Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wedding Weekend, Again

Recap: A one dollar disaster of a 6th inning. The Mets were going to town on Anibal Sanchez, just as we predicted, but the momentum turned the Mets star shortstop Jose Reyes had to leave the game. Literally, from that point forward, nothing worked. The Mets were able to preserve a narrow lead for a few innings, but the Marlins scored SEVEN runs in the top of the 6th, and knowing the Mets ability to fold, I'm calling that one right now. I still don't think it was a bad call, as Sanchez gave up 4 runs in 5 innings, but injuries and one bad inning doomed the entire play. Not cool! Eh, maybe I'll reverse jinx it...

Today: It's time to push a few chips forward! We had a beastly GOM winner on Tuesday, and this play is almost up to that standard...and I mean, just barely below that one. So, without further ado, we roll out the Game of the Week! And yes, for those that manned up and paid the buck for yesterday's Dollar-Play, you should have a coupon to get today's Big Play for half off (or thereabouts). I expect a great number of you back on board to ride out this hot streak!

I will be traveling this weekend for a wedding, so bear with me on some shorter writeups on the games that just don't "do it" for me.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Cardinals (-180) @ Nationals with a total of 8; J. Garcia vs. S. Olsen;
Jaime Garcia is coming off just a gem of a performance at home against the Giants, and he has indeed been better at home than on the road. While I'd love to suggest the dog, Olsen is 1-4 with a 6.10 ERA lifetime against the Cards, and really hasn't looked good, at all, since coming off the DL.

Cubs @ Reds (-175) with a total of 9; T. Gorzelanny vs. J. Cueto;
This game might be tougher for the Reds than people realize. Sure, they're the team with all the motivation, but that first game home off a long road trip through the NL West is going to be a sluggish one. Cubs might steal the opener, as Cueto really hasn't been anything special against the Northsiders, and Gorzelanny, somehow, is still having a decent year.

Astros @ Mets (-145) with a total of 7.5; N. Figueroa vs. M. Pelfrey;
Nelson Figueroa comes home to face his old team, though he did see them in Houston, already. He went 5 innings and allowed a run in that start, and he's been getting steadily better in each of his 3 efforts. Houston has won all 3 of his starts, too. Pelfrey, meanwhile, got pushed back a couple days, and while we might hear conflicting reports, I'm guessing he just didn't want to face the Marlins. Just a guess, though. He's been okay against the Astros in his career, and has been ramping back up over his last 3 starts. The Under is interesting, though the number is already pretty low, and Houston is on a roll right now, so they're a possibility, too.

Marlins @ Braves (-205) with a total of 8.5; C. Volstad vs. T. Hanson;
Chris Volstad remains a perma-fade for me, though at this price, I'd prefer to just leave this one alone. Hanson, by the way, is a stellar 3-0 with a 2.19 ERA against the Fish, so this isn't a particularly good matchup for the Marlins. I'm not saying I like the home run line, but I don't not like it. Eh?

Pirates @ Brewers (-155) with a total of 9; J. McDonald vs. C. Narveson;
This will be Narveson's 3rd start of the year against Pittsburgh, and he's been, let's say, bearable, in each of the previous 2. He wasn't good, and given his make-up, he probably won't ever be quite that good, but he did enough. He's coming off a very ugly start against the Padres, and with young guys, I'm always concerned that one start can mean there are more clunkers in the tank. James McDonald hasn't been terribly impressive, either, and he'll be making his first start against the Brewers, though not his first appearance. This line does feel oddly low, considering Milwaukee was a bigger favorite to the Dodgers, yesterday, and that does concern me.

Dodgers @ Rockies (-150) with a total of 7.5; C. Kershaw vs. U. Jimenez;
The tale of two cities. We know how the Dodgers take care of the Rockies at home, but life gets a little tougher at Coors. It's also quite important to look at the splits for guys pitching in Colorado. Kershaw might be 3-2 at Coors Field, but his ERA is 6.39, and that's scary. Both of these teams come into this game with a little momentum, but the Dodgers beat on the lowly Brewers, and the Rockies took it to the East-leading Braves. The Rockies feel like decent bets in this series, though this one is a tad expensive.

Phillies @ Padres (-140) with a total of 6; R. Oswalt vs. M. Latos;
I know I should want to take a side in this one, but I just don't. Oswalt is 10-2 with a 2.56 lifetime ERA against the Padres, which is pretty darn good. Latos didn't pitch that well against the Phillies earlier this year on the road, but we all know how tough the Padres starters are, at home. The Phillies are also coming to San Diego off getting swept in 4 games, at home, by the Astros. I can only think that these two teams will figure out a way to clear 6 runs. Won't they?

D'back @ Giants (-175) with a total of 7.5; B. Enright vs. T. Lincecum;
Arizona can't win on the road, or really, against anyone other than the Mets, so backing them, even with Lincecum in his current slump, seems dangerous. I also wouldn't pay this kind of money for the aforementioned slumping Lincecum. What I would do is note that the Giants have scored in double figures in 3 straight games, and the D'backs could potentially score 3 off Timmy and the Giants struggling pen. Over, or nothing.

American League

Royals @ Indians (-140) with a total of 8.5; B. Bullington vs. J. Tomlin;
This is the ultimate "who gives a rat's ass" game of the night. And on top of the completely irrelevant teams, both slumping, going head-to-head, we're seeing two pitchers that we don't know a ton about - pass!

Tigers @ Blue Jays (-125) with a total of 7.5; J. Verlander vs. S. Marcum;
Toronto has slapped Verlander around a bit, and I know it's a relatively "obvious" stat, but his 1-2, 8.22 lifetime mark against the Jays makes Verlander impossible to back in this one, for me. Does that mean Marcum is the answer? Not necessarily - the guy hasn't been nearly as strong in the 2nd half as he was early this year, and I wonder if some arm fatigue is setting in after missing so much time due to injury. He's been doing more losing lately, but has put together 2 straight strong starts, and we certainly know Detroit can struggle on the road. Verlander did beat Toronto at home, but something just feels different about pitching in the hitter-friendly dome.

Red Sox @ Rays (-130) with a total of 7.5; J. Lester vs. D. Price;
If the Red Sox can steal any game in this very tough weekend series, it's going to be this one. First game back off a long West coast road trip for Tampa means definite sluggishness. Of course, the banged up Sox might still not have the firepower to handle the Rays, but I don't think I'd back Tampa in this one. Perhaps, Saturday and/or Sunday.

Athletics @ Rangers (-135) with a total of 8.5; B. Anderson vs. T. Hunter;
Tommy Hunter is the question mark in this game, to me. And the reason I started the note with that is because I feel like most will disagree with me. Hunter is coming off a strong start in Baltimore, but prior to that, had struggled pretty mightily in 3 of his previous 4 outings. I still can't help but think that he's a little low on gas, and those strong starts are coming after very short outings. So, how does he respond in this one to the good start back East? Does the confidence carry over for a few more, or does he go back to fighting it? Anderson should be fine, and we all know how good the A's starting staff has been. This line is pretty cheap, and I think that's largely because of Hunter's recent struggles. Tiny lean to the A's, if I had to pick one.

Yankees (-140) @ White Sox with a total of 9; A. Burnett vs. F. Garcia;
All these meaningful games, and this is another one where, for whatever reason, I just don't feel too strongly. Garcia's in a bit of a slump, and Burnett is about as erratic as any starter in the League, short of Brian Matusz. Seems like the only thing you could really eyeball is the Over, but even that seems too easy, since both guys could easily turn it up a notch for a big Friday night game and this one could end with 7 runs.

Orioles @ Angels (-160) with a total of 9.5; B. Bergesen vs. T. Bell;
Brad Bergesen has led the Orioles to wins in each of his last 4 starts, and the Orioles beat Trevor Bell and the Angels just a couple weeks back, in Baltimore. So, our job here is to decide if this line is high because the Angels, despite an ugly season, are still a public team, or if it's high because Bell is going to pitch better, and Bergesen is due for a fall-off. I think one mistake I made during NBA season is that I sometimes give the "betting schmoes" too much credit. They still don't know who Brad Bergesen is, and even though all of us here can see his hot run, most probably don't. The O's are a live dog.

Twins (-140) @ Mariners with a total of 7.5; S. Baker vs. J. Vargas;
Okay, I know we can find something here. Vargas is 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA against the Twins, and he pitched very, very well against them earlier this year. Of course, he was also rolling then, but since the beginning of July, Vargas has been much more hit-or-miss. Baker is coming off a very good start against the Angels, and he, too, has been pretty up-and-down. It's actually borderline amazing how many starters today have that same lack of predictability. Still, with the Twins coming off a brutal series in Texas and clearly slipping a little, I think we'll get max effort from the position players.

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