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MLB • Thursday Service Plays • 4/7/16

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    Five to Follow MLB Betting: Thursday, April 7, 2016, Opening Line Report
    by Alan Matthews

    One great thing about baseball more so than the NFL, NBA or NHL is that you are more likely in that sport to see something you never have before on a daily basis. Just the way MLB games go and with so many intangibles and odd rules. That happened Tuesday night at Tropicana Field. The Toronto Blue Jays thought they had taken a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth inning on a throwing error by Tampa Bay second baseman Logan Forsythe while trying to turn a game-ending double play as Jose Bautista slid into second base. Instead, two runs scored on the error. However, Rays manager Kevin Cash asked for a replay under the new “Utley rule” that restricts the way players can slide into bags trying to break up double plays — and potentially hurt the fielders. The replay worked, which thus called out the batter as well. Game over, a 3-2 Rays win. Toronto manager John Gibbons went nuts, but if you look at the slide on replay you’d have to say it was the right call. Bautista reached out with his hand in an attempt to grab the foot of Forsythe as he was throwing. That was the problem, not the actual slide.

    White Sox at A’s (-110, 8.5)

    Getaway day game for Chicago with a 3:35 p.m. ET start. Too early to rest a guy or two? Sox do then play home opener on Friday afternoon. The White Sox could be going for the four-game sweep depending on what happens Wednesday night. They took a one-year flier on Mat Latos this offseason and he gets the start there. Latos has a 64-55 career record and 3.51 ERA but went 4-10 with a 4.95 ERA with the Marlins, Dodgers and Angels in 24 appearances in 2015. Latos is worth the risk at just $3 million. He pitched just two innings vs. Oakland last year. Jed Lowrie is 5-for-8 career off him with two doubles, two homers and five RBIs. The A’s go with Kendall Graveman. He made 21 starts last year with a 6-9 record and 4.05 ERA. He had an ERA near 5.00 this spring. Graveman has faced just one White Sox batter before: Austin Jackson is 1-for-4 off him.

    Key trends:
    The White Sox are 4-9 in their past 13 in Game 4 of a series. The A’s are 1-7 in Graveman’s past eight starts. The “over/under” is 4-0 in his past four at home vs. teams with a winning record.

    Early lean:
    A’s and over.

    Dodgers at Giants (-108, 7)

    Will be entertaining any time these two bitter rivals play as they should battle for the NL West title all season. Los Angeles had ticketed lefty Alex Wood for the bullpen originally this spring, but all the rotation injuries have him as the No. 4 starter. Wood was pretty good last year with the Braves (7-6, 3.54) but not so after being traded to the Dodgers (5-6, 4.35) around the deadline. Wood didn’t face the Giants. Denard Span has seen him more than any other Giant, going 4-for-17 with three doubles. He didn’t start Wednesday because of the flu, so wait and see if Span plays here. San Francisco counters with Jake Peavy. He was 8-6 with a 3.58 ERA in 19 starts in 2015 and 0-0 with a 3.55 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers. Carl Crawford is a career .333 hitter off him in 27 at-bats. Chase Utley is 0-for-14 against Peavy.

    Key trends:
    The Dodgers are 2-5 in Wood’s past seven road starts. San Francisco is 8-0 in Peavy’s past eight at home. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings.

    Early lean:
    Giants and under.

    Red Sox at Indians (-133, 8)

    Boston’s final game in Cleveland this season barring a playoff rematch. The Red Sox go with Joe Kelly, who finished last season going 8-0 with 3.00 ERA in his final nine starts. He was also very good in Grapefruit League play this spring. Kelly beat the Tribe in his lone start against them in 2015, allowing one unearned run and five hits in six innings. Jason Kipnis is 2-for-5 with a double off him. Cleveland goes with Danny Salazar. He started last season in Triple-A but didn’t stay long and is now considered one of the most underrated starters in the AL after he was 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA and 195 strikeouts in 185.0 innings with Cleveland. Salazar was 2-0 against the Red Sox with a 1.46 ERA. Jackie Bradley Jr. is 2-for-3 off him. Travis Shaw, who took Pablo Sandoval’s third-base job, is 1-for-5 with a homer.

    Key trends:
    The Indians are 4-0 in Salazar’s past four at home. The under is 5-1 in his past six there.

    Early lean:
    Indians and under.

    Cubs at Diamondbacks (+133, 9)

    The Cubs will probably have more fans here as they train in the Phoenix area. Their schedule has been interesting in that Chicago opened in Los Angeles and then goes back to Phoenix. Better than doing a West Coast swing later in the season from the East Coast or something. Chicago looked every part the World Series betting favorite in sweeping two games at the Angels to open the season by a combined score of 15-1. The Cubs go with new addition John Lackey here. The 37-year-old was the most consistent guy in the Cardinals’ rotation last season, going 13-10 with a career-best 2.77 ERA. His last game as a Cardinal was a start in the Cubs’ clinching Game 4 of the NLDS. Lackey faced Arizona once last year and got the win, allowing one run in seven innings. Arizona goes with Rubby De La Rosa. He was 14-9 with a 4.67 ERA in 2015, his first with the Snakes. De La Rosa was 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts vs. the Cubs. Kris Bryant, who hasn’t gotten a hit yet this season, is 2-for-4 with a homer off him.

    Key trends:
    Arizona is 0-5 in De La Rosa’s past five at home vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 13-3-2 in his past 18 vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 7-0-1 in Chicago’s past eight Thursday games.

    Early lean:
    Cubs and over.

    Rangers at Angels (-107, 8)

    You can watch this nationally on Fox Sports 1. Texas starts lefty Derek Holland in this AL West series opener. It’s a shame injuries have wrecked a once-promising career with this guy. He was limited to only 37 late-season innings in 2014 due to injury but was excellent. So of course he got hurt right away last season and made just 10 starts, going 4-3 with a 4.91 ERA. Holland did win both of his starts against the Angels with a 2.51 ERA. Albert Pujols is 8-for-23 off him career with three doubles and three homers. Mike Trout is 10-for-32 with two homers and nine RBIs. The Angels were utterly dominated in their two-game sweep at the hands of the Cubs to open the season. L.A. had seven hits and just one run combined. Pujols and Trout were 0-for-15 combined. The Halos go with lefty Hector Santiago, who was an All-Star in 2015. He had a 2.33 ERA in the first half but 5.47 in the second. Santiago faced Texas six times and was 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA. Adrian Beltre has three homers off him in 28 at-bats. Rougned Odor is 9-for-17 with three doubles and dinger.

    Key trends:
    L.A. is 6-0 in Santiago’s past six starts. Texas is 2-6 in Holland’s past eight road starts. The over is 7-1 in Santiago’s past eight vs. Texas. The over is 5-2-1 in Holland’s past eight at the Angels.

    Early lean:
    Angels and over.


    NEWSLETTER MLB Baseball Prediction From Robert Ferringo

    Take Minnesota (+110) over Baltimore (7 p.m., Thursday, April 7)
    So let’s get it going here with an easy play on the Twins. Phil Hughes has turned out to be a pretty good pro starter. He has been on kind of an every other year pattern of being very good, with his two best years in 2012 and 2014. Hughes was sharp this spring, posting a 3.43 ERA and allowing just .231 batting average against in his five starts. Ubaldo Jiminez, who is just horrendous, opposes him. This guy is the new Oliver Perez; I just have no idea why anyone keeps trotting him out there every fifth day because he is so awful. Jiminez has been extra awful this spring, posting a 12.27 ERA in his four starts. He gave up 12 hits and 10 runs in just seven innings of work. Truly, no bet against him is a bad bet. I’m going with the Twins here. You should too.


    Preview: Phillies at Reds

    GAME: Philadelphia Phillies (0-2) at Cincinnati Reds (2-0)
    DATE/TIME: Thursday, April 07 – 12:35 PM EST
    WHERE: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio

    Robert Stephenson had a poor spring training, but the Cincinnati Reds’ No. 2 prospect still represents hope for the future of the franchise. Stephenson gets the call to make his major league debut Thursday afternoon when the Reds wrap up their season-opening three-game home series with the Philadelphia Phillies.

    Stephenson posted a 9.58 ERA this spring, giving up 12 hits and seven walks in 10 1/3 innings. “The only thing I want to do is go out there and have fun,” Stephenson, who is filling in for Homer Bailey (elbow), told reporters. “I think it’s a good opportunity to go out there and get my feet wet and (get) a little bit of experience. That way when I come back for a more permanent time, it’s not new to me.” Philadelphia will counter with newcomer Charlie Morton, who hopes to go deep into the ballgame after the Phillies’ bullpen squandered a late lead in each of the first two contests. Closer Dalier Hinojosa gave up the decisive two-run double to Scott Schebler in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s 3-2 setback.

    TV: 12:35 p.m. ET, CSN Philadelphia, FSN Ohio (Cincinnati)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Phillies RH Charlie Morton (2015: 9-9, 4.81 ERA) vs. Reds RH Robert Stephenson (N/A)

    Morton made 23 starts for Pittsburgh last season, enjoying perhaps his best outing of the campaign against Cincinnati (no walks and seven strikeouts over seven scoreless innings). For his career, the New Jersey native is 6-7 with a 4.04 ERA in 17 starts versus Cincinnati, including a 4-2 mark with a 3.83 ERA at Great American Ballpark. The current crop of Reds players has totaled 136 at-bats against Morton, but only one player (Jay Bruce) has homered against him.

    Stephenson, the team’s first-round pick in 2011, was cut from spring training last month but later made one more Grapefruit League start, struggling again in that outing. “They told me to be prepared in case anything crazy happened,” Stephenson told reporters recently. “I was definitely surprised and I’m extremely excited to be here.” Last season, the 23-year-old split time between Double-A and Triple-A and went 8-11 with a 3.83 ERA.


    1. Reds 2B Brandon Phillips is a .324 career hitter in 37 at-bats against Morton.

    2. Phillies starters have given up one earned run in 13 innings while their relievers allowed seven earned runs in 3 1/3 frames.

    3. In each game, Philadelphia has scored its only runs on a two-run homer – by SS Freddy Galvis on Monday and by 3B Maikel Franco on Wednesday.

    PREDICTION: Reds 7, Phillies 3


    Preview: White Sox at Athletics

    GAME: Chicago White Sox (2-1) at Oakland Athletics (1-2)
    DATE/TIME: Thursday, April 07 – 3:35 PM EST
    WHERE: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California

    The Oakland Athletics attempt to earn a split of their season-opening four-game series when they host the Chicago White Sox in the finale Thursday afternoon. Oakland began the campaign by dropping a pair of one-run decisions before winning one Wednesday, scoring in each of the first two innings and letting ace Sonny Gray do the rest in a 2-1 triumph.

    The Athletics have registered just one home run during their first three games, with Mark Canha belting a solo shot Wednesday. Adam Eaton is off to a flying start for the White Sox, going 7-for-11 with three multi-hit performances. Jimmy Rollins also is contributing early in his first season in the American League as he has driven in a run in each game of the series. The 37-year-old, who will get the day off Thursday, spent his first 16 seasons in the National League — 15 with Philadelphia — before signing a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with Chicago during the winter and becoming the team’s Opening Day shortstop.

    TV: 3:35 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago, CSN California (Oakland)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: White Sox RH Mat Latos (2015: 4-10, 4.95 ERA) vs. Athletics RH Kendall Graveman (2015: 6-9, 4.05)

    Latos, who made two relief appearances for the Los Angeles Angels last season, will be making his 175th career start but first in the American League after signing a one-year contract during the winter. The 28-year-old Virginian has recorded nine victories over the last two years after posting 14 in three of his previous four seasons. Latos has made two career appearances — one start — against Oakland, scattering six hits over 9 1/3 scoreless innings.

    Graveman will be making his first start since Aug. 23, as he missed the latter portion of last season with an oblique strain. The 25-year-old started five of the six games in which he pitched during spring training, allowing 15 runs and 25 hits in 26 2/3 innings. Graveman, who never has faced Chicago, had trouble keeping opponents off the basepaths last season as he yielded 126 hits and issued 38 walks in 115 2/3 frames.


    1. Athletics 2B Jed Lowrie has driven in five of his team’s nine runs in the series.

    2. Of the 10 players on Chicago with at-bats in the first three games, C Dioner Navarro (0-for-4) is the only one without a hit.

    3. Oakland RHP Henderson Alvarez, who underwent shoulder surgery in July, threw to live hitters Wednesday during a rehab session.

    PREDICTION: White Sox 5, Athletics 3


    Preview: Astros at Yankees

    GAME: Houston Astros (1-1) at New York Yankees (1-1)
    DATE/TIME: Thursday, April 07 – 4:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York

    The New York Yankees used a quick-strike offense to get the jump on many opponents last year, and they have already put that strategy to work in 2016. The Yankees will look for another fast start on Thursday afternoon when they take on the visiting Houston Astros in the rubber game of a season-opening three-game set.

    A six-run rally in the first inning gave New York – which led the majors with 125 runs in the opening frame last year – a springboard to a 16-6 rout of the Astros on Wednesday. Newcomer Starlin Castro later homered for the Yankees and has seven RBIs already, making him the fourth New York player ever (Tino Martinez, Yogi Berra and Babe Ruth are the others) to record that many through the first two games of a season. The Yankees’ explosive effort overshadowed a two-homer night for Houston shortstop Carlos Correa, who has three long balls in the series. The 21-year-old has 25 homers in 101 career games and is 3-for-7 against Nathan Eovaldi, who gets the start Wednesday for the hosts.

    TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, MLB Network, ROOT Southwest (Houston), YES (New York)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros RH Mike Fiers (2015: 7-10, 3.69 ERA) vs. Yankees RH Nathan Eovaldi (2015: 14-3, 4.20)

    Fiers came to Houston in a trade with Milwaukee at the deadline last year and gave the Astros a solid stretch run, which included a 10-strikeout no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 21. The 30-year-old, who has 408 strikeouts in 404 career innings, has never faced New York, but Yankees third baseman Chase Headley is 3-for-3 against him. Fiers was reached for 12 earned runs in 22 innings this spring.

    Eovaldi boasted the best winning percentage in the American League despite pedestrian numbers in most categories. His best start came at home against Houston on Aug. 24, when he tossed eight scoreless innings to help the Yankees to a 1-0 win. The 26-year-old, a native of Houston, was 5-1 with a 3.22 ERA in 13 home starts last year.


    1. New York DH Alex Rodriguez is hitless in 20 at-bats over his last six games against Houston, including the wild-card game in October.

    2. Astros CF Carlos Gomez is 0-for-8 with four strikeouts on the season.

    3. Yankees SS Didi Gregorius is 4-for-8 with a home run through the first two games.

    PREDICTION: Yankees 5, Astros 4


    Preview: Marlins at Nationals

    GAME: Miami Marlins (0-2) at Washington Nationals (2-0)
    DATE/TIME: Thursday, April 07 – 4:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Nationals Park, Washington, District of Columbia

    Following a pair of nail-biters on the road, the Washington Nationals open up their home schedule Thursday afternoon with the first of three games against the Miami Marlins. The Nationals captured an extra-inning affair in Atlanta on Monday to begin the year and then scored three times in the seventh on Tuesday before surviving a shaky ninth to post a 3-1 triumph.

    Behind stud starters Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, Washington’s staff has allowed four runs and 12 hits over 19 innings. The Marlins have had a very different experience thus far, giving up 15 runs and 25 hits while being swept of two-game set by Detroit at home. Reigning National League batting champion Dee Gordon has picked up where he left off for Miami by recording back-to-back three-hit efforts to start the season. The speedy second baseman hit .342 in 19 games against Washington last season and is 4-for-6 against Nationals starter Tanner Roark.

    TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Miami), MASN, WUSA 9 (Washington)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins LH Adam Conley (2015: 4-1, 3.76 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Tanner Roark (2015: 4-7, 4.38)

    Conley was brought up from the minors midway through last season and made a significant impact down the stretch, going 4-1 with a 3.68 ERA in 11 starts. He was the winner in his only outing against the Nationals despite allowing three runs in five innings. The 25-year-old yielded two runs and five hits in 9 2/3 frames during spring training.

    Roark followed up a breakout performance in 2014 with an uneven effort last year, due in large part to being shuffled back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen. The University of Illinois product is 21-15 with a 3.17 ERA in 48 career starts and owns a 3.32 mark in 12 games (six starts) versus the Marlins. Miami’s Martin Prado is 4-for-9 with a home run and a walk against Roark, who yielded four runs over 18 frames in Grapefruit League action.


    1. Nationals RF Bryce Harper hit .345 and belted 23 of his 42 home runs at home during his 2015 MVP campaign.

    2. The Marlins have committed three errors through their first two contests.

    3. Washington was 7-3 at home against Miami last year.

    PREDICTION: Nationals 5, Marlins 3


    Preview: Dodgers at Giants

    GAME: Los Angeles Dodgers (3-0) at San Francisco Giants (2-1)
    DATE/TIME: Thursday, April 07 – 4:35 PM EST
    WHERE: AT&T Park, San Francisco, California

    Jake Peavy looks to continue his dominance against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday as the San Francisco Giants return to AT&T Park for their home opener. Peavy is 14-3 with a 2.38 ERA in 29 career starts against Los Angeles, which became the second team in major league history to record three shutouts to begin the season during a three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres.

    The Dodgers outscored the Padres 25-0 and saw their starting pitchers set a major league record with 27 straight scoreless innings to start a season. Los Angeles should receive a much stronger test from the Giants, who opened by taking two of three in Milwaukee and boast one of the deepest lineups in the majors. New Giants center fielder Denard Span, who made a strong first impression with a home run and five RBI in the opening series, was held out of Wednesday’s lineup with the flu but appeared as a pinch-hitter and could return to the leadoff spot for the home opener. Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford is likely to sit Thursday in favor of Trayce Thompson or Scott Van Slyke as manager Dave Roberts looks to keep the oft-injured 34-year-old healthy throughout the season.

    TV: 4:35 p.m. ET, SportsNet LA (Los Angeles), CSN Bay Area (San Francisco)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers LH Alex Wood (2015: 12-12, 3.84 ERA) vs. Giants RH Jake Peavy (2015: 8-6, 3.58)

    Wood is set to make his second career start against the Giants after allowing two runs in five innings and taking the loss while pitching for Atlanta on May 4, 2014. The 25-year-old, who won a career-high 12 games last year, battled forearm soreness early in spring training before ending camp with an 0-3 record and 7.13 ERA in five starts. Span is 4-for-17 against Wood, who was acquired in an eight-player trade with the Braves in July.

    Peavy owns the highest win total and lowest ERA among all active pitchers against Los Angeles, and he posted a 3.55 ERA in two starts last season. “Anytime you get a chance to start the home opener, it’s special,” Peavy told reporters. “Then to have it against the Dodgers, you can’t draw it up much better than that.” Chase Utley is hitless in 14 at-bats against the three-time All-Star, who tuned up for his season debut by pitching five shutout innings against Oakland in the Bay Bridge Series on Friday.


    1. San Francisco has won 12 of its last 15 home openers.

    2. Roberts said 3B Justin Turner could be rested Thursday, with either Kike Hernandez or Charlie Culbertson taking his spot.

    3. Giants C Buster Posey is hitting .304 with 12 home runs and 43 RBI in 97 career games against the Dodgers.

    PREDICTION: Giants 6, Dodgers 5


    Preview: Red Sox at Indians

    GAME: Boston Red Sox (1-1) at Cleveland Indians (1-1)
    DATE/TIME: Thursday, April 07 – 6:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio

    The Cleveland Indians are banking on a strong rotation to lead them to the playoffs this season but are so far still looking for a quality start. Danny Salazar will take his turn for the Indians when they host the rubber match of a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday.

    Ace Corey Kluber was reached for four runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings in a 6-2 loss in the opener on Tuesday and Carlos Carrasco squandered a 4-0 lead before the offense and the bullpen came to the rescue in Wednesday’s 7-6 triumph. Former Boston slugger Mike Napoli was the deciding factor for Cleveland in Wednesday’s win, slugging a tie-breaking solo home run off Junichi Tazawa in the seventh inning. The Red Sox are counting on their offense to pick up a staff with plenty of question marks beyond ace David Price and David Ortiz is so far doing the job. The 40-year-old slugger and impending retiree homered in each of the first two games and nearly extended Wednesday’s contest with a drive to the wall in left in the ninth inning that ultimately found Jose Ramirez’s glove for the final out.

    TV: 6:10 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), STO (Cleveland)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox RH Joe Kelly (2015: 10-6, 4.82 ERA) vs. Indians RH Danny Salazar (2015: 14-10, 3.45)

    Kelly looked ticketed for the bullpen after a rough first half of 2015 and an injury that robbed him of a month. The 27-year-old earned himself another look when he returned and ripped off eight wins in as many starts bridging August and September and solidified his spot with a strong spring. One of those eight wins came against Cleveland on Aug. 19, when Kelly scattered five hits and an unearned run over six innings.

    Salazar went through his first full season as a major-league starter in 2015 and established himself as one of the better young arms in the game. The 26-year-old Dominican notched 195 strikeouts in 185 innings and limited opponents to a .226 batting average. Salazar carved up Boston twice in 2015, yielding a total of two runs and eight hits in 12 1/3 total innings while picking up a pair of wins.


    1. The Red Sox are 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

    2. Cleveland LHP Ross Detwiler worked in each of the first two games and yielded a total of two runs in one inning.

    3. Boston 1B Hanley Ramirez is 4-for-8 with a home run and a stolen base.

    PREDICTION: Indians 5, Red Sox 2


    Preview: Twins at Orioles

    GAME: Minnesota Twins (0-2) at Baltimore Orioles (2-0)
    DATE/TIME: Thursday, April 07 – 7:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland

    The Baltimore Orioles built a slugging lineup in an effort to provide plenty of runs for a pitching staff that had some question marks, but so far it’s the pitching that is leading the way. The Orioles will try to coax a third straight strong start out of the rotation and polish off a three-game sweep when they host the Minnesota Twins in the series finale on Thursday.

    Chris Tillman struck out five in two perfect innings before rain wiped out the rest of his season debut in Baltimore’s 3-2 win on Monday and Yovani Gallardo allowed two hits in five innings in his team debut as the Orioles grabbed a 4-2 victory on Wednesday. The Baltimore staff totaled 23 strikeouts in the first two games while issuing six walks. Twins phenom Byron Buxton is responsible for five of those strikeouts but managed to grab his first hits of the season with a pair of doubles on Wednesday. Fellow former top prospect Miguel Sano has yet to record a hit and is 0-for-6 with three strikeouts and a pair of walks for Minnesota.

    TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), MASN2 (Baltimore)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Phil Hughes (2015: 11-9, 4.40 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Ubaldo Jimenez (2015: 12-10, 4.11)

    Hughes won 16 games, pitched a career-high 209 2/3 innings, walked just 16 batters and posted a 3.52 ERA in his first season in Minnesota in 2014 but took a step back last season. The California native maintained his strong control with 16 walks allowed in 155 1/3 frames but allowed batters to hit .293 against him and served up 29 home runs. Hughes made one start against Baltimore last season and was reached for two runs on nine hits – two homers – in 6 1/3 innings without factoring in the decision.

    Jimenez went the opposite way, posting a solid 2015 after disappointing in his first season with the Orioles the previous year. The Dominican Republic native allowed three earned runs or fewer in five of his final six starts despite dealing with control issues that led to 18 walks in that span. Jimenez issued three walks and allowed seven hits in five innings at Minnesota on July 8 last season but somehow kept a run from scoring and did not factor in the decision.


    1. Tillman and Twins RHP Ervin Santana were moved up in their respective rotations and will each pitch Friday after going only two innings apiece on Monday.

    2. Orioles LHP Brian Matusz (ribs) is expected to pitch for Triple-A Bowie this week.

    3. Minnesota 2B Brian Dozier is 0-for-7 with a pair of strikeouts.

    PREDICTION: Twins 6, Orioles 5


    Preview: Cubs at Diamondbacks

    GAME: Chicago Cubs (2-0) at Arizona Diamondbacks (1-2)
    DATE/TIME: Thursday, April 07 – 9:40 PM EST
    WHERE: Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona

    Some of the game’s brightest young stars will be on display when the Arizona Diamondbacks host the Chicago Cubs for a four-game series starting Thursday. The Diamondbacks have won six of their past seven home games against the Cubs, but Chicago won four of six overall meetings last season.

    The Cubs’ lineup is loaded with blossoming stars, and Chicago routed the Los Angeles Angels by a combined 15-1 in sweeping a two-game set to start the season. Chicago smacked four home runs in Anaheim, and none came from star third baseman Kris Bryant, who is 2-for-4 with a homer against scheduled starter Rubby De La Rosa. Among the Diamondbacks’ talented young anchors are two players who have had success against starter John Lackey – first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (2-for-3, HR) and second baseman Jean Segura (8-for-19). Arizona, which lost two of three to Colorado to start the season, is without one of its top young players for the foreseeable future after center fielder A.J. Pollock had surgery Tuesday on his fractured right elbow.

    TV: 9:40 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago Plus, FSN Arizona

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH John Lackey (2015: 13-10, 2.77 ERA) vs. Diamondbacks RH Rubby De La Rosa (2015: 14-9, 4.67)

    Lackey enjoyed a resurgence last season in St. Louis, posting a career-best 2.77 ERA while logging his highest innings total since 2007. The 37-year-old tossed quality starts in seven of his last eight outings in 2015. Lackey is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three career starts against the Diamondbacks and has allowed one earned run over 14 innings in two outings at Chase Field.

    De La Rosa has electric stuff but has been inconsistent early in his career, a trend that held during spring training. The 27-year-old won 14 games a year ago despite a lofty 4.67 ERA in large part because of 63 walks in 188 2/3 innings. The Cubs roughed up De La Rosa in two meetings last season, tagging him for seven runs over 11 innings.


    1. The Cubs (2-0) have not started 3-0 since winning their first four games in 1995.

    2. Goldschmidt was 7-for-18 with two homers and six RBIs in five games against Chicago last season.

    3. The Cubs have won 11 straight regular-season road games dating to Sept. 15 of last season, one shy of matching the club record of 12 straight in 1945.

    PREDICTION: Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 3


    Preview: Rangers at Angels

    GAME: Texas Rangers (1-2) at Los Angeles Angels (0-2)
    DATE/TIME: Thursday, April 07 – 10:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Anaheim, California

    The Los Angeles Angels were outscored 15-1 while losing their first two games of the season and aim to display improvement on Thursday when they open a four-game home series against the Texas Rangers. The Angels had just seven hits while losing consecutive games against the Chicago Cubs and center fielder Mike Trout and designated hitter Albert Pujols are looking for their first hits.

    Los Angeles wanted to start strong in the highly competitive American League West but the opening series ranked as a disaster. “Obviously, we’re not off on the right foot,” right fielder Kole Calhoun told reporters. “But there’s a lot of baseball still to play.” The Rangers won their opener against the Seattle Mariners before losing the next two due to bullpen collapses, including allowing five runs in the ninth during Wednesday’s 9-5 loss. “I’d hope that we wouldn’t panic in two games,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said afterward. “You give hitters multiple at-bats, long looks, they become better hitters.”

    TV: 10:05 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Rangers LH Derek Holland (2015: 4-3, 4.91 ERA) vs. Angels LH Hector Santiago (2015: 9-9, 3.59)

    Holland is hoping for an injury-free season after making just 16 appearances (15 starts) over the past two seasons due to knee and shoulder injuries. He has a winning record against the Angels but has also struggled as he is 9-6 with a 5.52 ERA in 23 career appearances (20 starts). Pujols is batting .348 with three homers in 23 at-bats against Holland, while Trout is batting .313 with two homers in 32 at-bats.

    Santiago set career bests for starts (32), innings (180 2/3) and strikeouts (162) last season while holding opposing batters to a .227 average. He typically doesn’t work into the later innings and he also is plagued by the long ball as he gave up a career-worst 29 homers last season. Santiago is 6-2 with a 3.36 ERA in 16 career appearances (13 starts) against the Rangers.


    1. Texas hit one homer – by DH Prince Fielder – and allowed nine in the three-game set against Seattle.

    2. The Angels batted .115 in the two games against the Cubs as Trout was hitless in eight at-bats and Pujols was 0-for-7.

    3. Rangers SS Elvis Andrus, who averaged 157.8 games played over the past four seasons, was rested in Wednesday’s series finale against the Mariners.

    PREDICTION: Angels 3, Rangers 1


    National League games

    Phillies @ Reds
    Morton is 1-5, 8.29 in his last seven starts; his last four starts went over the total. He is 6-7, 4.04 in 17 career starts against the Reds, 4-2, 3.83 in nine starts in this park.

    Stephenson is making his MLB debut here.

    Philly lost six of last eight games with Cincinnati.

    Marlins @ Nationals
    Strasburg is 3-0, 0.93 in his last four starts; three of his last four starts stayed under. Strasburg was 2-0, 0.00 (11 IP) against the Braves LY.

    Roark is 0-3, 4.28 in his last five starts; four of his last six starts stayed under total. He is 2-4, 3.32 in 12 games against Miami (six starts).

    Washington won its first two games this season, allowing four runs. Marlins lost their first two games, allowing 15 runs.

    Dodgers @ Giants
    Wood is 2-3, 6.35 in his last five starts; he is 0-1, 7.27 in three games (one start) against the Giants. Four of his last five starts went over the total.

    Peavy is 4-0, 1.96 in his last six starts; he is 14-3, 2.38 in 29 starts against LA.

    Dodgers outscored San Diego 25-0 in a brutal three-game beatdown at Petco. Giants won two of three games in their series in Milwaukee.

    Cubs @ Diamondbacks
    Lackey is 3-1, 2.34 in his last seven starts; he is 2-0, 1.80 in three starts vs Arizona.

    de la Rosa is 2-3, 7.59 in his last five starts; four of his last five starts went over. He is 0-1, 5.73 in two starts against the Cubs.

    Chicago swept two games in Anaheim, allowing one run. Arizona lost two of three to Colorado in its first series this week.

    American League games

    Astros @ Bronx
    Fiers is 0-1, 4.75 in his last five starts (over 3-1-1). This is his first start against the Bronx Bombers.

    Eovaldi is 5-1, 3.73 in his last eight starts; three of his last four starts stayed under the total. He is 1-0, 0.90 in three starts against the Astros.

    Astros are 5-4 in their last nine games Bronx.

    Red Sox @ Indians
    Kelly is 7-0, 2.74 in his last eight starts; over is 8-1-1 in his last ten. He is 1-0, 0.82 in two career starts vs Cleveland.

    Salazar is 2-2, 2.66 in his las four starts; six of his last seven starts stayed under the total. He is 2-0, 1.46 in two career starts against Boston.

    Boston is 3-5 in its last eight games with Cleveland.

    Rangers @ Angels
    Holland is 1-3, 8.90 in his last six starts; four of his last five starts went over total. He is 9-6, 5.52 in 20 career starts against the Halos.

    Santiago is 2-0, 5.72 in his last six starts. is 6-2, 3.36 in 13 career starts against Texas.

    Angels scored one run in losing their first two games, against the Cubs. Rangers lost to Seattle the last two days, allowing 19 runs.

    White Sox @ A’s
    Latos makes his Wite Sox debut here; he is 0-2, 11.48 in his last four starts; four of his last five starts went over. He hasn’t allowed a run in 9.1 IP in two games (one start) vs Oakland.

    Graveman is 0-5, 6.52 in his last eight starts; three of his last four starts went over the total. He has never pitched against the White Sox. .

    Chicago won seven of last ten games against the A’s.

    Twins @ Orioles
    Hughes is 1-3, 7.02 in his last four starts; he is 8-5, 4.57 in 20 career starts against the Orioles.

    Jimenez is 1-1, 3.75 in his last four starts; fourof his last five starts stayed under the total. He is 4-3, 2.72 in eight career starts against Minnesota.

    Orioles won their first two games with Minnesota this week, allowing four runs.


    StatFox Super Situations™ – FoxSheets

    Play Against – All favorites with a money line of -110 or higher (CLEVELAND) first 12 games of the season, non-playoff team from prior season who won their last 3 games
    107-87 since 1997. ( 55.2% | 49.7 units )
    1-3 this year. ( 25.0% | -1.9 units )

    StatFox Situational Power Trends™ – FoxSheets

    MINNESOTA is 40-26 (+23.1 Units) against the money line after 2 straight games where they committed no errors over the last 2 seasons.
    The average score was: MINNESOTA (4.5) , OPPONENT (3.5)


    Dave Essler | MLB ML – Thursday, Apr 7 2016 10:05PM

    ML 918 ANA (-110) vs 917 TEX
    ‘triple-dime bet’

    Analysis: First off, the Angels had Wednesday off. Yes, they’re 0-2 and haven’t hit – they’ve faced Lester and Arrieta. Derek Holland is neither, and quite frankly was crushed when he came back late last year. He pi ¯tched well in his last Spring outing against a B Cubs team – but has pitched less than 100 innings in the last two years. He won’t walk many – but gives up the long ball, and the fact that he’s around the K zone is good in this situation since the Angels tend to be free swingers. Add that to the Rangers bullpen collapse on Wednesday (and then having to fly to LA while the Angels rest) and we have advantages almost everywhere. Santiago was a machine in the first half last season (an All-Star, actually) and then must have either read his own press clippings or simply got tired – he was hit hard the second half. This is still the first half. If he keeps Odor off the bases and Beltre in the park, he should be fine. This is a huge early season in-division statement game. The Angels pen was great (1.18 WHIP) at home last season – they were 17 games over .500 at home (horrid on the road) – and won three more than they lost against LHP’s. The AL West was the Rangers’ undoing last year as they were under .500 in their own division, and one has to wonder what lingering effects there are from losing three straight to Toronto in the playoffs last season. So, this is ALL on Holland for the Rangers, who’s pen has been used a LOT the last two days – far from enough to even consider. The situation is right and the matchup is right for our first 3* play this season – and I MIGHT add one.


    Baseball Crusher

    Chicago Cubs -142 over Arizona Diamondbacks
    (System Record: 4-0)
    Overall Record: 4-0

    Minnesota Twins + Baltimore Orioles – OVER 8.5

    Cleveland Indians -135 over Boston Red Sox

    San Francisco Giants -113 over LA Dodgers

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