The Dodgers send one of the best daytime pitchers in baseball to the hill in facing off against the NL Central-leading Reds.

Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Dodgers

Cincinnati had its season-high seven-game win streak snapped in Saturday’s 8-5 loss to the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.  The Reds lead is now 3 1/2 games in the NL Central race with the Cardinals grabbing a victory over the Giants.  “You get spoiled winning,” Baker said.  “When you’re winning a lot, you think you’re going to win every game even though you know you’re not.”  The club is 4-4 on the West Coast this season, but is still a dismal 17-36 on the West Coast over the last five seasons, which included a 12-game losing streak at today’s venue.  Cincinnati has compiled a 22-11 record since the All-Star break that gives them the second-best record in the majors over that span.  The Reds have also produced a 14-2-1 mark in their last 17 series.  It’s important to note the team is just 8-11 when playing winning opponents in the second half of the season (-330).

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The Phillies are enjoying a red-hot August despite having major stars on the disabled list.

Los Angeles Dodgers at Philadelphia Phillies

Los Angeles has lost nine of its last 10 road games and is suffering through a five-game losing streak away from Dodger Stadium.  In those five games, the offense is managing to average just 1.8 runs and hit for a .156 combined average.  The club hopes to build off of an eight-run outburst in the homestand finale against the Nationals.  “Today was a good day,” manager Joe Torre said about Sunday’s output.  “But we need more contributions from the guys in the middle.  The Dodgers are in the middle of a 10-game stretch against opponents from the National League East (2-1) and have posted a 10-13 record against the division this season.  Los Angeles if 5-4 this month (-100) and 32-35 in August over the last three seasons (-1,580).  The Blue Crew has compiled a solid 8-4 record on the road with a money line of -100 to -125 (+360), which differs greatly from the 22-30 mark the last three years in this situation (-1,160).

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The Dodgers are suffering through another period of injuries that eventually might end the team’s playoff chances.

Washington Nationals at Los Angeles Dodgers

Washington took two of three games against the Dodgers in a three-game series in the nation’s capital back in April 23-25, limiting them to five runs over that span.  The Nationals suffered a 8-4 defeat to the Diamondbacks last night, as they commited three fielding errors that led to four runs.  “Obviously, we played sloppy,” said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.  “We need to clean that up.”  With 109 games in the books, the team’s 48 wins to date easily surpasses the 36 victories they earned at this point last season.  Washington has struggled on the road as of late, posting a 10-31 mark outside of the DC area since May 13.  The Nationals are 20-38 overall on the road (-790) and the total is 25-29 O/U in those games.  Don’t forget to bet this team during August, going 31-33 over the last three years for a surprisingly healthy profit (+1,140).

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Tonight’s matchup features two teams that are desperately trying to stay within striking distance in their respective divisions.

New York Mets at Los Angeles Dodgers

New York stumbles into a four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers after losing 4-3 in 14 innings on Wednesday and getting swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The Mets are dismal 19-30 on the road this season (-930) and have fallen 6.5 games back of the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves.  New York is 3-10 in its last 13 games and 8-16 over its last 24 games.  Offensively, the team has been held to four runs or fewer in 12 straight games, as the club has compiled a 3-9 record over that stretch.  In their last seven games, the Mets have managed to score first just once, with the team being 9-28 when the opponent draws first blood.  Expect a possible bounce back performance in tonight’s change of venue, with the team being 5-3 after three or more consecutive losses this season (+340) and 26-19 in this spot the last three years (+1,240).

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The Dodgers are in desperate need of a victory against an AL opponent, with manager Joe Torre facing the Yankees in front of a national audience.

New York Yankees at Los Angeles Dodgers

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The two teams that make up the Southern California Freeway Series are heading in opposite directions.

Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels

The Los Angeles Dodgers left Boston without picking up a victory, after losing a 2-0 pitcher’s duel on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.  “They did many things better,” said Dodgers catcher Russell Martin.  “They’re a tough team to beat.”  The club returns to the Southern California area after a day off to face a team that swept them the previous weekend.  Manager Joe Torre’s club is 2-7 (-660) during interleague play this year and 16-26 (-1,330) the last three seasons.  Outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp hope to lead the offense on Tuesday night against a right-handed starter.  Ethier is batting .331 this season against righties compared to .295 versus southpaws, while Kemp has hit 10 of his 11 home runs against them.

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Two of the hottest teams in Major League Baseball headline Saturday night’s betting card.

Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers

Atlanta’s nine-game winning streak came to an end on Friday night, dropping a 5-4 decision to Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium.  Over the past 25 games, the Braves have gone 19-6, tied with today’s opponent for the best mark in baseball during that span.  1B Troy Glaus has led the team offensively since May 1st, leading the National League with 33 RBI and ranking fourth with a .339 batting average during that span.  This has proven important with star 3B Chipper Jones out with an injured right finger the past two games.  “I still feel pain when it bends either way,” Jones said.  “I’m still getting treatments and I’ll see what they say.”  Atlanta batters have collected an MLB-best 247 walks, which could prove effective against its opposing hurler tonight, as Chad Billingsley has walked 16 batters in his 24.2 innings of work against the Braves.  The Braves check in with a 10-12 record this season when following a loss (-320).

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I’m very intrigued by tonight’s Big East showdown. Cincinnati has a pretty clear road to the BCS if they beat South Florida, and the Bulls have the same if they win. For South Florida that’s especially surprising because stud QB Matt Grothe is on the sideline for the year. There is all sorts of intrigue in this one – is Cincinnati for real? How about South Florida’s surprisingly stout defense? Can Cincy QB Tony Pike put himself into the heart of the Heisman race with a big performance here? How about Cincy receiver Mardy Gilyard? Do the Bearcats deserve national championship consideration? How much of a joke is the Big East? This is probably the highest profile Thursday night game we have seen yet this year. Last week we saw Nebraska, and Ndamukong Suh made a big leap into the Heisman race thanks to that game, so anything can happen here. I really respect Cincy coach Brian Kelly and tend to think that he has things going in the right direction with this program, so I am hoping for them. It’s a tough team in tough location, though, so it certainly won’t be easy.

Continue reading “Thursday Night = Good Football + Baseball”

Three quick thoughts to end the week:

Joe Torre said today that he doesn’t think that Manny Ramirez should play in the all-star game if he gets voted in. I’d go a step further – if the fans vote Manny into the all-star game then MLB should immediately ban people from entering every stadium in the league. It would be better to play in empty stadiums then to let people who are stupid enough to vote a suspended druggie into the all-star game make the team. This would make a mockery of the all-star game. Of course, the mockery ship sailed years ago when it come to all-star games.

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