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Tuesday, July 18

   by Larry Ness - 07/18/2006

The Braves made short work of Jeff Weaver in his St Louis debut last night, reaching the vet for eight hits and six runs in just four innings. As I noted in yesterday's notes, the Cards may be no better with Weaver in the rotation than they were with Ponson. Speaking of Sidney, he starts tonight for the Yankees when they host the Mariners at 7:05 ET.

My free play for Tuesday is the StL Cards over the Atl Braves at 8:10 ET. Tuesday's a full schedule (15 games) and I'm featuring three 15* plays all on a single report. Get this actioned-packed report featuring both quantity and quality!

The Cards' loss ended their seven-game winning streak but the Atlanta win gives the Braves a six-game winning streak (team has won 10 of 12), including scoring 10 or more runs in each of their last four games. It's the first time the Braves have accomplished that feat since 1993 and the team has accounted for 63 hits while batting .373 and scoring 51 runs in the four-game stretch.

However, it's the Angels, not the Braves, who own MLB's longest active winning streak. The Angels' 10-5 win last night over the Indians gives them seven straight wins, in which they've outscored their opponents 43-18. They are 12-1 this month with a .322 batting average, hitting 22 home runs and scoring 86 runs.

The starting rotation is 11-0 with a 1.92 ERA and three complete games in the last 13 contests. Only one starter failed to reach the sixth inning in that stretch - rookie Dustin Moseley, who won his first major league game last night. However, Moseley didn't have much time to savor his victorious major league debut, as the Angels optioned him back to Triple-A Salt Lake after the game, and the nameplate over his locker was taken down quickly.

Moseley wasn't the only pitcher to make his ML debut last night, as Jason Windsor of Oakland joined him with that distinction when he started in Baltimore vs the Orioles. Windsor allowed three runs and five hits over five innings in his major league debut. He walked three, struck out three and yielded two unearned runs -- by virtue of his own throwing error.

The Angels are expected to send another rookie to the mound Tuesday (10:05 ET vs Cleveland), as Joe Saunders is scheduled to make his 2006 debut after being called up from Triple-A Salt Lake. He replaces Kelvim Escobar, who is still recovering from elbow pain suffered in his last outing on July 6. The 25-year-old left-hander did not get a decision while posting a 7.71 ERA in 9 1-3 innings over two starts for the Angels last season.

Rookie pitchers are a major part of the storyline for Tuesday's full 15-game schedule. Six of the eight games scheduled in the NL feature rookie starters. In schedule order, Mike O'Connor starts for the Nationals in Florida, Tom Gorzelanny for the Pirates when they host the Rockies, Mike Pelfrey for the Mets in Cincinnati, Carlos Marmol for the Cubs when they host the Astros, Chad Billingsley for the Dodgers in Arizona and Chris Hensley for the Padres when they host the Phillies.

Francisco Liriano (10-2, 2.12 ERA) goes for the Twins when they host the Devil Rays tonight, heading the list of four AL rookies making starts tonight. The others are Jon Lester on Boston (hosting the Royals), the previously mentioned Joe Saunders of the Angels and making his first MLB start, Shaun Marcum of Toronto (host the Rangers).

Marcum (0-0, 7.45 ERA) is taking the place in the rotation of Ty Taubenheim, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a staph infection in his left foot. The 24-year-old right-hander has allowed eight runs and 14 hits in 9.2 innings in seven relief appearances this season. Marcum has a 4.08 ERA in 12 relief appearances in his two-year career and has yet to record a decision.

Also of note tonight is the return of Milwaukee's Tomo Ohka. Ohka (2-1, 3.18 ERA) hasn't pitched since May 1 when he left a game against Houston after partially tearing his right rotator cuff. The next day, the team lost Ben Sheets to shoulder tendonitis and since then, Milwaukee has struggled filling their spots in the rotation. After Monday's 10-1 win over the Giants (46-47), the Brewers (46-48) are 6-17 in games started by the duo's replacements.

I can't close without mentioning these "lovable losers." The Rockies enter tonight's game in Pittsburgh the owners of an eight-game losing streak, the longest active one in MLB. 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.

Colorado then lost all four games in Cincinnati to the Reds when play resumed on Thursday and last night allowed Pittsburgh's Kip Wells, who entered the game with an ERA of over 12.00, to hold them to just seven hits and one run over seven innings, in a 3-1 loss. The Rockies get rookie Tom Gorzelanny tonight but good luck if you want to take them.

The Dodgers own the second-longest active losing streak with five straight losses, after last night's 8-3 loss in Arizona. LA has now lost seven straight road games (outscored 52-11) and has dropped 13 of its last 14 away from Dodger Stadium since June 15. Rookie Chad Billingsley starts tonight and he is still looking for his first win in his seventh career start. Again, good luck.

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

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