December 18th MLB news ... Welcome to Baseball gambling online, the informational site for baseball bettors.
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TAMPA BAY RAYS (43-41) at KANSAS CITY ROYALS (46-33)
In the second game of a double header, the AL Central leading Kansas City Royals will take on the Tampa Bay Rays at Kauffman Stadium.
The Rays have played much of this season in first place of the AL East, but a recent stretch of 11 losses in their last 14 games has knocked them down to third in the division; two games behind the Yankees. They have lost each of their last four series, three of which were against AL East opponents while also being swept over four games against the Cleveland Indians. They nearly took a sweep at the hands of the division leading Yankees in their last time out, but were able to pull out a nice 8-1 win on Sunday behind nine hits and help from New Yorks three errors. Going into Tuesday, 3B Evan Longoria (.277) was riding a four-game hitting streak and has multiple knocks in four of his last 10 outings. The Royals are once again the pacesetters for the central division, but have struggled recently with a 2-5 record since June 29th. After being swept by the Astros, they went back home and split four games with their divisional foes; the Twins. Each of their victories came by way of a 3-2 score and they did so on Sunday when they had just four hits and won on a walk-off double from 1B Eric Hosmer (.278). With another hitless night, 3B Mike Moustakas (.301) has seen his numbers drop recently and is a meager 4-for-36 (.111) with one extra-base hit in the past 10 contests. Tampa Bay seems to get solid pitchers out of nowhere and one of them will be starting this game in the form of RHP Matt Andriese (3-2, 3.24 ERA) as he goes against RHP Edinson Volquez (8-4, 3.48 ERA) of the host team. Before Tuesdays early game, the Rays had compiled a 23-16 road record, but it could prove difficult to improve on that mark against a Kansas City team which is 24-15 at home. The two clubs have seen each other 13 times since the start of the 2013 campaign with the Royals dominating to the tune of a 10-3 record while going 5-1 at home during the stretch. Trends show that Tampa Bay is 11-3 (.786) in July road games over the past two seasons while the Royals are 85-22 (.794) when the money line is +125 to -125 in the same timeframe. The trio of 2B Tim Beckham (Hamstring), OF Desmond Jennings (Knee) and C John Jaso (Wrist) are currently riding the DL as the situations of 3B Mike Moustakas (Personal) and OF Lorenzo Cain (Hamstring) are something to watch leading up to first pitch.
Andriese had a solid yet unspectacular minor league career leading up to the 2015 season, but injuries and a solid performance at triple-A (2.88 ERA in six games) earned him a trip to Tampa Bay. Hes made the most of his time with the team, showing great control (1.5 BB/9) in his 41.2 frames, but has yet to pitch more than six innings in any of his outings. Things could move in the other direction as the season progresses with batters currently hitting a measly .267 BABIP as he shows limited strikeout ability (5.8 K/9) and the propensity to give up the long ball (1.30 HR/9). Andriese should feel great after his last start in which he threw six innings of shutout baseball, giving up just one hit with five strikeouts (0 walks) against Boston. He has not seen the Royals in his short career and could benefit from both Moustakas (.301) and Cain (.305) missing the game as they lead the team in average and have 51 combined extra-base hits and a collective 5.2 WAR. On the other side of things, 2B Omar Infante (.231) is having his worst year since 2007 with his lowest ISO (.076) since his sophomore campaign and his highest strikeout rate (15.8percent) since 2007. The Rays bullpen has gone 14-17 with a 3.88 ERA (1.31 WHIP) and are 34-for-42 (81percent) in save chances. Brad Boxberger (2.48 ERA, 20 saves) is currently manning the ninth inning and is 20-for-22 (91percent) in his save opportunities while striking out 45 batters in 32.2 innings.
Volquez has bounced around a bunch since the past five seasons as a member of five different teams with ineffective results until last year. He had an ERA greater than 4.10 in each campaign from 2009-2013 as he struggled immensely from control, but he has dropped his walks down to a career low mark in each of the last two seasons, posting better than a 3.50 ERA each time. His strikeouts have taken a hit (6.9 K/9) compared to his career average of 8.0 K/9, but he has allowed very few homers (0.66 HR/9) as his HR/FBpercent is at a career-low mark of 7.4percent. In his career against Tampa Bay, Volquez has gone 2-0 (2-1 team record) with a 2.66 ERA (1.03 WHIP) and was great (8 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 K) in a victory over them last year. SS Asdrubel Cabrera (3-for-8, 1 HR, 2 RBI), 3B Evan Longoria (3-for-9, 3 RBI) and OF Grady Sizemore (2-for-4, 1 HR, 1 RBI) have had success in limited at-bats against the righty while 1B James Loney (2-for-15, 3 K) has had his issues in the matchup. Kansas City owns the best bullpen in baseball right now and they are 14-5 with a 2.03 ERA (1.03 WHIP), successfully saving 25-of-34 (74percent) games. Greg Holland (2.74 ERA, 16 saves) has one blown save on the year while giving up a mere 12 hits in his 23 innings on the mound.
The American League’s dominance of the All-Star game is startling. Undefeated since 1996, the casual observer might assume th BMW Motorcyles Rental in Costa Rica ey were playing against a college team, not the National League’s best players. Ever since Bud Selig made World Series home-field advantage contingent on the All-Star game’s result, it has aided the AL in the World Series as well. Simply put, the impact of home-field can’t be underestimated. As the 2010 edition approaches and lineups are announced July 4, here’s the starting lineup that, regardless of whether or not they’ll be voted in, gives the AL the best chance of continuing their dominance in The Midsummer Classic.
Starting Pitcher: Cliff Lee, Mariners- Due to the sheer number of pitchers, this is always a difficult spot to select. This year is no different, as many players are having great years, making it hard for players to separate themselves. The slightest of nods goes to Lee because of his dominance of late, pitching three straight complete games. He’s also a sentimental favorite after recovering from an injury that kept him out for the first month of the season; if not for that setback, his total of seven wins could be far higher. Perhaps the biggest question surrounding Lee is if he’ll even be in the American League by the time of the All-Star game; he’s a prime candidate for a trade, and the Mets and Dodgers of the NL have been discussed as possible destinations.
If not Lee, David Price, the league ERA leader, would be an excellent selection. He has quickly gone from an uncertain talent to the undisputed ace of the Rays. This honor would be the culmination of his ascendance.
Catcher: Joe Mauer, Twins- As long as Mauer stays healthy and continues to play near his potential, this position shouldn’t be in much doubt in the years to come. He has established himself as one of the game’s best players and the only thing lagging so far this season is his number of home runs. After suffering a nagging injury at the beginning of the season, his power production should dramatically increase in the second half of the season.
First Base: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers- This may be the hardest selection of any position in the league; either Cabrera or Justin Morneau would be a very worthy selection. Although his batting average is slightly lower than that of the former AL MVP, Cabrera gets the nod because his 20 home runs and 68 RBI compare favorably to the 16 and 52 for Morneau.
Second Base: Robinson Cano, Yankees- An MVP candidate on the best team in baseball, Cano is having an absolute breakout year. His .353 average leads the league and no other second basemen is close to his power totals of 16 home runs and 54 RBI.
Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Red Sox- Beltre has enjoyed a resurgence this year after leaving Seattle. With a .346 average to go along with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, and always a steady glove, Beltre gets the nod over Evan Longoria.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter, Yankees- In a great contrast to the American League’s abundance of talent at shortstop in years past, there is not a single AL shortstop hitting .300 this year. Although he’s underachieved thus far at the plate, Jeter is the choice due to superb defense (second highest fielding percentage of any shortstop in the league) and continued leadership on the best team in the majors. Also, although his offensive numbers are a disappointment for him, he still ranks in the top three for his position in every important category.
Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Rangers- After a sub-par, injury riddled 2009 season, Hamilton is returning to the form expected of him with a staggering season thus far. A Triple Crown candidate, he is hitting .340 with 19 home runs and 58 RBI. This would be Hamilton’s first All-Star trip after his dazzling display in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium in 2008.
Outfield: Brennan Boesch, Tigers- The fact that the unknown Boesch won’t actually be voted in is irrelevant here. In his first full season, the left-handed power hitter is batting an amazing .340 with 12 home runs and 46 RBI.
Outfield: Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners- Suzuki continues to do what he’s best at: getting lots of hits, leading the American League with 107 to go along with his .331 batting average. Suzuki has many other tools that don’t always show up in the box score, including incredible speed, great range in the outfield, and the most feared outfield arm in baseball.