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Thursday, July 27

   by Larry Ness - 07/27/2006

The beat goes on for the LA Dodgers but the team has clearly lost its rhythm. The 10-3 loss to the Padres on Wednesday afternoon was LA's eighth straight loss and drops the club to a pathetic 1-13 since break, while getting outscored 81-29! LA gets a day off Thursday as the team awaits the Washington Nationals, who come to town for a three-game series beginning Friday.

My free play for Thursday is on the Col Rockies over the SD Padres at 9:05 ET. It's very rare for me to pass but I am on Thursday, for the second time in three days. However, I will return on Friday with a big finish for the month of July.

Interestingly, the Nationals actually own the longest active winning streak of any team in MLB. Entering their Thursday afternoon game with the Giants (1:05 ET), the Nationals have won five straight games, matching the team's best run this year. The Giants/Nats game is one of an eight-game schedule on Thursday.

Thursday is typically a day in which teams are either wrapping up a current series, playing the first game of a four-game weekend series or getting ready for a three-game series to begin on Friday. In that regard, this Thursday is very typical.

Along with the Giants/Nats, the D'backs and Phillies plus the Marlins and Braves are concluding series on Thursday, playing games which begin at 1:05 ET. The D'backs/Phils are wrapping up a three-game series while the Marlins and Braves are closing a four-game series (on WTBS). Also wrapping up a three-game series are the Reds and Astros, at 8:05 ET.

Four sets of teams are opening four-game weekend series, including the Cards/Cubs (at 8:05 ET on WGN) and the Padres/Rockies (9:05 ET) in the National league. In the American League, it's the Orioles/Royals at 8:10 ET and the Blue Jays/A's at 10:05 ET.

While the Nats own the longest active winning streak in MLB, it's the Minnesota Twins who are making the most 'noise' these days with their winning. The Twins completed a three-game sweep of the White Sox yesterday, beating the defending champs 7-4.

The Twins have now won a quite remarkable 34 of their last 42 games and at 59-41, are tied with the White Sox (Chicago has lost 12 of 15!), 8 1/2 games behind the Detroit Tigers. The two teams are just a half-game back of the 59-40 Yankees, for the AL wild card spot. However, the Tigers remain the "team to beat."

Their 68-33 record is the best in the majors by 6 1/2 games. Of even more concern for AL Central division rivals Chicago and Minnesota, the Tigers own a 35-13 record against their division foes, the best winning percentage (.698) of any club against its division. What ever happened to that Detroit collapse?

A note of interest from today's short schedule is the game between the Padres and Rockies. While Coors Field has seen its scoring decrease this year and the Rockies have become an 'under' team (35-55-7 on the year!), major league clubs have compiled a .309 batting average and 6.10 ERA - both the highest of any park - at Coors Field since it opened in 1995.

What makes tonight's game so interesting is this. San Diego starter Woody Williams owns the highest career ERA of any pitcher with at least five starts in the ballpark's history. He's allowed a .447 opponent batting average and 15 homers in just 24 innings over six career starts, posting a 15.75 ERA!

NFL notes

The Hall of Fame game is less than two weeks away (August 6) and I'll begin my NFL previews on Monday, August 31. You may have noticed the other day in the USA Today, an article noting that 10 of the league's 32 teams (just over 31 percent) will open the 2006 season with new head coaches and only three, have prior head coaching experience.

The "been there before crowd" includes Buffalo's Dick Jauron, Kansas City's Herm Edwards and Oakland's Art Shell. Shell is the most interesting story, as he returns to the team he spent his Hall of Fame career with as a player and the one he coached from 1989 through 1994.

What eight of the 10 new head coaches have in common, is that they are all taking over losing teams. Only Herm Edwards of the Chiefs (10-6 SU / 9-5-2 ATS) and Brad Childress of the Vikings (9-7 SU / 9-7 ATS) will be taking over teams which were better than .500 in 2005.

The other eight new head coaches for 2006, (Buffalo's Dick Jauron, Detroit's Rod Marinelli, Green Bay's Mike McCarthy, Houston's Gary Kubiak, New Orleans' Sean Payton, New York Jets' Eric Mangini, Oakland's Art Shell and St Louis' Scott Linehan), will all be assuming the reigns of teams that were sub .500 in 2005.

And not just barely! St Louis had the best record of the eight at 6-10 with the Texans' 2-14 record being the worst. Collectively they went 33-95 SU (.258) and 48-77-3 ATS (.384). Good luck guys!

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

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