Sunday, July 31, 2016

MLB Recap: Seattle Mariners (6) vs. Chicago Cubs (7) - 7/31/2016

MLB Recap: Seattle Mariners (6) vs. Chicago Cubs (7) - Date: 7/31/2016 Pitcher Jon Lester drove in Jason Heyward with a two-strike squeeze bunt in the 12th inning, and the Chicago Cubs overcame a six-run deficit to beat the Seattle Mariners 7-6 on Sunday night. Heyward sparked the winning rally with a leadoff double off the wall in right-center. He advanced on Willson Contreras' fly ball to center against Cody Martin (1-1) before pinch-hitting Lester managed to get a safety squeeze bunt down right in front of the plate. Heyward made it home with a headfirst slide, sparking a frenzied celebration at Wrigley Field. Hector Rondon (2-2) pitched two innings for the win. Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he used Lester as a pinch hitter ''because he can do that.'' The Cubs trailed 6-3 before they pushed across three runs in the ninth against Steve Cishek, handing the sidewinding right-hander his sixth blown save in 31 opportunities. Addison Russell hit an RBI single and Contreras drove in another run when he hustled down the line to beat out a potential double-play grounder. With two outs and runners on the corners, Cishek uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Russell to come home with the tying run. Matt Szczur then flied out to right, ending the inning,It was a heartbreaking loss for Seattle, which was in position to take the rubber game of the weekend series before the late rally by Chicago. Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Dae-Ho Lee each hit a two-run homer against Brian Matusz, helping the Mariners jump out to a 6-0 lead after three. Seattle ace Felix Hernandez walked five and hit a batter, but limited the Cubs to two runs in five innings in his third appearance since coming off the disabled list after being sidelined by a strained right calf. Looking for an extra day of rest for its rotation, Chicago promoted Matusz from Triple-A Iowa for a spot start. Game Fixing. The major league-leading Cubs also wanted to take a look at the veteran left-hander before an opt-out clause in his contract gave him the option of leaving the organization. What they saw was a shaky three innings. Matusz, who signed a minor league deal with Chicago in June after he was cut by Atlanta, allowed six hits, walked two, threw a wild pitch and hit a batter. Long after Matusz departed, Travis Wood worked out of a jam in the sixth and then made a solid catch while playing left field in the seventh. Wood hauled in Franklin Gutierrez's liner as he collided with the ivy-covered wall, earning a standing ovation from the crowd of 40,952 and big smiles from Maddon and reliever Pedro Strop. Wood returned to the mound in the eighth and threw to first as Shawn O'Malley was caught stealing to end the inning. On the eve of the non-waiver trade deadline, Seattle dealt left-hander Wade Miley to Baltimore before clo sing out a 4-4 road trip to Toronto, Pittsburgh and Chicago. It went 12-12 in July, but remains in the hunt for a wild card.'' We are glad that Wade can go from one team in playoff contention to another, and to a division that he has had success in during his career,'' general manager Jerry Dipoto said in an email. ''This decision is the best move for the Mariners' present and future.'' FOR MILEYSeattle received left-hander Ariel Miranda in the trade for Miley. Free MLB Baseball Picks. The Cuban pitcher has spent most of the year with Triple-A Norfolk. He appeared in one game for Baltimore on July 3 at Seattle, allowing three runs and four hits in two innings. WORTH NOTINGMatusz is the second lefty and seventh pitcher overall to start for Chicago this season. Reliever Justin Grimm was optioned to Iowa to make room on the roster. UP NEXTMariners: LHP James Paxton (3 -5, 4.27 ERA) gets the ball when Seattle returns home for the opener of a four-game set against Boston on Monday night. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (2-4, 6.51 ERA) pitches for the Red Sox. Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (9-7, 2.39 ERA) takes on Miami LHP Adam Conley (7-5, 3.38 ERA) on Monday in the opener of a three-game series. Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki comes to Wrigley Field just two hits shy of 3,000 for his major league career.---Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap  

MLB Recap: Cincinnati Reds (3) vs. San Diego Padres (2) - 7/31/2016

MLB Recap: Cincinnati Reds (3) vs. San Diego Padres (2) - Date: 7/31/2016 Homer Bailey threw 5 2/3 solid innings in his first start this season, pitching the Cincinnati Reds past the San Diego Padres 3-2 on Sunday. Bailey (1-0) returned from forearm and elbow surgeries and allowed two runs, four hits and three walks. He retired 14 consecutive batters during one stretch and had six strikeouts. Injuries limited Bailey to just two starts last season. Sport Handicapping. The Reds took the three-game series and completed their first winning road trip (4-2) since 2014. MLB Baseball Handicappers. Tony Cingrani worked the ninth for his 13th save in 18 chances. Paul Clemens (1-2) made his second start with the Padres but was forced to exit after 4 2/3 innings because of a sore back. Clemens, a June waiver pickup from the Marlins, was charged with two runs on four hits and a walk. He tied a career high with five strikeouts. Sports Illustrated Picks. The Padres loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but reliever Michael Lorenzen fanned Jabari Blash and Christian Bethancourt flied out. Free MLB Baseball Picks. The Padres closed the gap to 3-2 in the sixth, Bailey's most stressful inning, when Alexi Amarista's one-out single preceded three straight walks. Amarista was thrown out trying to score on a wild pitch. After the third walk to Blash, a disappointed Bailey turned his back to the plate and Wil Myers swiped home without a throw. Bailey was then lifted after 89 pitches. Blake Wood relieved Bailey and retired Bethancourt looking to end the threat. Best Sports Picks Servi ce. The Reds took a 2-1 edge in the second, thanks to some power from an unlikely source. Eugenio Suarez singled and Jose Peraza followed with a home run into the second deck of the Western Metal Supply Co., building. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The 424-foot shot was Peraza's first of his career. TRAINER'S ROOMPadres: RHP Erik Johnson (right elbow) is expected to miss the rest of the season. While hoping to avoid surgery, his rehabilitation will linger into the offseason. UP NEXTReds: RHP Dan Straily (6-6, 3.84) will make his first career start against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday. Straily has produced quality starts in each of his last five appearances. He leads the Reds in innings pitched (122), strikeouts (97) and quality starts (12). Padres: RHP Jarred Cosart (0-1, 5.95) will make his debut with the Padres aga inst the visiting Milwaukee Brewers. Cosart, who was part of the deal which sent Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea to the Marlins, is making his fifth start of the season.  

MLB Recap: Arizona Diamondbacks (3) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (14) - 7/31/2016

MLB Recap: Arizona Diamondbacks (3) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (14) - Date: 7/31/2016 Yasmani Grandal and Corey Seager each hit three-run home runs, Joc Pederson added a two-run shot, and the Los Angeles Dodgers routed the Arizona Diamondbacks 14-3 on Sunday. Grandal, who went 3 for 5 with and scored three times, hit his 15th home run of the season off reliever Dominic Leone in the sixth inning. Seager, who also had three hits, added his 18th off Steve Hathaway in the seventh, and Pederson got his 16th off Evan Marshall in the eighth to finish off the Dodgers' comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the fourth. Yasiel Puig had three hits and two RBIs, and Justin Turner added two hits and an RBI as the Dodgers finished with 16 hits and won for the fifth time in seven games. Ross Stripling, Louis Coleman (2-1), Luis Avilan, Joe Blanton, Pedro Baez and J. P. Howell combined to pitch 8 2/3 innings in relief of starter Bud Norris, wh o left the game after facing two hitters. Jake Lamb scored Arizona's second run in the fourth inning on what was ruled a wild pitch. Stripling's pitch, called a ball, deflected off catcher Yasmani Grandal's throat guard and lodged inside his chest protector. Home plate umpire Todd Tichenor ruled the play a wild pitch and advanced the runners one base, bringing Lamb home from third. Patrick Corbin (4-10) gave up six runs and eight hits over 5 1/3 innings for Arizona, which lost for the 14th time in 19 games. Seager was 7 for 13 in the series to raise his batting average to .310. Puig, making his first start since July 20, reached base four times and scored twice. He has driven in 10 runs in his last 15 starts. Good Sports Handicappers. Tightness in his right hamstring limited Puig to three pinch-hitting appearances over the previous eight games. HOLD ITAfter Norris threw his second pitch to the g ame's second hitter, catcher Grandal hurried out to the mound waving trainers out of the dugout. After a brief exam and discussion that appeared to center around Norris' ribcage, the right-hander threw a pair of warm-up pitches before resuming. Norris retired Michael Bourn on a popup before leaving the game. MLB Baseball Handicappers. TRAINER'S ROOMDiamondbacks: RHP Zack Greinke will make his next rehab start with Double-A Reno on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City. Greinke will be on a five-inning/80-pitch limit. ... After Saturday night's game, Arizona traded RHP Tyler Clippard to the New York Yankees for prospect RHP Vince Compos, who was assigned to Triple-A Reno. RHP Evan Marshall was recalled from Reno to take Clippard's spot on the Arizona roster, his third stint with the team this year. Dodgers: LHP Brett Anderson will make his next rehab start Tuesday for either Oklahoma City or Rancho Cuc amonga, depending upon weather and travel considerations. ... OF Trace Thompson (lower back tightness) continues to progress toward a rehab assignment, taking batting practice, throwing and running, ''sometime next week the goal,'' said manager Dave Roberts. ... OF Pederson, 2B Chase Utley and 1B Adrian Gonzalez were not in the Dodgers' starting lineup. Gonzalez pinch hit in the fourth, Utley came on in a double-switch in the sixth, and Pederson homered as a pinch hitter in the eighth. NEXT UPDiamondbacks: RHP Archie Bradley (4-6,5.63) makes his first career start against the Nationals on Monday night at home. Despite losing three of his last four decisions, Bradley has allowed two runs or less in three of those outings. Dodgers: RHP Brandon McCarthy (2-1,2.39) makes his sixth start since returning from more than a year recovering from Tommy John surgery at Colorado on Tuesday night. McCarthy began his comeback with five scor eless innings in a win over the Rockies on July 3.  

MLB Recap: Washington Nationals (1) vs. San Francisco Giants (3) - 7/31/2016

MLB Recap: Washington Nationals (1) vs. San Francisco Giants (3) - Date: 7/31/2016 Matt Cain threw five hitless innings for his 100th career victory and the San Francisco Giants held the Washington Nationals to three hits in a 3-1 win Sunday. Cain (3-6) struck out five and walked four on 93 pitches. He handed off to George Kontos, who allowed a leadoff single to Bryce Harper in the sixth. Santiago Casilla pitched the ninth inning for his 24th save. Casilla was among five Giants relievers who combined to allow one run on three hits over four innings. NL West-leading San Francisco has won two straight since losing 11 of 13 following the All-Star break. Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez (6-9) allowed two runs (one earned), six hits and two walks in six innings for his fourth quality start in five outings. Cain became the sixth Giants pitcher to reach 100 wins since the franchise came to San Francisco in 195 8. Juan Marichal (238), Gaylord Perry (134), Tim Lincecum (108), Kirk Rueter (105) and Mike McCormick (104) are the others. Sports Handicappers. The Giants won despite troubles hitting with runners in scoring position that have dogged them throughout the second half. MLB Baseball Handicappers. They were 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position Sunday and are batting .139 (19 for 137) in that department since the All-Star break. Free Boxing Picks. They were hitless in their first 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position Sunday until Angel Pagan singled in Denard Span from third with one out in the bottom of the seventh to give San Francisco a 3-1 lead. Free MLB Ba seball Picks. The Giants scored their first two runs on Pagan's fielder's choice grounder in the third and third baseman Anthony Rendon's throwing error in the fifth. Left fielder Mac Williamson left with an injury in the sixth. He dropped Chris Heisey's flyball on the play but fired to third baseman Conor Gillaspie to force out Rendon. Winning Sports Gambling. TRAINER'S ROOMNationals: 2B Daniel Murphy was out of the lineup for a second straight day. He missed Saturday's game with left leg tightness. Nationals manager Dusty Baker didn't address the media before Sunday's game. Giants: CF Span and SS Brandon Crawford were both out of the lineup for a second straight day on Sunday. Span suffered a quadriceps injury beating out an infield hit on Friday. Crawford suffered a bruised thumb on a swing in the same game. Both entered late in the game and are expected to be back in the lineup Tuesday after an off day. ... Rehabbing 3B Matt Duffy (out since June 21 with a left Achilles tendon strain) was scheduled to play seven innings for Triple-A Sacramento on Sunday. He played five innings on Friday. UP NEXTNationals: Washington begins a series at the Arizona Diamondbacks with RHP Stephen Strasburg (14-1, 2.68) on the hill. Strasburg was 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA in July, his best month this season. Giants: San Francisco plays at Philadelphia on Tuesday, and LHP Madison Bumgarner (10-6, 2.09) will pitch. He ranks second in the NL in ERA, but the Giants have lost his last three starts and are 2-6 in his last eight. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. They haven't lost four straight Bumgarner starts since 2013 (Aug. 7 - Sept. 3).  

MLB Recap: Boston Red Sox (5) vs. Los Angeles Angels (3) - 7/31/2016

MLB Recap: Boston Red Sox (5) vs. Los Angeles Angels (3) - Date: 7/31/2016 Dustin Pedroia hit a go-ahead, three-run homer off Huston Street with two outs in the ninth inning and Xander Bogaerts followed with another home run to lead the Boston Red Sox over the Los Angeles Angels 5-3 Sunday. Street (3-2) entered with a 3-0 lead, walked Jackie Bradley Jr. and allowed Aaron Hill's single. After a pair of strikeouts, Mookie Betts singled in a run and Pedroia homered to center on a 1-0 slider as Mike Trout climbed the center-field fence in vain. Bogaerts fell behind 0-2 in the count, then homered on another slider from Street, who blew a save for the third time in 12 chances. Pedroia hit his second go-ahead homer run in the ninth inning or later. Sports Tipsters. The other was a tiebreaking, two-run drive off Street in the 10th inning of a 13-11 win at Colorado on June 24, 2010. Clay Buchholz (4-9) pitched three scoreless innings, and Brad Ziegler got three outs for his 20th save in 23 opportunities.  

MLB Recap: Kansas City Royals (3) vs. Texas Rangers (5) - 7/31/2016

MLB Recap: Kansas City Royals (3) vs. Texas Rangers (5) - Date: 7/31/2016 Mitch Moreland homered for the fifth time in his last five starts and Lucas Harrell won in his Texas debut as the Rangers beat the Kansas City Royals 5-3 on Sunday to finish a sweep of the four-game series. Harrell (3-2) gave up three runs and four hits - including solo home runs to Eric Hosmer and Drew Butera - in six innings. Sports Handicapping Monitor. The 31-year-old right-hander was acquired from Atlanta last Wednesday to help the Rangers' injury-riddled starting rotation. Moreland's two-run homer was his 18th this season, the last five coming within 16 at-bats. Nomar Mazara also homered against the Royals, who have allowed an AL-high 141 homers this season. Sam Dyson earned his 22nd save. Eric Hosmer and Drew Butera homered for Kansas City, which has lost eight of its last nine games and 10 of its last 11 road games. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The defending World Series champion Royals went 7-19 in July, their worst month since recording the same record in July 2012. Dillon Gee (3-5) gave up four runs on seven hits over six innings in his longest and most effective start of the season. He had a 6.43 ERA in six previous starts. Harrell was the eighth pitcher to make a start for the Rangers in July with Colby Lewis and Derek Holland on the disabled list all month and Yu Darvish returning from the DL on July 16. Before the game, the Royals placed closer Wade Davis on the 15-day disabled list with what manager Ned Yost called a mild flexor strain. Yost said it's the same injury that sent Davis, who has converted 21 of 23 save opportunities this season, to the DL in early July. SHORT HOPSThe temperature was 96 degrees at first pitch and reached 99. ... G ee played collegiately at Texas-Arlington and makes his off-season home in nearby Fort Worth. ... Rangers manager Jeff Banister gave CF Ian Desmond and SS Elvis Andrus the day off ahead of Monday's travel day. ... Sports Betting Leads. The Royals released Triple-A Omaha OF Travis Snider. He hit a combined .232 last season playing 87 games for Baltimore and Pittsburgh. MLB Baseball Handicappers. TRAINER'S ROOMWith Davis put on the DL, LHP Matt Strahm from was brought up from Double-A Northwest Arkansas and made his major league debut. He faced three batters and allowed one earned run. ... Rangers RF Shin-Soo Choo (back) did rehab work Sunday for the second straight day and reported no discomfort. He hopes to be ready when eligible for re-activation on Thursday. UP NEXTRoyals: LHP Danny Duffy (6-1) will start the series opener at Tam pa Bay on Monday. Duffy has five wins and four no-decisions in his last nine starts, most recently losing on June 6. Free Winning Sports Picks. Texas: RHP Yu Darvish (2-2) will make his seventh start since starting his season in late May following Tommy John surgery when the Rangers open a series at Baltimore on Tuesday. Both losses have come since returning from the disabled list on July 16 following shoulder discomfort.  

MLB Recap: Philadelphia Phillies (1) vs. Atlanta Braves (2) - 7/31/2016

MLB Recap: Philadelphia Phillies (1) vs. Atlanta Braves (2) - Date: 7/31/2016 Jeff Francoeur has enjoyed his second stint with the Braves, even though they have the major leagues' worst record. Sports Handicapping Service Leads. The Atlanta native doesn't know if he will be with Atlanta after Monday's trade deadline, so he's savoring every moment with his hometown team.'' I think that's what they signed me to do, and when you get a spot start like today, provide a big hit or some pop,'' he said. ''It was nice to be able to do that today.'' Francoeur hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh inning Sunday, and the Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1. Francoeur's seventh home run this season came off Andrew Bailey (3-1), who has allowed 19 earned runs in his last 16 2/3 innings. Mauricio Cabrera � 40;2-0), the fourth of six Atlanta pitchers, pitched a one-hit seventh. Jimmy Paredes entered as a defensive replacement in the seventh and homered against Chris Withrow in the eighth. Jim Johnson pitched a hitless ninth for his sixth save in nine chances. After Tommy Joseph's leadoff walk, Aaron Altherr grounded into a double play and Carlos Ruiz struck out. Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff faced one over the minimum and struck out one in five innings, throwing 34 of 51 pitches for strikes. Jace Peterson reached on an infield single in the fourth, but Eickhoff got Freddie Freeman to ground into a double play. Eickhoff was replaced by David Hernandez to begin the sixth following a 24-minute rain delay.'' Not taking any chances when you sit for a half hour,'' manager Pete Mackanin said. Bailey blamed himself for not doing his job.'' Clearly I'm struggling,'' he said. ''It's frustrating to go through this, especially when Eick's start gets cut short and they need me to step up and throw a zero.'' Philadelphia's offense missed on a couple of chances through the first five innings. Aaron Altherr ran through third-base coach Juan Samuel's sign and was thrown out at third. Francoeur's homer was his first at Turner Field as a Brave since June 24, 2009, against the Yankees.'' When I was 22 or 23, it was like, `Oh, I'll do it again tomorrow,''' he said. ''It was a good opportunity to get in there today and contribute.'' Braves starter Joel De La Cruz gave up three hits and two walks in 4 1/3 innings in his third big league start. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The 27-year-old made his first start and eighth appearance since July 4, when he gave up seven runs - four earned - in the second inning of an 8-2 loss at Philadelphia. HELP ON THE WAYWith the majors' least productive of fense, Atlanta is eager to have slugger Matt Kemp in the lineup after Saturday night's trade with San Diego. Basketball Picks. The 31-year-old outfielder is to make his Braves debut Tuesday against Pittsburgh. Kemp was acquired for troubled outfielder Hector Olivera and $10.5 million. SLUMPING FRANCOMaikel Franco is hitless in 17 at-bats, dropping his batting average to .297. BEEN A WHILEWhen the Phillies scored four runs in the eighth of Saturday's 9-5 win, it marked the first time since 1992 that they sent nine straight batters to the plate in an inning without getting a hit. Atlanta walked four, committed two fielding errors and hit a batter. Free MLB Baseball Picks. TRAINER'S ROOMAtlanta LHP Matt Marksberry was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a rotator cuff inflammation. INF Daniel Castro was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett. UP NEXT:Phillies: RHP Zach Eflin (3-4) is to start Tuesday against San Francisco. He allowed five hits and no earned runs in six innings of a no-decision June 24 at the Giants. Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (4-4) is slated to pitch Tuesday against Pittsburgh.  

MLB Recap: Pittsburgh Pirates (2) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (4) - 7/31/2016

MLB Recap: Pittsburgh Pirates (2) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (4) - Date: 7/31/2016 Jonathan Lucroy waved his helmet to acknowledge a standing ovation at Miller Park and, in what could be his final appearance for the Milwaukee Brewers, flied out as a pinch hitter Sunday in a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Lucroy turned down a trade to AL Central-leading Cleveland over the weekend. But other teams want the All-Star catcher before Monday's deal deadline, and he has a limited no-trade clause. Lucroy, who made his major league debut with Milwaukee in 2010, batted in the eighth. He faced Felipe Rivero, acquired by the Pirates on Saturday in a deal that sent closer Mark Melancon to Washington. Keon Broxton and Chris Carter hit solo home runs as Milwaukee completed a three-game sweep. Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison exited with discomfort in his right leg after a collision with Broxton on a sacrifice bunt in the sixth. Matt Garz a (2-4) gave up one earned run in five innings, ending his four-game losing streak. Jeremy Jeffress earned his fourth save in as many days and his 27th of the season in 28 chances. Francisco Liriano (6-11) allowed four runs in five innings.  

MLB Recap: Chicago White Sox (4) vs. Minnesota Twins (6) - 7/31/2016

MLB Recap: Chicago White Sox (4) vs. Minnesota Twins (6) - Date: 7/31/2016 Brian Dozier homered twice and Ervin Santana posted another strong start one day before the trade deadline as the Minnesota Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 6-4 on Sunday. Kennys Vargas hit a two-run homer as part of a three-run first inning for Minnesota, which has won three of four games. Vargas' towering blast in the first was hit an estimated 428 feet to straightaway center field and highlighted the quick start against Chicago's Carlos Rodon (2-8), who made his first start since July 5 after recovering from a sprained left wrist. Santana (4-9) allowed three runs - one earned - in six innings with five strikeouts. Ryan Pressly gave up a double to Melky Cabrera but recorded his first save in three chances. Santana has been mentioned in trade rumors with the Twins floundering in last place. Minnesota sent its lone All-Star repre sentative, infielder Eduardo Nunez, to the San Francisco Giants on Thursday. Santana has allowed more than two earned runs just once in his last eight starts, but is just 3-2 in that span. Starting pitching is seemingly scarce among potential trading partners, but Twins interim general manager Rob Antony has said he's willing to hold on to Santana, who has two years remaining on the four-year, $55 million contract he signed prior to last season. Santana didn't allow a hit until Adam Eaton's leadoff bloop single in the fourth. Free Soccer Picks. Two runs came across in the fourth after Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario had throwing errors on back-to-back plays. Chicago is also in selling mode after it started 23-10. Free MLB Baseball Picks. The White Sox sent left-hander reliever Zach Duke to the St. Louis Cardinals for speedy minor-league outfielder Charlie Tilson before Sunday's game. Rodon managed to last 6 1/3 innings in his return to the rotation but gave up five earned runs and eight hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Winning Sports Picks Who You Should Follow. The White Sox starting staff, particularly left-handers Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, has been much rumored as Monday's trade deadline approaches, as well. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. TRAINER'S ROOMWhite Sox: Todd Frazier returned after missing two games with the flu. Manager Robin Ventura said Frazier was better but not feeling all the way back to 100 percent. Frazier started at first base and went 0 for 2 with two walks. Sports Experts. Twins: OF Byron Buxton left the game in the second with right knee sorenes s after running the bases. Buxton got on base with a walk and stole second base standing up even as Chicago catcher Omar Narvaez made a throw. When Grossman grounded to third, Buxton pulled up heading into third base. UP NEXTWhite Sox: Chicago begins a series at Detroit with RHP James Shields (5-12, 4.68 ERA) starting against RHP Anibal Sanchez (5-11, 6.56). Shields pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs in his last outing. MLB Baseball Handicappers. Twins: RHP Tyler Duffey (5-8, 6.12) is scheduled to start Monday's game at Cleveland against RHP Danny Salazar (11-3, 2.97).  

MLB Recap: Colorado Rockies (4) vs. New York Mets (6) - 7/31/2016

MLB Recap: Colorado Rockies (4) vs. New York Mets (6) - Date: 7/31/2016 Neil Walker hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Colorado Rockies 6-4 on Sunday and prevented a season sweep. Walker also had an RBI triple, extending his recent tear at the plate, and Jeurys Familia rebounded from consecutive blown saves to close it out. New York sustained another costly injury, this one to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, but snapped a four-game skid that matched its longest this season. Alejandro De Aza and rookie Brandon Nimmo each contributed a run-scoring single as the Mets finally generated some offense - and a little momentum heading into this week's Subway Series against the retooling Yankees. Sports Handicapper Records. The first two games are at Citi Field, with the final two across town in the Bronx. Playing without ailing slugger Yoenis Cespedes, New York won for only the second time in 10 home games. In doing so, the Mets averted a four-game sweep and finished 1-6 against the Rockies (52-53) this year. Before that, they won 11 straight against Colorado - including a 7-0 mark last season. Carlos Gonzalez hit a tying RBI double in the fifth and a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the seventh off winner Jerry Blevins (4-1). Gonzalez also tried to score from third with two outs in the fifth on a pitch that got past Rene Rivera, but the Mets catcher made the tag as both players dove headlong toward the plate. Daniel Descalso had two RBI singles for the Rockies, who had won five in a row and nine of 10. De Aza walked with one out in the seventh and, one out later, James Loney drew a 10-pitch walk from Boone Logan (1-1). Walker drove his 17th homer to left-center, pumped his fist after crossing the plate and eventually came out for a curtain call. It was the first home run allowed by Logan since Peter Bourjos connected for St. Louis on June 9 last year, the Rockies said. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The left-hander's streak lasted 45 2/3 innings. Walker, who surpassed his home run total last season with Pittsburgh, had three hits and is 12 for 19 in his last five games following a 2-for-39 slump. It was his first long ball since a three-run shot July 15 at Philadelphia. Addison Reed struck out three in a one-hit eighth, and Familia fanned two in a perfect ninth for his 37th save in 39 attempts this year. Handicappers Watchdog. The right-hander had racked up a franchise-record 52 consecutive saves in the regular season, the third-longest streak in major league history, before failing Wednesday night against St. Louis and Thursday vs. Colorado. Cabrera was hurt while scoring from first base on Walker& #39;s two-out triple in the first inning. As he looked back to find the ball, Cabrera stumbled immediately after rounding third and hobbled all the way home. A few innings later, the Mets announced that Cabrera had a strained patellar tendon in his left knee - the same injury that sidelined him for a little more than two weeks during spring training this year. Perhaps a slick spot played a role. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The start was delayed 38 minutes by rain that fell much of the morning in Queens as the tarp covered the infield. In fact, a potentially wet field was one reason Mets manager Terry Collins held Cespedes out of the lineup. Cespedes has been playing through a strained right quadriceps and left Saturday night's rainy game after five innings when the nagging injury tightened up. Sports Picks for Today. TRAINER'S ROOMRockies: Rookie SS Trevor Story sat out with a jammed left thumb that he injured Saturday night. Story, who began the day leading the NL with 27 home runs, said his goal is to return to the lineup Tuesday at home against the Dodgers. He might have an MRI on Monday after the Rockies return home, the team said. ... Slumping 3B Nolan Arenado was out of the lineup for rest but entered on defense in the seventh. Mets: Wilmer Flores moved from third base to shortstop to replace Cabrera, and Kelly Johnson entered at third. UP NEXTRockies: Following a day off, Colorado begins an eight-game homestand Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers. RHP Jon Gray (7-4, 3.94 ERA) pitches for the Rockies, looking to improve his 4-0 record at Coors Field. Gray has gone seven innings and allowed no more than one run in three straight starts, but has a 6.55 ERA in two outings against the Dodgers this year. Mets: RHP Logan Verrett (3-6, 4.12 ERA) starts the Subway Series opener Monday night a t Citi Field against Yankees LHP CC Sabathia (6-8, 3.95). Verrett has never faced the Yankees.  

MLB Recap: Baltimore Orioles (6) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (2) - 7/31/2016

MLB Recap: Baltimore Orioles (6) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (2) - Date: 7/31/2016 Jonathan Schoop singled home the go-ahead run in the 12th inning and the Baltimore Orioles ended a season-worst five-game losing streak, beating Toronto 6-2 Sunday to reclaim the AL East lead. Adam Jones hit his 20th homer later in the 12th, a three-run shot that helped the Orioles avoid a three-game sweep and move a half-game ahead of the Blue Jays. Mychael Givens (8-1) worked one inning for the victory as the Orioles won for the first time in six games at Toronto. Pedro Alvarez walked to begin the 12th and moved up on a balk by Franklin Morales (0-1). One out later, Schoop lined a single for his third hit of the game. After J. J. Hardy walked, Jesse Chavez replaced Morales. Jones greeted Chavez by homering on the first pitch. Best Sports Picks of the Day. The Blue Jays, who overtook the Orioles by winning the first two games of the series, finished July with a record of 16-8. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. Troy Tulowitzki hit his 18th home run on Chris Tillman's first pitch in the Toronto fourth, a drive off the facing of the fourth deck. NBA Handicappers. Tulowitkzi left in the eighth, two innings after he was hit on the right hand by a pitch from Tillman. MLB Baseball Handicappers. Toronto opened the scoring in the second when Russell Martin doubled and scored on Devon Travis' groundout. Baltimore tied it in the seventh, ending Aaron Sanchez's streak of 19 shutout innings. After Chris Davis walked and Mark Trumbo doubled, Alvarez hit an RBI groundout and Matt Wieters followed with a sacrifice fly. Sanchez, who is unbeaten in 17 starts si nce April 22, allowed two runs and four hits in seven inningsTillman gave up two runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings. Best Bets of the Day. TRAINER'S ROOMBlue Jays: Josh Donaldson started at DH after leaving Saturday's game in the eighth with a sore hamstring. He came on at 3B in after Darwin Barney moved to SS to replace Tulowitzki in the eighth. UP NEXTOrioles: Baltimore is off Monday before opening a three-game series at home against Texas on Tuesday. RHP Dylan Bundy (3-3, 3.46) starts against Rangers RHP Yu Darvish (2-2, 3.09). Bundy is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts since joining the rotation. Blue Jays: RHP Marcus Stroman (8-4, 4.92) starts the opener of a four game-series at Houston. Stroman went 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA in five July starts after going 1-3 with a 7.76 ERA in June.  

MLB Recap: New York Yankees (3) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (5) - 7/31/2016

MLB Recap: New York Yankees (3) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (5) - Date: 7/31/2016 Rookie left-hander Blake Snell struck out nine over 5 1/3 innings, Luke Maile had a key two-run single and the Tampa Bay Rays completed a three-game sweep by beating the New York Yankees 5-3 on Sunday. Snell (3-4) allowed two runs and five hits, several hours after the Yankees traded closer Andrew Miller to Cleveland for touted outfielder Clint Frazier and three others. New York had sent closer Aroldis Chapman to the Chicago Cubs on Monday in a five-player deal. After winning eight of 10, New York lost its fourth straight game and fell to .500 at 52-52. Maile made it 5-2 in the sixth with a bases-loaded two-run single after Michael Pineda (5-10) issued a two-out intentional walk to Nick Franklin. Brad Miller put the Rays ahead 3-0 with a solo homer in the fifth that hit off netting covering a tank with live rays in center field. Alex Colom e got three outs for his 25th save. Carlos Beltran tied Darrell Evans for 51st place on the career home-run list at 414 with a two-run drive in the sixth that cut the Yankees' deficit to 3-2. Beltran is one run from joining Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols as the only active players to have at least 1,500 RBIs and 1,500 runs. Handicapper Directory. TRAINER'S ROOMYankees: GM Brian Cashman said OF Mason Williams left his game with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Saturday night with a quadriceps injury. Rays: OF Desmond Jennings (strained left hamstring) could return in the next few days. A-RODRodriguez was back on the bench after striking out in all four at-bats Saturday night as the designated hitter. He struck out as a pinch hitter in the ninth, extending his slump to 2 for 27 slump. A-Rod has not started seven of New York's last eight games. UP NEXTYankees: LHP CC Sabathia (6-8) and Ne w York Mets RHP Logan Verrett (3-6) are the scheduled starters Monday night in the opener of a two-game interleague series at Citi Field. Rays: RHP Chris Archer (5-14), who leads the majors in losses, goes against Kansas City LHP Danny Duffy (6-1) Monday night. Archer, 0-3 with a 6.20 ERA in four road starts against the Royals, will face Kansas City at home for the first time.  

MLB Recap: Houston Astros (0) vs. Detroit Tigers (11) - 7/31/2016

MLB Recap: Houston Astros (0) vs. Detroit Tigers (11) - Date: 7/31/2016 James McCann capped a six-run first inning with his first career grand slam as the Detroit Tigers completed a three-game sweep of the Houston Astros with an 11-0 rout Sunday. Miguel Cabrera homered twice for the Tigers. Free Guaranteed Sports Picks. The Tigers, who began the day one game behind Boston for the second American League wild-card spot, have now won six straight - including a sweep at Fenway Park. Free MLB Baseball Picks. The win extended Detroit's lead over Houston to 1 1/2 games. Mike Pelfrey (4-9) got the win, pitching five shutout innings and allowed four hits and a walk, striking out four. He has now allowed one or fewer runs in five of his last eight starts. Dallas Keuchel (6-11) took the l oss, allowing seven runs and seven hits in five innings, walking three and striking out four. Make Money Betting Sports. Two days after scoring nine runs in the first two innings off Collin McHugh, the Tigers were all over Keuchel. Seven of the first eight batters reached base, capped off by McCann's grand slam to make it 6-0. Only Cameron Maybin getting thrown out on the bases kept the defending Cy Young winner from giving up more runs in the inning. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Astros loaded the bases in the third, but Pelfrey got out of the jam by retiring Carlos Correa on a broken-bat grounder to third. Houston had them loaded again in the seventh, but Bruce Rondon struck out Correa. Cabrera made it 7-0 with a fifth-inning homer off Keuchel, and Mike Aviles added an eighth run in the next inning. He doubled off Scott Feldman and scored on Jose Iglesias's one-out sacrifice fly. Cabrera got the lead to double figures with a two-run homer in the seventh off Feldman, and Justin Upton added a solo shot later in the inning. Football Handicappers. TRAINER'S ROOMAstros: 1B Marwin Gonzalez (hand) and OF Carlos Gomez (hamstring) were both out of the starting lineup, leaving OF Jake Marisnick as the only healthy position player on Houston's bench. Gonzalez, who got hurt Friday night, is scheduled to see a hand specialist on Monday. MLB Baseball Handicappers. Tigers: OF J. D. Martinez (elbow) went 2 for 5 for Triple-A Toledo on Saturday, and is now hitting .350 after four games of a rehab assignment. He still hasn't played the field, but the Tigers are hoping to have him back by week's end. OLD FRIENDSMcCann's first-inning homer was the first grand slam of his career and the 15th home run. Not only did the grand slam come against Keuchel - his college teammate at Arkansas - he has also homered twice against Drew Smyly, who also played with them with the Razorbacks. FIRST HITHouston rookie Alex Bregman got his first career hit in the third inning, ending an 0-for-18 start. Cabrera called for the ball and ceremoniously presented it to Bregman, who tossed it to the Astros dugout. UP NEXTAstros: Return home for the first of four games with Toronto. The Astros may have to start rookie Joe Musgrove, because scheduled starter Doug Fister is with his wife, who is about to give birth to the couple's first child. The Blue Jays haven't announced their rotation for the series. Tigers: Off Monday before hosting the White Sox for three games. Anibal Sanchez (5-11, 6.56) is scheduled to start the opener against James Shields (5-12, 4.68).  

MLB Recap: Oakland Athletics (0) vs. Cleveland Indians (8) - 7/31/2016

MLB Recap: Oakland Athletics (0) vs. Cleveland Indians (8) - Date: 7/31/2016 Corey Kluber limited Oakland to five hits in seven innings, Mike Napoli hit a two-run homer and the Cleveland Indians completed a three-game sweep of the Athletics with an 8-0 win Sunday after boosting their postseason hopes by acquiring reliever Andrew Miller. Kluber (10-8) struck out seven and walked two, retiring Max Muncy and Ryon Healy to strand runners on second and third in the seventh. He is 4-1 in his last seven starts. Sports Handicapping Software. Three relievers completed the six-hitter. Miller was obtained from the Yankees for four prospects and figures to become a setup man for closer Cody Allen. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Indians' attempt to acquire Jonathan Lucroy from Milwaukee fell through when the All-S tar catcher refused to waive his no-trade provision. Sonny Gray (5-10) gave up seven runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings for the A's, who started 9-4 after the All-Star break before getting swept. Following a 36-minute rain delay at the start, Cleveland went ahead in a five-run third that included Napoli's homer, Jason Kipnis' two-run single and Francisco Lindor's sacrifice fly. Napoli's team-leading 24th home run this season was his 1,000th career hit. Kipnis drove in three runs, and Lonnie Chisenhall, Tyler Naquin and Abraham Almonte each had two hits. Roberto Perez was 1 for 23 this season when Gray walked him in the third, loading the bases. Perez singled in a run in the fourth. Sports Picks Today. TRAINER'S ROOMAthletics: LHP Rich Hill (middle finger blister) could start Friday against the Chicago Cubs. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday, retroactive to July 20. UP NEXTAthletics: LHP Sean Manaea faces the Angels for the first time in his career Monday in the opener of a three-game series. He hasn't walked a batter in 26 2/3 innings over his last four appearances. Indians: RHP Danny Salazar has a 2.97 ERA, the fourth lowest in the AL going into Monday's start against Minnesota. He's 6-0 with a 2.68 ERA in eight starts this season against AL Central teams.  

MLB Preview: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves - 7/31/2016 - 1:35 PM EST

MLB Preview: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves - Date: 7/31/2016 Time: 01:35 P.M. EST Venue: Turner Field   ATLANTA -- With the non-waiver trade deadline only a day away, Sunday may be the final game for the rosters as currently constructed for the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves. Both teams are considered sellers on the trade market and may be willing to listen to all reasonable offers, particularly if they bring prospects in return." They always ask you, 'Will you trade this guy?" And I ask them, 'For who?'" Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin said. Sports Handicapper Tracker. The teams conclude their four-game series at Turner Field. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Phillies start right-hander Jerad Eickhoff (6-12, 3.83 ERA) against Atlanta's Joel De La Cruz (0-3, 4.66). Atlanta general manager John Coppolella said he would not trade first baseman Freddie Freeman or pitcher Julio Teheran. Otherwise, anyone else is considered fair game. Hockey Handicappers. The Braves completed a trade Saturday, sending outfielder Hector Olivera to San Diego for outfielder and former NL MVP Matt Kemp, a right-handed hitter with 23 home runs." We've been trying to find right-handed power from the start," Coppolella said. "He's somebody who can help us. We need to get back to winning games here. We think this guy can hit right behind Freddie Freeman, give us some power that we sorely lack and that he'll be a good help to our team on the field and off the field." Atlanta has already moved some of its most tradable players. Last week, the Braves sent pitchers Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez to Texas in exchange for slugging infield prospect Travis Demeritte. In June, the club traded utility man Kelly Johnson to the Mets. MLB Ba seball Handicappers. The Braves may also be able to find a market from a contending team for right fielder Nick Markakis, infielder Gordon Beckham or right-handed reliever Jim Johnson. Free Sports Picks Today. There appears to be little interest in catcher A. J. Pierzynski and shortstop Erick Aybar. Free MLB Baseball Picks. The Phillies had not yet pulled the trigger on a deal, but they had showcased a pair of pitchers they might be willing to trade in this series. Vince Velasquez pitched Friday and Jeremy Hellickson worked Saturday. It is likely the Phillies would demand three or four highly valued young players in return. Texas is said to be particularly interested in Velasquez and had scouts on hand at Turner Field to watch him pitch Friday." Our whole goal is to get young pitchers because they're the most expensive commodit y and if you can develop young pitchers like (Velasquez and Hellickson) and have four or five or those guys you're ahead of the game,'' Mackanin said. "But at the same time, I'll listen to any offers if you get three guys for him that are really good-looking prospects because pitching is such a commodity. You've got to consider it." There were even rumors that Hellickson would be traded before Saturday's start." Who knows what's going to happen," Mackanin said. "It's out of my control. (Hellickson) is a free agent at the end of the year. He's a professional and he knows he's got to pitch well for the rest of the year no matter where he's at."

CLICK HERE TO GET FREE PICKS / ODDS FOR THIS PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES VS. ATLANTA BRAVES GAME

MLB Preview: Chicago White Sox vs. Minnesota Twins - 7/31/2016 - 2:10 PM EST

MLB Preview: Chicago White Sox vs. Minnesota Twins - Date: 7/31/2016 Time: 02:10 P.M. EST Venue: Target Field   MINNEAPOLIS -- After two extra-innings games in as many days, the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins hope to take care of business in nine innings Sunday. Minnesota won Friday, with Joe Mauer drawing a walk-off walk in the 12th inning for a Twins 2-1 victory. One night later, it was Chicago prevailing thanks to Dioner Navarro's RBI double in the 10th inning." You start getting a little deja vu of last night, just the situation," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said after Saturday's win. Minnesota will need a bounce-back effort from its bullpen, which gave up two crucial runs Saturday. Closer Brandon Kintzler blew his first save in nine tries when he allowed the tying run in the ninth inning. In the 10th, it was lefty Fernando Abad giving up Navarro's double." It's a disappointing game, but it was entertaining," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "A lot of things transpired throughout the course of the game and into extra innin gs." Minnesota looks to win the three-game series with veteran Ervin Santana on the mound. Santana, whose name has been mentioned in trade rumors with Monday's deadline nearing, has a 1.96 ERA in five starts in July. He pitched a complete game his last time out but was on the wrong end of a 2-0 final score. Santana's second-shortest outing of the season came against the White Sox on May 7, when he lasted 3 1/3 innings. He also tossed seven innings in a 3-1 loss against Chicago on April 14. Free Picks for Today. Though Santana has been discussed as a possible trade candidate for Minnesota, it appears more likely with each passing day that the Twins will opt to hold onto the veteran righty. He has two years left on his four-year, $55 million deal he signed before last season. Carlos Rodon (2-7, 4.50 ERA) takes the mound for Chicago in the series finale. Rodon was placed on the 15-day disab led list earlier this month with a sprained wrist. He suffered the injury while slipping on the dugout steps. Free MLB Baseball Picks. The 23-year-old Rodon made a rehab assignment Monday with Triple-A Charlotte, giving up three runs -- two earned -- in 3 2/3 innings against Louisville. Rodon previously faced the Twins twice this season. He tallied his first win of the season April 13 against Minnesota and earned a no-decision in Chicago's 6-5 win June 30.

CLICK HERE TO GET FREE PICKS / ODDS FOR THIS CHICAGO WHITE SOX VS. MINNESOTA TWINS GAME

MLB Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Milwaukee Brewers - 7/31/2016 - 2:10 PM EST

MLB Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Milwaukee Brewers - Date: 7/31/2016 Time: 02:10 P.M. EST Venue: Miller Park   MILWAUKEE -- For the second straight game, the Milwaukee Brewers will be without All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Point Shaving. They'll have to get used to his absence. After months of speculation, Milwaukee reportedly reached agreement on a deal that would send Lucroy, 30, to the Cleveland Indians for a package of prospects including highly touted catcher Francisco Mejia. Milwaukee held Lucroy out of their 5-3 victory Saturday as talks "progressed," according to manager Craig Counsell, and news of the agreement broke approximately an hour after the game. Lucroy or not, the Brewers look to finish their season-long 10-game homestead on a high note. Free MLB Baseball Picks. They've won six of the first nine games and two consecutive series, and a victory Sunday would mark their third series sweep of the season." I d on't think it's anything different than how we've played all year," Counsell said. "Every day is a new day. With all the stuff swirling around, we've talked about distractions and where to put them. Guys have gotten opportunities and made the most of them." Matt Garza (1-4, 5.74 ERA) takes the mound for Milwaukee, making his ninth start of the season and his second of the year against the Pirates, who scored five runs on eight hits over five innings against him on July 21. Garza took no decision his last time out against Arizona but left the game with a 4-3 lead after going six innings and allowing five hits and two walks with a pair of strikeouts but he's 0-4 with a 7.52 ERA over his last five outings." I've been looking for my stuff throughout this season," Garza said. "The last start, I felt I was on the verge of finding it. I'm real happy I found it. A lot of the hits were off-speed hits and I learned af ter that and went back to what I'm accustomed to doing, going right after guys." Pittsburgh counters with lefty Francisco Liriano (6-10, 5.38), who is two strikeouts shy of 1,500 for his career. He's 7-6 with a 4.40 ERA all-time against Milwaukee (17 games, 16 starts) and 1-0 this year after striking out 13 in a 5-3 victory over the Brewers on July 21." It's just one of those nights where you're like, 'Man, thank God I'm not facing him.' He was on," said Pirates outfielder Matt Joyce. Milwaukee has been a miserable destination for the Pirates, who are 17-63 at Miller Park since the start of 2007. During that same stretch, the Brewers are 102-56 over Pittsburgh overall, good for the second-best winning percentage of any team against a divisional opponent in all of baseball. But while the Pirates as a team have struggled, Andrew McCutchen has done well, collecting 120 hits against the Brewers since the start of the 2008 season while Josh Harrison has gone 15-for-41 with two triples and five RBIs in his last 11 games against Milwaukee.

CLICK HERE TO GET FREE PICKS / ODDS FOR THIS PITTSBURGH PIRATES VS. MILWAUKEE BREWERS GAME

MLB Preview: Seattle Mariners vs. Chicago Cubs - 7/31/2016 - 8:08 PM EST

MLB Preview: Seattle Mariners vs. Chicago Cubs - Date: 7/31/2016 Time: 08:08 P.M. EST Venue: Wrigley Field   CHICAGO -- Once a highly touted prospect, left-hander Brian Matusz found himself out the big leagues -- and out of a job -- in mid-June after he was traded by Baltimore and released by Atlanta. Sports Monitor. That's when the Chicago Cubs called to offer Matusz a minor-league deal. Six weeks later, the 29-year-old southpaw will make his Cubs debut on national television Sunday night in a rubber match against the Seattle Mariners. Another Oriole-turned-Cub, reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, said he was eager to welcome his new teammate." Matusz and I played together for quite a while," said Arrieta, who spent parts of four seasons in Baltimore. "I've seen him pitch extremely well. ... He's a smart guy. He's got some really good pitches that he knows how to use effectively. I look forward to watching him pitch." Chicago (62-41) will look to bounce back from a rare late-inning meltdown. On Saturday, the Cubs led 1-0 in the eighth inning when closer Aroldis Chapman allowed a two-out, two-run double to Mariners center fielder Leonys Martin. Seattle (52-50) tacked on two more runs to improve to 11-5 in interleague play this season. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Cubs dropped to 56-2 this season when leading after eight innings. Seattle now turns to ace right-hander Felix Hernandez (5-4, 3.45 ERA), who will make his 13th start of the season and his third start since coming off the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right calf. In two starts since his return, Hernandez has allowed nine runs in 12 2/3 innings against the Chicago White Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates. Hernandez has faced the Cubs once in his career. On June 24, 2010, he limited Cubs hitters to two runs and five hits in nine innings. He walked one and struck out eight. Professional Sports Handicappers. This time, Hernandez will encounter a much tougher opponent. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Cubs team he shut down in 2010 included ordinary hitters such as Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, Xavier Nady, Chad Tracy and Koyie Hill. Free Sports Picks Today. This year's lineup includes five National League All-Stars and has scored 510 runs -- fourth in the majors." It's another game," Hernandez told the Tacoma News-Tribune. "I've just got to go out there and do my job." The same could be said for Matusz, although his prime-time assignment at Wrigley Field hardly qualifies as just another game. A strong outing could earn Matusz additional starting opportunities as Cubs manager Joe Maddon looks to use a si xth starter at times during the second half of the season to keep the rest of his rotation fresh. Matusz was 27-41 with a 4.85 ERA in 279 career games (68 starts) with Baltimore. At Triple-A Iowa, he was 0-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two starts. He walked three and struck out 11 in 9 1/3 innings." We just think it's prudent to be proactive with the moment, not to wait," Maddon said. "Too many times, you push and push and push (the five starters), and eventually the rest is absolutely necessary. Prior to being absolutely necessary, it's a hard sell sometimes to the rest of the group. ... You try to just lay out your best plan in advance. I've done it in the past down south (in Tampa), and up here it's no different." Arrieta said he and the rest of the Cubs rotation could benefit from an extra day's rest on occasion. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks initially was slated to pitch Sunday, but instead will wait an extra da y along with right-handers Arrieta, John Lackey and Jason Hammel and left-hander Jon Lester." We'll find a way to use that day to get some work done and get better," Arrieta said. "At this time of year, every one of us might need to refine something. Free MLB Baseball Picks. That extra day might not be a bad idea."

CLICK HERE TO GET FREE PICKS / ODDS FOR THIS SEATTLE MARINERS VS. CHICAGO CUBS GAME

MLB Preview: Cincinnati Reds vs. San Diego Padres - 7/31/2016 - 4:40 PM EST

MLB Preview: Cincinnati Reds vs. San Diego Padres - Date: 7/31/2016 Time: 04:40 P.M. EST Venue: Petco Park   SAN DIEGO -- Cincinnati Reds right-hander Homer Bailey has waited a long time for Sunday's rubber match of a three-game series against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park." Rehab is not easy. I wouldn't wish it on anyone," Bailey said recently. Sunday will be Bailey's third start since August 2014. During the past 23 months, he has had two rounds of surgery on his right elbow, including Tommy John reconstruction surgery on May 8, 2015. He earlier had surgery on Sept. 15, 2014, to repair a torn flexor tendon." We are certainly happy to see Homer returning," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He's a quality, veteran presence who is going to add stability to a young rotation." Bailey opened the year on the 60-day disabled list. After two rehab appearances in April, he was again shut down and didn't resume pitching until June 27 when he made the first of six straight rehab starts for Triple-A Louisville (1-2, 5.75 ERA 1;. He was activated from the 60-day disabled list Friday. Bailey will be matched against Paul Clemens on Sunday. Clemens was claimed off waivers by the Padres from the Miami Marlins on June 28. He has since made five appearances for the Padres, including one spot start at St. Louis in the second game of a doubleheader on July 20. He allowed three runs, four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in five innings. Clemens was moved into the rotation Friday when the Padres traded starting pitchers Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea to the Marlins." I like his stuff," Padres manager Andy Green said recently of Clemens, who spent most of this season with the Marlins' Triple-A New Orleans affiliate." I like his curve. I think it plays at the major league level. He just needs to find some consistency and gain some confidence. Sometimes, all a player or a pitcher needs is a change of scenery. Fighting Predi ctions. That might be the case with Paul." Clemens is a 29-year-old right-hander who was originally a seventh-round pick of the Atlanta Braves in the 2008 draft. He is 6 feet 3 and 215 pounds." This is a great opportunity for Paul and other members of the rotation," Green said. Meanwhile, the Padres were flying outfielder Jabari Blash in from Triple-A El Paso (the Chihuahuas were actually in Las Vegas) to take Kemp's place on a depleted roster. Even before Kemp was traded to Atlanta during Saturday night's game, the Padres were down two position players. Because of the inexperienced rotation, the Padres are carrying an eight-man bullpen to cover the extra innings created by shorter outing from the starters. And with the loss of Kemp and the unavailability of outfielder Alex Dickerson (right hip contusion) for a few days, the Padres were down to two healthy reserves. Free MLB Baseball Picks. They were forced to start first baseman Wil Myers in right and infielder Alexi Amarista in left. Blash is scheduled to start in right field on Sunday afternoon against Bailey." Naturally, I'm excited," Bailey said. "It's not like another start every fifth day. Gambling Profit. This is the start of another stage of my career."

CLICK HERE TO GET FREE PICKS / ODDS FOR THIS CINCINNATI REDS VS. SAN DIEGO PADRES GAME

MLB Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers - 7/31/2016 - 4:10 PM EST

MLB Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers - Date: 7/31/2016 Time: 04:10 P.M. EST Venue: Dodger Stadium   LOS ANGELES -- For the first time in more than three years, the Arizona Diamondbacks have an opportunity to capture a series at Dodger Stadium. Jean Segura hit a leadoff homer and rookie Braden Shipley won his first major league game, helping the Diamondbacks to a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night before 49,540. Saturday's win occurred one night after the Dodgers used a five-run rally to wipe out a four-run deficit in the seventh inning for a 9-7 decision over the Diamondbacks. Arizona won for only the fifth time in the last 23 games at Dodger Stadium. Free Winning Sports Picks. They have gone 7-0-1 in eight series against the Dodgers in L. A. since winning one in June 2013. Shipley (1-1) played a prominent role in the outcome. Shipley blanked Los Angeles for six innings, allowing five hits with four strikeouts and a walk. It was a stark contrast from his debut on July 25 when Shipley was knocked around for six runs in 5 1/3 innings in a loss to the Milwaukee Brewers." Super excited. Can't take all of the credit. Defense played great behind me all night," said Shipley, who became the seventh Diamondbacks pitcher to toss six or more scoreless innings within his first two career starts. "Can't say enough about our defense tonight." Shipley's ability to keep his pitches down resulted in the Dodgers hitting just three fly balls against him, two of them coming off the bat of rookie shortstop Corey Seager." Just sticking with my plan," Shipley said. "Staying down in the zone and using my sinker effectively and that's kind of what I knew I had to do coming into tonight, just to be able to work down in the zone and mix pitches and use that sinker." Diamondbacks left-hander Patrick Corbin (4-9, 5.31 ERA) will face Dodgers right-hander Bud Norris (6-9, 4.27) in the series fi nale on Sunday. Corbin is 0-2 with a 5.51 ERA in four starts against the Dodgers this season. Corbin is 2-1 with a 3.35 ERA in five career starts at Dodger Stadium. He has allowed a run or fewer three times. Norris picked up his first win against the Diamondbacks the last time he faced them on July 15 at Chase Field, where he allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings of a 13-7 Dodgers victory. Norris fanned five and did not issue a walk while throwing 98 pitches. In nine career games (six starts) against the Diamondbacks, Norris is 1-7 with a 12.65 ERA. He has struck out 27 batters in 26 1/3 innings. Norris is hoping for a better fate than teammate Scott Kazmir, who had not lost in his last 13 outings -- going 7-0 during the run. Kazmir (9-4) struck out seven, walked none and surrendered four runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings as his streak ended in Saturday's loss. He hadn't lost a start in July since 2010." We just let this one sli p away," said Kazmir, who threw 109 pitches (77 strikes). "Giving up a three-spot early in the game and kind of setting the tone. Shipley was great out there. He really pitched well. Just one of those things we just didn't kind of finish at the end."

CLICK HERE TO GET FREE PICKS / ODDS FOR THIS ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS VS. LOS ANGELES DODGERS GAME

MLB Preview: Washington Nationals vs. San Francisco Giants - 7/31/2016 - 4:05 PM EST

MLB Preview: Washington Nationals vs. San Francisco Giants - Date: 7/31/2016 Time: 04:05 P.M. EST Venue: AT&T Park   SAN FRANCISCO -- Two teams being cautious with injured players, getting acquainted with new ones and perhaps still shopping for upgrades, will hook up for a fourth time in four days on Sunday when the Washington Nationals take on the San Francisco Giants. Basketball Picks. The Nationals have won two of the first three in the battle of National League division leaders, but the Giants are the ones coming off a 5-3 win Saturday. On a day when the Nationals acquired a new closer, the Giants' new utility infielder, Eduardo Nunez, was one of the heroes in the win. Nunez, picked up Thursday from Minnesota, collected two hits, including a two-run double that ignited a Giants comeback from an early 3-0 deficit. It helped San Francisco avoid what would have been a fourth straight loss." That's the reason they brought me here," Nunez boasted. "To win games." Nunez started at shorts top in place of Brandon Crawford, who suffered a bruised left hand in Friday's loss. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he hopes to have Crawford back in the lineup Sunday, which could mean a second position in two days for the versatile Nunez. Free MLB Baseball Picks. The Giants figure to have an opening in center field Sunday, with Denard Span likely to miss a second consecutive game because of a strained quad that occurred during a collision at first base in Friday's game. Nunez has played 29 games in the outfield in his seven-year career. Profitable Handicappers. The Nationals are hoping new closer Mark Melancon arrives in time for the series finale after having been acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates shortly before the start of Saturday's game. Washington dealt two left-handers -- major-leaguer Felipe Rivero and minor- leaguer Taylor Hearn -- in order to get the All-Star. Even a midgame arrival by Melancon would be fine for the ninth-inning specialist, Nationals manager Dusty Baker assured." We're getting some reinforcements," the veteran skipper proudly declared. Baker wasn't so confident about star second baseman Daniel Murphy after having sat him out of Saturday's game. Murphy felt tightness in his left leg in the cold San Francisco weather during Thursday night's game, then tried to play through it on Friday. He had to be pulled midway through the win, and was given the full game off Saturday." Still being precautionary," Baker said of Murphy. He remains questionable for Sunday. With trade winds swirling around both teams, Bochy and Baker are comforted in knowing they've got veteran starting pitchers going Sunday. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Giants will go with 1 2-year veteran Matt Cain, who will be seeking his 100th victory in a San Francisco uniform. Cain has a 5-5 record and 3.64 ERA in 15 career starts against the Nationals. Washington will counter with nine-year veteran Gio Gonzalez, who spent his first four years across the bay from San Francisco with the Oakland Athletics. Gonzalez sports a 3-3 record and 3.33 ERA in nine career starts against the Giants.

CLICK HERE TO GET FREE PICKS / ODDS FOR THIS WASHINGTON NATIONALS VS. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS GAME

MLB Preview: Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels - 7/31/2016 - 3:35 PM EST

MLB Preview: Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Angels - Date: 7/31/2016 Time: 03:35 P.M. EST Venue: Angel Stadium of Anaheim   ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Tyler Skaggs will pitch at Angel Stadium for the first time in two years Sunday when the Los Angeles Angels and the Boston Red Sox conclude their three-game series. Sports Handicapping Sites. The left-hander, who turned 25 on July 13, returned to major-league action Tuesday night in Kansas City after spending the past two years recuperating from Tommy John surgery. In his start against the Royals, Skaggs conceded just three hits and one walk in seven shutout innings while collecting five strikeouts in the Angels' 13-0 romp. Skaggs threw 63 of his 88 pitches for strikes." It went a lot better than I expected, to say the least," Skaggs told MLB.com afterward. "Everything just felt really fast in that first at-bat and after that, it started to slow down. It was a fun game for me." The left-hander last pitched in Anaheim on July 25, 2014, when he struck out five in 5 2/3 innings while allowing runs on five hits and a walk against the Detroit Tigers. In his next start six days later, Skaggs amassed seven strikeouts and issued no walks during 4 2/3 no-hit innings in Baltimore but left after throwing 72 pitches. Skaggs underwent ligament-transfer surgery 13 days later. Skaggs began this season with Triple-A Salt Lake but after his first three starts, biceps tendinitis kept him from pitching for two months. Skaggs returned to minor-league action June 22 with a rehabilitation assignment with the Angels' rookie-league team in Arizona before returning to Salt Lake on July 2. In his final two minor-league starts, Skaggs held opponents to just two hits and three walks in 12 2/3 shutout innings while accumulating 26 strikeouts. Fourteen came against Triple-A Omaha to tie the Bees' team record set by Jered Weaver. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The left-hander will play a pivotal role in th e starting rotation for the rest of this season and well into the next, at least. Injuries stripped the Angels of starters Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney, C. J. Wilson and Nick Tropeano. Heaney already had Tommy John surgery but Tropeano and Richards seek to avoid it." We have great expectations for him," manager Mike Scioscia told MLB.com in reference to Skaggs. "He's an important part of what we're trying to do. We expected to have him maybe a little bit earlier. But he's ready now, and we're happy to have him." Opposing Skaggs will be 31-year-old knuckleballer Steven Wright, who is having the best season of his career. Free Winning Sports Picks. The right-hander, an American League All-Star for the first time, already has career bests in victories (12), complete games (3), starts (20), strikeouts (109) and innings (132 2/3). W right anticipated being one of the bullpen's spare parts before left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez suffered a knee injury that forced a quick change in plans." I was going to be a long guy, spot starter," the knuckleball specialist told the Boston Globe. "I knew my role in spring training. Free MLB Baseball Picks. They made it clear. Winning Sports Gambling. That's what I prepared for. I knew there was a chance I'd get starts. I didn't think I'd be in the rotation. Unfortunately, Eddie got hurt but it opened up a door for me." But Wright had perhaps his worst start of the season in his last appearance Tuesday night against the Tigers in Fenway Park. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The right-hander allowed eight earned runs on nine hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings yet received no decision in Boston's 9-8 defeat. Before that game, Wright won his previous four starts." This is a tough loss for me because I feel like if you can get eight runs, you should get the team a win," Wright told MLB.com afterward. "You can't keep asking the offense to score eight, nine runs every night. That's tough to do for any team."

CLICK HERE TO GET FREE PICKS / ODDS FOR THIS BOSTON RED SOX VS. LOS ANGELES ANGELS GAME

MLB Preview: Kansas City Royals vs. Texas Rangers - 7/31/2016 - 3:05 PM EST

MLB Preview: Kansas City Royals vs. Texas Rangers - Date: 7/31/2016 Time: 03:05 P.M. EST Venue: Globe Life Park in Arlington   ARLINGTON, Texas -- Late July for contending baseball teams can be a tricky time. Sunday's pitching matchup between the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals is proof. Point Shaving. Three days ago, the starters for the game were listed at TBA vs. Free MLB Baseball Picks. TBA. Sports Handicapper Leaderboard. That's not a slight to either Texas starter Lucas Harrell or Kansas City's Dillon Gee, but that's just the nature of the trade deadline. Harrell (2-2, 3.38 ERA) makes his Texas debut after the Rangers dealt for him as part of a three-player trade with Atlanta on Wednesday. He'll follow three strong starts from Cole Hamels, A. J. Griffin and Martin Perez as the Rangers look to complete the four-game sweep. Sunday's start continues a rollercoas ter last couple years for Harrell, who pitched in Korea in 2015, opened 2016 with the Detroit organization before catching on with Atlanta. After spending part of the season in Triple A, Harrell was called up and made five solid starts for the Braves. Now, the veteran is hoping to be a boost for a Texas pitching staff that is in desperate need of starting help because of the injuries to Colby Lewis and Derek Holland." It's been pretty intense but it's been pretty awesome," Harrell said of the trade. "It was fun to be part of this team, and just the game and the atmosphere here, it's nice to see how serious they here about winning." While the Rangers acquired Harrell to provide a boost, he's not going to try to do too much. What he's done recently has been enough. Opponents hit just .234 against him in his five starts for Atlanta and he allowed either zero or one run in three of his five starts. He's going to try and continue that t rend Sunday." I'm just going to be myself and give my team a chance to win," said Harrell, who has also pitched for the Chicago White Sox and Houston Astros. "That's what I've done wherever I've been, no matter the situation. I'm just out here to do my best and we'll see what happens." With the Royals slipping out of the American League Central race and the news Saturday that closer Wade Davis will have an MRI on his right forearm, deciding to give Gee another start made sense. Gee (3-4, 4.54 ERA) has bounced between the rotation and bullpen for Kansas City. While his overall numbers are decent, it's been rough for him in the rotation as he's 2-4 with a 6.43 ERA in his six starts. He lasted only five innings in his last outing and was tagged for five runs on 10 hits. Still the Royals are confident Gee, who was born in nearby Cleburne, Texas, and played collegiate at UT-Arlington, can do the job to keep their fleet ing playoff hopes alive. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. They'll turn to him Sunday as they look to stop a streak of seven losses in eight games." He's been throwing good," manager Ned Yost said. "His last couple of times he's done everything we've asked him to do. NBA Handicappers. That's give us at least five innings and keep us in the game. He's done that."

CLICK HERE TO GET FREE PICKS / ODDS FOR THIS KANSAS CITY ROYALS VS. TEXAS RANGERS GAME

MLB Preview: New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays - 7/31/2016 - 1:10 PM EST

MLB Preview: New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays - Date: 7/31/2016 Time: 01:10 P.M. EST Venue: Tropicana Field   ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays took themselves out of playoff contention with a terrible summer stretch that saw them lose 24 of 27 games. Without much on the line, they've gotten off the mat nicely, winning seven of 12 since, due largely in part to consistent starting pitching that was lacking. On Saturday, left-hander Drew Smyly won for the first time in 12 starts, holding the Yankees to two runs and four hits in six solid innings. Smyly got the lead in the first, lost it and got it back again in the third. He said the scoreboard helped him relax on the mound and pitch better as a result." When you're pitching with the lead, it makes it so much easier," Smyly said. "You can attack guys. You can go right at them. Great defense tonight, and this is the way we need to play." It was the 10th straight quality start from Rays starting pitching, matching the second longest streak in franchise history. Money Cappers. The challenge of continuing that -- and potentially closing out a three-game series sweep -- falls to rookie Blake Snell, who has a 3.05 ERA and made his major-league debut against New York in April, holding the Yankees to one run and two hits in five innings in what ended up a 3-2 loss for the Rays. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Yankees, who had won eight of 10 games just last week, have dropped three straight and scored just five runs in those games. Sports Handicappers. They'll try to stop their struggles with RHP Michael Pineda (5-9, 5.00 ERA) starting Sunday. New York hadn't lost three in a row for more than a month, and its streak of three straight series wins will end regardless of Sunday's outcome. MLB Baseball Ha ndicappers. The pitching is a concern, giving up six home runs in the two losses to the Rays, and that could get worse if any deals are made before Monday's trade deadline. Sports Predictions. They have totaled 12 runs in their seven losses since the All-Star break, and manager Joe Girardi understands that the bats must come alive if the Yankees are to close the gap with first-place Baltimore, just six games entering the night. Even in Saturday's 6-3 loss, he pointed to the eighth inning, when the Yankees put two on and had the tying run at the plate in Carlos Beltran, who leads the team with 21 home runs and 62 RBIs. But Beltran grounded into a double play, ending a potential rally." We had an opportunity and had the right guy up in the situation," Girardi said. "Unfortunately, he hit it hard into the ground. ... Free MLB Baseball Picks. They're frustrating losses. We've gotten behind early in games and we haven't been able to catch up. You have to go out and win tomorrow. That's all you can do is find a way to win tomorrow."

CLICK HERE TO GET FREE PICKS / ODDS FOR THIS NEW YORK YANKEES VS. TAMPA BAY RAYS GAME

MLB Preview: Colorado Rockies vs. New York Mets - 7/31/2016 - 1:10 PM EST

MLB Preview: Colorado Rockies vs. New York Mets - Date: 7/31/2016 Time: 01:10 P.M. EST Venue: Citi Field   NEW YORK -- For the past few days, the New York Mets have been one of the teams linked to Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who is considered the top player available before the Aug. 1 trade deadline. But it's the Colorado Rockies who have looked like the more legitimate contender this weekend at Citi Field. freepick. The Rockies will look to complete a season sweep of the Mets on Sunday when the two teams square off at 1:10 p.m. ET. Colorado won the third game of the four-game series on Saturday when left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa posted his 100th career victory by allowing two runs in six innings in a 7-2 rout. Free MLB Baseball Picks. The Rockies (52-52), who are .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2010, have won five straight and nine of 10. Sports Handicapping Service Units Gained. They have the best record in baseball (14-6) since the All-Star break. Colorado, which has not reached the playoffs since 2009, is four games behind the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals in the race for the National League's second wild card." We're jelling as a team right now," said rookie Rockies outfielder David Dahl, whose two-run homer in the third inning on Saturday night gave Colorado the lead for good. "Everyone's playing really well. Just got to keep that attitude every single day, that we can go out and win." The Mets (53-50) need a reminder of that after losing four straight and five of six. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The skid has dropped New York, the defending NL champion, 2 1/2 games behind the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals and 7 1/2 games behind the NL East-lead ing Washington Nationals." Right now, we've got to win the next three here," said Mets manager Terry Collins, referring to the final three games of a nine-game homestand. "The next goal is to come out (Sunday) and play a good game. We've still got to come here every day and grind it out." The Mets likely absorbed another loss late Saturday night when it was reported the Brewers and Cleveland Indians reached agreement on a trade that would send Lucroy to the Indians. who have the best record in the American League. Right-hander Noah Syndergaard will attempt to stop the skid for the Mets when he opposes Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis. Syndergaard is winless in his last three starts despite producing a 2.76 ERA during that span. He won his lone career start against the Rockies last Aug. 13 when he allowed three runs in seven innings in the Mets' 12-3 victory. Bettis has won three straight decisions and has produced a quality start in four consecutive outings, a stretch in which he's 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA. He has a 7.71 ERA in two career appearances (one start) against the Mets. With a win, the Rockies will sweep the season series with the Mets for the first time in franchise history. Colorado won all three games at Coors Field from May 13 to May 15. A sweep would also flip the script from last season when the Mets swept the Rockies 7-0.

CLICK HERE TO GET FREE PICKS / ODDS FOR THIS COLORADO ROCKIES VS. NEW YORK METS GAME

MLB Preview: Houston Astros vs. Detroit Tigers - 7/31/2016 - 1:10 PM EST

MLB Preview: Houston Astros vs. Detroit Tigers - Date: 7/31/2016 Time: 01:10 P.M. EST Venue: Comerica Park   By Rich Shook, The Sports XchangeDETROIT -- It's one of the more anxious days of the season for players -- the last game day prior to Monday's nonwaiver trade deadline. Houston closes out its three-game series in Detroit on Sunday with lefty Dallas Keuchel of the Astros opposing Tigers' right-hander Mike Pelfrey. Houston dropped the first two games of the series. Free Soccer Picks. There will be a certain amount of anxiety -- probably more in Houston's clubhouse than avowedly stand-pat Detroit's -- of players on the bubble or those who have heard their names tossed around in trade rumors." It's difficult," Houston manager A. J. Hinch said, "because you're uncertain of what can happen. Free MLB Baseball Picks. There's a general excitement around it because of the possibilities tha t are out there." Especially when you're doing well or your team has a winning record or there's talks of buying. Number #1 Sports Handicapping Service. The line's drawn in the fact that if we do acquire somebody, then somebody in the clubhouse is going away, either to the minor leagues or in a trade." It's a little unsettling until the deadline. But you'd always rather be in it and be a buyer and be talking about making additions that you think are going to help your team get to the playoffs or into the World Series." The Astros are said to be shopping for pitching (isn't everybody?) while the Tigers are more focused on getting three key injured players back -- right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, right fielder J. D. Martinez and lefty Daniel Norris." It can add to the excitement," manager Brad Ausmus of the Tigers said. "Even if it doesn't involve you r team, just watching the moves around the country involving other teams. We'll just wait and see. You can't let that distract you." Detroit will not be in action on trade deadline day; Houston goes home to host Toronto." There's a lot of unknowns," Hinch said. "There's a lot of rumors and I think every one of our guys follow them. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. They'll float by my office and ask a lot of questions. We'll all know soon enough when the deadline gets here." "You say buy," Detroit right-hander Justin Verlander said, "I kind of meant the not-sell aspect. I see what Mr. Avila's (GM Al Avila) been saying and I completely agree with him. We've got one of the best hitters in the game (J. D. Martinez) coming off the DL soon. Basketball Handicappers. That's a big acquisition in and of itself. We've missed him for six to seven weeks now." Then you've got a couple guys, (Jordan) Zimmermann and (Daniel) Norris, that are big for this team as well. So hopefully get those puzzle pieces back where they need to be and we just roll. Keep playing good baseball." I have to commend Mr. Ilitch (owner Mike) and Al for putting together what we all thought at the beginning of the year was a great ball club. So you look at the big picture, we have a great nucleus of guys here. I don't think you have to add anything." The Astros hope Keuchel can bring a little calm to the last day of games prior to the deadline and he's got a nice track record against the Tigers. Keuchel (6-10, 4.57 ERA) is not having a Cy Young season but he did pitch well in a loss to the Yankees in his last start, allowing two runs in 7 2/3 innings. He pitched eight innings of shutout ba ll at Detroit in their first meeting this season, going mostly soft, and over his career is 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA in five games against the Tigers. Pelfrey has faced the Astros nine times during his career and is 3-5 with a 4.56 ERA. Houston beat him the first time they met this year. He tied for the league lead with 29 double plays thrown last year and is at 24 this year. Ausmus said Saturday he will pitch Anibal Sanchez against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday with rookie Michael Fulmer getting extra rest and going Wednesday. MLB Baseball Handicappers. Thursday's starter is not known but the manager said it won't be Verlander, who will get an extra day off. Houston, like Detroit, has an eight-man bullpen and this means it has only three bench players. That's hurting the Astros now because two of those are regulars who are injured and the third is a catcher, who is always the last man in.

CLICK HERE TO GET FREE PICKS / ODDS FOR THIS HOUSTON ASTROS VS. DETROIT TIGERS GAME

MLB Preview: Oakland Athletics vs. Cleveland Indians - 7/31/2016 - 1:10 PM EST

MLB Preview: Oakland Athletics vs. Cleveland Indians - Date: 7/31/2016 Time: 01:10 P.M. EST Venue: Progressive Field   CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians, with potentially a new catcher on their roster, will host the Oakland A's on Sunday in the finale of a three-game series. Sports Picks for Today. The Indians have won the first two games, including a 6-3 victory on Saturday night that was followed by reports from several outlets that the Indians and Milwaukee Brewers have agreed on a trade for Milwaukee catcher Matt Lucroy. Free MLB Baseball Picks. The Indians have been basically playing with two backup catchers, Chris Gimenez and Roberto Perez, since July 18, when starter Yan Gomes was placed on the disabled list with a separated right shoulder. Gomes isn't expected back until September. Acquiring Lucroy would be like getting two players for the Indians -- an All-Star-caliber catcher and hitter. One of the Indians' priorities has been to ad d a bat, and Lucroy would fill that need. Even with Gomes, the Indians struggled offensively at catcher. Gomes was hitting .165 when he got hurt. Gimenez is batting .202 and Perez is hitting .043. Sports Handicapper Records. The Indians will be giving up prospects in the deal, but outfielder Tyler Naquin won't be one of them. Naquin has emerged as a strong Rookie of the Year candidate. He leads American League rookies in hitting, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, triples and extra-base hits and is tied for the lead in home runs." He can hit the ball out of the park in any direction," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's a hard guy to defend because he uses the entire field." Naquin, a left-handed hitter, only starts against right-handed pitchers, so he will be in the lineup on Sunday with Oakland starting right-hander Sonny Gray. Gray is making the start that would have gone to Rich Hill, but Hill was placed on the disabled list Saturday with a blister on his left middle finger. Hill is another player whose name has been mentioned prominently in trade speculation, but any trade for Hill becomes more complicated by him being on the disabled list. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The A's did make a trade on Saturday, however, dealing outfielder Billy Burns to Kansas City for outfielder Brett Eibner. "Eibner has some power and some speed. I know for us to make this deal we had to like him a lot," A's manager Bob Melvin said. Eibner has been assigned to Triple-A Nashville. Gray (5-9, 5.43 ERA) has struggled this season. In 10 starts since being activated off the disabled list on June 5, he is 2-4 with a 4.83 ERA. His 5.43 ERA is the second highest in the majors and more than two full runs higher than his previous career high. Corey Kluber will st art for the Indians. He is 9-8 with a 3.44 ERA. Sports Bettors Phone Leads. The 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner was the winning pitcher in this year's All-Star Game. However, Kluber has never beaten the A's. In five career appearances, four of them starts, Kluber is 0-4 with a 4.03 ERA against Oakland.

CLICK HERE TO GET FREE PICKS / ODDS FOR THIS OAKLAND ATHLETICS VS. CLEVELAND INDIANS GAME