West Ham vs Stoke City

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In their last home game, West Ham United claimed a crucial 3-0 win over Southampton. They will aim to make it two in a row at home when second-from-bottom Stoke City visit London Stadium on Monday.Following the win against Southampton, the Hammers picked up a creditable 1-1 draw at Chelsea, and they would fancy their chances against the Potters, who are on a poor run of form.

The Hammers sit in the 15th spot with 34 points, and they also have a game in hand on teams around them. The threat of relegation is not fully over, but a win on Monday would take them very close to survival.Meanwhile, for the Potters, it’s arguably the last chance to save their top-tier status. They have lost their last four games in the league, and they are without a win in their last nine. As things stand, the Potters are placed 19th with 27 points, and they are six points adrift of the safety.

Stoke have performed even worse on the road this season and have managed just one away win all season. Earlier in the season, the Hammers claimed a 3-0 win at Bet365 Stadium, and we are backing them to complete a double over their opponents.Time is running out for Stoke in the scrap to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

The Potters sit five points away from safety ahead of the latest round of top-flight matches. That’s courtesy of their appalling goal difference of -33, which is worse than bottom-of-the-table West Brom on -26.It’s all going wrong for Stoke and I can’t see an end to a four-match losing run when they travel to West Ham on Monday night.

Paul Lambert’s squad is in complete disarray. On-loan forward Jese is reportedly AWOL after his latest spell of compassionate leave to visit his sick son in Spain, Saido Berahino has been sent to the under-23s after turning up late for a reserves game, Ibrahim Afellay has been told to stay away from the club because of his disruptive influence and Erik Pieters was fined for breaking a curfew before last month’s defeat at home to Everton.

Not a great indication of the discipline within Stoke’s ranks.The Potters have only won once in 15 games since Boxing Day so it’s hard to see them getting the minimum of three wins required from their final five matches to avoid the drop.West Ham have pulled away from the relegation zone on the back of a 3-0 win at home to Southampton and 1-1 draw on the road at Chelsea.

Those results followed on from the unrest from supporters during the 3-0 defeat against Burnley and it’s credit to David Moyes that he’s managed to avoid the hyperbole and get the Hammers out of trouble.West Ham now sit 14th and they’ve won four and drawn one of the five home games against the teams currently sitting below them in the standings.

Swansea, Huddersfield, Southampton and West Brom have all lost at the London Stadium this season and Crystal Palace picked up a 1-1 draw at the end of January.Former Stoke forward Marko Arnautovic is the main threat to his former club. The Austria international netted a double in the recent victory over Southampton.He’s 6/4 to net on Monday night but I’m happy just to take a slice of the Hammers to collect maximum points.

A home win is available at around even-money across the board and that’s well worth an interest.Joe Allen and Badou Ndiaye are being backed to produce something close to another midfield masterclass to try and see Stoke through tonight’s game at West Ham.

The pair have played the last two games together in central midfield after a re-jig in formation to accommodate Xherdan Shaqiri’s switch inside and Moritz Bauer’s move to right midfield.The changes haven’t brought any points, but did bring decent performances against North London duo Arsenal and Tottenham ahead of a third successive fixture against capital opposition.

Quizzed ahead of the West Ham fixture (8pm) about Allen, a player he has previously lauded by saying he’d love to have 26 Joe Allens in his squad, manager Paul Lambert said: “I think him and Ndiaye against Spurs were outstanding, against (Mousa) Dembele and (Victor) Wanyama, going toe-to-toe with them and being more than a match for them.

Bahrain Grand Prix 2018

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Sebastian Vettel went from pole position to victory in the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, winning the second race of the season in at least as much dramatic fashion as he won the first in Australia. While Vettel benefited from a pit mistake by Mercedes in the first race, the second was all him and extremely careful tire management.

Valtteri Bottas pushed hard, hard enough to get DRS assistance in the final two laps behind Vettel, but he couldn’t quite make it stick. He was on a different strategy to Vettel, and on much fresher tires. But Vettel just managed to contain the gap.

“Woooooo!,” Vettel came over the team radio after the race. “These tires were done. They were done!”

Another lap and you get the feeling Bottas would have overtaken him. Lewis Hamilton, who started far back due to a five-place grid penalty, worked his way up to third place and was six seconds back of Vettel at the end of the race, so it was a good showing from him, but he hoped to be competing for the lead.

Pierre Gasly of the Honda-powered Toro Rosso managed to finish fourth, the best finish for that team in a long time. Meanwhile, the Renault-powered McLaren, a year after moving on from Honda, saw its drivers finish seventh (Fernando Alonso) and eighth (Stoffel Vandoorne).

he 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix opened with fireworks not unlike those fired at its end for Sebastian Vettel, race winner. While taking victory from pole sounds like the easy path to the top step of the podium, Vettel’s journey was anything but.

The German and his teammate Kimi Räikkönen faced direct challenge from Valtteri Bottas in the first corner, with Kimi retreating from Valtteri’s overtake, submitting to the charging Mercedes driver. Despite half his Mercedes and Red Bull competition starting the race well adrift of Vettel, his foes knifed their way through the field with Verstappen and Hamilton making up multiple positions in the first few laps.

When Verstappen and Hamilton found themselves fighting for position, however, Verstappen’s elbows-out racing drove him to make minor contact with Hamilton, leaving the Dutchman with a puncture in his left rear tire. Verstappen would crawl past his stricken teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who retired from the race with an electrical failure around the same type that Verstappen burst his own tire. Despite arriving in the pit lane successfully for a tire swap, Verstappen too retired, on lap 5.

The focus of the Ferrari-Mercedes feud turned to race strategy from there with both Ferraris embarking on two-stop strategies, and the Mercedes, one-stop strategies, banking on taking track position ahead of Ferrari, whose cars would be handicapped by extra time spent in the pit lane and the dirty air generated by the leading cars. After his planned first pit stop, Vettel found himself behind Hamilton, and delayed by dirty air, could not get past the Brit until early on lap 26, after which Hamilton pitted for medium tires, on which he would finish the race.

In the wake of Kimi’s botched second pit stop on lap 36, which retired the car and hospitalized a mechanic, all of Ferrari’s eggs were in Vettel’s basket. Fearing Mercedes’ strategy would play out as predicted, Ferrari ditched Vettel’s second stop, keeping him out on soft tires originally meant to survive a far shorter stint.

The Scuderia’s gamble paid off, and despite challenge from a faster Bottas in the twilight laps of the evening race, Vettel maintained his footing in the race lead through the checkered flag, winning his second Grand Prix of the season in his 200th career Grand Prix start. Other drivers to have won their 200th race start include Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher, among others. The podium was completed by Bottas and Hamilton, in that order.

Elsewhere in the field, midfield and backmarker teams recorded their own successes. Marcus Ericsson of Alfa Romeo Sauber, who had not finished in the points for the last 50 Grands Prix, brought his Sauber home ninth to secure two points for the team.

Toro Rosso-Honda capitalized on its shocking Q3 results, posted by Pierre Gasly, and galloped to a fourth place finish, the best finish for a Honda-powered car in the V-6 era. Gasly, for his heroism, was voted driver of the day.Poor performance, unreliability and constant pressure from former partners McLaren has made life pretty miserable for Honda employees since the Japanese manufacturer returned to F1 in 2015.

But their unrelenting dedication in pursuit of success was rewarded in Bahrain as Pierre Gasly guided the Honda-powered Toro Rosso team to fourth place in the desert.

The result was better than anything Honda achieved with McLaren in three years together, in what was only its second race with Toro Rosso.

It was also a good recovery from Gasly after a frustrating opening race in Australia, when he suffered a power unit failure.

The team at Sakura and Milton Keynes found the fix and turned round a modified MGU-H and turbocharger that proved to be robust in the Sakhir heat.

That, too, is like a victory and while they are likely to still have bumps in the road this season, the strong result will have a massive effect on confidence and morale.


Astros vs Mariners

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins saw their scheduled game on Sunday against the Mariners postponed due to wintry conditions and it will be made up on Monday, May 14 at 6:10 p.m. CT, on a mutual off-day for the two clubs.

The announcement was made roughly three hours before the scheduled first pitch of 1:10 p.m. CT. Sunday’s forecast called for a high of 32 degrees in the Minneapolis area with a chance of snow in the afternoon. Temperatures are expected to climb slightly to 40 degrees for the Twins’ series opener against the Astros on Monday at Target Field. The Mariners will move on to Kansas City to open a series with the Royals on Monday.

The Twins will shuffle their starting rotation as a result, with right-hander Lance Lynn getting pushed back from his scheduled start on Sunday to start the series opener against Houston. Right-hander Jake Odorizzi is slated to start on Tuesday and he’ll be followed by right-hander Kyle Gibson on Wednesday.

Thursday’s starter against the White Sox has yet to be announced, as it’s the first time the club will need a fifth starter this season, but it could be right-hander Phil Hughes who threw five innings with Class A Advanced Fort Myers on Thursday.

Fans who purchased tickets for Sunday’s game may either use them to get into the makeup game on May 14 or exchange them for any other Twins home regular season game in 2018. Unused tickets may be exchanged at the Target Field Ticket Office.

Six more Major League Baseball games were wiped out Sunday, running this season’s total number of postponements to 21 in only 2 1/2 weeks. It’s baseball’s highest number through the end of April since it had 26 in 2007, and there are still a couple weeks to go this month.

The last time six games were wiped out in a single day was Sept. 12, 2008, and that situation was partly caused by Hurricane Ike battering the Gulf Coast. There was more dicey weather in the forecast for Monday, and Boston postponed its annual Patriots’ Day game for the first time since 1984.

“If it was up to me, no one would play north of Atlanta or east of Colorado in the first few weeks, but that’s not going to happen,” Braves reliever Peter Moylan said.

Aaron Judge and the Yankees were set to play a doubleheader against the Tigers after a rainout on Saturday, but the twin bill was pulled, too, with icicles all over Comerica Park. The last three games of Minnesota’s series at Target Field against the Chicago White Sox were lost to rain, then a blizzard.

Also postponed were Blue Jays at Indians, and Braves at Cubs one day after the teams played through miserable conditions at Wrigley Field.

The start of St. Louis’ game at Cincinnati was delayed for more than 2 hours because of the weather. Fans and players wore ski masks at Citi Field, and there was free hot chocolate at the concession stands at Fenway Park.

It was 31 degrees in Kansas City with an 18 mph wind, making it feel like 20 degrees. A night earlier, the Angels and Royals finished up in snow.

Cubs vs Athletics

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The Chicago Cubs produced a stunning comeback to beat the Atlanta Braves, while the Milwaukee Brewers ended the New York Mets’ nine-game winning run.

Down 10-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning on a cold and rainy day at Wrigley Field, the Cubs could have been forgiven for just going through the motions to finish the MLB game.

Instead, the Cubs somehow rallied for 12 unanswered runs to stun the Braves 14-10 in Chicago on Saturday.

The Cubs chipped away at the lead with one run in the sixth and two in the seventh, before hammering the Braves with nine runs in the eighth.

Not to take anything away from Chicago, but the Braves self-destructed in that big inning. The Cubs had only three hits in the frame, while the Braves committed an error and their pitchers could not find the plate (five walks, a wild pitch, and two HBPs)

Javier Baez had the big blow in the inning, clearing the bases with a double to tie the game.

It was not a record-breaking comeback — three teams in MLB history have overcome 12-run deficits, most recently the Cleveland Indians over the Seattle Mariners in 2001 — but the Cubs’ rally will live on in team lore.

Meanwhile, in New York, Brewers starter Chase Anderson gave up only one run and two hits in 6.3 innings to help Milwaukee top the Mets 5-1.

Jonathan Villar, Jett Bandy, and Orlando Arcia homered to power the Brewers. The surprising Mets still have the best record (11-2) in the National League.

Making only his third MLB start, 24-year-old Miami Marlins right-hander Trevor Richards pitched seven scoreless innings against the host Pittsburgh Pirates, giving up only two hits. He got a no-decision in a 1-0 loss.

Max Scherzer got off to a bad start against the Colorado Rockies, giving up a two-run homer to Charlie Blackmon in the first inning, but he retired the final 20 batters he faced in the Washington Nationals’ 6-2 win. He struck out 11 in seven innings. Scherzer is now 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA this year.

Home-cooking’ is agreeing with the Nashville Sounds. After losing four straight to New Orleans, the Sounds returned home on Monday and have now put together two wins in a row, both shutouts, in their first two home games of the season. Four pitchers combined to five-hit the Iowa Cubs in a 6-0 win.

Frankie Montas got the start and he threw three one-hit innings in a nice rebound effort after not making it out of the first inning in his season debut. Montas struck out three and didn’t walk a batter.

After Ryan Dull threw a scoreless inning, Chris Bassitt took over and was once again impressive. He tossed four scoreless innings, allowing only three hits and striking out six. Bassitt threw four scoreless innings in his first relief outing of the season, as well. Lou Trivino then finished off the shutout with a perfect ninth. He struck out two. Sounds’ pitchers struck out 11 and didn’t walk a batter.

Sounds hitters combined for 14 hits and three walks. B.J. Boyd had three hits and Jorge Mateo, Steve Lombardozzi, Slade Heathcott and Renato Nunez each had two hits. Every Nashville batter reached safely at least once.

Dull’s relief outing was his first back-to-back appearance. He has allowed a run in four innings over three rehab appearances.

Marlins vs Yankees

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The Miami Marlins are hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates for a three-game set this weekend, thus concluding a week-long homestand. Come Monday, the Marlins will be on the road for a while — all the way until late April, believe it or not.Alas, the length of the Marlins’ road trip isn’t the story everyone will be focused on in the coming days. Rather, the spotlight belongs to the Marlins’ series against the New York Yankees. The two sides will meet for two games beginning on Monday. It’ll be the first time in Giancarlo Stanton’s career he plays against the Marlins. It will not, however, mark the first time Derek Jeter takes in a series at Yankee Stadium as minority owner of the opposing team.The Miami Marlins are in New York on Monday to kick off a brief two game series in the Bronx against the Yankees. Let’s hope these games can be played because the Yankees had games on Saturday and Sunday that were rained out. They last played on Friday when Aaron Hicks hit two home runs and the Yankees beat the Tigers 8-6 to even their record at 7-7. It’s early in the season, but they are already five games behind the Red Sox.

The Marlins have much smaller expectations this year, in large part because they traded Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees, and although he is struggling, he’s still a huge bat in any lineup. Derek Jeter took over for the Marlins and also got rid of many other players, looking to make the team his own. It’s going to be a long season in south Florida and the Marlins are currently 4-10 and already 7.5 games behind the Mets.Caleb Smith will be on the hill for the Marlins on Monday, looking to get his first win of the year. He hasn’t pitched great, but he’s certainly pitched well enough to have gotten a win so far. He’s allowed three earned runs or less in all three starts, but the problem is he’s only lasted five innings, three innings, and 5.1 innings, and he’ll have to go that far on Monday if he wants to earn the win. He’s now lasted only 13.1 innings in three starts.

His ERA is 4.73 and that’s largely attributed to all of his walks. Batters are only hitting .216 against him, but his WHIP is much too high at 1.58. That’s because he’s walked 10 batters over his 13.1 innings, and that’s going to get him in trouble. Monday will be only his sixth start of his career, so he has time to improve on that.Masahiro Tanaka will be on the hill on Monday for the Yankees, looking to get to 3-1 on the season. He began the season with a win and lost the second game despite pitching well in both games. He then got lucky in his third game, giving up seven hits and six earned runs over five innings, but somehow still earning the win in a 10-7 victory by the Yankees.

Because he was so shelled in his latest outing, his ERA has swelled all the way to 5.19, even though it was just 2.92 coming into the game. His WHIP and batting average against are 1.04 and .239 respectively, both phenomenal, which makes his ERA look more like an outlier. I think he will pitch well in the coming month.Awkward because Jeter is a legendary Yankee who now runs the Marlins?Or awkward because of how he reportedly tried forcing Stanton to waive his no-trade clause last winter to accept a trade to San Francisco or St. Louis before the Yankees helped continue the Marlins’ offseason fire sale by taking on most of the $218 million that was remaining on a $325-million contract that is the largest in baseball history?

Asked about Jeter’s absence this week, Stanton answered, “We don’t think there’s any crazy bad blood besides what (the media) stirred up. We were very honest with each other in our meetings and that’s business side of it. But there’s no bad blood on this side.”Stanton got his way. He wanted no part of being part of another Marlins’ youth movement and he used both his no-trade clause and opt-out after 2020 season as leverage.

Jeter blinked first after reportedly telling Stanton that he’d force him to be on a watered-down rebuilding club for years if he didn’t accept a trade that the organization worked out as opposed to one to a team that he preferred.The Yankees and Marlins completed a trade in December to move Stanton, who hit 59 homers and won the National League MVP last season, and ever since there’s been very little looking back other than continuing past friendships with former teammates.I follow whoever my friends are,” Stanton said. “I check out how they’re doing. I made sure to send notes when they’re doing well and keep ’em going.”

Come August, Stanton will have another reunion with his old club, one that probably will be more meaningful: The Yankees’ two games in Miami.”It’ll be cool to see my guys (this week), but I think it’ll be a little bit different when I go to Miami,” he said.Stanton will go into this week’s Yankees-Marlins series feeling good about his game after a lot of early struggles, including two five-strikeout games that got a lot of media attention.He’s hitting just .220 in 14 games with 25 strikeouts in 59 at-bats, but has been fairly productive with three homer and 10 RBIs. And although he was 0-for-5 again with two strikeouts against the Tigers on Friday, his roadtrip began with a good series in Boston in which he was 6-for-12 with a double, triple and three RBIs in three games.

“My balance points are better,” Stanton said. “I’m picking the ball up better. I’ve just got to continue.”He’ll try to continue feeling good at the plate this week facing the Marlins, his only big-league club from his rookie season in 2010 until last Dec. 9 when he was traded to the Yankees with cash for second baseman Starlin Castro and two minor leaguers, right-hander Jorge Guzman and infielder Jose Devers.One of the Marlins that he’s looking forward to seeing this week is the Yankees legend who managed him for in Miami in 2016 and 2017. Stanton is fond of Don Mattingly. They hugged in March when the Marlins played a spring training game in Tampa and they’ll probably catch up again this week.

“He had a great career,” Stanton said of Mattingly. “He had success in LA (as a manager) and came over to our situation (in Miami). He was very level headed. He’s a student of the game still. He understands the game very well and I enjoyed played under him.”

Nationals vs Mets

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When the Washington Nationals’ Game Notes for the finale with the Colorado Rockies were released on Sunday afternoon, there was still no starter listed for the series opener with the New York Mets on Monday night. There were, however, hints over the last few weeks, as A.J. Cole struggled in his 2018 debut, and put up a solid start the second time out, that the Nats would make a change in the fifth spot in the rotation once Hellickson, who signed on in D.C. late this Spring, joined the team once he was up to speed.Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez updated reporters on Hellickson’s progress on Friday, after the veteran right-hander’s latest throwing session in Florida.

“He threw a side actually [on Wednesday],” Martinez said, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr.“I guess he threw well. Now we’ll just have to wait and see. He’s getting to the point now where he feels like he’s ready. I know he’s got another side coming up so we’ll see where we’re at.”Martinez wasn’t ready to commit to a change in the rotation at that point, at least publicly, noting that Cole rebounded well from his disastrous 2018 debut the second time out and was, “was pretty much” what he expected when the right-hander was named the Nats’ fifth starter at the start of the season. His lack of options played a role at that point as well.

“We haven’t made that decision yet,” Martinez said Friday. “A.J. pitched well, but we haven’t made any decisions yet.”After today’s series finale with the Colorado Rockies, however, Martinez made it official.Ah, the 2018 New York Mets. Saturday’s Say Hey, Baseball captured the team’s hot start. The team stepped into the 2018 season acting brand new. The 2017 Mets? They don’t know her. Couldn’t have been them. Losing streaks? Can’t relate. Only two teams have a better record and only three teams have a better run differential than they do. The bullpen has played to be impeccable and the offense is producing. It took until Saturday to record the team’s second win. The Mets have moved the playoff meter in their favor more than any other team. Partly, because the Nationals, across the standings in the NL East, are too busy doing their best to keep their heads above water and their win percentage above .500 to notice.

The Nationals haven’t won a non-Max Scherzer or Stephen Strasburg start since the fourth game of the season, 11 games ago. The Mets swept them, then the Braves took two of three. The hole in the fifth starter spot, filled by AJ Cole’s career 5.13 ERA, has not helped, but it has not been the dawning of the Nationals problems. Cole gave up only two runs (improving from the 13 he allowed in his season debut) in his second start. Those two runs, a four-run deficit, and another two-run deficit were insurmountable through Washington’s second series with Atlanta, against even a rotation who last year combined for only 7.1 fWAR and a bullpen who last year combined to be the 27th best in baseball. In total, the Nationals have produced just over two runs per game, even after a “breakthrough” game in which they put up only their second four-run frame this season to beat the Rockies 6-2.

It has taken an orchestration of low offensive performance across the roster to get to this point. Fifteen games often have a measured impact on final standings, but they don’t have much predictive value. The NL East has been a cesspool in years past. With the strength of the competition back on the upswing and the Nationals underperforming, it’s easy to laser in on occasional errors or an offseason of stagnancy in which the biggest move made was departing with a manager who recorded 192 wins and never dipped below a .500 record in two years seeming to bite at their heels. Washington isn’t as bad as they’re playing, of course, and the end results will probably still show that. A sputtering offense plays opposite to rose-colored glasses; it makes reality so much worse.

The Nationals are joined by the Dodgers, the Cubs, and the Yankees in early season underperformance. It is reasonable to suspect these supposed-to-be super teams are being framed by small sample sizes. Afterall, first impressions mean nothing in baseball.The Washington Nationals have opened their season 6-8 coming into the weekend, having just lost catalyst Adam Eaton to the DL and third baseman Anthony Rendon out of Saturday’s lineup after hurting his toe on Friday.

The Washington Nationals were widely assumed to have an easy road to an exceptional record in 2018, but while their play hasn’t been perfect, it’s the rest of the division being better than many believed that has the Nationals opening Saturday in 4th place in their own division.Let’s look at each of those division foes and the challenge they place for the Washington Nationals this season going forward:The Braves have been rebuilding since the 2014-2015 offseason, when they traded away multiple major pieces of their organization for minor leaguers and young players. That rebuild is seeing its first wave hit the major leagues, and the #1 farm system for multiple years running, according to Baseball America, has shown its strength in its young players this season.

The scary part for the Nationals is that the Braves should only get better this season. Uber-prospect Ronald Acuna should come up from AAA early in the season, power left-handed arms Luiz Gohara and Max Fried are on the cusp of the major league rotation. Multiple power arms are going to work their way into the rotation.

The talent level of the Braves in August and September should be better than April, and already, the Braves have taken half of the contests on the season against the Nationals, going 3-3 over their first six games, outscored by Atlanta 27-24 in those matchups.The Marlins have shown to be as expected, and they are the one team that opened Saturday below the Washington Nationals in the National League East standings.The scary thing for the Nationals to consider with the Marlins is that they are already seeing some of the highlights that a young team like theirs can produce, like a first-time starter going six no-hit innings in his first career start, young 3B Brian Anderson sports a .400+ on base after his first 13 games, and center fielder Lewis Brinson is playing incredible defense. More will be on the way and in any game one of those young players could flash out and spoil what should be a win on paper for the Nationals.

Washington Nationals fans on Twitter have taken to the hashtag “#LOLMets” to make fun of their Big Apple division rivals. Instead as those hashtags abound with every new injury the Mets suffer, they just keep winning, now off to the best start in the major leagues at 11-1.The Mets have elite pitching at the front of their rotation, and they’ve shown with new manager Mickey Callaway that they will be managing a deep pitching staff of talented arms in unique ways that can maximize performance of all pitchers on staff.The Mets lack some in lineup depth in a direct comparison to the Washington Nationals, but with both clubs seeing first-year managers at the helm, it could be an interesting matchup throughout the season, one the Mets have swept so far this season.

Reds vs Brewers

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Cincinnati Reds vs. Milwaukee Brewers

MLB: Monday, April 16, 2018, at 4:10 p.m. EST, The Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds will begin a three-game series when they square off at Miller Park in Milwaukee on Monday night. Cincinnati is the worst team in Major League Baseball (even worse than Miami), with a 2-13 record that includes eight consecutive losses. The Brewers are an even 8-8 after going 3-3 on a recent six-game road trip.

Worst in the business
The Reds’ eight-game skid has left them comfortably in the cellar of the National League Central. They have not even held a lead in a ridiculous 32 innings and have been battered on the scoreboard to the tune of 48-19 during this losing skid. Adam Duvall knocked a solo homer among his two hits in Sunday’s 3-2 setback against St. Louis, improving to 4-for-11 in his last three games after going 1-for-22 with 11 strikeouts in his previous seven.

Right-hander Luis Castillo (0-2, 7.31 ERA) is taking the mound for Cincinnati on Monday. Castillo overcame surrendering two homers for the second time in three starts to escape with a no-decision versus Philadelphia last Wednesday. He allowed season-low totals in runs (three) and hits (five) while failing to walk a batter in that outing. Orlando Arcia and Travis Shaw are both 2-for-5 versus Castillo, but he has limited the remainder of the Brewers’ roster to going 3-for-30 with 12 strikeouts while posting a 1-0 mark with a 1.98 ERA in two encounters against the club in 2017.

Although Miller Park hasn’t been kind to Milwaukee this season, basically all venues have been a nightmare for the reds. On Monday the Brewers will look for just their third home win in eight outings when they host the worst team in baseball. They snapped the Mets’ nine-game winning streak on Saturday, but those good feelings were lost in the cold the following day as they sustained their eighth loss in 13 outings–victimized by a New York walk-off homer in the finale. Adding insult to injury, Eric Thames (team-leading five homers) exited Sunday’s contest in the third inning with an ailing groin and Ryan Braun (club-best eight RBIs)–who is another option at first base–is plagued by a balky back that forced him to sit out the finale.

Brent Suter (1-1, 4.70 ERA) will oppose Castillo on Monday. Like his Cincinnati counterpart, Suter also authored his best start of the young season in his last outing as he allowed one run on four hits in 5.1 innings of a no-decision at St. Louis last Tuesday. The left-hander kept the ball in the park for the second straight trip to the mound and surrendered just one walk after issuing three in his previous start. Joey Votto is 3-for-6 with two doubles against Suter, but the 28-year-old has kept Billy Hamilton (1-for-7, four strikeouts) and Duvall (1-for-6) in check.

Miller Park and the Milwaukee Brewers welcome the NL Central rival Cincinnati Reds to town for Monday MLB action.

The Cincinnati Reds have had issues throughout the early going and those issues continued in a 3-2 loss versus the Cardinals on Sunday. In the process, a strong effort on the mound from Homer Bailey went for naught as allowed all three runs on four hits and two BB in seven frames.

Royals vs Blue Jays

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The Blue Jays and Indians were rained out for the second straight time in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon, setting up a doubleheader next month. Toronto will stop in Ohio on May 3, previously a day off for both clubs, and play a pair of makeup games — weather permitting — starting at 1 p.m.The Jays’ rotation won’t change for their three-game home series against the Kansas City Royals, starting Monday night. Jaime Garcia, the scheduled starter on Saturday and Sunday, will take the hill Monday followed by J.A. Happ and Aaron Sanchez.

After Sunday’s rainout on Jackie Robinson Day across the majors, the Blue Jays will instead honour the legendary No. 42, the first African-American major leaguer of the modern era, during Monday’s series opener.The Jays finished their first road trip of the season with a 5-2 record.Blue Jays lefty Jaime Garcia, who was originally scheduled to start Saturday’s game, has now been pushed back to start Monday’s series opener at home against the Royals. Lefty J.A. Happ will follow on Tuesday and right-hander Aaron Sanchez will start the series finale on Wednesday.

Sunday’s scheduled series finale in Cleveland will now be played on May 3 — the same day as the makeup for Saturday’s rainout. The two games will be played as a traditional doubleheader. The first game of the doubleheader is slated to start at 1:10 p.m. ET, with gates opening at noon.Fans with tickets to Sunday’s game can exchange them for tickets to the May 3 doubleheader, which includes admission to both games, beginning on Thursday at Indians.com. But those exchanges are subject to availability, as the fans who had tickets to Saturday’s postponed game will be given priority for the doubleheader.

Those fans who had tickets for Sunday that cannot exchange them for tickets to the May 3 doubleheader will instead be able to exchange them for one of two games: the Indians’ game on Sunday, June 17 against the Twins or their game Wednesday, June 20 against the White Sox. All the exchanges have to be made by midnight on April 27.TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays needed 26 games last season before they won for the ninth time.This season, the ninth win came in their 14th game Friday night when they overcame a 4-0 disadvantage to defeat the Cleveland Indians 8-4.

“We know we can come back,” said outfielder Steve Pearce, who hit a two-run double Friday. “We’ve got a lot of good hitters on this team and the pitchers are doing a great job of (keeping the team in it).”The news is not so good for the Kansas City Royals, who lost 5-3 to the Los Angeles Angels Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium to extend their losing streak to five.The Royals are 3-10, their worst start over 13 games since 2012 when they also were limited to three wins.

“They continue to battle,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “As long as they continue to push and battle, they’re going to get through it and they know it. It’s evident with the way they’re competing every single day, at least to my eyes.”Both teams will be coming off postponements when they meet Monday at the Rogers Centre.The Blue Jays will start left-hander Jaime Garcia (1-0, 3.18 ERA) Monday after their games Saturday and Sunday at Progressive Field were postponed because of rain. Garcia was scheduled to start Saturday, then Sunday, so the rotation will stay the same, meaning the staff will be well rested.

The Royals will start left-hander Eric Skoglund, who was scheduled to start Sunday against the Angels, but the game was postponed because of cold weather.The Royals have had a feast-or-famine start to the season. All three of their wins have been shutouts, but in the 10 losses they have been outscored 59-27.”I still feel like this team is going to get it together and we’re going to get on a little bit of a run,” Yost said.Help should be arriving soon. Catcher Salvador Perez has been sent to Double-A Northwest Arkansas Saturday on a rehabilitation assignment. He went on the disabled list March 29 with a Grade 2 MCL tear in a left knee, which was incurred while carrying his luggage from spring training up stairs at his home.

“Probably won’t be that long,” Yost said. “I know he’s anxious to get back.”Skoglund will be making his second start of the season Monday. He took the loss when the Royals lost 8-3 to the Seattle Mariners Tuesday, allowing five runs, six hits and two walks while striking out three in 4 2/3 innings.This will be his first career outing against Toronto.It was his first game competition in 24 days after his two previous attempts were either cancelled or postponed because of inclement weather.Garcia, who will make his third start of the season for the Blue Jays, is 1-1 with a 5.68 ERA in five career starts against the Royals.

His second start was April 8 at Texas when he recorded his first win for Toronto, allowing three earned runs on five hits and two walks while striking out five in 5 1/3 innings.The Blue Jays put third baseman Josh Donaldson (right shoulder inflammation) and designated hitter Kendrys Morales (hamstring) on the disabled list last week.Outfielder Teoscar Hernandez was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo Friday when Donaldson went on the DL and had two doubles and two RBIs, including what turned out to be the game-winning hit in the seventh inning.Right fielder Randal Grichuk continues to struggle at the plate.

He is batting .071 (3-for-42) with one home run but continues to play. He has one hit, three walks and 14 strikeouts in his past 37 plate appearances.”We believe in him,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “I think he’s close. I mean, he’s just missing some balls for whatever reason. We’ll let it run out and I think one solid game might set him off in the right direction.”Grichuk hit 24 homers in 2016 and 22 in 2017, both seasons with the St. LouisCardinals.

“He’s done it before, it’s not like he hasn’t hit at this level and never had any success,” Gibbons said. “When he gets on, he can do some things because he can run. And we’ve been looking for some of that around here. But, you know, he’s a human being and naturally he’s pressing hard.”KANSAS CITY — With temperatures hovering in the 30s and a biting wind billowing through Kauffman Stadium, Sunday’s series finale between the Angels and Royals was postponed due to frigid weather. The game has been rescheduled for June 25, which had been a scheduled off-day for the Angels before their six-game road trip to Boston and Baltimore.

Two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, who was slated to pitch Sunday, will have his third start on the mound pushed to Tuesday against left-hander David Price and the Red Sox at Angel Stadium.After playing through snowy conditions on Saturday night, the Angels and Royals were once again prepared to endure the cold on Sunday, but the decision to postpone the game was made about 25 minutes before first pitch.

“I think it’s just a functionality in every respect,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “You saw snow flurries out there again and you’ve got a wind chill of about 18 degrees. We’ve all played in cold weather, but at some point, it crosses a line, and I think today definitely crossed a line.”Left fielder Justin Upton was among the Angels players relieved by the decision to call the game.”I’m excited about it, honestly,” Upton said. “Guys can get injured in this type of weather, if it’s too cold. I think guys feel the same way in the clubhouse. If there’s a time that we can play in better conditions, and pitchers are safe, batters are safe, then let’s do that.

“I just know as an outfielder, I threw a couple balls in last night and couldn’t feel my hand. My elbow was zinging a little bit. I can’t imagine being on the mound and having to continuously throw. I don’t, personally, think it’s safe.”

Ohtani said his chief concern entering Sunday had been that his fingertips might go numb and cause him to lose feel for the ball.”Ideally, of course, I would like to pitch in sunny, nice weather,” Ohtani said via interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “But these things are going to come up during the season, so it would have been a good experience for me maybe in the long run. In that case, maybe I’m a little disappointed I didn’t pitch today.”

Phillies vs Braves

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The 2018 season begins for the Atlanta Braves on Thursday when they open up a three-game set against the Philadelphia Phillies at SunTrust Park.

Like the Braves, the Phillies are a team that is seemingly on the rise in the NL East. They have the sixth-best farm system in baseball according to Baseball America with several of their top prospects set to arrive in the majors.

While the offseason was quiet for most teams, the Phillies made a series of significant additions. The biggest of which was signing former Cubs starter Jake Arrieta to a three-year, $75 million contract. Philadelphia is hoping that Arrieta can be a stabilizing force for a young rotation. He posted a 3.53 ERA (4.16 FIP) in 168.1 innings for Chicago last season.

The Phillies also fortified their lineup inking former Cleveland first baseman Carlos Santana to a three-year, $60 million deal. Santana hit .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs in 154 games with the Indians last season. He will combine with Rhys Hoskins in what they hope will be a solid 1-2 punch in the middle of the order.

Fresh off of an eight-game, three city road trip, the Atlanta Braves return home to open up a seven-game homestand with a three-game set against the Philadelphia Phillies. Atlanta went 4-4 on their trip winning the series in Colorado, dropping 2 out of 3 to the Nationals and then splitting two games in Chicago before Sunday’s rainout.

The Braves missed an opportunity to return home 5-3 but blew a 10-2 lead to the Cubs thanks to a nine-run eighth inning. Weather conditions were awful for both teams but walk led to Atlanta’s demise. Overall the bullpen has performed well this season but has accumulated a high number of walks and they came back to burn them on Saturday.

Atlanta took two out of three from the Phillies during the opening weekend in what was a controversial series for Philadelphia manager Gabe Kapler.

Since then, the Phillies are 8-3 and have won six straight having swept Cincinnati at home and Tampa Bay on the road.

Nola was at the center of the first Kepler controversy when he was pulled after 68 pitches on Opening Day despite having not allowed a run. Hoby Milner came in and promptly served up a two-run home run to Freddie Freeman. Atlanta went on to erase a 5-0 deficit and win on walk-off home run by Nick Markakis.

Nola has been solid sense allowing just three runs over his next two starts. He is coming off of an eight-inning performance against the Reds where he allowed three hits and one run. If there is a concern, he has seen his walk totals on the rise having tallied seven over his last 13 innings.

The 2018 Major League Baseball regular season is finally upon us.

The new campaign will begin on Thursday, March 29. From there, the 30 teams will make the six-month trek with an eye on reaching the postseason. Of course, not every team has realistic playoff aspirations. But that’s the beauty of Opening Day: Every team can pretend otherwise.

Longtime divisional rivals do battle here in the opener for the second year of the Braves’ home, SunTrust Park.

The NL East belonged to the Braves from 1991-2005 and then the Phillies from 2007-11, but both teams have gone through a rebuild the past few years. Both are on the last legs of the rebuild and look to see growth toward contention again this season, with the Phillies, in particular, coming off a relatively aggressive offseason in signing Carlos Santana and Jake Arrieta.

The Braves won’t be with the crown jewel of the system, Ronald Acuna, just yet, but there’s plenty of excitement with the likes of Freddie Freeman, Ender Inciarte, and Ozzie Albies.

Rockies vs Pirates

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The Colorado Rockies are headed out on one of those road trips—one of those east coast road trips where offense goes to die and a 1-6 record looms. The games start earlier, which is nice for those of us in Central or Eastern time, but otherwise these road trips can be dreadful.The Rockies will play four games at the Washington Nationals starting Thursday night followed by a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates next week. Lest you think that series against the tanking, er, rebuilding Pirates would be a break, Clint Hurdle’s bunch has jumped out to an 8-3 record so far.

Here are some other things to consider about the upcoming road trip.Pressure on the starting pitching.Barring a breakout from the offense, which seems unlikely unless the team gets in another fight or is otherwise willing to shake things up, these will probably be close games. The Rockies have the bullpen to win those games, especially now that Adam Ottavino looks like his old self in addition to the big free agent signings.This team can win close games, but they need their starting pitching to last and keep the games close if they’re going to have a chance to get a lead for their bullpen to hold. They are certainly not built to come from behind or win high-scoring games at this point.

As with another factor on the trip, this will be especially important for the first couple games of the trip. Chad Bettis could do an awful lot to set a good tone with a solid start on Thursday night. Same goes for Kyle Freeland on Friday, who will have to avoid the home run trouble he has dealt with so far against a tough offense.Yes, pressure on the offense tooDon’t worry, they’re not off the hook. On the bright side, they’re in line to face three right-handed starters this weekend. Hopefully that means Ryan McMahon in the lineup and a generally more effective effort from this left-handed heavy group, but they sure will face some tough match-ups.

Max Scherzer pitches Saturday and Stephen Strasburg pitches Sunday. The Rockies will be staring a four-game sweep right in the face if they drop the first couple games of this series prior to those match-ups. They definitely need to take at least one of those first two games if they’re going to have a successful road trip.This would be true even if the offense was humming along, by the way. Scherzer is arguably the best pitcher in baseball and Strasburg is always a tough test. So yea, Ryan McMahon will finally get to start (maybe), but against those guys. Have fun!

As I mentioned, this team was supposed to be awful. Maybe they’ll still be awful. Right now they aren’t, however, and the Rockies will need to be ready. Besides seeing old friend Clint Hurdle, the Rockies will see old friend Corey Dickerson who is still doing his “roll out of bed and hit” thing in the middle of Pittsburgh’s lineup.Let’s call this what it is—the Rockies are not in a good spot right now. Charlie Blackmon is hurt and Nolan Arenado is awaiting word on a potential suspension. The rest of the offense is kind of a mess and the starting pitching has been unsteady to say the least.

Let’s be realistic and put this trip in the context of the rest of the season. Keeping the road record close to .500 will be good enough for now, especially with the tough match-ups this weekend. Win at least one game against the Nationals and then win the series against the Pirates, or jump the Nationals for a couple wins before the weekend and make sure you get another win on the trip.There will eventually be higher expectations for this team on tough road trips if they are going to reach the expectations we have for them. Just not now and not this trip. Right now they just need to avoid disaster.Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado has dropped his appeal and immediately will begin serving his five-game suspension from MLB in Washington for his part in Wednesday’s brawl with the San Diego Padres.

The suspension means Arenado will miss the Rockies’ three-game series against the Pirates at PNC Park.A team spokesman confirmed Saturday that Arenado would begin the suspension.Arenado charged the mound after Padres pitcher Luis Perdomo threw a pitch behind his back during the Rockies’ 6-4 victory.Ryan McMahon replaced Arenado in the lineup at third base Saturday.Rockies outfielder Gerrado Parra still is appealing his four-game suspension and was in the lineup Saturday, batting second.

One of the biggest issues with a potential washout on Sunday is that this is Colorado’s only scheduled regular-season trip to our nation’s capital. The team was scheduled to leave after the game on Sunday to head to Pittsburgh, where they are slated to begin a three-game series against the Pirates on Monday night. However, cold weather and precipitation is forecast for Pittsburgh during the first part of the week, meaning the Rockies could be playing a waiting game there as well.

Colorado won the first two games of this series but Washington came back to capture Saturday’s matinee behind a dominating performance from Max Scherzer. Only a two-run homer from Charlie Blackmon in his return from a quad injury kept the Rockies from being no-hit by the three-time Cy Young Award winner in a dominating performance.I will keep this page updated from Nationals Park as I am sitting in the press box and keeping an eye on the field and weather conditions. Check below for the latest updates and make sure you refresh the page to see the latest conditions.