What Was The Score Of Monday Night Football Tonight Ness Notes (August 4)

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Ness Notes (August 4)

As I have often said, “Fortunes change very quickly in the MLB.” Just the most recent examples are the current fortunes of the LA Dodgers and St Louis Cardinals. The Dodgers won 3-0 last night in Greg Maddux’s team debut (six innings and no hits!) and enter the weekend with the longest active hitting streak in MLB (six straight).

My Friday free game is at the Oak A’s over the Sea Mariners at 10:05 a.m. ET. Tonight on MLB, I’m posting one of my exclusive LEGEND Plays (4-0 in MLB 2006) as I look to snap out of an UGLY 9-day run. Be sure to check back over the weekend for my take on this year’s NFL Hall of Fame game on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals were defeated by the Phillies 8-1 last night as Chase Utley had three hits for the Phillies as he extended his hitting streak to 35 games. The Cardinals have now lost seven straight games, the longest active losing streak in MLB. Not too long ago, things were different for these two teams.

The Dodgers opened the second half of the season losing 13 of their first 14 games (they were outscored 81-29) and have lost eight straight in their three-game home series with the Nationals last Friday. The Dodgers went 13-1 a week ago tonight and have outscored their opponents 42-16 overall in their hitting streak.

The Cardinals struggled before the break and dropped 13 of 16 after losing the first game of their four-game series against the Astros in Houston on the final weekend of the first half of the season. However, the Cards took the final three games of that series, then opened the second half by sweeping a four-game series in LA against the then-downing Dodgers.

Now the Cards are struggling again, allowing 34 hits and 24 runs over the past two games while being outscored 50-26 in the current slide. The Dodgers will try to extend their winning streak this weekend in Florida, while the Cards try to snap their slump against the Brewers at home. St.Louis opened as a minus-$1.85 favorite despite their losing streak, as Chris Carpenter got the start and early money already had them around minus-$2.00.

Speaking of $2.00 favorites, Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs open Friday’s 15-game schedule as minus-$2.15 favorites when they host the Pirates at 2:20 ET. Zambrano (12-3, 3.26) has won his last nine decisions, last losing on May 31. He is 7-2 with a 3.45 ERA in 11 career starts and two relief appearances against Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh starter Tom Gorzelanni picked up his first ML win in his last outing. However, at 13-40, the Pirates own MLB’s worst road record.

Three AL teams open as $2.00 favorites on Friday and they all play on the road! Randy Johnson starts for the Yankees when they host the Orioles tonight at 7:05 ET and is 11-9 with a 5.07 ERA. However, the Orioles are sending Bruce Chan to the mound, he’s 0-6 with a 7.07 ERA, if you’re wondering why the Yankees are such a heavy favorite.

The Red Sox visit the Devil Rays in Tampa tonight at 7:15 ET and with Curt Schilling on the mound, they open as minus-$2.30 favorites. Boston dominated the series at Tropicana Field from 2001-2004, going 28-10 over that span. Since the start of last season, however, the Red Sox have gone 6-10 in Tampa Bay and have lost their last three series there – including both this season.

Curt Schilling (13-4, 3.84 ERA) has also struggled at Tropicana Field this season, giving up both starts there to cover half of his losses. Meanwhile, Boston’s starting rotation has posted a 2-5 record, a 7.47 ERA and a .342 batting average over its last 11 contests. So why are the Red Sox such heavy favorites? The answer is Tampa rookie James Shields. The right-hander is 0-5 with a 7.26 ERA in his last seven starts after going 4-0 in his first five career outings

Minnesota’s Johan Santana (12-5, 3.11 ERA) is 9-3 with a 3.74 ERA in 25 career appearances against the Royals, including 14 starts. He’ll look for his 10th career win against the Royals tonight at 8:10 ET, a team that owns MLB’s worst overall record (38-70) and is just 8-22 against lefties this season. Mark Redman (7-6, 5.40) is going for KC and the Twins have had little trouble hitting Redman. He lasted just 1 2-3 innings in a 7-3 loss to Minnesota on April 27, allowing six hits and five runs. Redman is 0-3 with a 6.14 ERA in seven career starts against the Twins.

NFL notes

The 2006 NFL preseason begins Sunday night from Canton, Ohio with the Hall of Fame game between the Oakland Raiders and the Philadelphia Eagles (8:00 ET on NBC). The Eagles are favored by three points with a total of 36 or 36 1/2. All week I’ve been ‘teasing’ the upcoming NFL season and next week I’ll be seriously counting down to the 2006 season.

It’s important to point out that fortunes in the NFL change quickly, just like in MLB. Consider that since the NFL expanded to 32 teams and two conferences in four divisions, 21 of 32 teams have won at least one division title (65.6 percent) and 26 teams (81.3 percent) have made at least one in the playoffs.

The six non-playoff participants in the last four years are the Cardinals (last in the postseason in ’98), the Bills and Lions who last made the playoffs in ’99, the Saints (last in the playoffs in ’00) and the Dolphins and Texans. Miami, which incidentally finished the 2005 season with a six-game winning streak, last made the playoffs in ’01, while the expansion Texans are 0-for-4 in their four years since becoming the NFL’s No. 32 franchise in 2002. years.

Speaking of the playoffs, last year’s 12-team playoff field included seven teams that did not qualify for the postseason in 2004. The league adopted its current 12-team playoff in the 1990 season and beginning in 1991, hardly unusual for a year’s playoff roster to be filled with teams that did not qualify for the postseason the previous year.

Last year’s total of seven was high, but was one fewer than the 2003 playoff season, when eight teams in that year’s postseason field failed to qualify for the playoffs the previous year. The average playoff season (over the past 15 years) has seen the playoff slate filled with an average of 5.67 teams per season, which was not the case in the previous year’s postseason. The 1994 season featured only four non-playoff participants from the previous year, as five of the six NFC representatives also made the playoffs in 1993.

The AFC West has been the league’s most volatile division since 2002, as all four teams in that division have won division titles in the past four years. The Raiders won in 2002, the Chiefs in 2003, the Chargers in 2004 and the Broncos last year. The most stable divisions were the AFC East and South, where the Pats (East) and Colts (South) each won three consecutive division titles.

The Packers won three straight NFC North titles in 2005 as did the Eagles in the NFC East, but both runs ended last year with the 11-5 Bears winning the North (GB was just 4-12) and the 11- 5 Giants to win the East (Philly was just 6-10).

Ness Notes is available Monday through Friday until 1:00 a.m. ET.

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