MLB News and Notes September 15

MLB News and Notes September 15

Monday's streaking and slumping starters
By JUSTIN BANKS

Streaking

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


Kazmir is 2-0 and has a 1.04 ERA in his last three starts. He also relinquished two earned runs and registered two shutouts in that period.

Kazmir, who had six wins in his first seven, has just one loss in his last 10 and has surrendered more than three earned runs just once in that span. He also has 17 strikeouts against 11 walks in his last three overall.

The Rays are 49-14 in their last 63 home games and are undefeated in their last seven at home against the Boston Red Sox.


Slumping

Carlos Silva, Seattle Mariners (4-14, 6.53)


Silva has just one triumph in his last 10 and is 0-2 with a lofty 12.21 ERA in his last three starts. He has surrendered 14 earned runs and three HRs in his last seven IP.

Silva is 2-7 on the road with a lofty 6.86 ERA. In his last road start, a setback to the Texas Rangers, he conceded six earned runs on 10 hits in a little over four innings. He has a shaky 4.15 career-ERA against the Kansas City Royals.

The Mariners are 0-5 in their last five road games and are 24-11 in their last 35 overall against the Royals.

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Re: MLB News and Notes September 15

Making the Playoffs
By Josh Jacobs

Between the hurricane that slammed into the Galveston-Houston area on early Saturday mourning and the remnants of that storm pushing its way across the Ohio valley, the baseball schedule has experienced some upheaval.

More specifically, the White Sox and Tigers will be a logistical nightmare with September already half way in the history books. Pending on what develops in the Chicago area on Sunday (stay tuned for the latest information on this series), it will be interesting to see how league officials tackle this scheduling anomaly.

But Monday will begin the final push through the 2008 regular season and boy is the league cooking? Whether it’s the continued dog fight in the AL East, a battle just heating up in the NL East or the wild card shootout in the NL, there’s plenty of hardball action to break down.

Minnesota Momentum

The Twins are on the cusp of surpassing the White Sox in the AL Central sprint to October. That is if Chicago can squeeze some games in, with this weekend proving to be a washout.

Minnesota is not only in the midst of taking over the driver’s seat in the division but is currently ranked the third highest earner for backers in the AL with a +1789 money line profit. Even more impressive is the club’s +3011 profit on the run line. We’re talking about a Twins team that been installed as the favorite 16 times in the last 18 games.

A three-game series with Cleveland is planned to begin this week with Minnesota sending out Kevin Slowey (12-9, 3.63 ERA) on Monday. The second year slinger has impressed with a 5-1 record in the last seven starts. Minus a lackluster performance in Toronto (giving up 10 hits and three runs in 5.2 innings), Slowey has held opponents to scoring 1.5 runs per game in his last six starts.

September has also been favorable to the batting lineup. Minnesota bats have registered a .289 BA, producing 6.2 runs per game and working for 44 base-on-balls in the last 11 games.

In 15 games this season versus Cleveland, the Twins have been stymie with a .251 BA, while striking out 87 times. If there’s a ballplayer to focus on it’s Minnesota third baseman Brian Buscher. The left-handed hitter has only played in five contests against the Tribe, but seven hits in 19 at bats have translated into seven RBIs. And let’s not forget about perennial stat leader, Justin Morneau. The first baseman has also seen success against Cleveland with a team leading 12 RBIs.

Final Schedule: Tampa Bay (Sept. 18-21), White Sox (Sept. 23-25), Kansas City (Sept. 26-28)

Tight in Tampa

Tampa Bay was another club affected by poor weather over the weekend. But splitting a double header with the Yankees on Saturday has the Rays worried about the Red Sox. Boston is breathing down the back of Tampa and the last four series of the season will hold the key to what happens next.

It’s been sort of a letdown for the Rays in September with the team going 4-7. While Tampa Bay’s starting pitching has held up with a 3.80 ERA in the last 10, the bullpen has floundered with 5.17 ERA.

The good news is the Rays return home after a long, 10-game road stint. Tampa has been very profitable for backers inside its own stadium with a 53-21 record, going 49-14 in its last 63 home games.

Gamblers can expect another tight series to begin the week as Boston travels into the St. Petersburg area. The Rays came out of Fenway Park last week with a 2-1 performance, scoring a combined nine runs against the likes of Boston starters Daisuke Matsuzaka and Josh Beckett (Beckett was only responsible for giving up six hits and one run).

Tampa Bay leads the Red Sox eight game to seven in the season series. In those 15 total games, books have installed the Rays as underdogs 11 times.

Final Schedule: Minnesota (Sept. 18-21), Baltimore (Sept. 22-24), Detroit (Sept. 25-28)

Mets or Phillies?

Predicting a winner in the NL East is no easy task. In the case of the Mets and Phillies, both clubs are virtually locked up in first and second place in the order. New York has the skinny, one-game edge after dropping an all important contest against Atlanta by the score of 7-4. What happens from here?

Already installed as a $1.80 visiting favorite for Monday, the Mets will swing away against Washington in a four-game series. This is the same Nationals team that has gone 4-10 versus New York in 2008.

Mets starters Johan Santana and John Maine have been especially effective against Washington, combining for a 5-0 record, with a 2.37 ERA and a WHIP of 1.23. Santana will get the expected start on Thursday (Game 4 of the series), while Maine is projected to climb on top of the mound in Game 1 on Monday.

The Metropolitans are a combined 15-16 versus their next three opponents (after the Washington series), which include Atlanta, the Chicago Cubs and Florida.

After some ups and downs throughout the season, Philadelphia has once again found its stride. Pending the result of another double-header scheduled for Sunday night the Phillies find themselves right behind the Mets after going 18-10 in the last 28.

The surprise is that the Philly hasn’t excelled in any one area. The last 10 games have witnessed a team .260 BA, while both starters and pen have posted a 3.79 ERA. The last six wins (in the last 10) have seen the Phillies skirt by opponents by an average of only a 3.3 run margin.

Philadelphia will get the day off on Monday before returning to face Atlanta in a three-game series. Led by first base slugger, Ryan Howard, the Phillies have clobbered the ball for a .311 BA, with 6.2 RBIs produced per game indication of keying on the Braves’ pitching staff. Howard himself has been responsible for teeing off with a .333 BA and 18 RBIs.

Those aforementioned offensive numbers are know wonder why Philly is an unconscious 10-2 versus Atlanta this season.

The Phillies will end the regular season fighting against Florida (Sept. 19-21), Atlanta again (Sept. 22-24) and finally Washington (Sept. 26-28).

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Re: MLB News and Notes September 15

Chicago White Sox (83-65) at N.Y. Yankees (79-70)

Clinging to a one-game lead in the N.L. Central, the White Sox open a critical four-game series at Yankee Stadium, with Mark Buehrle (13-11, 3.88 ERA) set to oppose New York rookie Alfredo Aceves (1-0, 1.29).

After having three home games against the Tigers rained out on Friday and Saturday, Chicago finally got back to work Sunday and swept a doubleheader from Detroit, winning the opener 4-2, then taking the nightcap 11-7 as the Sox scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning after blowing a 7-2 lead in the top of the frame. Chicago, which had lost four of five prior to Sunday, leads the Twins by one game in the Central Division race.

The White Sox are 6-1 in Buehrle’s last six starts overall, but they’re 0-4 in his last four on the road, 2-5 in their last seven overall on the highway and 2-6 in their last eight against the A.L. East.

The Yankees got home runs from Derek Jeter, Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez to blow past the first-place Rays 8-4 on Sunday. Still, New York has dropped six of its last 10 overall and currently sits in fourth place in the A.L. East, nine games back of wild card-leading Boston.

New York took two of three in Chicago back in late April in the only other series between these clubs in 2008. The Yanks have won seven of the last nine head-to-head clashes overall and six of the last seven in the Bronx.

Buehrle is coming off two dominating performances, giving up a total of one run and 10 hits in 13 1/3 innings, beating the Angels 10-2 on Sept. 5 and the Blue Jays 6-5 on Wednesday. However, both of those games were in Chicago, where the southpaw is 10-3 with a 2.74 ERA, compared with 3-8 with a 5.34 ERA on the road. The Pale Hose are 3-11 in his 14 road starts.

Buehrle has not fared well against the Yankees in his career, going 1-5 with a 6.58 ERA, including 0-3 with a 16.36 ERA in his last three outings dating to 2004.

Aceves, a right-hander, was outstanding in his major-league debut at the Angels on Tuesday, yielding just one run on five hits and no walks in seven innings.

The over is 4-0-1 in Buehrle’s last five starts overall and 5-1-1 in his six career outings versus the Yankees. The over is also 6-1 in the last seven series meetings between these teams (3-0 this year), 5-3 in Chicago’s last eight overall and 5-1 in the Yanks’ last six on Monday

ATS ADVANTAGE: N.Y. YANKEES and OVER


Boston at Tampa BayBoston (88-61) at Tampa Bay (88-59)

First place in the A.L. East once again is on the line as the Rays and Red Sox play their second three-game series in the past week, this time at Tropicana Field. As was the case on Tuesday in Boston, Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka (16-2, 2.97) is matched up against Rays ace Scott Kazmir (11-6, 2.99) in tonight’s opener.

The Red Sox took three of four against the Blue Jays over the weekend, including Sunday’s 4-3 victory, to close to within a game of Tampa Bay in the division race. Boston has won 14 of its last 20 games since Aug. 24, going 5-2 on the road during this stretch. Additionally, Terry Francona’s team is on runs of 40-19 behind Matsuzaka, 4-0 on Mondays, 8-0 in series openers and 10-4 versus the A.L. East.

The Rays gave two games back to the BoSox the past two days, losing to the Yankees 6-5 in the nightcap of a doubleheader Saturday, then falling 8-4 in the Bronx on Sunday. Tampa went just 3-6 on its road trip, but now returns to the Trop where Joe Maddon’s club is 49-14 in its last 63 games. Also, the Rays are on positive runs of 20-9 against right-handed starters, 20-8 behind Kazmir overall and 21-8 behind Kazmir at home.

The Rays took two of three in Boston last week, losing the opener 3-0 on Monday before rallying to win 5-4 on Tuesday and 4-2 in 14 innings on Wednesday. Those latter two victories snapped 14-game winning streak by the home team in this rivalry. This season, the Rays are 6-0 against Boston in Tampa Bay.

Kazmir got the best of Matsuzaka last week, giving up just two runs on five hits in six innings, while Dice-K went just five innings after yielding three runs on eight hits and four walks. Neither was involved in the decision, as Tampa prevailed 5-4, improving to 5-0 in Kazmir’s last five starts overall and 9-1 in his last 10 outings. Kazmir has allowed two earned runs or fewer in eight of those 10 starts.

Kazmir is 7-1 with a 2.10 ERA in 12 starts at home, with Tampa winning 11 of those contests. He’s also 10-2 with a 2.17 ERA in 17 night games this year, but 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts against Boston in 2008. For his career, Kazmir is 6-6 with a 3.02 ERA in 20 starts versus the Sox, with the Rays winning six of his last eight against Boston at Tropicana Field.

The Red Sox had won seven straight games behind Matsuzaka prior to Tuesday’s loss, and they’re still 21-5 when the Japanese native pitches this season, including 9-2 on the road, where Matsuzaka is 7-0 with a 2.67 ERA.

On the downside for the Red Sox, they’re 1-5 in Matsuzaka’s last six starts against Tampa Bay, including 0-2 this year with the right-hander giving up four runs in 10 innings (3.60 ERA). For his career, Matsuzaka is 1-3 with a 3.98 ERA against Boston.

For the Rays, the over is on streaks of 6-0 at home, 11-4 overall (all against the A.L. East), 4-1 behind Kazmir overall and 4-0 when Kazmir faces the Red Sox. Also, the over is 7-3 in Boston’s last 10 road games, but otherwise the Sox sport under streaks of 5-0 in series openers, 11-5-1 overall, 8-3-1 overall with Matsuzaka on the mound and 6-2-2 when Dice-K toils on the road. Also, the under is 5-2 in the last seven head-to-head clashes at Tropicana Field.

ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE

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Re: MLB News and Notes September 15

Baseball Today

SCOREBOARD

Monday, Sept. 15

Boston at Tampa Bay (7:10 p.m. EDT). Daisuke Matsuzaka (16-2, 2.97 ERA) and Scott Kazmir (11-6, 2.99) meet up in a rematch from Sept. 9, a 5-4 Rays victory. In the game, Matsuzaka gave up three runs and eight hits with four walks in five innings and Kazmir allowed two runs and five hits in six frames. Both pitchers got no-decisions.

STARS

Sunday

- Carlos Zambrano, Cubs, pitched the first no-hitter for the Chicago Cubs in 36 years, striking out 10 in a 5-0 win over the Astros in a game relocated to Milwaukee because of Hurricane Ike.

- Brett Myers, Phillies, pitched a two-hitter on three-days' rest and Philadelphia moved into a tie with Milwaukee for the NL wild-card lead, sweeping a doubleheader from the Brewers with a 6-1 win in the second game.

- Ryan Shealy, Royals, went 3-for-5 with a home run and five RBIs in Kansas City's 13-3 rout of Cleveland. Shealy has seven hits in the last two games.

- Derek Jeter, Yankees, had three hits including a home run and a double, tying Lou Gehrig for the most career hits at Yankee Stadium in New York's 8-4 win over Tampa Bay.

- David Wright, Mets, hit two home runs and went 4-for-5 in New York's 7-4 loss to Atlanta.

- Oscar Salazar, Orioles, hit two homers and drove in three to help Baltimore beat Minnesota 7-3.

NO-HITTER

Carlos Zambrano pitched the first no-hitter for the Cubs in 36 years, returning from a recent bout of rotator cuff soreness to shut down the Astros 5-0 in a game relocated because of Hurricane Ike. Zambrano, known for his emotional displays on the mound, kept himself in control until striking out Darin Erstad to finish his gem. Zambrano dropped to his knees and pointed to the sky with both hands after getting Erstad to swing and miss. The big right-hander was immediately mobbed on the mound by his teammates.

SWEPT AWAY

The Brewers got swept 7-3 and 6-1 by the Phillies to fall into a tie with Philadelphia for the NL wild-card lead. The Brewers are trying to avoid a repeat of last year's late collapse, when they built an 8 1/2 -game lead in the NL Central in late June only to finish two games behind the Chicago Cubs. After Carlos Zambrano threw a no-hitter to beat the Astros, the Brewers were 7 1/2 behind Chicago. Nine days ago, the Brewers were within four games of the Cubs. "When you're struggling, things never seem to go your way," Yost said.

SEPTEMBER SWOON

A dreadful bullpen is making it awfully difficult for the Mets to avoid another September meltdown. Fill-in closer Luis Ayala gave up a go-ahead homer to pinch-hitter Greg Norton, and the Braves rallied for five runs in the ninth inning and a 7-4 victory. The Mets' lead in the NL East was cut to one game by Philadelphia, which swept a doubleheader from Milwaukee. The Mets squandered a seven-game cushion with 17 to play last year, letting Philadelphia charge past them for the division title in one of the worst collapses in baseball history. Desperately trying to erase those painful memories, New York had 17 games remaining coming into this series and dropped two of three to the fourth-place Braves (67-83).

PRICE IS RIGHT

David Price, the top overall pick in the 2007 draft, made his major league debut for Tampa Bay and threw 5 1-3 impressive innings in relief of struggling starter Edwin Jackson. The 6-foot-6 left-hander allowed two runs and three hits, spending much of the outing in the upper 90s. Price retired six straight before Jeter led off the fifth with his 11th homer. "It was fun," Price said. "This one here was obviously special. I settled down pretty good, started breathing better. That first inning was pretty rough."

BENCHED

Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano was benched after manager Joe Girardi became upset with his lack of hustle on a fielding play against the Rays. Cliff Floyd led off the fourth inning with a hard grounder between first baseman Jason Giambi and Cano. Giambi dived and the ball went off his glove and into right-center field. Cano didn't immediately go after it and Floyd beat right fielder Xavier Nady's throw to second for the unusual double. Girardi switched Cody Ransom from third to second and inserted Wilson Betemit at third before Tampa Bay batted in the fifth.

SPOILERS

The Reds will spend October at home. They did all they could to make sure the Diamondbacks will too. Corey Patterson homered to give the Reds a 2-1 victory in 10 innings over Arizona, sending the Diamondbacks to their eighth loss in nine games. Arizona remains 4 1/2 games behind the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. The Reds have won three straight series over the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee and Arizona, all of them contending for the postseason.

THE LETTER

Former White Sox reliever Bobby Thigpen was quick to congratulate the man who broke his saves record, sending a note to Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez. Rodriguez earned his 58th save this season when he finished out Los Angeles' 5-2 win over Seattle on Saturday night. Thigpen posted 57 saves for Chicago in 1990. "Only a handful of major league relievers understand what it takes to reach the 50-save mark," Thigpen wrote. "Your record-setting season is an accomplishment you should treasure this year for and for years into the future. I am certain your record for saves will stand for many, many seasons to come."

MILESTONE

Derek Jeter hit a solo homer in the fifth inning against the Rays, tying Lou Gehrig for the most career hits at Yankee Stadium. Jeter connected against Tampa Bay?s David Price for his 1,269th hit at the ballpark, which is in its final season. The crowd roared as the New York captain rounded the bases after his opposite-field drive to right, and cheered even louder when he came out of the dugout for a curtain call. Jeter also singled in the first and doubled in the second against Edwin Jackson, leading the Yankees to an 8-4 victory.

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