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Monday, July 17

   by Larry Ness - 07/17/2006

Fortunes change quickly in MLB and I'm not just talking about the Mets' 11-run sixth-inning against the Cubs. By the way, New York did send 16 batters to the plate in that inning which took 41 minutes to play, as Cub pitchers made 70 pitches. Floyd and Beltran each hit grand slams (Wright had a two-run shot) plus two Cub errors led to eight of the 11 runs be unearned.

My free play for Monday is the SD Padres over the Phi Phillies at 10:05 ET. After an up-and-down past four days (won Thursday and Saturday while losing Friday and Sunday), I'm releasing my lone 20* MLB Total of the Month. I've already cashed with both my 20* AL (7/8 on the White Sox) and NL (7/4 on the Cards) Games of the Month in July and tonight I go for the trifecta!

The Padres entered the All Star break with the longest active winning streak of any team (five straight) and promptly got swept at home by the Braves this weekend in a three-game series. The Braves scored 37 runs in the three games, while hitting 11 HRs. This all came in a park (Petco) which until this weekend featured the lowest opponents batting average in the league.

Atlanta, which has won 14 straight division titles, still trails the Mets by 12 games in the NL East but the team has now won five straight (and nine of 11), since a losing streak that saw them lose 24 of 31. The Angels own the majors' second-longest winning streak at six straight and have won 11 of 12 games to get back over .500 (46-45). The Angels, who had gone 19-30 prior to their recent surge, are now just 1 1/2 games out of first. They're batting .311 and have posted a 2.17 ERA over the last 12 games.

The question right before the break was "what's up with the Cards?" Well the answer now is N-O-T-H-I-N-G! After dropping the first game of a four-game series at Houston on July 6, the Cards had lost 13 of their last 16 games. However, they went on to take the final three games of that series, winning Saturday and Sunday in extra-innings. St Louis then opened the second half by sweeping the Dodgers in a four-game series this past weekend and now own MLB's longest active winning streak with seven consecutive wins.

The Dodgers four-game losing streak is MLB's second-longest active streak, topped only by the Rockies. Colorado was just a half-game out of first place in the NL West when it got ready to host the D'backs on July 7. The D'backs entered that three-game series in Coors Field having lost 23 of the previous 29 games but swept the Rockies and Colorado then lost all four games in Cincinnati to the Reds when play resumed on Thursday.

Much has been made of the success of rookie pitchers like Liriano and Verlander this year but we've also seen rookie pitchers struggle this year. A case in point is Cole Hamels of the Phillies, who starts tonight in San Diego against the Padres (10:05 ET).

Hamels made his ML debut in Cincinnati against the Reds on May 12. He went five innings in that game while allowing just one hit and no ERs. However, in eight starts since, he's gone 39.2 innings allowing 43 hits and 27 ERs for a 6.13 ERA (team is 3-5). On that note, two rookies make their ML debuts tonight, as part on the 12-game schedule.

Jason Windsor, coming off an unbeaten run through Triple-A, makes his major league debut Monday for Oakland when he takes on the Baltimore Orioles (7:05 ET). Windsor is being promoted after going 8-0 with a 4.07 ERA in 12 starts at Triple-A Sacramento. He began the season with Double-A Midland, where he was 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA. The right-hander, has struck out 110 and walked 30 in 99.2 innings this year.

When the Angels host the Indians tonight in Anaheim (10:05 ET), Dustin Moseley will make his major-league debut. Moseley is replacing fellow rookie Jered Weaver, who is missing a turn due to tendinitis in his right shoulder. Moseley will have his contract purchased from Triple-A Salt Lake before the game to make the start. The 24-year-old right-hander went 8-4 with a 3.99 ERA in 17 starts with the Buzz.

Over the next two nights, we'll begin to find out if both the Cards and the Yanks have fallen "out of the frying pan and into the fire." Both teams needed starting pitching and both seem to be making a stretch with their lastest pickups. The Cards will send Jeff Weaver to the mound tonight when they host the Braves on ESPN (7:05 ET). Weaver was released by the Angels and he'll take the place of Sidney Ponson.

Ponson, who the Yankees picked up after he was released by the Cards, is expected to start for the New York tomorrow night. Weaver and Ponson's career marks are eerily similar. Weaver's in his eighth year with a 81-97 career mark (4.55), that inludes a 3-10 (6.29) record this year with the Angels. Ponson is in his ninth season and is 80-95 (4.83) in his career, including a 4-4 (5.24) mark this year with St Louis.

The Angels went just 5-11 in Weaver's 16 starts this year and in his career, his teams are a collective 93-104 in his starts since 2000. As for Ponson, the Cards were 5-8 in his starts this year, giving his teams a collective 85-99 mark in his 184 starts since 2000. The Cards better hope Weaver likes Busch Stadium better than he did Edison Field. Despite a 29-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio at home this year, Weaver allowed 53 hits and 33 ERs in 32.2 innings at home for the Angels (in seven starts), posting a 9.09 ERA!

A closing thought for any of you who may not think that the moneyline in baseball, like the poinstpread in basketball and football, is the "great equalizer." You may want to consider this? The Yankees open the new week a season-high 17 games over .500 (53-36), after sweeping the White Sox over the weekend. Meanwhile, the KC Royals head to Boston for a three-game series with the Red sox, at 32-59, 17 games under .500.

So riddle me this. If you had bet $100 per game on every Yankee game and $100 on every Royal game, how would you stand? The Yankees would have earned you a profit of just $51, while the Royals would have cost you just $239. Think this is easy?

Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday by 1:00 ET.

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