Sunday’s NFL – Pittsburgh vs. Jacksonville

Sloppy Steelers search for answers against lowly Jags

NFL Logo( – The Jacksonville Jaguars were ahead, 17-0, in their Week 1 visit to Philadelphia before allowing 34 unanswered second-half points. Those tumultuous 30 minutes kick-started a stretch in which they’ve now played seven halves of football and been outscored, 152-41, while doing so.
*My best sports handicapping picks is located at the bottom of the article*.

In fact, the Jaguars haven’t won at all since beating Houston, 27-20, on Dec. 5, 2013.

“We’re not light on losing,” coach Gus Bradley said. “We’re not playing our best right now so we can’t think about anything else. We haven’t accomplished playing our best yet. Let’s do that then we’ll see what happens.”

The Blake Bortles Era officially began last week when the rookie got his first start over veteran Chad Henne. He connected on all but three of his 18 first- half passes for 149 yards and a touchdown against San Diego, before ultimately winding up 29-for-37 for 253 yards, the TD and two interceptions.

The Jaguars lost, 33-14, but they recorded a season-high with 21 first downs and converted nine of 14 attempts on third down. And Bortles earned some respect from the opposition, too.

“He’s going to be a real good quarterback in the league,” Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers said.

The next phase of his climb will be hampered by the likely absence of top receiving target Cecil Shorts III, who injured a muscle in his left leg against San Diego and is considered doubtful for Sunday. Shorts missed the first two games with a strained left hamstring, then caught seven passes for 60 yards and a touchdown in weeks 3 and 4.

Among the other targets, rookie Marqise Lee remains sidelined with his own hamstring issue, while Ace Sanders returns after a four-game NFL-mandated suspension. He caught 51 passes as a rookie in 2013.

“I don’t know what to expect,” Sanders said. “I’m just going in, whatever they ask me to do, I’ll do it. If it turns out, I’ll be ready for it.”

On defense, the Jaguars have been gashed for a league-worst 38 points per game, and are also at the bottom of the 32-team barrel with 320.8 passing yards allowed per week, alongside 451.3 total yards.

Jacksonville responded to the difficulties by waiving starting safety Winston Guy.

“I just think we’re not challenging throws,” Bradley said. “It needs to be tighter.”

Approaching the matchup with eyes wide open is Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who completed 29-of-40 passes for 314 yards and three scores against Tampa Bay last week, only to have defeat snatched from the jaws of victory when the Bucs pulled ahead in the final 10 seconds.

Roethlisberger has passed for 413 yards in two road games to start the season. His top target, Antonio Brown, is among the league’s leaders in catches (29), yards (427) and touchdowns (5).

A loss to the Jaguars would put the Steelers below .500 after five games for the third straight year, a stretch coach Mike Tomlin would like to see end while the team reduces its burgeoning early-season penalty rate. Pittsburgh committed 13 penalties last week and is averaging 11 per game.

“We need to fix it,” Tomlin said. “And if we don’t we’ll continue to lose close football games.”

The Steelers have managed seven sacks and forced three turnovers in four games. Tampa Bay, which entered the game 0-3 and was coming off a 42-point loss, got into scoring position late in the game with a 41-yard pass play. The game-winner came on another pass from the 5-yard line.

Pittsburgh allowed 350 total yards for the game.

The 2013 season began at 2-6 for the Steelers, while 2012 featured a 2-3 start. Both seasons ended at 8-8 and out of the playoffs. Pittsburgh hasn’t reached the postseason since going 12-4 in 2011.

“We fell short in our responsibilities,” cornerback Cortez Allen said. “That’s why we didn’t come out with a win. It’s something we’ve got to fix.”


Rookie vs. Mastermind

As impressive as Bortles has been through one start and one relief appearance – throwing for 447 yards and three scores against four interceptions – he’ll presumably face a unique challenge against the Pittsburgh defense concocted by veteran sideline guru Dick LeBeau.

Veteran passers have ravaged the Steelers for a 62.2 percent completion rate in 2014, but LeBeau is 18-2 against rookies since 2004.

Target Practice

With Shorts and Lee presumably out of commission and Sanders trying to feel his way back into game action, the top target for Bortles will likely be Allen Hurns, who’s caught 12 passes for 254 yards and scored three times in four games. Limiting his success will be the responsibility of Pittsburgh corners Allen and William Gay, who’ll need to limit his propensity for big plays (21.2 yards per catch).


The general consensus is that, thanks to his track record, Tomlin isn’t likely to feel too much heat with another lackluster Pittsburgh start. But a loss to a particularly poor 0-4 team might change that quickly.

The Steelers should have been 3-1 entering this one, so there’s a particular urgency to make this business trip a productive one against a team they should handle. They should get it done.

Sports Network predicted outcome: Steelers 30, Jaguars 17

( – 10/05 07:43:31 ET

*My best sports handicapping picks agree with TSN that Pittsburgh will win handily*.


Braves Rely on Harang in Middle Test with D-backs for 07/05/2014

MLB( – Aaron Harang eyes his third straight win on Saturday when the Atlanta Braves play the middle test of a three-game series versus the Arizona Diamondbacks at Turner Field.
*Sports handicapping pick is bottom of the article.

Harang improved to 7-6 on Sunday in Philadelphia as he held the Phils to just two runs over seven innings, despite giving up 11 hits. The veteran right-hander pitched himself in and out of trouble, holding Phillies batters to 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranding eight men on base, as he lowered his ERA to 3.69.

“He battled,” Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “No big hits.”

Harang has struggled against Arizona, going a mere 3-9 against them with a 3.27 ERA in 18 games (17 starts).

Arizona, meanwhile, will turn to right-handed rookie Mike Bolsinger, who is 1-4 wtih a 4.53 ERA. Bolsinger lost his third straight decision on Sunday in San Diego, as he allowed two runs and three hits over isx innings, but walked four batters.

“Since I’ve been up here I’ve been proud of myself for not walking people, and like the San Francisco game the one walk I gave up scored,” Bolsinger said. “That’s just something that I’ve got to try to eliminate. Besides that, everything else felt pretty good.”

Bolsinger has put together back-to-back quality starts, allowing four runs in 13 2/3 innings.

“You’ve just kind of got to build on every start and that’s what I’m trying to do,” he said. “The only thing that kind of went backwards today was the walks. Hopefully my next start I can eliminate that and keep us in the gameplan.”

Atlanta drew first blood in this series on Friday, as Freddie Freeman knocked in two runs to back a strong start from Ervin Santana, and the Braves won,. 5-2. Andrelton Simmons, Justin Upton and Jason Heyward each knocked in a run for the Braves, who have won eight straight.

“We’ve done a good job of putting runs up,” Upton said. “Pitching has done a good job of shutting down and keeping us in the game.”

Santana (7-5) hurled 7 1/3 innings and was charged with two runs, six hits and struck out six to earn the win.

Josh Collmenter (7-5) took the loss after giving up five runs on 11 hits over six-plus innings of work.

Arizona had dropped four of its last five.

“It’s hard to explain,” Arizona’s Martin Prado said of the team’s recent struggles. “We’re trying everything we can to turn around things. It ain’t happening.”

The D-backs have lost 10 of their last 11 in Atlanta.

( – 07/05 09:54:13 ET

*One of my sports handicapping picks for today is for the Atlanta Braves to win.


Cleveland Indians wrap up set with the Seattle Mariners – 06/29/2014

Indians wrap up set with King Felix, Mariners

MLB( – The Cleveland Indians try to follow up a masterful game by Josh Tomlin on Saturday night as they finish off a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

Outside of a lead-off single by Kyle Seager to start the bottom of the fifth yesterday, Tomlin was untouchable. The hurler allowed just that lone hit and struck out 11 as he went the distance for the visitors. Tomlin, now 5-5 on the campaign, joined Len Barker as the only Cleveland hurlers in the past century to have at least 11 strikeouts, no walks and no more than a single hit allowed in a shutout.

“I knew I felt good and I knew I was commanding the ball to both sides of the plate,” Tomlin said. “I was on the same page as (catcher Yan Gomes) from the get-go and, the way the defense was playing, it was turning out to be a good night.”

Providing offensive support for Tomlin was Gomes, who belted his ninth home run of the season, while Mike Aviles contributed a pair of hits and scored once for a Cleveland squad that is currently two games under .500 and sitting in third place in the AL Central, 6 1/2 games off the pace.

Roenis Elias was charged with the loss as the Seattle starter gave up five runs on six hits and a couple of walks, fanning two in six innings of action.

“The stars just didn’t line up for us tonight in a lot of different ways,” said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. “It was pretty ugly for us all the way around. Their guy threw a nice ballgame. It was just one of those days. Quite honestly, we haven’t had one of those for quite a while. Every team has ’em and we had one tonight. Move on and get ready for tomorrow.”

With the defeat the Mariners have now fallen in two of the last three outings and are 7 1/2 games out of first in the AL West.

The Indians have shaken up the starting rotation a bit and have penciled in T.J. House as the pitcher for this afternoon’s battle in Seattle. House, a rookie left-hander from Louisiana, has just six appearances at the major league level to his credit, the most recent of those coming against Boston on June 14 at Fenway Park.

In that contest House gave up just two runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out three, over 5 1/3 innings but he failed to earn a decision even as Cleveland picked up the 3-2 victory.

While the Tribe goes with an inexperienced arm, Seattle opts for former Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez. Already within three wins of his entire total from last season when he was just 12-10, Hernandez is coming off his first victory in the last four outings, a 12-3 decision over Boston at home on Monday.

Against the Red Sox, Hernandez permitted just two runs on six hits and struck out six over seven innings of action.

For his career, Hernandez has a record of 6-5 and a 3.25 ERA in 14 all-time appearances versus Cleveland.

Even though it was Cleveland and Tomlin that shut down the Mariners bats, Seattle pitchers have been much more consistent in that area this season and currently rank second in the AL with opponents hitting just .234 against them.

The Mariners lost five of seven games against Cleveland last season.

( – 06/29 11:05:21 ET

One of my best sports handicapping picks for today is for Seattle to win, and the total score to go over 6.5 runs.


Tigers aim to find win column vs. Astros – Saturday, 06/28/2014

( – After having their seven-game win streak stopped on Friday night, the Detroit Tigers try to get back on track this afternoon at Minute Maid Park as they battle the Houston Astros in the second of three games.

MLBDetroit, which is in the midst of a nine-game road jaunt, is 10 games over .500 away from home as it leads the American League Central standings by 3 1/2 games at the moment. However, the club was taken to extra innings last night and came up short in a 4-3 final through 11.

Detroit starter Justin Verlander made it through only six innings, giving up three runs on six hits, but managed to strike out eight before giving way to the bullpen.

Offensively, Nick Castellanos logged his sixth home run of the season, while Ian Kinsler accounted for three hits and J.D. Martinez two more.

The hero of the game for the Astros, a team which is still in last place in the AL West, was catcher Jason Castro, who delivered the game-winning home run in the bottom of the 11th. Now batting .342, Jose Altuve produced four of his team’s nine hits and scored twice.

Altuve, who stole a couple of bases and has now been successful in all but three of his 35 attempts in that department, leads the majors with 111 hits.

“When you start to talk about MVP, you ask yourself the question: ‘If you take that player off that team, where would they be?'” Astros manager Bo Porter said of Altuve. “Lord, I don’t even want to think about that. Retract that.”

Houston reliever Jake Buchanan was credited with the win, the first of his major league career. Brad Peacock made it through 6 2/3 innings to begin the meeting, permitting two runs on seven hits and a couple walks, striking out three.

The Astros have now won back-to-back contests after posting just a single victory in the previous nine decisions.

Still trying to put an awful performance against Kansas City back on June 17 out of his mind, Max Scherzer again heads to the hill for the Tigers this afternoon. Now gunning for his 10th win of 2013, the right-hander was shelled by the Royals 11 days ago when he allowed 10 runs on 10 hits in just four innings.

Scherzer has hopefully put that lackluster effort behind him and took the first step in doing so last weekend when he came out on top against the Cleveland Indians on the road. Against the Tribe, Scherzer gave up just a single run on six hits and fanned eight, giving him 119 strikeouts on the season.

This will be the seventh appearance (sixth start) for Scherzer versus Houston in his career and already he has a 3-1 record and a 3.52 ERA to show for his efforts.

Dallas Keuchel was originally scheduled to make the start for the Astros today, but inflammation in his left wrist has led to him being taken out of the rotation for the time being. As a result, Brett Oberholtzer has been called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City to fill in.

The left-hander is back up in the big leagues for the third time this season with his last outing taking place on May 30 against Baltimore. In that meeting the Delaware native pitched seven strong innings, allowing just a single run on four hits.

Oberholtzer clashed with the Tigers on May 6 in Detroit, coincidentally his last defeat in the majors. The hurler gave up four runs on nine hits and struck out four through six innings that day.

Prior to last night’s series opener, Detroit had won three of the four meetings with the Astros on the season.

( – 06/28 10:17:03 ET

One of my best sports handicapping picks for today is for the Detroit Tigers to win.


MLB Sunday, 06/22/14 – San Francisco vs. Arizona

Bumgarner eyes return to win column against Diamondbacks

MLB( – Madison Bumgarner looks to avoid a third straight winless start on Sunday afternoon as the San Francisco Giants go for a series victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Bumgarner gets the call in the finale of this three-game set having gone 0-1 in two starts since winning six consecutive decisions. He picked up a loss versus Washington on June 10 even though he allowed just two runs over seven innings, then did not factor into an 8-7 setback to Colorado last Sunday.

The left-handed Bumgarner yielded four of those runs on six hits and four walks over seven innings, striking out nine. He is 8-4 on the year with a 2.85 earned run average.

Bumgarner, 24, faced the Diamondbacks in his first start of the season on March 31 and did not factor into a 9-8 win. He was touched for four runs — all unearned — over four frames and is 4-4 lifetime in this series with a 2.71 ERA.

Mike Bolsinger will make his second straight start for Arizona in place of the injured Bronson Arroyo, out with a sprained right elbow.

Bolsinger was demoted to Triple-A Reno after a May 5 loss to Milwaukee, but returned to the majors for a start on Tuesday against those same Brewers. The 26-year-old righty did not get a decision in his club’s 7-5 loss after giving up three runs on seven hits — two homers — over 6 1/3 innings with six strikeouts.

Bolsinger is 1-2 with a 5.70 ERA in six games (5 starts) this season and will face the Giants for the first time.

San Francisco snapped a six-game slide with last night’s 6-4 win as Hunter Pence homered and Pablo Sandoval drove in two runs on three hits.

Tyler Colvin added a season-high three RBI in just San Francisco’s second victory in 11 games.

“Colvin had the big hit,” said Pence referring to Colvin’s two-run single with the bases loaded in the first inning. “That was huge for us.”

The contribution by Colvin was in fact big seeing as outfielder Angel Pagan missed his fifth straight game with lower back pain and first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse exited in the fifth inning with his own back tightness.

Morse is unlikely to play today, while Pagan is close to returning.

Aaron Hill went 2-for-4 with two RBI for Arizona, which suffered yet another setback with Brandon McCarthy on the hill. McCarthy was charged with five runs on 10 hits in five innings, as the D-backs fell to 2-14 when he starts this season.

“They hit (McCarthy) hard in the first two innings; seven hits in the first two innings,” said Arizona manager Kirk Gibson. “Just wasn’t our night.”

The Giants have won five of nine versus the Diamondbacks this season.

( – 06/22 10:36:45 ET

One of my best sports handicapping picks is for San Francisco to win.


Tuesday’s MLB – Colorado Rockies vs. the LA Dodgers

Greinke squares off with Rox hoping to return to win column

MLB( – Zack Greinke hasn’t recorded a victory in his last three starts and gets the call Tuesday for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the middle test of a three-game series versus the Colorado Rockies.

Greinke is 0-2 with a 4.26 earned run average in his last three starts — all Los Angeles losses — and he gave up two runs in six innings of a 4-1 loss at Cincinnati on Thursday. Greinke is still a solid 8-3 on the season with a 2.65 earned run average.

The right-hander is 4-1 in six home starts and 3-2 with a 4.20 ERA in 11 career games (10 starts) against the Rockies.

Los Angeles rode starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu to a 6-1 win on Monday and the left-hander gave up just a run and three hits in six innings. Ryu struck out six and walked one batter, while four relievers kept the Rockies off the board.

“Ryu pitched well with his fastball and changeup,” said Rockies manager Walt Weiss. “We’ve seen him be tough on us before, and he was good tonight.”

Dee Gordon had a big night with four hits and two runs scored, Yasiel Puig went 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored and Matt Kemp drove in two runs for the Dodgers, winners in seven of the last 11 games.

LA had a 15-4 advantage in hits.

The Rockies had a five-game winning streak cut short last night and Wilin Rosario provided the scoring with a home run in the fourth inning. Rosario had two of the four hits for Colorado, which had scored 48 runs in its previous six games.

Tyler Matzek was dealt the loss in his second career start and was reached for three runs and 10 hits in five innings.

“The slider wasn’t there as much and I was falling behind hitters early,” Matzek said.

Jhoulys Chacin draws the start for Colorado Tuesday and he is only 1-4 with a 4.53 ERA this season. Chacin found the win column for the first time in Thursday’s 10-3 win over Atlanta and hurled seven shutout innings of two-hit ball with five K’s and two walks.

Chacin is winless (0-2) in four road starts and 8-6 with a 3.71 ERA in 17 career games (16 starts) against the Dodgers.

The Dodgers won two of three games in Colorado earlier this month.

( – 06/17 10:50:03 ET

One of my best sports handicapping picks is for the LA Dodgers to win.


The NY Yankees vs. the Oakland Athletics for Saturday, 06/14/2014

( – The New York Yankees will try for their fifth straight win as well as a series victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night at the Coliseum.

MLBHiroki Kuroda is set to throw for the Yankees, as he attempts to improve upon his 4-4 record and 4.12 ERA.

Kuroda was the hard-luck loser his last time out, earning the loss against the Royals on June 8 despite allowing just two earned runs over seven innings of work.

The veteran from Japan had a dominant outing against the Athletics on June 3, yielding just two hits, a walk and an earned run in 6 2/3 innings, but he posted a no-decision as the Yankees eventually fell, 5-2.

Kuroda is 1-2 in five career starts against the A’s and 1-2 in six road assignments this season.

For Oakland, Scott Kazmir will attempt to continue his career resurgence. The veteran southpaw is on the fast track to an All-Star bid at 7-2 while ranking third in the American League in ERA (2.20) and second in WHIP (0.98).

Kazmir was masterful in his latest outing, pitching seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts in a convincing 11-1 victory over the Orioles.

“When you get a lead like that, you have to attack the hitters,” Kazmir said. “You have to get strike one.”

“Kazmir is having about as good a year as anybody in baseball,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said afterward.

Kazmir has been especially great in recent weeks, going 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA over his last three starts, which includes a 10-strikeout performance against the Yankees on June 3.

In the series opener on Friday night, the Yankees barely broke a sweat as they captured a 7-0 triumph.

David Phelps (2-4) enjoyed his best outing of the season, earning the victory after tossing 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and three walks while striking out four.

The Yankees collected 12 hits on the evening, with Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki and Brian Roberts each tallying two hits and an RBI.

Sonny Gray (6-3) was handed the loss for the Athletics after yielding seven hits and three earned runs over six innings of work to go with seven strikeouts.

Jed Lowrie and Derek Norris were responsible for the only two hits for the home team.

The season series between the squads is now split at two games apiece.

( – 06/14 10:16:00 ET

One of my best sports picks for Saturday is for Oakland to beat NY.


MLB – Yanks hope to break out the brooms in Seattle – 06/12/2014

MLB( – Chase Whitley will look to build off the first victory of his career on Thursday night when the New York Yankees aim for a three-game sweep of the hosting Seattle Mariners.

Whitley, who turns 25 on Saturday, finally secured his first victory on Friday against Kansas City in what was his fifth career start. He gave up two runs on five hits over seven innings and did not walk a batter for a third start in a row.

It also marked the first time that Whitley pitched past five innings and he is 1-0 on the year with a 2.42 earned run average.

“I felt good about him ever since I saw him pitch the first game,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Whitley. “He throws strikes, he locates, he doesn’t beat himself. He fields his position (and) and does a lot of things right.”

The right-hander will face the Mariners for the first time in his fifth career road start as the Yankees look to record their first sweep in this series since a three-game set from May 23-25, 2008 in the Bronx.

New York has not recorded a sweep in Seattle since a four-game set from Aug. 5-8, 1999.

Whitley will also be following up yet another gem from fellow rookie Masahiro Tanaka, who become baseball’s second 10-game winner with a 4-2 victory over the Mariners on Wednesday.

Tanaka fanned 11 while posting his second complete game. It was nearly a shutout, but the hurler was taken deep by former Yankee Robinson Cano for a two-run homer in the ninth inning.

Tanaka quickly recovered, striking out Kyle Seager and Logan Morrison in succession.

“He was very good again tonight,” Girardi said of Tanaka. “I thought his stuff was great. Another complete game for him, another complete-game win for him. He just continues to go out and do his job, that’s all he’s doing.”

Mark Teixeira launched a three-run homer, while Jacoby Ellsbury went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored for the Yankees, who have won two straight and four of their last six games.

Derek Jeter stole a pair of bases to give him 351 in his career. The Yankees shortstop became just the third player in MLB history to record at least 3,000 hits, 350 steals and 250 home runs, joining Rickey Henderson and Craig Biggio.

Seattle had won three straight and eight of nine heading into this series, but failed to pull even in the set after Chris Young yielded four runs over five frames in taking the loss.

“I made a mistake to Teixeira and pulled a fastball down and in into his wheelhouse and he hit it out,” Young said. “It’s a night where I needed to keep us close and give us a chance to win late and I didn’t do it.”

The Mariners try to get on track behind their own rookie in left-hander Roenis Elias, who is 5-4 with a 3.64 ERA in 13 starts and that includes a win over the Yankees on May 1.

Elias hurled seven innings of two-run ball in that outing, striking out 10 batters. Ellsbury, Jeter and Brian Roberts all fanned twice against him.

The 25-year-old Elias won his second straight start last time out as he followed a three-hit shutout of Detroit with a 7-4 triumph over Tampa Bay on Saturday. He did yield four runs on five hits and two walks, giving up two homers and fanning five.

( – 06/12 10:38:11 ET

One of my best sports picks for tonight is for the underdog New York Yankees to win.


St. Louis Cardinals vs. the Tampa Bay Rays – 06/10/2014

MLBSportsNetwork,com) – Adam Wainwright will try again for his ninth win of the season when the St. Louis Cardinals open a quick set against the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday at Tropicana Field.

It appeared Wainwright was headed for win No. 9 his last time out in a 5-2 victory at Kansas City last Wednesday, but emerged with a no-decision after being charged with two runs in eight innings. He scattered four hits, struck out eight and walked two batters.

Wainwright, who is 8-3 with a 2.31 earned run average, was coming off a rough outing versus San Francisco on May 30 and gave up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings. The right-hander has faced Tampa Bay just once in his career and did not factor in the outcome of a 9-8 win, as he was reached for four runs and 12 hits across 5 2/3 innings back in 2008.

Wainwright is 9-5 in 19 interleague starts.

St. Louis won two of three games in Toronto over the weekend and recorded its second straight 5-0 win on Sunday. Jaime Garcia threw seven shutout innings and allowed three hits for the win, while Pat Neshek and Trevor Rosenthal each hurled a scoreless inning of relief.

“They have one of the best lineups in the league. I knew it was going to be a challenge,” said Garcia. “I was able to get them off balance a little bit and then keep the ball down.”

Garcia was aided by a four-run second inning and Matt Carpenter belted a two- run homer during the frame. Jhonny Peralta homered in the win for St. Louis, which is 3-2 on a seven-game road trip. Matt Holliday was scratched from the lineup due to lower back tightness and is day-to-day.

After halting a 10-game losing streak with a win over Seattle on Friday, the Rays have dropped three in a row, including Monday’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of the visiting Mariners in the finale of a four-game set.

Rays starting pitcher David Price fell to 4-6 this season and allowed all three runs in eight innings of work. Price fanned 10 batters and walked one.

Kevin Kiermaier and James Loney both doubled for the Rays, who produced just five hits and have been shut out in consecutive games. Tampa Bay has been blanked four times in the previous nine games.

“There’s not a whole lot to add to it. At some point, we have to get our bats alive,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

The Rays are 1-5 on an eight-game homestand and will send Jake Odorizzi to the mound Tuesday. Odorizzi has lost two straight starts and is winless (0-3) in his last four trips to the mound, including Thursday’s 11-6 setback to Miami.

Odorizzi allowed four runs in five innings and fell to 2-6 in 12 starts with a 5.31 ERA. The right-hander has allowed 13 runs in his past four outings and is 1-2 in six starts at home this season. He has never faced the Cardinals.

The Rays and Cardinals are meeting for the first time since 2011, when Tampa Bay won two of three meetings at the Trop.

SportsNetwork,com) – 06/10 10:53:38 ET

One of my best sports picks is for St. Louis to win tonight.

The DIRECTV Protection Plan is a Ripoff

Since I have a sports business I not only enjoy keeping up with the scores of different sporting events, but it is almost imperative to have available scores. I cannot get any help from DIRECTV, just the run around. All the customer service agents are trained experts in the art of mendacity. If you have the DIRECTV Protection Plan, and have had the unpleasant experience of no resolution, you certainly are welcome to reply. See my article to the Better Business Bureau below:

laptop1armI was sent an incorrect receiver replacement because of a reoccurring “APT” problem since early March, which I have made several calls pertaining to this problem. The bedroom receiver downloads the sports apt just fine, but the living room does not. When I called to report the error of the incorrect receiver sent to correct the existing problem (Jamie of Miss.) referred it upper case management (Randy; employee # 255011) he said they should not have shipped one due to the malfunction was a software/engineering problem (although it works on one receiver in the same house). This is a prevalent comment made by all customer service employees, no matter what the problem maybe. My brother-in-law had to call several times (months) before sending him a new receiver to replace the defective one with no picture; he was also told it was a software/engineering problem. The comments are always the same, i.e., a software/engineering problem, and nothing is done for the consumer. I should NOT have to wait months to have repairs made if I am paying $7.99 a month for their service. Myself, and other customers are paying $7.99 a month for this fraudulent feature. How many millions of dollars has DIRECTV bilked out of unsuspecting consumers? I am going to file a report to the national “Better Business Bureau” to maybe help prevent this misfeasance to other consumers. Thank you for your time, John You found, so will your customers. It's a great label for your website and will help you define your identity on the Web.