Braves Now 26-7 at Home
CALL THE BRAVES 'HOTLANTA'
WHEN THEY PLAY AT HOME
The fact that FOX moved many of the marquee teams to prime time Saturday Night for a special evening of coverage allows us to focus on many of the other good MLB teams who have been getting the job done lately.
Maybe they don't have the celebrity of the Yankees, the allure of the Red Sox, the history of the Chicago teams...but, if they keep playing they have been...the teams you're about to read about from Saturday afternoon action could well be a big part of the playoff picture come October.
We start with the Atlanta Braves, who extended their home record to an UNBELIEVABLE 26-7 mark with a 4-3 decision over the Detroit Tigers.
ATLANTA 4, DETROIT 3
Total Bases + Walks: Detroit 13, Atlanta 19
Starting Pitchers: Scherzer 5.2 IP, 0 ER, Kawakami, 7 IP, 1 ER
Vegas Odds: Pick-em, total of 9
NOTEBOOK: The Braves are a first place team in the NL East because of their home record. If the standings were based only on road games, Atlanta would rank FOURTH in the division! Clearly pitching has been the key. Most of their starters have stellar ERA's at home this season. Kawakami has struggled often on the road, but threw seven strong innings today. The bullpen dug out of trouble in the top of the 9th inning to finish off the victory.
Detroit has been treading water over the past month, and now finds itself in a dogfight with the Chicago White Sox just to see who's going to try and chase down the Minnesota Twins at the top of the division. Atlanta now has a game-and-a-half lead on the Mets in the NL East, and a 3.5-game lead on the Phillies.
In other daytime action...
TORONTO 5, PHILADELPHIA 1
Total Bases + Walks: Toronto 22, Philadelphia 10
Starting Pitchers: Marcum 6 IP, 1 ER, Hamels, 4 IP, 5 ER
Vegas Odds: Philadelphia -135, total of 9
NOTEBOOK: This game was played in Philadelphia even though Toronto was the schedule home team. Security concerns in Toronto for the G20 meeting trumped the commissioner. Of course, with Toronto's big home run bats...sticking them in a bandbox park is probably just as good. The Blue Jays lit up Cole Hamels Saturday, a guy who had been pitching well recently after a shaky start to the season. You can see the game was basically over after the fourth inning. Marcum worked his way easily through the Phils, as did the bullpen after he left.
Philadelphia is now 13-18 its last 31 games, and still has work to do as they figure out what wheels have fallen off the cart after two straight NL crowns. Toronto had been 6-11 against lefties coming into the game. They need to hit lefties to compete in the tough AL East. A good sign here perhaps.
MINNESOTA 6, NY METS 0
Total Bases + Walks: Minnesota 20, Mets 4
Starting Pitchers: Pavano 9 IP, 0 ER, Santana, 6 IP, 5 ER
Vegas Odds: NY Mets -125, total of 7.5
NOTEBOOK: Santana is known to have first inning troubles every so often. If he survives the first inning, he's going to have a great game. If he doesn't, the game is often over right then because this is such a hard park to score in. Minnesota jumped to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first...and that was pretty much it for the day. Good outing for Pavano, who's been in nice form of late. Santana has a few kinks to work out based on his numbers the past few weeks.
A rare home loss for the Mets, who are still 27-12 at home this season. Minnesota has to win Sunday to finish 9-9 in Interleague play. That's odd for the Twins, who have DOMINATED the National League in recent seasons.
ST. LOUIS 5, KANSAS CITY 3
Total Bases + Walks: St. Louis 18, Kansas City 10
Starting Pitchers: Hawksworth 5 IP, 2 ER, Davies, 7 IP, 4 ER
Vegas Odds: St. Louis -115, total of 10
NOTEBOOK: How much are Hawksworth? Enough to get a victory! The Cards went with a no-name starter. The Royals went with Davies, who's just having a horrible season. The guy you never heard of was a favorite over him, and outpitched him! That's how bad things are for the Royals this year. They keep running Davies out to the mound every fifth day.
The Cards move to 9-5 in Interleague play, one of many quality teams in the NL putting up good results this season. By the way, the Braves 9-5, the Mets 12-5 after Saturday results. Kansas City's doldrums continue...which is a sentence we've been typing for years.
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TEXAS 7, HOUSTON 2
Total Bases + Walks: Houston 16, Texas 29
Starting Pitchers: Banks 4 IP, 6 ER, Wilson, 7 IP, 2 ER
Vegas Odds: Texas -300, total of 10.5
NOTEBOOK: Not much to report on here. Vegas knew it was a mismatch, and Texas didn't disappoint. Banks is a stopgap starter on a horrible team. Wilson's having a great year for a team that's caught fire recently. Texas is now 17-4 its last 21 games. They've been winning at home all season, moving to 27-12 with this victory. Houston's horrible, and on the verge of trading Roy Oswalt. Imagine how bad they'll be after that!
TAMPA BAY 5, ARIZONA 3
Total Bases + Walks: Arizona 16, Tampa Bay 17
Starting Pitchers: Kennedy 5.1 IP, 4 ER, Price, 8 IP, 2 ER
Vegas Odds: Tampa Bay -190, total of 8.5
NOTEBOOK: It's probably better to look at TB+W here than the final score. Tampa Bay is still in a funk. This was a nailbiter in terms of production, which came on the heels of suffering a no-hitter the night before. Tampa Bay has really fallen off the map after that great 32-12 start. Hopefully you're handicapping in that light. They shouldn't have been a -190 favorite here even if they did eventually win. Only Baltimore and Cleveland were worse over their prior 30 games than Tampa Bay heading into Saturday action. We all know Arizona is bad. Tampa Bay is playing to Arizona's level in this series, after dropping two of three the prior series to San Diego.
SEATTLE 5, MILWAUKEE 4
Total Bases + Walks: Seattle 22, Milwaukee 13
Starting Pitchers: Fister 4 IP, 4 ER, Wolf, 5 IP, 4 ER
Vegas Odds: Milwaukee -145, total of 9
NOTEBOOK: Fister had been in very good form before needing a rest break. He'll need another start or so before he's a guy you can trust with your money. Though, his teammates rallied around him today to get the victory. Note the big advantage offensively for the Mariners. Milwaukee's one of those teams that either hits some home runs or loses. Great to see a throwback team to the steroid era! Baseball's more complicated than that...which is why the Brewers are eight games below .500 in a lousy division.
We're glad we had the chance to catch up with some of the other prominent Major League squads. If you want to beat the Vegas number, you have to follow all 30 teams!
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Back tomorrow with a statistical rundown of the FINAL DAY of INTERLEAGUE action. The Sunday fireworks are about to start as you read this. Call JIM HURLEY NOW for another BIG MONEY BLOWOUT!
This article is part of the VSM MASTERS SERIES presented by VegasSportsMasters.com and JimHurley.com. For more information on JIM HURLEY'S handicapping packages, call 1-800-323-4453.
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