Cardinals vs Twins

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A little interleague MLB action on Tuesday evening as the St Louis Cardinals duke it out with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota in game one of a two-game series. The Twins took both meetings between these team in St Louis last week and outscored them 13-1 in the process. Pitching Probables: Toeing the rubber for the Cardinals will be Jack Flaherty (0-1, 3.60 ERA) and he will be opposed by Jose Berrios (3-4, 4.50 ERA).Cards Lose Final Two In San Diego

The St Louis Cardinals are sitting in a tie with the Pirates for 2nd place in the National League Central, with both teams being just a half a game out of first. They come in struggling a bit as they have lost four of their last six games, including their last two of a four-game series with the San Diego Padres over the weekend. They did take the first two games of that series and scored 11 runs in the two games, but scored just four total runs in the two losses.

The Cards lost the finale by a score of 5-3 and leading their attack was Harrison Bader, who had two hits, including his 3rd homer of the year, and he drove in a pair of runs as well. He also had a triple in the game. Adam Wainright got the start in the game and it was not a good one as he allowed two ERs on three hits and six walks in just 2.1 innings of work to fall to 1-3 with a 4.00 ERA on the year. John Gant then came in and struggled as well as he allowed two ERs on four hits in 3.2 innings of work. The Cardinals have averaged 4.63 rpg and have allowed 4.00 rpg on the road so far.

Getting the nod for the Cardinals will be Jack Flaherty and he has gone 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP in two starts on the year. In his career, he has gone 0-3 with a 5.46 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP in eight games (seven starts) overall, including 0-1 with a 5.14 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP in five starts on the road. This will be his first meeting with the Twins. Flaherty was 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in five starts at Memphis (AAA) this year.

The Cardinals have been below average on offense in the early going as they come in ranked 16th in the league in scoring, putting up 4.29 rpg, while also ranking 26th in hitting at .230 and 12th in homers with 49. On the mound, they have been very solid in the early going as they come in ranked 3rd in the league in ERA at 3.35 while also ranking 10th in WHIP at 1.29 and 25th in K’s with 316. The pen for the Cardinals ranks 12th in the league in ERA at 3.66.
In their first game without Yadier Molina, the St.

Louis Cardinals survived a 14-inning battle of attrition, beating the Chicago Cubs 4-3 when Dexter Fowler skied a game-winning two-run homer off the top of the right-field wall just before 1 a.m. Monday.St. Louis continues a journey of at least four weeks in duration without its All-Star catcher Monday night when it starts a two-game interleague series in Busch Stadium with the Minnesota Twins.

How it survives this stretch without Molina, a workhorse who started 30 of the Cardinals’ first 31 games before being felled by a foul tip to the groin in the ninth inning Saturday, could tell if they can challenge for a National League Central Division title.At 20-12, St. Louis leads the division by 1 1/2 games over Milwaukee. Molina helped get it off to the fast start, hitting .272 with six homers and 17 RBIs while helping the pitching staff rank among the top five in the majors in earned run average.

“With him behind the plate, it takes so much pressure off the pitcher just because you know how prepared he is,” Minnesota reliever Zach Duke said to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “You don’t have to think about what you’re going to throw because pretty much whatever he puts down is the right pitch at the time.”Duke would know. He spent parts of the last two years with the Cardinals before signing with the Twins as a free agent. Another former teammate, Lance Lynn, followed Duke to Minnesota in mid-March, although he won’t face St. Louis in the series.

Instead, the Cardinals will face rookie right-hander Fernando Romero, making his second big league start. The 23-year-old Romero fired 5 2/3 scoreless innings Wednesday in a 4-0 victory over Toronto, permitting four hits and walking three while fanning five.Romero, rated a top 100 prospect in the minors before the season, averaged almost a strikeout per inning in 324 1/3 minor league innings. He won 11 games last year at Double-A Chattanooga.

The Twins (13-17) prevailed 5-3 Sunday at the Chicago White Sox, their third straight win, and trail first place Cleveland by two games in the American League Central.They could be catching St. Louis at a good time, and not just because Molina won’t be around. While the Cardinals have won five in a row, their bullpen was shredded by 10- and 14-inning games to end the Cubs’ series.John Gant (1-0, 0.00) will make his first big league start of the year for St. Louis. In his only appearance for the Cardinals, he fired three hitless innings April 26 to earn a 4-3, 13-inning win over the New York Mets.

Brewers vs Diamondbacks

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The Brewers fared well in the first leg of their measuring stick road trip out west, taking three of four from the Colorado Rockies, with the only loss coming on a night they had to make a spot start due to the illness of Chase Anderson.

They now head to Arizona to face the NL-West leading Diamondbacks, who are in the middle of a challenging stretch of their own. In their past 16 games, they’ve had to face the Dodgers and Nationals twice with a three-game series against the Astros thrown in for good measur

They’ve gone 7-9 in that stretch, but it only looks that bad after getting swept by the Nationals in a four-game series the second time around, and they’re now on a 5-game losing streak. The schedule doesn’t get much easier for them in the next couple weeks, with their two series against the Brewers sandwiched around a trip to New York to face the Mets.

Expected to be a strong offensive team, the losing streak is the result of the bats going cold. They scored a total of 7 runs in 4 days against the Nationals, which can tend to happen against that pitching staff, and 4 of those runs came yesterday. Arizona’s dead last in the majors in batting average, 26th in on-base percentage, and 23rd in slugging percentage.

It’s fair to wonder how much of that is on the players themselves, and how much the new humidor at Chase Field is affecting the offense there. The fact that the Diamondbacks’ pitching has been excellent — 2nd in ERA, 3rd in WHIP, 3rd in batting average against — might point towards the humidor theory having some merit.

Friend Zack Greinke is still going pretty strong at age 34. Despite a spring training that had some concerned about his velocity, he’s still been largely good this year outside of a couple of outings where he’s been touched up for 5 runs. His past few starts have been very good, though, allowing just 4 runs in his past 18.2 innings, including him striking out 10 Dodgers on April 30th and putting up 7 innings of 1-run ball in his last start against the Nationals in what would be a 2-1 Arizona loss.

Koch’s last three starts have come against Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, but he’s tried to make the best of it. He’ll carry a 2.43 ERA into this series, although the underlying numbers say that should be a good amount higher — his FIP is 4.89 — due to the facing he’s only struck out 20 and walked 8 while giving up 25 hits in 33.1 innings. He doesn’t throw very hard — he’s averaging just under 92 mph on his fastball — but he’s been able to induce some weak contact and has scattered the hits he has allowed.

Milwaukee’s relievers have thrown 158 1/3 innings, third in the NL, and setup man/part-time closer Jeremy Jeffress is among the league leaders with 22 appearances. Josh Hader has been spectacular in moving into the closer’s role in the absence of injury Corey Knebel.

New Arizona closer Brad Boxberger is tied for second in the league with 11 saves, and he is one of six Arizona relievers with at least 18 appearances.“The bullpen has been critical to our success and will continue to be,” Arizona general manager Mike Hazen said earlier in the season.Arizona left-hander Patrick Corbin (4-0) will oppose the Brewers‘ Junior Guerra (3-2) on Monday.

Milwaukee has won eight of its last 12, including an 11-10, 10-inning victory at Colorado on Friday in which the Brewers overcome a 9-3 deficit. Hader and Jeffress have three saves apiece in the current stretch, and nominal closer Knebel has just returned after missing almost five weeks with a hamstring injury.

“Our model for our bullpen this year is a little different from the conventional model,” Brewers general manager David Stearns told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We’re not going to have as many appearances as some other teams. We are asking our pitchers to go a little bit longer.”

The Brewers took three of four from Colorado when rookie right-hander Freddy Peralta struck out 13 in 5 2/3 innings of his major league debut in a 7-3 victory Sunday. Peralta utilized a low-90 mph fastball that he was not afraid to throw up in the zone.

Arizona has lost five in a row for first time this season after being swept by Washington over the weekend. The Diamondbacks have lost eight of 11.

Diamondbacks’ setup man Archie Bradley suffered his first loss of the season when he gave up a two-run homer to Mark Reynolds in the eighth inning of a 6-4 loss to the Nationals on Sunday. He entered with a 1.29 ERA in 20 appearances.

“As good as we have been out of the bullpen, it kind of startles you especially where it is Archie who has been throwing the ball extremely well,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.

Corbin, who has a 2.12 ERA, has had his most success at home this season. He is 4-0 with a 1.32 ERA in five Chase Field starts, with 44 strikeouts and six walks. He gave up one hit in 7 1/3 innings of a victory against the Dodgers on April 4 and gave up only a check-swing single in his first career shutout in a 1-0 victory over San Francisco on April 17.

Guerra has lost his last three starts, having given up 10 runs in 16 innings. He is 0-1 with a 3.09 ERA in two career starts against Arizona, both coming in 2017. He gave up three runs in six innings while taking a 3-2 loss in his appearance at Chase Field.

Blue Jays vs Mets

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The New York Mets and the Toronto Blue Jays will open a mini two-game interleague series Tuesday evening from Citi Field. The Blue Jays will give the start to 31-year old left-hander Jaime Garcia, and the Mets will hand the ball to 25-year old right-hander Noah Syndergaard. This marks the first meeting between these two clubs since the 2015 season.

Garcia Overcomes Five Walks In No Decision Jaime Garcia will make his eighth start of the season, aiming for his first win in one month. Garcia pitched overcame five walks last time out, allowing two runs (one earned) in five innings against the Mariners, finishing with the no-decision in a game the Blue Jays won. The veteran left-hander is having trouble with his control, and he stands at 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP in 35 innings of work. He possesses solid career numbers against the Mets, recording a 3.18 ERA with a 2-5 record in 10 starts. Yoenis Cespedes is 1 for 8 against Garcia, while Michael Conforto is 3 for 7, and Jay Bruce is 12 for 57 with five RBI’s. Kevin Pillar continues to accumulate the base hits, sporting a .314 average in May, and he has tallied six multi-hit games this month. The 29-year old center fielder now features a team-best .308 average with four home runs and 17 RBI’s on the season. Pillar is 6 for 14 with three RBI’s in four career games against the Mets. The Blue Jays are scoring an average of 4.83 runs per game, ranking them eighth overall. The Toronto pitching is carrying a 4.43 team ERA, placing them 21st in the Major Leagues.

Noah Syndergaard will take the mound for the ninth time of the season, still searching for his first win in over one month. Syndergaard was solid in his latest effort, holding the Rockies to only two runs in six innings, however, he once again received little run support in another no-decision. The menacing right-hander has tallied four consecutive Quality Starts, and he stands at 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP in 46.2 innings of work. He limited the Blue Jays to one run in six innings in his lone career meeting back in the 2015 season.

Several Mets hitters are in a rut at the plate including Yoenis Cespedes who has only tallied three RBI’s on the month. The 32-year old slugger did have a strong month of April, and he owns a .255 average with eight home runs and 28 RBI’s on the season. Cespedes possesses a .273 average with 17 RBI’s in 30 career games against the Blue Jays. The Mets are struggling at the plate and they are now averaging 4.14 runs, ranking them 20th in the Majors. The New York pitching owns a 4.16 team ERA, positioning them 14th overall. Blue Jays left fielder Curtis Granderson, a Met from 2014-17, has 39 career homers at Citi Field. He’s only hit more at Detroit’s Comerica Park and New York’s Yankee Stadium, where he also played for the home teams. He has started just one of the last six games since a slight hamstring pull, primarily because the Red Sox started three left-handers on the weekend. … Mets right fielder Jay Bruce was rumored to be of interest to the Jays as a free agent, but they signed the more athletic Granderson. Bruce, who finished last season with Cleveland, has two homers and 10 RBIs in 12 career games vs. the Jays.

TORONTO – Major League Baseball extended Roberto Osuna’s paid administrative leave for another seven days Monday, giving its officials more time to probe the charge of assaulting a woman laid against the Blue Jays closer by Toronto police last week. The decision was made under Section II.B of the joint domestic violence policy, which allows a for a second leave to follow the expiration of the first seven-day period, with the consent of the Major League Baseball Players Association. The policy also allows the sides to agree to further, less defined extensions to allow the commissioner’s office to complete its investigation. Osuna has been on leave since he was arrested and charged last Tuesday.

What comes next for Osuna will depend on what MLB investigators have already learned and what else they discover. Their probe is one of two processes concurrently playing out for the 23-year-old, whose first court date is scheduled for June 18. The procedural steps on MLB’s end were updated during the most recent round of collective bargaining agreement between players and owners, creating a more structured process for the sides to follow. Two cases that seemed to offer relevant precedents predate those chances.

On Feb. 23, 2016, Jose Reyes, then of the Colorado Rockies, was placed on paid leave pending the completion of criminal proceedings against him in Hawaii, with the commissioner’s office reserving judgment on the incident until after the legal end had wrapped up. On April 11, a Hawaii judge approved the dismissal of a domestic abuse charge against Reyes after Reyes’ wife refused to speak with prosecutors. On May 13, 2016, MLB still suspended him through May 31 retroactive to Feb. 23, covering all of the spring training plus the first two months of the season.

Reyes also agreed to contribute “a total of $100,000 to one or more charitable organizations focused on preventing and treating survivors of domestic violence,” commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement at the time. Outfielder Hector Olivera, then of the Atlanta Braves, was dealt with similarly in April 2016. He was placed on leave right after he was arrested when a woman told authorities she was assaulted at the team hotel. Once the seven days were up, the leave was extended and on May 26 he was handed an 82-game suspension without pay before his case had been adjudicated.

That September he was sentenced to serve 10 days in jail after being found guilty on a misdemeanor domestic assault charge. The Rockies released Reyes after his suspension ended, although he signed with the New York Mets shortly afterward and remains with them now. The Braves traded Olivera to San Diego for Matt Kemp during his suspension period in a swap of bad money contracts and the Padres released him 11 days later. Whatever comes next for Osuna, the club will have a difficult decision to make once he becomes eligible to return as an elite closer coming off an all-star season who has two more seasons of club control remaining before he becomes eligible for free agency

Dodgers vs Marlins

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Dodgers LHP Alex Wood (0-3, 3.60 ERA, 1.000 WHIP) vs. Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (1-2, 10.22 ERA, 1.946 WHIP): Chen will be making his fourth start of the season and will attempt to reverse the downward trend of his last two starts. After a solid debut (one run in 5/13 innings), Chen has struggled mightily in his two most recent starts. In seven total innings against the Reds and the Cubs, Chen has allowed 13 runs on 12 hits and six walks while only striking out three. He’s served up five home runs in those starts and opponents have an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.586 against him. The 10.22 ERA Chen lugs into Tuesday’s start is the highest ERA he’s ever carried into a start. … Wood has been one of the few bright spots recently for the Dodgers, who were swept in four games by Cincinnati over the weekend. The defending National League champions have lost seven of the past eight games and sit in fourth place in the NL West. Wood has no decisions in his last two starts despite allowing just two runs in 10 total innings.

Overall, he’s striking out 8.4 batters per nine innings and has a career-high 5.25 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Starlin Castro is 5-for-7 against Wood in his career, while Martin Prado is 1-for-11.The Dodgers and Marlins conclude a three-game series with a weird start time on Wednesday afternoon, after a pair of low-scoring games that followed pretty much the same script before improvized endings.

Both Monday and Tuesday were 1-1 games late when the Dodgers scratched across the go-ahead run. Both nights saw the Marlins tie the game in the eighth inning against the Dodgers bullpen.

Kenley Jansen was not used in either contest, Monday by design (he was unavailable after pitching the two previous days) and Tuesday by choice (avoided in a tie game in favor of Pedro Baez, who allowed the winning run for Miami).“That’s a decision that didn’t work out and I take full responsibility for it,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It was a decision I made going essentially against the book.”

Roberts has an easier decision on Wednesday, sending Clayton Kershaw to the mound for the series finale. Kershaw has pitched seven innings in each of his last three starts, his longest such streak since June 29-July 18 last season, a four-start stretch wrapped around the All-Star break before he was sidelined by a back injury.Kershaw also hasn’t walked anybody in his last three starts, the first time he has done that since Apr. 26-May 7, 2016.

Trevor Richards is on the mound for the Marlins, the first right-handed starter used by Miami in the series. This is his fifth major league start.The first four starts include one very good start — seven scoreless innings against Pittsburgh — and three mediocre ones, allowing 14 runs in just 12 total innings in those. The result is a 6.16 ERA, and nearly as many walks (11) as strikeouts (14).The 4:35 p.m. PT start technically counts as a day game because it begins before 5 p.m., and gives this six-game homestand starts of 7:10 p.m. (three times), 6:10 p.m., 5:08 p.m. and 4:35 p.m.

More rest was built into baseball’s collective bargaining agreement beginning in 2018, including the 162-game season spread over 187 days instead of 183 like before. There is also more time allowed for travel, which is where this early start on getaway day comes into play. Per the CBA:

For the 2018 championship season, the latest possible start time for getaway games on days when the visiting Club travels to a home off-day or either Club travels to another game the following day shall be determined by taking the portion of the in-flight time that exceeds 2½ hours, and subtracting that amount of time from 7 p.m.

The Dodgers have a short flight to San Francisco on Thursday so that doesn’t affect things. The Marlins are off Thursday, but their flight home to Miami is measured at 4:41 per for CBA purposes. Subtracting 2½ hours from that is 2:11, and subtracting that from 7 p.m. means Wednesday’s game couldn’t have started any later than 4:49 p.m.The Dodgers hit the road beginning with a three-game series against the Marlins in Miami on Tuesday night. Here is a look at the schedule for the series, including an early morning start in the finale, plus the pitching matchups for the three-game set.The Los Angeles Dodgers will look to rebound after suffering a humiliating sweep at home at the hands of Cincinnati, losing the series finale by a final score of 5-3 on Sunday. Yasmani Grandal went 2 for 4 with a solo homer while Yasiel Puig added a solo blast of his own as well.

Chris Taylor added an RBI to round out the scoring for the Dodgers in the loss, while Cody Bellinger and Matt Kemp each added a base hit as Los Angeles mustered up just five hits as a team in the loss. Rich Hill took the loss, falling to 1-2 this season after giving up three runs, two earned, on six hits while walking and striking out four apiece. Alex Wood will start game one and is 0-3 with a 3.60 ERA and 42 strikeouts this season. In his career, Wood is 6-3 with a 2.73 ERA and 56 strikeouts against Miami.Miami and the Los Angeles Dodgers continue their series on Tuesday night at Marlins Park. The Dodgers are coming off an embarrassing sweep of Cincinnati. The Marlins haven’t done much better dropping six of their last seven contests.

Dodgers get pummeled against the awful Reds
Los Angeles scored just nine runs over their four-game stint against Cincinnati and lost every single game. It was a horrible weekend for the team that sinks further down the NL West division. Things can still be salvaged once they get some pitchers healed, but the short-term outlook is bleak for this squad.

Wood still hasn’t registered a victory yet this season. He had two straight no-decisions and his latest start was against Arizona on Wednesday. He gave up one earned run on five hits through five innings of work. He also gave up his first homer in the last three starts. The Dodgers have won those two outings, but the offense didn’t pick it up until Wood was out.Marlins nearly split series against the Braves

Pitching has been Miami’s downfall over the past two weeks. They’ve posted a 6.70 ERA over their last 10 games. They nearly had a comeback in the last contest against Atlanta on Sunday. Down 4-0, they put up three runs in the ninth inning, but that was it for the rally. They had to settle with losing three of four against the Braves.

 

Chen has made three starts this season and hasn’t kept the momentum going from his debut this season. He gave up four earned runs at Cincinnati and allowed a whopping nine earned runs against the Cubs last Wednesday. The previous outing only lasted three innings and he gave up a whopping three homers. Six homers overall in his starts this season.The Dodgers lost to the Marlins on Tuesday night, 3-2, evening their record at 11-11. It’s one loss after a string of seven wins in eight games, so I don’t see any reason to freak out. They need to score more than two runs in consecutive games against the Marlins, but it happens during the course of 162.

I’ve long lamented managers “saving the closer” in games that are tied in the ninth inning or in extra innings. Most times you’ll see a visiting team do it and sometime you’ll see said visiting team lose in walk-off fashion in like the 15th inning with their closer (usually their best reliever) sitting in the bullpen after having warmed up multiple times.

First, off, I hate the idea of making your most important reliever getting up, sitting down, getting back up, sitting back down, etc. over and over for hours. That’s a lot of high-octane arm action.Secondly, once you get into extra innings, the idea while on defense is to continue to extend the game until you can take the lead on offense. As such, once you get to extra innings, I’d order my relievers in reverse order — generally, as matchups will come into play — or how reliable they are.

Thus, when on the road, I’m going with my closer in the 10th inning if I didn’t already burn him in the ninth. If he gets a quick 10th, he can stay for the 11th. People will scream, “what if you take the lead in the 12th?” My answer: Good! We have the lead now, thanks in part to my closer extending the game. “But, Matt, what if you lose the game after you burnt your closer?” Then we should have won it earlier. This isn’t complicated. I’m not saving my best reliever for a chance that might never come.

At home, though, it’s long been pretty accepted even by old-school types to use the closer in the ninth inning. Once it’s tied headed to the ninth, the home team won’t have a save chance. It can only win via walk-off. So just use your best reliever in the ninth (and maybe 10th) and there isn’t even a question.

Only on Tuesday night, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts used Pedro Baez with a tie game in the ninth inning. Not only was closer Kenley Jansen available, but he was warming up next to Baez before Roberts made the call.

 

Braves vs Cubs

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It’s hard to believe we are already ¼ of the way into this baseball season. Today will mark one more game off the calendar, as the Braves travel north to Wrigley Field to battle the Cubs.As long as the weather cooperates, first pitch will come at 2:20 EST, and that pitch will be thrown by Chicago’s Jose Quintana. Julio Teheran will take the hill for the Braves and try to shut down a Cubs offense that is stout from top to bottom.

The Braves likely have some revenge on their minds after an embarrassing bullpen display the last time these two teams faced each other.The recent trajectory of both teams is eerily similar. The Braves won 5 of their 6 games last week after being swept the previous weekend by the Giants; the Cubs won 5 of their 6 games last week after being swept the previous weekend by the Cardinals.

Got something fun or witty to say during the game? Throw it in the comments. To make sure you are all caught up with the underlying stories of this series, and familiar the lineups each team will roll with today, please enthusiastically click the links below.
Afternoon baseball is on tap Monday when the Chicago Cubs host the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves. First pitch from Wrigley Field is set for 2:20 p.m. ET. The Cubs are -157 on the money line, meaning it would take a $157 bet on the Cubs to win to return $100.

Before you make any picks, you need to see what SportsLine’s advanced computer model has to say.The model simulates every game 10,000 times to come up with optimal money-line, run-line and over-under picks. And it’s on a 5-1 run on MLB plays.Now, it has set its sights on Braves-Cubs on Monday and locked in its picks.The model knows that the Braves’ pitching has been masterful with a collective 3.55 ERA, but the Cubs have plenty of firepower in their lineup, including Javier Baez, that could intimidate any hurler.

Taking the mound for the Cubs will be lefty Jose Quintana, who’s 4-2 with a 4.42 ERA. He’s projected to strike out five Braves in five innings of work. He’ll oppose right-hander Julio Teheran, who’s 4-2 with a 3.14 ERA. The computer model is predicting Teheran to whiff five Cubs in six innings.

So which side of the line should you be all over on Monday? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the Braves-Cubs money line you need to back, all from the computer model on a 5-1 MLB roll.Nobody expected 5-foot-9 Ozzie Albies to be among the major league home run leaders. Same with the Atlanta Braves’ rise to the top of the NL East.

They’ve made a believer of Cubs manager Joe Maddon.lbies hit a leadoff drive for his 13th homer, Jose Bautista connected for a three-run shot and the Braves held off Chicago 6-5 on Monday.Julio Teheran (4-1) pitched six innings and Tyler Flowers hit his first homer this season as NL-leading Atlanta (25-15) won for the sixth time in seven games. The Braves moved 10 games over .500 for the first time since July 28, 2014.

“It’s one of those things because the names aren’t big — they’re going to be big names in a couple years,” Maddon said. “They’ll be more easily identifiable. They have some really great talent there. I’m a big fan.”A.J. Minter worked a shaky ninth inning for his second save in the makeup of an April 15 rainout. Minter hit Ian Happ to force in a run with two out, but Kris Bryant lined out to left to end the game.

Chicago closed out a 5-2 homestand with its second straight loss. Bryant and Albert Almora Jr. each hit a two-run homer, but Jose Quintana (4-3) allowed all three Atlanta homers after pitching six sparkling innings against Miami in his previous start.The 21-year-old Albies drove Quintana’s second pitch the opposite way into the bleachers in right for his fourth career leadoff homer. The rookie second baseman tied Manny Machado, Mookie Betts and Bryce Harper for the major league lead in homers. He also doubled and singled.

“A lot of quality at-bats throughout the whole ballgame, especially against Quintana,” Flowers said. “Right out of the gate, too. It’s always nice to get him on the ropes a little bit, get a couple runs across and give Julio something to work with.”Almora went deep in the second, and Bryant connected in the third, but the Cubs were unable to keep up with the slugging Braves.

Flowers, Quintana’s former batterymate with the Chicago White Sox, hit a two-run shot in the third, a towering drive over the wall in left-center. Bautista lifted Atlanta to a 6-4 lead in the fifth, belting a drive to left for his second homer since joining the club on May 4.

Teheran allowed four runs and four hits, struck out one and walked three. The 27-year-old right-hander had a scoreless streak of 16 2/3 innings before Almora’s second homer of the season.

Sam Freeman replaced Teheran and got one out before departing with runners on first and second. Shane Carle then came in and retired each of his five batters while extending his scoreless streak to 13 innings.The Atlanta Braves will wrap up a seven-game road trip on Monday with a quick stop at Wrigley Field to face the Chicago Cubs. Monday’s game was originally slated to be played back on April 15 but was rescheduled due to inclement weather.

Following Monday’s game, both teams will fly back to Atlanta where they will begin a three-game series at SunTrust Park on Tuesday.Atlanta comes in playing well going 5-1 on their current road trip. At 24-15, the Braves lead the NL East by one full game over the Philadelphia Phillies.The Cubs dropped a 5-3 decision to the White Sox on Sunday and enter Monday’s game 21-16 and 1.0 game out of first in a tightly contested NL Central.

The two teams split games in that earlier series with Atlanta winning the opener 4-0 behind a strong outing by Anibal Sanchez. The Braves led 10-2 after four in the second game but were undone by a nine-run eighth inning.ulio Teheran will get the nod on Monday for the Braves and will be looking to pick up where he left off in his last outing. Teheran allowed four hits over six shutout innings against the Phillies in his last start and hasn’t allowed a run in his last 13 innings. He has held opponents to two runs or less in five of his last six starts.

 

Jose Quintana has quietly put together a good stretch of his own. Quintana allowed five hits and one run over six innings in a win over Miami last time out. He has allowed one earned run over his last 17.0 innings. He was tagged for three unearned runs two starts ago against the Cardinals.Yu Darvish’s first season in Chicago has been a struggle so far. Tuesday’s game will be his first appearance since May 2 when he was tagged for seven hits including three home runs and five earned runs over just 4.1 innings. He missed his last scheduled start due to flu-like symptoms and was placed on the disabled list.

Darvish’s only other career appearance against the Braves came earlier this season where he allowed nine hits and four runs in just 4.2 innings.

Mike Foltynewicz has been one of the bigger surprises for the Braves this season. Folty bounced back from his first rough outing of the season last time out allowing three hits and one unearned run over five innings against the Marlins. Plagued by consistency issues in the past, Foltynewicz has allowed two earned runs or less in seven of his eight starts this season.

He hasn’t had much luck in his career against the Cubs allowing 13 hits and nine runs in 11.0 innings spanning two starts.allowed just one hit over six shutout innings as the Atlanta Braves defeated the Miami Marlins 4-3. Ender Inciarte hit a two-run home run in the sixth while Preston Tucker delivered an insurance run in the ninth with a pinch hit single. Arodys Vizcaino allowed a three-run home run to Justin Bour in the ninth but Atlanta held on for the win.

Atlanta will wrap up their road trip on Monday with a make up game at Wrigley Field against the Cubs. The two teams will then return to SunTrust Park for a three-game set in Atlanta.Adjustment time for Ozzie Albies as pitchers aim to exploit Braves standout’s aggressivenessSo far in May, teams are looking to exploit Ozzie Albies’ aggressiveness at the plate and Fox Sports Zach Dillard writes that it is time for Albies to make an adjustment.

 

Phillies vs Orioles

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The Phillies take on the Orioles on Tuesday night in the first game of a brief two game series. Philadelphia has been red hot lately, sweeping a four game series over the San Francisco Giants and then splitting with the Mets over two games, so they have won five of six games overall. They are up to 23-16 and are currently 1.5 games behind the Braves for the division lead in the NL East, a division as contested as any in baseball.

The Orioles will not be any division race this year. They have gotten off to one of the worst starts in their team’s history and are 13-28 right now and a mind boggling 15.5 games out of first place only 1/4 of the way through the season. They did put up 17 runs in their latest game however, a total blowout of the Rays.

Pivetta goes for Phillies
The Phillies turn to Nick Pivetta on Tuesday night and he’ll be looking to go back above .500. He started the season 1-0, lost two straight and then won his latest decision to get back to 2-2. He know faces a team who, despite putting up 17 runs in their latest, has been a light hitting team all year long. Pivetta has been up and down and comes into the game with a 4.15 ERA, but it coming off one of his best starts of the year.

He went five innings in his latest, allowing no earned runs and only four hits in earning the win over the San Francisco Giants. He had no walks and struck out seven batters in the 11-3 blowout. He atoned after losing two straight in which he allowed 1o earned runs over only six innings.Another day has dawned with the Orioles in last place in the American League East. They are now 15.5 games back of the first place Red Sox and Yankees, and after taking three out of four from the Rays this weekend, 4.5 games back of the fourth place Rays. Their winning percentage is finally over .300. Maybe they can eventually take aim at .400.

For now, it seems that we can retire the 1988 Orioles record watch. That team was just 7-34 after 41 games – a full six games worse than the current O’s team. The ‘88 O’s did not win their 13th game until they were 13-42. Let’s hope we don’t have to spend any more time thinking about them.

If you were busy celebrating Mother’s Day yesterday and you missed the game, you missed quite a game! The Orioles thrashed the Rays, 17-1, in what was basically the exact opposite of the Mother’s Day Meltdown. Check out Tyler Young’s recap for the lovely totals, and don’t forget to vote in the Most Birdland Player poll.

The week to come will see the Orioles play two games against the Phillies, who have been good, and four games against the Red Sox, who have been great. If we’re lucky, this week will not bring any sort of progress from the last week screeching to a halt.The Phillies won for the fifth time in six games to earn a split of the series shortened to two games by rain. The Mets have lost 17 of 25 since an 11-1 start.

Yoenis Cespedes homered in the top of the sixth to put the Mets in position to overcome an abbreviated start by Jacob deGrom, who was lifted after throwing 45 pitches in a scoreless first tinning. The New York ace as a precaution due to the pitch count in his first outing back from the disabled list.

In the bottom of the sixth, Mets reliever Paul Sewald (0-3) gave up a leadoff double to Carlos Santana and issued a one-out walk to Scott Kingery. With two outs, Williams stepped to the plate for starting pitcher Aaron Nola (6-1) and crushed a 2-1 pitch deep into the right field seats for his second career pinch-hit homer.
Zack Cozart’s single in the bottom of the ninth inning scored Chris Young from second base to lift Los Angeles past visiting Minnesota in Anaheim, Calif.

Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani had another impressive performance on the mound despite a no-decision. Ohtani gave up just one run on three hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings, striking out 11.

Twins reliever Zach Duke (2-2) hit Young with a pitch to start the ninth inning. Martin Maldonado followed with a sacrifice bunt, moving the runner to second and bringing up Cozart, who swung at Duke’s first pitch and lined it into left field, Young scoring without a throw.Mark Reynolds hit two homers in his season debut, and Bryce Harper and Trea Turner also homered as Washington completed a four-game sweep of Arizona in Phoenix.

Reynolds hit a solo shot in the sixth inning and added a tiebreaking, two-run homer with one out in the eighth off Archie Bradley (0-1). He also singled in his first game since his contract was purchased from Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday when Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the disabled list. The Nationals won for the 13th time in 15 games.

A.J. Pollock and Ketel Marte had two hits, Jarrod Dyson had a two-run single, and David Peralta and Daniel Descalso knocked in runs for the Diamondbacks. Arizona has lost a season-high five in a row and eight of 11.

Yankees vs Nationals

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The New York Yankees only come to Washington once every three years, so even when they stop by for two midweek games in May, it qualifies as an event. Certainly, intrigue is no reason to rearrange one’s rotation for any spring series. That the Nationals rearranged theirs, and that the rearrangement means Max Scherzer will pitch the second of the two games, is more about keeping their starters on proper rest than anything else.

The Nationals have Monday and Thursday off this week, something about which no one would ever complain, but it’s still a scheduling quirk that forced them to make some decisions regarding their rotation. They chose to give every starter an extra day of rest, so Gio Gonzalez will start on an extra day of rest Tuesday. Scherzer, though, will start on regular rest Wednesday, then get another day of rest next time through the rotation.

Tanner Roark will start Friday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he will do so on two extra days of rest. The Nationals have not officially announced their starters beyond that, save for Stephen Strasburg on Saturday on two extra days and Jeremy Hellickson on Sunday.

Scherzer is the biggest stickler for routine and has been planning to make this start on regular rest for weeks. In other words, the shuffle was the plan all along.

Strasburg, despite throwing 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball Saturday, looked like a man who could use a little rest. Strasburg has shown signs of cupping on his elbow this week. While he uses that treatment regularly on his shoulder and upper back, he has not often shown the characteristic splotches in the area of his right elbow. Additionally, Manager Dave Martinez admitted some concern when Strasburg’s velocity was down and his command off in the first inning Saturday. Strasburg dismissed the trouble as mechanical and said he was rushing through his delivery. Indeed, he did seem to find better rhythm as the game went on, and his command and velocity both returned to normal.

Either way, he will get two extra days, which should bode well for his start at Nationals Park this weekend. Strasburg owns a 3.06 ERA on regular rest, which is certainly just fine. On two extra days of rest or more, his ERA is 2.46.

All that shuffling means Scherzer will get to face that star-studded Yankees lineup, which now includes his old National League East friend Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton is 4 for 18 against Scherzer with nine strikeouts and two home runs. Scherzer has faced Aaron Judge just once: in the 2017 All-Star Game. He struck him out.
1. Keep the ball in the park

The Nationals’ bullpen has been plagued by the long ball all season. They’re allowing 1.18 homers per nine innings, which is the 8th-most of any team in baseball. Their HR/FB rate is sitting 14%, which is the 5th-worst in baseball this year.

The Yankees, as you’ve surely heard, hit a whole bunch of home runs. This season, they’re 1st in ISO, 2nd in HRs, and 3rd in HR/FB (15%). Sean Doolittle’s performance against the Yankees’ power-hitting will be what wins or loses this series.

2. Continue hitting right-handed pitching well

Against righties this year, the Nats are hitting .245/.337/.424 – noticeably better than the .227/.310/.636 line they’re posting against lefties. Their 106 wRC+ against right-handed pitching is the 6th best in all of baseball. Of the Yankees’ 366 innings pitched this year, 269 of them have been from right-handers. The Nats are going to see a lot of right-handed pitching

3. Consistent bench production

Over the last two weeks, Wilmer Difo is hitting .333/.429/.556, with Howie Kendrick not far behind at .300/.327/.360. Matt Adams has seven home runs during that span. With Adam Eaton, Anthony Rendon, and David Murphy all missing extended time with various injuries, the Nats have still put up a top-10 offense in baseball this season. Facing a Yankees rotation that’s top-3 in WAR and the best bullpen in baseball will be one of the bigger challenges of their young season.

Indians vs Tigers

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Thanks to a last minute switch pulled by Royals manager Ned Yost, Junis will actually be starting the second game of Friday’s doubleheader. While that’s unfortunate for this morning’s preview — not to mention an exciting Junis-Fulmer matchup — it makes for an easy second preview. Here’s what we had to say about Junis earlier.

While Junis won’t maintain a 1.93 ERA for the entire season, advanced metrics like what he has done so far. His 4.48 xFIP is rather modest, but he might be able to maintain a better-than-average home run rate given his home ballpark and history of limiting homers in the minor leagues. More complicated formulas like SIERA think he has been even better. He was a statistical darling in the minor leagues last year, posting a 30 percent strikeout rate with a 5.2 percent walk rate in 71 innings. His swinging strike rate has taken a step forward already in 2018, although opposing hitters aren’t chasing outside of the zone as often as one might like.

Junis’ arsenal certainly doesn’t scream “budding ace,” but he has the raw stuff to be a useful mid-rotation arm going forward. He mostly relies on his four-seam fastball, which sits in the lower 90s, and a mid-80s slider. He has thrown those two pitches nearly 75 percent of the time this year, and over 80 percent of the time against right-handed hitters. Righties see the slider 60 percent of the time (!) when Junis is ahead in the count, a big reason why they managed a paltry .316 weighted on-base average (wOBA) against him last year. Lefties fared a bit better, with a .274 average and .335 on-base percentage. Junis has mixed in the occasional curveball and changeup to them, but still throws the slider over 20 percent of the time, and nearly 40 percent of the time when ahead in the count.

Well, that was fun! The Tigers couldn’t get much going offensively in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals, but JaCoby Jones made some guy on Twitter look really dumb when he lined a fastball into the bullpen for a walk-off home run. He celebrated by cursing on live TV and telling Fox Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson that he was hungry.

The Tigers will be hoping to double the fun in Friday’s nightcap against Kansas City. The game will feature lefthander Daniel Norris, who is making his first start of the 2018 season. Norris looked solid during spring training, but was passed over by veterans Francisco Liriano and Mike Fiers, with some help from Mother Nature during the first week of the season. Unfortunately, Norris has made the decision look like a wise one in a rough start to the year. While he has nine strikeouts to three walks in 6 1⁄3 innings, he has also given up five runs on eight hits. Four of those runs came in his last outing, a 64-pitch effort against the Cleveland Indians.

This is too small of a sample to work off of for now, but it’s possible Norris’ last outing could partially be blamed on fatigue. He was on his third inning of work when pitching through the Cleveland Indians lineup for a second time, and has only made two appearances in the team’s first 17 games this season. Any arm strength or endurance he built up during spring training has probably waned by this point, leaving him vulnerable to get rocked the second and third times through the order.

This is just a theory, though. We have seen Norris struggle with bad innings in the past, and that very much could be the reason the Tribe were able to take advantage of his mistakes. Still, with a mostly rested bullpen, look for manager Ron Gardenhire to have a short leash on Norris if he runs into trouble in the nightcap.

Neither the Cubs nor the Indians are off to scorching hot starts to start the season, but they’re piecing things together. Both teams are 6-4 in their last 10 games, and the Pirates have cooled off in the NL Central while the Brewers have picked up the mantle. The Indians, meanwhile, lead the AL Central in an (unsurprisingly) weak division, despite losing 10-3 to the Cubs on Tuesday.

The Cubs will have Jon Lester on the mound to face off against a hot Indians lineup. Lester is 2-0 with a 3.10 ERA so far this season, as he tries to stay undefeated and get the Cubs back up to speed in the Central. Obviously it’s too early in the season to draw any real conclusions, but the Brewers have a roster that’s built to last, and they may not be as susceptible to slipping as Pittsburgh was.

 

 

Cubs vs Pirates

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The catcher celebrated his bobblehead day on Friday afternoon in grand fashion, hitting his second career grand slam and finishing with a career-high seven RBIs to power the Cubs to an 11-2 victory over the crosstown-rival White Sox in the first game of the Interleague series at Wrigley Field.

I love when he hits the ball to left-center, and when it goes out, it’s even better,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Contreras. “My take on him is when he’s driving the ball in the gap, he’s on top of his game. That’s what I saw last year. That’s what I saw today.”

Contreras’ slam came in the first inning to give Tyler Chatwood all the runs he needed. The catcher also hit a double in the fourth, a solo homer in the sixth and a two-run double in the seventh.

“I’ve been having really good at-bats and seeing the ball with both eyes and having good at-bats, working good counts,” Contreras said. “I consider myself a rhythm batter. It’s just a matter of getting that timing, getting that rhythm down.”

Just repetitions,” Maddon said when asked what the difference was for Contreras. “He’s just good. When a guy’s good, if he’s not hurt, he’ll eventually show up. He’s getting the ball on the barrel.”

Contreras was busy behind the plate, too. Walks continued to bother Chatwood, who issued five to raise his season total to a Major League-leading 32 over 37 2/3 innings. Chatwood gave up three hits, including RBI hits by Daniel Palka and Jose Abreu, and he struck out six over five innings.

“Obviously, you don’t want [the walks],” Chatwood said. “Right now, I’m kind of battling a little bit. I think I’m just battling myself now. I feel I’m still able to keep us in games.”

Contreras’ bobblehead features him in his catcher’s gear, and he showed off his skills in the White Sox third. Chatwood walked both Matt Davidson and Tim Anderson to open the inning, and on the Cubs’ starter’s first pitch to pitcher Hector Santiago, Contreras fired to shortstop Addison Russell, who made the tag to pick off Davidson. According to Statcast™, Contreras’ throw was clocked at 91 mph.

“I think it was a big play for us,” Contreras said. “Chatwood had a good game, but he was having a little trouble finding the strike zone. I’m glad I was able to pick him up. I think that was the turning point in the game for us.”

“It’s unbelievable,” Chatwood said of Contreras’ day. “He made a great play for me picking the guy off second, he got me out of a jam there, and then obviously what he did at the plate. I think we all knew it was coming, and it was just a matter of time before he broke through. It was nice to see.”

Contreras had some help. Kris Bryant smacked a solo homer in the fourth and added an RBI single in the seventh for the Cubs, who have won six of the past seven games between the intracity rivals. The White Sox still lead the series, 58-55.Was it the bobblehead that made the difference for Contreras?

“I didn’t realize that,” Maddon said of the figurine giveaway. “More than anything, I just said, ‘That’s absolutely correct. It had everything to do with the bobblehead.'”Maybe it’s because Contreras now has been married one week?”I’m really happy to be part of this team. I’m really happy with everything that’s going on. I’m happy to have my family here in Chicago and happy to have my wife here,” Contreras said. “I’m just happy about everything that’s going on.”

The Cubs had two on in the first against Carson Fulmer, and took a 1-0 lead on Anthony Rizzo’s RBI single. One out later, Kyle Schwarber walked, prompting White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper to check on Fulmer. Contreras fell behind, 0-2, against Fulmer, then took the next three pitches before he smacked a fastball into the basket rimming the outfield wall in left-center. It was his first home run since April 24.

 

Astros vs Angels

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Tonight the 26-16 Astros open up against the 24-16 Angels in their second series of the season. The Angels took the last one 2-1 in Houston, and while this one is in Anaheim, the Astros will have more favorable pitching match ups this time around.

The Astros will not be facing Shohei Ohtani this time, at least as a pitcher, but offensively Ohtani has been just as scary. In 74 plate appearances, Ohtani is batting .348/.392/.652 for 5 homers and the second highest wRC+ in the AL at 181. Otherwise, the Angels offense is led by early season MVP favorite Mike Trout (193 wRC+), defensive superstar Andrelton Simmons (149 wRC+), who is having an breakout season at the plate, and veterans Justin Upton (115 wRC+), Zack Cozart (104 wRC+), and Albert Pujols (92 wRC+).

The Vegas Perspective may have just taken on a heightened importance, as today some serious sports betting legalization passed. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal ban on state-sanctioned betting was unconstitutional in a 7-2 decision, opening the door for individual states to legalize sports betting at their discretion.

It’s unclear when Texas would follow suit, if ever, but regardless of what happens, the world of sports betting is about to become a much bigger part of everyday sports coverage, and we’ll continue try to stay ahead of the curve.
We usually don’t find edges on the Astros, because typically, the public loves to hammer up the lines for top teams, but McCuller’s presents an exception, as his advanced stats and projections rank him as a much better pitcher than his traditional numbers would indicate.
The Astros head to LA after taking two-of-three from the Texas Rangers. They claimed a 6-1 win on Sunday behind a strong start from Dallas Keuchel at long last. The 2015 Cy Young winner laid down the law with seven scoreless innings and eight strikeouts, while Evan Gattis and Carlos Correa both went deep to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

The Angels salvaged a split from a four-game series against the Twins with a 2-1 win last night. A brilliant outing from Shohei Ohtani kept the Twins quiet enough for the Angels to sneak by. The Japanese rookie struck out 11 in 6.1 innings and allowed just five baserunners before handing the game over to the bullpen. Zack Cozart had the best day at the plate with three hits and an RBI.
McCullers comes into today with a 5-1 record and a 3.72 ERA. Those are the headline numbers, but underneath that are a few worrying things.

Firstly, his walk rate has ticked up from last year back to his career average. Then there are his inconsistent strikeout numbers. While he holds a 10.2 K/9 at the moment that is fuelled by early success. In his last four starts he has managed just a 6.5 K/9. He is at least keeping the ball in the park, but McCullers is a volatile proposition at the moment.

While McCullers’ numbers hide some problems, Heaney’s hide some success. He had a rough start to his season, not pitching until mid-April and then getting hit hard in his second outing by San Francisco. However, since then he has allowed just four runs in three starts for a 2.12 ERA, he’s struck out 16 in 17 innings, and walked just five. Heaney hasn’t gone beyond the sixth inning since 2015 as he makes his way back from Tommy John and other problems, but he is starting to find his feet again.

Japanese rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani continued to impress in his sixth major league start Sunday, racking up 11 strikeouts while pitching three-hit ball into the seventh inning as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Minnesota Twins 2-1.

Despite dominating on the mound, April’s American League Rookie of the Month did not get the win at Angel Stadium, but his efforts were not wasted after Zack Cozart secured the victory with a walk-off single.

Ohtani left the game after giving up his second walk with one out in the seventh. He was denied the win after reliever Cam Bedrosian allowed the game-tying RBI single by Joe Mauer.
“I was disappointed (about being pulled out), the game-tying run was meant to happen,” Ohtani said. “I couldn’t get the win, but winning the game is what matters most. I struck out batters whenever possible while getting them to (ground out and fly out), so I did a good job of pitching aggressively.”

In an entertaining duel with Twins rookie starter Fernando Romero, Ohtani threw a season-high 103 pitches on his way to reaching a franchise-record 43 strikeouts by a pitcher in his first six games.