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Wednesday, August 2

   by Larry Ness - 08/02/2006

While Monday's 10-game schedule produced three teams scoring 15 runs (D'backs, Mariners and Marlins), Tuesday's 15-game card saw just two teams reach the 10-run mark (Dodgers and Tigers). Tuesday also featured four shutouts (two 1-0 games, a 2-0 game and a 9-0 game), including the fourth 1-0 game in Coors Field's 12-year history.

My free play for Wednesday is on the Fla Marlins over the NY Mets at 7:05 ET. I'm starting the day with a 15* Afternoon Delight and closing the show with one of my new (this year) Technical Insiders, backed by four team and pitching situational winning trends ranging from 69 to 76 percent.

A day after playing the fastest game in that stadium's history on Monday (a 4-2 Colorado win over Milwaukee that lasted just two hours and six minutes), the Brewers beat the Rockies 1-0 last night. There is clearly something going on in Coors Field this year, as this was the third 1-0 game played in 2006 (just one prior to this season). Teams have combined to average 9.09 runs per game in Coors this year, a 33 percent decrease since its heyday a decade ago.

Also of note from yesterday was Chase Utley extending his hitting streak to 33 straight games and Justin Verlander becoming the majors' first 14-game winner. Utley's hitting streak is tied for the ninth-longest streak in NL history. Verlander's 10-4 win over the Devil Rays (14-4, 2.79) was Detroit's 71st of the season.

The win matches the team's total from last year. Detroit had entered the 2006 season having averaged just 61.4 wins per season over the previous five years, a stretch that included the team's 43-119 mark in 2003. I guess it's safe to say that Jim Leyland was a good hire!

The San Francisco Giants have gone from having a half-game lead in the division and a season-best five-game winning streak to their worst skid in 10 years - all in a span of 11 days. The Giants owned a half-game lead over the D'backs on July 22 but after last night's 4-1 loss to the Nationals, have lost nine straight games. It's the longest active losing streak in the majors and the team's longest losing streak since a 10-game streak in June of 1996.

The Pirates lost to the Braves last night 4-2, ending MLB's longest active winning streak at five games. The new "leader in the clubhouse" is, believe it not, the LA Dodgers. Yes, the same Dodgers that entered last weekend with an eight-game losing streak and a 1-13 record since the break, now own MLB's longest active winning streak (four straight), after their 10-4 win last night in Cincinnati. Things do change quickly!

Wednesday schedule is again full with all 30 teams in action, including four afternoon starts. TV games include the D'backs at the Cubs at 8:05 ET on WGN and the Phillies at the Cards at 8:00 ET, as Utley goes for 34 straight games with a hit. The Indians/Red Sox game (7:05 ET) poses an interesting pitching matchup.

Boston rookie Jon Lester opened the year going 5-0 with a 2.38 ERA in his first seven starts but in his last two outings, has allowed 19 hits and 10 ERs in 11.1 innings of work for a 7.94 ERA. Going for Cleveland is another rookie, Jeremy Sowers. Sowers is just 3-3, 3.98 in six starts this year but comes into this contest off back-to-back shutouts! He's the first rookie to accomplish the feat since Dontrelle Willis did it for the Marlins in 2003.

Tying up loose ends from yesterday's notes. Of the eight rookies who led their respective leagues in ERA as of August 1 (see archives for complete list), three went on to win the ERA title that year. Wilcy Moore of the 1927 Yankees (I kind of remember that being a good year for someone!) won the ERA title with a 2.28 ERA and a 19-7 record (13 saves). He only had a six-year career, finishing with a 51-44 mark, a 4.33 ERA and 49 saves.

Gary Peters of the 1963 White Sox won the ERA title with a 2.33 ERA, while finishing 19-8. Peters had a 14-year career (124-103, 3.25) that included a 20-win season in 1964 and a second ERA title in 1966 (1.98). Mark, "The Bird" Fidrych also won the ERA title for the 1976 Tigers, finishing that season with a 2.34 ERA and a 19-9 record. Sadly, due to injuries, he pitched in parts of just four more seasons, going only 10-10 (4.28).

NFL notes

As I get ready to preview the 2006 NFL season, let's take a quick look back at the pointspread tally from last year. Suffice it to say, the 2005 season will be best-remembered as the "Year of the Favorite." The final tally looks like this, based against the closing line at the Stardust.

Home favorites finished 94-75-5 ATS or 55.6 percent. Road favorites were an incredible 48-29-4 ATS, or 62.3 percent (surely the best all-time!). One game (SD/KC in Week 16) closed 'pick', in a game won by the home team. Overall, favorites finished the 2005 NFL season 142-104-9, or 57.7 percent winners

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

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