Friday, August 19, 2016

MLB Preview: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Seattle Mariners - 8/19/2016 - 10:10 PM EST

MLB Preview: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Seattle Mariners - Date: 8/19/2016 Time: 10:10 P.M. EST Venue: Safeco Field   SEATTLE -- The Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers both went into the July 31 trade deadline in a selling mood, what with their postseason hopes slowly slipping away. Less than three weeks later, their once-converging paths have headed in different directions. As the Brewers head into a three-game series at Seattle's Safeco Field, they're even further from contention than they were in late July. A 5-12 August record, including six losses in seven games, has left Milwaukee at 52-68 for the season and 12 games out of the National League wild-card race. Sports Handicapper Scams. The Mariners, meanwhile, have inexplicably battled back into playoff contention. A 12-5 record in August has Seattle (64-56) nipping at the heels of Baltimore and Boston in the American League wild-card race. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Mariners ' loss to the Angels on Thursday night left Seattle three games behind the Orioles and Red Sox. Free Golf Picks. Ten of Seattle's 12 wins this month have come by two runs or fewer, prompting manager Scott Servais to tell reporters this week: "It's crazy these games we're playing." Seattle has been playing its best baseball of the season since getting starter Felix Hernandez back from the disabled list, but the 30-year-old ace has only been a small part of the team's resurgence. Free MLB Baseball Picks. The Mariners have had to rely on a group of fill-in starters and a rebuilt bullpen that includes three veteran castoffs from other teams -- Tom Wilhelmsen (Rangers), Drew Storen (Blue Jays) and Arquimedes Caminero (Pirates) -- to re-spark their postseason glimmer of hope. Seatt le's list of probable starters for the Milwaukee series is indicative of the Mariners' unpredictability as a staff. Journeyman Wade LeBlanc and rookie Ariel Miranda, who was acquired when the team dealt established veteran Wade Miley at the deadline, will be sandwiched around Hernandez during the three-game series. LeBlanc is scheduled to make his eighth start of the season after spending 2015 in Japan and the first 2 1/2 months of this season in Toronto's minor league system. He's been somewhat of a revelation, joining surprising veteran Hisashi Iwakuma as Seattle's two most dependable starters on a staff that has already seen 13 different pitchers make a start. Leading Handicappers. Two pitchers who won't throw in the series are up-and-comers Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, both of whom were supposed to be big parts of the 2016 season. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The former top prospects have been hobbled by injury and inconsistency, as Paxton's currently doing a 15-day stint on the disabled list while Walker was recently demoted to Triple-A. Milwaukee is planning to have 26-year-old lefty Brent Suter on the mound, marking his major league debut. He'll be the ninth pitcher to start for the Brewers this season, and Milwaukee opted to promote Suter over top prospect Josh Hader to make the start." It's not a knock against Josh," manager Craig Counsell said, according to MLB.com. "It's just Brent Suter has pitched very well. He's pitched very well this entire year. He pitched well last year there. He's having a lot of success at the Triple-A level."

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MLB Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres - 8/19/2016 - 10:40 PM EST

MLB Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Diego Padres - Date: 8/19/2016 Time: 10:40 P.M. EST Venue: Petco Park   SAN DIEGO -- A tourist is coming to town, which generally is not big news in San Diego. However, when that visitor is Zack Greinke, the San Diego Padres take notice. Greinke leads the Arizona Diamondbacks against San Diego on Friday night in the second contest of this three-game series. Hot Sports Handicappers. The Padres won a 9-8 in the series opener Thursday. Both teams are playing out the string on disappointing seasons, but Greinke, no matter what team is on the front of his jersey, does well at Petco Park. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The right-hander, who left the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent in the offseason, is 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA in eight career starts in San Diego's downtown digs. Sports Handicapping Software. That includes winning his only decision in two starts against the Padres this year, and it came at Petco. Overall, Greinke has dominated the Padres to the tune of 7-1 with a 1.91 ERA. San Diego could be the soothing tonic Greinke seeks after getting blistered in his last outing. He lasted only 1 2/3 innings against the Boston Red Sox, as they ambushed him for nine runs, 10 hits and three home runs on Sunday." It just happened so fast, I didn't realize how bad it actually was," Greinke said. It was the second-most runs ever allowed by Greinke, falling short of the 11 he yielded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 2005 game while he was with the Kansas City Royals. Greinke pitched like royalty before the Boston massacre. In his previous 10 starts, he was 8-0 with a nifty 2.47. MLB Baseball Handicappers. That is why Arizona manager Chip Hale expects Greinke will find his groove again while battling a lineup consisting mostly of rookies instead of proven hitters who litter the Red Sox's order." Well, they just hit everything he threw up there," Hale said after the Sunday game. "It was good pitches they hit. He obviously had some bad locations on some that they hit also. But it was one of those days. We've all been there. We've all been on the good side, and we've all been on the bad side." The Padres are looking for the good side from their Friday starter, Jarred Cosart, who was acquired in July from the Miami Marlins. Cosart (0-1, 5.03 ERA overall) is making his fourth start as a Padre and his eighth in total this year. freepick. The right-hander pitched well his last time out on Saturday, although he didn't figure in the decision. In six innings, he allowed one run on three hits and two walks while striking out two as the Padres dropped a 3-2, 11-inning decision to the New York Mets. Cosart recorded 15 of h is 18 outs via groundballs." That's usually the kind of pitcher I am," Cosart told MLB.com. "Ground-ball guy -- that's what I've been in the past, going all the way back to the minor leagues." Earlier this year and my last two starts, I was up in the zone a little bit, a little sporadic. If you pitch up in the zone to any big league team, you're going to get hit." The Padres (51-70) and Diamondbacks (50-71), battling to avoid the NL West cellar, will be familiar with each other down the stretch. Over the final 41 games, they will play each other nine times.

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MLB Preview: New York Mets vs. San Francisco Giants - 8/19/2016 - 10:15 PM EST

MLB Preview: New York Mets vs. San Francisco Giants - Date: 8/19/2016 Time: 10:15 P.M. EST Venue: AT&T Park   SAN FRANCISCO -- The New York Mets welcomed back outfielder Justin Ruggiano for the series opener against the San Francisco Giants on Thursday night. Winning Sports Handicappers. They liked what they saw so much, manager Terry Collins is planning to bring back two more injured players Friday. Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (strained right quad) and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (strained left knee) are expected to be reinstated from the 15-day disabled list in time for the Mets' rematch with the Giants after San Francisco took the series opener 10-7 Thursday. Cespedes missed the minimum 15 days, while Cabrera last played for the Mets on July 31. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Mets' third loss in four games on their road trip Thursday came despite the efforts of Ruggiano, who had three hits, including a gr and slam off Giants ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner extracted a measure of revenge against the Mets, however, belting a home run of his own to aid in a Giants comeback that helped produce the win. Sports Touts. The homer came off Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom, who shared the marquee with Bumgarner in what was billed as a pitchers' duel in the series opener." I don't think that's how either of us had it drawn up," Bumgarner said the 12 combined runs scored off the two starting pitchers. "But we'll take it for sure." At least Bumgarner and deGrom walked away healthy. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The same couldn't be said Thursday of Giants right-hander Matt Cain, who had to go on the disabled list because of a sore lower back, and Mets lefty Steven Matz, who was scratched from his scheduled Friday start becaus e of a sore shoulder. Sports Free Picks. That leaves Mets rookie right-hander Seth Lugo (0-1, 2.65 ERA) to make his first major league start against the National League's All-Star Game starter, Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto (13-3, 2.97 ERA)." It's a hole to fill," Collins said of losing Matz, who is being pointed toward keeping his spot in the rotation next week. "Right now, Seth Lugo's going to be the guy." Lugo has made nine relief appearances for the Mets, and he has demonstrated an uncanny ability to get left-handed hitters out. Free MLB Baseball Picks. They are batting just .130 (3-for-23) against him. The Giants got eight hits from lefty hitters in Thursday's barrage on deGrom. The win allowed the Giants (67-54) to move seven games ahead of the Mets (60-61& #041; in the National League wild-card race. San Francisco has won just two of seven on its current homestand, but the hometown fans are starting to see the club swing the bats better. The 10-run total Thursday was the Giants' highest since a 12-run tally against the Oakland Athletics on June 30. The club has totaled 36 runs in its past six games. Cueto, meanwhile, hasn't won since July 6, a six-game stretch in which he has gone 0-2 with a 4.84 ERA. The Giants lost four of the six contests. Cueto has been particularly off his game in three August starts, during which he owns a 5.59 ERA without getting a decision. The ERA is the third worst in all of baseball among unbeaten pitchers in August who have made three or more starts, trailing only the Colorado Rockies' Chad Bettis (6.43) and the Texas Rangers' Lucas Harrell (6.17).

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MLB Preview: New York Yankees vs. Los Angeles Angels - 8/19/2016 - 10:05 PM EST

MLB Preview: New York Yankees vs. Los Angeles Angels - Date: 8/19/2016 Time: 10:05 P.M. EST Venue: Angel Stadium of Anaheim   ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Yankees' flickering playoff hopes took a hit earlier in the week when New York faced one of the American League's best teams. Soccer Predictions. The Yankees will attempt to better their chances this weekend against one of the league's worst. After dropping two out of three games to the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees (61-59) make their lone visit to Anaheim this season to face the AL West cellar-dwelling Angels (51-70). New York starts play six games behind the AL wild-card co-leaders, the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox. Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (9-4, 3.40 ERA) is scheduled to face Angels right-hander Jered Weaver (8-10, 5.32 ERA). Free MLB Baseball Picks. Tanaka is seeking to win a third consecutive start for the fi rst time since July 2015. He recorded eight strikeouts and no walks in each of his past two wins, the first Yankees pitcher to record at least that many K's without walking a batter in consecutive starts since Mike Mussina in May 2003. Sports Handicapper King. Tanaka will face Los Angeles with five days' rest due to the team's Thursday off day. He has no lifetime decisions and a 2.70 ERA over 13 1/3 innings in two starts against the Angels. After selling off mainstays Aroldis Chapman, Carlos Beltran and Andrew Miller at the trade deadline, the Yankees have stayed in contention due largely to the combined efforts of a pair rookies, catcher Gary Sanchez and right fielder Aaron Judge. Sanchez enters the weekend hitting .360 with five homers and 11 RBIs in 13 games, while Judge has a .389 average with two homers and four RBIs through his first five games. While some teams would have seen the multiple trades as an end to their season, manager Joe Girardi has maintained on numerous occasions he has not given up and that his team must continue to win games to stay in contention." I think it is (a possibility), to make the playoffs," Girardi said Wednesday, according to Newsday. "I like what we have here. I know that there's a lot of inexperience and we've had some injuries to our pitching staff and we've had some players traded away, but we're going for this. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. That's what we're doing. I think you see the fight in the guys. We believe." After returning home this week following a horrible road trip with an 11-game losing streak, Los Angeles was competitive in splitting a four-game series another team trying to make up ground in the AL wild-card race, Seattle. World's Be st Handicapper. The Mariners entered the series with the second-best record in the majors after the All-Star break, but their playoff drive was temporarily stalled by the Angels. Weaver will be making second appearance against the Yankees this year. He was charged with the loss on June 8 at Yankee Stadium after allowing six runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Angels are looking for their first win against New York this season after dropping all four of the previous contests. However, they have played well historically at home against the Yankees, posting a 21-12 record since 2008. With Los Angeles' season hopelessly lost, the attention has turned toward escaping the AL West basement by playing spoilers. Albert Pujois is faring well at home, hitting .343 (33-for-99) with nine homers and 30 RBIs over his past 24 home games. Leadoff hitter Yunel Escobar is one of the league's hottest hitters, registering eight hits in the last two games of the Seattle series to raise his average to .320, second to the Houston Astros' Jose Altuve (.363)." Yunel hits the ball hard. I think he's as good as anybody at putting the ball in play," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said after a 6-4 win over the Mariners on Thursday. "He's had a terrific season, and the last couple of nights, he's found a lot of holes."

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MLB Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Cincinnati Reds - 8/19/2016 - 7:10 PM EST

MLB Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Cincinnati Reds - Date: 8/19/2016 Time: 07:10 P.M. EST Venue: Great American Ball Park   CINCINNATI -- When the Los Angeles Dodgers arrive in Cincinnati for a four-game weekend series beginning Friday, Clayton Kershaw will be with them. Kershaw, who's been on the disabled list since June 27 with a herniated disk, has been throwing off flat ground. On Saturday, he'll throw off the mound for the first time since going on the disabled list with a light bullpen session. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Kershaw so far is pain-free. A rehab assignment is still possible if Kershaw is ready before the minor league seasons end." Our expectation is that he would go out there and face hitters," Roberts told MLB.com on Thursday. "As we look at the calendar, we feel that there's time for Clayton to make a couple, two, three starts before the end of the season." Another starter returns for Los Angeles on Friday. Right-hander Bud Norris completed his rehab stint at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga on Aug. 13. He hasn't pitched for Los Angel es since July 31 when he was pulled from his start in the first inning and placed on the DL with a mild back strain. Norris faces Cincinnati for the second time this season. On June 15 while with the Braves, Norris allowed three runs and three hits in five innings in a 9-8 Atlanta victory. In 10 appearances (nine starts) against the Reds, Norris is 1-3 with a 4.41 ERA and 49 strikeouts and 19 walks in 49 innings. He'll face a Cincinnati club which is playing better baseball since the All-Star break, despite several minor injuries. Cincinnati ranks eighth in the major leagues and third in the National League with a .269 batting average with runners in scoring position." I wish I had an answer (for that)," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "If I had, I would say, 'This is what we're going to do all the time.' Maybe it's more focused at bats. NHL Handicappers. The guys are listening to what (batting coach) Don (Long) is saying. If it was as easy as having a philosophy, we would've been doing it for the past 150 years." Reds right-hander Tim Adleman who was recalled this week from Triple-A Louisville, makes his first career appearance against the Dodgers on Friday. It's the fifth career start for Adleman, who was a non-roster invitee to spring training. Adleman hasn't started for the Reds since May 19 when he left with a strained oblique and was placed on the DL the following day. He made six rehab starts before being activated then optioned to Triple-A. Cincinnati took three of four from the Miami Marlins and has gone 19-12 while winning eight of 10 series since the All-Star break." We've been firing on all cylinders," Reds right-hander Dan Straily said. "We finally have a group of guys here who are playing really well. MLB Baseball H andicappers. This is how we expected to play." The National-League West leading Dodgers, though, have won nine straight games and three straight series against the Reds. In May, Los Angeles swept Cincinnati at Dodger Stadium for the first time since 2009.

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MLB Preview: Oakland Athletics vs. Chicago White Sox - 8/19/2016 - 8:10 PM EST

MLB Preview: Oakland Athletics vs. Chicago White Sox - Date: 8/19/2016 Time: 08:10 P.M. EST Venue: U. S. Cellular Field   CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox return home from a nine-game road trip to face the Oakland Athletics on Friday night. Sports Handicappers Rankings. The homecoming could not have arrived soon enough for the up-and-down White Sox (57-63). Manager Robin Ventura's club is coming off an uninspiring 4-5 road trip, which concluded with a ninth-inning loss Thursday night to the rival Cleveland Indians." Definitely an empty feeling," White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon told the Chicago Sun-Times. "All of us are playing hard, giving 100 percent. We are leaving it all out there and it just doesn't happen." Meanwhile, Oakland (52-69) has lost five consecutive games, including a three-game sweep at the hands of the Texas Rangers earlier this week. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Athletics have scored two runs or fewer in seven of the last 13 games, and their minus-104 run differential is worst in the American League. With the postseason well out of reach, Oakland has turned its focus toward developing its young talent in the final stretch of the season. Earlier this week, the Athletics promoted infield prospect Chad Pinder from Triple-A Nashville. Pinder hit .258 with 14 home runs and 51 RBIs in 107 games in the minor leagues this season and could see time at second base, shortstop and third base." He swings the bat well, has got some power, and we saw that in spring," Oakland manager Bob Melvin told MLB.com. "It's great that he gets an opportunity." Right-hander James Shields (5-14, 5.78 ERA) will start for Chicago. Professional Handicappers. The 34-year-old is mired in the worst statistical season of his career -- and one of the most bizarre seasons in th e majors. In four starts from May 31 to June 18, Shields surrendered a mind-boggling 31 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings to go 1-3 with a 24.62 ERA. He recovered nicely in his next seven starts, during which time he posted a 2.11 ERA and limited hitters to a .215 batting average. MLB Baseball Handicappers. Then the bottom fell out yet again. In his past three starts, opponents have rocked Shields for 21 earned runs in 9 1/3 innings. He is 1-2 with a 20.25 ERA during that span. Will Friday's start mark the start of another turnaround? Or yet another disastrous outing?Shields has fared well against the Athletics in his career. In 15 starts, he is 6-4 with a 3.82 ERA. He has not faced Oakland since 2014, when he went 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA in two starts as a member of the Kansas City Royals. For Oakland, right-hander Kendall Graveman (8-8, 4.37 ERA) will make his 24th start of the season. Soccer Picks. The 25-year-old Mississippi State alum is trending in a much better direction than Shields. He is 7-2 with a 3.83 ERA in his past 14 starts after opening the year 1-6 with a 5.36 ERA. However, Graveman gave up four runs in six innings to sustain the loss in his most recent outing Saturday against the Seattle Mariners. Graveman has faced the White Sox once in his career. He drew the loss after allowing two runs on three hits in 5 1/3 innings on April 7. White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu stung Graveman for a two-run home run in the sixth inning that day. Abreu will look to feast against Graveman once again Friday night. Free MLB Baseball Picks. The White Sox slugger has hit safely in 13 of his 15 games in August, including six multiple-hit performances.

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MLB Preview: Chicago Cubs vs. Colorado Rockies - 8/19/2016 - 8:40 PM EST

MLB Preview: Chicago Cubs vs. Colorado Rockies - Date: 8/19/2016 Time: 08:40 P.M. EST Venue: Coors Field   DENVER -- The rampaging Chicago Cubs begin a nine-game, 10-day road trip with three against the Colorado Rockies beginning Friday. Chicago, which is coming off a four-game sweep of Milwaukee, has won 18 of its past 21 games. Sports Handicapping Monitor. The Cubs (77-43, 32-24 on the road) are 34 games above .500 for the first time since Sept. 27, 2008, when they were 97-63 on the next-to-last-day of the season. Kyle Hendricks, who is 11-7 with a 2.19 ERA -- the third-lowest ERA in the majors, has allowed three or fewer runs in each of his past 15 starts for Chicago, dating to May 22. In his last start Saturday against St. Louis, Hendricks allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings with no walks and 12 strikeouts but wasn't involved in the decision as the Cubs lost 8-4. Hendricks is 3-6 with a 3.43 in 10 road starts this season. MLB Baseball H andicappers. The Rockies handed Hendricks his only loss in 13 games (12 starts) at Wrigley Field this season April 15 when he allowed four runs (two earned) and seven hits in six innings of Colorado's 6-1 victory. In two starts at Coors Field -- both Chicago victories -- Hendricks is 1-0 with a 4.38 ERA. Left-hander Tyler Anderson, who makes his first career start against the Cubs, is 4-4 with a 3.42 ERA -- the lowest ERA for a Rockies starter through his first 12 starts in franchise history. In his last start Saturday in Philadelphia, Anderson was ejected by home plate umpire Eric Cooper for hitting Maikel Franco with a pitch to begin the fourth inning. Free Predictions. That outing ended a streak of eight straight starts in which Anderson had pitched at least six innings. In eight starts at Coors Field, Anderson is 4-1 with a 3.04 ERA. Because the Rockies were off Thursday, Anders on will pitch with five days of rest. Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu, the first and second hitters in Colorado's lineup, have been on offensive tears lately. Blackmon has a 12-game hitting streak, during which he is batting .481 in 54 at-bats with five doubles, one triple, nine homers, 15 RBIs, a 1.111 slugging percentage and a 1.637 OPS. During his streak, Blackmon raised his average 23 points to .322. LeMahieu, who began his career in the Cubs' organization and played 37 games for them in 2011, had hits in eight straight at-bats and reached base in 10 consecutive plate appearances before both streaks ended on his second at-bat Wednesday. He has hit safely in 14 of 16 games this month, going .483 in 60 at-bats with two doubles, one triple, three homers, nine RBIs, a .483 on-base percentage and a 1.281 OPS. During the month, LeMahieu has raised his average 23 points to .343, one point behind National League leader Daniel Murphy of Washington. Blackmon and LeMahieu have helped the Rockies weather the losses of Trevor Story, who last played July 30, and Mark Reynolds, who last played Aug. 11, to season-ending injuries. Also, Carlos Gonzalez has started only five of the past 14 games because of an ankle sprain Aug. 3 that he later re-aggravated." Both guys have really upped their game," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of Blackmon and LeMahieu. "Both are getting on base at a really high rate. Free MLB Baseball Picks. They're a big reason why our offense has performed better even with some key pieces out. Even on the road where we've struggled historically, it's performing and (that) has a lot to do with those two guys." In Chicago's 9-6 victory Thursday against Milwaukee, Kris Bryant went 5-for-5 with a double, two homers and five RBIs. He's hitting .296 with 30 homers, 78 RBIs and a .956 OPS. With his second five-hit g ame of the season, Bryant tied Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado for the National League lead in home runs. Anthony Rizzo, who went 2-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs on Thursday, is hitting .291 with 25 homers, 86 RBIs and a .956 OPS. With six weeks remaining in the regular season, Rizzo and Bryant along with Murphy are the leading contenders for the NL Most Valuable Player Award." We've obviously put ourselves in a good position to have that chatter," Rizzo said. "But we've still got to go out and play every day and do what we do."

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MLB Preview: Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals - 8/19/2016 - 8:15 PM EST

MLB Preview: Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals - Date: 8/19/2016 Time: 08:15 P.M. EST Venue: Kauffman Stadium   KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It has not been a smooth rookie season for right-hander Jose Berrios, the Minnesota Twins' top pitching prospect. Berrios, who turned 22 in May, starts Friday against the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals. Berrios has not pitched since Aug. 11 when he yielded six runs (five earned) and eight hits in two innings in a loss to Houston." The last outing was not very well," Berrios said Thursday on the eve of his eighth career start. In the extra time between starts, he has been working with pitching coach Neil Allen and bullpen coach Eddie Guardado." They helped me a lot," Berrios said "We throw sides the past ten days, so, we do a couple of adjustments, (on the) release point and rhythm, and so I think I'll be prepared for tomorrow." In his past two starts -- both defeats, Berrios surrendered 10 runs, 14 hits and two walks while striking out five in seven innings. Sports Handicapping Monitor. Those two starts ballooned Berrios' ERA to 9.32 in 28 innings. Batters are hitting .331 off him with a .410 on-base percentage, a .593 slugging percentage and a 1.004 OPS. Berrios, a 2012 first-round draft pick out of Puerto Rico, started for the World Team in the 2014-15 Futures Games, pitching a scoreless inning in each. He made four early starts for the Twins, but was demoted after retiring only two Tigers and giving up seven runs May 16. Berrios pitched well for Triple-A Rochester, 10-5 with a 2.44 ERA, earning an Aug. 1 recall. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. There is a learning curve for most rookies, even one as talented as Berrios that the Twins hope to build future rotations around." Now, I can learn every day and everybody here tries to help me," Berrios said. "But it's my first year. I hav e the ability. A couple of the outings have been rough, but I learn from that. I do adjustments. I keep the good things and the bad things I try to don't do it again. What is Sports Handicapping. That's what I do right now, learn about that." Veteran Royals right-hander Edison Volquez, who starts Friday, has a 2-3 record in his previous nine starts, but has pitched at least six innings in eight of them. Volquez is 6-3 with a 4.04 ERA at home this season. Volquez has a successful history against the Twins, a 5-1 record with a 2.29 ERA in eight career starts and one relief appearance. Volquez is 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA in three starts against them this season, allowing six earned runs in 18 1/3 innings. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Royals rotation has a 1.61 ERA in a five-game winning streak. Pitching can be contagious, said right-hander Dillon Gee, who allowed one run over seven innings Thursday in the 8-1 victory over the Twins." I think so," Gee said. "I think energy alone is contagious. I think guys feed off each other. Good results tend to feed down. You watch those guys go out and there and put up the games they've been putting up. It makes me want to do the same thing and provide for this team like they are." The only run off Gee was a leadoff home run to Brian Dozier." You just can't make mistakes to that guy, especially heaters up in the zone," Gee said. "I was glad I could come back and settle down after that." With the club over .500 for the first time since July 22, Gee senses the club kicking into a higher gear to make a bid to return to postseason." We're having a lot of fun right now," he said. "The guys on the bench are having a blast and keeping it loose. Guys are just having a good time out there and the results are starting to show the way we've been playing."

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MLB Preview: Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves - 8/19/2016 - 7:35 PM EST

MLB Preview: Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves - Date: 8/19/2016 Time: 07:35 P.M. EST Venue: Turner Field   ATLANTA -- Tanner Roark and Julio Teheran each has a 2.81 ERA to tie for eighth-best among qualified pitchers in the National League. Winning Sports Handicappers. That is where the statistical similarity ends, though. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The records of the two right-handers reflect the positions of their teams, with Roark 13-6 for the Washington Nationals, which top the National League East, and Teheran is 3-9 for the last-place Atlanta Braves. Roark will try to continue his dominance against the Braves this season and for his career on Friday night, with Teheran coming off a stint on the disabled list to start for Atlanta. Roark has won his past four outings and has gone at least seven innings in 15 of his 24 starts in establishing himself as the workhorse in a rotation that is loaded with much bigger names." I pri de myself is going as long as I can and as hard as I can," he said. "That's what starting pitchers are supposed to do." Roark has gone seven innings in each of his two victories against the Braves this season, allowing just one run and nine hits. He is 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA in nine career starts against Atlanta." He's hungry. He's like a warrior," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "He doesn't run from anybody. He's like the epitome of a competitor." It was Teheran, though, who pitched in the All-Star Game -- as the Braves' lone representative -- while Roark missed out because Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer represented the Nationals rotation. Sports Handicapping Software. Teheran, who missed three because of a lat strain, is a misleading 3-9 and still looking for his first victory at home, where he is 0-5. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The native of Colombia worked five innings in a rehab outing for Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday." I didn't feel anything and that's a good thing," Teheran said. "I'm glad we took care of it before it got worse." Teheran has pitched against the Nationals 13 times in his career, going 3-3 with a 3.95 ERA. He is 0-1 with a 5.54 ERA in two starts this year. When Teheran went on the disabled list, it left the Braves without their only tested starter. Handicappers Free Picks. The last time a Braves starter worked past six innings was Teheran, who went seven in a 1-0 victory at Colorado on July 17." It feels real good to get him back. He's an experienced guy," Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said. "You talk about a green rotation and guys rushed up here out of necessity really. It will be nice to get him back in the swing of things an d pitching every five days." Friday will be the first time Teheran has pitched as a father. A son, Jordan, was born on Tuesday and came home from the hospital on Thursday." I've got another motivation to play," Teheran said. Free MLB Baseball Picks. The Nationals have won nine of the 10 games against the Braves this season.

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MLB Preview: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Cleveland Indians - 8/19/2016 - 7:10 PM EST

MLB Preview: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Cleveland Indians - Date: 8/19/2016 Time: 07:10 P.M. EST Venue: Progressive Field   CLEVELAND -- The last time the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians met, the results were rather garish. In a three-game series in Toronto starting July 1, the Indians won the first game 2-1 in 19 innings and the Blue Jays won the next two games by a combined score of 26-7. Inside Info. The third game of that series was won by Toronto 17-1. Six weeks later, the teams will reconvene for another three-game series, this one in Cleveland. Both teams are in first place in their divisions -- Toronto in the AL East, Cleveland in the AL Central -- so this series could potentially be a playoff preview. In game one of the series Friday night the pitching matchup is Cleveland's Trevor Bauer (9-5, 3.97) vs. Free MLB Baseball Picks. Toronto's Francisco Liriano (6-12, 5.46). Liriano will be making his third start for Toro nto since the Blue Jays acquired him in a trade deadline deal with Pittsburgh. In his first two starts for the Jays Liriano was 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA. In 18 career appearances, 13 starts, against Cleveland Liriano is 5-6 with a 3.81 ERA. He has made nine career appearances, six starts, at Progressive Field and is 2-3 with a 5.67 ERA. Bauer was the winning pitcher in that epic 19-inning 2-1 Cleveland victory in Toronto on July 1, pitching five scoreless innings, after the Indians ran out of relievers. Bauer has made two career starts against the Blue Jays and is 0-1 with a 17.47 ERA. Whether Bauer will have to face Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson in Friday's game remains to be seen. Donaldson missed a game earlier this season with a jammed right thumb, and in Toronto's 7-4 win over the Yankees on Wednesday he was removed from the game in the sixth inning when he aggravated the thumb during an at bat." I didn't want to do any further damage to it than I alr eady did, and having it possibly getting jammed further, a second or third time and then having to miss more time than I need to," said Donaldson, whose status is considered day-to-day. Given Donaldson's success against Cleveland, it would be a surprise if he's not in the lineup Friday night. In four games against the Indians this year he is 7-for-18 (.389) with two home runs and four RBIs. In 120 career at bats against Cleveland he has a .333 average with seven home runs and 31 RBIs. Winning Sports Gambling. The Toronto series will be the last three games of the Indians' 11-game homestand, their longest homestand of the season. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. They are 6-2 in the first eight games, including winning two of three games from the White Sox in a series that concluded Thursday night. Cleveland's s uccessful season has been built on its starting pitching, although the rotation has hit a couple of speed bumps lately. NFL Handicappers. Thursday night, in his first start after a 15-day stay on the disabled list, Danny Salazar was removed after a nightmarish 34-pitch, three-walk, 3-run first inning." He was rusty. You could tell from the beginning he couldn't find the plate," Indians manager Terry Francona said." I was wild. MLB Baseball Handicappers. That's it," said Salazar. "I felt great, I just couldn't find my release point." The Indians will have to make a roster move Friday, when pitcher Josh Tomlin is expected to be activated off the Family Emergency List, assuming he returns from his home in Tyler, Tex. Tomlin is scheduled to start Saturday's game against the Blue Jays.

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MLB Preview: St Louis Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Phillies - 8/19/2016 - 7:05 PM EST

MLB Preview: St Louis Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Phillies - Date: 8/19/2016 Time: 07:05 P.M. EST Venue: Citizens Bank Park   PHILADELPHIA -- Adam Wainwright and Adam Morgan will be looking to snap slumps of varying degrees on Friday when the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies open a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park. Wainwright (9-7, 4.72 ERA), the Cardinals' 34-year-old right-hander, matched the shortest start of his career in his last time out - working just two innings in a 13-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs. Sports Handicapping Sites. The three-time All-Star allowed seven runs on six hits and walked three, and afterward called his outing "embarrassing," according to Major League Baseball's official web site. Wainwright, who is winless in his last five outings, also surrendered six runs on nine hits over six innings in losing his previous start to Atlanta. Morgan's struggles are much more pronounced. Philadelphia's second-year left-hander is 1-7 with a 6.62 ERA, and hasn't won s ince beating the Braves for his lone victory on May 10. In the meantime, he has gone 0-7 with a 7.46 ERA over 12 starts, a drought interrupted by a stint at Triple-A Lehigh Valley in which he went 5-0. Morgan returned to the parent club last weekend but was forced to depart Sunday's start against Colorado after three innings when he was hit on the elbow by a line drive off the bat of Nick Hundley. Morgan reported no ill effects. Morgan was saddled with a no-decision in his only start against St. Louis this year, allowing three runs on six hits over four innings. He is 1-0 with a 3.72 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals. Wainwright, who is 6-2 with a 2.72 ERA in 13 career outings against Phillies, told reporters after the loss to the Cubs that he was feeling a little under the weather, but did not wish to use that as an excuse. He also denied that he was tipping his pitches, as was suspected in his previous outing." Today, the way I was tipping is that whe n they got in the batters' box, they knew I was going to throw something in the middle of the plate," Wainwright said, according to MLB.com. "You do that against a good team, and they're going to hit it really hard." The Cardinals, who hold a one-game lead over Pittsburgh in the race for the National League's second wild-card berth, have won four in a row. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Phillies, who beat the Dodgers 5-4 on Thursday night to salvage the finale of a three-game series, have won four of six. Maikel Franco's two-run homer off Dodgers reliever Grant Dayton in the seventh inning proved decisive." Fastball, right down the middle," said Franco, who jumped on a 1-1 offering. "Put a good contact on it, nothing else. I just go try to put the ball in play, put good contact on it." It was Franco's 11th game-winning RBI, which leads the Phillies and is tied fo r fourth in the National League. It was also his team-leading 19th go-ahead RBI." With all the swings and misses and expanding the strike zone, he comes up big an awful lot," manager Pete Mackanin said. "You can't deny the numbers that he's put up."

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MLB Preview: Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers - 8/19/2016 - 7:10 PM EST

MLB Preview: Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers - Date: 8/19/2016 Time: 07:10 P.M. EST Venue: Comerica Park   DETROIT -- He doesn't consider it a homecoming, but Rick Porcello is returning to pitch in his old home Friday night for the first time since being traded from Detroit to Boston. Porcello was signed by Detroit as their No. 1 draft choice in 2007 and made the Tigers out of spring training in 2009. At the end of the 2014 season, he was traded to Boston in a winter deal for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. He has faced Detroit once -- last year in Boston -- and allowed a run on five hits with six strikeouts over seven innings without getting a decision. Players almost religiously tell the media it's "just another game" or "no big deal" when facing a former employer. It's also generally regarded as nonsense." Seeing them in Boston earlier this year helped," Porcello said of pitching against Detroit for the first time in Comerica Park on Friday night. "And obviously last year pitching against them in Boston, then coming here kind o f took care of feelings or whatever you want to call it." With the race that we're in, I'm really trying my hardest not to let any of that creep into my head. I want to maintain the focus I've had in my past three or four starts and not let anything alter that." I'm trying to kind of block it out, really. After Friday then obviously I can go over and say, 'Hi,' to those guys. But I'm not talking to them before Friday." Though it's been less than two seasons since he pitched for Detroit, Porcello should face at least three Tiger starters -- at short, third and in left -- who weren't on the team during his time there. Porcello (16-3, 3.30 ERA) is having one of the better seasons of any pitcher in baseball and is 9-1 with a 2.75 ERA over his last 11 starts. He'll be up against an equally formidable opponent in Detroit's rookie Michael Fulmer (10-3, 2.25 ERA), who at this time a year ago had just swit ched over from the New York Mets' Double-A team to Detroit's Double-A affiliate. Sports Betting Profit. The right-handed Fulmer was part of the trade that sent Cespedes from the Tigers to the Mets at last year's non-waiver trade deadline. Fulmer pitched at Fenway Park on July 27 without getting a decision, allowing three runs on seven hits. In his last start, the rookie recorded his first major league complete game and shutout, taming Texas on four hits and nine strikeouts. Fulmer is two of three key pitchers obtained for Detroit by Dave Dombrowski at the non-waiver trade deadline last year, a scant couple of days before he was fired by the Tigers and quickly found a new home as head of the Boston Red Sox. Dombrowski is going to see all three of the key pitchers he acquired for Detroit on consecutive days. Lefty Matt Boyd started against Boston on Thursday and gave up one run in six innings of a 4-3 Tig ers' win in which he did not figure in the decision. Fulmer pitches Friday and lefty Daniel Norris goes Saturday. Norris and Boyd came from Toronto in the deal that sent lefty David Price to the Blue Jays, then subsequently signing with the Red Sox as a free agent.

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MLB Preview: Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays - 8/19/2016 - 7:10 PM EST

MLB Preview: Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays - Date: 8/19/2016 Time: 07:10 P.M. EST Venue: Tropicana Field   ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Rays have won four straight games, and the only thing stopping them from their longest winning streak of the season Friday is the best team in the American League, the Texas Rangers. Sports Handicapper King. The Rays (50-69) enter the series with serious momentum -- they scored a franchise-record 35 runs in a three-game span before a 2-0 win Wednesday against the San Diego Padres to finish a three-game sweep. Unfortunately, the Rangers (72-50) are coming off their own three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics and have won nine of 12 entering the series. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. Texas continues to show its resilience -- nearly half its wins (38) have been comeback wins, like an extra-winning win that saw the Rangers score three runs in the bottom of the 10th o n Tuesday. Manager Jeff Banister continues to encounter situations where his team could pack it in, and they refuse to do so." You would think these guys at some point would," Banister said of their comeback nature. "They haven't. I don't think they will. I don't think it's in their DNA. I don't think it's in their culture, their chemistry. Sports Handicapper Scams. They're going to continue to grind." Texas opens the series with Cole Hamels (12-4, 2.88 ERA), who knows a thing or two about big wins against the Rays. With the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008, he was on the mound for two World Series win, including the Game 5 clincher, holding the Rays to two earned runs in both starts. Hamels hasn't faced the Rays since 2012, when he threw seven scoreless innings in a 3-2 Rays win, and he's coming off a rough start in which he gave up 14 hits - - amazingly yielding only two runs -- in a loss to the Tigers. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Rays answer with Matt Andriese (6-4, 3.36 ERA), who has seen Tampa Bay lose in each of his three starts since joining the rotation after a trade-deadline deal sent Matt Moore to the San Francisco Giants. He has a 6.59 ERA in those three starts and hasn't lasted longer than five innings in any, stretching himself out to 76 pitches after a move from the bullpen, but not yet showing he can pitch efficiently to last longer in games. A big part of the Rays' win streak has been Brad Miller, who has three home runs in his last seven at-bats. Miller has 19 home runs since June 17, matching the most in baseball in that span, and has been especially productive at Tropicana Field, where 19 of his 25 home runs have been hit. He has already set a major-league record for most home runs by a left-handed batter playing pri marily at shortstop." I think I'm picking the right pitch to swing at," Miller said of his hot bat. "When you do that, you can't miss them, because you might only get one per at-bat. CBS Sports Picks. That's all I'm trying to do is hit the one pitch I get per at-bat."

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MLB Preview: Houston Astros vs. Baltimore Orioles - 8/19/2016 - 7:05 PM EST

MLB Preview: Houston Astros vs. Baltimore Orioles - Date: 8/19/2016 Time: 07:05 P.M. EST Venue: Oriole Park at Camden Yards   BALTIMORE -- After struggling earlier in the week, the Baltimore Orioles' bats finally came alive in the series opener against the Houston Astros. Baltimore will look to keep that momentum going Friday. After scoring four runs in two games against Boston, the Orioles managed 18 hits in the 13-5 victory over the Astros on Thursday. Baltimore slugged six home runs and leads the majors with 183." It was big," said shortstop J. J. Hardy, who went deep twice. "We haven't been swinging the bats all that great, and to bust out like that. Hopefully, it keeps going and we can keep that confidence." The Orioles have spent 111 of 136 days in first place of the AL East this season, but have struggled since the All-Star break, going 16-17. However, with the win Thursday, the Orioles moved into a second-place tie with the Red Sox and trail the Toronto Blue Jays by 1 1/2 games in the American League East. Houston has lost five straight and is mired in thi rd place in the AL West behind Texas and Seattle. Soccer Handicappers. The Astros, however, are still within striking distance in the wild card standings." When you play these four-game series, the first couple of games are key because it puts you in a powerful position to potentially win the series," Astros manager A. J. Hinch said. "We know these guys are in the middle of this race as well. I think it tells us how muddy the waters are going to be when it comes down to this. As much as we'd like to watch what Baltimore is doing, or Detroit, or Toronto, or Boston, or Seattle, the teams that are in this race, we need to take care of ourselves. We need to win our own games and not worry about what everyone else is doing." Left-hander Wade Miley (7-10, 5.23 ERA) is still looking for his first win with the Orioles since being acquired from Seattle at the trade deadline. Miley has taken the loss in two of his past three starts. He didn't get a decision in his previous outing Saturday against the Giants when he allowed seven runs (six earned) in 4 1/3 innings. In his three starts with the Orioles, Miley has a 7.04 ERA, with a 8:5 strikeout to walk ratio. Collin McHugh (7-10, 4.70) gets the start for Houston and tries to snap a four-game losing streak. McHugh has not earned a win since July 23 against the Angels. In his last start, McHugh gave up three runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings in a 4-2 loss to the Blue Jays. McHugh will be challenged to contain the Orioles' powerful lineup, which especially thrives at hitter-friendly Camden Yards. Baltimore owns the best home record in the American League at 40-19.

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

MLB Recap: Seattle Mariners (4) vs. Los Angeles Angels (6) - 8/18/2016

MLB Recap: Seattle Mariners (4) vs. Los Angeles Angels (6) - Date: 8/18/2016 Albert Pujols drove in two runs, Yunel Escobar had three hits and scored twice, and the Los Angeles Angels held off a late rally and beat the Seattle Mariners 6-4 on Thursday night. Mike Trout also scored twice as the Angels earned a split of the four-game series with just their second win in 14 games. Fernando Salas gave up a two-run homer to Adam Lind in the ninth, but got Leonys Martin and Shawn O'Malley on grounders to end the game. Pujols reached 95 RBIs with a two-run double in the eighth. He's second in the AL, five behind Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion. One night after his second five-hit game of the season, Escobar went 3 for 4 with a double. Matt Shoemaker (7-13) limited the Mariners to two earned runs - on solo homers to Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz - and five hits. He struck out five and walked two. Hisashi Iwakuma (14 -8) allowed three runs and six hits over seven innings, snapping a streak of three straight wins. Seattle remained 2 1/2 games behind Boston for the second AL wild card. Nick Vincent took over for Iwakuma in the eighth inning and for the second time in the series, had trouble getting around Pujols. With the Angels hanging on to a 3-2 lead, Escobar doubled to lead off and Trout was intentionally walked two batters later. Best Sports Picks Today. Two nights after taking Vincent deep, Pujols cleared the bases with a double to the left-center gap, putting Los Angeles up 5-2. Andrelton Simmons made it to second when Pujols was caught in a rundown but Vincent then gave up a single to Nick Buss and was removed for lefty Vidal Nuno. Jefry Marte's pinch-hit single scored Simmons for a four-run lead. Cano homered for the 26th time in the first inning. It was his 10th home run on the first pitch, the most in basebal l. Cruz's 31st home run in the sixth inning cut Los Angeles' lead to 3-2. He's now tied with Chicago's Todd Frazier for third in the AL. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Angels scored two runs off of Iwakuma in the first inning and Jett Bandy hit his eighth home run in the fifth inning to make it 3-1. Soccer Handicappers. TRAINER'S ROOMMariners: LHP James Paxton threw a bullpen on Thursday and reported no effects of the forearm tightness that landed him on the 15-day disabled list a day prior. He'll make rehab start with Triple-A Tacoma this weekend. ... RHP Steve Cishek made a rehab start with short-season Everett on Wednesday, throwing one inning and focusing mostly on fastballs. Cishek was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left hip labrum tear on Aug. 4 (retroactive to Aug. 2). UP NEXTMariners: LHP Wade LeBlanc will make his first start against Milwaukee since Sept. 4, 2012. Seattle is 7-1 in LeBlanc's eight appearances this season and he's 2-1 with a 5.19 ERA in five appearances against the Brewers. Angels: RHP Jered Weaver will open the three-game series against the New York Yankees. Weaver is 7-6 with a 6.08 ERA in 16 appearances against New York.  

MLB Recap: Washington Nationals (8) vs. Atlanta Braves (2) - 8/18/2016

MLB Recap: Washington Nationals (8) vs. Atlanta Braves (2) - Date: 8/18/2016 Rookie Reynaldo Lopez struck out 11, Jayson Werth reached safely in his 46th straight game and the Washington Nationals pulled away from the Atlanta Braves 8-2 on Thursday night. Werth hit an RBI double in the fifth inning to tie Rusty Staub on the Nationals-Expos franchise list for the longest streak of reaching base. Werth went 2 for 4 and has 43 hits and 32 walks during his string, the best in the majors this season. After rain delayed the start for 1 hour, 16 minutes, Lopez (2-1) struck out eight of the first nine batters. He had 10 whiffs through his first 4 2-3 innings. Lopez set a career high for strikeouts and allowed one earned run and four hits in seven innings. Free Sports Picks. The Nationals broke it open with five runs in the eighth. Free MLB Baseball Picks. They are 30-10 against the Braves since June 21, 2014. Rob Whalen (1-2) allowed three hits and one earned run in a career-best six innings. Washington took a 2-0 in the first on a two-base error by left fielder Matt Kemp, who dropped Anthony Rendon's fly ball on the warning track to let two runs in. Winning Sports Gambling. The Braves made 2-1 in the fourth on Nick Markakis' sacrifice fly. Kemp's RBI groundout cut the lead to 3-2 in the sixth. Atlanta has been outscored 54-25 in its last seven games. SECOND NIGHT IN THE SHOWAtlanta SS Dansby Swanson went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in his second major league game. Swanson, the No. 1 overall draft pick of 2015, went 2 for 4 in Tuesday's 10-3 loss to Minnesota. HAPPY AND HEALTHYBraves ace Julio Teheran is ready to return from the 15-day disabled list and start Friday. He's been si delined since July 31 with strained lat, but is in good spirits after his son Jordan was born Tuesday.'' I've got another motivation to play,'' the two-time All-Star said. ''They just got home today before I got here. It's good.'' ROSTER MOVESNationals: Recalled RHP A. J. Cole from Triple-A Syracuse to work from the bullpen. OF Brian Goodwin was optioned to the same affiliate. Braves: RHP Arodys Vizcaino, activated from the disabled list after missing 30 games with a right oblique strain, faced four batters to begin the eighth. He gave up one hit, four runs and walked two. Interim manager Brian Snitker said before the game that Vizcaino won't immediately reclaim the closer's role. Jim Johnson has the job for now. ... RHP Jason Hursh was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. ROUGH PATCHAtlanta's bullpen had NL-best 2.49 ERA in August before allowing 15 earned runs in its last 8 1-3 innings. Braves relievers began the night with a 4 .69 ERA, second-worst in the majors. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. TRAINER'S ROOMWashington manager Dusty Baker said ''there's a good chance'' that 1B Ryan Zimmerman (bruised left wrist) and backup C Jose Lobaton (left elbow tendinitis) will be activated from the disabled list Friday. UP NEXTNationals: Tanner Roark (13-6) is 5-1 with a 1.73 ERA in nine career starts and five relief appearances against Atlanta. Braves: Teheran (3-9) is 3-3 with a 3.91 ERA in 13 career starts against Washington.  

MLB Recap: Minnesota Twins (1) vs. Kansas City Royals (8) - 8/18/2016

MLB Recap: Minnesota Twins (1) vs. Kansas City Royals (8) - Date: 8/18/2016 Alex Gordon hit a grand slam, Dillon Gee pitched seven strong innings and the Kansas City Royals beat the Minnesota Twins 8-1 on Thursday night. Sports Handicap. The Royals have won five straight and eight of nine to move above .500 for the first time since July 22. Royals starting pitchers have a 1.61 ERA in the five-game winning streak, allowing 23 hits and six earned runs in 33 2-3 innings, while striking out 27 and walking seven. Gordon, who was hitting .199 with 16 RBIs on Aug. 9, extended his hitting streak to a season-best nine games. Gordon has homered in three consecutive games. Gee (5-6) picked up the Royals' first victory from a No. 5 starter since May 31. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Royals are 9-21 is games star ted by the fifth starter. Gee, who is 3-6 in 10 starts, gave up a home run to Brian Dozier on his third pitch. It was Dozier's 14th career leadoff homer and his 27th for the season. He has homered in five straight games against the Royals. Picks and Parlays. That was the only run Gee would allow as he limited the Twins to four singles after the home run, walked one and struck out seven. Gee's seven innings were a season high. Free MLB Baseball Picks. Twins right-hander Tyler Duffey (8-9) retired the first 10 hitters, but only one of the final seven batters he faced before being removed by manager Paul Molitor. After Cheslor Cuthbert's single with out in the third, Duffey walked three and hit a batter with Gordon's third career grand slam punctuating the inning. Duffy was replaced by Michael Tonkin after 3 2-3 innings, a llowing five runs. Top Rated Sports Handicappers. The Royals added three runs in the eighth with Kendrys Morales and Eric Hosmer both driving in a run. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The other run scored on a throwing error by center fielder Eddie Rosario. Cuthbert had three of the Royals' seven hits. TRAINER'S ROOMRoyals: LHP Jason Vargas, who has not pitched this season after Tommy John surgery in July 2015, made his third rehab start Wednesday, giving up three runs and four hits, including two home runs, in 2 1-3 innings for Northwest Arkansas against Corpus Christi. He threw 42 pitches, 27 for strikes, while striking out one and walking none. UP NEXTTwins: RHP Jose Berrios yielded six runs, eight hits and a walk in two innings in his previous start, a 15-7 loss to Houston. Royals: RHP Edinson Volquez is 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA in three 2016 starts against the Twins.  

MLB Recap: Chicago White Sox (4) vs. Cleveland Indians (5) - 8/18/2016

MLB Recap: Chicago White Sox (4) vs. Cleveland Indians (5) - Date: 8/18/2016 Cleveland manager Terry Francona put up a pinch-hitter in the middle of an at-bat and the strategy paid off when Tyler Naquin lofted a game-ending sacrifice fly in the ninth inning that lifted the Indians over the Chicago White Sox 5-4 Thursday night. Handicapping Sports. The AL Central-leading Indians scored a single run in each of the last five innings to overtake Chicago. Cleveland improved to 6-2 on an 11-game homestand. Abraham Almonte doubled to begin ninth off Jacob Turner (1-2). With Roberto Perez batting, a passed ball by Dioner Navarro moved Almonte to third. Francona then sent Naquin to the plate with a 1-0 count. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The rookie drove the first pitch he saw to center field, deep enough that Adam Eaton couldn't prevent Almonte from scoring. Andrew Miller (7-1) earned the win with one inning of scoreless relief. Free Sports Picks Twitter. The Indians activated right-hander Danny Salazar from the 15-day disabled list before the game, but he lasted just one inning in the shortest start of his career. Salazar, who had been sidelined because of inflammation in his pitching elbow, walked three to load the bases with one out. Justin Morneau hit a three-run double, and Salazar got the next two batters and was pulled. Rajai Davis hit an RBI double in the seventh off Chris Beck to pull Cleveland with 4-3. Free MLB Baseball Picks. The Indians tied it in the eighth on an RBI single by Jose Ramirez against Nate Jones. White Sox starter Carlos Rodon gave up two runs in six innings. Best Sports Handicapping Services. TRAINER'S ROOMWhite Sox: 2B Brett Lawrie (left hamstring strain) experienced soreness in his left quadriceps, forcing him to leave Double-A Birmingham's game against Jackson after the second inning Wednesday. He is 5 for 14 on his rehab assignment with the Barons. Indians: RHP Josh Tomlin (family medical emergency list) told Francona that he expects to return to Cleveland and make his scheduled start Saturday. ''I told Josh that he has our blessing to take as much time as he needs,'' Francona said. UP NEXTWhite Sox: RHP James Shields makes his 14th start since being acquired from San Diego on June 4 as Chicago opens a three-game series against Oakland. Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer takes the mound to begin a three-game set with Toronto. He is 0-1 with a 17.47 ERA in two career starts against the Blue Jays.  

MLB Recap: Houston Astros (5) vs. Baltimore Orioles (13) - 8/18/2016

MLB Recap: Houston Astros (5) vs. Baltimore Orioles (13) - Date: 8/18/2016 The Baltimore Orioles waited a long time to put on a power-display like this one, and they relished every hit. J. J. Hardy and Chris Davis each hit two of Baltimore's six home runs, Hyun Soo Kim had a career-high four hits and the Orioles beat rookie Joe Musgrove and the skidding Houston Astros 13-5 on Thursday night. Mark Trumbo and Manny Machado also homered to help the Orioles improve to 40-19 at home and climb into a second-place tie with Boston in the AL East. Gambling Profit. The 13 runs matched a season high, set June 1 against Boston. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Orioles had scored three runs or fewer in 20 of 32 games since the All-Star break, so this amounted to a slugfest of major proportions.'&# 39; I think there was a lot of frustration there,'' manager Buck Showalter said. ''I don't know if frustration is the right word, but (they wanted to) get back to what we're capable of doing.'' Trumbo set the tone in the first inning with his major league-leading 35th home run, a three-run shot to left against Musgrove, who looked every bit like a 23-year-old rookie making his third major league start.'' They're a fastball-hitting team. I like to throw fastballs,'' the right-hander said. ''I didn't locate pitches very well. Got behind.'' And, for a change, the Orioles took full advantage.'' Seems like a while now, we weren't getting many mistakes,'' Showalter said. ''And when we were, we weren't as consistent with making them pay as we were tonight.'' Musgrove (1-1) gave up eight runs and 11 hits - including three homers - over 5 1/3 innings. 9;' It was really just pitch execution,'' manager A. J. Hinch said. Picked by Toronto in the supplemental first round of the 2011 draft, Musgrove began his big league career with a flourish - allowing only three runs in 19 1/3 innings. But this encounter lifted his ERA from 1.47 to 4.18. Alex Bregman and A. J. Reed homered for the Astros. Winning Sports Handicappers. They have lost five straight. After watching his pitching staff yield 12 runs and 17 hits over the first seven innings, Hinch called upon infielder Tyler White to pitch the eighth. White gave up one hit: Davis' second homer of the game, the third in two nights.'' They just continue to come at you,'' Hinch said. ''This how they score. We didn't keep them in the ballpark the entire night.'' Kevin Gausman (4-10) struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings for Baltimore, giving up five runs, four earned. Af ter Trumbo got things started for Baltimore by setting a career high in homers, the Orioles added two runs in the second inning and went up 7-2 in the fourth when Hardy homered with a man on. Hardy chased Musgrove with another shot in the sixth, and Machado and Davis connected in succession off James Hoyt later in the inning to make it 12-3. Kim, meanwhile, had three singles and his first career triple. Playing in first year in the majors after a 10-year run in South Korea, the rookie can't help but marvel at his teammates' power.'' I was never with a team that hits this many home runs,'' he said through an interpreter. ''It is very exciting. I feel just great being part of it.'' TRAINER'S ROOMAstros: Luis Valbuena (right hamstring strain) made the trip to Baltimore, and Hinch said the infielder is ''inching'' toward a rehab assignment. ... MLB Baseball Han dicappers. The status of RHP Lance McCullers (sprained right elbow) remains unclear until he visits a doctor next week. ''It's all guesswork at this point,'' Hinch said. Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (sore shoulder) threw off flat ground and ''is ready to go'' for his start Saturday against Houston, manager Buck Showalter said. UP NEXTAstros: RHP Colin McHugh (7-10, 4.70 ERA) starts in the second game of the series Friday night. He's 0-4 with a 7.65 ERA in his last four starts. Orioles: LHP Wade Miley (7-10, 5.23) makes his fourth start since being traded from Seattle. Todays Free Sports Picks. The lefty is 0-2 with a 7.04 ERA with the Orioles.  

MLB Recap: Los Angeles Dodgers (4) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (5) - 8/18/2016

MLB Recap: Los Angeles Dodgers (4) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (5) - Date: 8/18/2016 Maikel Franco hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the seventh inning and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4 on Thursday night. Ryan Howard also homered for Philadelphia, which avoided a three-game series sweep. Justin Turner and Yasmani Grandal went deep for the Dodgers, who began play 1 1/2 games in front of the San Francisco Giants in the NL West. Michael Mariot (1-0) pitched a scoreless seventh inning in relief of Jerad Eickhoff to earn the victory. Freddy Galvis led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and Franco followed with his 22nd homer, to deep center off Grant Dayton (0-1) to give the Phillies a 5-4 lead. Jeanmar Gomez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 32nd save in 35 opportunities. Eickhoff gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings with eight strikeouts and two walks. Fixed Games. The right-hander snapped an eight-game streak in which Philadelphia starters pitched fewer than six innings - one game short of matching the club record. Free MLB Baseball Picks. The Dodgers jumped on Eickhoff quickly as the first three batters of the game scored to put Los Angeles ahead. Chase Utley and Corey Seager singled and Turner connected on his 23rd homer. Utley's throwing error in the second led to an unearned run as Aaron Altherr's RBI single brought Philadelphia to 3-1. Grandal's one-out solo homer off the scoreboard in right in the fourth inning made it 4-1. Howard led off the bottom of the inning with his 19th homer of the season, a booming shot to center. And Philadelphia closed to 4-3 on Taylor Featherston's double to left-center. Featherston started at second base in place of Cesar Hernandez, who was a late scratch for undisclosed reasons. Dodgers starter Ross Stripling gave up three runs - two earned - and six hits in five innings. Stripling, making his 11th start, struck out five and walked two. Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a sixth-inning double. Sports Handicapper Tracker. The Dodgers finished with 16 homers in their six games against Philadelphia this season. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Philies moved all fans with tickets in sections 104 and 105 in right field because of an issue with the scoreboard that overhangs those sections. Sports Handicappers. There also were no fans in the first three rows in the sections directly above the scoreboard. In a statement, the Phillies said the scoreboard wasn't a threat to fall but fans were moved for precautionary measures. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The problem with a bracket supporting protective netting in front of the scoreboard was to be corrected after the game, the team said. TRAINER'S ROOMDodgers: RHP Bud Norris, sidelined since Aug. 1 due to a back strain, will be activated from the DL and start the weekend series opener at Cincinnati. UP NEXTDodgers: Norris (6-9, 4.26) will make his first start since July 31 in the opener of the four-game series, facing Reds RHP Tim Adleman (1-1, 3.73). Phillies: LHP Adam Morgan (1-7, 6.62) starts on Friday night when the Phillies host the Cardinals for the first of three games. RHP Adam Wainwright (9-7, 4.72) starts for St. Louis.  

MLB Recap: Milwaukee Brewers (6) vs. Chicago Cubs (9) - 8/18/2016

MLB Recap: Milwaukee Brewers (6) vs. Chicago Cubs (9) - Date: 8/18/2016 Kris Bryant homered twice, doubled and drove in five runs while going 5 for 5 and the Chicago Cubs overcame a career-high seven walks by Jake Arrieta to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 9-6 Thursday for a four-game sweep. Bryant tied Colorado's Nolan Arenado for the NL lead with 30 home runs. Sports Betting Handicapping. The Cubs won for the 18th time in 21 games and improved the best record in the majors to 77-43. Chicago led 5-0 when Arrieta (15-5) issued a pair of two-out walks in the fourth. Kirk Nieuwenhuis followed with a three-run homer. Hernan Perez hit a solo homer in the sixth off Arrieta, who allowed four runs and three hits in 5 2/3 innings. Aroldis Chapman worked the ninth for his seventh save with the Cubs. Bryant singled and scored in the first, hit a two-run homer in the third a nd had an RBI double in the fourth off Zach Davies (9-6). Bryant hit a solo homer off Blaine Boyer in the sixth and added an RBI single in the eighth off Corey Knebel for his second career five-hit game. Bryant, who hit 26 homers while winning the NL Rookie of the Year in 2015, had his third multihomer game of the season. He has 78 RBIs. Anthony Rizzo doubled twice off Davies, who allowed a season-high seven earned runs and 10 hits in four innings. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Brewers got left fielder Ryan Braun back after he banged up his left knee and ankle chasing a foul ball Tuesday. But Braun went 0 for 5 and couldn't come up with Addison Russell's fly that drifted to the wall and was ruled a single in Chicago's three-run third. Milwaukee was outscored 23-8 in the series and fell to 0-6 at Wrigley Field. Sports Illustrated Picks.&nbs p;TRAINER'S ROOMBrewers: RHP Chase Anderson (quadriceps) was scheduled to play catch, two days after leaving in the first inning when he was hit by a line drive. ''If he's healthy, we'll be able to use Chase out of the bullpen for a couple days this weekend and he'll start at some point next week,'' manager Craig Counsell said. Cubs: Manager Joe Maddon said they'll decide in the next couple of days if RHP John Lackey (shoulder) will make his next scheduled start Tuesday. CONTRERAS MOVES UPWillson Contreras caught Arrieta for the first time. Free MLB Baseball Picks. The 24-year-old rookie has moved ahead of struggling veteran Miguel Montero. Contreras hit an RBI double in the third and picked off Ramon Flores at first in the fifth. He also had two passed balls. CUBS TORMENTEROf Nieuwenhuis' 11 homers, five have come against the Cubs. Gambling Profit. The center fielder also doubled and scored in the eighth. UP NEXTBrewers: A minor league call-up will start Friday night at Seattle against LHP Wade LeBlanc (2-0, 4.68 ERA). Milwaukee was expected to announce the move later Thursday. Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (11-7, 2.19) starts Friday night at Colorado to begin a nine-game trip against the Rockies and LHP Tyler Anderson (4-4, 3.42). Chicago plays 18 of its next 25 on the road.  

MLB Recap: Boston Red Sox (3) vs. Detroit Tigers (4) - 8/18/2016

MLB Recap: Boston Red Sox (3) vs. Detroit Tigers (4) - Date: 8/18/2016 Second baseman Ian Kinsler caught a line drive by Mookie Betts for the final out with runners on second and third, and the Detroit Tigers held off the Red Sox 4-3 Thursday, snapping Boston's six-game winning streak. Andrew Romine drew a bases-loaded walk to cap a three-run Detroit rally in the eighth. Boston threatened in the ninth against Francisco Rodriguez. Kinsler was well positioned and needed to move only slightly to his right to make the play on Betts' liner. Rodriguez got his 34th save in 37 chances. Justin Wilson (3-4) won in relief. Junichi Tazawa (2-2) failed to retire a batter in the eighth. Sandy Leon homered for Boston. Top Rated Sports Handicappers. The Red Sox won at Baltimore on Wednesday night, and manager John Farrell said they arrived at th eir hotel around 4 a.m. MLB Baseball Handicappers. Thursday - about nine hours before the first pitch. David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia were out of the starting lineup. Boston played in its fourth city in five days. Baseball Predictions. The team was home at Fenway Park on Sunday, had a makeup game Monday in Cleveland, then went to a two-game series in Baltimore. Free MLB Baseball Picks. The Red Sox scored twice in the eighth to go up 3-1, but the Tigers rallied. Miguel Cabrera's run-scoring single made it 3-2 - and gave him 1,000 RBIs for his Detroit career. Sports Betting Profit. Then Brad Ziegler came on and allowed a tying single to Victor Martinez. With two outs and the bases loaded, Ziegler walked Romine to gi ve the Tigers the lead. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a sacrifice fly for Detroit in the second, and Leon tied it in the fourth with a solo homer. Hanley Ramirez hit an RBI single for Boston in the eighth, and Betts scored on a wild pitch. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. TRAINER'S ROOMRed Sox: P Steven Wright (right shoulder) is expected to throw a bullpen session by Saturday. UP NEXTRed Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (16-3) takes the mound against his former team when Boston faces the Tigers again Friday night. Tigers: Rookie Michael Fulmer (10-3) starts for Detroit.  

MLB Preview: New York Mets vs. San Francisco Giants - 8/18/2016 - 10:15 PM EST

MLB Preview: New York Mets vs. San Francisco Giants - Date: 8/18/2016 Time: 10:15 P.M. EST Venue: AT&T Park   SAN FRANCISCO -- Two teams tail-spinning into dangerous territory in the National League playoff picture look to turn things around while adding to the other's misery when the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants open a four-game series Thursday night. Sport Handicapping. The pitching matchup in the opener has an October feel to it: Jacob deGrom vs. Madison Bumgarner. But truth be told, neither New York nor San Francisco figures to be playing much fall baseball the way their summers have been going. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Mets (60-60) arrive in San Francisco having lost two of three at Arizona to open a 10-game trip. And now comes the tough part: four at San Francisco (66-54) and three at St. Louis (64-56), two of the four teams the Mets are chasing in the wild-card race. CBS Sports Picks. The race has gone more backward than forward for both the Mets and the Giants in recent weeks. Having lost seven of 10 against the Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres -- the bottom two teams in the NL West -- the Mets are just 13-18 since the All-Star break, the fourth-worst record in the NL. Free MLB Baseball Picks. They are hoping deGrom (7-5, 2.30 ERA) can help get things headed back in the right direction. Best Sports Handicapping Services. The right-hander has been terrific in his past nine starts. If you throw out his only loss in that stretch -- when he was roughed up for five runs in 3 2/3 innings at Miami on July 23 -- he has allowed just five runs in 56 2/3 innings, an 0.79 ERA. However, he has only four wins to show for those games, an indication of just how bad the Mets have been of l ate. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. They are planning to have shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (Thursday) and Yoenis Cespedes (Friday) back for the San Francisco series, which might help. Cabrera has been sidelined since Aug. 1 with a strained left patellar tendon, while Cespedes has placed out since Aug. 4 due to a strained right quadriceps. San Francisco, meanwhile, fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 on Wednesday, capping a three-game series sweep. The Giants have lost five of six on their current 10-game homestand. They have been even worse than the Mets since the All-Star break, going 9-21, the worst record in baseball. Along the way, the Giants have dropped out of first place in the NL West after holding the top spot for 93 consecutive days. They will begin play Thursday trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers by 1 1/2 games in the division." We're taking some blows right now,& quot; Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after the Wednesday loss. "But it's a tough club. It's a resilient club. They came out and did some good things (Wednesday). We're creating some good chances and opportunities." The Giants will begin the series with their ace on the mound. Bumgarner (11-7, 2.11 ERA) has never lost to the Mets in his career, having gone 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA in five starts. In fact, Bumgarner hasn't even allowed a run to the Mets since Sept. 13, 2013. He is the only pitcher with at least two starts against the Mets not to have given up a run against them over the past three seasons. Interestingly, both the Mets and Giants already are planning ahead for a big series next week, when New York visits St. Louis and San Francisco goes to Dodger Stadium. Both managers are of the same mindset with a day off Monday. Each indicated Wednesday he is considering skipping his fifth starter (the Mets' Jonathon Niese a nd Giants' Matt Cain) so that deGrom and Bumgarner can begin that series as well." We'll have to see what happens (Thursday) night," Mets manager Terry Collins said of deGrom's pitch count.

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MLB Preview: Seattle Mariners vs. Los Angeles Angels - 8/18/2016 - 10:05 PM EST

MLB Preview: Seattle Mariners vs. Los Angeles Angels - Date: 8/18/2016 Time: 10:05 P.M. EST Venue: Angel Stadium of Anaheim   ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A pitcher enjoying one of his best seasons will face another experiencing perhaps his most frustrating one when the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels conclude their four-game series Thursday night at Angel Stadium. Seattle right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (14-7, 3.84 ERA) needs one more victory to tie his career high, which he established in 2014. Los Angeles right-hander Matt Shoemaker (6-13, 4.22 ERA) already has a career-high loss total despite dramatic, sustained improvement since the season's first five weeks. NBA Handicappers. The Mariners will be looking to win a series that has begun with three consecutive one-game games. Seattle posted a 3-2 win Monday, fell 7-6 Tuesday, then held on for a 4-3 victory Wednesday. Iwakuma, a veteran of 11 seasons in Japan, leads the Mariners in wins as well as with 150 innings pitched and 113 strikeouts. He enters Thursda y night's game having won his past three starts and eight of his past nine. During that stretch, which covers 55 innings, Iwaukuma has compiled a 2.78 ERA while collecting 41 strikeouts and issuing only 10 walks. However, one day before his last start, Saturday against the Oakland Athletics, Iwakuma awoke with neck spasms that forced him to get immediate treatment, which cost him his preparation routine." Until noon," Seattle manager Scott Servais told the Seattle Times on Saturday, "we didn't even know if he'd make the start." Iwakuma allowed three runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings, yet the Mariners earned a 4-3 victory." This morning I spoke with the skipper to tell him I was OK to go today, but as the game progressed, I started to feel stiffness," Iwakuma said. "My body was starting to fly open. I wasn't as high as I wanted it to be. I kind of felt that throughout the third, fourth, fifth inning, but I was able to get o ut of jams." Iwakuma's neck improved Sunday to the point where he resumed his post-start throwing routine. Shoemaker, the runner-up to the Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu for American League Rookie of the Year in 2014, began the season 1-5 with a 9.12 ERA. Since May 16, though, Shoemaker has amassed 109 strikeouts in 114 innings while conceding just 16 walks and compiling a 3.16 ERA. In the process, Shoemaker also became the second American League pitcher in the past century to collect at least 30 strikeouts without issuing a walk in a three-game span, after the Tampa Bay Rays' Chris Archer first accomplished the feat last year. Shoemaker, 29, accumulated 49 strikeouts without issuing a walk to tie Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez for the third-longest such stretch in major league history. Yet Shoemaker has lost four of his past five starts. Against the Indians on Saturday night, Shoemaker gave up five runs on 12 hits in six innings as the Angels took their ninth successive defeat. MLB Baseball Handicappers. Three of Cleveland's runs came in the opening inning." Except for the first inning, he did a good job," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He had good fastball command and he finished strong." Nevertheless, Shoemaker is confronting an opponent not found in any batting order: frustration." You could argue it's very high," he told the Los Angeles Times. "But I'm going out every game fighting for this team. As I've said a lot, I'm trying to go out and put up zeros. If we put up a lot of zeros, we are going to win games."

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MLB Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies - 8/18/2016 - 7:05 PM EST

MLB Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies - Date: 8/18/2016 Time: 07:05 P.M. EST Venue: Citizens Bank Park   PHILADELPHIA - With the Los Angeles Dodgers' pitching staff in tatters, there is an opportunity for Dodgers rookie right-hander Ross Stripling to establish himself. His next chance comes Thursday, when Stripling (3-4, 4.07) starts against the Philadelphia Phillies' Jerad Eickhoff (8-12, 3.82) in the finale of a three-game series in Citizens Bank Park. NHL Handicappers. The Dodgers, who have outscored the Phillies 22-7 while winning the first two games of the series, have had 26 players on the disabled list this season, the most ever by a National League team and the second-most by any team in the last 30 years. Only the 2012 Boston Red Sox (27) have had more. Eleven of the disabled Dodgers are pitchers, and six of those are starters. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The most notable is three-time Cy Young Award-winner Cl ayton Kershaw, who has been out since June 27 with a herniated disk in his back. Free Sport Pick. The earliest he can be activated is Aug. 27. Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts has nonetheless been able to cobble together an effective rotation -- so effective, in fact, that the Dodgers lead the NL West over the fading Giants. Stripling opened the season in the rotation. In his major league debut, in fact, he pitched 7 1/3 no-hit innings in a no-decision against the Giants. He was nonetheless banished to the minor leagues on May 23. All the injuries hastened his return to Chavez Ravine, and in time he made his way back into the rotation as well. In all he has made 10 starts among his 14 appearances, the last of those on Aug. 12 against Pittsburgh. In that one he lasted seven innings, his longest outing since his debut, but allowed five runs, matching his season high. He surrendered six hits, including solo home runs by Andrew McCutchen and Jordy Mercer, while striking out four. He did not walk a batter." You never know how the season is going to play out, but Ross has had a great opportunity and really seized the moment," Roberts said, according to Major League Baseball's official web site. "Now and going forward, it's been a great learning process for Ross and I think his growth has been exponential." Rich Hill (blisters) and Bud Norris (mild mid-back strain) are reportedly close to returning from the disabled list, and Brett Anderson (back surgery) made his first start of the season Sunday against Pittsburgh. He has also pronounced himself fit after injuring his left wrist in that game, which he departed after an inning. Stripling has never faced the Phillies. Nor has Eickhoff ever faced the Dodgers. Eickhoff did win his second straight start his last time out, allowing three runs on 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings in a 6-3 victory over Colorado. Eickhoff, who beat San Diego in his previous outing, was winless over his five previous starts. His sixth-inning woes continued against the Rockies, however. He carried a 4-0 lead into that inning but surrendered a two-run homer to Daniel Descalso and a solo shot to Tony Wolters. Eickhoff's ERA is 12.71 in the sixth this season." It just comes down to getting that curveball over," he said. "If I'm not throwing that with consistency, (hitters) can just put that in the back of their mind, or eliminate, really."

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MLB Preview: Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals - 8/18/2016 - 8:15 PM EST

MLB Preview: Minnesota Twins vs. Kansas City Royals - Date: 8/18/2016 Time: 08:15 P.M. EST Venue: Kauffman Stadium   KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It might be too late, but the Kansas City Royals are making a push to get back into postseason play. After a disastrous 7-19 July, the Royals were seven games below .500, at 51-58, after an Aug. 5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. But after winning 4-1 Wednesday night at Detroit to sweep the Tigers they evened their record at 60-60. Best Sports Handicapping Services. The Royals have won four straight, seven of eight and nine of 11. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. They have won their past four series." We're playing like champions," said Royals rookie second baseman Raul Mondesi, who hit his first career home run on Tuesday. Top Rated Sports Handicappers. The defending World Series champion Royals return home Thursday to open a four-game series against the last-place Minnesota Twins. If the Royals are to keep their playoffs hopes alive, they may need to sweep the Twins. Anything less than winning three of the four could prove fatal to their postseason aspirations." The offense looks to me like it's definitely coming back around," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "That's what we were waiting on. We felt good all the way around with our starting pitching for the most part and the bullpen guys have done a phenomenal job without (Luke) Hoch(evar) and Wade (Davis). MLB Baseball Handicappers. They've really picked up the slack down there. We feel good where we're at right now." The offense did nothing in the first seven innings Wednesday. Free Sport Pick. Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez did not allow a hit until Eric Hosmer's two-out doubl e in the seventh. Sanchez did not come out for the eighth and the Royals promptly went to work on the Detroit bullpen. Alex Gordon homered on the first pitch of the eighth, extending his hitting streak to a season-high eight games, while Eric Hosmer hit a two-run homer in a three-run ninth. Free MLB Baseball Picks. That allowed the Royals to sweep a three-game series in Detroit for the first time since September 2008. While the Twins possess the worst record in the majors, the pitching matchup for the first game favors Minnesota, which will start Tyler Duffey. He beat the Royals 5-3 on Saturday, allowing two runs on six hits with one walk and six strikeouts. Duffey also beat the Royals on May 25 at Target Field. Duffey is 8-8 with a 5.71 ERA with 25 walks and 90 strikes in 108 2/3 innings." I know Kansas City has been hard on us and they have a real good home record," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Hopefully we can turn it around, starting with Duff on the mound (Thursday)." Right-hander Dillon Gee, who was the losing pitcher Saturday at Minnesota, will be making his 10th start and 25th appearance. After holding the Twins to two runs in the first five innings, he gave up a single and back-to-back home runs in the sixth, pulled with the Royals trailing by four runs. Gee is 2-6 with a 6.35 ERA in nine starts. He has not won as a starter since May 31. The Twins swept a two-game series at Atlanta and improved to 9-7 in August. Brian Dozier went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs, hiking his RBI total to 72, while Trevor Plouffe went 3-for-5 with three RBIs in the Twins' 10-3 victory Wednesday over the Braves. Kyle Gibson pitched a complete game to pick up the victory. The Twins played without first baseman Joe Mauer and third baseman Miguel Sano in routing the Braves. Mauer sat out with sore quads, while Sano has a sore elbow." We want to give him a chance to rest and be ready for the Royals," Twins manager Paul Molitor said of Mauer. "He doesn't want to sit, but sometimes that extra day helps him." Mauer is hitting .435 with a .516 on-base percentage and a .709 slugging percentage in August with two home runs, seven doubles and 11 RBIs in 14 games. Sano made some throws from third base during infield practice and could be close to returning. The Twins could use Sano as the designated hitter in Kansas City, which was not an option at Atlanta under National League rules." He is doing better, but I don't get the feeling he is feeling 100 percent yet," Molitor said.

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