Tag:Jeremy Hellickson
Posted on: October 4, 2011 11:42 am
Edited on: October 4, 2011 12:27 pm
 

ALDS Game 4: Hellickson looks to keep Rays alive

Hellickson

By Evan Brunell

Rangers at Rays, 2:07 p.m. ET, Tropicana Field, TBS

Rangers Rays
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Ian Kinsler 2B 1 Desmond Jennings LF
2 Elvls Andrus SS 2 B.J. Upton CF
3 Josh Hamilton CF 3 Evan Longoria 3B
4 Michael Young DH 4 Ben Zobrist 2B
5 Adrian Beltre 3B 5 Johnny Damon DH
6 Mike Napoli C 6  Kelly Shoppach C
7 Nelson Cruz RF 7 Sean Rodriguez SS
8 David Murphy LF 8 Casey Kotchman 1B
9 Mitch Moreland 1B 9 Matt Joyce RF

Matt Harrison LHP
Jeremy Hellickson RHP

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Hellickson vs. Rangers: Hellickson, a rookie, has only faced Texas once, giving up two runs in six innings on Aug. 30. Due to that, only Ian Kinsler has seen him four times, most among Rangers players, and he's gone hitless. Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli both collected two hits against Hellickson, along with Yorvit Torrealba who hasn't been seen in the lineup since Game 1. This will be the righty's first-ever postseason appearance.

Harrison vs. Rays: Harrison has just one career start against the Rays... coming all the way back in 2008 when he shut out Tampa in eight innings. He's also made three relief appearances and overall holds a 1.29 ERA against the team. Johnny Damon has collected five hits in 10 at-bats against Harrison, while Longoria is a pristine 4-for-4. Overall, current Rays are hitting .325/.438/.575 in 48 plate appearances, which certainly is at odds with his overall success against Tampa.

Full Playoff Coverage

NOTES

  • If Texas comes away with a victory, not only does the team advance to the ALCS, but it will be it's fifth straight road victory in the ALDS, all against the Rays. That will tie the Yankees' (2003-05) five straight for second-best in the division series, behind Atlanta's eight from 1995-99.
  • Hellickson has one of the highest swinging-strike rates of any pitcher, plus racks up first-pitch strikes as Fangraphs notes. Why, then, has he struck out so few batters? A regression to the mean could be coming as soon as Tuesday against the Rangers.
  • As the Associated Press notes, the Rays starting two rookies in a postseason series is rare, and it will be just the 10th time since 1900 it's occurred.
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Posted on: September 30, 2011 12:40 am
Edited on: September 30, 2011 9:11 am
 

Phillies have the best rotation in playoffs

By C. Trent Rosecrans

This time of year, pitching can carry an otherwise flawed team all the way to a title, we saw that last year when the Giants rode their starters and a shut-down closer to a World Series championship. So which teams have the best rotations heading into this postseason? Glad you asked…

Here's our ranking of the eight playoff rotations:

 

1. Philadelphia Phillies: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt

Like there was a doubt? Halladay started last postseason with a no-hitter. It'll be tough to top that, but we'll see what happens when the National League's best pitching staff takes on the National League's best offense. 

 

2. Tampa Bay Rays: Matt Moore, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, David Price

Joe Maddon is taking one heck of a chance giving a rookie with fewer than 10 big-league innings under his belt on the hill to start Game 1, but Moore is amazingly talented -- and he's never lost a start for the Rays (small sample size alert!). 

 

3. Milwaukee Brewers: Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Randy Wolf

Gallardo is perhaps the least-heralded of the Brewers' starters, but that could just be that unlike the other members of the team's rotation, he's spent his entire season in Milwaukee. The 25-year-old right-hander has gone 44-29 with a 3.69 ERA over the last three years. There's also former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke who wanted to be traded from Kansas City so he could pitch in the playoffs. Now he's here and it's time to deliver.

 

4. Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello

Call them top-heavy, and even heavier at the top since Fister joined the rotation. Fister, acquired at the deadline from Seattle, has gone 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 10 starts for the Tigers. Add him to Justin Verlander and you have a heck of a 1-2 punch. It's the 3-4 that lacks punch.

 

5. Arizona Diamondbacks: Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders

It looks like Arizona will go with a three-man rotation in the playoffs, which will certainly help the bullpen with the addition to Josh Collmenter. Kennedy was the breakout star of the Diamondbacks' rotation, winning 21 games, while Hudson and Saudners have also pitched well.



6. Texas Rangers:
C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison

Sure, they don't have Lee this year, but they do have Wilson, who has established himself as an ace, going 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA this season, striking out 206 batters in 223 1/3 innings. Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40 ERA) is the only right-hander in the rotation.

 

7. St. Louis Cardinals: Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia

The Cardinals' two best pitchers are pitching Games 3 and 4, but everyone has contributed down the stretch. St. Louis would be higher on the list with Adam Wainwright, but he's not coming back this season. Jackson has pitched well since joining the team and Lohse, a former Phillie, has had a bounce-back season.

 

8. New York Yankees: CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia

Sabathia's as good of a big-game pitcher as there is in the game, but Nova is a rookie and Garcia is anything but. The fact the team is going with a three-man rotation tells you what you need to know about the guys not in the rotation. Garcia's the team's third-best starter -- I guess $196 million doesn't buy what it once did.

For more postseason coverage.

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Posted on: September 29, 2011 9:04 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 9:12 am
 

Rays to start rookie Moore in Game 1

Matt MooreBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Matt Moore has thrown just 9 1/3 innings in the big leagues. And now he'll be a Game 1 starter in the playoffs.

The Rays announced they would start the rookie left-hander in Game 1 of the American League division series against the Rangers on Friday.

Moore, 22, will be making just his second big-league start on Friday. He started last Thursday against the Yankees and announced his presence with authority, striking out 11 batters, walking one and allowing four hits in five scoreless innings. In all, he's appeared in three games, going 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA. Moore hadn't pitched above Class A before the season, but in Double-A and Triple-A this season, he went 12-3 with a 1.92 ERA and 210 strikeouts in 155 innings.

Moore debuted in a loss to the Orioles on Sept. 14, allowing two runs on three hits in just 1 1/3 innings. However, he's gotten better in each subsequent appearance, allowing two hits and a run in three big relief innings against the Red Sox on Sept. 17 and then last week's lights-out start against the Yankees.

The Rays had been debating starting either Jeff Niemann or Moore in the first game and picked the rookie. James Shields will start Game 2. The Rays didn't release their entire rotation, but it appears they will have Jeremy Hellickson lined up for Game 3 and David Price for Game 4, if needed. .

Moore will face Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson in the first game of the series. Wilson is 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA and was 1-2 with a 3.70 ERA in four postseason starts in 2010.

It's yet another aggressive move by the Rays, who often take a little too long to get their top pitching prospects to the big leagues, but they certainly don't hold them back once they get there.

More Rangers-Rays ALDS coverage

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Posted on: September 29, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 2:57 pm
 

2011 ALDS matchup: Rays vs. Rangers

By Evan Brunell

The Rays and Rangers will meet for the second year in a row. Last season, Texas came away with a victory, needing the maximum five games to do so. They would go on to advance to the World Series before losing to the San Francisco Giants. Both teams are in dramatically different places this time around, with the Rays team undergoing turnover while the Rangers' offense is one of the most fearsome in recent memory. Let's break down each team's position and determine who has the advantage....

TEAM INFORMATION

Tampa Bay Rays (host games 3, 4)
91-71, AL wild card champions
Manager: Joe Maddon
Team batting statistics: .244 batting average (25th in AL), .322 on-base percentage (13th), .402 slugging percentage (13th)
Team pitching statistics: 3.58 ERA (8th), 1.22 WHIP (2nd), 2.27 K/BB (2nd)
Star player: SP James Shields -- 16-12, 249 1/3 IP, 2.82 ERA, 3.25 xFIP, 65 BB, 225 K

Texas Rangers (host games 1, 2, 5)
96-66, AL West champions
Manager: Ron Washington
Team batting statistics: .283 batting average (1st), .340 on-base percentage (5th), .460 slugging percentage (2nd)
Team pitching statistics: 3.79 ERA (13th), 1.24 WHIP (5th), 2.56 K/BB (5th)
Star player: C Mike Napoli -- .320/.414/.631, 432 plate appearances, 30 HR, 75 RBI

SCHEDULE (Click here to view the entire postseason schedule)

Full Playoff Coverage

Game 1: TB @ TEX, Sept. 30, 5:07 p.m. -- Matt Moore (1-0, 2.89 ERA) vs. C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94)**
Game 2: TB @ TEX, Oct. 1, 7:07 p.m. -- James Shields (16-12, 2.82) vs. Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95)
Game 3: TEX @ TB, Oct. 3, 5:07 p.m. -- Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.95)
Game 4*: TB @ TEX, Oct. 4 -- Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40) vs. David Price (12-13, 3.49)
Game 5*: TB @ TEX, Oct. 6 -- James Shields (16-12, 2.82) vs. C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94)

* If necessary | ** all pitching matchups projected

TEAM BREAKDOWN (Click player name for statistics)

Catcher
Texas: Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba
Tampa Bay: John Jaso, Kelly Shoppach

The Rays' catcher situation is like that of shortstop: Choosing between bad or worse. Jaso and Shoppach have both combined for extremely disappointing seasons while Napoli was one of the best offensive players in the game, robbed of his due because his counting statistics aren't up to snuff due to playing in just 113 games, but Napoli can do serious damage. Torrealba isn't a zero either, but most of his value comes on defense.

Advantage: Rangers

First base
Texas: Mitch Moreland, Napoli
Tampa Bay: Casey Kotchman

Kotchman came out of nowhere to give Tampa fantastic value out of first base, hitting at a .306 clip and providing his usual stellar defense at first place. While no one expects Kotchman to keep this up next season, what matters is right now. And right now, Kotchman is head and shoulders better than Moreland, although if Texas goes with Torrealba behind the plate and Napoli at first base, this conversation changes.

Advantage: Rays

Second base
Texas: Ian Kinsler
Tampa Bay: Ben Zobrist

Both Kinsler and Zobrist had excellent seasons -- both at the plate and in the field. Picking one or the other amounts to nitpicking as both players have 30 stolen bases. Zobrist holds a small edge in batting average and Kinsler holds a small one in slugging percentage. Even fielding numbers aren't any help. This is as even as it gets.

Advantage: Tie

Shortstop
Texas: Elvis Andrus
Tampa Bay: Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac

As mentioned before, Tampa's shortstop spot is horrible. Between Rodriguez, Reid Brignac and Eliot Johnson, Rays shortstops combined to hit .193/.256/.282. League average was .266/.321/.386. That's simply awful, awful production. The Rangers clearly win out here, with Andrus' solid bat and strong glove.

Advantage: Rangers

Third base
Texas: Adrian Beltre
Tampa Bay: Evan Longoria

Evan Longoria has been one of the best third basemen in the game for a long time. Up until this year, you could have argued that he was the best AL third-baseman for years running. Alas, Beltre's second straight excellent season has supplanted Longoria, coming off a down year. Beltre's 32 homers rank fifth in the AL, and he missed a month and a half! Add in his all-world defense, and he runs away from Longoria even though Longo is still a threat and hit .289/.454/.589 in September.

Advantage: Rangers

Left field
Texas: David Murphy
Tampa Bay: Desmond Jennings

Murphy looked like he would have a lost season, but turned it on down the stretch and forced the Rangers to move Josh Hamilton to center for the playoffs in order to get Murphy's bat in the lineup. It's easy to remember that Jennings debuted with fantastic numbers in August, but September told a very different story. All in all, both players have things working both for and against them and nothing quite standing out.

Advantage: Tie

Center field
Texas: Josh Hamilton
Tampa Bay: B.J. Upton

This is pretty easily Hamilton's domain here after Upton hit just .243. Hamilton remains one of the best players in the game despite being injury-prone. When he's on the field, he produces. Upton can't say the same, although he turned on the jets at the right time for Tampa and had a productive September.

Advantage: Rangers

Right field
Texas: Nelson Cruz
Tampa Bay: Matt Joyce

Here's an interesting matchup. Cruz missed time with injury but when he was right, enjoyed yet another productive season, missing 30 homers by just one blast. Cruz's calling card is power, while Joyce counters with a better overall game, flashing a strong glove. With both players' offensive games basically evening out, the balance tips to defense, and Joyce wins there.

Advantage: Rays

Designated Hitter
Texas: Michael Young, Napoli
Tampa Bay: Johnny Damon

Yet another win for the Rangers on offense. We all know what Napoli can do, but Young figures to get most of the at-bats at DH. Despite Young having to adjust to the DH spot on a full-time basis for the first time in his career, Young coolly racked up 106 RBI and should get some MVP attention. Damon, by comparison, falls far short.

Advantage: Rangers

Starting pitching
Texas: C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis
Tampa Bay: Jeff Niemann, James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson

The Rays win here, although Rangers fans will probably beg to differ. Yes, Wilson had a fantastic season -- you can't take that away from him. But Shields, Price and Hellickson all had excellent years as well. No one's shorting Holland and Harrison here, but at best, these two pitchers are no better than fifth best overall with three of the first four spots belonging to Tampa. The Rays are in the postseason for their pitching, not their offense.

Advantage: Rays

Relief pitching
Texas closer: Neftali Feliz
Tampa Bay closer: Kyle Farnsworth

Feliz's future as a closer was in doubt even as late as early August, but he clamped down the rest of the way and will pair with Mike Adams for a formidable 1-2 punch. There isn't a soft underbelly of middle relief either, and this bullpen has the potential to pick up the slack left over from the starting rotation to beat Tampa. But the Rays have taken a completely remade bullpen and turned it into an elite corps, too. Tampa's relief ERA of 3.73 is 10 spots higher than Texas' 4.11, but Texas' bullpen is different after importing Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez. Let's call it even.

Advantage: Tie

Total advantage: Rangers (5), Rays (2), Tie (3)

PREDICTION (click here to see full postseason predictions)

CBS Experts
Evan Brunell: Rays in 4
Gregg Doyel: Rays in 4
Danny Knobler: Rangers in 5
Scott Miller: Rangers in 4
Trent Rosecrans: Rangers in 4
Matt Snyder: Rays in 5

Evan's take: The Rangers are a fearsome club, there's no doubt about that. The offense is awe-inspiring and the pitching has the ability to hang tough with Tampa Bay. The Rangers basically cruised to the division title in September, so it's easy to overlook the club because of lack of press, but those who overlook the club are making a mistake. I selected the Rays in four because in the postseason, I believe far more in pitching than offense. I also give credence to how teams played down the stretch. Tampa went 17-10 in September (of course, Texas went 19-8, so there's that) and was in playoff mode for two weeks, constantly playing must-win games then seeing it all pay off when Evan Longoria's second homer of the night went over the fence to give T.B. the wild card. The combination of pitching and the hot hand tilt me toward predicting the Rays to advance.

More Rangers-Rays ALDS coverage

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Posted on: September 27, 2011 4:13 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 4:14 pm
 

On Deck: Wild card chases dominate action



By Evan Brunell


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

AL wild card: It's all tied up in the Ameican League, as the Red Sox and Rays are both battling for the right to play in October. Everyone knows how the Sox have collapsed and the Rays have ascended, so we won't recap that here. Jeremy Hellickson, who seems certain to lock up the AL Rookie of the Year award, will take on the Yankees and Bartolo Colon. The Red Sox will counter with Erik Bedard -- who hasn't been the pitcher the team hoped it was getting at the trade deadline -- going up against Zach Britton. Given the pitching matchups, one would expect this tie to extend another day with both teams winning, but games are played on the field. Red Sox vs. Orioles, 7:05 p.m. ET | Yankees vs. Rays 7:10 p.m. ET

NL wild card: If the Braves can win tonight with the Cardinals losing, Atlanta will have somehow staved off collapse to win the wild card. Hopes rest on Derek Lowe, no stranger to postseason heroics, in matching up against Roy Oswalt. The good news is that the Phillies have stumbled lately, which works in Atlanta's favor. The bad news? Oswalt is a better pitcher than Lowe, whose 4.92 ERA is third-worst, behind 2004 and his rookie season of 1997 when he was a reliever. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are in must-win mode with Jake Westbrook heading up against Henry Sosa of the Astros in what is a lopsided matchup... on paper. Remember, Houston defeated St. Louis Monday night. It's going to be an entertaining night. Braves vs. Phillies, 7:10 p.m. ET | Cardinals vs. Astros, 8:05 p.m. ET

VelezDubious history: As SB Nation's Rob Neyer points out, the Dodgers' Eugenio Velez is hitless in 36 at-bats in the majors this season. Given he also finished 2010 with nine straight hitless, he's tied for the longest hitless streak. However, it doesn't count because it was split between two seasons. However, Velez has set a record for the most hitless at-bats in a season, not counting pitchers. Velez already outdistanced Hal Finney, who was 0 for 35 in 1935. With two games left, Velez should get a couple more at-bats to further extend his ignominious record -- or to end it with a hit.  Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. ET

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Posted on: September 21, 2011 4:09 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 4:37 pm
 

On Deck: Yet another big day in wild-card races

OD

By Matt Snyder

As always, follow the game action live on CBSSports.com's scoreboard and keep up with the Playoff Race on our standings page.

Beckett's turn/Hellickson against CC: The Red Sox are just 5-15 in September, but the last time they won on the strength of pitching -- c'mon, we're not counting the 18-9 victory in that category -- it was behind All-Star Josh Beckett (13-5, 2.50). He beat the Rays 4-3 last Friday and is set to start again Wednesday night against the Orioles. Tommy Hunter (4-4, 4.81) will go for the O's. The Red Sox now have a 2 1/2 game lead over the Rays in the wild card, due to the Rays' losing to the Yankees Wednesday afternoon, so a win here would be a big step toward securing the final playoff spot. Orioles at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. ET. Back in the Bronx, the Rays will send Rookie of the Year candidate Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.91) to the mound for the second game of the twin bill. And he gets a tough assignment, too. Not only is he facing the Yankees' offense, but perennial Cy Young candidate CC Sabathia (19-8, 3.01) is the Yankees' starter. A Red Sox win teamed with a Rays loss would knock the Sox's magic number all the way down to four. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. ET. Also, we cannot forget about the Angels, who entered Wednesday 3 1/2 games out. They send No. 2 pitcher Dan Haren (15-9, 3.24) to the mound in Toronto against Dustin McGowan (0-0, 7.50). Angels at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET.

NL wild card: The Braves' magic number in the wild-card race is now six over the Cardinals and four over the Giants. All three are in action Wednesday night. Derek Lowe (9-15, 4.94) leads the Braves against the Marlins. Javier Vazquez (11-11, 3.92) will start for Florida, and he's been throwing really well for a while. Since an awful June 11 outing, Vazquez has a 2.03 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 100 strikeouts in 110 2/3 innings. The Marlins are 11-6 in those 17 starts, though the Braves haven't seen him all season. Braves at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, the Cardinals appear to have a pretty favorable matchup as Jaime Garcia (12-7, 3.59) gets the nod. He's had a good September and has a good history against Wednesday night's opponent, the Mets, who are sending Chris Schwinden (0-2, 5.40) to the hill. Mets at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET. As for the Giants, we'll worry about them again when the amount of games back is less than the magic number.

Phillies losing streak: Does this matter? The Phillies have lost four in a row. But even if they lost out and the Brewers won out, they'd tie for the best record in the NL. And the Phillies won the season series, which is the tiebreaker. So the games are completely irrelevant in terms of postseason positioning. Isn't there something to be said for staying sharp, though? By the time the Phillies start Game 1 of the NLDS, it will have been about two weeks since the games mattered. It might behoove them to get a few more wins under their belt and keep that swagger level high. The Vanimal, Vance Worley (11-2, 2.85) will square off against John Lannan (9-13, 3.68) and the Nationals Wednesday. By the way, the Nationals have only finished better than fifth once and that was a fourth-place finish. They're in third right now. So it's a really good bet they really want this game. Nationals at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET.

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Posted on: September 16, 2011 1:46 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Hellickson good enough for Rays

Jeremy Hellickson

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Jeremy Hellickson, Rays: The rookie allowed just three hits and a run in 5 2/3 innings in what was likely the biggest start of his young career. It wasn't the prettiest thing, as he needed 117 pitches to get through the outing, but it was good enough. The right-hander walked four and stuck out four, lowering his ERA to 2.91. After the Ryas put up four runs in the top of the third, the Red Sox had a chance to answer, loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning. Hellickson did give up a run on Adrian Gonzalez's groundout, but after intentionally walking David Ortiz, he got Kevin Youkilis to ground out, ending the inning, leading the Rays to victory. He also improved his record to 13-10.

Jay Bruce, Reds: Bruce didn't start Thursday's game, but he finished it. Although Chris Heisey started the game in right and moved to left in the eighth inning. Bruce struck out to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning after Francisco Cordero blew the save. After Joey Votto doubled to lead off the 11th, Bruce hit the first pitch he saw from Cubs reliever James Russell into the visitor's bullpen in right field. It was Bruce's 31st homer of the season and the 99th of the 24-year-old's career.

Ross Ohlendorf, Pirates: After giving up a first-inning homer, the Pirates' right-hander gave Pittsburgh the lead with a three-run homer, the first of his career. In his 101st career at-bat, Ohlendorf recorded just his eighth hit and his first extra-base hit. As for the other part of his game, Ohlendorf allowed just four hits and two runs in seven innings, striking out six and walking none for his first win of the season, a 6-2 Pirates win in Los Angeles.


Max Scherzer, Tigers: When a team is on a winning streak, nobody wants to be the guy who blows it. Scherzer did -- even though he may have done his team a favor, as now manager Jim Leyland and hitting coach Lloyd McClendon can now change their underwear. Scherzer gave up a three-run homer to David DeJesus in the first inning and a Kurt Suzuki homer in the second to dig an early hole for the Tigers in a 6-1 loss to the A's. In all, he went five innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and giving up three homers. Not only did Scherzer snap the Tigers' winning streak, he also delayed the team clinching their first division title since 1987.

Shin-Soo Choo, Indians: Activated from the disabled list before Thursday's game in Texas, Choo left the game after the first inning with a strain to his left rib cage. He had suffered a strained left oblique last month before going on the DL. It's been a disappointing season for Choo, who grounded out to end the top of the first. Choo also spent 48 games on the disabled list with a broken left thumb. Overall, he's hitting just .259/.344/.390 with eight home runs in 36 RBI in 85 games this season.

David Wright, Mets: A two-time Gold Glover, Wright has had a hard time in the field as of late. On Thursday he committed his eighth error in his last 10 games. During those 10 games the Mets have gone 2-8 and on Thursday the team finished off a 1-8 homestand with a 10-1 loss to the Nationals. Wright also went 1 for 4 and left five men on base. During that 10-game stretch, Wright is hitting just .154/.267/.179.

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Posted on: September 10, 2011 11:22 am
 

On Deck: Brewers, Red Sox look to end skids

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

Tough draw: The Brewers have lost four in a row -- after winning four in a row -- and seen their lead in the NL Central shrink to seven games. While the Brewers are still fully in control of the NL Central race with 16 games remaining, they'd love to end this skid. The problem is they face the Phillies' Cliff Lee on Saturday. Lee has been fantastic of late, winning each of his last seven starts and allowing just six runs in that time, good for a 0.96 ERA. If you take away the first game of that stretch in which he gave up four runs to the Pirates, Lee has a 0.37 ERA in his last six starts. Lefty Randy Wolf is 6-1 in his last eight starts with a 3.11 ERA. Phillies at Brewers, 7:10 p.m. ET

Shrinking lead: The American League Wild Card may actually turn out to be a race, as the Rays are now just 5.5 games behind the Red Sox and have six more games against Boston (and seven against the Yankees). Boston has lost three in a row and seven of its last nine. It may not make anyone in the Hub feel safe with Kyle Weiland on the mound. Weiland, the former Notre Dame closer, is making his third big-league start Saturday. He last pitched five days ago in relief, throwing two scoreless innings. Both of his starts so far this season have been against Baltimore, getting roughed up in a no-descision on July 10, allowing six runs on eight hits in four innings and then nine days later allowing three runs on six hits in six innings, earning the loss. Overall, he's 0-1 with a  6.75 ERA. He'll be opposite another rookie -- but a possible Rookie of the Year -- Jeremy Hellickson, who is 12-10 with a 2.90 ERA, throwing a complete game against the Orioles in his last start. He's 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA in two starts against the Red Sox this season. Red Sox at Rays, 7:10 p.m. ET

Dan HarenBest matchup: Not only are the Yankees and Angels in the only two races left in baseball, but they're also putting on the best pitching matchup of the night -- CC Sabathia against Dan Haren. Sabathia's searching for his 20th win of the season -- despite averaging nearly 16 wins a year in his first 10 years in baseball, Sabathia recorded his first 20-win season last year when he went 21-7 for the Yankees. So far this season he's 19-7 with a 2.97 ERA.  Haren's averaged 14 wins in his first six seasons as a full-time starter and needs two more wins this season to match his career high in the stat. He won 16 games for the Diamondbacks in 2008 and 15 in 2007. He's 14-8 with a 3.20 ERA this season. Yankees at Angels, 9:05 p.m. ET

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