Monday, July 19, 2010

Why Lose Easy

Recap: Good grief. Another gut-wrenching loss. Our second extra-inning defeat on this 4-day losing skid, and unfortunately, this is how betting works. Getting blown the "F" out is easy, but those ones don't stick with you like a game going into extra innings because a routine double-play grounder hits a sprinkler (maybe a gopher?) and bounces 15 feet in the air inexplicably. When it rains, gentlemen, it pours. Time to regroup.

Today: Going light today, just the one standard 2* Top Play. This is one of those times where, as a capper and bettor, we need to keep hammering the plays that we KNOW are solid, but we'll keep things at the standard size until these heartbreaking 9th, 11th and 14th inning defeats subside.

Equation of the Day: The Combustion Reaction (and balanced equation), because that's what I did to my remote control, and we should know how much energy is released.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Brewers (-140) @ Pirates with a total of 9; D. Bush vs. B. Lincoln;
This line actually looks pretty close to accurate, to me. Dave Bush has tossed 13.1 innings against the Pirates this year, and 2 of his 4 wins on the season have come at the expense of the hapless Pirates. Pittsburgh is hitting the ball a little better this week, and had himself a quality start, no decision against the Brewers in a losing effort (6 innings, 3 runs), but has been a few bolts short of a working machine at just 1-3 with a 5.14 ERA on the season. I think a lot of folks are going to jump on the home dog, but I'm not sure there's enough reason to do so, though Prince Fielder might get traded between now and then, so...

Rockies (-125) @ Marlins with a total of 9.5; J. Francis vs. N. Robertson;
This line is probably bordering on accurate, too. I hate giving oddsmakers credit, but Francis and the Rockies are the slightly better side. Francis is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA against the Marlins lifetime, but his last 3 starts before the All Star Break were clunkers. Did he need a few days off from baseball, or is that largely injured arm of his just jelly for the rest of the year and he's got to pitch through it? Nate Robertson kind of doinked his way into the Break, too, though it's been a year of mostly doinking for Nate. He's 0-2 with an 8.74 ERA against the Rockies, including a 4 inning, 5 run debacle at Coors in April. If you trust Francis to bounce back, the call is easy - if you don't, and you think the Rockies struggles on the road continue, the decision is much, much tougher.

Padres @ Braves (-166) with a total of 8; W. LeBlanc vs. J. Jurrjens;
The Padres get to take their road success to one of the tougher spots in the NL, the East-leading Braves, and it isn't going to be an easy task. I'm concerned about LeBlanc keeping up his strong season. His road work hasn't been too impressive over the last month, though the Braves haven't seen him before, and that might work in Wade's favor. Jurrjens gave up 8 runs in 3 innings against the Padres in April, but he clearly wasn't healthy, and that has inflated his career numbers against San Diego. He'll pitch fairly well here, and after going back and forth with this game for about the last 15 minutes just writing this blog entry, I think that likely means neither side is all that great.

Nationals @ Reds (-175) with a total of 9; L. Atilano vs. M. Leake;
REMATCH ALERT! Not sure it matters, but always worth pointing it out. Atilano went 7 innings and allowed 2 runs (only 1 earned) in a loss to Leake and the Reds. Leake tossed 7 shutout frames in that game, so his work against Washington, though brief, is basically spotless. Again, time will tell if either team's offense wakes up, but man oh man those Nats sure do stink on the road. Tough to grab the big dog when I don't legitimately feel like they're going to score.

Astros @ Cubs (-240) with a total of N/A; W. Wright vs. R. Dempster;
Ryan Dempster has a rich history of getting no run support against the Astros, hence his half-decent 4.28 ERA and ugly 4-10 record. He's faced them twice this year, has been solid both times, and managed to pick up a win in the 2nd effort. Wesley Wright is going to be a bit of an adventure. When a pitcher is going to be on a pretty strict pitch count, you're playing with fire just a bit, and the Cubs have looked like someone put a little pep in their step during the Break. Maybe Lou Piniella stabbed Carlos Zambrano during his anger management course?

Phillies @ Cardinals (-215) with a total of 8; J. Moyer vs. C. Carpenter;
This total is freakishly low, which means one of two things. Carpenter's namesake alone is going to generate plenty of under-money, and oddsmakers are going to split the money because of that, or Jamie Moyer is going to dominate the Cardinals from top to bottom, and the sharps know he has a runny nose and can get some nice mucous blobs on the baseball. Because, just going on numbers, this one should go Over. The Cards are hitting better at home, and Carpenter is actually an ugly 3-2 with a 6.59 ERA lifetime against the Phils. He did some raging out of the Break, but against the Dodgers, a team that Carpenter feasts on. Moyer is in one of his runs where he looks awfully old. This one needs some line-watching.

Mets (-130) @ D'backs with a total of 9.5; R. Dickey vs. B. Enright;
Dickey came out the Break as well as he started the season, but didn't get any help from his offense, and dropped a tough one to the Giants. Enright hasn't gone deep in any starts this year, but if the D'backs can continue to get 5 to 5.2 innings out of Enright, and if he continues to only allow roughly 2 runs in those frames, I think they'll take it. I can't help but root for him, too, again largely because he was one of the nicer, more outwardly positive guys on the 2008 Visalia Oaks roster. Of course, no one knows one another in this match-up, which means the bulk of the handicapping is going to be whether the Mets are going to lay waste to the Arizona bullpen. That's a scary thought, again, if the Mets can get those bats going at all.

Giants @ Dodgers (-125) with a total of 6.5; T. Lincecum vs. C. Kershaw;
The epic showdown of youngsters should be a damn good one. Kershaw allowed a run in 7 innings to the Giants this year in a no-decision, and Lincecum went 6 shutout against the Dodgers in an easy win. He's 4-1 with a 2.96 ERA lifetime against LA, definitely quite strong on most occasions. Of course, how many times is Lincecum going to be an underdog? The answer, to this point of 2010, is "never." The closest he came was as a -105 near-pick in Colorado, and the Rockies tagged him for 4 runs in that one, a loss. Oddsmakers know what they're doing, and this game definitely has a play embedded in there, but while Timmy's history makes the Giants look good, the strong opening number makes the Dodgers look good. Need to mull this one over.

American League

Angels @ Yankees with a total of N/A; TBD vs. P. Hughes;
The Angels are fighting a distinct lack of pitching depth, so we'll handicap this one tomorrow morning.

Rangers (-138) @ Tigers with a total of 9.5; T. Hunter vs. A. Galarraga;
Galarraga's back on the scene, 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA against the Rangers, and without a start against them in 2010. Hunter is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA against the Tigers, so just looking at those numbers, and at Hunter's incredible run to start his 2010 season (6-0, 2.39 ERA), you can see why this line is where it is. Of course, we must also remember how tough the Tigers are, at home, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Detroit get 3 runs off Hunter, and make that stand up. Galarraga is terribly unpredictable, though Texas has a fairly righthanded lineup, and that's just one small note that favors Armando. This line is pretty high for Texas, and bettors need to determine if it's high for a reason, or if Detroit is a truly live dog.

Rays (-185) @ Orioles with a total of 9; M. Garza vs. J. Arrieta;
Garza has completely owned the Orioles. Jake Arrieta has probably been the O's most consistent starter. What does that mean? It means you probably don't need to handicap every tiny angle in this game, since the sides, to me, are basically non-factors. Taking a peek at the total might not be an awful idea, since Garza is a lifetime 8-1, 2.48 ERA hurler against Baltimore, and the Rays, struggling of late to get runners in scoring position across the dish, get to face a decent pitcher for the first time.

Indians @ Twins (-170) with a total of 9.5; J. Masterson vs. K. Slowey;
Justin Masterson is 0-3 with a 5.01 ERA against the Twins, while Kevin Slowey is 5-2 with a 3.73 ERA against the Indians. In a perfect world, those numbers would mean that the Twins win the game, but baseball is rarely that simple. Masterson pitched pretty well against the Twins at home in one of his two outings against them this year, but was pretty bad here at Target Field. Slowey is much better at home than on the road, so that should help him out, here, but at the same time, he's coming off a terrible start at home against the White Sox. If Slowey blowey, the Indians can win this one.

Blue Jays (-133) @ Royals with a total of 10.5; J. Litsch vs. A. Lerew;
What a day of games. I mean, I just kept handicapping the card, expecting to get to a 2nd interesting pitching match-up and unless the last few are interesting, it's just going to be one of those days where we have to attack the dregs. Jesse Litsch, remarkably, is 2-1 with a 1.19 ERA against the Royals in a few starts. He's pitched a tiny bit better in his last start this year after getting off to a rough beginning. Lerew has sort of been the opposite. He started off with a few workable starts, and then the wheels came off. He's allowed 14 runs in his last 2 outings which lasted just 7.2 innings. He can't be much worse than those starts, so the value on the Jays is basically dead. Of course, they might still win.

Red Sox @ Athletics (-120) with a total of 8; T. Wakefield vs. D. Braden;
I'll be honest, I'm a little surprised to see the A's favored against the Red Sox, but Tim Wakefield's year has been that bad. He allowed 6 runs in 6 innings to the A's at Fenway earlier this season, though the thick air by the Bay should help him just a tad, not to mention a left field wall that's actually in deep left field. Braden's been a mess, basically since his perfect game. His team lost all 8 starts since, then he went on the DL. If he's truly healthy now, then perhaps we can expect a nice start. His arm should be fresh, that's for damn sure. I suppose if the A's are favored over a wildly public team, even a struggling one, you have to take notice.

White Sox (-145) @ Mariners with a total of 7.5; J. Danks vs. D. Fister;
Neither of these guys looks as great now as they did in April. That's what jumps out to me in this game. Danks allowed 6 runs in 6 innings (well, really, in 1 inning) against the Twins his last time out, but to his credit, he got far deeper in that game than I think anyone expected. And while he did toss a complete game shutout against the slumping Angels in his previous start, his strikeouts have been a little low, and I just feel like his 8-inning, 2-run domination of the Mariners back in April might be setting the bar a little high. Same with Fister, in fact, who also went 8 and 2 in that same series. The White Sox pen just got rocked in Minnesota, and they're in a little bit of an emotional low point.

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