Ness Notes for August 8

The Dodgers continued to keep the proverbial “pedal to the metal” last night, winning their 10th straight game with a 7-2 victory over the Rockies. MLB’s longest active winning streak is also the Dodgers’ first 10-game winning streak since May of 2003. Jeff Kent returned after missing 18 games and had a HR and three RBI.

My free play for Tuesday is the LA Dodgers over the Col Rockies at 10:10 ET. Tuesday I’m featuring another new Technical Insider (won last night with Seattle) plus one of my exclusive Las Vegas Insiders (62% winners since May 1, despite a slump in late July). Get them both right now.

LA, which trailed San Diego by 7 1/2 games in the West in late July, now sits just 1 1/2 games back of the Padres and is tied with the Reds for the top spot in a crowded NL wild card field. Greg Maddux will make his Dodger Stadium debut tonight against the Rockies (10:10 ET), as LA goes for its 11th straight win in a busy 15-game schedule for Tuesday. MLB’s worst team, the 38-73 Royals, take a four-game losing streak into their home game tonight against the Red Sox (8:10 ET).

The Tigers continued their domination of the Twins this year, beating Minnesota 9-3 on Monday night. Detroit is now 10-3 vs Minnesota this year, including 7-0 at Comerica Park (have outscored the Twins 56-11). The Twins loss ended the team’s eight-game road winning streak, which had matched a franchise high.

However, the bigger story from last night’s game may be the health of rookie phenom Francisco Liriano. Liriano had missed his previous start with soreness in his left forearm and last night, allowed a season-high 10 hits in just four innings. His ERA this year vs the Tigers is 7.63 compared to 1.39 vs the rest of MLB.

Speaking of the Tigers, they are now a season-high 50 games over .500 at 76-36 and the team’s winning percentage of .679 puts them on pace to win 109 or 110 games. The Tigers joined the AL in 1901 and own just five 100-win seasons. The most memorable being the 1968 team which won 103 plus a World Series over the Cardinals and the 1984 team which won 104 games plus a World Series over the Padres.

Zack Miner improved to 7-2 with a victory on Monday, giving Detroit three rookie pitchers who are at least five games over .500. The others are Justin Verlander (14-4) and Joel Zumaya (6-1). No major league team in the last 120 years has had three rookie pitchers finish the season at least five games over .500.

Two other pitching notes from Monday’s games feature Chicago’s Mark Buehrle and San Francisco’s Jason Schmidt. Mark Buehrle was 9-4 with a 3.22 ERA through the end of June. At that point he ranked seventh in the American League in wins and sixth in ERA. In seven starts since the beginning of July, Buehrle is 0-6 with a 9.61 ERA. That’s the most losses and highest ERA (minimum: 25 innings) for any major league pitcher since July 1.

Schmidt beat the D’backs last night 8-4. While the win ups his season mark to just 9-7, 3.15, he’s now unbeaten in his last 15 starts against the Diamondbacks dating back to the start of the 2003 season. Schmidt’s 15-start unbeaten streak against Arizona is tied for the third-longest current streak by any pitcher against any team.

John Smoltz is undefeated in his last 17 starts against the Reds (since 1995) and David Wells is unbeaten in 16 straight against the Royals (since 1993). The other 15-game streak is by Schmidt himself, against the Marlins (since 1996).

Tonight’s 15-game schedule features just one TV game, the Yankees in Chicago where they open a three-game series against the White Sox (WGN at 8:05 ET). It wasn’t long ago that the White Sox still had hopes of catching Detroit, trailing the Tigers by 2 1/2 games entering a three-game series at Yankee Stadium following the All-Star break. However, New York outscored Chicago 26-12 to sweep the series.

The sweep started a stretch in which the White Sox lost 10 of 12 games to fall well behind the Tigers. Chicago (65-45) is 10 games behind Detroit in the AL Central, but is tied for the wild-card lead with Boston. Meanwhile, New York has won 16 of 22 games since the break and 10 of its last 12 overall. The Yankees have overtaken the Red Sox for the AL East lead and hold a two-game edge over their archrivals.

Chien-Ming Wang (13-4, 3.58 ERA) puts his five-game winning streak on the line when he starts the opener for the Yankees. Wang is 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA over his last five outings and enters with an 18-inning scoreless streak. Chicago’s Freddy Garcia (10-7, 4.87) is winless in his last six outings, going 0-3 with a 5.50 ERA.

Week 1 of the 2006 NFL preseason begins Thursday night. The Eagles, 16-10 losers to the Raiders a couple of nights ago, will host the Browns (Philly is a three-point choice with a total of 33 1/2) and the Rams will host the Colts at 8:00 Et on Fox. The Rams are an early 5 1/2-point choice with a total of 38 1/2.

College football lines are up for the season’s opening weekend, with the first games being contested on Thursday, August 31. No. 1 Ohio State (coaches’ poll) opens with a home game on Saturday, September 2. The Buckeyes will take on Northern Illinois and are an early 19-point choice.

Three of the opening weekend’s more interesting games are all being played on September 2 (Saturday). No. 12 Cal is at No. 23 Tennessee where the Vols are favored by two points. Notre Dame, tied for the third spot with USC in the coaches’ preseason poll, visits Atlanta to take on unranked Georgia Tech (Irish are an eight-point choice) and co-No. 3 USC is on the road to take on unranked Arkansas (Trojans are favored by 8 1/2 points).

Much more football news tomorrow, as Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday by 1:00 ET.

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