MLB News and Notes September 11
MLB News and Notes September 11
Thursday's streaking and slumping starters
Ben Sheets, Milwaukee (13-7, 2.82)
The Brewers haven’t been able to take advantage of the Chicago Cubs’ slide over the last couple of weeks, but don’t blame Ben Sheets. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in three starts (20 innings) and is coming off a complete-game shutout of the Padres in his last trip to the hill.
Facing heavy chalk all year, Sheets has his supporters up less than two units on the year, though he has helped the under cash in six of his last seven outings.
Rich Harden, Chicago Cubs (9-2, 1.99)
Things may finally be turning around for the slumping Cubs. They’re scheduled to start Rich Harden, who allowed just two earned runs over four starts before missing his last turn in the rotation due to arm discomfort.
He left his last outing after allowing just one run through five innings, but he did walk four batters while striking out five.
Matt Cain, San Francisco (8-11, 3.75)
Pitching for the Giants means you’re fighting an uphill battle every time you take the hill. Lately Cain hasn’t done much to help his own cause, giving up 18 hits and nine earned runs over his last two starts.
He has also walked 14 batters over his last four outings.
Re: MLB News and Notes September 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.
-- 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.
Re: MLB News and Notes September 11
Thursday, Sept. 11
Chicago Cubs at St. Louis (8:15 p.m. EDT). Rich Harden (9-2, 1.99 ERA), fresh after having his turn in the rotation skipped twice, will try to help the slumping Cubs get back on a roll. The Cardinals, sticking around in the wild-card race, counter with Todd Wellemeyer (12-6, 3.74).
-David Wright, Mets, went 4-for-4 with four runs scored in New York's 13-10 victory over Washington. He hit his 28th homer and drove in three runs.
-Carlos Pena, Rays, hit a three-run homer in the 14th inning to lift Tampa Bay to a 4-2 win over the Boston Red Sox.
-Raul Ibanez, Mariners, had four hits and three RBIs to help Seattle edge Texas, 8-7.
-Manny Ramirez, Dodgers, hit two two-run homers, giving him 524 for his career, and Los Angeles beat San Diego 7-2.
-Kelly Johnson, Braves, homered twice to back James Parr's six shutout innings in Atlanta's 9-5 victory over Colorado.
-Miguel Tejada, Astros, hit his 11th career grand slam, which broke open a close game and helped Houston beat Pittsburgh 7-4. The Astros have won 14 of their last 15 games.
The Los Angeles Angels became the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff berth this season, winning their fourth AL West title in five years with a 4-2 victory over the New York Yankees. The Angels (88-57), with the best record in baseball, can now spend their final 17 games resting and setting up their rotation for the playoffs while trying to maintain homefield advantage throughout.
CHASING WEE WILLIE
Ichiro Suzuki had four hits to move within 10 of an eighth straight season with at least 200 hits. That would tie Wee Willie Keeler for the most 200-hit seasons to start a career. "It's always been a clear goal for me,'' Suzuki said, "so there is not a reason that I wouldn't be motivated.''
Scott Lewis allowed three hits over eight shutout innings in his major league debut to help Cleveland beat Baltimore 7-1. He fell just three outs short of becoming the first Indians pitcher since Luis Tiant in 1964 to throw a shutout in his major league debut. Lewis underwent elbow ligament replacement surgery while at Ohio State in 2003 before being drafted in the third round by Cleveland in 2004. He was limited to six starts in 2005 because of biceps tendinitis, then spent most of 2006 on a limited pitch count before finally pitching a full season last year with Double-A Akron.
For the second straight game, Eugene Velez had the winning hit in the ninth inning to lift San Francisco past Arizona. His two-run triple with two outs on Wednesday gave the Giants a 4-3 victory. On Tuesday, his RBI single lifted San Francisco to a 5-4 win. "Same guy, same hero,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's a battler, I'll say that. He's still in the learning stage about the game ... but he's got great tools. He's done the things you want to see.''
Albert Pujols has eight RBIs in his last four games and 99 on the season. He is one short of joining Al Simmons and Ted Williams as the only players in major league history to drive in 100 runs in their first eight seasons.
Toronto fell one victory short of tying the longest winning streak in team history, set in 1987 and matched in 1998, when the Blue Jays saw their 10-game streak halted by Chicago.
A shoulder injury has kept Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling sidelined all season, but his mouth is in good enough shape to take on New York. He blasted New York sports fans, calling them "bitter and mad and miserable'' for their apparent glee over New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's season-ending knee injury. Schilling talked about Brady's injury Tuesday during his weekly appearance on WEEI radio: "The euphoria in New York is palpable. I mean, the Yankees suck this year. And they're bitter and mad and they're making excuses over that. And now, you know, now they got Tom going down, so, you know, New York's excited.''
CC Sabathia remained unbeaten in the NL after Milwaukee rallied for a 4-3 victory over Cincinnati. Sabathia is 9-0 in 13 starts since coming over from Cleveland. He struck out eight and allowed eight hits in seven innings. He also drove an unearned run with a groundout in the third and added a double in the fifth.
"I love it. I'm Michael Phelps. This is what it's all about.'' - Angels outfielder Torri Hunter, invoking the Olympic swimmer who won eight gold medals in Beijing, after Los Angeles clinched the AL West.
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