Sunday, July 25, 2010

Officially Hate Extra Innings Now

Recap: I can't believe I get to title another blog something involving extra innings - it's been a rather painful way to get punched in the gut, but at least we got 4-5 hours of baseball for every decision lately, right? Yeah, not so much. The Cubs were the latest victim of a post-9th-inning defeat. No excuses, the coin is just coming up "tails" on every flip, and it's my job to find a game that isn't going to come down to the wire. That starts NOW.

Today: Two words: "SUMMER SIZZLER." We lost last week's play in the 14th inning, so I've gone ahead and called the Managers of each team involved in this coming play and kindly asked to have the game end in 9 innings (unless our side is trailing by 2 runs or more, I asked for extras). I don't have the coupon code yet, but after Marco's daily video comes out, I'll try to report back to this thread with the code to get my Summer Sizzler play for just $6. And since I'm doing all that legwork, I expect each and every one of my pals to be on board, and each and every person that wants the cheapest winner on the net, too.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Rockies @ Phillies (-126) with a total of 9.5; J. Hammel vs. J. Blanton;
I'm not a huge fan of betting these Monday "end of series" games, since we're likely to see some really absurd lineups. Of course, with due diligence, you can get those lineups and recalibrate your phasers, or whatever nerdy weapon you chose. For what it's worth, Blanton has never started against the Rockies, so this is uncharted water for a guy that has had a hard time keeping his opponents to a run total under 3. Hammel, meanwhile, continues to pitch pretty well, though the Marlins, his nemesis, tagged him for 5 runs in his last start. This is a pretty cheap price on the Phils, who are playing much better than the road-weary Rockies, if I had to offer an initial thought.

Cubs (-150) @ Astros with a total of 9; C. Silva vs. W. Wright;
Carlos Silva is coming off his worst start of the season, which would probably make you think that he's set for a downward spiral, if not for one key note: it came against these same Astros. So now, you have to balance his regression with the revenge angle. He had actually been quite good against Houston prior to that ugly start, and you certainly can't claim he isn't rested, since he only went an inning, but I think that's playing a large role in this line being so high. Another reason is that a converted reliever is his opposition. Wright is making just his 2nd start, his first being one of those insane games where no one can get anybody out, so he'll probably be better than that, though I hardly think he's going to be good.

Reds @ Brewers (-111) with a total of 9; B. Arroyo vs. R. Wolf;
Don't look now, but the Brewers have actually won 4 games in a row. Of course, picking on the Nats didn't hurt their cause. In any case, they're hitting, and right now, the Reds aren't, really. This opening number is pretty strong for the lowly Brewers, too, considering Randy Wolf is sporting a 5.20 ERA on the season. Somehow, he hasn't faced this division rival yet this year. Arroyo, meanwhile, has an ERA a full run lower, 3 more wins, 4 fewer losses, and an ERA against the Brewers under 4 (Wolf has a solid one against Cincy, too). This is a tough one to cap, since neither pitcher has seen this team this year, though historically, Arroyo has struggled with Craig Counsell, Jim Edmonds, and Prince Fielder has 3 homers off him, while Jonny Gomes is probably Wolf's biggest concern on the offensively inconsistent Reds.

Marlins @ Giants (-145) with a total of 7.5; R. Nolasco vs. B. Zito;
The Giants are just rolling right along, though that first game home, just like in basketball, can be a little bit confusing. That's my minor hesitation, since the Marlins are playing excellent baseball, and it's not as though they're just going to get steamrolled. Ricky Nolasco is 1-2 with a 2.05 ERA against the Giants in his career, and only Pat Burrell, of the current Giants, has any real success against him. Zito is also in a good spot, based on historical numbers - he's 5-0 against the Marlins with a 2.15 ERA, and his last 2 starts have each been solid. I find it hard to believe that either team is going to lay waste to the other. Zito allowed a run in 7 innings to the Marlins this year, already, while Nolasco gave up 3 runs in 6 innings of a loss to Matt Cain. Tough call, here.

American League

Yankees (-200) @ Indians with a total of 9.5; J. Vazquez vs. J. Westbrook;
This has to be Indians or nothing, at this price. Vazquez is coming off a less-than-stellar outing against the Angels, and hasn't faced the Indians yet, this year. Westbrook will usually give you 6 frames, and will probably surrender a few runs. Honestly, unless you're huge into totals, I'd leave this one alone. And as far as totals go, this number looks a little inflated to me, but at the same time, I could easily see it getting there. Total coin-flip, in my opinion.

Orioles @ Blue Jays (-215) with a total of 9; B. Bergesen vs. B. Morrow;
This is another inflated line, but at the same time, the Jays are a perfect 9-0 against the Orioles this season, so there's a pretty good reason for oddsmakers to bump that line up a few ticks. Does that mean we're playing the Orioles? Hell no. But at the same time, just realize that if you're backing Toronto, either on the RL or ML, you're paying a premium, and that will not work out in your favor in the long term.

Tigers @ Rays (-165) with a total of 8; M. Scherzer vs. M. Garza;
Detroit is absolutely a live dog in this one, though folks don't seem to like seeing a Top Play on a huge dog, so I'll make the promise right here that if I decide to back the Tigers, it would be a free play. I love the way Scherzer is pitching - he's added a little hitch in his delivery that seems to be helping with his timing and helping hide the ball. He hasn't been as strong on the road, and Detroit has been, for the most part, a complete mess away from home, but Garza has been an even bigger mess over the last 2 months, and he's 0-4 in his career against Detroit. Damn, though, the Tigers are without Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen and Brandon Inge for a while, Brennan Boesch is hitting the wall, and that leaves about 2 competent offensive players. Tough to beat one of the best teams in the baseball with only 2 bats.

Twins @ Royals (-110) with a total of 7.5; F. Liriano vs. Z. Greinke;
Somehow, Liriano has avoided pitching against the Royals this year, but I happen to think that works slightly in his favor. I will admit, I was kind of hoping that the Twins would lose their finale in Baltimore to keep this line from moving, but more than likely, the public bettors that won with Minnesota are going to look to double up, and this line will probably move 5-10 cents towards the Twinkies, as a result. Liriano, in his career, is 3-3 with a 4.84 ERA against the Royals, but we have to remember that he went through some rough spells while getting his arm strength back. A better barometer is to check current Royals' success against him, and only Mike Aviles has any numbers to speak of. Greinke hasn't been all that impressive against the Twins, going 3-6 (no surprise there), but an ERA in the mid-4's. No Morneau is going to hurt, but Delmon Young has been, maybe, the hottest hitter in the AL.

Mariners @ White Sox (-140) with a total of 6.5; F. Hernandez vs. J. Danks;
What can I write about King Felix that I haven't over the last 2 months? The guys has been as close to unhittable as you can get. He and Josh Johnson are battling for best in the business, in my eyes, and if Felix pitched for a team that could hit, he'd have 13-14 wins right now. I mean, the fact that Felix only has 1 win this month is an embarrassment of epic proportions. He's allowed 6 runs in 32 innings over 4 starts. In any case, he hasn't allowed a run to Chicago in any of his last 3 starts against them, and that will likely change tonight, as he's going against them for the 2nd straight start, and it's not easy to keep the gameplan in place. I will give Seattle credit, though. Chone Figgins and Jose Lopez nearly decked each other in the dugout, and the team has been playing with a better fire ever since. On the Chicago side, this team is very much looking forward to getting home, as the road trip ended quite poorly in Oakland. Danks is a nice stopper, and he 2-hit the Mariners in his last start. Thus, we have the total of 6.5, and this one could actually go Under. Should be a nice 2 hour game.

Red Sox (-125) @ Angels with a total of 9; C. Buchholz vs. J. Pineiro;
I almost can't fathom how the two pitchers have the numbers they do against this opponent. Buchholz is 2-2 with a 6.35 ERA against the Halos, and Pineiro is 3-6 with a 5.94 ERA against the Red Sox. For Pineiro, you can make the argument that a lot of his mess came before he found his way to Dave Duncan, and actually turned in a quality start in a 3-1 loss to Boston back in the early parts of this season. Buchholz is making just his 2nd start since coming off the DL, and looked rusty in his first go. He was not at all sharp against the A's, and didn't pitch well against Anaheim this year even when healthy. The concern, here, is that the Angels are emotionally drained off a tough 1-3 series in Texas. Pineiro is coming off a bad start, and we know how he can implode for 1-2 starts before getting things back on track. I happen to think this is a pretty strong opening number for Buchholz, considering he was a -115 favorite to Gio Gonzalez, in Oakland, and now 10 cents higher against a team with a better record and a more notable starter?

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