The Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Phillies did not get off to the kind of starts they wanted to begin the second half of the season. The Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals did just the opposite, racing out of the box. The American and National League teams will face off against each other tonight, each trying to extend or break the habits they began the final stage of the baseball season with.
Tigers offense needs bite
Detroit (48-42, +3.2) will attempt to take a similar path that Texas (53-39, +0.2) just completed and return to winning ways. The Rangers had lost four consecutive home games to last place Baltimore before the break and used that frustration to win a four-game series at Boston over the weekend. The Tigers will try to follow suit, after dropping four straight to cellar-dweller Cleveland.
“Shame on us,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “This club appeared like it wasn’t ready to play this weekend and that’s the manager’s responsibility. That’s not the players. I’m shocked, really.”
The Tigers offense went flat, totaling eight runs against the 12th ranked team in the AL in runs allowed. Sluggers Magglio Ordonez and Miguel Cabrera were especially guilty, being five for 29 in the series. Detroit returns home where they are league-best 32-13 (+16.8) and 12-2 after scoring two runs or less two straight games since last year.
Texas was close to sweeping the Red Sox, with their only loss in extra innings Saturday and outscored Boston 21-11 in their four contests. The Rangers arrive in MoTown having won 12 of last 15 road games and will send Scott Feldman (5-8, 5.32 ERA) to the mound, whose been pounded for 14 runs (10 earned), 18 hits over two starts and six innings facing Tigers’ hitters.
Online sports betting outlets have Detroit as -120 money line favorites with total of 9.5 and they are 16-3 at home off a loss to a division rival as a favorite and 8-0 OVER, after scoring three runs or less, three battles in a row. Jeremy Bonderman (5-6, 4.79) takes the ball for the home team and Detroit is 6-1 as a home favorite when he starts.
For this 7:05 Eastern AL affair, Josh Hamilton will try to keep swinging a hot bat and win in Detroit for the first time in a dozen tries.
Redbirds are flying high
St. Louis (51-41, -5.5) was best described as being a mild underachiever in the NL the first half of the season, however they might be ready to take flight and command of the Central Division after drilling the Dodgers four straight and reclaiming first place. The Cardinals offense is scoring runs at a more familiar pace in winning five in a row (5.1 RPG). The last five runs were a confidence builder, touching home plate that many times in the eighth and ninth innings to overcome a 4-0 deficit to Los Angeles for a stirring come from behind triumph.
“The most significant thing is that we’re 10 games over .500,” Tony La Russa said.
The St. Louis starting pitchers and bullpen have been in harmony after their three day vacation and are 59-23 home games after permitting four runs or less five consecutive contests the last 13 years.
This ESPN Monday night matchup has a struggling Philadelphia club (48-43, -9.1) searching for answers. The Phillies lost three of four to the Cubs and realistically should have lost all four in the Windy City except for Carlos Marmol having wild streak that gift wrapped a four-run ninth inning rally Saturday.
“We haven’t hit for a long time,” Phils skipper Charlie Manuel told MLB.com. “We hit spurts where we come out of it. On a given night, we might score some runs, but it seems like we fall right back into it. Inconsistent play. It’s what we talk about every day.”
About the only good news for Philadelphia is 20-8 Monday record and starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick (5-3, 4.44) is 20-7 in a series opener with the help of teammates.
For those following sports betting lines, St. Louis is a -125 ML choice with Blake Hawksworth (3-5, 4.73) the announced hurler. Hawksworth has been forced into the rotation due to injuries, using deception material, relying heavily on the changeup. He’s been continually in trouble as opponents are batting .320 against him this season. He’ll have to be especially careful with St. Louis native Ryan Howard, who is batting .381 with seven homers and 29 RBIs in 17 career games in his home town.
The Cardinals are going after their six straight home win, which they haven’t accomplished since last August and are a mere 4-9 after a one run win in 2010. For whatever reason, the Philadelphia offense perks up with Kendrick on the mound (6.2 RPG) and this combination is 27-13 playing at night.