July 4 Baseball Report

FOURTH OF JULY BASEBALL REPORT

Is it gonna be barbecues, the beach or a whole lot of Baseball on your own personal 4th of July menu today/tonight?

You make the call.

No doubt – no matter what you're doing -- it's a truly grand day for the USA which is turning a never-looked-better 235 years old and talking about looking good it's the high-rising Philadelphia Phillies (53-32, .624 winning rate) and the New York Yankees (50-32, .610 winning percentage) who enter the holiday with the respective best records in the National and American League … thought you might need to be reminded of that fact!

If Baseball's your choice of healthy pleasures today, than you made an excellent choice because there are some solid series that are taking place including the three-game set in the NL Central between the Cincinnati Reds at the short-handed St. Louis Cardinals (and did you realize the Reds are a splendid 24-14 this season against divisional foes?) while in the 'junior' circuit we've got eyes wide open for the three-game series between the aforementioned Yankees at the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians and, yes, former Tribe hurler CC Sabathia will get a shot at his old mates here.

We'll have some insight into those series shortly plus we hail some of Sunday's heroes on the diamond but first this key reminder: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers release Major-League Baseball Winners each/every day and you can be part of all the action -- just remember to call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here and make sure you're all aboard for a summer filled with all our MLB winners! The calling/check-in times are after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays; anytime after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball action; and than anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the weeknight action. Now go ahead and pile up all your summertime Baseball winners! Don't forget there are an absolute slew of matinee games on this July 4th baseball docket and so make sure you check in with us for all the holiday winners. Okay?

Now, let's check in with some of Sunday's stars in MLB

This just in: The Pittsburgh Pirates will enter this 4th of July holiday with a winning record at 43-41 and you have to go all the way back to the 1999 season to find the last time the Buccos played plus-.500 ball at this exact juncture of a season. In Sunday's never-in-doubt 10-2 win at Washington, CF Andrew McCutchen went 3-for-5 with 3 runs scored and a pair of RBI thus giving McCutchen nine hits in this just-completed four-game set (including six for extra bases) and we are wondering aloud why he didn't make the NL's All-Star Game roster with his .294 batting average and 45 RBI …

The Minnesota Twins have not had a whole lot to shout about in this injury-wracked 2011 campaign but veteran slugger Jim Thome walloped his 595th career home run in a come-from-behind 9-7 win against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers. The Twins were down 6-1 after 3 ½ innings in that clash but rallied back and Thome wound up hitting his Interleague-best 59th dinger – and how about the fact he only had two official at-bats and wound up scoring three runs?

Finally, Chicago Cubs RHP Rodrigo Lopez (1-2, 3.91 ERA) may be the epitome of a journeyman hurler but he really stole the show in Sunday's Windy City battle between the White Sox and Cubbies: Lopez earned his first victory of the year while pitching seven innings of shutout ball (and just two hits allowed and no bases on ball) and note the economy of pitches – 75 pitches with 53 of them strikes. Lopez may not be a season-saver for the Cubs (see 35-50 record heading into July 4th) but this was his one shining moment this year and did you notice that the first three hitters in the Chisox lineup -- that's LF Juan Pierre, SS Alexei Ramirez and 1B Adam Dunn -- went a combined 0-for-12 while leaving six runners on base?

Now here's a look at the top NL and AL series that begin here on the 4th of July:

CINCINNATI (43-42) at ST. LOUIS (45-40) – Mon, Tues & Wed
There's never been any love lost between current Reds manager Dusty Baker and Cardinals skipper Tony LaRussa – no, these fellows won't be sharing a grilled hot dog or any potato salad after these games in the 'Arch City' – and so don't be shocked if there's some type of bean-ball or brush-back situation here before this series has been completed.

If anything, the Reds must pitch born-again St. Louis 1B/OF Lance Berkman (22 home runs) carefully here as they try not allowing too many 'fat' pitches because without 1B Albert Pujols in the lineup there really aren't many Cardinals who can bust a game open (note the Redbirds scored a grand total of four runs while losing two of the last three games in Tampa Bay this past weekend).

On the flip side, the Reds received an unexpected power boost in Sunday's 7-5 series-salvaging win against Cleveland as SS Edgar Renteria whacked his first home run of the season but nothing good is happening for Cincy this series if middle-of-the-order guys 2B Brandon Phillips, 1B Joey Votto (last year's NL MVP, remember) and RF Jay Bruce don't get things kick-started: This trio combined to go 1-for-10 with one run batted in on Sunday and maybe they'll get into overdrive against St. Louis hurler Chris Carpenter (3-7, 4.00 ERA) who may or may not be on the current trade market with the Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels said to be in on the bidding.

NEW YORK YANKEES (50-32) at CLEVELAND (44-38) – Mon, Tues & Wed
Just when you thought that you could 'bury' the here-and-now Indians, they win four-of-six Interleague games following last weekend's three-game sweep at the hands of the world champion San Francisco Giants – the back-to-back two-of-three-game series wins at Arizona and Cincinnati was special stuff for a team that was treading water in recent weeks and now 9-game winner RHP Josh Tomlin tries top stifle a Yankees team that welcomes back undeserving All-Star SS Derek Jeter from his recent leg woes. The Tribe – which finished Interleague play this season at 11-7 – will be glad to get DH Travis Hafner back in the lineup after he was forced to miss the Interleague road games in which the pitcher bats (although Hafner did register a pinch-hit single in thee seventh inning on Sunday).
Meanwhile, the Yanks are not worried that closer Mariano Rivera – headed to yet another All-Star Game – is 'losing it' despite blowing a save in Sunday's 3-2, 10th-inning loss against the New York Mets. However, 1B Mark Texeira and 3B Alex Rodriguez must step it up after going a combined 1-for-10 in the Sunday loss and note the Yanks left 11 runners on base in that rain-delayed marathon and so maybe Jeter is coming back at the right time for the pinstripe gang.

NOTE: Get our Jim Sez Mid-Week Report next and remember we're back with our NFL Spread Reports as we bring you the AFC West!

 

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