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MLB: Boston guns for season sweep of Angels
The Angels are nearly a .500 team heading into Thursday’s game versus the Red Sox, but if not for the woeful season series versus Boston, they would be much better, perhaps even still in the playoff hunt. Los Angeles has lost all nine games to Boston in 2010, and a win by the Red Sox tonight would complete an unusual season sweep. Oddsmakers at Sportsbook.com believe it will happen, with the Red Sox playing as -145 favorites behind Josh Beckett.
There may be enough reasons to suspect the season sweep won’t happen though. First off, Boston (69-52) hasn't won more than three straight games since June. Secondly, Beckett has been hit hard in both of his last two starts, yielding 13 runs in 9-2/3 innings against Texas and the Yankees. Thirdly, there are several strong StatFox Systems and/or Trends favoring the Angels in tonight’s matchup.
The system reads as follows and focuses on Beckett’s struggles:
• Play On - Road underdogs with a money line of +100 or higher (LA ANGELS) - with a bullpen that averages less than 2.75 innings per game against opponent with a starting pitcher whose ERA is 6.20 or worse on the season (AL). (35-15 since 1997.) (70%, +31.5 units. Rating = 4*)
The Angels will turn to Ervin Santana (12-8, 3.99 ERA) to cool off the Boston bats. The right-hander pitched well at Fenway on May 4, limiting the Red Sox to one run over seven innings, but wound up without a decision in a 5-1 loss. He is 1-2 with a 4.61 ERA in seven starts versus Boston. Santana has won four of his last five starts overall, including a 7-2 home victory Saturday over Toronto in which he allowed one run, three hits and four walks in seven innings. He also boasts a strong performance record against the league’s best recently:
• SANTANA is 15-5 (+10.3 Units) against the money line when playing against a good team (Win Pct. 54% to 62%) over the last 2 seasons. (Team's Record) The average score was SANTANA 5.0, OPPONENT 3.0 - (Rating = 1*)
Besides the current opponent, the other good news for the Red Sox is that they got 2008 AL MVP Dustin Pedroia back from a broken left foot Tuesday. They have been dealing with injury problems all season long and found out on Wednesday that Mike Cameron will have season-ending surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle. Fellow outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury also may not play again this year after re-aggravating a broken rib in his back last week.
The Red Sox won 7-5 on Wednesday night, improving to 9-0 in the season series with Los Angeles. Boston has averaged 7.3 runs while batting .327 in those games.
The Angels, meanwhile, will now try to avoid their fifth losing streak this season of at least four games. Two of the previous four skids concluded with sweeps at the hands of Boston.
The total for Thursday’s game is set at 9.5, and that wagering option also shows a unique trend relating to Boston’s dominance in the series:
• SCIOSCIA is 14-4 OVER (+9.5 Units) in road games revenging 6 or more straight losses vs opponent in last 2 years as the manager of LA ANGELS. The average score was LA ANGELS 5.5, OPPONENT 6.2 - (Rating = 1*)
Look for the first pitch from Boston at 7:10 PM ET.
MLB National League Central Predictions
The National League Central is usually a wild and unpredictable division. With no powerhouse favorite in the division this season, it looks to be even wilder than in past years. Despite the play the division may feature this season, here is the way I see things panning out, baseball betting needs to pay attention.
- The St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals have the best top of the rotation combo in the division hands down. They also feature the top free agent signing of the offseason and that Albert Pujols guy. With the emergence of Ryan Franklin as a more the solid option at the end of the game, look for the Cardinals to edge out the competition with their veteran leadership and strong starting pitching.
- The Cincinnati Reds: The Reds have surprised a great deal of people with their slight lead over the Cardinals so far this season. With a solid late inning combo of Author Rhodes and Francisco Cordero and a surprising amount of pop in the lineup, look for the Reds win a great deal more games than expected this season.
- The Milwaukee Brewers: Despite being ten games under .500 at the moment, the Brewers will win enough game to keep them in contention on offensive firepower alone. This, however, will not help their dismal starting pitching and uncertainty Trevor Hoffman has shown them this season. Look for the Brewers to have another season hovering around the .500 mark.
- The Chicago Cubs: The Cubs have a great deal of bloated contracts and old players that fill their roster. When Carlos Silva turns out to be your ace, you know you are in trouble. With little bang for their buck in the lineup and an out of whack starting rotation, look for Lou Piniella to blow more than a few gaskets this year.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates: The good news is that Pirates have a great shot at not finishing last in the division. The bad news is that they look to be making little to no progress as a franchise. Look for the Pirates futility to continue this season and for them to collect another top draft pick for 2011.
- The Houston Astros: The sheer awfulness of the Astros offense has been shocking to say the least this year. When Roy Oswalt wants to leave town, you know things have gotten out of hand. Look for the Astros the scrape the bottom of the division the entire season.
That is how I see the division shaping up. If the Cards can stay healthy, I really do not see anyone challenging them for the division crown, and those of you into baseball betting need to take notice. The NL Central is a wild one to say the least, though. The one thing we do know is that the NL Central is sure to be one of the most exciting divisions in baseball this year.
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MLB: Baseball bettors jumping on Giants
Whether it’s at home or on the road, the San Diego Padres have gotten the best of the San Francisco Giants this season. The first-place Padres look for a fifth straight win over the Giants on Wednesday night. After sweeping a three-game set from the Giants at home April 19-21, San Diego (20-12, +9.4 units) won 3-2 on Tuesday at San Francisco in the series opener between the NL West frontrunners. For tonight’s game, Sportsbook.com shows the Giants as -180 favorites, after opening the line at -145.
Three of the Padres’ four wins over San Francisco (18-13, +3.8) have been decided by one run, moving them to 14-6 in night games.
David Eckstein had a two-run single and four relievers held the Giants scoreless over 4 1/3 innings as San Diego improved to 3-1 on a six-game road trip.“We’ve been feeling good,” said Heath Bell, who recorded his ninth save to secure San Diego’s third straight win at San Francisco.
San Diego has allowed six runs against the Giants this season, including two by a bullpen that’s among the best in the majors with a 2.58 ERA. The Padres are 16-6 with a hot bullpen whose WHIP is under 1.200 the last 10 games this season.
That solid pitching has enabled the Padres to provide just enough offense to keep beating the Giants. San Diego has scored 12 runs and hit .235 against the Giants this season. The Padres were the recipient of 12 San Francisco walks but stranded 15 runners Tuesday. “We want to get them in,” San Diego manager Bud Black said.
Eckstein, however, is 7 for 13 in his last four games and batting .318 with six RBIs in his last six against the Giants.
The Padres scored all their runs Tuesday against Barry Zito, who allowed seven walks. They could face a stiffer challenge with Matt Cain (2-1, 2.79 ERA, 1.009 WHIP) on the mound.
After giving up seven runs in his first two starts, Cain has yielded six in his last four and two with five hits in 15 innings to win his last two outings.
Coming off an eight-inning, one-hit effort against Colorado on May 1, Cain took a no-hitter into the sixth before allowing two runs and four hits in seven innings of a 6-3 win at Florida on Thursday. “What a job he did,” manager Bruce Bochy told the Giants’ official website. The right-hander and his teammates are 11-3 when he pitches off a loss.
Cain is 4-6 with a 2.91 ERA in 19 starts versus the Padres. He allowed two runs in six innings of a 3-2, 10-inning loss at San Diego on April 19.
San Diego’s Clayton Richard (1-2, 3.34, 1.543), who gave up one run in 6 1/3 innings in that game against Cain and the Giants last month, takes the ball in this contest. The left-hander, whose 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA in two starts against San Francisco, gave up three runs and five walks in five innings of a 6-5, 12-inning loss to Colorado last Wednesday.
“It was not having command of my fastball. And when I don’t have that, it’s going to be a rough slide,” Richard told the Padres’ official website. Richard is an after dark hurler with San Diego 15-6 when he takes the mound with the lights on.
Aubrey Huff is 4 for 7 against Richard and had two hits with an RBI on Tuesday for the Giants, who’ve lost three of four. Huff is batting .417 with nine RBIs in his last 10 games.
Sportsbook.com has seen almost all one-sided action, as the Giants went from -145 favorites to -180 on the money line with total Un7.5. San Fran is 24-12 vs. NL starting pitcher whose ERA is 3.50 or better and 17-5 OVER against clubs in their league allowing 3.8 or less runs a game on the season. When the total falls into that range, Richard is 12-5 when the number is 7 to 8.5. (Padres Record)
This battle for the top spot in the NL West has 10:15 Eastern start and is available in both local markets as well as MLB.TV and San Diego is 24-13 OVER as a road underdog of +150 or more.
The StatFox Power Line shows San Francisco -151
MLB: Tampa Bay not a good bet
As September begins, the defending American League champions are backed into a corner. The Rays earned a road split with Detroit yesterday with 11-7 win, yet still trail Boston by five games for the wild card, with Texas a game ahead of them. This is not to say Tampa Bay isn’t capable of making a run over their next 32 games, since they still have six important encounters with the Red Sox over the next 13 days. If it were only that easy. In Tuesday’s series opener, it is the Red Sox that are heavy -155 favorites. Players at Sportsbook are about evenly split on their loyalties. Check the BETTING TRENDS page for the latest breakdown.
This is crunch time and Rays know it, opening up a three-game series with the Red Sox. “I don’t know if it gets any bigger,” Evan Longoria said of the upcoming series. “…. It should be fun.” Even when Tampa Bay was the American League doormat they gave Boston trouble and it has continued into this season. The Rays have won eight of 12 against Boston and are 18-10 at Tropicana Field versus the BoSox.
Many wondered how the Tampa Bay front office could have moved the team’s all-time wins leader is Scott Kazmir, while still in the thick of chasing post-season berth. Tampa Bay has had an unusual situation and has tricky economic picture to consider.
After years of being one of the sickest and poorly run franchises in baseball, Tampa Rays invested in farm system. They have assembled some of the best young talent in the game; unfortunately, baseball isn’t just played on the field.
Last year’s World Series run has not led to a huge bump in attendance, ranking 22nd at 24,168 per game, which is behind Baltimore, San Diego and Arizona, whose seasons were over long ago. In fact they draw 4,000 more per game on the road than at home. The Rays lack a substantial season ticket base, strong corporate presence and potential for substantial ballpark revenues. The end result is Tampa Bay has to win to try and draw while always keeping an eye on the money matters.
With Kazmir gone, Andy Sonnanstine (6-7, 6.61 ERA) has been recalled from Triple-A. The right-hander gets the call since he is 2-0 with 0.96 ERA in last three starts against Boston. Sportsbook.com oddsmakers are not impressed with Sonnanstine or the fact the Rays are 57-23 at home playing against a team with a winning record over the last two seasons. They have made the Red Sox -155 money line road favorites, with the total Un9.
Jon Lester (10-7, 3.60) will be charge of stopping Joe Maddon’s club. The Red Sox are 14-3 in road games vs. an AL starting pitcher like Sonnanstine, whose WHIP is 1.500 to 1.600 and is 12-2 with a day off. The rub is Lester is 0-2 with an 8.22 ERA in three starts in 2009 vs. the former Devil Rays, with Boston losing all of them. While it is true the Red Sox are 11-0 after seven or more consecutive home games this season, you can’t overlook the fact they are 1-11 when playing against a team with a win percentage between 54 to 62 percent in the second half of this year.
Longoria and teammates are 15-3 UNDER as a home underdog of +100 or higher over the last two seasons, while Boston is 14-3 UNDER in road games vs. good power teams, averaging 1.25 or more home runs a game in the second half of the season.
While manager Terry Francona laments about trip to -The Trop-, “Those cowbells stay with you for about a week.” at least his club is still in better position and doesn’t have the Rays upcoming schedule.
Tampa Bay plays host to Boston and division leading Detroit this week before heading on the road next for trips the Yankees and Boston.
First pitch tonight is set for 7:08 Eastern on NESN and Sun networks.
StatFox Power Line – Boston -154