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MLB • Tuesday Service Plays • 4/19/16

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    Five to Follow MLB Betting: Tuesday, April 19, 2016, Opening Line Report
    by Alan Matthews

    If I’m a non-AL East team playing the New York Yankees in April and getting them out of the way for at least a series, then I’m thankful. That’s because that New York bullpen is going to be ridiculous once lefty Aroldis Chapman comes off suspension early next month. It’s already filthy with right-hander Dellin Betances and lefty Andrew Miller. Those two each struck out the side in their one inning pitched against Seattle on Sunday. Of the 33 outs gotten by the duo combined this season, 27 have been by strikeout. They have faced 38 batters allowed an aggregate five hits, no earned runs and walked two. In seven of their 11 combined appearances, either Betances or Miller has struck out the side. Beat the Yankees now folks because it’s going to be much tougher soon. Note: no trends available for Tuesday’s games as of this writing.

    A’s at Yankees (-160, 8)

    New York was able to avoid being swept at home by the Mariners on Sunday thanks in part to a two-run homer by Alex Rodriguez. Manager Joe Girardi was hitting A-Rod in the No. 3 hole but he had been struggling mightily. He was moved to sixth on Sunday and Carlos Beltran up to No. 3. Rodriguez’s homer ended a 19 at-bat hitless streak, two shy of the longest drought of his career. It was career dinger No. 689. He’s still not close to the Mendoza Line at .118 on the season. The Yankees were just 1-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series. They go with Michael Pineda (1-1, 6.55) here. He struggled in his debut but was good last time out, allowing two earned runs over six innings in Toronto. He has faced Oakland three times in his career but those were all five years ago while he was still with Seattle. It’s lefty Eric Surkamp (0-1, 4.00) for the A’s and I doubt he’s in the rotation much longer. Surkamp has yet to last more than 4.2 innings in two starts. He has never faced New York.

    Early lean:
    Yankees and over.

    Mets at Phillies (+100, 7)

    How will young Phillies right-hander Vincent Velasquez (2-0, 0.00) follow the most dominant outing of his career? Last Thursday, he threw a three-hit shutout with 16 strikeouts and no walks against San Diego. That’s a game score of 97 and it could hold up as the best of the season. There were only seven better games in 2015, topped by Max Scherzer’s 17-strikeout no-hitter that had a score of 104, the second-highest in MLB history. There have been only 13 game scores of 100 or higher in a nine-inning game. Velasquez was the fifth-youngest pitcher to finish with at least 14 strikeouts and no walks, joining Kerry Wood (he has highest game score), Vida Blue, Dwight Gooden and Jose Fernandez. The Padres swung at 38 of the 79 fastballs Velasquez threw and put just six in play. Last year as an Astros rookie, Velasquez allowed three runs in 8.1 innings vs. the Mets. New York goes with Logan Verrett with Jacob deGrom still out. Verrett blanked the Marlins on three hits over six innings on Wednesday in deGrom’s spot.

    Early lean:
    Phillies and under.

    Dodgers at Braves (+121, 7.5)

    Last July, the Dodgers were involved in a 13-player trade with the Marlins and Braves in which Los Angeles got pitcher Alex Wood, among others. He faces his former teammates for the first time here. I was really high on Wood (1-1, 4.50) while with Atlanta but he’s been uneven in Dodger blue. He wasn’t good in start No. 1 this year but was last Wednesday against Arizona, allowing just one run on five hits over seven innings. Only a few Braves have faced him and obviously with other teams. Atlanta started 0-9 but won three straight in Miami over the weekend so the Braves try for home win No. 1. They were scheduled to start Matt Wisler, but he was needed to pitch in relief in the 10th inning Sunday in the Braves’ 6-5 win. So now it’s expected to be Julio Teheran (0-2, 6.35). He has gotten progressively worse in his three starts this season. The Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez is 4-for-12 off him with a homer and four RBIs. Yasiel Puig is 4-for-6 with a homer.

    Early lean:
    Dodgers and over.

    Angels at White Sox (-125, 8.5)

    Who will be the best Matt/Mat? It’s Matt Shoemaker (1-1, 6.00) for the Angels. He was crushed in his season debut against Texas in Anaheim but shut out Oakland on one hit over six innings last Wednesday on the road. Shoemaker really struggled on the road in 2015 with a 5.04 ERA in 15 outings. Shoemaker faced the White Sox once last year and allowed seven runs — three homers — in 5.2 innings. Avisail Garcia is 2-for-3 off him with two dingers. Brett Lawrie is 6-for-12 with a homer. It’s Mat Latos (2-0, 0.75) for the Pale Hose and he has been a terrific free-agent signing thus far. Latos has gone six innings in both starts and allowed just four total hits. This will be his home debut. Andrelton Simmons hits him well, going 5-for-9 with two doubles. Mike Trout is 1-for-6 with two strikeouts. Trout has done very little this season.

    Early lean:
    White Sox and under.

    Cubs at Cardinals (-118, 7.5)

    This is nationally televised on the MLB Network and should have live betting at sportsbooks. This probably will be the best rivalry in baseball this season with the Cubs stealing away Jason Heyward and John Lackey this offseason from the Cardinals and Heyward saying he left because he expected the Cards to start slipping because of their collective age. There has been other chirping back and forth. Chicago starts Jason Hammel (1-0, 0.75), who looks like a different guy than the one that was really bad at the end of 2015. Hammel has allowed only eight hits over 12 innings. He was 1-1 with a 5.73 ERA in three starts a year ago vs. the Cardinals. Randal Grichuk is 2-for-6 with a homer and three RBIs off him. Yadier Molina is 6-for-13 with three doubles. Cards lefty Jaime Garcia (1-0, 2.40) comes off the best of his career, a complete-game one-hitter against the Brewers with a career-high 13 strikeouts. The lone hit was a single in the sixth inning. Garcia didn’t face the Cubs in 2015. Heyward is 2-for-12 off him. Dexter Fowler is 0-for-9.

    Early lean:
    Cardinals and under.


    Preview: Brewers at Twins

    GAME: Milwaukee Brewers (5-8) at Minnesota Twins (4-9)
    DATE/TIME: Tuesday, April 19 – 1:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota

    The Minnesota Twins could have used some help from the elements while stumbling through a season-opening nine-game skid. The Twins were fortunate enough to beat the rain and visiting Milwaukee on Monday and will carry a four-game winning streak into Tuesday afternoon’s matchup with the Brewers.

    Minnesota rolled up a season-high seven runs in the opener of the four-game, home-and-home interleague series before play was called after six innings following a rain delay of 2 hours, 6 minutes. Three-time batting champion Joe Mauer extended his hitting streak to nine games with an RBI double that also moved him past Harmon Killebrew for fifth place on the Twins’ all-time list with 1,714 hits. Milwaukee has dropped three straight and five of its last seven games, allowing 46 runs in that span. The Brewers will send the struggling Wily Peralta to the mound while Minnesota counters with Ervin Santana before the series shifts to Milwaukee.

    TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee), FSN North (Minnesota)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Brewers RH Wily Peralta (0-3, 10.13 ERA) vs. Twins RH Ervin Santana (0-1, 3.00)

    Three starts have led to three ugly performances from Peralta, who has yet to pitch beyond five innings while giving up a total of 16 runs over 13 1/3 frames. In his first road start, he was touched for five runs and seven hits over five innings at St. Louis on Thursday after surrendering three homers in his previous turn against Houston. The 27-year-old Dominican is 1-1 with a 6.30 ERA in two career starts versus the Twins.

    Santana has turned in a pair of quality starts since his rain-shortened season debut but remains in search of his first victory. He was a hard-luck loser after yielding three runs and seven hits while striking out six in seven innings versus the Chicago White Sox following six innings of two-run ball at Kansas City. Santana has lost both career starts versus the Brewers, getting tagged for 12 runs and 19 hits over 12 frames.


    1. Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe (intercostal) is expected to be placed on the 15-day disabled list before Tuesday’s game.

    2. Brewers OF Ryan Braun collected his 99th and 100th RBIs in interleague play, tying Alex Rodriguez for the fifth-most since the 2007 season.

    3. Twins closer Glen Perkins, who is on the DL, received a second opinion on his ailing shoulder that suggested rest and rehab.

    PREDICTION: Twins 6, Brewers 3


    Preview: Mariners at Indians

    GAME: Seattle Mariners (5-7) at Cleveland Indians (5-5)
    DATE/TIME: Tuesday, April 19 – 6:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Progressive Field, Cleveland, Ohio

    The Seattle Mariners have been a better team on the road this season with four wins in six games and hope to build off that with the next six contests away from home. Sluggers Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz look to continue warming up when their Mariners visit the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday to open a three-game series.

    Cano, whose next appearance will be the 1,700th of his career, is 5-for-16 with a homer and three RBIs during a four-game hitting streak while Cruz went 5-for-12 with three doubles as Seattle won two of three over the weekend at the New York Yankees. Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco will attempt to cool off Cano and Cruz after the Indians suffered through a rough series on the mound against the visiting New York Mets, allowing 17 runs in losing two of three. All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis leads the Cleveland offense with four multihit games in his last seven outings. The Indians could also add outfielders Lonnie Chisenhall (wrist) and Michael Brantley (shoulder) to the roster at some point in the series.

    TV: 6:10 p.m. ET, ROOT (Seattle), SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Mariners LH Wade Miley (0-1, 8.25 ERA) vs. Indians RH Carlos Carrasco (1-0, 3.46)

    Miley has struggled in his first two starts with the Mariners, allowing 11 runs on 17 hits in 12 innings, but has struck out 14 with no walks. The 29-year-old from Louisiana has especially had trouble against right-handed batters, who are hitting .364 against him. Rajai Davis is 2-for-5 with two homers and Juan Uribe is 7-for-25 with five RBIs versus Miley, who has given up four earned runs in four career innings against the Indians.

    Carrasco was dominant last time out at Tampa Bay, permitting one run on four hits with eight strikeouts and one walk over eight innings. The 29-year-old Venezuela native would like to turn things around at home where he was 5-8 with a 5.03 ERA in 2015, despite a breakout season (14 wins overall). Cano is 5-for-9 with a homer and two doubles against Carrasco, who surrendered one run in 6 1/3 career innings versus Seattle.


    1. Cleveland 1B-DH Carlos Santana leads the team with eight RBIs, but is 2-for-25 with six strikeouts in the last seven games.

    2. Seattle 3B Kyle Seager is 0-for-17 over the last four contests to drop his average to .119.

    3. The Indians won four of seven in the season series in 2015, but dropped two of three at home.

    PREDICTION: Indians 6, Mariners 1


    Preview: Blue Jays at Orioles

    GAME: Toronto Blue Jays (7-7) at Baltimore Orioles (8-3)
    DATE/TIME: Tuesday, April 19 – 7:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland

    The Baltimore Orioles have cooled since their historic start with losses in three of the last four games. The Orioles will have had two full days off to get their momentum changed when the host the Toronto Blue Jays in the opener of a three-game series on Tuesday.

    Baltimore won seven straight to open the season – its best start since moving from St. Louis following the 1953 season – but dropped three of the next four before Sunday’s finale at Texas was postponed. The Orioles’ pitching staff was strong the first time through the rotation but started to show some cracks on the second turn while surrendering an average of 5.8 runs in the last six games. Baltimore’s slugging lineup is matched by few teams in the majors but the Blue Jays happen to be one of those few with Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki in the middle of the order. Tulowitzki drove in a run and Donaldson and Bautista each scored during a four-run rally in the eighth inning on Monday that earned Toronto a 4-3 win and a split of the four-game series at Boston.

    TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, Sportsnet One (Toronto), MASN (Baltimore)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Blue Jays RH Marcus Stroman (2-0, 4.22 ERA) vs. Orioles RH Mike Wright (1-0, 7.20)

    Stroman sandwiched two quality starts around one dud in his three outings and limited the New York Yankees to two runs on three hits and two walks in eight innings to earn a win on Thursday. The Duke product went eight frames on opening day as well but was knocked around for five runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings without factoring in the decision against Boston on April 8. Stroman faced Baltimore on Sept. 30 last season and scattered one run and five hits over eight innings while striking out eight to pick up a win.

    Wright was skipped the first time through the rotation but will avoid another skip despite the rainout on Sunday, with the Orioles electing to push everyone back a day instead. Wright was knocked around for four runs on five hits and a walk in five innings at Boston in his first start on April 12 but got enough support from the offense to come out of it with a win. The 26-year-old was knocked around by Toronto during his 2015 rookie campaign, going 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA in three appearances – two starts.


    1. Orioles DH Pedro Alvarez is 4-for-24 with one extra-base hit on the season.

    2. Toronto CF Kevin Pillar is 6-for-7 in two games since being dropped from the leadoff spot in the order.

    3. Baltimore 3B Manny Machado hit safely in each of the first 11 games.

    PREDICTION: Blue Jays 6, Orioles 3


    Preview: Athletics at Yankees

    GAME: Oakland Athletics (6-7) at New York Yankees (5-6)
    DATE/TIME: Tuesday, April 19 – 7:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York

    After playing 10 of their first 13 contests at home, the Oakland Athletics will test their mettle with a 10-game road trip against three teams expected to be postseason contenders. Winners of two in a row overall, the Athletics begin a three-game series versus the New York Yankees on Tuesday before three tilts in Toronto and a four-game set against Detroit to conclude the trek.

    Billy Burns used his considerable speed to his advantage with a triple before scoring the go-ahead run in a 3-2 victory over Kansas City on Sunday. The 26-year-old leadoff hitter has scored four runs in his last four outings and is 12-for-32 (.375) with six runs scored in seven career meetings with New York. Speaking of the Yankees, an inability to convert with runners in scoring position has been their undoing of late – including a woeful 1-for-35 stretch in their three-game series versus Seattle over the weekend. Alex Rodriguez snapped an 0-for-19 stretch with a two-run homer as New York ended a four-game skid with a 4-3 victory on Sunday.

    TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, CSN California (Oakland), YES (New York)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Athletics LH Eric Surkamp (0-1, 4.00) vs. Yankees RH Michael Pineda (1-1, 6.55)

    Surkamp has yet to complete a five-inning stint this season, falling short by two outs in his debut on April 8 and one out five nights later in his encounter versus the Los Angeles Angels. The 28-year-old has allowed just two runs in each outing, but his four walks led to his undoing against the Angels. Surkamp, who will be making his 10th start and 46th appearance, has yet to face the Yankees in his career.

    After permitting three homers in his season-opening start, Pineda kept the ball in the park in his last outing but allowed three runs and as many walks in six innings to take the loss against the Blue Jays on Wednesday. The free passes are a bit discouraging for the 27-year-old, who yielded just 28 walks in 40 starts with the Yankees from 2014-15. While pitching for Seattle in 2011, Pineda limited the Athletics to a .185 batting average and permitted just four runs and struck out 19 over 18 innings en route to posting a 2-1 mark with a 2.00 ERA.


    1. Oakland has won 13 of its last 19 meetings with New York.

    2. New York LF Brett Gardner is 7-for-12 with one homer, two RBIs and two runs scored in his last three games.

    3. Athletics INF Eric Sogard is expected to have surgery on his ailing left knee and will likely miss at least the rest of the first half of the season, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

    PREDICTION: Yankees 4, Athletics 2


    Preview: Mets at Phillies

    GAME: New York Mets (6-6) at Philadelphia Phillies (6-8)
    DATE/TIME: Tuesday, April 19 – 7:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Vince Velasquez’s first season with Philadelphia has gotten off to a rousing start. The talented right-hander seeks a third straight dominant outing Tuesday when the Phillies host the New York Mets in the second contest of the three-game series.

    Velasquez came over last winter in the trade that sent closer Ken Giles to Houston and he has more than lived up to the hype. The 23-year-old has pitched 15 scoreless innings over his first two starts, allowing six hits while striking out 25. The first start in his Phillies career was a 1-0 win over the Mets on April 9, when he tossed six innings to help Philadelphia take two of three at Citi Field that weekend. New York gained a measure of revenge with a 5-1 triumph in Monday’s series opener as Noah Syndergaard delivered seven strong innings and David Wright homered twice.

    TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, SNY (New York), CSN (Philadelphia)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Mets RH Logan Verrett (0-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. Phillies RH Vince Velasquez (2-0, 0.00)

    Verrett made a spot-start in place of Jacob deGrom against Miami last week and logged six scoreless innings in a 2-1 victory. His only other work this season came in a one-inning relief appearance against Philadelphia on April 10, when he allowed a walk and an RBI double to Andres Blanco. Opponents are batting just .167 against the 25-year-old this season and he has yet to allow a hit with a runner in scoring position (0-for-6).

    Velasquez struck out 16 without a walk in last week’s dominant 3-0 victory against San Diego, as he continues to own righties (1-for-25) and lefties (5-for-26). Asdrubal Cabrera had a single and a double against Velasquez earlier this month, but the rest of his teammates went 1-for-26 that night. His 0.60 WHIP currently ranks second in the NL behind Clayton Kershaw’s 0.55 mark.


    1. Cabrera is 10-for-22 during a six-game hitting streak.

    2. New York 1B Lucas Duda has driven in two runs in each of the last two games after totaling one RBI over his previous nine outings.

    3. The Phillies have scored three runs or fewer in eight consecutive games.

    PREDICTION: Mets 7, Phillies 3


    Preview: Rockies at Reds

    GAME: Colorado Rockies (8-5) at Cincinnati Reds (6-7)
    DATE/TIME: Tuesday, April 19 – 7:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio

    The Colorado Rockies haven’t been shy about flexing their muscle and slugging their way to victory while the Cincinnati Reds have been rather generous with serving up the longball. The homer-happy Rockies vie for their sixth win in seven outings overall and 14th in 21 meetings with the host Reds on Tuesday when the teams play the second contest of their three-game series.

    Rookie Trevor Story launched his National League-leading eighth homer and Ben Paulsen added a three-run shot in Monday’s 5-1 victory for the Rockies, who lead the majors with 25 homers. Conversely, Cincinnati has allowed a majors high-tying 22 blasts – including 12 in its last four games – and 53 runs in dropping six of its last seven contests. Zack Cozart takes a nine-game hitting streak into Tuesday’s tilt versus starter Jorge De La Rosa, against whom he is 3-for-6 in his career. Colorado’s Nolan Arenado, who was named NL Co-Player of the Week on Monday, has multi-hit performances in two straight contests and has 13 hits total in his last eight contests.

    TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, ROOT (Colorado), FSN Ohio (Cincinnati)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Rockies LH Jorge De La Rosa (1-1, 8.80 ERA) vs. Reds RH Alfredo Simon (0-1, 12.15)

    De La Rosa recorded his finest start of the young season on Thursday, albeit allowing four runs on as many hits in 6 2/3 innings in an 11-6 win over San Francisco. The 35-year-old kept the ball in the park and only walked one batter after yielding four homers and seven free passes in his previous two starts. De La Rosa has split six career decisions versus the Reds despite sporting a 7.42 ERA in 11 career appearances.

    Simon’s second start of the season didn’t last long, as he allowed five runs on four hits in a career-low two-thirds of an inning on Wednesday. The 49-pitch outing didn’t sit well with Simon, who was back on the mound two nights later and promptly permitted two homers and four runs total in one inning of work. The 34-year-old Dominican doesn’t have fond memories of his meetings with Colorado, yielding seven runs on 10 hits in his last encounter to drop his career mark to 0-2 with a gaudy 7.47 ERA while allowing the Rockies to bat .384 against him.


    1. Cincinnati 1B Joey Votto is 0-for-6 following a five-game hitting streak.

    2. Colorado RF Gerardo Parra is 0-for-8 with four strikeouts following a five-game hitting streak.

    3. Reds RF Jay Bruce has hit safely in three straight and four of his last five contests.

    PREDICTION: Rockies 5, Reds 2


    Preview: Nationals at Marlins

    GAME: Washington Nationals (9-3) at Miami Marlins (4-7)
    DATE/TIME: Tuesday, April 19 – 7:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Marlins Park, Miami, Florida

    The Miami Marlins needed six chances before finally breaking through for their first home victory and look to make it two in a row when they face Stephen Strasburg and the visiting Washington Nationals on Tuesday night. Miami also ended a four-game overall skid with a 6-1 victory in the opener of the four-game series.

    Slugger Giancarlo Stanton homered and delivered an RBI single while Marcell Ozuna drove in a pair of runs for the Marlins, who entered the series 0-5 at home. It marked the second straight loss following a seven-game winning streak for the National League East-leading Nationals. Reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper had his home run streak halted at four games but accounted for Washington’s lone run Monday with a sacrifice fly, giving him 11 RBIs during a five-game string. Strasburg goes for his third victory in as many starts when he opposes Miami left-hander Adam Conley.

    TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MASN (Washington), FSN Florida (Miami)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Stephen Strasburg (2-0, 1.98 ERA) vs. Marlins LH Adam Conley (0-0, 3.86)

    Strasburg had a lot to do with Atlanta’s wretched 0-9 start, limiting the Braves to one run on six hits over six innings in his season debut before holding the Braves to two runs on four hits while striking out seven over 7 2/3 innings eight days later following a bout with the flu. Strasburg is 10-7 lifetime versus Florida but he was 1-2 with a 4.95 ERA in four starts versus the Marlins in 2015. Ozuna is 8-for-22 with two homers and six RBIs against Strasburg.

    Conley appeared on his way to a rocky season debut against the Nationals, giving up three runs on two walks and a wild pitch in one inning before a rain delay ended his day. The 25-year-old rebounded with a stellar effort at the New York Mets on Wednesday, striking out nine and permitting only four hits over six scoreless innings. Conley beat the Nationals during his rookie season in 2015, giving up three runs and two solo homers over five innings.


    1. Marlins LF Christian Yelich is 4-for-8 with three runs scored in three games versus Washington this season.

    2. Nationals CF Michael Taylor, who opened the season 1-for-16, has multiple hits in three of his last seven games.

    3. Marlins 2B Dee Gordon has a four-game hitting streak and has reach safely in 10 of 11 contests.

    PREDICTION: Nationals 5, Marlins 3


    Preview: Dodgers at Braves

    GAME: Los Angeles Dodgers (8-5) at Atlanta Braves (3-9)
    DATE/TIME: Tuesday, April 19 – 7:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia

    Alex Wood has pitched in 100 games in his major-league career, but undoubtedly there will be extra adrenaline when the Dodgers’ left-hander takes the mound Tuesday in Atlanta for the opener of a three-game series. Wood makes his first career appearance against the Braves, the team Wood made his big-league debut with in 2013 before he was dealt to Los Angeles last summer.

    The Dodgers have won four of their past five following Sunday’s 3-1 victory over the Giants, when catcher Yasmani Grandal collected two hits and a RBI in his second consecutive start as Los Angeles continues working the 2015 All-Star back into the lineup following offseason surgery. Closer Kenley Jansen picked up his fifth save Sunday, allowing only two hits with no walks and six strikeouts in his past five appearances. Atlanta started the season with nine consecutive losses but comes in after a surprising three-game sweep at Miami, a successful weekend fueled by strong bullpen work. Braves relievers gave up only two runs in 13 innings against the Marlins with three saves, including Matt Wisler’s first career save, two days before he is expected to start the series opener against Los Angeles.

    TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, SportsNet Los Angeles, FSN South (Atlanta)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers LH Alex Wood (1-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. Braves RH Julio Teheran (0-2, 6.35)

    Wood rebounded from a rough first start to beat the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, giving up one run on five hits in seven innings. He surrendered five runs on eight hits in five innings to lose to the Giants on April 7, and is averaging 1.2 strikeouts-to-walks after posting a 3.12 ratio in 86 appearances (55 starts) with the Braves. Wood went 5-6 with a 4.35 ERA after being traded to the Dodgers.

    With Atlanta’s bullpen stretched heading into extra innings Sunday, manager Fredi Gonzalez brought on Wisler (0-1, 4.61 ERA), who needed just six pitches to close out the Marlins. Teheran is making his fourth start of the young season, although he has given up 11 runs in 11 innings over the last two outings. Adrian Gonzalez is 4-for-12 with a double, a home run and two walks against Teheran.


    1. Atlanta 1B Freddie Freeman went 4-for-11 with two RBIs and three runs scored against Miami; Freeman entered the series hitting .080.

    2. Los Angeles relievers have not allowed a run in their past 14 innings.

    3. Atlanta RF Nick Markakis is 5-for-12 in three games hitting from the leadoff spot with three runs scored and four RBIs.

    PREDICTION: Braves 3, Dodgers 2


    Preview: Rays at Red Sox

    GAME: Tampa Bay Rays (5-7) at Boston Red Sox (6-6)
    DATE/TIME: Tuesday, April 19 – 7:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts

    The Tampa Bay Rays finally got just enough from the offense to pull out a pair of wins at home over the weekend and will try to keep the hits coming when they visit the Boston Red Sox for the opener of a three-game series on Monday. The Rays had dropped three straight while scoring a total of one run before squeezing out the two victories over the Chicago White Sox.

    Tampa Bay’s offense managed more than three runs in only three of its first 12 games, putting more pressure on a pitching staff that has allowed the fewest runs among American League East teams. The Rays broke out in a 7-2 win on Saturday and got just enough done on Sunday to reward Matt Moore’s stellar starting effort in a 3-2 win. The Red Sox are relying more on the offense than the pitching staff and had a letdown from the bullpen in the series finale against the Blue Jays on Sunday. Right-hander Koji Uehara, who had yet to allow a run this season, was charged with four in the eighth inning as Boston dropped the final two of the four-game set.

    TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Tampa Bay), NESN (Boston)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Rays LH Drew Smyly (0-2, 4.61 ERA) vs. Red Sox RH Joe Kelly (1-0, 10.13)

    Smyly turned in one of the rare sub-par outings for the Tampa Bay staff when he allowed five runs on six hits – three home runs – over 6 2/3 innings on April 4. The 26-year-old kept the ball in the park and on the corners in his next turn, striking out 11 over seven innings, but still absorbed the loss in a 4-1 final. Smyly has been strong against Boston in his career, owning a 3-1 record with a 1.77 ERA and 43 strikeouts over 40 2/3 total innings.

    Kelly was rocked for seven runs in three innings in his first start but was bailed out by the offense and did not factor in the decision. The offense and the defense took care of him against Baltimore on Wednesday, when he earned a win while allowing two runs on seven hits and five walks in five innings. Kelly made two starts against the Rays in his first full season with the Red Sox in 2015 and went 1-0 despite yielding a total of 10 runs and 17 hits in 10 innings.


    1. Rays RF Brandon Guyer went 5-for-6 with a home run and two RBIs in the last two games.

    2. Boston 3B Pablo Sandoval (shoulder) had an examination scheduled for Monday pushed back two weeks due to continued swelling.

    3. Tampa Bay 1B/DH Logan Morrison is 2-for-32 with 14 strikeouts.

    PREDICTION: Rays 6, Red Sox 4


    Preview: Tigers at Royals

    GAME: Detroit Tigers (7-4) at Kansas City Royals (8-4)
    DATE/TIME: Tuesday, April 19 – 7:15 PM EST
    WHERE: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

    The defending champion Kansas City Royals won eight of their first 10 games but are enduring their first losing streak of the season after a pair of tight losses at Oakland over the weekend. The Royals will try to avoid a third straight setback when they open up a six-game homestand by hosting the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday.

    Kansas City stole control of the American League Central from the Tigers last season, and Detroit would like to take it back. “We’re playing good baseball,” Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler told after a loss in Houston on Sunday dropped the team to 7-4. “I think that scoring early is something that we’d like to do, and have done in a couple of games earlier this season. We’ve played really good baseball so far. Got a day off (Monday) and (we’ll) get ready for Kansas City.” The Royals pitching staff has allowed three or fewer runs in 10 of the first 12 games but the offense stalled a bit over the weekend. Kansas City managed six hits and went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position in Sunday’s 3-2 setback.

    TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, FSN Detroit, FSN Kansas City

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Shane Greene (1-0, 2.57 ERA) vs. Royals RH Yordano Ventura (0-0, 2.45)

    Greene got a save at Miami with a perfect inning on April 5 but headed back to the rotation at Pittsburgh last week. The Florida native allowed two runs in the first inning but held the Pirates off over the next five frames while striking out seven to earn the win. Greene has been strong in two career starts against Kansas City but was not able to come out with a win, going 0-1 with a total of three runs allowed – one earned – in 13 innings.

    Ventura is still looking for his first win despite allowing a total of three runs in 11 innings during his first two outings. The Dominican Republic native cut his walk total from six to three in his second start at Houston on Wednesday and made it through six frames. Ventura is undefeated in six career games – five starts – against Detroit, posting a 4-0 record with a 3.86 ERA with 15 walks in 32.2 innings.


    1. Royals 1B Eric Hosmer hit safely in each of the last eight games and scored a run in six of eight.

    2. Detroit LF Justin Upton went 0-for-9 with five strikeouts on Saturday and Sunday.

    3. Kansas City 3B Mike Moustakas homered in four of his last eight games.

    PREDICTION: Royals 5, Tigers 2


    Preview: Astros at Rangers

    GAME: Houston Astros (5-8) at Texas Rangers (7-6)
    DATE/TIME: Tuesday, April 19 – 8:05 PM EST
    WHERE: Globe Life Park in Arlington, Arlington, Texas

    The Texas Rangers and Houston Astros have heated up a previous lukewarm rivalry and meet for the first time this season on Tuesday when a three-game series begins in Arlington. Texas won the American League West last season by two games over the wild-card Astros when they took the season series, 13-6.

    The rivalry wasn’t thriving during Interleague competition that began in 2001 but has taken off since Houston switched from the National League to the AL West in 2013. “What it means for baseball is you have two really good teams who have built their teams in somewhat different ways but arrive on the scene prepared to win,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch told reporters. “I’m glad that we were a part of it. We want to sustain that moving forward.” Texas first baseman Mitch Moreland recalls the lackluster atmosphere of a few years back and is amazed at the differences. “Last year, everything being so competitive, that was a fun one,” Moreland told reporters. “That added to the rivalry and it has definitely amped up over the years. It seems like before the stands were half full. Now wherever you go, you see either orange or red. It is fun going against a team like that and having an intrastate rivalry.”

    TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, ROOT (Houston), FSN Southwest (Texas)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros RH Scott Feldman (0-1, 3.48 ERA) vs. Rangers LH Derek Holland (1-0, 2.31)

    Feldman received a no-decision against Kansas City in his last start when he allowed just two unearned runs and seven hits over 6 1/3 innings. It was a much-improved performance from his first start of the campaign when he lost to Milwaukee and gave up four runs, five hits – two were homers – and three walks in just four innings. Feldman is 3-4 with a 4.14 ERA in nine career starts against Texas and has enjoyed success against third baseman Adrian Beltre (7-for-36) while struggling against shortstop Elvis Andrus (9-for-26).

    Holland was slated to start on Sunday but rain in Baltimore postponed the contest and he was pushed back to Tuesday. He defeated Seattle in his last start with 6 2/3 innings of four-hit shutout ball and has given up just eight hits in 11 2/3 innings in two outings. Holland is 3-2 with a 4.37 ERA in 10 career starts against Houston and he will be wary of shortstop Carlos Correa (4-for-5, two homers), center fielder Carlos Gomez (4-for-6) and catcher Jason Castro (4-for-8, one homer).


    1. Astros 2B Jose Altuve has four homers in 13 games – the best 13-game power start for a second baseman in Houston history.

    2. Texas rookie RF Nomar Mazara is batting .444 through seven games and has two or more hits on four occasions, including two three-hit outings.

    3. Houston 3B Luis Valbuena batted .313 with four homers and 11 RBIs against Texas last season.

    PREDICTION: Rangers 7, Astros 6


    Preview: Angels at White Sox

    GAME: Los Angeles Angels (6-7) at Chicago White Sox (8-5)
    DATE/TIME: Tuesday, April 19 – 8:10 PM EST
    WHERE: U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago, Illinois

    The Los Angeles Angels didn’t waste much time putting their three-game losing streak to bed while adding to the offensive troubles of the Chicago White Sox. After a five-run first inning set the tone in the series opener, the Angels look to hand the White Sox a fourth straight loss on Tuesday as the clubs continue their four-game set at U.S. Cellular Field.

    While Los Angeles erupted for 13 hits, Chicago mustered just three in a 7-0 setback on Monday and has scored five runs while striking out 38 times in its last four games. Adam Eaton recorded a double for the White Sox in the series opener and has hit safely in 10 of his 12 games this season heading into Tuesday’s tilt versus starter Matt Shoemaker, against whom he is 3-for-6 in his career. Los Angeles’ Kole Calhoun has done Eaton one better, hitting safely in 11-of-13 games this season as he delivered a two-run single in the decisive first inning on Monday. Veteran slugger Albert Pujols is mired in a 1-for-13 slump with three strikeouts in his last three games and is 3-for-11 lifetime versus Tuesday starter Mat Latos.

    TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, FSN West (Los Angeles), WPWR (Chicago)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Angels RH Matt Shoemaker (1-1, 6.00) vs. White Sox RH Mat Latos (2-0, 0.75)

    Shoemaker answered a rough debut with a stellar outing on Wednesday, allowing just one hit in six scoreless innings en route to a 5-1 win over Oakland. The 29-year-old is looking to make the most of his starts while left-hander Tyler Skaggs rehabs his ailing elbow at Triple-A Salt Lake. Shoemaker would love to exact revenge against Chicago after it recorded seven runs and nine hits over 5 2/3 innings in their last encounter to suffer the loss.

    Latos has enjoyed a strong start out of the blocks this season, allowing totals of one run and four hits in a pair of six-inning efforts to emerge victorious against Oakland (April 7) and Minnesota (Thursday). The 28-year-old already is halfway to his win total of last year, with all four of those coming with Miami before he saw limited time with both the Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers. Andrelton Simmons, who drove in a run among his three hits on Monday, is 5-for-9 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs in his career versus Latos.


    1. Angels 1B C.J. Cron collected three hits in the series opener, one fewer than his total in his previous 12 games.

    2. Chicago 3B Todd Frazier is 2-for-23 with 10 strikeouts in his last six contests.

    3. Angels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters that OF Daniel Nava is shut down from baseball activities after being placed on the disabled list with tendinitis in his left knee.

    PREDICTION: White Sox 3, Angels 2


    Preview: Cubs at Cardinals

    GAME: Chicago Cubs (10-3) at St. Louis Cardinals (7-6)
    DATE/TIME: Tuesday, April 19 – 8:15 PM EST
    WHERE: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri

    The St. Louis Cardinals entered their three-game series with the visiting Chicago Cubs as the highest-scoring team in the majors, but they were no match for their National League Central rival’s pitching staff in the opener. The Cardinals will try to get back to their run-scoring ways when they face Jason Hammel and the Cubs on Tuesday.

    Former Cardinal John Lackey and a trio of relievers combined to limit St. Louis to five hits in a 5-0 victory on Monday. It was the first shutout of the season for St. Louis, which entered averaging a major league-best 7.08 runs per game. One of the only bright spots in the opener for home fans was an 0-for-4 performance by Jason Heyward in his first game back in St. Louis after jilting the Cardinals to sign with Chicago over the winter. Heyward, who is 2-for-12 with three strikeouts against scheduled starter Jaime Garcia, is 1-for-16 over his last five games after hitting safely in seven of his first eight contests with the Cubs.

    TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, MLB Network, CSN Chicago Plus, FSN Midwest Plus (St. Louis)

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Jason Hammel (1-0, 0.75 ERA) vs. Cardinals LH Jaime Garcia (1-0, 2.40)

    Hammel has put his rocky finish to last season behind him with two terrific outings to begin the 2016 campaign. The 33-year-old has allowed just one run and eight hits over 12 innings thus far, though his seven walks are a bit of a concern. Hammel is 2-3 with a 5.97 ERA in seven starts against the Cardinals and has posted a whopping 6.57 ERA in five outings at Busch Stadium.

    Garcia turned in the best performance of his career last time out, striking out 13 in a one-hitter against Milwaukee. The 29-year-old issued just one walk in the gem, earning his first April victory since 2013. Garcia is 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA in six games (five starts) against the Cubs but hasn’t faced them since 2012.


    1. The Cubs are 10-0 when scoring four or more runs and 9-0 when hitting at least one homer.

    2. The Cardinals activated INF Ruben Tejada (quadriceps) from the disabled list Monday, but the former Met will remain in a utility role behind rookie SS Aledmys Diaz.

    3. Cubs CF Dexter Fowler is batting .378 after going 2-for-5 with a homer on Monday, but he is 0-for-9 with three strikeouts against Garcia.

    PREDICTION: Cardinals 4, Cubs 3


    Preview: Pirates at Padres

    GAME: Pittsburgh Pirates (7-6) at San Diego Padres (4-9)
    DATE/TIME: Tuesday, April 19 – 10:10 PM EST
    WHERE: Petco Park, San Diego, California

    Francisco Liriano is recovered from a hamstring injury and returns to the mound on Tuesday when the Pittsburgh Pirates open a three-game series against the host San Diego Padres. Liriano had his last turn skipped due to tightness and will attempt to pitch the Pirates to their third straight victory.

    Liriano last pitched on April 8 and his return will place the rotation back in order as well as help a stretched-out bullpen. “Having Francisco back in play is definitely an opportunity for us to leverage a strength,” manager Clint Hurdle told reporters. “I’d like to believe the continuity of the starts will give us more continuity in the back end of the bullpen and through the other guys out there, so we can settle guys down and find some routine and roles that we want to build upon.” The Pirates are opening a 10-game road trip and the Padres haven’t fared well at home with just a 1-5 mark. San Diego first baseman Wil Myers emerged from a slump to go 7-for-14 in a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks to raise his season mark to .288.

    TV: 10:10 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), FSN San Diego

    PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates LH Francisco Liriano (1-0, 2.45 ERA) vs. Padres RH Colin Rea (0-1, 5.56)

    Liriano received a no-decision in his last start when he gave up three runs and five hits in five innings against the Cincinnati Reds. In six career starts against the Padres, he has struck out 49 in 38 innings but has only a 1-2 record to go with a stellar 2.13 ERA. Liriano has thrived against left fielder Matt Kemp (1-for-14) and catcher Derek Norris (1-for-13) but has struggled with shortstop Alexei Ramirez (13-for-31) and center fielder Melvin Upton Jr. (8-for-24).

    Rea pitched well against Philadelphia in his last outing but suffered the loss in Wednesday’s contest. He gave up two runs (one earned) and five hits in seven innings during a 2-1 defeat. Rea is making his ninth big-league start and he went 2-2 with a 4.26 ERA in six starts last season.


    1. Pittsburgh went 27-6 against NL West clubs last season, including a 14-3 road mark.

    2. Kemp has hit four of San Diego’s nine homers – he didn’t hit his fourth homer last season until June 18.

    3. Pirates LF Starling Marte (hand) is expected back in the lineup after being limited to defensive replacement duty on Sunday one day after being plunked by a pitch from Milwaukee’s Taylor Jungmann.

    PREDICTION: Pirates 6, Padres 4

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