Another day and another win for the Dodgers. LA won its 11th straight game last night, as Greg Maddux won his Dodger Stadium debut 4-2 over the Rockies. You are all familiar with this growing story. LA lost 13 of 14 to open the second half of the season, but continues to lead the way in MLB these days with the longest active winning streak of any team. The A’s with six straight wins and the Angels with four straight wins are the only teams with winning streaks of more than three.
My bye game for Wednesday is the LA Dodgers over the Col Rockies at 10:10 ET. It’s a HUGE Wednesday for me in the American League as I open with my 15* AL Getaway Day Game of the Month and close with my 20* AL Game of the Month (only 20* AL game in the month of August). I’m on a 4-0 streak with my 20* AL and NL Games of the Month (I won both May and July while getting through June, which is a heavy month in the International League),! so don’t miss out!
The amazing thing about LA’s current streak is that punters have been able to play ‘in’ LA, without paying a premium. LA began its winning streak with a three-game home sweep of the Nationals from 7/28-7/30, never starting as a favorite for more than $1.40. The team then won back-to-back three-game series at Cincinnati and Florida, each time opening as underdogs. The Dodgers have started this week 2-0, opening as favorites at $1.60 on Monday, $1.50 last night and opening tonight at -$1.25.
The Royals snapped their four-game losing streak last night by beating the Red Sox 6-4. That leaves the Indians and Rangers, who have lost four in a row, with the longest active losing streak in MLB. The Indians are a very interesting case, in that although four teams in MLB have worse overall records than Cleveland’s 47-64 mark, the Indians are down $2,513 (at $100/game) when it comes to “line of money”.
The Pirates come in with the second-worst money line record at minus $2,124. While seven other American League teams have lost money line records, the next worst team after the Indians is the Orioles, who at 51-63 are under $608. That’s a big difference ($1,905)! A quick scan at the top of the money line rankings shows the Tigers commanding over $3,393, the Twins in second place over $1,937 and the Mets in third place over $1,363.
The Mets are by far the NL leader in this department, with their closest challenger being the Arizona D’backs (57-56), who clock in at over $531. Wondering about those red hot Dodgers? The team’s 11-game winning streak still leaves them slightly on the negative side, at minus $49. For the record, the Dodgers happen to be the biggest ‘over’ team in MLB, going 64-44-5 on the year.
Other highlights from last night included Minnesota’s 4-2 victory over the Tigers. He gives Minnesota a 41-13 record in its last 54 games (a third of MLB’s 162-game schedule). The 1998 New York Yankees own the best 54-game record of any team (45-9) since MLB adopted a 162-game schedule in the 1961 season.
The Mets beat the Padres 3-2 last night. Met starter Steve Trachsel is now 9-1 in his last 11 starts (since June 9), despite a 5.40 ERA in that span. Trachsel leads the major leagues in wins in that span, but ranks 85th in ERA among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched.
The Marlins beat the Nationals 4-2 last night, when rookie Ricky Nolasco won his 10th game. Yesterday I mentioned Detroit’s rookie pitching and I’d be delivered if I didn’t mention what’s going on in South Florida. Florida’s rookies have combined for 35 wins this season, eight more than any other major league team (Detroit is next with 27) and 21 more than any other NL team (Chicago is next with 14).
Wednesday’s MLB schedule is once again packed with 15 games on the menu. Two AL games headline the card. The Twins and Tigers play their series decider in Detroit at 7:05 ET. Johan Santana (12-5, 3.22) starts for Minnesota and Jeremy Bonderman (11-5, 3.81) for Detroit. Santana has been nearly unbeatable in the second half of the season in recent years, going 33-3 with a 2.31 ERA in 49 starts after the break since 2003.
Santana has a 4.31 ERA since the offseason this year, but he’s also 3-0 as the Twins have won all five of his starts. Minnesota has won 14 of Santana’s last 15 starts and his strikeout-to-walk ratio on the season is an amazing 168-35. He is 8-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 19 career appearances against the Tigers, including 13 starts. While Santana has done well against the Tigers, Bonderman has struggled against Minnesota. He is 2-5 with a 6.17 ERA and a .336 opponents batting average in his 10 career appearances against the Twins.
The White Sox beat the Yankees 6-5 in 11 innings last night, tying the game with Paul Kornerko’s HR in the ninth (River’s third blown save in 31 chances this year). It was Chicago’s first win in four attempts this year against New York and only the team’s ninth win in 23 games since the break. Tonight on ESPN at 8:05 ET, it’s Randy Johnson vs. Jon Garland. Johnson has a 5.11 ERA on the year but is still 11-9 on the season with the Yankees winning 14 of his 24 starts.
Jon Garland goes for the White Sox and hasn’t lost since June 8 (against Detroit). He has posted a 3.26 ERA in his last nine starts with an 8-0 record. Despite Chicago’s recent struggles, it’s worth noting that the White Sox are 31-19 (.620) against teams that currently have a winning record. That’s the best record of its kind for any major league team.
There were a total of 23 schools that entered the 2005 season with new head coaches last year. There were only 10 new hires this year, but then, with the tragic death of Northwestern’s Randy Walker over the summer, this year’s “carousel of coaches” grew to 11. In a special weekend edition of Ness Notes (available on Saturday morning), I’ll give you a preview of all 11 schools and coaches.
The 23 coaching changes from last year broke down like this. There were 10 schools bringing in coaches with previous experience (Spurrier in South Carolina and Meyer in Florida being the biggest names) and 13 schools that were giving their ‘guys’ their first head coaching job at the Division IA level. Of course, the biggest name in that group was Charlie Weis from Notre Dame.
From the group of 10 with prior experience, Meyer at Florida (7-5), Miles at LSU (9-3) and Spurrier at South Carolina (6-5), took over teams that had produced winning records in 2004. Meyer, Miles and Spurrier bettered all their school records in 2005, with a combined 27-10 SU (compared to 22-13), though their ATS records were nearly identical to the previous year, 17-17- 2 compared to 17-17-1!
From the group of seven that inherited teams with losing records from 2004, the 2005 season was not an improvement on the whole. The combined records of the seven schools in 2004 were 22-55 SU and 31-43 ATS. The 2005 records from those same schools were 20-58 SU and 28-46-1 ATS.
Notably, Hal Mumme took over a New Mexico State team that was 5-6 SU and 6-5 ATS in 2004 but was 0-12 and 2-10 ATS in 2005. On the other hand, there was Walt Harris from Stanford. The Cardinals went 4-7 (6-5) in 2004 and while they were only 5-6 in 2005, they went an impressive 7-2-1 ATS.
There were 13 trainers last year making their Division IA debut. Four were taking over schools that were coming off winning records in 2004, Miami-Ohio, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh and Utah. Those four teams fared worse in 2005, with Oklahoma State and Pittsburgh going from 7-5 to 4-7 and 8-4 to 5-6, respectively. Combined, the four teams dropped from collective records of 35-14 SU (29-18 ATS) in 2004 to 23-22 SU (19-24 ATS).
That leaves the nine coaches who have taken over teams with losing records since 2004. Those schools posted collective records of 35-67 SU (41-60 ATS) in 2004 and actually improved in 2005, with a collective 40-61 SU and 48-48 -1 TTY. Leading the way was Notre Dame, which went from 6-6 (6-6) to 9-3 (7-5) under Charlie Weis. With less fanfare, Skip Holtz at East Carolina led the Pirates to a 5-6 mark, as well as an impressive 8-3 ATS record (the team was 2-9 SU and 5-6 ATS in 2004).
The NFL will be in the spotlight tomorrow as Ness Notes will be available Monday through Friday at 1:00 ET. Don’t forget my special weekend edition, featuring the 2006 CFB “coach carousel.”