Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Still Hating Extra Innings

Recap: Somehow, another of our plays blew a 9th inning lead. Don't get me wrong, I realize the runs the Astros scored were gifts, but two nights in a row our closer blew a lead, and all I can do is shake my head in disgust. At least it wasn't in extra innings, I guess. However you spell it out, I am BEYOND pissed off. What appeared to be a tremendous underdog big win became a loss in 2 pitches, and over the last 2 nights, we went from looking like we'd make 6 units on those plays, to dropping almost that much. An 11-unit swing because John Axford walked two batters, and because Matt Lindstrom served up a mammoth homer to Chipper Jones's injury replacement. I am just ready to vomit. Yes, we won the Free Play on the Tigers/Rays Under 8.5, but relief pitchers nearly screwed the pooch on that one, as Detroit's pen gave up 6 runs in 2 innings, and we had to hang on by a thread.

Today: Once again, it's a DAMN good thing I did my handicapping BEFORE I got pissed off, because I've already got TWO beautiful evening plays that should end as winners in the standard 9 innings! The lines are already on the move even tonight, so I'm going to do some digging, and if the best number is available now, I'll make sure to let folks know, and we can lock it in, early. If not, we'll wait. Either way, I'm just going to keep putting us in the catbird seat in the 9th inning, and eventually our idiotic teams will actually close games out! How's that for a sales pitch? You can join me for these two angry winners by clicking anywhere in this paragraph!

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Cardinals (-135) @ Reds with a total of 7.5; A. Wainwright vs. B. Arroyo;
This could actually be a fun afternoon affair. Adam Wainwright, who just sort of cruises along as one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, has actually had a few hiccups in his career against the Reds. He's just 2-3 with a 4.68 ERA against Cincinnati, and the Reds have put up a few runs on Wainwright this year. Nothing outrageous, just not his usual dominance. Arroyo will be making his 4th start of the year against the Cards. The two previous starts in Cincinnati were outstanding, and his one road effort was awful. I suppose, based on that, he should pitch well, here. I don't really like the lines on this game, but I do think it'll be worth watching, as a baseball fan.

Braves (-135) @ Astros with a total of 7.5; T. Hanson vs. W. Rodriguez;
This is yet another spot where I'd be nervous to back the Braves. Tommy Hanson is a great young pitcher, and he's been on a nice roll, of late, but the Braves just don't play good baseball on the road. Hanson is, to his credit, 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA against the Astros, so this isn't exactly a team that spanks him, but it's absolutely another scary low line. Wandy Rodriguez is climbing the charts, quickly, as he's beginning to get his season turned around. He's just 2-2 with a 4.73 ERA against the Braves (and Matt Diaz, Omar Infante and Chipper Jones all give him trouble), but it's tough to go against a pitcher as strong as Wandy's been, at home in particular. Bit of a toss-up, here.

Marlins (-111) @ Nationals with a total of 9; C. Volstad vs. S. Olsen;
Chris Volstad still remains one of my top guys to fade, when the situation is right. Here, Volstad faces a team he's beaten twice this year, making, arguably, his two best starts of the entire season in back-to-back starts way back in early May. Scott Olsen, meanwhile, still seems to be searching for his early-season form as he makes his 3rd start since coming off the DL. Olsen pitched well against Florida when these teams faced off, but it's tough to argue that he's the same now as he was, then. The rust is evident, and there's a slight lack of confidence in his stuff. I imagine some of that will subside pitching at home, but considering the Marlins are 6-14 when Volstad starts, and 2 of those 6 wins came against the Nationals, this might be pass territory.

Dodgers @ Phillies (-135) with a total of 7.5; C. Billingsley vs. R. Oswalt;
The fact that the Phillies are banged up is absolutely colossal in this one, since Chad Billingsley's least favorite Phils aren't going to be in the starting lineup. Billingsley has been pitching well, and this game would have been a big-time stumbling block, but with the power lefties mostly shelved, Chad can go after righthanders with a little more aggressiveness. Oswalt, by the way, hasn't looked all that confident since early July. He's 6-3 with a 3.47 lifetime ERA against the Dodgers, and you have to think that he has a chance to put a nice start together with LA's recent offensive issues. Still, this line feels a tiny bit on the low side for a Dodgers team that stinks on the road, and it's our duty to figure out if that's because LA is going to bring the heat, or if it's because folks haven't yet noticed that the Dodgers have been blowing.

Rockies @ Mets (-120) with a total of 7.5; J. Francis vs. J. Niese;
Two teams slumping, I suppose you can see how the line would work its way this low, though it is almost eerily low. Maybe not quite there, but it's close. Francis is 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA lifetime against the Mets, and is coming off a rather ugly start in Pittsburgh. He's been a bit up and down this year for the Rockies, and for what it's worth, David Wright is 6-for-9 with 3 homers off Francis in the past. Jon Niese gave up 5 runs in 5 innings of a start in Coors Field, but that was before his DL stint back in the early stages of the 2010 season. Since his return, he's been solid against just about everyone other than the Diamondbacks. Colorado seems to have some issues putting up crooked numbers against lefties, and on the road only sounds worse. That being said, there are few teams slumping harder than the Mets. Someone has to win though, don't they?

D'backs @ Brewers (-134) with a total of 9; D. Hudson vs. D. Bush;
Oh, Dave Bush, how you confuse me. You're 5-1 with a 3.65 ERA lifetime against the Diamondbacks, yet Stephen Drew, Kelly Johnson, Augie Ojeda, Mark Reynolds and Chris Young have all clobbered you, individually. How can that be? Most of Bush's bad starts have come on the road (though not all of them), and he hasn't seen Arizona this year, so it's tough to build on any recent data. He's been alternating very good and very bad starts, further complicating matters. I really just loathe handicapping Dave Bush. On the other side, Daniel Hudson has been tremendous in two wins for the D'backs, and I see no reason to think he falls apart, here, especially if the Brewers are without their top offensive threats. If I didn't think Bush would throw 8 shutout innings the moment I went against him, I'd probably bite on the D'backs.

Pirates @ Padres (-200) with a total of 7; J. McDonald vs. K. Correia;
No thanks!

Cubs @ Giants (-175) with a total of 7; T. Gorzelanny vs. B. Zito;
This is actually a very intriguing big dog, if we thought the Cubs would play hard. That's the rate-limiting factor, here, since Tom Gorzelanny is a lifetime 3-0, 1.29 hurler against the Giants, and as I've repeated many times, I keep expecting the sky to fall in atop Gorzelanny's season, but it never does. Now, all his success aside, Barry Zito is having himself a heck of a season. He's coming off a solid start in Atlanta where he fanned 10 batters for the third time this year, and the follow-up start in each of his previous two 10-K efforts was also quite good. He's just 1-3 with a 4.66 ERA lifetime against the Cubbies, but looking at the roster, Aramis Ramirez is really the only Cub with success against him. Soriano is 0-for-12 since 2005. Maybe the Under is in play, even with that low number.

American League

Rays @ Tigers (-115) with a total of 7; M. Garza vs. J. Verlander;
Matt Garza just no-hit the Tigers 2 weeks ago, and now gets to face them, again. If you don't think Detroit is going to be just a little more fired up than usual for this one, you've got another thing coming. However, does that mean Detroit wins? Not at all. They've been downright awful, and while Justin Verlander is the team's ace, has he really been good enough to be called that, this year? I would argue that he hasn't. Verlander hasn't made a start where he shut a team out since May 13. That means that, while he's been incredible at eating innings, Verlander has given up at least a run, usually 2-4 in every start over the last 3 months. He pitched well enough to win in Tampa, mind you, and pitches well enough to win just about every time out, but not well enough to guarantee a win, and that's what a weak offensive team like Detroit needs from its top gun. I do think the Tigers play hard, and I doubt Garza no-hits them, again, so a slight afternoon lean to Detroit, but we'll need some Verlander magic to pull the trigger.

Royals @ Angels (-160) with a total of 7; Z. Greinke vs. J. Weaver;
This is a pretty strong opening number for the Angels, considering the money that Greinke's name alone can pull. Still, the numbers back it up. Greinke is 1-4 with a 4.20 ERA against the Halos, and gave up 4 runs in 6 innings of a start against them earlier this year. Weaver is 4-4 with a 2.88 ERA against the Royals, and went 7 shutout frames against KC this year. So, just about all the relevant stats say the Angels should win, and that, good friends, is why this line gets to be inflated for the home team. I'm not a fan, as I don't think the dog is a good bet, and the favorite is too expensive, going against a pitcher, that, while not having the best year, has the ability to go 9 shutout frames on any given night.

Athletics (-132) @ Mariners with a total of 7.5; D. Braden vs. L. French;
This game is all kinds of ugly. Dallas Braden is 1-1 with a 5.18 ERA against the Mariners (though he did go 7 innings of 1-run ball way back to start the season), and Luke French is 1-1 with a 5.84 ERA against the A's (though he's coming off a gem over the Royals). How do we know what we're going to get? Both offenses have hit the opposing starter pretty hard, and the individual player numbers back that up. Braden has been pitching better since coming off the DL, and French is a change-up specialist that never seems to pitch well when facing a team for the second time. The opening number is pretty strong for the A's, but will the Mariners play hard for a few games after the Managerial change?

Orioles @ Indians (-152) with a total of 9; B. Bergesen vs. J. Tomlin;
My favorite! Hah, but I kid. Brad Bergesen gets another start, and why not? He's had 2 good starts in a row for, maybe, the first time in his career. The Orioles are still awful when he pitches, but if he's starting to get on a hot streak, and/or figure something out, now is certainly not the time to take the ball away from him. The Indians, the other bad team that's causing some waves, send Josh Tomlin to the mound, a kid that's been superb in his 3 starts, but hardly deserving of a -152 opening line. No youngster on the Indians should get that kind of respect, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd actually back Bergesen over Tomlin. Good lord, I feel like I need to shower.

Red Sox (-111) @ Blue Jays with a total of 8; C. Buchholz vs. S. Marcum;
Say what you want about the Red Sox, Clay Buchholz has done his part. He's 12-5 with a 2.66 ERA, and Boston just wins when he's on the mound. He's 4-3 with a 3.30 ERA against the Jays, including a solid effort against them much earlier this year. However, Toronto's been hot. Shaun Marcum hasn't been as hot as his teammates, but he does seem to enjoy facing the Red Sox. Marcum is 5-2 with a 2.91 ERA in his career against Boston, and this year alone has gone 14 innings, allowing just 1 run on 6 hits. He did lose one of those 2 starts to Mr. Buchholz, for what it's worth. This opening number is pretty strong for Toronto, I would argue, and I'd be a little nervous to put my money on the banged up Red Sox, since they don't usually play all that well in Canada, anyway.

Yankees @ Rangers (-176) with a total of 7.5; J. Vazquez vs. C. Lee;
When was the last time you remember seeing the Yankees as a +160 dog? The oddsmakers wouldn't make a line this high on the Yankees unless they really, really needed money on them. Vazquez is garbage against the better AL teams, and I'd be very nervous to play the dog when a line comes out this much in favor of a Yanks' opponent.

Twins @ White Sox (-179) with a total of 8.5; G. Perkins vs. J. Danks;
Glen Perkins...I had almost forgotten that name. Welcome back, I suppose. He's 18-11 in his Major League career, and 2-1 against the White Sox, and he gets himself a pretty steep underdog line to work with. I happen to think the value is with Perkins in this one, to be honest. John Danks is 5-6 with a 5.28 ERA against the Twins, and has been pretty shaky against Minnesota two of the three times he's seen them, this year. Alex Rios and Gordon Beckham hit Perkins hard, but Beckham is currently sidelined, so he might just be able to squirm his way through 5 innings and try to give his pen a lead or a tie game to work with. This game is much closer to a coin-flip than the line would indicate, and a volume guy should consider the Twins.

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