Harden has only surrendered three runs or more in four starts this season (he’s made 22 total starts with Oakland and Chicago).

The final game of this two-day tip sheet revolves around what Toronto (76-66, +464) will bring to U.S. Cellular Field when it meets the White Sox (80-62, +1235) at the odd hour of 8:11 p.m. EDT.

The Blue Jays have shifted into overdrive, surpassing the Yankees in the AL East and now eight games back in the wild card. Whether it’s too late or not to make the all important push doesn’t necessarily take away from the recent positive performance.

Toronto will be gearing up to face Sox starter Gavin Floyd (15-6, 3.72). The Jays are 19-21 versus right-handed pitching at night this season. Post-All star period, Toronto is batting .272, while the offense has driven in an average of 4.7 runs per game.

Keep focused on the ‘under’ going 10-1 in the last 11 head-to-head meetings between these two teams. Combine that with Chicago going 40-15 in its last 55 home games (even with the team going 4-6 in its last 10) and some trends do look appealing at the moment.

Toronto’s starting rotation has been like Teflon, tossing a 2.71 ERA in the last 10 games versus the White Sox 5.23 ERA during the same time frame.

Astounding Astros

-- Houston has turned on the heat with 11 wins in its last 12 games.  Most books have only installed the Astros as favorites three times in the last 10, bringing up the club's total income to +2224 units on the season and a run line profit of +2108 (83-61 run line record).

-- The Astros starting pitching staff have made opponents look silly with a 1.83 ERA, while the bullpen has been effective with a 2.72 ERA. With the over achieving pitching game comes an 'under' record of 7-3 in the club's last 10 and 7-1 in the last eight home games.

-- Houston will finish up a three-game series against the Pirates on Thursday, only to face off against the Cubs over the weekend.

-- With a 40-29 home record (Houston's home record), do your research in the three-game series against Chicago, where the books could be setting attractive value for the Astros.

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Re: MLB News and Notes September 10

Baseball Today

SCOREBOARD

Wednesday, Sept. 10

Toronto at Chicago White Sox (8:11 p.m. EDT). The streaking Blue Jays try to match a franchise record with their 11th straight victory when they send ace Roy Halladay (18-9, 2.64 ERA) to the mound against Chicago lefty Mark Buehrle (12-11, 3.98). The White Sox lead the AL Central by one game over Minnesota.

STARS

Tuesday

-Lance Berkman, Astros, hit a three-run homer, an RBI double and scored three times in a 9-3 victory over Pittsburgh. Houston has won four straight and 12 of 13.

-A.J. Burnett, Blue Jays, allowed one hit and an unearned run in seven innings, striking out seven to help Toronto beat the Chicago White Sox 3-1 in the opener of a doubleheader sweep.

-Carlos Delgado, Mets, hit two mammoth homers for the second straight game, leading New York to a 10-8 win over Washington that increased its NL East lead to 2 1/2 games.

-Johnny Damon, Yankees, homered twice and drove in three runs in a 7-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.

-Andre Ethier, Dodgers, drove in four runs to lead Los Angeles to a 6-2 victory at San Diego that extended its NL West lead to 2 1/2 games.

CHAMPAGNE ON ICE

The Los Angeles Angels' celebration will have to wait at least another night. Johnny Damon hit two homers and Alex Rodriguez added a three-run shot to help the Yankees beat the Angels 7-1. The loss, combined with Texas' 7-3 victory at Seattle, kept the Angels' magic number at two for clinching their fourth AL West crown in five years. Los Angeles could have wrapped up the title with a win and a Rangers loss. Alfredo Aceves kept Angels hitters' off-balance, allowing one run and five hits in seven innings in his third major league appearance and first career start.

STELLAR DEBUT

Dan Johnson, who woke up in Pennsylvania in Triple-A and was scratched from Tampa Bay's starting lineup because he didn't get into town until just before the first pitch, was a star. Johnson hit a game-tying, pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning to help the Rays beat Boston 5-4 and extend their AL East lead to 1 1/2 games.

IMPRESSIVE COMPANY

Manny Ramirez hit his 522nd homer in the Dodgers' 6-2 win at San Diego, passing Willie McCovey, Frank Thomas and Ted Williams for sole possession of 17th place on the career list. ... Mets slugger Carlos Delgado homered twice in a 10-8 victory over Washington. His 466 home runs are one more than Hall of Famer Dave Winfield for 30th place.

MILESTONE

Derek Jeter singled in the first inning of a 7-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels, passing Babe Ruth for second place on the New York Yankees' career hits list. Jeter sent an 0-2 pitch from right-hander Ervin Santana into left field for his 2,519th hit. Only Lou Gehrig (2,721) has more hits in a Yankees uniform. Jeter added another single in the seventh. He has 1,260 hits at Yankee Stadium, nine shy of Gehrig's record, with 10 games remaining there.

DRAMATIC DEPARTURE

On his final swing of the season, Brandon Phillips hit a go-ahead single with two outs in the 11th inning to lift Cincinnati over Milwaukee 5-4. Earlier in the at-bat, Phillips broke his right index finger attempting to bunt for a hit. The Reds later said the second baseman is out for the year.

TWIN BILLED

The White Sox began the day with a 2 1/2-game lead in the AL Central over the Twins, but watched it drop to a game when they were swept in a doubleheader by the Blue Jays, 3-1 and 8-2. Meanwhile, the Twins beat the Royals 7-2.

STREAKING

The Blue Jays have won 10 in a row after sweeping the White Sox 3-1 and 8-2 in a doubleheader. Toronto is on its longest winning streak since taking a franchise-record 11 in a row in from Aug. 27 to Sept. 7, 1998, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Albert Pujols homered for the third straight game, a three-run shot in the sixth inning that erased a three-run deficit and helped St. Louis beat the Chicago Cubs 4-3.

ANOTHER LOOK

Hunter Pence hit a ball that caromed off the top of the right-field wall for an RBI double in the sixth inning of Houston's 9-3 win over Pittsburgh. That prompted the second use of instant replay since its inception. Umpires looked at the replay and ruled that it was not a home run, upholding the original call.

SLUMPING

Arizona has lost five straight and nine in a row on the road, falling 2 1/2 games behind the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. ... The Chicago Cubs have lost eight of nine while scoring three runs or fewer six times. They lead the NL Central by 4 1/2 games over Milwaukee, which has dropped three straight and seven of nine.

SCARY MOMENT

Paul Konerko went from writhing in pain to sighing in relief. The White Sox first baseman was helped off the field with what the team called a mildly sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee during the second game of a day-night doubleheader against the Blue Jays. He's scheduled for an MRI on Wednesday after X-rays were negative, and he expects the tests to confirm what the doctor told him.

AILING

Rangers designated hitter Milton Bradley left the game against the Mariners in the first inning after taking just one swing. The Rangers said Bradley strained a muscle in his lower back and is day-to-day. Bradley fouled off the first pitch he saw from Seattle starter Felix Hernandez. Bradley instantly grimaced, grabbed at his back and walked into the dugout. He was replaced by Brandon Boggs.

WELCOME BACK

Travis Hafner had two singles in his long-awaited return from the disabled list to lead the Indians over the Orioles 6-1. Hafner went 2-for-4 with a walk in his first game since May 25, when he was placed on the DL with a strained right shoulder. A career .290 hitter, Hafner was batting .217 at the time of the injury. Batting fifth, he had a role in three different innings in which the Indians scored.

SNAPPED

Braves closer Mike Gonzalez gave up a tying homer in the ninth inning to Colorado's Garrett Atkins. Gonzalez's first blown save since June 25, 2004, ended the longest active streak in the majors at 39. Atlanta won 5-4 in 10 innings.

RELEASED

Mike Sweeney knows his major league career might be over. The Athletics released the 35-year-old first baseman-designated hitter after he struggled to return from operations on each knee. Sweeney, a 14-year veteran who spent all but this season with the Kansas City Royals, was limited to 42 games this year because of knee injuries. Doctors have told the five-time All-Star he needs surgery on both knees and the recovery time is six to nine months. Sweeney had procedures in early June to repair loose cartilage in the knees. He had hoped to recover by the All-Star break.

SPEAKING

"We're playing like we're waiting to get beat. You don't have a big enough lead in September to play ball like that.'' - Cubs manager Lou Piniella after a 4-3 loss at St. Louis. Chicago, which leads the NL Central by 4 1/2 games, has lost eight of nine while scoring three runs or fewer six times.

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Re: MLB News and Notes September 10

Harden, Zambrano set to return to Cubs' rotation
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

ST. LOUIS (AP) -Chicago Cubs pitchers Rich Harden and Carlos Zambrano remained on track for starts later this week, good news for the struggling NL Central leaders.

Manager Lou Piniella said Tuesday their absences had a lot to do with the Cubs' 1-7 slide entering a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

''With Harden, we've given him a nice rest for two turns and hopefully he'll finish up strong,'' Piniella said. ''Zambrano is basically the same thing.

''Sure, it's a relief. Not only do you lose two starting pitchers, but you lose two middle men.''

Harden, 4-1 with a 1.50 ERA since joining the Cardinals on July 8 in a six-player deal with Oakland, is set to rejoin the rotation on Thursday. He missed one start with discomfort in his arm. Zambrano was scheduled to go Saturday after missing one turn. Harden threw a side session on Monday and Zambrano threw Tuesday.

Zambrano, 13-5 with a 3.58 ERA, missed his last start with shoulder inflammation and rotator cuff tendinitis.

The pitching staff also has been hurt by reliever Chad Gaudin's back injury. Gaudin, 4-1 with a 4.63 ERA, is in Arizona working out after seeing a team physician in Chicago on Monday who diagnosed nothing serious wrong.

''He said he gets a tingling down in his buttocks when he throws the ball,'' Piniella said. ''His absence has hurt us in the middle.''

Piniella said he was not concerned about closer Kerry Wood, who has a blown save and two losses in his last two appearances while allowing five runs and five hits with three walks in 2 1-3 innings. Mainly, he chose not to be concerned.

''You know the amazing thing about managing a baseball team? If you're a little bit of a worry wart, you have something to worry about every single day,'' Piniella said. ''Halfway through the year, you need a psychiatrist and by the end of the year you need a bed. So, no, I'm not concerned about anything.''

Not even about the team's recent woes. Piniella noted the Cubs face the three teams chasing them in the Central, St. Louis, Houston and Milwaukee, the next nine games.

''We've gotten ourselves in good position. You've got to close the deal,'' Piniella said. ''The teams that we need to beat are right in front of us. We can do it ourselves.''

Shortstop Ryan Theriot was not in the lineup, two days after he was taken out in the sixth inning in Cincinnati with dizziness and dehydration. Ronny Cedeno started the series opener and was batting eighth, but Piniella said Theriot could be back on Wednesday after visiting a doctor on Tuesday.

''They gave him a couple of IVs and he's still having a little lingering effect on that,'' Piniella said. ''The doctor assured him everything was fine.''

Piniella also said he'd give struggling Kosuke Fukudome, batting .217 in his last 62 games, at least one start in the Cardinals series after leaving him out of the lineup for the third time in five games.

''We're just giving him time off to relax a little bit, more than anything,'' Piniella said.

The Cubs recalled outfielder Felix Pie from Triple-A Iowa and purchased the contract of right-hander Randy Wells from Iowa, moving pitcher Jon Lieber to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster. Wells started on Sunday and will be available in the bullpen later in the week, Piniella said.

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Re: MLB News and Notes September 10

Sports Advisors

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Chicago Cubs (86-58) at St. Louis (78-66)

Ted Lilly (13-9, 4.43 ERA) will try to bounce back from a bad outing when he leads the struggling Cubs against the Cardinals and Braden Looper (12-11, 4.09) as this three-game series between division rivals continues at Busch Stadium.

Chicago blew yet another lead on Tuesday, going up 3-0 early on only to give up four unanswered runs in a 4-3 loss, the team’s eighth setback in its last nine games. Despite that result, the Cubs are still 14-4 in their last 18 road games and 9-2 in their last 11 on Wednesdays, and they lead the N.L. Central by 4½ games over Milwaukee.

St. Louis has followed up a 1-6 slump with three straight victories. The Redbirds are 9-5 in their last 14 games at Busch Stadium, but on the downside, they’re mired in skids of 2-4 against division rivals, 1-4 against lefty starters and 3-14 when Looper faces a winning team.

The Cubs are 15-8 in the last 23 series meetings in this rivalry, but the clubs have split the 10 meetings so far this year.

Lilly got rocked for five runs on four hits and three walks in just two innings on Friday at Cincinnati, losing 10-2. Prior to that outing, the southpaw had pitched at least six innings in nine consecutive starts, giving up three earned runs or fewer in eight of those outings. Lilly has yielded 12 earned runs in his last three road starts totaling 14 innings (7.71 ERA), bringing his season-long road stats to 7-4 with a 4.42 ERA.

Looper bounced back from a horrific outing at Houston (eight runs, 11 hits allowed in 4 1/3 innings of an 8-5 loss) with Friday’s dominating home effort at Florida, as he scattered four hits and no walks in 7 1/3 scoreless innings for his seventh quality start in his last eight trips to the mound. Yet he wasn’t involved in the decision, as the Redbirds lost 4-1, dropping to 2-5 in Looper’s last seven starts overall and 4-10 in his last 14 home efforts. For the season, the right-hander is 5-7 despite a solid 3.86 ERA at Busch Stadium.

Lilly is 4-2 with a 2.98 ERA in nine career starts against St. Louis, including 1-0 with a 3.10 ERA in three outings this season, two of which Chicago has won. Meanwhile, Looper has faced the Cubs 34 times in his career (six starts), going 3-4 with a 2.40 ERA and four saves. In his six starts over the last two years against the Cubs, Looper has pitched seven innings five times and six innings once, while yielded one or two runs in every single contest and posting a 1.98 ERA. Still, the Redbirds are 0-4 in Looper’s last four starts against Chicago (0-3 this year).

The under is 11-5 in Looper’s 16 home starts and 5-1 in his six starts against the Cubs since the start of last season, but the over is 11-5 when Lilly works on the highway and 4-2 in his last six against St. Louis. Also, the under is on runs of 5-0 for the Cardinals overall, 5-1-1 for the Cardinals at home and 7-2-1 when these teams face off in St. Louis. Conversely, Chicago sports over streaks of 16-6 on the road and 20-7 on the road against right-handed starters.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Tampa Bay (86-57) at Boston (85-59)

The Rays, who got a much-needed come-from-behind victory at Fenway Park last night, send Andy Sonnanstine (13-7, 4.66) to the mound opposite Boston ace Josh Beckett (12-9, 4.20) in the finale of a crucial three-game set between the top teams in the A.L. East.

Tampa Bay scored twice in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday to steal a 5-4 victory, snap a five-game road losing streak and move back to 1½ games ahead of Boston in the division race. The Rays have still dropped six of their last eight overall, five of seven against A.L. East rivals and they’re 1-5 in Sonnanstine’s last six starts as a visitor.

Despite Tuesday’s results, the Red Sox are still on runs of 6-2 overall, 56-21 at home, 7-2 against the A.L. East and 5-0 versus right-handed starters.

The season series is once again knotted up at 7-7, and last night’s win by Tampa Bay snapped a 13-0 run by the home team in this rivalry this season and also halted the Rays’ nine-game skid at Fenway dating to last season. The Red Sox are still on runs of 99-46 against Tampa overall and 46-10 against Tampa at home.

Sonnanstine has made four straight trips to the bump without a quality start, allowing 16 earned runs in 21 innings during this stretch (6.86 ERA). Still, the Rays are 18-10 this year when the right-hander pitches, including 8-6 on the road, where Sonnanstine sports a 4.47 ERA. Sonnanstine has missed the Red Sox all season, but he did face them four times as a rookie in 2007, going 1-1 with a bloated 8.85 ERA.

Beckett returned from a three-week stint on the disabled list and dominated the Rangers on Friday, giving up just four hits and no walks while whiffing seven over five scoreless innings en route to an 8-1 victory. The veteran right-hander, however, got bombed in his last two home starts against the Blue Jay sand Angels, yielding 15 runs and 19 hits in 7 2/3 combined innings, making him 5-4 with a 6.02 ERA in 10 starts this year at Fenway Park.

Beckett has faced Tampa Bay five times over the last two seasons, going 4-1 with a 2.73 ERA, including 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA in three outings in 2008.

For Tampa Bay, the over is on runs of 9-2 against the A.L. East, 9-2 overall, 6-3 on the highway, 4-0 behind Sonnanstine overall and 4-0 in Sonnanstine’s four career starts against Boston. For the Sox, the under is on runs of 8-3-1 overall and 5-2-1 at home.

ATS ADVANTAGE: BOSTON

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