Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Change of Venue

We heaved up a prayer, and it was nearly answered. The Bobcats rattled off an impressive run in the 4th quarter to cut the Magic's giant lead down to just 8, and trailing by 10 a crucial play occurred. Stephen Jackson drove to the bucket, Matt Barnes slugged him in the side of the head, Jackson lost control of the ball, and instead of shooting 2 free throws, the Magic grabbed the "turnover" and turned it into a 3-point play.

Yes, I'm annoyed. The game was absolutely poorly officiated, on BOTH sides, with Dwight Howard picking up ticky-tack fouls, and the Bobcats getting called for every touch and every bump. And honestly, I'm a little sick of the refs playing such a large role in the outcome. Obviously, I wanted a miracle cover for our wager, but losses happen. What's more bothersome is that this is AT LEAST the 2nd, maybe the 3rd Playoff game where the referees seemed to really put themselves right in the middle of the action. It was an ugly game, and the refs didn't help, so time to get your collective heads out of your collective you-know-whats, and make a decision - are you going to let the guys play, or aren't you?

The Dodgers hammered out 13 runs, and despite giving up 3 more unearned tallies to the Reds, blasted Cincinnati in a runaway.

So, on the day, we dropped our 2*, and had our first Playoff loss since Saturday, but made a unit back in the MLB. Down roughly 1 unit on the day, but still up close to 5 on the week. Big day coming up here, so let's get right down to it!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Cavaliers @ Bulls - Cleveland by 3.5 with a total of 193. Did the Bulls exhaust themselves in that last game? That's the only important question here, really. We know the Cavaliers are going to be a huge public favorite as just small road chalk in this one, and I'm honestly a tad surprised that the Cavs are only laying 3.5. It seems like they could have gotten away with laying a slightly larger number, but hey, oddsmakers know their business better than I do. Still, this is far and away the lowest spread of any of the (now) 7 meetings this season between these two teams. Of course, Chicago played as a favorite in the final meeting, when the Cavs were resting some of their superstars, but considering folks realize that both teams are going to be going full tilt, this line is giving Chicago a fair amount of credit. It's very important that before we place any kind of wager on this one we look at the second game in Cleveland and try to determine how the public is going to view it. My guess is that even though Chicago covered, folks are going to see the Cavs winning both games by double digits, and continue to back Lebron. However, it took an absolutely insane performance by the King to get the Cavs by the Bulls in that game two, and Chicago didn't shoot the ball that well. They out-hustled the Cavs, killed them on the offensive glass, and committed just 4 turnovers, and really, Cleveland should consider itself lucky to have won that game. It's a short spread, but I think this line is telling us that Chicago is actually going to have a legitimate shot to win this game. I lean Bulls. On the total, the last game went soaring over the total. Chicago is going to continue to try to force the issue, which means we'll get a few number of possessions. It's going to come down to making shots, but something tells me this one gets ugly. No lean on the total just yet.

Lakers @ Thunder - Oklahoma City by 3 with a total of 191. Remember the other night when I said the Thunder getting just 6.5 on the road was the fishiest line of the Playoffs? Well, this one tops them all, so far. The Lakers, the Defending Champs, as 3-point road underdogs against the #8 seed? That is all kinds of crazy. What we've seen so far is that the Lakers only respond when pushed, and they got pushed a bit in game two at home. So, Kobe went nuts, hit a handful of threes, nailed a clutch jumper with the score tied, and the Lakers went on a crucial 7-0 run with 3 minutes left in the game to put them up for good. That Lakers SU win was huge for us. First, we backed the Thunder and got the cover. Second, the Lakers are up 2-0, so the Thunder are going to come out guns blazing for one more game. Third, people still see the Lakers winning both games, and assume this Championship team can't be stopped. And fourth, the Lakers not named Kobe skated by playing somewhat choppy offensively and still won. Lamar Odom's injured shoulder seems to be playing a rather hefty role in his disappearance, and Ron Artest is being employed almost exclusively as a defensive stopper. This line, more than anything else, is telling us to back the Thunder. Lean to Oklahoma. On the total, I think we see the Thunder make a few more shots, and force the tempo. Slight lean to the Over after the first two games were brutally low-scoring.

Suns @ Blazers - Portland by 1 with a total of 204.5. So, the venue changes, and suddenly the line goes from Suns by 8.5 or 9 to Portland by a point. Somewhat odd, I must say, but we've been to this rodeo before. Portland got embarrassed in Phoenix in game two, and they never really cared about that one. Once Portland stole game one, it was almost like they figured they'd accomplished their short term goal of a win in Phoenix. But, we've now seen that this team can compete with the Suns. Portland is a tough ballclub, and resilient, and if they can go back to limiting Phoenix's open looks from outside, and slowing the ballgame down, they could potentially win another. This line is definitely on the fishy side, though certainly not as screwy as the game above. I actually thought we'd see Suns favored by a point or two, so this is intriguing. I think the line basically tells us we shouldn't back the Suns, but let's watch some line movement before deciding. Thus, at this early stage, I have no leans on the side (since the Blazers could potentially suffer a little letdown once these guys not named Roy lose some of their energy, but the line is just nuts), and the total is probably pretty accurate, if indeed Portland controls the tempo. Tough game, for sure.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Brewers (-155) @ Pirates with a total of 9; R. Wolf vs. D. McCutchen;
Ronny Cedeno is 4-for-6 off Wolf;
Aki Iwamura is 2-for-4 off Wolf;
All in all, however, Wolf has dominated the Pirates throughout his career, going 7-1 against Pittsburgh, and there's no reason to really dabble in this one. I suppose you could consider a play on Wolf, but at a road -155, it's just too expensive. Daniel McCutchen had an awful first start, but he's not a 14.73 ERA pitcher long term, so this is a bad value. Pass.

Rockies (-180) @ Nationals with a total of 8; U. Jimenez vs. L. Hernandez;
Todd Helton is 12-for-27 off Hernandez since 2005 with 4 RBI;
Melvin Mora is 4-for-10 off Hernandez;
Willie Harris is 4-for-6 with 3 RBI off Jimenez
Adam Kennedy and Nyjer Morgan are each 2-for-3 off Jimenez.
You want to talk about a zero value play? That's Colorado right now. Jimenez is coming off a no-hitter, so there's probably not going to be a time when he's a more expensive cat to back. Going back through recent history, guys that throw a no-no, tend to have something of an equilibrating start the next time out. I'd say this one is worth a look at the Nats, even if it's a small play.

Cubs @ Mets (-175) with a total of 7; T. Gorzelanny vs. J. Santana;
Kosuke Fukudome is 2-for-3 off Santana.
I'd say surprisingly little background info on batters against these pitchers, though Santana's 2-0, 1.71 career mark against the Cubs isn't half bad. But, the bigger story is that Gorzelanny hasn't been that horrible to start 2010. I'm not sure I can lay 175, even on Santana, and even though the Mets are playing decent ball, but I know I still can't trust Gorzelanny. Pass.

Dodgers (-110) @ Reds with a total of 9.5; V. Padilla vs. M. Leake;
Orlando Cabrera is 8-for-20 off Padilla since '05 with 3 RBI.
No surprise here, no experience against Leake for the Dodgers, but interestingly, despite a 4-2 record against Cincinnati in his career, Padilla has really only seen Orlando Cabrera more than a couple times. Vicente has started 2010 pretty poorly, and while he did get his first win against the Giants, he was still less than dominant. How long before Vicente starts throwing it where he wants? Pass.

Phillies @ Braves (-145) with a total of 9.5; J. Moyer vs. D. Lowe;
Chase Utley is batting .391 off Lowe since '05 with 2 HR and 3 RBI;
Matt Diaz is 6-for-14 with 2 RBI off Moyer;
Troy Glaus is 5-for-10 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Moyer since '05;
Chipper Jones is 7-for-18 with a HR and 3 RBI off Moyer since '05;
Brian McCann is batting .364 with a HR and 6 RBI since '05;
Martin Prado is 7-for-16 with a HR and 4 RBI off Moyer.
What can I say? Derek Lowe has been outstanding against Philadelphia in his career (you think the Dodgers might want that back for the playoffs?), and Moyer has about his his wall at age, um, 65? Lean to Braves.

Marlins (-135) @ Astros with a total of 9; A. Sanchez vs. F. Paulino;
There's basically no data at all, here, though Paulino has been just awful in his time in the Bigs. The Marlins pen is consistently awful, and the Astros are starting to win a few. I would lean just slightly to the Marlins and Sanchez, but with so little to go on, I might advocate letting this one pass us by.

American League

Indians @ Twins (-210) with a total of 9; M. Talbot vs. S. Baker;
Mark Grudzielanek is 8-for-17 off Baker since '05;
Travis Hafner is batting .381 with 4 HR and 7 RBI off Baker since '05;
Andy Marte is 3-for-10 with 2 HR off Baker;
Grady Sizemore is batting .324 in 37 AB off Baker over the last 5 years.
Baker is a career 3.14 ERA pitcher against Cleveland, though from the looks of things, there are a few guys that could give him a little trouble. The Twins are absolutely red hot, which means it's probably not the smartest move to bet against them, but at this price, and when Baker could potentially give up, say, 4 runs in 6 innings, Cleveland has a prayer, and 210 is way too much to pay for that. Pass.

Yankees (-170) @ Athletics with a total of 8; C. Sabathia vs. D. Braden;
Derek Jeter is 3-for-5 with 3 RBI off Braden;
Mark Teixeira is 3-for-10;
Marcus Thames is 4-for-11 with a HR and 5 RBI off Braden.
Sabathia has a career ERA near 6 against the A's, potentially because he's from the area. However, this particular A's roster has done nothing against him, so it's sort of a balance, there. Braden has begun 2010 by posting a 2-0, 2.70 ERA, so he's rolling, but has an ERA over 7 against the Yanks. Tough call, here.

Rangers @ Red Sox (-145) with a total of 9; C. Wilson vs. C. Buccholz;
Vlad Guerrero is 4-for-9 off Buccholz with 2 RBI;
David Murphy is 3-for-4 off Clay;
Adrian Beltre is 4-for-10 with a HR off C.J. Wilson;
Dustin Pedroia is 2-for-2.
This is something of a low home number for the Red Sox, even if it is just the youngster Buccholz on the hill. Certainly makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Rays @ White Sox (-115) with a total of 8; J. Shields vs. J. Peavy;
Alex Rios is 3-for-6 with a HR off Shields.
Jake Peavy has begun 2010 with an ERA of 6.00 - not good. Shields is a solid pitcher with a ton of bullets in the chamber, but even he's not been all that amazing so far this year. This line, to me, says that Peavy is going to finally pitch well, and his 1-0, 0.00 lifetime mark against Tampa certainly backs that up. Only Pat Burrell has more than 3 AB against Peavy, so he should be fairly new to most of these guys. Slight, slight lean to White Sox.

Tigers (-125) @ Angels with a total of 8.5; J. Verlander vs. J. Saunders;
Miguel Cabrera is 3-for-10 against Saunders;
Adam Everett is 4-for-9 with a HR and 4 RBI off Saunders;
Carlos Guillen is 4-for-9 off Saunders;
Magglio Ordonez is 8-for-20 with a HR and 5 RBI off Saunders;
Bobby Abreu is 5-for-13 with a HR off Verlander;
Erick Aybar is 4-for-9 off Verlander with 5 RBI;
Torii Hunter is batting .345 off Verlander since '05 with 5 RBI;
Kendry Morales is 4-for-9 off Verlander with a HR and 6 RBI;
Hideki Matsui is 4-for-12 with 2 RBI off Justin.
Good lord, look at all those sneaky offensive numbers. We're getting a relatively manageable number here at 8.5, and I wonder if Verlander's name is keeping it from getting to 9. I don't like either side, as you can see both teams have hit these pitchers, and I'd look at the Over before either team.

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