Wednesday, April 25, 2018

NBA Game Preview: Washington Wizards vs. Toronto Raptors - 4/25/2018 - 7:08 PM EST

NBA Game Preview: Washington Wizards vs. Toronto Raptors - Date: 4/25/2018 Apr 24, 2018 TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors appeared to have control of their first-round series against Washington Wizards when they won the first two games.They also thought they had Game 4 within their grasp, and yet the series is tied 2-2.The pressure will be on the No. 1 Eastern Conference seed when they host the No. 8 seed Wizards in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series at the Air Canada Centre."I feel like both teams protected home court, now it's the best-of-three," Wizards guard John Wall said. "Somebody is going to have to win on the opponent's court to win. We have a good opportunity to go there with some momentum, going into Game 5, and we want to take full advantage and try to get that win." It could have been different. With just under five minutes to play in Game 4 at Washington on Sunday, Wizards guard Bradley Beal fouled out. He had scored 31 points in 32 minutes.The Wizards did not fold, however, but the Raptors did. With Wall leading the way, the Wizards went on to defeat the Raptors 106-98 to even the series."This one was tougher, because I thought we had it under control," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.Wall had 27 points, 14 assists and six rebounds in playing 43 minutes on Sunday.After dropping the first two games in Toronto, Washington won both games at home, including a 122-103 decision in Game 3.The Raptors led by 14 points during the third quarter on Sunday, but the score was tied at 92 when Beal fouled out.The Raptors, who used their full bench successfully during the season, have started to again rely heavily on their All-Star guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.DeRozan had 35 points, six rebounds and six assists Sunday, but also committed four of Toronto's 19 turnovers (the Wizards made 13 turnovers) in 38 minutes. He also made some ill-advised shots down t he stretch and was willing to shoulder his share of the blame."I blame myself for a lot of mistakes, for a lot of forced shots late in the game," DeRozan said. "Mental mistakes, turnovers, late-game execution, stabbing in the backcourt in transition late in the game. A lot of things." Reserve guard Delon Wright continued on that theme."I just think we have to make that adjustment to realize that they're not blitzing (DeRozan) as much anymore, they're playing more single coverage," said Wright, who passed up a couple of 3-pointers."Shoot it, man," DeRozan said. "Every one of my teammates, I don't care if they miss 20 shots in a row, if you get a shot, shoot it. Sports Picks. That's the confidence we've had in one another all year." Lowry also saw considerable playing time, playing 39 minutes and had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists.A key player off the bench for the Raptors all season has been point guard Fred VanVleet, who has played only 2:49 in the series because of a sore right shoulder and is listed as doubtful for Game 5.The Wizards, meanwhile, have been dealing with adversity all season with Wall limited to 41 starts because of a sprained left shoulder and surgery on his left knee. Leading Handicappers. The Wizards were 2-2 against the Raptors during the season even though Wall missed all four games."You have to have resolve to win in this league," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "We've had some tough moments this year with John missing half the season, but we found it, and it put us in a position to make the playoffs through resolve. You win playoff games, and you win playoff series with having that. We have that, and we have to continue to have that because we have to win two more games, and one of them has to be on th e road." The Raptors will be trying to avoid making as many turnovers. Another veteran, forward Serge Ibaka, also made four turnovers Sunday."Some of it is Washington's good defense and some of it is just taking out a gun, pointing it at your foot and shooting ourselves in the foot," Casey said. "A lot of it was uncharacteristic. But it just didn't start in Game 3. We had some of the same turnovers the first two games, but we were able to score and have a cushion and live through it. We have to take care of the basketball. Make sure we get quality shots."


MLB Game Preview: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles - 4/25/2018 - 7:05 PM EST

MLB Game Preview: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles - Date: 4/25/2018 Rays, Orioles finally get series going 4h ago. 2 min read BALTIMORE -- The Tampa Bay Rays will need to wait one more day to try to extend their four-game winning streak and see an old friend.Tampa Bay's series opener with the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday was postponed two hours before the planned 7:05 p.m. start time as bad weather was heading for the city.The game is going to be rescheduled on May 12 as part of a single-admission doubleheader starting at 3:05 p.m.For Wednesday's series opener, the starting pitchers will remain the same. Game Fixing. The Rays' Jake Faria (1-1, 5.82 ERA) will go against former Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb (0-2, 15.43).The Rays pushed back Chris Archer one day, and Baltimore did the same with ace Dylan Bundy. Both will start on Thursday.The sub-plot to the Wednesday game will be the Rays going up against long-time Tampa Bay starter Cobb. He made 115 starts for the Rays from 2011-2017 and had a 48-35 record with a 3.50 ERA in those games.Cobb will be making his first start versus his old team."I miss Cobb a lot," said Tampa Bay infielder Brad Miller. "He was a guy (who was the) ultimate competitor. He's a bulldog, just really intense." Cobb has started poorly this season for Baltimore, allowing 12 earned runs on 20 hits in just seven innings so far.However, his former skipper is not concerned."We felt good when Alex Cobb took the ball every fifth day for us; we felt we had a really good chance to win," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He's going to get going here. Hopefully, he can wait one more start before he does." Cobb also said the entire experience will be a bit unusual for him."It will be a little odd seeing the jersey," Cobb said to the Tampa Bay Times. "Been part of the family for so long." Faria is 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA in four career games, including three starts, against the Orioles. He has had just one bad start out of four this season and will be facing a Baltimore team struggling at the plate.Tampa Bay also had the day off on Monday but is coming off a big win on Sunday when Carlos Gomez homered to beat the Twins 8-6 and stretched the team's winning streak to four.Gomez came into the game mired in a 2-for-34 skid. But he ended the game feeling much better about things.The Rays scored 26 runs in their three-game sweep of the Twins, getting at least eight in every game.Cash said he knows the Orioles are banged up, and they may lose another starter as infielder Tim Beckham (groin/foot) appears headed to the disabled list Wednesday. Baltimore claimed infielder Jace Peterson off waivers from the Yankees, and he joins the team for this game.The Orioles also transferred pitcher Gabriel Ynoa to the 60-day disabled list (rig ht shoulder inflammation), but they are hoping to get some quick help from Peterson."Peterson is a versatile player who has experience playing all over the field, who had his best year in 2015 playing second base," Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told The Baltimore Sun in a text message. "Given our need and his experience, he should be able to contribute right away to the O's." The Orioles need contributions on offense, which has struggled throughout the team's 6-17 start. Cleveland took three of four from the Orioles, who have lost nine of their last 10.


NBA Game Preview: Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder - 4/25/2018 - 9:38 PM EST

NBA Game Preview: Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder - Date: 4/25/2018 Apr 24, 2018 Oklahoma City was built this offseason around three All-Stars with the hopes of contending for the Western Conference crown.The Utah Jazz started the year 18-26 without center Rudy Gobert. But Gobert returned and the Jazz rolled off 11 straight wins into Valentine's Day with the help of a surprise rookie of the year contender.One more win and the Jazz will reach the second round for the second straight year. Handicapper Directory. They'll send the Thunder home with a second straight first-round exit -- despite Oklahoma City's overhauled, star-studded roster.After losing the first game on the road, Utah won decisively in each of the past three games, including a 17-point victory in Game 4 -- a game the Thunder called a must-win in Salt Lake City."It's the playoffs, it& #39;s gonna be war," Utah point guard Ricky Rubio, who had a triple-double in Game 3, told the Salt Lake Tribune after Utah's 113-96 victory in Game 4. "We know that it's gonna be another war next game. We just have to be tough but at the same time, mentally ready for that." Game 5 is set for 9:30 p.m. EST Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell, who averaged 20 points per game during the regular season, has averaged 27.6 points during the past three games -- taking his play to another level to lead a balanced Jazz attack that has five players averaging in double figures. Mitchell, who was the 13th overall pick in last year's draft, has scored 110 points through the first four games, the most by a rookie in his first four games since Michael Jordan's 117 in 1985, according to"To be honest, a lot of this is surreal. I'm just taking it game-by-game and not really getting caught up in the big picture,&qu ot; Mitchell told the Salt Lake City Tribune. "Just focusing on game-by-game. My teammates have helped me out a lot as far as that goes. But we're playing together." Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook picked up four fouls before halftime in Game 4 and was fined $10,000 for an altercation with Gobert late in the game. Luckily for the Thunder, he was not suspended following his altercation with the Utah center.Westbrook's foul trouble has hardly been the Thunder's biggest issue.Oklahoma City was inconsistent much of the year, but it has had to contend with shooting woes from offseason acquisition Carmelo Anthony, who has hit just 25 percent of his 3-pointers in the first four games of the playoffs."We gotta win, nothing to it," Anthony said after the Game 4 loss. "We've just gotta win. We can sit here and say what we gotta do, or what we didn't do or what we did do, but it comes down to having the will to win that game Wedn esday and forcing a Game 6 back in Utah." Winning in Utah won't to be easy, where the Jazz have won six straight. Oklahoma City has to get back to Salt Lake City first and stave off elimination. But Utah hasn't lost three straight games since Gobert's return to the lineup in mid-January."Every game's been physical," Gobert said to reporters. "We just got to watch the tape, see how much better we can get and get ready to play basketball."


MLB Game Preview: Los Angeles Angels vs. Houston Astros - 4/25/2018 - 2:10 PM EST

MLB Game Preview: Los Angeles Angels vs. Houston Astros - Date: 4/25/2018 Astros look to bounce back against Angels 1h ago. 2 min read HOUSTON -- For just the second time this season an Houston Astros starter surrendered more than three earned runs in an appearance, a departure from what has been a dominating run for their rotation.Right-hander Charlie Morton had allowed just three runs (two earned) over four starts before scuffling through four innings Tuesday in an 8-7 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. By allowing four runs on five hits and five walks, he joined Lance McCullers as the only starters to allow at least four runs in an outing, a minuscule number considering the Astros have now completed five turns through their vaunted rotation.The Astros (16-9) entered Tuesday leading the major leagues in starter's ERA at 2.12."It's hard to argue that we could get anything better than what we've gotten in the first f ive rotations through," Astros manager A. J. Hinch said. "I like the camaraderie that they have. Free Pick. They build off of one another's success. Sports Handicapper Tracker. They're very competitive internally, which is nice. Sports Bettors Phone Leads. They help each other, which is nice. Their production and performance have been second to none in the league."They're exactly what we need in order to feel good about every day we come out. Our guy is going to match up well to the opponent. We can pitch to a game plan, we have power stuff, we have different styles and whoever we're handing the ball to right now is setting a great tone." Astros right-hander Justin Verlander (3-0, 1.10 ERA) will start the series finale against Los Angeles. Verlander, 8-8 with a 3.36 ERA over 19 career starts against the Angels, has produced three scoreless appearances this season. That includes his most recent outing last Friday against the Chicago White Sox when he allowed two hits and three walks with five strikeouts over six innings. Verlander extended his regular-season winning streak to 10 consecutive decisions.In three starts against the Angels last season, Verlander went 2-1 with a 1.71 ERA.Right-hander Nick Tropeano (1-1, 3.75 ERA) will make his third start of the season and second on the road for the Angels on Wednesday. It will mark his first start against Houston since May 29, 2016. Originally selected by the Astros in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, Tropeano has not recorded a decision while posting a 3.86 ERA over two career starts against his former club.The Angels (16-8) received a welcome boost from shortstop Andrelton Simmons on Tuesday night, with Simmons going 3-for-4 with two home runs and a career-high five RBIs in their 8-7 series-clinching win. It was Simmons' first game back after being hit by a pitch Sunday and departing in the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants with a right forearm contusion.It marked Simmons' fourth career multi-homer game, and the performance reinforced what the Angels knew all along: that Simmons had dodged a debilitating injury and was poised to contribute both in the field and at the plate."We knew he was OK," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Coming out of the game when he got hit we knew it was just muscular and he felt a lot better (on Monday). We wanted to give him one more day and today he was good to go."


NBA Game Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets - 4/25/2018 - 9:38 PM EST

NBA Game Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets - Date: 4/25/2018 Apr 24, 2018 HOUSTON -- There was an undeniable inevitability in the Houston Rockets finally unleashing their full potential offensively, with the only legitimate ambiguity being exactly when it would happen.That moment arrived without warning in the third quarter of Game 4, with Houston producing a 50-point outburst that staggered the Minnesota Timberwolves and gave the Rockets control of their Western Conference first-round playoff series. Houston used that eruption to propel it toward a 119-100 victory on Monday night at the Target Center, giving the Rockets a 3-1 lead in the series. It also gave Houston the opportunity to conclude the series at Toyota Center in Game 5 on Wednesday night.The Rockets had trudged along on offense even while establishing a 2-1 series lead, averaging a pedestrian 103.7 points entering Game 4 while producing a modest 31. 5 percentage on 3-pointers. Houston flirted with statistical immortality during the regular season, ranking among the most efficient offenses in league history before losing its edge over the final weeks of the schedule, specifically after the Rockets clinched the top seed in the West at the end of March.Over their final six regular-season games, the Rockets posted an offensive rating (101.3) that ranked 26th in the NBA. Winning Sports Gambling. That lagging momentum carried over into the playoffs until the second half on Monday when the Rockets broke free from their lethargy and reclaimed their identity."We talked about it going into the game about being aggressive, and I think we all just tried to do that," said Rockets guard Chris Paul, who paired 25 points with six assists in the victory."Just the entire team, we were confident," said Rockets guard James Harden, who scored a franchise playof f-record 22 points in the third quarter en route to a game-high 36. "We had a good talk (Sunday), a good practice (Sunday). And even most of the guys stayed after practice just to shoot, shoot the basketball and be aggressive. We had the mentality to be aggressive. Make or miss shots, that's what we do. We shoot the basketball, and eventually, they start falling." In producing the second-most points in any quarter in NBA postseason history, the Rockets not only pushed the Timberwolves to the brink of elimination, they put Minnesota in the precarious position of having to acknowledge what has been obvious all along. Sports Handicapping Services. The Timberwolves' defense wasn't explicitly responsible for the Rockets' wayward perimeter shooting entering Monday, and when Houston converts open looks at an average clip -- the Rockets shot 16 of 43 on 3s -- the Timberwolves are essentially helples s at stopping the deluge.As postseason series extend, team identities solidify. Free Sports Picks. The Rockets reclaiming their offensive rhythm was as predictable an outcome as the Timberwolves showcasing their defensive warts.Minnesota closed the season ranked 22nd in defensive efficiency (108.4), with the foundation of its four losses to the Rockets set on the defensive end. It might be easy to dismiss a 50-point period as an anomaly, but the reality of the Rockets' offensive momentum can't be denied. The Timberwolves staved off the inevitable for three-plus games and are now left to hope that the Rockets will start missing again in order for this series to include a return trip to Minneapolis."How many points did they score in the third? Fifty? Exactly," Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose said. "Do we even have to say something? It can be seen easily what happened in the game and why they to ok off. Our job is to look at film, see what our mistakes were, and try to execute a little better on the defensive end." Said Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns: "You've got to give it to them. There's a reason they're the team they are."


MLB Game Preview: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Kansas City Royals - 4/25/2018 - 8:15 PM EST

MLB Game Preview: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Kansas City Royals - Date: 4/25/2018 Hot Brewers conclude interleague series with Royals 2h ago. 3 min read KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Milwaukee Brewers, streaking in one direction, and the Kansas City Royals, going another, will meet Wednesday to conclude a two-game mini interleague series at Kauffman Stadium.The Brewers beat the Royals 5-2 on Tuesday night for their seventh straight victory. Las Vegas Handicappers. The last time Milwaukee has won eight in a row was June 28 through July 5, 2015.On the flip side, the Royals have lost 16 of their first 21 games to begin the season. Football Picks. They are a pitiful 1-8 at home and the Tuesday defeat was the opener of a seven-game homestand. Sports Handicapper Record s. Their lone home victory was a 10-0 tally on April 9 against the Seattle Mariners.Even the Royals welcoming back All-Star catcher Salvador Perez and five-time Gold Glove outfielder Alex Gordon could not help the club land a victory. Perez had been on the disabled list for the first 20 games, tearing a ligament in his knee while toting luggage upstairs at his home the day before the season opener. Gordon sat out 13 games with a left hip labral tear. Perez hit a solo home run and Gordon doubled and singled in their return, accounting for three of the Royals' six hits."We score two runs and they each score one, so it's nice to get their bats back in the lineup," Royals manager Ned Yost said.Milwaukee leadoff hitter Lorenzo Cain, who developed into a Royals star and favorite the past seven years, was given a standing ovation before his first at-bat. He tipped his cap to the appreciative crowd, while Cain and close friend Perez hugged just outside the batter's box. Cain signed a five-year, $80 million contract with the Brewers in January. Cain homered in the seventh, one of two Milwaukee home runs.Royals starting pitcher Ian Kennedy suffered a right foot contusion after being struck by liner off the bat of Ryan Braun in the third. X-rays were negative. Kennedy remained in the game, only to give up a three-run homer to Travis Shaw, the next batter.It is unknown whether Kennedy will miss a start."We're going to wear a boot to take pressure off of it the next 12 hours, just wait and see how it feels," he said. "This is right off my push off leg. I said let me go downstairs and have them look at it. Soon as I took a step to go upstairs, I felt it, and said warm somebody up. It's a tiny little bone, but it means a lot." Brewers right-hander Jhoulys Chacin will start the finale of this series. Chacin is 1-1 with a 4.18 ERA in five starts. He has allowed 28 hits and walked 13 in 23 2/3 innings, w hile striking out 16. Opponents are hitting .289 off him.Royals first baseman Lucas Duda has had success against Chacin, going 4-for-7, .571, with two home runs and six RBIs. Jon Jay has faced Chacin the most, going 3-for-11 with a home run.Chacin picked up his first victory of the season in his previous start, tossing six scoreless innings against the Miami Marlins and permitting four hits while striking out five. The Brewers are 3-2 when he starts.Chacin is 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA in two career starts against Kansas City. He last pitched at Kauffman Stadium on May 14, 2014 while with the Rockies, taking a loss when he allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks, while striking out one. While with the San Diego Padres last year, Chacin topped the Royals 6-3 at Petco Park, surrendering two runs on three hits and two walks, while striking out six in seven innings.The Royals will counter with veteran right-hander Jason Hammel, who is 0-1 with a 3.20 ERA in four starts. Hammel w ent nine innings in a no-decision in his previous start, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks, with four strikeouts, on Friday in Detroit.Hammel is 10-2 with a 3.13 ERA all-time against the Brewers. He is 4-6 with a 4.86 ERA at Kauffman Stadium as a Royal.


MLB Game Preview: New York Mets vs. St Louis Cardinals - 4/25/2018 - 8:15 PM EST

MLB Game Preview: New York Mets vs. St Louis Cardinals - Date: 4/25/2018 Cardinals, slumping Ozuna face Mets again 16m ago. 2 min read It was the kind of situation for which the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Marcell Ozuna.With the game tied at 5, two on and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Ozuna stepped to the plate with a chance to produce the game-winning hit. Instead, Ozuna bounced into a 5-4-3 double play to force extra innings Tuesday night, and the Cardinals lost to the New York Mets 6-5 in the 10th inning.It capped an 0-for-5 night that made Ozuna, who drove in 124 runs for Miami last year, 1-for-his-last-23. It dropped his average to .233, but it doesn't sound like St. Louis manager Mike Matheny is planning to bench him for Wednesday night's matchup with New York in Busch Stadium."He's going to be fine," Matheny said of Ozuna. "Borderline pitches are getting him into bad counts and he's try ing to make it up all at once. He's just trying to find the feel for his swing. Nobody's immune to (slumps). He can flat hit." Ozuna, who was batting .328 before his skid, has two homers and 11 RBIs. One way he could help himself is to improve his walk-to-strikeout ratio. He has three walks and 23 punchouts in his 20 games this season.Ozuna has always been an aggressive hitter, sometimes to a fault. But he reined that in somewhat last year, drawing a career-high 64 walks. Handicapping Sports. That was the first time in his career he had drawn more than 43 walks, and his .312 average was 43 points higher than his previous career best.While Ozuna's ninth-inning failure ended a promising rally, it wasn't the only frustrating moment for St. Louis (13-9). Cardinals pitchers walked eight hitters, with four scoring, and coughed up a 4-1 lead."Any time you have a three-run lead and can't hold on to it," Matheny said, "that's going to hurt. You've just got to move on." The Cardinals will try to move on behind Michael Wacha (3-1, 4.22 ERA), who has won three straight since absorbing a 6-2 loss to the Mets on March 31 in New York. Wacha posted a 4-2 win Friday night over Cincinnati, allowing only one run on six hits over 6 2/3 innings with a walk and three strikeouts.The big right-hander is 4-2 with a 2.70 earned run average in six career starts against New York, including a complete-game shutout last July at Citi Field.Left-hander Steven Matz (1-1, 4.42) gets the call for New York (15-6), looking to avenge a 5-1 loss to St. Louis on April 1, when he allowed three runs on four hits and three walks in four innings. Matz is coming off a no-decision on April 18 in an 11-5 win over Washington, when he gave up three hits and three runs in four innings.Matz is 0-2 with an 8.64 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals.The Mets displayed more of t heir early-season resilience on Tuesday in overcoming a three-run deficit, finally taking the lead for good on Jay Bruce's solo shot in the 10th inning."You work, you prepare and you try to give yourself a chance to be successful," Bruce said. "I was fortunate to learn that at a young age. You're never really at a finish line, in my opinion."


MLB Game Preview: Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers - 4/25/2018 - 8:05 PM EST

MLB Game Preview: Oakland Athletics vs. Texas Rangers - Date: 4/25/2018 A's hope ace Graveman gets in groove vs. Rangers 2h ago. 2 min read The Oakland A's have been on a tear over the past week and a half but have had that success without much contribution from right-hander Kendall Graveman, their opening day starter and erstwhile ace.Graveman (0-4, 10.07 ERA) will head to the mound on Wednesday at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, to try to get back on track and get a piece of the A's momentum. Sports Handicapping Service Units Gained. Texas will send right-hander Doug Fister (1-2, 3.95 ERA), who returns to the team after a stint on the disabled list, to oppose him.Oakland will go for the series sweep on after beating the Rangers 3-2 on Tuesday behind six innings of 1-run, 4-hit from Trevor Cahill and a home run from Mark Canha.The win Tuesday was the At hletics' eighth in their past nine games.Graveman was the losing pitcher in his last start, a 7-3 A's loss to Boston on April 20 in Oakland. In that game, he showcased a modified delivery, keeping his hands near his belt as opposed to bringing them over his head, and also utilized his changeup with more frequency, loosening his grip on the pitch.The results were encouraging -- Graveman's lone blemish was a three-run homer by the Red Sox's Jackie Bradley, Jr. Graveman retired 11 in a row at one point in the game."The mindset is good," Graveman said. "I made really good pitches last week and had a good bullpen session this week, kept it shorter than I have been to save some of my arm, and I just want to continue to focus on location."I'm excited about jumping on board and getting it rolling, too," Graveman added. "That, for me, is the next step, helping this team win. I'm excited where I'm headed, where I'm trending ." Graveman's four losses are tied for the major league lead and ranks last in the majors with 25 runs allowed and second in the American League with 35 hits allowed. He has allowed at least four runs while tossing five innings or fewer in each of his first five starts, a mark that matches the longest such streak by an Athletics pitcher at any point in the season since at least 1908.Graveman is 4-3 with a 4.39 ERA in nine career starts against Texas. He was the losing pitcher in his only start versus the Rangers this year, a 4-1 A's loss on April 3.Fister returns from the DL (right hip strain), meaning -- for the time being -- the Rangers will go with six starters on its pitching staff. Bartolo Colon was elevated from the bullpen to a starting role when Fister was on the shelf and performed well, taking a perfect game into the eighth in his first start.Texas manager Jeff Banister said getting Fister back gives his team some maneuverability."It's a lot b etter than only having four," Banister told "We like the fact we're getting Doug back and we like where (Martin) Perez is trending. Good Sports Handicappers. Those are positive questions. But we've got some options, and we'll have some decisions to make." Fister is 8-9 with a 3.35 ERA over 19 career starts versus the Athletics, including 0-1, 13.50 ERA in a single start last season as a member of the Red Sox. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings in a 6-2 loss at Oakland on April 4.