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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.
Giancarlo Stanton playing a dangerous game: believing in the Marlins2014-11-17
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the way, and Stantons signature soon to dry on a contract that guarantees him this ungodly sum, comes the answer to a question philosophers and paupers alike have asked for eons: Apparently, the price of a soul is $325 million.
What Robert Johnson did with a guitar, Giancarlo Stanton does with a bat, and in order to preserve that in Miami, Jeffrey Loria promised Stanton just shy of what he spent on his entire teams combined payroll for the first eight seasons he owned it. This is a staggering deal, a monumental deal, the sort of deal in years and dollars that fits the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers or Boston Red Soxs bailiwick.
Here, instead, are the Miami Marlins, owned by Loria, the man who along with his ex-wifes son, David Samson, weaseled his way into taxpayers building him a brand-new ballpark despite his continuous ability to trade away all the players worth a damn under his control. He has done this again, and again, and again, and this time he swears its different, and maybe it actually is, because Stanton and the advisers that surround him are intelligent, conscientious, forthright people who wouldnt sign just for the years and the dollars.
What that combination can do is make you want to believe the best in people, even people like Loria
and Samson, whose last endeavor into big money ended in a spectacular fire sale that drew Stantons ire. He was the last person they wanted angry: a monster power hitter in a sport with a dearth, a marketer's fantasy with his handsome looks and multiple ethnicities that appeal to a wide swath, a good person and a grand presence and a dream anchor around which to build, if only the Marlins could build something Loria and Samson would keep together longer than a sneeze.
The fine print of the contract remains a secret for now, and perhaps it contains a greater explanation of what took Stanton from vehemently against any sort of extension with the Marlins to offering Loria and Samson his prime. Surely an opt-out clause helps. Ultimately, this may be baseballs version of a football deal: big in years and dollars, far smaller in reality. If Stanton gets an opt-out at 30 years old, say, this would essentially be a five-year contract with an eight-year insurance policy for Stanton.
Giving the Marlins a half-decade to prove Lorias previous decade-plus of ownership was a mirage is generous of Stanton. He couldve waited two years, hit free agency and landed the mother lode then. Only he saw, with one Mike Fiers pitch in September that shattered his face and required surgery, how little is guaranteed, how the baseball gods can smite even the good.
The Marlins did right by Stanton during his recovery, engendering good will before meeting with him and delivering the sort of staggering contract proposal that included a huge chunk of we-know-you-cant-stand-us money. The Marlins tried to wipe away their misdeeds with zeroes. And no matter how principled a man, how stubborn he may be in his opinion, staring at this $325,000,000 at 25 years old forces him to ask the logical follow-up: OK, so what now?
The answer satisfied Stanton. Hes got at least one fail-safe key in an opt-out, and with a 13-year deal and a creative agent, there could be more possibilities for him to abscond more than one opt-out or vesting opt-outs in addition to the no-trade clause that protects the Marlins from straight dumping him? should Loria do Loria.
Can Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria be trusted to build around Giancarlo Stanton?
Can Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria be trusted to build around Giancarlo Stanton?
Which he will. Because rare is the 73-year-old man who suddenly looks at what made him stinking rich and does the complete opposite. Unless Jose Fernandez is the rare Scott Boras client who ignores advice to hit free agency, hes gone after the 2018 season which means the Marlins will trade him before that. When hes shipped off, or Christian Yelich, or Marcell Ozuna, or someone else who gets too expensive, how will Stanton react?
We know what Loria and Samson will do: cast blame outward. First their payroll was less than Alex Rodriguezs annual salary because of the lack of a viable stadium. Then when the stadium was built and they lost, they blamed their dumping money on an underachieving team. Its always something with them.
Stanton knows this, and once he dots his I and crosses the pair of Ts, hell be locked in with a clear conscience and deep hope. Hes trusting people who have lied to keep their promises, and its a great risk. Stanton loves Miami and his team, and he believes that with the Marlins power arms and his bat they can win. Beating the Nationals wont be easy. The Mets, too, pose a formidable challenge. And if they want to compete with either, the Marlins must beef up their payroll well past the $100 million mark, because one guy taking up more than a quarter of a teams salary has proven incompatible with winning in modern baseball.
Over the next few years, Stanton will find out whether his trust was well-placed or this truly was a Faustian bargain. Hes about to inherit a title: highest-paid athlete ever. He wants another: World Series champion. The latter ultimately goes back to the Marlins, to Loria and Samson, whose past actions would doom Stantons sobriquets mutually exclusive.
No, you cant turn down $325 million. Giancarlo Stanton will get his money if he wants it, and theres great solace in that, and hell opt out if he wants that, and theres comfort there, too. Ever present will be Jeffrey Loria, the majordomo of the Marlins, paying his hefty price, getting exactly what he wanted, smiling with his devilish grin.
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MLB: Twins and Tigers tangle for two2009-09-29
The next three days could determine the AL Central champion, and the most pivotal hours will come Tuesday. After rain washed out the scheduled opener of a four-game series, the division-leading Detroit Tigers and second-place Minnesota Twins will play a day-night doubleheader at Comerica Park. Detroit is favored in both games, but with the way the Twins have been playing, one would have to think that a sweep by the Tigers is unlikely. Therefore, the underdog bettor should bring home at least a small profit. Get the latest prices on the LIVE ODDS page at Sportsbook.com.
Detroit (83-72, +0.6) had a comfortable seven-game cushion in the division on Sept. 6, but that lead has dwindled to two as the Tigers have dropped 11 of 19 while the Twins (81-74, -1.9) are 11-2 since Sept. 13. Detroit has been tied or alone atop the division since May 10. No team has ever lost the title in the last week of the season after leading for that long.
“I thought it would go down to the wire and obviously that’s going to be the case,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I hope my players have some butterflies, but there’s a difference between nervous and scared.”
Minnesota’s surge includes winning two of three home games against Detroit from Sept. 18-20. However, the scene has now shifted to Comerica Park, where the Tigers are 48-26 this season and 21-8 in home games in day games.
They’ll also start one of the AL’s top rookies and their All-Star ace in Tuesday’s doubleheader.
Rick Porcello (14-9, 4.14 ERA) is 4-1 with a 3.28 ERA in his last six starts, boosting his chances to win AL Rookie of the Year. The 20-year-old right-hander is 1-2 with a 3.71 ERA in three starts against the Twins this season, and has lost his last two - both at the Metrodome - while receiving no runs from his teammates.
Porcello beat the Twins at home May 5, giving up four hits over seven innings of a 9-0 victory. The Tigers are 18-11 in his starts this season and they have won the last five at home.
Justin Verlander (17-9, 3.41) will try to give the Tigers another needed victory in the finale and match his career high for wins, set in 2007. He helped Detroit avoid a three-game skid Thursday, striking out 11 over seven innings of a 6-5 victory in Cleveland.
The Twins haven’t been easy to tame for the right-hander, who has a major league-leading 256 strikeouts. Minnesota has scored five runs in successive wins against Verlander over the last two months, including an 11-0 victory in Detroit on Aug. 8. The Tigers ace is just 3-8 (-8.7 Units) against the money line vs. teams averaging 2.75 or less extra base hits per game this season. (Tigers Record)
The Twins will counter with Nick Blackburn (11-11, 4.18) and rookie Brian Duensing (5-1, 3.33), who has been excellent since moving into the rotation Aug. 22.
Blackburn has put a difficult stretch behind him, winning his last two starts by yielding two runs in 13 1/3 innings after going 1-7 with a 7.36 ERA in his previous 11 outings. The right-hander was masterful Monday night as he scattered eight hits and struck out six over seven innings of a 7-0 win in Chicago. Blackburn is 2-2 with a 3.66 ERA in five career starts against Detroit, but both losses have come at Comerica Park. He’s 0-3 with an 8.00 ERA in four career appearances there and he and his teammates are 0-12 in road games when playing against a team with a winning record over the last two seasons.
“This is what we all play for. It’s a blast,” Blackburn said. “Being in a race like this makes it even more exciting. There’s more pressure, but it makes us enjoy the wins even more.”
Duensing is searching for his sixth consecutive victory as a starter and fourth in as many starts. The left-hander earned a victory at Chicago on Wednesday night, giving up four runs and nine hits over 5 2/3 innings. He won his only start against Detroit on Sept. 18, allowing four hits in 6 1/3 innings of a 3-0 home victory.
The Twins start the day 18-5 on Tuesday’s and are an underdog according to Sportsbook.com in both games. In the first contest Minnesota is +120 with total of nine and the nightcap could be adjusted by outcome of first game, but for now the Twinkies at +150 with total lowered to eight. The Twins are 19-10 vs. AL teams allowing 4.7 or less runs a game in the second half of the season.
Detroit has won last 23 of 33 home games against right-handed starters, which is the situation in Game 1 and the Tigers are 11-3 when Verlander is favorite in home park.
Both games are available for viewing in home markets and MLB.TV. The first AL Central battle starts at 12:05 Eastern with the nitecap at 7:05E. StatFox Power Line – Detroit -105 (Game 1), Minnesota -119 (Game 2)