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MLB: SF-SD, STL-CHC

Cardinals at Cubs

The St. Louis Cardinals will attempt to earn a split against the Chicago Cubs when the National League Central rivals meet at Wrigley Field on Sunday for the finale of their four-game set. After being blanked in the series opener, St. Louis edged Chicago 3-2 before suffering a 6-4 setback on Saturday.

Lance Lynn suffered his third loss in four starts after winning 11 of his first 12 decisions for the Cardinals, who fell for just the second time in nine games but dropped into a tie with the Pittsburgh Pirates for first place in the division.

Alfonso Soriano has hit six of his 16 home runs in his last eight games. Chicago has won six of its last eight contests but occupies fourth place in the NL Central, 14 games out of first place.

All-Stars Adam Wainwright (12-5, 2.30 ERA) and Travis Wood (6-6, 2.69) will square off at Wrigley Field in the last contest before the break.

Wainwright looks to close out the first half with his third consecutive triumph. The 31-year-old has worked at least seven innings in each of his last three outings and has won eight of his nine home decisions this year, is 6-6 lifetime versus Chicago.

Wood is attempting to make it back-to-back victories after going 0-3 over his previous six starts. The 26-year-old defeated the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday, allowing two runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings. Wood is 3-3 in eight career outings against the Cardinals, including a road loss on June 17 in which he gave up four runs – three earned – and seven hits in seven frames.

Giants at Padres

If Tim Lincecum can pitch a  no-hitter in July of 2013 then it goes to reason that Barry Zito and win at least 1 game on the road. Something he has yet to do this year.

The San Francisco Giants look to complete a four-game series sweep of the host San Diego Padres on Sunday and have outscored the Padres 23-3 over the first three games of the set, adding to San Diego’s misery this month. The Padres have lost 18 of their last 21 contests to fall a season-high 13 games under .500 and 9 1/2 behind first-place Arizona in the National League West.

Zito has gone 0-3 with a 5.82 ERA over his last seven outings, six of which the Giants lost but has faced San Diego three times this season, going 1-0 with a 1.65 ERA.

Eric Stults (7-7, 3.50) is on the mound for San Diego Stults has been the Padres’ most consistent starter, going 5-5 with a 2.89 ERA in 13 outings since May 7. San Diego is 7-1 in his eight home starts, posting six straight victories.

On Zito’s side, however, is the Padres’ recent struggles at the plate. San Diego has lost 18 of 21 games, and much of that is due to an unproductive offense. The club hasn’t reached a double-digit run total since May 25 and has amassed just three runs in three games this series.
[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

MLB: CIN-ATL, MIL-ARI

Reds at Braves

The goal for the Cincinnati Reds and the host Atlanta Braves is the same as the two teams meet Friday for the second contest of a four-game series. The Reds and Braves would like to enjoy a late lead as they both feature two of the majors’ best relief corps – Atlanta relievers rank first in baseball with a 2.66 ERA and Cincinnati’s bullpen owns a 28 2/3 innings scoreless streak. Both teams are capable of rallying, however, as the Braves and Reds each own 14 victories in their last at-bat.

Atlanta’s lineup might not be as strong as usual on Friday. Braves right fielder Jason Heyward exited Thursday’s series opener in the second inning with a strained right hamstring.

The Reds’ Bronson Arroyo (7-7, 3.55 ERA) gets the start and the 16-year veteran has struggled away from home, going 1-5 with a 5.70 ERA and only 14 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings on the road. He gave up four runs on eight hits in five innings in a loss to the Braves on May 6.

Opposite him, right-hander Kris Medlen (6-8, 3.45) takes the mound for the Braves. Medlen has rebounded nicely from a 1-6 start, going 5-2 in his past seven outings with seven walks in his last 45 innings. He pitched well in a 5-4 loss at Cincinnati on May 7, allowing two runs on four hits in seven innings.

The Braves are the best home team in baseball this season, going 30-13 (.698) at Turner Field.

Brewers at Diamondbacks

After being selected to the National League All-Star team, Patrick Corbin will aim to show that he belongs on Friday as he guides the Arizona Diamondbacks into the second contest of its four-game series versus the visiting Milwaukee Brewers. The left-hander has 10 wins under his belt this season – with the first coming at the expense of Milwaukee on April 6.

Corbin (10-1, 2.40) has yielded a home run in each of his last five contests after allowing just four in his previous 13 BUT has also held the opposition to two runs or fewer in 14 of his 18 outings.

The Brewers will counter with lefty Tom Gorzelanny (1-2, 2.12 ERA), who is making his third spot start of the season and second this week. He has spent most the year in the Milwaukee bullpen but excelled when given the chance to start.

Gorzelanny took the loss on Sunday against the Mets but surrendered only two unearned runs over six innings, walked none and struck out eight, his most since July 1, 2011.

 

[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

MLB: LAA-CHC, CIN-MIL

Ed note: With 6 days of games left before the All-Star Break we’re spicing things up. 2 predictions a day instead of 1 so, 13 events available to put together the longest streak (currently 10) and win the $150 ($25 for second!). Choose one, both or none each day to build your streak. Good luck.

Angels at Cubs

Even as they put out the “for sale” sign ahead of the non-waiver trading deadline, the Chicago Cubs are playing some of their best baseball of the season as they take a three-game winning streak into a two-game interleague series with the visiting Los Angeles Angels that begins Tuesday.

On June 24, the Angels had the third-worst record in the American League, sat 11 games back of the first-place Rangers in the AL West. Since then, the Halos have won 10 of their last 12 games. They’re now in the middle of the pack and are back to two games within .500 for the first time since the first week of the season.

The Cubs have won four of their last six and have allowed just 14 runs over those six games.

They’ll turn to Travis Wood, the crafty All-Star left-hander who has thrown 16 quality starts in 17 tries this season and has a 2.69 ERA, though just a 5-6 record to show for it. Thanks, Cubs offense (looking at you Castro!).

Wood, 26, was acquired in the deal that sent Sean Marshall to the Reds before the 2012 season. In 266 1/3 innings since joining the Cubs, Wood has a 3.62 ERA. He’s holding opponents to a .192 average this season.

Anaheim will put Joe Blanton (2-10, 5.14 ERA)  on the mound. Blanton was beginning to pitch better before getting tagged for five runs – four earned – in 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision against St. Louis his last time out. He has recorded quality starts in six of his last eight outings with six or more strikeouts in each of his last six.

Chicago has been under performing offensively and Wood will keep the Angel bats quiet.

Reds at Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers are mired in last place but have a pair of players in Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura that are giving their fans some hope for the future. Those two will try to lead the Brewers once more when they host the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday.

Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun was activated off the 15-day disabled list Monday and is expected to start Tuesday.  In 57 games before hitting the DL, Braun batted .304 with nine homers and 36 RBIs. Without their star left fielder, the Brewers went 11-15.

Wily Peralta (5-9, 5.27) gets the start for Milwaukee and was knocked around at Cincinnati on June 16 and is 0-2 with a 3.78 ERA in three career starts against the division rivals.

All Tony Cingrani (3-0, 3.40 ERA) has to do is get to the 6th. Cingrani allowed two runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings against San Francisco on Wednesday but has had some command issues in his last two appearances with a total of 10 walks in 9 2/3 innings. The 24-year-old rookie started against Milwaukee on May 10 and surrendered two runs on five hits in four innings.

But the Reds bullpen has his back and hasn’t allowed a run since June 28 against the Rangers. With Logan Ondrusek and J.J. Hoover keeping the Brewers off the board on Monday, Cincinnati relievers have given up just eight hits and no runs in the last 23 innings.

[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

MLB: Phillies at Pirates

Tonight the Pittsburgh Pirates appear on the brink of capturing their 10th straight win — which would be the club’s longest streak since 2004. Or it will be the beginning of the end of their MLB leading run of wins.

The Phillies will task 22-year-old rookie Jonathan Pettibone (3-3, 4.17 ERA) with the challenge of halting the Pirates’ win streak. The right-hander made his Major League debut against Pittsburgh on April 22. And he is up to the task again but it won’t happen if Philadelphia can’t muster some runs. Not that I care. I don’t like the Phillies and like watching them lose.

The Phillies have lost each of their last seven games and 13 of their last 14 when scoring three runs or fewer. There’s just no way they are going to be stuck in that rut for long. First baseman Ryan Howard returned to the lineup on Sunday after sitting two games against a pair of left-handed starters. Howard went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Expect a breakout soon.

And if I’m making long term predictions I would say that the fates of these two teams will flop after the All-Star Break — and that process might even start today. The Pirates are just too hot and peaking at the wrong time. That success gets in a player’s head. It is poison.

Left-hander Jeff Locke (7-1, 2.06) will get the call for the Pirates as he looks to improve to 4-0 this season at PNC Park and 8-1 overall.

[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

MLB: Royals at Orioles

The Royals will try to put an end to their mini-slide on Wednesday in the second of their 3-game series with the Baltimore Orioles. It will take getting to O’s starter Chris Tillman early.

Tillman was sharp last  Thursday, allowing only three hits and two walks as he mowed down the Angels on 114 pitches over eight innings. He didn’t issue a walk after the first inning, struck out three and retired 20 of the final 21 batters he faced.

Baltimore looks to extend its 3-game win streak to 4 on another quality start from the 25-year-old right-hander.

Home has not been kind to Tillman. He’s 0-1 with a 5.87 ERA in his three home starts compared to 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in three road outings. On top of all that, he’s 0-1 with a 7.84 ERA in two starts against the Royals at Oriole Park.

Royals starter Luis Mendoza returned to the rotation last Wednesday after not starting for 18 days and proceeded to give up six runs on seven hits — including three homers — against the Rays. Not the performance Kansas City was hoping for.

While Kansas City’s starters have been mostly effective at going deep into games — they’ve gone at least six innings in 22 of 29 contests — Mendoza has failed to do so in each of his last two starts. While it’s true Mendoza has had big breaks between outings as the Royals’ No. 5 starter, he’s not going to have many more chances to keep the #5 spot if his results don’t improve.

The Royals lineup changes have been paying dividends and they lead the Majors in two-out offense, hitting .293 (93-for-317) as a club with 52 RBIs — or 43 percent of the club’s 122 runs — entering the game.

Starting pitching gives an edge to Baltimore in this one but the Royals relief and bats will see them through plus, Mendoza is due for his breakout game.

[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

Results: Nov 5-11

The leader board was dead locked for most of the week but W. Tran pulls out the victory B3TZ Sports Nov 5-11 Game Summaryon the last b3tz to defend his title and repeat as champion, his 3rd game win overall. That’s a lot of b3tz points, dude. Congrats! See all the results on the Game Summary Page.

Did anyone other than Mr. Tran notice the player percentages in the buttons? Share your opinion questions on that or anything else in the Feedback Forum. Speak up and be heard.

And if you ever want a sporting event covered on the site, just let me know at, lbarkdale at b3tzsports dot com, or just comment on a post. Hope to see you on the leader board this week!

Results: Oct 29 – Nov 4

W. Tran takes the top prize this week and enters rare company as a two-time champion. Game Results: Oct 29 - Nov 4He takes home a second Golden Balls Trophy and 50 bonus b3tz points. Honorable mention goes to L. Jaffe who strung together an impressive 6 correct predictions through Sunday’s NFL games. Nice work.

Next week look forward to a bunch of changes to the B3TZ Game. The new prizes I mentioned last week will be up and available for one. Also, there will be more than one winner each week (something Mr. Jaffe would have appreciated this week!). We will start having 2nd and 3rd place winners and accompanying Trophies and bonus points.

Thanks for playing.

-L.Barkdale

Results: Oct 22-28

M. Proulx runs away from the pack this week with a resounding 5 b3tz point victory over B3TZ Sports Oct 22-28 Game Resultsthe leader board. We haven’t seen a win like that in a long time. Proulx’s place at the top earns him 50 bonus b3tz point and a Golden Balls Trophy, his first. Congratulations!

One housecleaning note: The 49ers at  Cardinals b3tz was left out of the results for this game but will be included in the new game (clerical error! )You can re-enter your selection there.

And a big welcome to all the new players. Stoked you’ve decided to join the fun. To stay on top of the game and be the first to know about new b3tz as they are published, sign up for reminders. Some of the easiest ways to do that are the short form below the leader board and Twitter. And those that want to get even more involved are encouraged to join our Alpha Testing Group. Last note: new prizes coming soon including Kindles, movie tickets and RC toys. Just in time for Christmas.

Results: Oct 15-21

Congratulations to K. Gunter! She takes the top prize in this week’s B3TZ Sports game. B3TZ Sports Oct 15-21 Game SummaryThe three-way tie between Gunter and C. Jurado and W. Tran is broken by her higher win percentage. Check the Summary Page for details.

Anyone notice some changes to the game? Game widget is a little smaller, cleaner and hey, what’s this?!: b3tz points? That’s right. We changed the name from from ‘brags’ to ‘b3tz points’. This is only a name change and doesn’t effect their value or how many you have earned. Brags will return as part of a very exciting game update coming in a few weeks. If you’d like to learn about the other game changes, upcoming features and generally just get the inside scoop on b3tz be sure to sign up for the Alpha Group List.

Results: Oct 8-14

Well, all that money I spent on a Super Computer was a waste. Besides my LSU B3TZ Sports Oct 8-14 Game Summaryprediction, pretty much everything else was wrong, wrong, wrong. And more than just wrong, opposite. Except for the Packers. Oh, and the Giants prediction. Wow. Talk about amazing there. But they fell short tonight. Lots more baseball to play.

Our winner this week is a return to greatness for D. Vickers who barely takes the win over Mr. Tran with a THIRD LEVEL OF TIE BREAK: The evil ‘first player’ rule. First player to get in a game wins the tie break (they were tied on brags and win%) Any opinions on that? Should it be something different? Let me know.

Glad to see players redeeming their brags and looking to win more. We had some great suggestions on sprucing up the Prize Page with some new prizes (’tis the season, eh?) and you’ll be seeing those very soon. And when’s someone going to redeem brags for a b3tz t-shirt? Come on. There’s only one chance to say you were first.

Thanks again to those who joined the Alpha Group and filled out a survey. Your brag payment has been deposited in your accounts.