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And So It Goes....

Overall: 7-1-0 (0.875)
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Monday, June 8, 2009

June 8th, 2009 Picks

(skip recaps)2-1-0 today with my blog picks breaking out of a slump. Congratulations to Roger Federer on his 14th career Grand Slam. By dominating the first set, intimidating Soderling, and holding serve 100% of the time you have become a legend and ended my streak, haha! That's fine, the Cubs paid off by winning in the 14th inning, then the Phillies romping to a 7-2 win behind three home runs. So on to the picks.


Federer Takes 14th Grand Slam Title, First At Roland Garros
R. Federer def. R. Soderling 6-1 77-61 6-4
Roger Federer won nearly 90% of his first serves and intimidated Soderling whose second serves were nearly 12mph slower than in his semifinal against Gonzalez.
``The tennis gods brewed up a storm around Roland Garros on Sunday afternoon as they prepared to welcome a new member into their midst. Roger Federer repelled the rain, thunder, and a certain Robin Soderling to take his rightful place among the immortals of the game. The Swiss produced a near-flawless display, delighting his fans with the full range of shots that have made him arguably the greatest player of his era, to sweep aside Robin Soderling 6-1 7-6(1) 6-4 and seal his first-ever French Open title. The triumph enabled Federer to become only the sixth man in history to win all four Grand Slam tournaments, and also saw him equal Pete Sampras’ record of 14 majors."
Read more....Box ScoreThe Significance Of Federer's Win Today

Cubs Soar Over Reds Behind Soriano's Extra Innings Home Run, Wells Remains Winless
Chicago Cubs 6 - 3 Cincinnati Reds (in 14)
"I had a tough three weeks, but I haven't lost confidence, I am just trying to stay healthy and play hard. I made a good swing and hit the ball hard."
---Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano on his 14th inning blast
Randy Wells was robbed of a victory as Marmol and Heilmann could not hold off the Reds, but Soriano, and the rest of the order made sure the Cubs did not go down.
``Soriano led off the 14th inning with a home run and the Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-3 on Sunday to win their weekend series. Soriano hit Mike Lincoln's first pitch into the seats in right-center for his 14th homer. He was 0-for-5 before the clutch drive and 10-for-64 (.156) in his previous 15 games."
Read more....Box Score

Ruiz, Victorino, Howard Combine For Three Home Runs As Phillies Win Big
Philadelphia Phillies 7 - 2 Los Angeles Dodgers
Brad Lidge was not needed in this game to the relief of Phillies fans. Rollins also batted .500 from the 6 spot.
``Ruiz and Victorino homered against Randy Wolf (3-2). The left-hander, who pitched for the Phillies from 1999-06, gave up six runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings and has a 5.61 ERA over his last four outings. The loss was his first in 12 starts since April 7, when the Padres beat him 4-2 at San Diego in his season debut. Rollins, who came in batting .219 and was hitless in his previous 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position, was 2 for 4 with an opposite-field single that helped build a run in the second inning."
Read more....Box Score

1) Australia vs. Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka
2) Detroit Tigers @ Chicago White Sox - Chicago
3) TCU @ Texas - Texas
4) Tampa Bay Rays @ New York Yankees - Tampa Bay
5) Los Angeles Spark @ Detroit Shock - Detroit
6) Toronto Blue Jays @ Texas Rangers - Texas
7) Arizona Diamondbacks @ San Diego Padres - Arizona

1) Australia come into this match in the ICC World Twenty20 tournament on the verge of being bounced after a

disastrous defeat at the hands of Chris Gayle (88 from 50) and West Indies. Their -2.41 net run rate from the match mean they will need to defeat Sri Lanka soundly to advance to the Super Eight stage of the tournament with a loss all but assuring their first round exit.
"It was a bit down yesterday because we suffered a defeat but I know once we have a team meeting and reassess our goals all the boys will be very very positive. We're a very tight knit group."
---Australia batsman David Hussey on their recent defeat to West Indies
That defeat came on the heels of the news that Andrew Symonds had been dismissed from Australia's squad after violating his contract with the team barring him from drinking in public. Australia are still trying to recover from the loss of one of their best mid-order batsmen in a short play Twenty20 format that makes it difficult to do so. David Hussey and captain Rick Ponting believe they can do so, though they recognize the challenges Sri Lanka poses.

Sri Lanka can dismiss Australia from the tournament with a victory today.

For his part Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara believes his side are loaded with enough talent to depose the Australians. ``There is [Nuwan] Kulasekera, who is no. 1 in the world, Murali, Ajantha [Mendis], Thilan Thushara and Lasith Malinga who has come back so strongly. It's a great mix but at the end of the day it doesn't matter what you have, you've got to walk the walk basically to really get on the field and perform well,". Sangakkara also thinks their batting has the ability to perform in Twenty20 matches though it has been their batting which has been a concern leading up to this tournament.

The fellows over at CricInfo have put together a nice preview of this match, noting the must-win nature of it for the Australians and Sri Lanka knowing a victory will book their place with the Super Eight. They also note Australia defeated Sri Lanka in their only previous Twenty20 encounter, in September of 2007, by 10 wickets with 58 balls remaining and that Australia are on a 4 game losing streak in the format, their worst ever. Oddsmakers have Australia as the favorites, despite the loss of Symonds and Brett Lee's expensive bowling in their last match, at 8/13 (-160) with Sri Lanka receiving odds at 5/4 (+125).

Andrew Symonds has been banned from Cricket Australia following his public drinking violation. The mid-order batsman's loss is a serious blow to Australia.

2) The Chicago White Sox host the Detroit Tigers in a doubleheader today, the first game of which is a makeup for a rained out game earlier this season. Detroit currently leads the AL Central by 41/2 games and with this 5 game series at U.S. Cellular the White Sox could take the division lead with a sweep. Chicago will be depending on an aura of success against the Tigers at the Cell and the pitching of Clayton Richard, whose spot as 5th starter is in jeopardy after giving up 3 home runs in a losing effort against Oakland and with Jose Contreras returning to the team. Richard has a 3.97 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in his five previous starts after being moved from his role as a relief pitcher when Contreras was sent down. His ground ball to fly ball ratio is 1.00 and has been even higher over the other half of his short career and considering he gave up a total of 5 home runs in 1272/3 innings last year in the minors, I don't see Detroit going for more than one long ball in today's game, though the return of Marcus Thames to the lineup could force me to eat those words. Detroit is also batting .227 in their past three games with a .309 slugging average, just 1.36 total bases per hit when they have averaged 1.56 over the course of the season.

The White Sox look to make up ground on Detroit in their doubleheader today.

Detroit will start Armando Galarraga who, after enduring a rocky start to the season, has been much improved. In his last start, against the Red Sox, Galarraga pitched for 7 innings, giving up 6 hits and 3 earned runs though he only struck out two batters while walking two. Galarraga has two starts against the White Sox this season, one in Detroit and the other at the Cell. At Detroit he verily shut down the South Siders, giving up zero earned runs from 4 hits over 61/3 innings, but in Chicago he was bombed for 6 earned runs from 6 hits, including two homers, in just 6 innings of play.

The Tigers will need Galarraga at his best to defeat Chicago at U.S. Cellular where they have gone 6-13 over the past two seasons and the beginning of this one. The White Sox have been batting terribly at their home park recently, with a .167 and .267 batting and slugging average, respectively, in their past three games. Those numbers are low enough to almost expect a break out performance by the Sox. The White Sox have a stronger bullpen than the Tigers so if Galarraga goes out behind after 6 innings I think the White Sox can hold on for a win.

4) Andy Sonnanstine was a decent pitcher last season with a 4.38 ERA over 1931/3 innings. This season has been a bit of a different story as he struggled out of the gate. Although he's coming off a quality start against Kansas City his ERA for the season is at 7.07 along with a 1.68 WHIP. Those are the kinds of numbers that will take a pitcher out of the starting rotation. Surprisingly, it's been a couple of starts against the Yankees that have kept his numbers at a barely acceptable level.

"I've been talking to Ken Ravizza a little bit, and he's really been helping me out, just kind of, 'Next pitch, next pitch.' If something bad happens in the field, let it go. Don't let it kind of build up into a big inning. I've had three starts where it's really built up and gotten out of my control. I'm looking to stay aggressive."
---Tampa Bay starting pitcher Andy Sonnanstine
Sonnanstine has pitched 121/3 innings against New York, over half of them at Yankee Stadium, and has a 2.92 ERA and 0.89 WHIP out of it. His performance at Yankee Stadium is especially surprising considering he has a 10.87 ERA and 2.22 WHIP in his other 6 road starts this season. So which will win out today, Sonnanstines success against New York's batting order, or his overall ineffectiveness on the road this season? Well, over 134 at bats the Yankees' roster is batting .246 with a .433 slugging average against Sonnanstine, so perhaps he'll find a less than desirable medium today, giving up 3 or 4 runs on 8 or 9 hits. Tampa Bay have to be slightly buoyed at least by the fact they are 5-2 in Sonnanstine's last 7 starts.

Tampa Bay has also batted decently, but not great for them, in their last three games with a .235 batting average and .398 slugging average en route to scoring 15 runs. Over their careers the Rays' batters have a pretty solid .270 batting average against Pettite who is coming off a poor start against Texas where he gave up 4 earned runs and walked 6 batters in 5 innings. It was his first start since complaining of back pains in a previous start against Cleveland and it appeared to be a distraction for him against the Rangers. Pettite will have to hope he's not feeling the pain today at Yankees Stadium, where he has recorded a 5.79 ERA in 6 starts, compared to his 4.33 ERA overall this season. In his lone home start against Tampa Bay this season he gave up 5 earned runs from 9 hits over 6 innings, which is pretty good considering he was hit for 4 home runs.

Andy Sonnanstine needs another good outing against the Yankees to avoid a stint in the minors.

Pettite can rest a little easier knowing he'll have Alex Rodriguez providing some run support in this game, however. New York is 20-8 since Rodriguez returned to the lineup form hip surgery during the off season. Rodriguez is batting .275 with 8 home runs and 23 RBIs in those games and the Yankees slugger is improving every day which will make Sonnanstine's job all the more difficult. Neither club's bullpen has been particularly strong this season, each posting ERA's of over 4.00 and each giving up home runs at higher than the league average which is just below 1 home run every 9 innings. With Sonnanstine and Pettite both likely to give up several runs today and with the bullpens particularly susceptible to giving up runs to high powered offenses such as will be on the field today it seems this will come down to who can hit a home run behind the most base runners. I favor Tampa Bay by the slightest of margins with Sonnanstine being successful against the Yankees this season and Pettite having his troubles against the Rays.

7) Jon Garland and Jake Peavy will both be counted on to pitch deep into this game after the two teams depleted their bullpens in a behemoth 18 inning game yesterday which the Diamondbacks won 9-6 off a Mark Reynolds home run. The prospects of each pitcher doing so seem pretty good, considering they each went 7 innings the last time they faced off on May 6th. Garland got the upper hand in that one as he pitched 7 shutout innings, allowing only 3 hits by the Padres. Peavy allowed only 4 hits in 7 innings, but gave up a 2 run homer to Justin Upton who added another run with a homer off of reliever Duaner Sanchez. The two starters may be needed to pitch even further in this game, however.

The Diamondbacks face an ailing Jake Peavy who will be needed to pitch deep after their 18 inning marathon yesterday.

Garland has been up and down and all around this season, recording gems such as his game against the Padres, as well as downright awful starts such as this 22/3 inning mugging by the Braves in which he gave up 8 earned runs. Garland has been working on his mechanics, however, and presumably it's showing results based on his last start, against the Dodgers, who he held to 1 earned run from 4 hits over 6 innings. It remains to be seen whether he was just having a good game or if his work off the field will lead to a string of quality starts.

Jake Peavy has been battling a viral infection as well as tendonitis in his ankle. Both factors played a role in the shortest outing of his career, a 1 inning effort against Philadelphia giving up 4 earned runs and walking two batters. Padres' manager Bud Black has said Peavy is fully recovered but amended his comments on Saturday to say there were some slight issues with his ankles. I think it's safe to say Peavy will be recovered enough to avoid an outing like he had against the Phillies.

``Last game, I think I gave up on myself. It wasn't there, and I didn't dig deep enough and go find it. I pretty much made up my mind from right after that game that it wouldn't happen to me again the rest of my career."
---Arizona starting pitcher Jon Garland
As for the offenses the Diamondbacks and Padres are in different spots at the moment. Arizona is batting .272 and slugging .419 in this series even through 8 innings of scoreless baseball yesterday. The Padres are batting .187 and slugging .276 in the three games. Overall this season the Diamondbacks have been the better offensively so while they are facing Peavy they still should be able to generate one or two runs of offense. Considering the Padres' lack of offense for long stretches it would not be surprising to see them struggle against Garland who, recall, shut them out for 7 innings a month ago. Adrian Gonzalez may break out of his slump, but with Hairston on the disabled list they will surely need Kouzmanoff or Gwynn to also step up.

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