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Baseball: Weekend Digest

A roundup of news and notes from this weekend in baseball.

After nine years in the job, Charlie Manuel was fired as Philadelphia manager.

After nine years in the job, Charlie Manuel was fired as Philadelphia manager.

With football just around the corner, BettingSports.com may have averted some of its attention away from baseball, but that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten it entirely.

After a heavy weekend of football coverage, our Weekend Digest brings you a roundup of the baseball news you need to know as well as a look at some of the important fixtures ahead this week.

Phillies Fire Manuel

The weekend started with the surprising news that the Philadelphia Phillies had parted ways with long time manager Charlie Manuel.

The Phillies (54-69) have been decimated by injuries this season and have long been out of the postseason hunt in the National League. But Manuel’s firing was still enough to shock many around baseball, as reported by the Philadelphia Enquirer.

Charlie_Manuel_careerIn nine years, Manuel led the Phillies to a 780-636 (.551) record, making him the most successful manager in franchise history. He managed the club to five division titles, two pennants and the 2008 World Series. A 5-1 win over the Atlanta Braves on Monday marked his final victory as manager, and the 1,000th win of his career.

He will be replaced by third base coach Ryne Sandberg, long thought to be Manuel’s eventual successor.

A-Rod Strikes Back

While Manuel’s departure was accompanied by sadness, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was greeted by an expectedly tumultuous welcome at Fenway Park this weekend.

Currently appealing a 211-game PED-related ban, Rodriguez faced a continuous chorus of boos, jeers and ridicule across the three-game series. Sunday’s rubber match served up the most noise though.

With Rodriguez leading off the second inning, Boston Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster first threw a pitch behind the recently returned slugger. He then threw a pair of pitches inside before hitting Rodriguez in the elbow pad which deflected the ball into his back. Umpire Brian O’Nora cave both clubs a warning, inciting an on-field tirade by Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who argued Dempster should have been tossed for deliberately hitting Rodriguez. Girardi was the one tossed.

The embattled slugger would have the last laugh though. Rodriguez homered to center in the sixth, sending Dempster’s pitch into the Fenway Park bleachers. He would finish the day 3 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. More importantly, the Yankees would go on to win the game 9-6, taking two of three from the Sox over the weekend.

Of course, the weekend wouldn’t be complete without the soap opera storyline surrounding Rodriguez and his suspension serving up another twist. The latest claim from Rodriguez’s lawyer is that the Yankees knew about the third baseman’s injuries last season, but allowed him to play on. The accusation drew impassioned responses from Yankees GM Brian Cashman and President Randy Levine.

Now we await the next installment in this ongoing saga.

Royals’ Tejada Suspended

Miguel Tejada will be absent for 105 games.

Miguel Tejada’s career may be over.

Rodriguez’s suspension wasn’t the only punishment in the public eye this weekend. Miguel Tejada was served a 105-game suspension ahead of Sunday’s game between the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers.

The suspension comes after the 2002 AL MVP failed a pair of mandatory drug tests, testing positive for an amphetamine. According to Tejada, he was taking a course of Adderall to manage his attention deficit disorder (ADD). Under Major League Baseball’s current drug program, the amphetamine is not illegal, but can only be taken with expressed permission. Tejada’s most recent permit is reported to have expired on April 15.

Tejada, who has long been linked to PED-related claims, is hitting .288 (45 for 167) with three home runs and 20 RBIs in 53 appearances for the Royals (64-59) this season. The club remains on the periphery of the American League wild card race.

At 39-years-old, you now have to ask whether or not Tejada, who signed a one-year deal with the Royals after failing to find a team for the 2012 season, will ever play in the majors again?

Dodgers’ Streak Snapped

While there was plenty of off-the-field news to report this weekend, there was still a lot of action to follow on the field. The Los Angeles Dodgers continued to make noise this weekend, picking up a pair of wins in Philadelphia to open up a three-game set with the Phillies.

Those two victories padded the Dodgers’ winning streak to 10 games, but that was where the streak would end. The Phillies proved to be spoilers Sunday, escaping the afternoon with a 3-2 victory, the first for their new manager.

The loss is hardly likely to scare the Dodgers (72-51) though. On June 21 the club was 30-42. Since, Don Mattingly’s side has gone 42-9, including 25-4 since the All Star break. The Dodgers now hold a 7 ½ game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West, and are all but a shoe in for postseason play. It would take a collapse of epic proportions, those same epic proportions that have seen the side rise from the bottom of the division, for this Los Angeles side to be inactive in October.

NL Central Race Closes In … Again

Homer Bailey and the Reds are creeping up.

Homer Bailey and the Reds are creeping up.

While the Dodgers may have a nigh on insurmountable lead out west, the NL Central continues to serve up one of the most intriguing races in all of baseball.

This weekend, the Pittsburgh Pirates (72-51) maintained a lead at the top of the division, despite dropping two of three to Arizona. The Bucs’ performance was better by a St. Louis Cardinals (71-52) side that took two of three from the Chicago Cubs, having taken two of three from Pittsburgh earlier in the week. The Cardinals now sit just one-game back of the Pirates in the division standings.

Winners of nine from their last 12, the Cincinnati Reds (70-54) are once again throwing their hat into the NL Central ring. The Reds split a four-game set with the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend, but with 13 games remaining against the Cardinals and Pirates combined, Dusty Baker’s side is still very much a threat.

The Week Ahead

20130818_ALIn terms of games with postseason implications, this week starts relatively slow.

Arizona hopes to keep its slim postseason hopes alive with a trip to Cincinnati. The Reds will be looking to keep a hold of the final wild card berth while also hoping to make up ground in the NL Central. This series runs from Monday through Thursday. Odds for Monday’s series opener can be found here.

Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Rays will look to close the gap on AL East-leading Boston with a three-game set against the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s will have other ideas as they look to traverse a 3 ½-game gap to reach the Rays. Odds for Monday night’s game at Camden Yards can be found here.

20130818_NLLooking further ahead, the weekend rolls in with a number of fixtures that could have huge postseason implications. First up, Tampa Bay hosts the Yankees. The Rays are still in the hunt for the AL East title while the Yankees are playing for their postseason lives. This three-game set, beginning Friday, will have implications.

Baltimore will also look to gain ground in the AL East and wild card races. Buck Showalter’s club hosts the Oakland Athletics for three games from Friday. Depending on how the final divisional standings pan out, one of these two could be missing out on the postseason, so winning here is vital.

The Red Sox meet the Dodgers in a three-game set starting Friday in a matchup that could be a preview of the World Series. That series will be all over national television, with Fox and ESPN covering Saturday and Sunday’s games respectively.

In the National League, the Atlanta Braves will meet the St. Louis Cardinals in a four-game series beginning Thursday. The Braves are simply playing out the season having jumped out to a huge lead over the Washington Nationals in the NL East, while the Cardinals are in the thick of battle.

Finally, Saturday’s schedule will feature the seventh annual Civil Rights Game, with the Chicago White Sox (49-74) hosting the Texas Rangers (71-53) at US Cellular Field. It might not be the most appealing of games, but the festivities surrounding the game should at least make it worth tuning in for. Of course, the Rangers are looking to keep ahold of a slim advantage in the AL West, which means the game isn’t completely devoid of on-field merit.

BettingSports.com will have odds and trends for all of these fixtures, and every game on the MLB schedule, as they become available.

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