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MLB News and Notes 4/5

MLB News and Notes 4/5

Braves at Phillies
By Judd Hall

The dress rehearsal that is known as spring training is over and done with. Now it’s time for the games to count as the 2009 Major League Baseball campaign gets under way in earnest on Sunday. And what better place to start than the place that the ’08 season finished up, Philadelphia.

The Phillies will unfurl their World Series Championship banner and get some bling before they take on Atlanta on ESPN2 at 8:00 p.m. EDT this Sunday. However, it won’t be the same team that won it all last October.

Philadelphia lost its favorite whipping boy, Pat Burrell, in free agency to the Rays. More importantly, the Phils won’t be sending out World Series MVP Cole Hamels out to start their title defense as he is nursing his elbow.
So now that Hamels is not pitching until Friday, Charlie Manuel has tabbed Brett Meyers to get the season off to a good start. The right-hander didn’t have that solid of a regular season in 2008 by going 10-13 with a hefty earned run average of 4.55. Meyers did, however, go 2-1 in the playoffs despite his ERA jumping up to 4.74 in three starts.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants wasn’t concerned with who starts for the Phillies by installing them as $1.30 home favorites with a run total of 8 ½. Bettors can open the year betting the pups by taking the Braves for a plus-120 return (risk $100 to win $120).

It will be interesting to see how Meyers performs on Sunday night since he’s just 4-8 with a 4.60 ERA in 26 career appearances versus Atlanta.

Someone the Braves will be looking to knock the Philly hurler around is third baseman Chipper Jones. The native of DeLand, FL just inked a three-year deal that will keep him with the club until 2012. One of the things they’re paying for is the fact that Jones is hitting .333 in 30 at bats versus the Phillies. And he’s hit three homers with seven RBI.

Atlanta will be kicking the tires on its biggest acquisition of the offseason, Derek Lowe. The former Dodger pitcher will be taking on a team that he faced twice in last year’s NLCS. It’s safe to say that Lowe is hoping to perform better than he the last time he faced Philadelphia, going 0-1 with a 3.56 ERA in two playoff starts.

Those numbers were compiled in the postseason though. In the regular season, Lowe has fared much better against the Phightins as evidenced by a 4-1 record in seven starts with a 3.02 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. He’s also 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA for his career at Citizens Bank Park.

Philly’s lineup looks like it will have its work cut out for them as the current roster is hitting just .163 against the Braves’ starting pitcher. Chase Utley is the only Phillie with solid numbers as he’s hit .357 versus Lowe, but has only one run batted in. Jimmy Rollins is 6-for-20 with a pair of two-baggers against Lowe as well.

You might want to take a serious look at the ‘under’ in this game as it has cashed on an 83-73-6 for the Phillies and went 87-71-4 for Atlanta.

Philadelphia went just 5-4 against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park last season. Atlanta won two of three in the final series of last season with the ‘under’ going 2-1.

The Phillies are not known for starting the year on a high note, posting a 2-5 mark in season openers the last seven years. The ‘over’ is 5-2 in those games as well.

Atlanta is so-so when playing its openers, going 5-5 over the last decade. The ‘over’ went 6-3-1 in that time frame though.

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Re: MLB News and Notes 4/5

Game of the day: Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies
By Ben Burns

Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies (-132, 8.5)

Philadelphia owned Atlanta last season.

However, Brett Myers, the Phillies’ starter in Sunday’s season opener, did not.

The Phillies won 14 of 18 against the Braves, including winning all nine games in Atlanta.

But Myers went 0-2 with a 10.39 against the Braves. Atlanta hit .436 off Myers and shelled him in its meeting in late September.

It wasn’t just the Braves, either. Myers was bad against everyone to start last year and ended up costing bettors big time. Only Detroit’s Justin Verlander lost more money for bettors than Myers, who finished the season $-1,351.

Myers did rebound from the slow start and pitched well down the stretch and during the playoffs.

He lost 25 pounds in the offseason and is in the final year of his contract.

“This year has the potential to a big year for him," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I think he's ready to go and he spent a lot of time this winter working out and getting in shape and he came to spring training that way. He's looking forward to having a big season for us, and we need him to have a big season to repeat."

The Braves will counter with newcomer Derek Lowe. Last season with the Dodgers, Lowe went 3-1 in five appearances against the Phillies. He pitched well in the NLCS, but suffered a loss and a no decision.

Lowe, a sinker-baller, was especially effective last season at night, going 11-8 with a 2.86 ERA.

Philadelphia has a nearly identical lineup, with only Pat Burrell not returning. Longtime Seattle Mariner Raul Ibanez takes over Burrell duties in left field. Center fielder Shane Victorino had 14 RBIs against the Braves last year.

The Braves have two new bats in their line-up with the additions of Garrett Anderson and rookie center fielder Jordan Schafer.

Third baseman Chipper Jones sat out Saturday’s game because he was feeling ill, but he’s expected to play today. Jones hit .456 against Philadelphia last season.

Manager Bobby Cox is hoping to get more consistency from right fielder Jeff Francoeur. The youngster has never been short on talent but his lack of discipline at the dish resulted in his worst campaign in the pros.

He adjusted his swing in the offseason and it showed during Spring Training. Francoeur went 2-for-2 with a big fly yesterday afternoon pushing his Grapefruit League batting average to .328.

“He’s hit the ball hard, straight up the middle and using all fields, which is a good idea for any hitter,” Cox told reporters. “I think he looks real good right now. He could be a huge plus for us.”

Obviously, Citizens Bank Park will be rocking, with the Phillies opening defense of their first World Series title in 28 years.

In the past 10 seasons, World Series champions are 8-2 in their home-openers.

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Re: MLB News and Notes 4/5

ATLANTA (72 - 90) at PHILADELPHIA (103 - 73)
Top Trends for this game.
ATLANTA is 72-90 (-23.8 Units) against the money line in all games over the last 2 seasons.
ATLANTA is 29-52 (-19.1 Units) against the money line in road games over the last 2 seasons.
ATLANTA is 6-20 (-14.9 Units) against the money line in road games when playing on Sunday over the last 3 seasons.
ATLANTA is 71-88 (-22.9 Units) against the money line in games played on a grass field over the last 2 seasons.
ATLANTA is 49-61 (-16.4 Units) against the money line in night games over the last 2 seasons.
PHILADELPHIA is 104-59 (+34.9 Units) against the money line in home games when playing on Sunday since 1997.
MYERS is 14-22 (-14.1 Units) against the money line in all games over the last 3 seasons. (Team's Record)
MYERS is 4-10 (-10.3 Units) against the money line against division opponents over the last 3 seasons. (Team's Record)

Head-to-Head Series History
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.

LOWE is 4-2 when starting against PHILADELPHIA with an ERA of 2.96 and a WHIP of 1.171.
His team's record is 4-5 (-2.0 units) in these starts. The OVER is 6-3. (+3.1 units)

BRETT MYERS vs. ATLANTA since 1997
MYERS is 4-7 when starting against ATLANTA with an ERA of 4.56 and a WHIP of 1.289.
His team's record is 9-10 (-4.4 units) in these starts. The UNDER is 6-9. (-4.0 units)

The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Atlanta's last 6 games
Atlanta is 7-15 SU in its last 22 games on the road
Philadelphia is 13-3 SU in its last 16 games when playing Atlanta
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Philadelphia's last 5 games when playing Atlanta

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