MLB News and Notes Saturday 5/9

MLB News and Notes Saturday 5/9

Baseball Today

SCOREBOARD


Saturday, May 9

Kansas City at L.A. Angels (9:05 p.m. EDT). The Royals’ Zack Greinke(notes) goes for win No. 7 without a loss this season against Joe Saunders(notes) (4-1) and the Angels.

STARS

Friday

— Justin Verlander(notes), Tigers, allowed two hits and two walks with 11 strikeouts in a 1-0 shutout of the Indians. Verlander outdueled Cliff Lee(notes), who gave up a run and seven hits over eight innings.

— Alex Rodriguez(notes), Yankees, hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat since rejoining the team, and New York beat Baltimore 4-0.

— Matt Harrison(notes), Rangers, tossed a four-hitter for his second career shutout, 6-0 over the White Sox. Harrison struck out five and walked one.

— Howie Kendrick(notes), Angels, hit a two-run, inside-the-park homer that helped Los Angeles to a 4-1 victory and put a stop to the Kansas City Royals’ six-game win streak.

— Ryan Braun, Brewers, hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to lift Milwaukee to a 3-2 win over the Cubs.

— Carlos Delgado(notes), Mets, went 3 for 4 with a homer and five RBIs in a 7-3 win over Pittsburgh.

— Wandy Rodriguez(notes), Astros, allowed five hits over eight innings, striking out seven in a 2-0 win over the Padres.

— Scott Baker(notes), Twins, scattered five hits over seven innings in an 11-0 win over the Mariners. He struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.

A-OK

Alex Rodriguez trumpeted his return to the Yankees by hitting a three-run homer on the first pitch of his late-starting season, helping them snap a five-game skid with a 4-0 victory in Baltimore. A dozen fans waved plastic foam syringes a few rows behind the plate as A-Rod sent a fastball into the left-field seats. It was his 554th career home run.

DUBIOUS DEBUT

After firing Bob Melvin, the Diamondbacks turned their fortunes over to a 34-year-old former catcher with no experience as a manager. A.J. Hinch was introduced as Melvin’s replacement during a news conference Friday, then proceeded to watch his team get beat 5-3 by the lowly Nationals. Hinch was in his fourth season as the Diamondbacks’ director of player development.

BACK IN FORM

Cole Hamels(notes) pitched six impressive innings to earn his first win since the World Series, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 10-6 on Friday night. Making his first start since spraining his left ankle on April 28, Hamels (1-2) allowed two runs, three hits and struck out seven. Hamels was MVP of the NL championship series and World Series last year, but struggled the first month. He lowered his ERA to 6.17.

SWAP MEET

The Orioles dealt disgruntled utility player Ryan Freel(notes) to the Cubs for reserve outfielder Joey Gathright(notes), who wasn’t getting any playing time because of Chicago’s glut of outfielders. Also, Oakland acquired infielder Adam Kennedy(notes) from Tampa Bay for a player to be named.

AILING

Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez(notes) dislocated his left shoulder diving for a grounder in the third inning against Milwaukee. … Twins 3B Joe Crede(notes) was held out of Minnesota’s 11-0 victory over Seattle because of a sore left hamstring. … Yankees RHP Ian Kennedy(notes) will have surgery next week for an aneurysm under his right biceps. The team also put C Jose Molina(notes) on the DL with a strained quad. … 1B Lance Berkman(notes) was a late scratch from the Astros lineup for their game against San Diego because of soreness in his left wrist.

BEST WISHES

Astros hitting coach Sean Berry had a kidney with a cancerous tumor on it removed. Dr. Richard Goldfarb performed the surgery Friday at The Methodist Hospital, taking out the right kidney. Doctors say they got the entire growth and there will be no need for follow-up cancer treatments. The 43-year-old Berry first began experiencing discomfort in his kidney area last Saturday while the Astros were in Atlanta. Tests then revealed the need for the surgery.

STATS

Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman(notes) hit safely in the 26th consecutive game, the longest active streak in the majors, when he singled in the first inning of a 5-4 win over Arizona. … Baltimore leads the AL with 46 homers allowed. … The Marlins had gone a club-record 20 games without a win by a starting pitcher before Ricky Nolasco(notes) scattered eight hits over six innings in an 8-3 win over Colorado. … The Rangers’ Matt Harrison hasn’t allowed a run in 19 straight innings after pitching his team to a 6-0 win over the White Sox.

SPEAKING

“It was awesome. It was just nice to get to the ballpark, give the guys a hug and do what I do best.”—Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, who hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat following hip surgery to help New York snap a five-game skid with a 4-0 win over Baltimore.

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Re: MLB News and Notes Saturday 5/9

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Chicago (16-14) at Milwaukee (18-13)


The Cubs’ Ryan Dempster (2-1, 4.86 ERA) makes his second start of the season at Miller Park when he squares off against Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo (3-1, 3.02) in the middle game of a weekend series between N.L. Central rivals.

Milwaukee got a two-run homer from Ryan Braun in the eighth inning Friday night to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory. The Brewers have won nine of their last 12 and 13 of their last 16 overall. Additionally, they’re on runs of 7-2 at home, 7-1 against N.L. Central rivals, 8-2 as a favorite and 10-4 against right-handed starters, but they have lost six of their last eight on Saturday.

Despite blowing Friday’s contest, the Cubs are still 6-2 in their last eight games, a run that comes on the heels of a 2-7 slump. Chicago is also 6-2 in its last eight Saturday contests, but Lou Pineilla’s club has now lost six straight games as an underdog.

These rivals have now split four meetings this season – all in Milwaukee – but the Cubs are still 9-5 in the last 14 battles overall and 8-4 in their last 12 at Miller Park.

Dempster is coming off Monday’s 4-2 home win over the Giants, allowing both runs on five hits in seven innings. However, the veteran right-hander has struggled on the road, going 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA in four starts, though the one victory came on April 12 in Milwaukee when Dempster gave up four runs in six innings, prevailing 8-5. Going back to last year, the Cubs are 1-5 in Dempster’s last six road outings, but they’re 5-0 in his last five outings on Saturday.

For his career, Dempster is 9-2 with a 2.63 ERA and 10 saves in 36 appearances (14 starts) against the Brewers, including 4-1 with a 2.33 ERA and six saves in 19 games (seven starts) at Miller Park.

Gallardo delivered his fourth consecutive quality start at Pittsburgh on Monday, yielding three runs in seven innings but he failed to earn a decision as Milwaukee rallied for a 7-4 victory, improving to 3-0 in the right-hander’s last three starts. Gallardo is 1-1 with a 4.85 ERA in two outings at Miller Park.

Milwaukee has won five of Gallardo’s last six starts versus N.L. Central rivals. He’s faced Chicago twice, giving up five runs in 12 innings (3.75 ERA) with the Brewers splitting both contests on the road.

For Chicago, the “over” is on runs of 9-3-1 overall, 5-1-1 on the road, 11-5-1 as an underdog, 7-2 against right-handed starters and 8-4-2 against divisional rivals. The over is also 4-1 in Milwaukee’s last five overall and 6-2 in its last eight against N.L. Central foes, but the under has been the play in each of the Brewers’ last six home games and is on additional runs of 11-4 for Milwaukee against right-handed starters and 9-2 with Gallardo on the hill.

Lastly, in this rivalry, the over is on runs of 12-5-2 overall, 14-5-2 in Milwaukee, and 4-1 when Dempster faces Chicago.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Tampa Bay (14-17) at Boston (19-11)


Two lefties off to subpar starts to the 2009 season square off at Fenway Park, with the Rays’ Scott Kazmir (3-3, 6.00) set to oppose Jon Lester (2-2, 5.11).

Boston fell behind 3-0 halfway through Friday’s series-opener against Tampa Bay, but rallied for seven unanswered runs to cruise to the 7-3 victory. The Red Sox are on impressive streaks of 17-5 overall, 76-32 at Fenway Park, 11-3 against division rivals, 5-0 on Saturday, 5-0 against southpaw starters and 16-2 when playing on grass.

Tampa Bay has followed up a 4-11 slump by going 6-3 in its last nine. The Rays have also won six of their last nine against the A.L. East. But otherwise Joe Maddon’s club is in funks of 6-9 on the road, 1-8 versus left-handed starters and 0-6 on Saturday.

The Rays lead the season series 5-3, but they’re still just 15-49 in their last 64 games at Fenway Park (playoffs included).

Kazmir has given up six earned runs in three of his last four starts, losing all three contests, including Monday’s 8-4 home setback to the Orioles. However, two of Kazmir’s three wins have come on the road, including a 7-2 victory at Boston on April 8 when he surrendered just a single run on five hits in six innings. Overall, Kazmir is 2-1 with a 3.94 ERA in three starts on the highway.

Including the April 8 win in Boston in his 2009 season debut, Kazmir is 7-7 with a 3.52 ERA in 22 career regular-season starts against the Red Sox, including 5-4 with a 2.88 ERA in 12 starts at Fenway Park. Also, Tampa Bay has won 14 of Kazmir’s last 17 starts on Saturday and 14 of his last 20 against teams with a winning record.

Lester beat the Yankees 6-4 in New York on Monday, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out 10 over seven innings. The southpaw was terrific in his last two home efforts, holding the Yankees and Orioles to a combined two runs on 11 hits with 16 strikeouts in 13 innings.

With Lester on the hill, Boston is on runs of 39-17 overall (4-0 overall), 22-4 at home and 20-8 against the A.L. East. Also, including two playoff starts in October, Lester is 4-3 with a 4.17 ERA in 10 lifetime starts against Tampa Bay. However, he lost to Kazmir on April 8, giving up five runs on eight hits in five innings of that 7-2 defeat. Prior to that, Boston had gone 7-0 with Lester pitching against the Rays in the regular season.

The over is 16-5 in Kazmir’s last 21 outings overall, 6-1 in his last seven on the highway, 10-1 in his last 11 against divisional rivals and 8-0 in his last eight against the Red Sox and 4-0 in his last four at Fenway Park. Additionally, the Red Sox have topped the total in six of Lester’s last eight home starts, each his last four starts on Saturday and each his last eight starts in the second game of a series.

Boston carries “over” trends of 19-7-3 overall (7-2-2 last 11), 9-2 versus left-handed starters, 6-2-1 at home and 11-3-2 against losing teams. Finally, the over/under had alternated in the first seven head-to-head meetings this season before Friday’s game landed right on the posted total.

ATS ADVANTAGE: BOSTON and OVER

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Re: MLB News and Notes Saturday 5/9

Streaking and Slumping Pitchers
By Covers.com

Streaking

Zack Greinke (Kansas City Royals)


Having overcome an anxiety disorder that threatened his career, Zack Greinke is a man who chooses to say little. The Kansas City Royals ace instead lets his pitching speak quite loudly for him.

Looking to become the majors' first seven-game winner - and continue his all-around domination so far in 2009 - Greinke and the Royals will meet the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night in the middle game of their weekend set.

Greinke (6-0, 0.40 ERA) is tied with Toronto's Roy Halladay for most wins this year, but the Royals hurler is tops in baseball with two shutouts, three complete games, 54 strikeouts and he's yet to give up a run in two road starts.

Greinke also is the third pitcher to win his first six starts with an ERA below 0.50, joining Walter Johnson (1913) and Fernando Valenzuela (1981).

"I'm not trying to jinx him, but what he's doing is historic in nature,'' teammate and fellow right-hander Brian Bannister said. "The level he's pitching at, it kind of makes you want to sit back and grab some popcorn because it's impressive what he's doing.''

No Royals pitcher has begun a season 7-0 since Jose Lima in 2003. Making his first career start at Angel Stadium, Greinke is 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in four appearances - three starts - against Los Angeles.

Yovani Gallardo (Milwaukee Brewers)

Milwaukee counters with Yovani Gallardo (3-1, 3.02), who is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his last four starts.

The right-hander allowed three runs and a season-high seven hits in seven innings of a 7-4 win over Pittsburgh on Monday, but did not factor in the decision.

In his last start against the Cubs on May 1, 2008, Gallardo gave up three runs and nine hits in six innings of a 4-3 victory, but did not receive a decision. He injured his right leg in the fifth inning of that game when he landed awkwardly to avoid a collision at first base, but stayed in the game. Two weeks later he had surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee and didn't pitch again until Sept. 25.


Slumping

Scott Kazmir (Tampa Bay Rays)


The Boston Red Sox got into a groove at the plate in the sixth inning of each of their last two games. Scott Kazmir has been providing opposing lineups with an equal opportunity for success throughout his starts.

Coming off another productive game, the Red Sox look to deal the All-Star left-hander his third straight loss in the middle game of their series with the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.

In his last start, Kazmir gave up six runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings as Tampa Bay lost 8-4 to Baltimore on Monday night.

Kazmir, though, had one of his best performances of the season April 8 against the Red Sox, allowing one run and five hits in six innings to earn a win in a 7-2 Rays victory. Kazmir is 7-7 with a 3.52 ERA in 22 starts versus Boston.

John Danks (Chicago White Sox)

Danks allowed five runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings in Texas' 5-1 victory Sunday to fall to 1-2 with a 5.30 ERA against the team that selected him in the first round of the 2003 draft and traded him to the White Sox in December 2006, before ever making a major-league appearance.

"It's always been just another start,'' Danks said.

The left-hander has given up 10 runs in 9 1-3 innings of his last two starts after yielding two in 19 innings of his first three overall this season.

"My job description is to give us a chance to win and give us innings," he told the White Sox's official Web site. "I've done neither in either of the last two starts. I'm going to have to bounce back."

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