Monday, May 24, 2010

Lady Luck's Cell Phone

Sometimes you're good, and sometimes you're lucky.

On Friday we went 2-1, on Saturday we went 3-0, and on Sunday we went 2-0, and we were winning going into the 9th inning in all 7 victories on the bases. Basically, what I'm saying is that we didn't need a miracle to win, just needed to avoid two complete and potentially monumental collapses.

Then comes yesterday, and it was a damn good thing we pre-paid our Luck Bill with about 10 brutal and painful losses earlier this month, because we needed to cash in a few credits on the Magic/Celtics Over. We needed 186.5 points, and that game only got to 172 in regulation, and after 2 minutes without a score in overtime, the teams scored 12 points in about 90 seconds, and managed to squeeze out 4 more before time ran out. It wasn't the right side, but damn, we'll take it!

That moves our run to 6-0 since the weekend and 8 of 9, and today there are some definite beauties on the board! I really, really like one play in tonight's NBA game in Phoenix, and I've got my eye on a couple MLB selections, as well. And, as promised to DavidTN in the forums, I said if our Monday play won, I'd offer ANOTHER 2-for-1 Package, so folks, it's time to deliver.

Normally, both plays in the 2-for-1 pack are 1* selections, but JUST THIS ONCE I'm going to offer a 2* AND a 1* for the same price. So, basically, you're getting a 2* Best Bet AND a 1* Top Play at a discounted rate. I'm not sure I can offer any larger discounts than this, but as long as we keep winning every night, I'm going to keep making sure the packages are super-affordable, and here's where you guys come in!

If Tuesday is a winning day, I want YOU GUYS to pick Wednesday's discount. So vote here, and I'll keep track!

1. 2-FOR-1 WEDNESDAY!

2. $5 DISCOUNT ON PACKAGE

...or the extremely risky, but potentially the biggest one...

3. "THE HOLD" - Save up the discount, and instead, let Wednesday's package be normal, and if we post break even or better days on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Friday's card will be completely free!

Sports Wagering: NBA

Lakers @ Suns - Phoenix by 1 with a total of 221. I'd be nuts if I didn't note how blown away I am by this total in a Playoff game, but with every contest thus far getting to 227 or above, oddsmakers really had no choice but to keep raising the number, and now we're looking at this outrageous opening mark of 221. I think we've finally hit the point where the value is on the Under. For a while there, the line was simply too low, but I feel pretty strongly that Sunday's total was right on point, which means this one might very well be just slightly too high. There are, of course, a few reasons to like both totals plays. If you think the tempo stays the same, obviously, you're going to like the over just a bit. The teams have been rattling off points like nobody's business, but I have to issue the subtle warning that Phoenix scored 37 of their points from the foul line. The Lakers seemed pretty content in the idea that they could just go on the road and win with the same effort level they gave at home, and they should know better. The Lakers didn't drive to the rim in game three, and on defense, they seemed to be pretty heavily reliant on just hoping for the best. Amare Stoudemire brought the fire, and the Lakers couldn't stop him. So, one point for the over, two for the under, the way I see it. Yes, these teams can probably shoot the same percentage as they did in game 3 pretty easily (that's the point for the over), but at the same time, there will likely be in the neighborhood of 5-7 points less scored at the free throw line, and I also believe the Lakers are going to key in on Amare a bit harder. I lean Under. On the side, I think Phoenix's 9-point win in game 3 moves some value back onto the Lakers side. LA stomped Phoenix at home, but everyone just saw the Suns collect a victory on their own home floor, and now people all of the sudden think Phoenix is up to the task. From what I saw, Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash were up to the task, and to a lesser extent, Jason Richardson, but the rest of those chumps still looked shell-shocked. If the Lakers play like they care, they can win in Phoenix, and if the Lakers actually give Kobe a minute or two of rest in the 2nd half, he'll close the game much stronger, as well. I lean to the Lakers.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Braves @ Marlins (-139) with a total of 9; K. Kawakami vs. A. Sanchez;
Brian McCann is 5-for-16 with a HR and 5 RBI off Sanchez;
Jorge Cantu is 3-for-8 with 1 RBI off Kawakami;
Chris Coghlan is 4-for-7 off Kawakami;
Dan Uggla is 3-for-6 with a HR and 2 RBI off Kawakami.
Kenshin Kawakami is 1-3 with a 5.89 ERA against the Marlins, and a perfectly bad 0-6 this year, overall. Sanchez is 3-2 this season, but 3-5 in his career against Atlanta, so he has had a few issues with the Braves. I think, and barring some exceptions, when a players' career numbers against a particular team parallel his season numbers against the League, as is the case with Kawakami, here, that kind of diminishes the value. I think this line is fair, so I'm passing.

Phillies (-125) @ Mets with a total of 9; J. Moyer vs. R. Dickey;
Placido Polanco is 4-for-11 with 2 RBI off Dickey;
Henry Blanco was 5-for-8 off Moyer prior to 2010;
David Wright is batting over .400 off Moyer in nearly 50 AB with 3 HR and 11 RBI, since '05;
Fernando Tatis is batting .364 with a HR and 4 RBI off Moyer.
Jamie Moyer faced the Mets already once this year and gave up 5 runs in 6 innings, but won the game, as his team provided him with 11 runs of support. That was a weird game, in that Moyer wasn't necessarily pitching well, but Charlie Manuel left him out there since there was no reason to yank a starter when you're up that much. That being said, Moyer hasn't been a total ray of sunshine against the Mets, and New York continues to play much, much better at home, taking 2 of 3 from the Yanks over the weekend. If the opponent was someone less interesting than the Phils, I'd say the Mets would be in a letdown spot, but against a division rival, the energy should still be good. Slight lean to NY.

Pirates @ Reds (-175) with a total of 9; P. Maholm vs. M. Leake;
Brandon Phillips is batting .412 with 4 HR and 9 RBI off Maholm in his last 34 AB;
Scott Rolen was 4-for-12 off Maholm coming into 2010.
This line is too steep to play the favorite, flat out, and in my opinion, Leake has been pitching too well to play the underdog. This is one of those games we talk about quite often where a volume bettor might grab the dog, since Maholm is 5-4 against Cincinnati with a 3.95 ERA in his career, and that's good enough to warrant getting +165, but for us, we're trying to pick a couple winners, and this doesn't make the cut.

Dodgers @ Cubs (-110) with a total of N/A; C. Kershaw vs. R. Dempster;
Ronnie Belliard is 3-for-5 off Dempster;
Jeff Baker is 4-for-8 with a HR and 2 RBI off Kershaw.
This is an interesting game, if only because the Dodgers, historically, don't seem to play their best baseball against the Cubbies. I don't know if it's because they're used to having a strong fan base in most cities or what, but that's just how it seems to be. Ryan Dempster is a 6-3, 2.75 ERA hurler against LA, so in terms of times to fade the hot Dodgers, this doesn't seem like the day. I'd rather try to find a game to back LA against another public darling, but not today. Pass.

Astros @ Brewers (-156) with a total of 9.5; F. Paulino vs. R. Wolf;
Geoff Blum is 2-for-2 with 4 RBI off Wolf;
Humberto Quintero is 4-for-6 with a HR off Wolf;
Ryan Braun is 4-for-5 off Paulino;
Prince Fielder is 3-for-7 with a HR and 3 RBI off Paulino;
Corey Hart is 4-for-8 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Paulino.
For as bad as Paulino has been against the League, he's been that much worse against Milwaukee. Randy Wolf has not pitched well, but when you play for a bad team, it can get contagious. There aren't many strong numbers against Wolf on the Astros, despite his 4-5 career record against them. Berkman hasn't hit him well, Feliz, Keppinger, Pence, they have all failed against Wolf. I hate to say it, but even at this steep price, I like the Brewers. If only Milwaukee could win a game at home...

Diamondbacks @ Rockies (-138) with a total of 9.5; I. Kennedy vs. J. Chacin;
This game is intriguing for a couple of reasons. First, the Diamondbacks, with all those power bats, generally play pretty well at Coors Field in Denver. Second, Chacin, who came storming onto the scene, has not pitched quite as well his last 2 times out. He allowed 6 runs to the Nats 2 starts back, then allowed 3 to the weak-hitting Cubbies, but walked 5 so it could have been much worse. Starting at home is going to be trouble for him, I believe. Kennedy, meanwhile, has been the rock of the D'backs rotation, posting a better ERA than perennial All-Star Dan Haren. He hasn't faced Colorado yet, and a first start at Coors is going to be trouble, but his strike-throwing is going to be his ultimate tool in a place where hits will happen. Lean to D'backs.

Cardinals (-135) @ Padres with a total of 6; A. Wainwright vs. J. Garland;
Yadier Molina is 5-for-5 with 2 RBI off Garland;
Albert Pujols is 2-for-5 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Garland;
Yorvit Torrealba is 2-for-4 off Wainwright.
Adam Wainwright is 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA against the Padres, though it's tough to say there's any value on one of the best pitchers in baseball. A-Dub is 6-2 with a 2.49 ERA this season. Garland, interestingly, is 5-2 with a 2.38 ERA this year, and is coming off a bit of a rough start against the Dodgers, though he did get a win, somehow. He is, unfortunately, 0-3 with a 7.36 ERA against the Cardinals, so that's definitely a point of concern. I hate to pay (-135) for a team that hasn't really been hitting that well (prior to their series with the Halos, that is), but Garland might be starting to regress to his career numbers, and Wainwright is just flat-out good. Lean to the Cards.

Nationals @ Giants (-112) with a total of 8.5; L. Hernandez vs. T. Wellemeyer;
Aubrey Huff is 4-for-9 with a HR off Hernandez since '05;
Bengie Molina is batting .296 off Hernandez since '05 with 3 HR and 5 RBI;
Edgar Renteria is 4-for-9 off Hernandez since '05;
Aaron Rowand is 9-for-18 with 2 HR and 2 RBI off Livan since '05;
Freddy Sanchez is 3-for-8 off Hernandez;
Pablo Sandoval is 5-for-14 with a HR and 4 RBI off Hernandez;
Nate Schierholtz is 4-for-8 off Livan.
Yikes! This is a troublesome game for me. As a player-matchup guy, you have to love those numbers the Giants have posted against Livan Hernandez throughout his career, and it's pretty clear why the Giants are a favorite in this one. Wellemeyer has actually had success against the Nats, too. However, Wellemeyer has not pitched well this year, and Livan has rediscovered his youth, and the Giants are in a colossal offensive slump, scoring just 1 run in 3 games across the Bay Bridge. I'd love to find a way to back the Giants, but this one is only a medium lean because of recent trends for both teams and pitchers.

American League

White Sox (-130) @ Indians with a total of 8.5; J. Peavy vs. M. Talbot;
These teams have already seen plenty of one another this season, so no fresh faces, really. Peavy has faced Cleveland twice, giving up 3 runs over 5 innings in his season-opening start, a loss, then came back and pitched better, allowing just 2 runs in 7.1 frames of a win a couple weeks later. He's coming off a poor start against the Angels, though, after a nice stretch where Peavy got his ERA back down to a reasonable number. Talbot, too, is coming off a bad start, where he allowed 6 runs to the Royals. Talbot faced the White Sox earlier this year, and threw a complete game, 1-run gem. Tough call, here, with both guys coming off bad starts. I'd rather not risk it that they follow it up with another. Pass.

Athletics (-115) @ Orioles with a total of 8; D. Braden vs. J. Guthrie;
Coco Crisp is 7-for-20 off Guthrie;
Jack Cust is 3-for-9 with a HR and 3 RBI off Guthrie;
Mark Ellis is 4-for-11 with 3 RBI off Guthrie;
Gabe Gross is 3-for-7 off Guthrie;
Kurt Suzuki is 4-for-7 with a HR and 3 RBI off Guthrie;
Garrett Atkins is 3-for-3 off Braden.
The most important stat in this game isn't coming from the pitchers, necessarily. Nick Markakis and Adam Jones, two guys the Orioles lean on pretty heavily to get anything done offensively, are a combined 0-for-19 off Braden. Yikes. Braden, not surprisingly, is 5-1 against the O's with a 1.57 ERA. Guthrie has been better this year than last, posting a 3.86 ERA. He's just 1-3 with a 5.23 ERA against Oakland, and with the way the A's have been pitching, there's a reason they're the road faves against a very weak Baltimore club. The concern? Guthrie has been pitching very, very well, and this one could be exceedingly low scoring. Slight lean to Oakland.

Red Sox @ Rays (-120) with a total of 8; J. Lester vs. J. Shields;
We've gone through the offensive-vs.-pitcher numbers for these guys before, so I'm going to forgo re-typing all the strong players and just go to previous meetings. Each of these guys has faced the other team once this year, and each has pitched pretty poorly. Lester allowed 7 runs in 6 innings, but that appeared to be the start where Lester decided to flip the switch. Since that April 18 outing, Lester has been a complete beast. Shields, meanwhile, just keeps going out there and pitching well, and that start against the Sox was undoubtedly his worst of the season, giving up 4 runs in a shorter effort. I almost wish Boston didn't take the opener, so we could get a little more value, but with 2 strong starters going, I have to lean to the team playing more consistently on offense, and amazingly, that's the Sox right now.

Yankees (-130) @ Twins with a total of 10; A. Burnett vs. S. Baker;
Mark Teixeira was 4-for-7 with a HR off Baker before 2010;
Marcus Thames has 4 HR off Baker since '05;
Joe Mauer was 5-for-13 off Burnett before 2010.
This one has two angles at play. One, Burnett is coming off a miserable start, so how much do we want to bank on him bouncing back? Two, the Twins finally beat the Yankees, but it took a miraculous grand slam off Mariano Rivera to get it done. Does that open the floodgates, or was that a one-time thing? Is the monkey off Minnesota's back? I'd rather watch game one of this set and then check in again before game two.

Rangers (-140) @ Royals with a total of 10; R. Harden vs. G. Meche;
Nelson Cruz is 6-for-8 with a HR and 3 RBI off Meche;
Michael Young is 12-for-24 off Meche with a HR and 6 RBI.
Let's not worry a ton about the historical numbers, since Meche has had at least 5 bad starts against almost every team in the AL, at this point. What's more important is that Meche is actually on a bit of a pitching hot streak, and it started with an 8-inning, 3-run effort against these Rangers. It was a losing cause, but Meche has been serviceable since. Harden remains a master of throwing 100 pitches in 4 innings, but is 2-0 with a 1.78 ERA against the Royals in just a handful of starts. I think the value here is with the home dog, but Texas is playing well, and Meche could implode at a moment's notice. Pass.

Blue Jays (-115) @ Angels with a total of 8; R. Romero vs. E. Santana;
Vernon Wells is 5-for-14 with 2 RBI off Santana prior to 2010.
Ervin Santana tossed an absolute gem against these Jays earlier this year, going 9 strong innings and allowing just a single tally in a game the Angels won, over the very same Ricky Romero, 3-1. You guys know how I feel about rematches. Romero has been great whenever he's faced the Angels, and Santana really hadn't been all that amazing against Toronto before turning into a wizard against them earlier this year. I WOULD lean to Toronto based on my rematch theory, but Santana has just been throwing too well almost every time. If anything, I'd look at the Under, but that looks a little fishy, too. Most likely a pass, but this one is on my radar, and just off the list of leans. Maybe a "near-lean"?

Tigers (-125) @ Mariners with a total of 6.5; J. Verlander vs. D. Fister;
Johnny Damon is 3-for-7 off Fister;
Milton Bradley is 3-for-6 off Verlander;
Ichiro is 11-for-30 with a HR and 5 RBI.
Who would have thought that Doug Fister would be among the MLB elite in ERA at the end of May? Very impressive, I say. He's still holding on to the 1's with a 1.96 mark, and Verlander, well, we all know what he can do. There's no Miguel Cabrera in this series, so the Tigers are going to need to get a lot of offense from somewhere else, and that total of 6.5 is fairly reflective of that, and the two pitchers involved. There's not a ton of value, here, as this one could be decided late, and in that case, you have to like the Tigers' pen, but, hm, I dunno, just not enough pushing me in either direction.

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