cnotes Posts:32127 Followers:37
04/24/2013 09:40 AM

Preview: Cubs (6-13) at Reds (12-9)

Game: 3
Venue: Great American Ball Park
Date: April 24, 2013 12:35 PM EDT

After losing for just the second time in nine games, the Cincinnati Reds are looking for Mat Latos to continue his recent positive performances against the Chicago Cubs.

Latos is also hoping that another strong start versus Chicago will help him earn his first win of the season in Wednesday's series finale.

Cody Ransom's stellar debut for Chicago (6-13) and Darwin Barney's solo homer in the 10th inning helped spoil Cincinnati's attempt at a fourth consecutive win Tuesday. Before Carlos Marmol recorded the Cubs' sixth blown save of the season, Ransom hit a solo shot of his own and made a couple of steady plays in the field in a 4-2 victory.

That snapped a four-game skid and a seven-game road losing streak.

"Our team needed that win," Barney said.

The Reds (12-9) will try to bounce back with help from Latos (0-0, 2.73 ERA), who is 2-1 with a 1.95 ERA in his last four matchups against Chicago.

The right-hander had his best performance of the season Friday, allowing one run over seven innings to Miami and striking out 10 in a 2-1 defeat.

"It's just frustrating that we got a loss," Latos said. "I did the best I could. ... I gave us a chance to win. It's one of those things."

Latos has traditionally labored in April, going 2-8 with a 4.92 ERA in 17 career starts. That's more than a run-and-a-half worse than his career 3.38 ERA.

Cincinnati's relievers have cost him chances to win two games this month and he was charged with three unearned runs in another start.

"I'm just glad he's throwing the ball well," manager Dusty Baker told the team's official website.

Latos will pitch opposite Jeff Samardzija, who has dropped three straight since winning on opening day. The right-hander gave up four runs in the first inning of Friday's 5-4 loss in Milwaukee before settling down to allow one over his final six frames.

"You have to get him early," the Brewers' Ryan Braun said of Samardzija. "You saw it tonight - once he settles in, he's as tough as anybody in baseball."

Samardzija (1-3, 3.38) has experienced different results in his two starts against Cincinnati, both at Great American Ball Park. He gave up four runs on three homers over five innings in a 5-3 loss Aug. 18 after yielding one run and three hits over 7 2-3 in a 3-1 victory May 2.

Chris Heisey, who hit a solo homer in Tuesday's loss, is 3 for 7 against Samardzija while Joey Votto, who had a tying single in the ninth, is 1 for 11 with three strikeouts.

David DeJesus is 3 for 4 with a double against Latos while Barney is 0 for 7 with four strikeouts.

The Cubs are trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since Sept. 12-14 and earn consecutive victories over the Reds for the first time since Sept. 7-12, 2011. Cincinnati has won 16 of 21 matchups.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32127 Followers:37
04/24/2013 09:42 AM

Preview: Cardinals (12-8) at Nationals (10-10)

Game: 3
Venue: Nationals Park
Date: April 24, 2013 1:05 PM EDT

A controversial decision kept Stephen Strasburg from facing the St. Louis Cardinals in last year's playoffs.

The Washington Nationals' staff ace is now trying to avoid the longest slide of his career, but he's not entirely to blame.

Hindered by a lack of run support and sloppy defense, Strasburg tries to avoid a fourth straight loss and salvage a victory for the Nationals in Wednesday's series finale with the visiting Cardinals.

Washington (10-10) had an innings limit on Strasburg last year since it was his first full season returning from Tommy John surgery. That decision fueled national debate, with the Nationals unexpectedly leading the majors with 98 wins and claiming the NL East to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1981 as the Montreal Expos.

With the ace out, Washington exited the NL division series in five games at the hands of the Cardinals (12-8).

Strasburg (1-3, 2.96 ERA) got this year off to a strong start, allowing three hits in seven innings of a 2-0 win over Miami on April 1. Since then, however, the right-hander has matched a career high by losing three straight starts.

Over the last two games, Strasburg has done his part, with only two of the six runs allowed in 12 innings counting as earned. He's been backed by one run in each contest.

He pitched well enough to win his only meeting with St. Louis on Sept. 2, yielding two hits with nine strikeouts in six scoreless innings before the bullpen wasted his effort in a 4-3 home win.

The offense continues to be a problem for the Nationals, who try to avoid a six-game home losing streak for the first time since Sept. 7-20, 2010. They're batting .163 and have plated seven runs over that stretch, and rank toward the bottom of the NL with a .236 average on the season.

The Nationals were shut down by Adam Wainwright on Tuesday, managing five hits in a 2-0 loss to fall for the eighth time in 11 games.

"I'm usually pretty patient, but I'm getting at my rope's end," manager Davey Johnson said. "The effort's there, but we're just not getting it done. We've got the players to get it done. We're just not getting it done. It's time to get a little mad."

Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond, Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa - Washington's 2-4-5-6-7 hitters - are a combined 4 for 38 in this series.

Bryce Harper continues to be a bright spot, hitting .385 at home after getting two hits Tuesday. His only hit in three at_bats versus Jaime Garcia - the Cardinals' scheduled starter Wednesday - was a solo homer, but he fanned in both postseason matchups.

Garcia (1-1, 3.22) will try to help St. Louis complete the series sweep by rebounding from perhaps the worst start of his four-plus years in the majors.

The left-hander was tagged for a career-high eight runs - four earned - and nine hits in three innings of a rain-shortened 8-2 loss at Philadelphia on Friday. He had a 1.86 ERA over his first three starts.

"Next time, we expect to see the Jaime we have been seeing," manager Mike Matheny told the team's official website.

That certainly wasn't the case in Garcia's last start at Washington on Aug. 30, when he surrendered six runs and two homers in 5 1-3 innings of an 8-1 loss.

He faced the Nationals again in Game 2 of the NLDS, but a shoulder injury forced him to exit after two innings, allowing one run and three walks.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32127 Followers:37
04/24/2013 09:44 AM

Preview: Indians (8-10) at White Sox (7-12)

Game: 3
Venue: U.S. Cellular Field
Date: April 24, 2013 2:10 PM EDT

The Cleveland Indians are looking to match their longest winning streak from last season, and facing the slumping Chicago White Sox may be enough.

The Indians look to capitalize on another meeting with the White Sox as they try for a fourth straight victory Wednesday in the finale of a rain-shortened two-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.

Cleveland (8-10) went 68-94 last year, finishing ahead of only 66-96 Minnesota in the AL. A four-game winning streak was all the Indians could manage as a season high, and they reached that mark three times, most recently June 18-22.

They have a chance to equal that streak following a five-game slide.

Before Tuesday's matchup was postponed nearly four hours before the scheduled first pitch because of rain, Asdrubal Cabrera came through in the clutch in Monday's opener. He hit a two-out, two-run single in the eighth inning to provide the difference in a 3-2 win, the Indians' third in four meetings with Chicago this season.

"I love those situations," said Cabrera, who sat out Sunday's 5-4 win over Houston after hurting his left wrist falling down the stairs of the dugout Saturday.

The shortstop is batting .156 - 120 points lower than his career average.

"Maybe this is the start hopefully of him getting hot," manager Terry Francona said, "because he's going to get really hot at some point."

Cabrera is 8 for 22 with three doubles and six RBIs over his past seven games at U.S. Cellular Field.

The White Sox (7-12), losers of 10 of 13, have scored seven runs while batting .161 - including 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position - during a four-game slide.

They've also committed four errors in that stretch. Reliever Matt Thornton accounted for one Monday, when he wildly threw to second in an attempt to pick off Drew Stubbs, only to have him move to third before Cabrera's timely hit.

"You just keep shooting yourself in the foot," manager Robin Ventura said. "And until we clean it up, we're going to lose games. It's just that simple. It's not hard to figure out."

Chicago may not need much production at the plate with Ventura scheduled to turn to Jose Quintana (1-0, 2.55 ERA), who is trying to continue an impressive stretch with another dominant outing against the Indians.

The left-hander has tossed 13 2-3 scoreless innings over his last two starts, including last Wednesday's 7-0 win at Toronto. He scattered five hits with seven strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings, five days after being let down by the offense in a 1-0 loss at Cleveland.

Quintana held the Indians to one hit while striking out seven in seven innings, but he was on the opposite end of Justin Masterson's five-hitter.

Another meeting with the Indians may keep Quintana rolling since he's 1-0 with a 0.93 ERA in four matchups - two starts.

The Indians will counter with Zach McAllister (1-2, 3.12) as he tries to continue his success against the White Sox.

The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA in four starts against them, winning 9-4 at home April 13. He yielded three runs - one earned - and five hits before leaving with one out in the seventh.

McAllister then gave up three runs and three walks while throwing 112 pitches in five innings of a 6-3 loss to Boston on Thursday.

He has held Paul Konerko to two singles in 12 at_bats and Adam Dunn has one hit - a homer - in 10 at_bats.

Dunn was hitless in four at_bats Monday, and is 1 for 36 with a solo homer and 16 strikeouts in his last 10 games.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32127 Followers:37
04/24/2013 09:45 AM

Preview: Mariners (8-14) at Astros (6-14)

Game: 3
Venue: Minute Maid Park
Date: April 24, 2013 2:10 PM EDT

Even a rare victory for the Houston Astros didn't come without bad news.

After losing an everyday player to injury in Tuesday's win over the Seattle Mariners, they'll turn to Lucas Harrell on Wednesday at Minute Maid Park as they seek only their second series win of the season.

Center fielder Justin Maxwell is out indefinitely for Houston (6-14) as he was placed on the disabled list following Tuesday's 3-2 win after being hit by a pitch in the third inning.

"I have to see the hand specialist tomorrow," said Maxwell, one of four Astros to start every game thus far. "But at least we got the win out of it.

Maxwell was hit with the bases loaded, so he can at least say he got credit for bringing home what turned out to be the winning run.

Bud Norris gave up a run in five innings, but it's been eight games since Houston has had a starter make it through six. The rotation has a 12.77 ERA in that stretch.

Harrell (1-2, 4.98 ERA), who didn't face the Mariners when Houston took two of three in Seattle earlier this month, has made it through 5 2-3 in his last two outings. He walked five and allowed five hits Friday against Cleveland, but gave up only two runs in a 3-2 victory.

The right-hander is walking 5.40 batters per nine innings, one of the majors' 10 worst rates.

"I was struggling to throw strikes again, it's just kind of been a trend right now,' Harrell said. "It's something I need to work on between starts and definitely focus on that."

Harrell may not exactly have his work cut out for him as he takes on a Seattle offense that has been anemic. Tuesday marked the sixth time in eight games the Mariners (8-14) were limited to two runs or fewer, and the team is batting .226 on the season.

Seattle is 6 for 37 (.162) with runners in scoring position as it's dropped four of five on this road trip.

"I do think we have guys heading in the right direction," manager Eric Wedge said. "That is obvious by the quality of the at_bats. Having said that, it's all about winning and losing, and we have to do a better job of finding a way to win ballgames."

Before returning home, the Mariners give the ball to Joe Saunders (1-2, 4.50), who has already stifled Houston once. He threw 6 1-3 shutout innings against the Astros on April 8, limiting them to one hit, but was shelled by the Rangers on Friday for seven runs on nine hits in 4 2-3 innings.

Walks also have been a serious issue for Saunders, who's 1-0 with a 3.26 ERA in three starts against the Astros. He's yielded 10 in 22 innings - including two in a six-run fifth against Texas.

Both offenses continue to see individual bright spots with Seattle's Kyle Seager and Houston's Marwin Gonzalez. Seager has hit safely in a career-best 12 games, going 17 for 45 (.378) in that span with seven doubles, two homers, and eight RBIs. Before that, he was 5 for 34 (.147) in nine games.

Gonzalez connected for a solo homer on Tuesday, his third this year in 45 at_bats. He totaled two all of last year in 205 ABs.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32127 Followers:37
04/24/2013 09:47 AM

Preview: Braves (15-5) at Rockies (13-7)

Game: 3
Venue: Coors Field
Date: April 24, 2013 3:10 PM EDT

The Atlanta Braves seem to enjoy visiting Coors Field.

The same can't be said for Tim Hudson.

The Braves will try to continue pounding Colorado Rockies pitching and win a seven straight in Denver by completing a sweep of this three-game set Wednesday.

Atlanta (15-5) is batting .326 with 16 homers and 52 runs while winning six games in a row at Colorado.

The Braves continued to batter the Rockies (13-7) on Tuesday, connecting for three homers in a 4-3 win before hitting three more in a 10-2 victory to complete a doubleheader sweep.

Their 35 homers are seven more than any other team, with Colorado and the Yankees the closest competition at 28 apiece.

"This Atlanta team, you have to try to keep them in the yard. We had a tough time doing that (Tuesday)," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Six homers in two games. That is what they do if it's for a strike and they are locked in."

While the offense seems to enjoy the Mile High City, Hudson (2-1, 4.50 ERA) surely doesn't.

The right-hander is 0-2 with an 8.04 ERA in five starts there compared to winning all five of his home starts against Colorado behind a 1.49 ERA.

Getting his first win at Coors Field would also give him No. 200 for his career. He failed in his first attempt at the milestone Friday, getting tagged for a season-high six runs and nine hits in four-plus innings of a 6-0 loss at Pittsburgh.

Hudson had won his previous two outings with a 1.32 ERA.

He may get some help at the plate from Justin and B.J. Upton, who became the second set of brothers to homer in consecutive at_bats. Lloyd and Paul Waner of the Pirates did it on Sept. 15, 1938.

"It makes your lineup a lot better when you've got B.J. going and you've got Justin, too," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "For me, Justin is your No. 3 hitter and it doesn't matter who is on the mound that night."

Justin Upton leads the majors with 11 homers while batting .307 with 16 RBIs. The left fielder had a double and two homers in Tuesday's doubleheader.

He's also thrived at Coors, hitting .329 in 20 visits since 2011.

Perhaps B.J.'s nightcap homer will get him going. It was the elder Upton's only hit in nine at_bats Tuesday, and he's hitting .160 with 26 strikeouts in 75 at_bats.

The Rockies' three-game skid matches their longest of the season, and their rotation has a 7.53 ERA during this slide.

Tyler Chatwood will try to improve on that as he's expected to be recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs to replace Jhoulys Chacin, who is on the disabled list with a back strain.

Chatwood went 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 14 2-3 innings over three starts in the minors. The right-hander was 5-6 with a 5.43 ERA and one save in 19 games - 12 starts - with Colorado last year.

"He's had some good outings here lately," Weiss told the team's official website. "He's a power arm. He's got good stuff. He's been throwing strikes down there. We look for him to give us a chance to win."

Chatwood is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two starts versus the Braves. He was pulled after three innings of the most recent outing Sept. 3, surrendering six runs with five walks in a 6-1 road loss.

Todd Helton may be back in the lineup after a forearm injury sidelined him for four games. The first baseman is 12 for 18 with five doubles and a homer versus Hudson.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32127 Followers:37
04/24/2013 09:49 AM

Preview: Diamondbacks (11-9) at Giants (13-8)

Game: 3
Venue: AT&T Park
Date: April 24, 2013 3:45 PM EDT

Although inconsistent this season, facing the San Francisco Giants typically brings out the best in Arizona's Ian Kennedy.

The Giants' Madison Bumgarner is off to a strong start but routinely struggles against the Diamondbacks.

While Kennedy will try for a sixth straight win over San Francisco, Bumgarner will seek to stay unbeaten and end his recent woes against visiting Arizona in Wednesday's series finale.

Since winning in the Diamondbacks' season opener, Kennedy (1-2, 5.47 ERA) has gone 0-2 with a 6.62 ERA in three starts. He put together a decent outing Friday in Colorado, allowing three runs and three hits over six innings, but didn't get much help in a 3-1 defeat.

"He was fine," manager Kirk Gibson said. "We didn't give him any run support."

The right-hander would appear to have a good chance to get back in the win column considering he's 5-0 with a 2.21 ERA in eight starts against the Giants (13-8) since 2011. It's his best ERA against any team he has faced more than three times in that span.

Bumgarner (3-0, 2.05) had a 6.61 ERA in losing his three starts to Arizona last season, and his 5.59 ERA versus the Diamondbacks since 2011 is his worst against any team he has faced more than once.

The left-hander, though, hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of four outings this season. He struck out a season-high 10 in Friday's 3-2 walkoff win over San Diego.

"He left a couple of pitches up in the first inning but he pitched great," manager Bruce Bochy said. "You can't say enough about the job he did. Bum did a terrific job. He had great stuff."

The Giants are hoping Bumgarner can help them bounce back after they blew a chance to complete another comeback win. Buster Posey and Brandon Belt drove in a combined three runs in the final two innings in Monday's series opener, a 5-4 victory, and Belt hit a tying two-run homer in the ninth on Tuesday.

Arizona, though, took advantage of an error and a wild pitch in the 11th en route to a 6-4 victory that snapped the Giants' seven-game home win streak and a string of four straight overall victories.

Paul Goldschmidt helped the Diamondbacks (11-9) end those runs with a homer and a season-high three RBIs. He was 2 for 12 with one RBI in his previous four games.

"We made some good plays when we had to and they made a couple mistakes and we capitalized on that," Gibson said. "We played a clean game, made good plays. We've been good at that all year."

Gerardo Parra, who had an RBI double in the 11th on Tuesday, is 0 for 10 with five strikeouts all-time against Bumgarner.

Belt is 2 for 13 (.154) with eight strikeouts against Kennedy while Marco Scutaro (4 for 10) and Posey (8 for 23) have been a little more successful.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32127 Followers:37
04/24/2013 09:50 AM

Preview: Athletics (13-8) at Red Sox (13-7)

Game: 3
Venue: Fenway Park
Date: April 24, 2013 4:05 PM EDT

After finally recording a win on their road trip, the Oakland Athletics hope Brett Anderson is healthy enough to help them take the series from Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox.

While Anderson looks to avoid a third straight rough start, Lester tries to remain undefeated in Wednesday's series finale.

After Oakland (13-8) scored four runs while being swept in a three-game set at Tampa Bay and lost 9-6 at Boston on Monday, Seth Smith homered and Bartolo Colon pitched seven solid innings during a rain-shortened, 13-0, seven-inning rout Tuesday.

The A's took advantage of eight walks, two balks and two errors by the Red Sox (13-7) to post a much-needed victory. John Jaso and Brandon Moss each had three hits with two RBIs for Oakland, which has scored a major league-leading 119 runs.

Boston, meanwhile, has dropped three of four after it won seven in a row.

"The weather conditions weren't ideal, but to say that it was a major distraction, I don't know that we can go that far. We see what Bartolo did against us," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

Former Boston outfielder Coco Crisp added two hits with two RBIs after going 1 for 10 in three contests following a 12-game hitting streak.

Looking for a 10th win in 11 games versus Boston, the A's will try to get the best of Lester (3-0, 1.73 ERA).

The left-hander has not allowed a homer and struck out 23 in 26 innings in four starts. He gave up two runs and four hits in seven innings of a 6-3 win at Cleveland on Thursday.

"Lester has a lot of ways to attack hitters," his former manager and current Cleveland skipper Terry Francona told the Red Sox's official website. "Whether it's depth on his two-seamer or life on the fastball, and then he's got that cutter. And he threw an occasional breaking ball. He has a lot of ways of opening up the plate."

Lester is 3-3 with a 4.15 ERA in 10 starts versus Oakland, which hopes Anderson (1-3, 5.95) can get back on track after two straight rough outings and improve on his 5-2 mark and 2.70 ERA in eight starts against the Red Sox.

The left-hander yielded two runs in each of his first two starts but allowed 11 and walked five while striking out three in 6 2-3 innings to lose his last two. He gave up four runs in the first inning of an 8-3 loss at Tampa Bay on Friday before leaving with a sprained ankle.

Anderson, however, appears healthy to return to the mound Wednesday.

"I can obviously feel it a little bit when running," Anderson told the Athletics' official website. "Other than that, it feels good."

Batting .308 (4 for 13) with a double against Anderson, David Ortiz had one of Boston's three hits off Colon. Ortiz is 6 for 12 in three games since starting the season on the disabled list with an Achilles injury.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32127 Followers:37
04/24/2013 09:52 AM

Preview: Royals (10-7) at Tigers (9-9)

Game: 2
Venue: Comerica Park
Date: April 24, 2013 7:05 PM EDT

The Kansas City Royals are in an unfamiliar position atop the AL Central and hope to make a big statement against the two-time defending division champions.

That may be difficult in a place that has given them fits lately, though the Detroit Tigers are hardly playing well.

Wade Davis will try to help the Royals end their seven-game skid in Detroit in the opener of this rain-shortened series Wednesday night when he opposes Max Scherzer, whose Tigers look to avoid a fifth straight loss.

Kansas City (10-7), which hasn't won a division title since 1985, had dropped four of six before coming through with a doubleheader sweep in Boston on Sunday. Following a 4-2 victory in the opener, Billy Butler hit a game-tying homer in the eighth inning and Lorenzo Cain walked with the bases loaded in the 10th of a 5-4 win in the second game.

That was the last time the Royals played. With three scheduled days off and rain Tuesday providing a second postponement since Friday, Kansas City has been off five of the past nine days.

"It feels almost like getting at_bats for the first time in spring again," Butler said. "Except these ones count. I'm sure in their own respect it's affecting the pitchers, too."

Butler's team didn't have many good at_bats in losing its final seven games at Comerica Park last season, hitting .216 with seven walks and 67 strikeouts. Kansas City has lost 12 of 15 in Detroit and now looks to avoid its longest losing streak there since dropping 14 straight between 1987 and 1990.

The Tigers went 13-5 against the Royals last season but enter this three-game set having lost four straight. They've scored six runs in 54 innings over their last five games while batting .191, having suffered a three-game sweep to the Los Angeles Angels over the weekend.

"We have no excuses," said right fielder Torii Hunter, who was hitting .418 before going 1 for 7 in the last two games.

Hunter is 3 for 7 with two doubles against Davis (2-0, 2.25), but the right-hander enters this matchup having thrown 12 scoreless innings over his last two outings while striking out 13.

Scherzer (1-0, 2.84) also is coming off a pair of impressive starts, with 23 strikeouts over 14 innings as he limited Oakland and Seattle to two earned runs.

Scherzer is 12-2 with a 2.58 ERA in his last 23 starts - including the 2012 playoffs - and went 2-0 in three starts against the Royals last season as he gave up four runs over 17 innings.

Should the Tigers (9-9) wind up in a situation where they need a save Wednesday, they'll turn to a familiar face. Detroit on Tuesday agreed to a one-year contract with Jose Valverde, who saved 84 games for the Tigers over the past two seasons.

Detroit was ready to let Valverde leave as a free agent after his poor postseason, but he never signed elsewhere and the Tigers brought him back on a minor league deal. Valverde pitched three scoreless innings at Class-A Lakeland.

Detroit may not need Valverde, whom manager Jim Leyland said would start closing immediately, if Davis pitches like he did in his first career start at Comerica. Davis surrendered home runs to Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila and gave up five runs over six innings while not receiving a decision in a 7-6 loss for Tampa Bay in 2011.

Cabrera and Avila are a combined 4 for 17 against Davis, but each hit was a homer.

Victor Martinez has gone 1 for 9 against him while Austin Jackson is 1 for 8, and that duo is a combined 1 for 33 during Detroit's four-game skid.

Catcher Salvador Perez is 5 for 7 with a double and two homers versus Scherzer while Alex Gordon has gone 7 for 18.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32127 Followers:37
04/24/2013 09:54 AM

Preview: Pirates (11-9) at Phillies (9-12)

Game: 3
Venue: Citizens Bank Park
Date: April 24, 2013 7:05 PM EDT

Following a rough start to the year, Roy Halladay appears to have recaptured his Cy Young form.

That shouldn't come as much of a surprise to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Halladay takes the mound for the Philadelphia Phillies looking to continue his dominance of the Pirates as these clubs play the third of four Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

After compiling an uncharacteristic 14.73 ERA in losing his first two starts, Halladay (2-2, 6.04 ERA) has posted a 1.80 ERA and limited opponents to a .143 average in recording back-to-back wins. The two-time Cy Young award winner gave up two hits - both solo homers - and went the distance in Friday's rain-shortened 8-2, seven-inning victory over St. Louis.

"Today was as close as I've felt to where I want to be. When I stay within myself and execute the mechanics the way they should be done, I feel good where I'm at," he said.

"I always felt I was going in the right direction. Once I got a chance to pitch deeper in games, do more bullpens, I felt I was able to take some of that over into the game."

Halladay has to like his chances of keeping things going versus Pittsburgh (11-9). The right-hander, who's won three consecutive starts in the series, has gone 4-1 over six career matchups against the Pirates while compiling a 0.98 ERA - his lowest mark against any opponent.

He's made things difficult on several of their hitters, including Andrew McCutchen (1 for 10), Neil Walker (1 for 9), Clint Barmes (0 for 8) and Pedro Alvarez (0 for 5).

Halladay, though, could find himself in a pitchers' duel with Wandy Rodriguez (2-0, 0.56). Scratched from his previous start due to a strained hamstring, Rodriguez faced the minimum while throwing seven innings of one-hit ball Friday in a 6-0 win over Atlanta.

"When you see a guy twirling like he did today, there's not any team that's going to put up much against him," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It wasn't just the strikes but the location of the strikes. It was like he was throwing darts.

"I don't know if we can afford to throw him every 11th day, but that was pretty special."

The left-hander is 2-2 with a 4.70 ERA against the Phillies (9-12).

After dropping Monday's series opener 3-2, Pittsburgh bounced back with a 2-0 win the following night. Jeff Locke threw six strong innings and Gaby Sanchez hit his second homer.

The Pirates opened 1-5 but have since won 10 of 14, including four of their last five while allowing six total runs.

Pittsburgh catcher Russell Martin extended his hitting streak to eight games with a single Tuesday. He's batting .444 with two homers and six runs scored over that stretch.

McCutchen, though, hasn't been very locked in of late. He's hitless in eight at_bats in the series and is batting .120 in his last seven road games. McCutchen is a career .193 hitter in Philadelphia.

The Phillies, who went 26 for 62 (.419) with runners in scoring position over their first eight home games, have since gone 5 for 34 (.147), including Tuesday's 0-for-5 effort.

"I think they're trying, maybe a little bit too hard," manager Charlie Manuel said. "But you have to get it done. ... We have to improve our game."

Cleanup hitter Ryan Howard left two runners on base Tuesday, and has one RBI in his last 11 games. He is 4 for 12 with a homer lifetime against Rodriguez.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32127 Followers:37
04/24/2013 09:56 AM

Preview: Dodgers (9-10) at Mets (9-9)

Game: 2
Venue: Citi Field
Date: April 24, 2013 7:10 PM EDT

At just 24 years old, the New York Mets' Matt Harvey has taken the game by storm in his first full season in the majors.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, meanwhile, are counting on veteran Ted Lilly to give their injury-plagued rotation a much-needed lift.

Looking to become the first Met to win his first five starts in seven years, Harvey takes the mound opposite Lilly, who's set to make his season debut Wednesday night when these clubs continue a three-game series at Citi Field.

Harvey (4-0, 0.93 ERA) has been lights out thus far, striking out 32 over 29 innings while limiting opponents to a .108 average. He is the first pitcher in baseball's modern era to win his first four starts while yielding a combined 10 hits or fewer.

The right-hander gave up one run, four hits and struck out seven in as many innings Friday in a 7-1 win over Washington.

"There's going to be a lot of years you're going to talk about this guy," manager Terry Collins said. "He pitched great, but that's the mark of a true ace. Games like that can spread to great seasons."

Harvey, who walked off to a standing ovation after outpitching Stephen Strasburg, improved to 2-2 with a 1.42 ERA over six career home starts.

"He functions on such a high octane already," catcher John Buck told MLB's official website. "To be honest, I really don't think he cares who he's facing."

Harvey has a chance to become the first Met to win his first five starts since Pedro Martinez in 2006. He'll try to get the best of Lilly, who's eager to get back on the hill for the first time since May 23 after recovering from shoulder surgery.

The left-hander, entering his 15th season, will help fill in for the injured Zack Greinke and Chris Capuano.

"I spent plenty of time on the DL last year and I can't wait to get off it," he said. "Unfortunately, to be completely frank, the last thing we needed was something like what happened to Greinke and Cappy going down. I hope they get back as soon as possible."

Lilly's contributions will prove all the more crucial with Chad Billingsley now out, too. Billingsley is set to undergo Tommy John surgery Wednesday.

"We're still in good order," manager Don Mattingly said. "We'll end up with five guys that are accomplished starters (Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Josh Beckett, Lilly and Capuano) and Greinke on top of that. Nobody wants to hear our complaints. A lot of teams would like to have five accomplished major league starters."

Lilly is 2-2 with a 3.72 ERA over six starts versus New York (9-9). He can't be looking forward to facing Marlon Byrd, who's gone 8 for 17 with a homer in their matchups.

After managing 13 runs over a six-game losing streak, Los Angeles (9-10) has scored seven in each of its last two contests, winning both. Mark Ellis did most of the damage in Tuesday's 7-2 series-opening victory, going 4 for 5 with a pair of homers and four RBIs.

"We've been lacking some big hits lately," he said. "We haven't done a great job early on this season."

Matt Kemp, who went 2 for 5 with a double, is a career .370 hitter (20 for 54) at Citi Field.

The Dodgers have outscored the Mets 38-19 during a five-game winning streak. Los Angeles has also won five straight in New York.

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