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Tag:Matt Cain
Posted on: September 3, 2011 1:32 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Jackson heating up for Tigers



By Matt Snyder


Austin Jackson, Tigers. The young center fielder had been an offensive disappointment for much of the Tigers' season, but he started to show signs of life a few weeks ago. Now, he's flat out hot. With a 3-for-5 game in which he hit a home run, and the Tigers won 8-1, Jackson has now put together a huge five-game stretch. In those five games, he's hitting .500 with two doubles, a triple, two homers, four RBI and eight runs scored. His OPS is 1.417 in that stretch. The Tigers lineup looks a lot scarier with him swinging the bat like he can. Just ask the White Sox.

The San Francisco Giants. They went into Friday night's game trailing the Diamondbacks by six games. The D-Backs came in with a nine-game winning streak. And the defending champs came through with exactly the effort they needed. Matt Cain battled through eight innings, despite not having his best command or stuff (he walked four while only striking out three). The offense got a huge effort from July acquisition Carlos Beltran (4-for-4, triple, home run, three RBI). Put it together and mix in an all-around team effort, and you have a 6-2 Giants victory. The deficit is still five games, but there are two games left in the series at San Fran. This thing could be three games by Labor Day. Of course, if the D-Backs take the next two it's a seven-game difference. We'll see. Head-to-head series in the last month are fun.

Kevin Millwood, Rockies. I don't care if it was against the offensively-challenged Padres in the best pitcher's park in the majors, because Millwood was picked up off the scrap heap by Colorado. Thus, his seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts and zero walks in the Rockies' 3-0 win certainly bears mention here.



Andrew Miller, Red Sox. With the Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka injures -- not to mention how unreliable John Lackey has been -- the Red Sox lost a lot of starting pitching depth. So when Miller strung together back-to-back victories (0.77 ERA), there was hope that the former first rounder might be finally emerging. Instead, Friday night was a wakeup call. Miller coughed up five hits, four walks and six earned runs to the Rangers in just 1 1/3 innings. The outing set the tone for a 10-0 loss, as the offense was stymied by Derek Holland, who threw seven shutout innings. Meanwhile, the Yankees won, which means the Red Sox are now back to second place (by a half game).

John Danks, White Sox. The White Sox have a big opportunity this weekend, but didn't start off on the right foot Friday. They entered the three-game series trailing the Tigers by 5 1/2 games. With Justin Verlander pitching Friday, Danks was going to have to bring his A-game and keep it close. Instead, he turned in one of his worst outings of the season. The Tigers dinged him for nine hits and eight earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, as the White Sox lost 8-1. The loss essentially makes the final two games of the series must-wins for the White Sox. If they lose both, they'll be 8 1/2 out. Even a split keeps them at 6 1/2 and that's tough to make up in 3 1/2 weeks -- especially when Verlander is going every fifth day for the team they're chasing.

Braves pitching staff/planning. The Braves' staff was spotted a 5-0 lead through three innings Friday, but couldn't hold it. One of the biggest issues may have been the overuse of Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel at the back-end of the bullpen. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had told reporters he wanted to avoid using either Friday. So that means he was likely holding back from using Scott Linebrink or Eric O'Flaherty before the eighth. After starter Brandon Beachy let the Dodgers creep to within 5-3 in the sixth, Gonzalez needed to dip into his reportedly short-handed bullpen. The result was Arodys Vizcaino allowing four hits, two walks and five earned runs in the seventh -- and an 8-6 loss. The Braves' usual seventh-to-eighth-to-ninth inning bullpen combo (O'Flaherty/Venters/Kimbrel) is the best in baseball, but they've been heavily leaned upon all season. Gonzalez better get them some rest down the stretch, or Friday night's game will be a harbinger for the postseason. He'll need some combination of O'Flaherty, Venters and Kimbrel available in every game in October. Maybe try to get by with Linebrink or the starting pitcher in the seventh and use two of the three studs in the eighth and ninth to keep everyone fresh? It is worth mentioning that Peter Moylan will be back from his rehab assignment soon, so that should help alleviate some of the pressure.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 4:41 pm
 

On Deck: Verlander chases 21, 'Zona 10 straight

On Deck

By Evan Brunell


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

DiamondbacksGiantsGone streaking: Arizona will chase its 10th straight victory Friday night as a series with the Giants open. San Francisco is flagging, six games behind the DBacks and with a tall task at hand. Matt Cain will get the ball with a 2.87 ERA and the task of opening the weekend series with a statement, while Joe Saunders will be the man to go for 'Zona, who has a 3.69 ERA. San Francisco cut ties with Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada on Thursday and are recalling a smattering of players to help for the stretch drive, which will be moot if they can't come away with a series win or sweep. To win though, the Giants have to start scoring some runs. Diamondbacks vs. Giants, 10:15 p.m. ET

VerlanderVerlander time: Justin Verlander is appointment-viewing these days. The Tigers ace will take his blazing fastball up against the White Sox, who are 5 1/2 games behind division-leading Detroit. Friday is the first of seven remaining meetings both teams have, and Chicago needs to do well to stay in the race. "I feel like we have to win the series to be really optimistic for the rest of the year," Brent Lillibridge told the Associated Press. "We're ready. We've been playing good baseball." So has Verlander, whose won his last nine games and will tote a 20-5 record and slim 2.39 ERA up against John Danks, a lefty with a 3.63 ERA on the year. White Sox vs. Tigers, 7:05 p.m. ET

CuetoCarpenterBattle for second: The streaking Cardinals are winners of their last four, which has pulled them to 7 1/2 games, which is still a tough task.  The Reds, meanwhile, are on a skid having lost four straight to fall to 13 1/2 back. Cincinnati has a pretty good pitcher toeing the mound Friday night in an attempt to finish the year strong and in second place with MLB ERA leader Johnny Cueto going up against Chris Carpenter. Cueto, owner of a 2.05 mark, is coming off a game where he recorded a career-high 11 whiffs, but Carpenter is on a roll himself and has defeated the Reds the last two times out. Reds vs. Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 1, 2011 5:33 pm
 

September Storylines: What races?



By C. Trent Rosecrans

If I were a conspiracy type of guy (and I'm most certainly not), maybe I'd suggest Bud Selig rigged this whole thing to get people on board for expanding the playoffs. I don't believe that, or even believe Selig has dreamt about that, much less thought about it -- but the lack of a pennant chases this September may make adding another playoff team to the mix more desirable.

September Storylines

As September began, only two division leaders had a competitor within five games of them for the lead, and one of those -- the American League East -- has both teams pretty much as shoe-ins for the playoffs. Both wild card leaders are up by at least 7 1/2 games over their nearest competition. In short, it may be a boring September.

So, with that buildup, let's look at the race for the eight playoff spots as we enter the last month of the season:

AL East: While the revamped Rays gave it a nice run, Tampa starts the month nine games behind the Rd Sox and virtually out of the race, so we're down to the usual suspects -- the Yankees and Red Sox. The rivals finish their series on Wednesday with Boston leading New York by 1 1/2 games. A difference could be the two teams' schedules -- Boston doesn't leave the Eastern Time zone the rest of the season, while the Yankees not only have a swing out West, they also have 26 games in the last 27 days. Boston does as well, but a doubleheader on Sept. 19 against Baltimore gives them two off days in the game's last month. Boston is 35-20 against the five teams remaining on their schedule while the Yankees are 39-31 against the seven teams they have left on their slate. While many may say it doesn't matter which team wins the division, there's something to be said for home field advantage and opening against Detroit over opening at Texas.

AL Central: The Detroit Verlanders lead the division by 5 1/2 games over the Indians and are six games ahead of the White Sox. However, both the White Sox and Indians have six games left against Detroit, so it's hardly over -- but it could be by the middle of the month. Detroit and Justin Verlander welcome the White Sox to Comerica Park on Friday. Detroit follows that series with a trip to Cleveland. A nice run here by the Tigers could go a long way to letting them work their rotation so Verlander can get ready for Game 1 of the ALDS.

AL West: This is where it could get interesting -- Texas led the division by as many as seven games in August, but enter Thursday's game just 3 1/2 games ahead of Los Angeles, which has won eight of its last 12 games and returns for Seattle for a nine-game home stand on Friday. The Angels are a .500 team on the road and 38-28 at home entering Thursday's game in Seattle. The two teams have just three games remaining against each other, but they come the last series of the season, Sept. 26-28 in Anaheim.

AL Wild Card: Red Sox or Yankees. Yankees or Red Sox.

NL East: Much like the American League East, the top two teams can smell the postseason. Philadelphia is rolling and nobody wants to face Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in the postseason. The Phillies improved to 87-56 with a win over Cincinnati on Thursday.

NL Central: The Cardinals have looked spunky by taking the first two games of the series in Milwaukee headed into Thursday afternoon's game, but it still leads by 8 1/2 games. The Cardinals welcome the Brewers at Busch Stadium next week after a weekend series with the Reds. The Brewers are still in control, so St. Louis needs to win the rest of its series remaining (including a trip to Philadelphia for four and three games against Atlanta) to make the Brewers sweat. St. Louis does follow that trip to Philly with series against the Mets, Cubs and Astros to finish the season, so the schedule helps them once they get back from Philadelphia.

NL West: Last year the Giants entered September four games back in the National League, this year it's six. But there's a lot different feeling than there was a year ago when people were wondering if the Padres could hold on to first (they couldn't), while this year the division-leading Diamondbacks enter the season's final month riding a nine-game winning streak. The two start a three-game series in San Francisco on Friday in what could turn out to be the knockout punch. However, the Giants miss Daniel Hudson, while they also put on the mound their three top starters in Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong. The two teams also have another series in the season's last weekend at Chase Field. Arizona plays all its remaining games in either the Pacific or Mountain time zones. The Diamondbacks are 30-23 against the teams remaining on their schedule, with a 4-8 record so far against the Giants. All of San Francisco's remaining games are against NL West teams, which helps because those teams are the Padres, Dodgers and Rockies.

NL Wild Card: The Braves will play, but a more interesting question is who they will play. This isn't exactly about the wild card, but more about which team dodges the Phillies in the first round of the playoffs.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 4:50 pm
 

On Deck: Braves/Pirates meet after blown call

On Deck

By Evan Brunell


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

PiratesBravesONE DAY LATER: A day after the Braves essentially stole a win thanks to an umpire's blown call, the two teams will meet up with a nice pitching duel lined up. Jair Jurrjens no longer has an ERA under 2.00, but that can be forgiven as it's still low, with a 2.44 line going up against Paul Maholm and his 3.26 ERA. The Pirates are doing everything they can to stay in the NL Central hunt and must feel a bit of pressure at their backs to make up for the loss Tuesday night, as well as the knowledge the Cardinals just upgraded their pitching by adding Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepcynzki and Octavio Dotel. Pirates vs. Braves, 7:10 p.m. ET

RasmusDONE DEAL: The Blue Jays made yet another smart deal on Wednesday, yet another in a series of trades since Alex Anthopoulous took over as GM. The centerpiece in the three-team deal for Toronto is center fielder Colby Rasmus. Rasmus isn't in the lineup for the game, but it's possible he will arrive in time to make an entrance. More than likely, Rasmus' Blue Jays debut will wait until Thursday. Toronto may also be dealing with a short bullpen, having traded away Dotel and Rzepcynzki. They have Ricky Romero toeing the hill against Alfredo Simon. Romero threw eight innings of one-run ball the last time he faced Baltimore, so the Jays will be hoping for a repeat. Orioles vs. Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET

GiantsPhilliesPITCHING DUEL: The Giants added their own outfielder on Wednesday, agreeing to add Carlos Beltran for the Mets. There's no chance Beltran has of making it to San Francisco in time for the game tonight, largely because the deal is not yet completed thanks to some procedural moves. It's OK, though, because we've got a nice pitching matchup to make up for it. The Phillies will toss ace No. 4, Cole Hamels, who deserves much more than that label. Hamels has a sterling 2.62 ERA on the year with a 0.96 WHIP, striking out 134 and walking just 29. Tim Lincecum was supposed to go for the Giants but is ill (Barry Zito started in Lincecum's place as well Tuesday night), so Matt Cain will step in Lincecum's place. No problem: Cain's got a 3.06 ERA in 138 1/3 innings. Giants vs. Phillies, 7:00 p.m. ET

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 27, 2011 1:56 pm
 

Cain to start for ill LIncecum

Tim LincecumBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Tim Lincecum is still sick and it appears to have come at an opportune time for the Giants, as Monday's day off could allow the team to move up its entire rotation and letting Lincecum recover until he'd be needed on Saturday in Cincinnati, MLB.com's Chris Haft reports.

Lincecum was a scratch on Tuesday with flu-like symptoms, resulting in a Barry Zito start (that ended like most Zito starts, with lots of runs on the board) on Tuesday in Philadelphia. 

Matt Cain will pitch Wednesday night in Philadelphia, while Ryan Vogelsong could pitch Thursday and Madison Bumgarner on Friday.

Cain last faced the Phillies in Game 3 of last year's NLCS when he held the team to two hits in seven innings of a 3-0 Giants victory.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: July 3, 2011 8:38 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 10:59 am
 

Halladay, Weaver should start All-Star Game



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Perhaps the list of who won't be starting the All-Star Game is as impressive as who may start the game on July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Because of the rule that pitchers who start on the Sunday before the game are ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game, Justin Verlander, James Shields, Matt Cain, Felix Hernandez, Cole Hamels, CC Sabathia and Jon Lester won't be getting the nod to start the game. However, it should be noted that neither Sabathia nor Lester were selected to the team, perhaps with an eye toward the fact they wouldn't be able to pitch in the game.

With those pitchers eliminated from the competition, it's easier to pick the starters for next Tuesday's game. We'll continue the process of elimination to determine the starters for the All-Star Game.

National League

Without Hamels and Cain, there are six pitchers left to pick from. It's unlikely that Tim Lincecum or Ryan Vogelsong of the Giants would be headed to Phoenix if San Francisco manger Bruce Bochy wasn't making the picks, so cross them off the list. That leaves Roy Halladay, Jair Jurrjens, Clayton Kershaw and Cliff Lee.

I'd be surprised if Kershaw didn't start an All-Star Game in his career, but it's not this year. He's got the potential to be as good as anyone in the game, but he's allowed six earned runs in three of his last six starts, so he's out.

Cliff Lee had an unbelievable June, but take that away and he's 4-6 with a 4.23 ERA. He's out.

So it comes down to the two 11-game winners, Halladay and Jurrjens. Jurrjens leads in ERA at 1.89, while Halladay has a 2.44 ERA. Halladay has more strikeouts, 131 to 63 and also leads in WHIP (1.027 to 1.061). Either one would be a good pick, but expect Bochy to go with the veteran Halladay, and it's tough to argue picking Halladay for about anything. His track record gives him the edge.

American League

If Verlander and Shields were in this discussion, it would be a lot more difficult. So in the also-rans, we'll start with C.J. Wilson. Wilson is 8-3 with a 3.14 ERA, good numbers to be sure, but not elite. Like Bochy picking two of his starters (and 60 percent of his starting rotation), Rangers manager Ron Washington was looking out for one of his own players by picking him over Sabathia or Lester, so he's out of the discussion.

David Price is 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA with 116 strikeouts, a good half-season to be sure, but not an All-Star starting pitcher.

Gio Gonzalez is that under-the-radar starter who has been lights-out this season, going 8-5 with a 2.31 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 109 innings. Gonzalez is fourth in the American League in ERA but his WHIP is an improved 1.235, which is decent but not in the Top 10 in the league.

Jered Weaver and Josh Beckett are both in the top three in both ERA and WHIP, with Weaver first in ERA (1.92) and third in WHIP (0.921) to Verlander (0.862). Beckett trails Weaver in ERA (2.12) and jumped ahead of him in WHIP (0.906) with Sunday's performance. If you're one of those people who puts value in pitcher's wins as a stat, Weaver leads all American Leaguers eligible to pitch in the game with 10 wins, while Beckett's pedestrian record of 6-3 belies what he's been able to do on the mound this season.

Weaver had a case to start last season season's game in Anaheim, but wasn't eligible because he'd started the Sunday before the game. He's scheduled to start on Thursday, putting him on track to start again on July 12, and he should get that chance.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: July 3, 2011 12:39 pm
Edited on: July 3, 2011 3:39 pm
 

National League pitchers and reserves

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Albert Pujols may be back before the All-Star Game, the Cardinals said on Saturday, but he won't be on the All-Star team. Here's the rest of the National League team:

National League

Pitchers

Jonny Venters, Braves (players' pick)

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (players' pick)

Cole Hamels, Phillies (players' pick)

Jair Jurrjens, Braves (players' pick)

Joel Hanrahan, Pirates (players' pick)

Heath Bell, Padres (manager's pick)

Matt Cain, Giants (manager's pick)

Roy Halladay, Phillies (players' pick)

Tim Lincecum, Giants (manager's pick)

Brian Wilson, Giants (players' pick)

Ryan Vogelsong, Giants (manager's pick)

Cliff Lee, Phillies (player's pick)

Tyler Clippard, Nationals (manager's pick)

Reserves

OF Justin Upton, Diamondbacks (manager's pick)

3B Chipper Jones, Braves (players' pick)

SS Starlin Castro, Cubs (manager's pick)

2B Brandon Phillips, Reds (players' pick)

OF Jay Bruce, Reds (players' pick)

1B Joey Votto, Reds (players' pick)

SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies (players' pick)

1B Gaby Sanchez, Marlins (manager's pick)

OF Hunter Pence, Astros (players' pick)

OF Carlos Beltran, Mets (manager's pick)

OF Matt Holliday, Cardinals (players' pick)

C Yadier Molina, Cardinals (players' pick)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: June 19, 2011 10:57 am
Edited on: June 19, 2011 5:15 pm
 

On Deck: Founding Father's Day

OD

By Matt Snyder


Streaking Nats: Don't look now, but the team playing in our nation's capital might actually matter. In 2011. The Washington Nationals have won eight in a row and are within a game of .500. It's probably too early to look at such things, but they're only 3 1/2 games out of the Wild Card in the NL. If you haven't yet taken notice of first baseman Mike Morse, it's high time you did. Since the beginning of May, Morse is hitting .364 with 12 home runs, 33 RBI and a 1.147 OPS in 39 games. That's not just a short hot streak. That's a guy coming into his own. Morse and the Nats look to sweep the Orioles Sunday in Nationals Park. Chris Jakubauskas (1-0, 5.09) will take the hill for the Orioles while Tom Gorzelanny (2-4, 4.25) gets the nod for the home team. Baltimore at Washington, 1:35 p.m. ET. Watch Live Scoring

Verlander Time: Maybe I should start on "No-Hitter Watch" now? Justin Verlander (8-3, 2.66) is starting Sunday, after all. The flame-throwing right-hander might have the best stuff in all of baseball, and he's locked in right now. He's gone 4-0 with a 0.83 ERA and 32 strikeouts in his last four outings. Verlander's Tigers face the Rockies on Sunday afternoon, and Verlander is needed to stop a two-game losing streak -- one that has dropped the Tigers back to second place in the AL Central. Is the thin air of Coors Field any match for Verlander? We'll soon find out. Aaron Cook (0-1, 3.97) gets the ball for the Rockies. Detroit at Colorado, 3:10 p.m. ET. Watch Live Scoring

Reversal of Fortunes: Through Tuesday, the Oakland A's had lost 13 of 14 and had fallen eight games back in the AL West. Through Wednesday, the San Francisco Giants had won four of five and opened up a 2 1/2 game lead in the NL West, their largest since May 22. It looked as if the Bay Series could be a sweep. And it might be, only for the A's, not the Giants. The A's have now won four in a row and crept to within six games of first in the AL West, while the Giants have lost three straight and seen their lead dwindle to a half game in the NL West. Trevor Cahill (6-5, 3.42) could use a serious reversal of fortunes himself. The A's ace started the season 6-0 with a 1.72 ERA. Since then, he's been horrible, going 0-5 with a 5.67 ERA and more walks (25) than strikeouts (22). He'll get the chance to turn things around Sunday. For the Giants, Matt Cain (6-4, 3.61) gets the start. San Francisco at Oakland, 4:05 p.m. ET. Watch Live Scoring

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com