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James Shields of the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds play in opposite leagues and rarely see each other [url=http://www.coltscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-ryan-grant-jersey]Ryan Grant Jersey[/url] , yet they currently have much in common.
Now that they’re starting to make something out of what appeared to be a totally lost season, they’d like to keep it going.
The Reds got off to the worst start in baseball at 8-27, one so bad that getting to .500 looked to be as much of a challenge as winning a division title would be for most teams.
But when the Reds (36-48) take on the right-handed Shields and the White Sox on Monday night at Great American Ball Park, in the teams’ first matchup since 2015, they’ll be one of the majors’ hottest clubs. They’ve won 11 of 14 after taking the final two games of a four-game weekend series against the Milwaukee Brewers, and interim manager Jim Riggleman now has a 33-33 record for a last-place team.
Considering that Riggleman took over a Reds team that was 3-15 under former manager Bryan Price, that’s something of an accomplishment. And the Reds own a 6-1 record in interleague games.
“We know we can play with these teams that are in first place in their division,” Riggleman said.
They’re winning now in grand fashion, too. Jose Peraza hit the team’s major league-leading ninth grand slam Sunday in an 8-2 win over the Brewers, their second in two games (pitcher Michael Lorenzen hit a pinch-grand slam Saturday) and sixth in 17 games. They’ve already tied a club season record.
“We’ve been getting better at-bats … and we’ve happened to have men on base,” Riggleman said.
Cincinnati starter Matt Harvey pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings before being lifted after a rain delay, and the Reds dealt Brewers rookie Freddy Peralta (3-1), who gave up three runs in five innings, his first major league loss. Peralta allowed only one hit in seven shutout innings against the Kansas City Royals in his previous start.
“That’s probably the best I’ve felt since 2013,” said Harvey (4-5), who won his third straight start.
Shields (3-9), likewise, is beginning to see a ray of sunshine in what previously was a gloomy season. He’s coming off his best start of the year, pitching seven shutout innings and giving up four hits Wednesday in a 6-1 win over the Minnesota Twins. It was his 12th quality start of the season, or five more than he had all of last season.
Shields still isn’t the pitcher that won 13 or more games seven times from 2008 to 2015 [url=http://www.coltscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-marshall-faulk-jersey]Marshall Faulk Jersey[/url] , but it hasn’t helped that he’s pitching for a team that’s off to the second worst start in franchise history. He has allowed a respectable six earned runs in his last four starts, and twice yielded one or no runs while lasting at least seven innings.
At age 36, Shields is making adjustments to compensate for his decreased velocity, yet has pitched at least six innings in 12 of his last 13 starts for a last-place team.
“My body’s feeling really good this year, and this is kind of what I’ve done my whole career,” Shields told reporters after the game against the Twins. “I strive to go as deep as I possibly can in games and so far it’s been good.
“I’m not throwing as hard as I used to. If I were to throw over the top, I’d still throw a little harder than I am right now. (But) at the end of the day, I’m feeling really good with my delivery right now, my mechanics. It’s been a lot of fun making these adjustments.”
Shields goes against Reds right-hander Luis Castillo (5-8), who was 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA in five June starts. He retired the first 11 batters he faced Wednesday at Atlanta, only to give up four quick runs on a walk and five consecutive singles, although the Reds came back to win 6-5.
Castillo is 0-1 in two starts against American League clubs this season, giving up eight runs in six innings. He has never faced the White Sox.
Shields is 18-18 with a 4.57 ERA in interleague play and 0-2 in two career starts against the Reds, the last of which was in 2015.
The White Sox (29-54) ended a three-game losing streak Sunday by salvaging the final game of a three-game series against the Texas Rangers, winning 10-5 as Avisail Garcia went 4-for-5 with a double and an RBI.
The Reds have won five consecutive interleague games but are facing the White Sox at Great American Ball Park for the first time since 2009. The White Sox are 16-4 overall against the Reds and 10-2 in Cincinnati, though that success there predated any of the current players.
When a New Jersey racetrack and a casino start taking bets on sporting events Thursday, they will be part of an industry primed for tremendous growth, much of it taking place on smartphones, according to a panel of national gambling experts.
Speaking Wednesday at the east Coast Gaming Congress at Harrah’s casino in Atlantic City, a panel of sports betting and technology company representatives predicted the fastest-growing segment of sports betting will be bets made on smartphones as games are being played.
While bettors always will want to bet on the outcome of a game before it begins [url=http://www.coltscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-eric-ebron-jersey]Eric Ebron Jersey[/url] , many also want to predict particular plays or developments within a game, the panelists said.
So in addition to wagering on whether the New York Yankees would beat the Boston Red Sox, many gamblers also would want to bet on whether Yankee Aaron Judge would hit a home run just as he arrives at the plate, or how many batters Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale would strike out in a particular inning.
Such betting is the main element of growth in the European sports betting market.
”The growth of in-play has been a huge driver,” said Neale Deeley, vice president of Sportradar US, a data company that works with more than 70 sports federations and leagues around the world on fraud detection, including the NBA, NHL and Major League Soccer.
”Mobile and in-play were absolutely made for each other,” added Lee Richardson, CEO of Spectrum Gaming Group, a gambling consulting firm near Atlantic City. ”It’s what customers want to do.”
The forum came a day before New Jerseyans were to begin placing their first legal sports bets. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy was to place the state’s first legal sports bet at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Monmouth Park, a horse racing track near the Jersey shore in Oceanport.
Thirty minutes later and about 70 miles to the south, Atlantic City’s Borgata casino will start taking sports bets.
No other New Jersey racetrack or casino has announced plans to begin taking bets within the next few days, although most if not all are expected to do so eventually. The Golden Nugget casino and the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, near New York City say they’ll have sports betting operations up and running by the start of football season in September.
New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement issued its regulations for sports betting providers Wednesday, clearing the last major obstacle for it to begin.
The state won a U.S. Supreme Court case last month clearing the way for all 50 states to offer legal sports betting if they choose.
Experts at the conference cautioned against unduly optimistic projections of sports betting revenue and tax money for states; the activity accounts for about 2 percent of Nevada casinos’ total winnings. In New Jersey, Moody’s has estimated sports betting could initially bring in $108 million, or about 4 percent of the state’s annual gambling revenue.
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