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Something’s got to give in Oakland

tampa bayMany baseball fans regard a scoring festival as the best thing that could happen in a match, but there are just as many who appreciate a top quality pitchers’ duel. This is exactly what we are expecting in Oakland as the local team faces Tampa Bay and both clubs send in players that ride long winning streaks. The stakes couldn’t be higher, because both the A’s and the Rays are trying to consolidate their position and make the playoffs by securing a wildcard.

None of the teams completely forsake the idea of winning their divisions, but with the Red Sox and Rangers flying high it is hard to believe that an opportunity will arise in the remaining months. Meanwhile, Oakland is happy to give the ball to Jarrod Parker who hasn’t lost a game in more than three months and allowed fewer than three runs per game since May. He lasted eight innings in the last three games and luckily for him relievers didn’t disappoint and protected the lead inherited from Jarrod.

The A’s are not a traditionally high-scoring team but with such a starting pitcher on the mound they won’t need a lot of runs to win the opening game against Tampa Bay. On the other hand, any runs scored early in the game will carry extra weight, because the visitors have an invincible pitcher of their own. David Price won five out of his last eight starts, in the other three games being deprived of a win simply because his teammates were awful offensively.

Predicting the winner is not an easy task, but the guys at http://data.nowgoal.com/baseball/17158.html seem to have figured it out by indicating Oakland as the victor. Another option for punters would be to wager on the number of runs scored, but then again the line is set at 6.5 which makes this particular bet a tricky one. Past performance doesn’t provide us with too many hints about what could happen tonight, because despite Parker losing to Tampa Bay, he surrendered a single run.

David Price faced Oakland six times but got a decision just three times and recent results are a bit worrisome. Los Angeles Angels made short work of the Rays yesterday with Tampa going 0-8 with runners in scoring position and went down by two runs to none. Their away from home record is equally disappointing, as the Rays lost 7/9 and have a losing record at the Coliseum.

Cardinals promise to return the favor in St. Louis

At the end of July, St. Louis lost 4/5 games against Pittsburgh and the lead in the Central division after being outshot 22-7 in the first four games. They salvaged one victory in the final game of the series and scored a massive 13 points to avoid the sweep, but that still caused them to fall into second place. Now they try to return the favor at Busch Stadium with a sweep of their own that will enable them to tie the Pirates with 70 victories.

Cincinnati is just one point behind them and it is very likely that the central division will be the one to award the wildcard, which means that there is no room for error. St. Louis will send Adam Wainwright for the opening game hoping that their best starting pitcher can give them the upper hand against Pittsburgh. He’s the only one in their rotation to have won 13 games and his ERA of 2.66 is one of the best in the National League, but he didn’t fare well against the Pirates.stlouis

Adam conceded an average of five fronts per game in his starts versus Pittsburgh and not even home pitch advantage helped him last more than six innings. The only good news ahead of this feature is that the Pirates lost three games in a row and scored just seven runs in Colorado. The Rockies are hardly the best team in their division and even though Coors Field is a hitter friendly stadium, the visitors were unable to take advantage. If they perform in the same manner against the Cardinals, Adam Wainwright might improve his earned run average against him and add the 14th victory.

He will be opposed by an equally talented starting pitcher, as the visitors give the ball to Charlie Morton who managed to keep his ERA at 3.88. Even though the two players are separated by more than one point, they both require minimal runs of support and can pull out amazing victories. Charlie has his own issues against St. Louis and lost all three recent starts against them, but the main reason of concern is the fact that his teammates are not doing particularly well offensively.

All in all this promises to be an intense battle between the starting pitchers with Adam Wainwright being favorite to prevail, but he can’t single-handedly defeat the Pirates. In order to win, the Cardinals will need to have him on the mound for at least six innings, because the bullpen is shaky and causes them to lose many points lately. Punters are surely disappointed by the fact that the odds for a home victory stand at a puny 1.60 so they have to decide between two equally unappealing alternatives.

One would be to back St. Louis to cover the spread of 1.5 runs with odds exceeding even the value, while the second being the trust Charlie Morton and the Pittsburgh. The advantage for this bet is that the odds revolve around the value of 2.60 which makes the Pirates clearly overpriced. The difference between the two teams is minimal and although Adam Wainwright has a slight edge over Morton, things could go either way and these odds are worth the coin flip.

Felix Hernandez is Seattle’s best and last hope

Boston has the best record in baseball and it has every intention to consolidate its lead over the New York Yankees. So far they did everything that needed to be done to stay at the top of the division and they’ve achieved something similar to what Oakland accomplished a couple of weeks ago. Back then they were tied for the lead with the Rangers and managed to break free by winning the series against them. More on that matter at http://www.jackhammerbaseball.com/oaklands-best-chance-to-consolidate-lead/.

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Meanwhile, the Red Sox will try to finish off the Mariners at home, in the final game of the series after winning both encounters and scoring 13 runs while conceding six. At the first glance it might look like Boston is going to cruise to an easy victory, but there is one man standing behind them and a well-deserved sweep. Felix Hernandez is Seattle’s best and only hope this year and with 11 victories and just four defeats, he is beyond doubt the best starting pitcher in their rotation.

His ERA of 2.34 is almost twice as good as Ryan Dempster’s who will be opposing him tonight but even so, Felix remains vulnerable. The reason for why the bookmakers those credit him with the first chance to add another victory to his impressive record is that the Mariners are struggling to score runs. Both away and at home, Seattle scores just a handful of points and unless the starting pitcher lasts at least six innings, the team loses in the final minutes.

Although some progress has been made in improving the bullpen and relievers now defend the hard earned gains more effectively, there is still plenty of work to be done. Ryan Dempster doesn’t have to worry about his earned run average, at least that’s the feeling we get after seeing that he conceded on average six runs per game, still he earned his winning decisions. The Red Sox were tremendous at bat recently and Ryan was the main beneficiary, but he shouldn’t rely exclusively on his offensive teammates.

This has all the ingredients to turn into a highly contested game and although it is not a pitcher’s duel, Felix is pretty much on his own while Dempster can rely on his opponents. Even so, there are very few reasons in favor of backing Boston, except maybe the fact that they have the best home record in the American League. Savvy punters will probably go against the odds and wager on the underdog to emerge victorious, as Seattle is valued at even odds by most bookmakers.

Seattle makes a push before the All-Stars game

To say that things were not going their way, would be an understatement for the Mariners who lost several games in a row before ending the slide. It is uncertain what happened this week, but Seattle is on the verge of sweeping the Angels for the first time in a decade and all they need is another stellar outing from their starting pitcher. Iwakuma used to be one of their best, with an earned run average rivaling Felix Hernandez, but the Japanese sank into near irrelevance in his last three outings.

Seattle makes a push before the All-Stars game

He conceded an average of seven runs per game and lost all decisions, despite his teammates providing him with a surprisingly high number of runs. His home record is much better, which explains why bookmakers are still confident in his abilities to contain the Angels. He won’t be an All-Star player this season and this comes as no surprise, leaving Iwakuma to focus solely on the game at hand.

The Angels have one of the best batting units in the league, but their sluggers were ice cold this week, scoring a total of three runs in two games. What makes things even worse is the fact that LA was blanked in the second match and found no way around Felix. Well before the starting pitcher retired, Seattle had a commanding lead and there was nothing that the visiting team could do to claw its way back in the game.

To avoid a similar outcome, the Angels will need a better performance from their own starting pitcher but this is highly unlikely. Joe Blanton is just as disappointed of his teammates as the Angels are of him, and it is only fair to say that both parties are at fault. Joe posted an ERA of 5.40 which is a number that his teammates are right to frown upon, but it is not that bad to explain a 2-11 record.

For a team that invested millions in improving its hitting unit, the Angels are clearly failing to provide its pitchers with enough runs of support to keep them competitive. Pointing fingers is useless right now and all of them should work together to avoid a humiliating sweep at the hands of one of the weakest teams in the division. Houston is a new addition and it is not even factored in by serious teams, so the Angels need to rebound quickly if they are to prevent the Mariners from overtaking them. An insightful preview of the game is available at http://sports.yahoo.com/news/angels-mariners-preview-062029221–mlb.html.

The obvious way to bet on this match would be to place a sizable wager on Seattle to win, but there is more than meets the eye about this game. Odds of 1.75 are a disgrace when the starting pitcher is mired in a losing streak and the visitors have names such as Albert Pujols in their rotation. A more profitable way to bet is the over 8.5 runs to be scored, because everything suggests that this is not going to be a narrow margin of victory for either team.

Everything is on the line for Cincinnati

The Reds are fading in the central division and after conceding the first place to St. Louis, they also fell to the fast rising Pirates who are now the leaders of the division. Cincinnati needs to end the slide quickly, not because they risk falling even deeper, but because the playoffs are not going to wait for slackers. The distance separating them from Chicago and Milwaukee is so wide that there is no concern of being leapfrogged by either of these players, but these are inconsequential details.

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A more pressing matter is to break out of the funk and improve their record, as Cincinnati lost six of the last seven games and their starting pitchers were absolutely terrible. Add to this the fact that their otherwise hot bats have cooled off, and you’ve got the perfect storm brewing for a club with high expectations. In order to reverse their fortunes, the Reds will send in Mike Leake who despite being their fifth pitcher is the best one in their rotation, by far.

These numbers are outstanding and with a 2.61 ERA he finds himself in select company among names such as Stephen Strasburg, Adam Wainright, Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez. These figures are impressive but they won’t be sufficient to bring him his sixth victory this season, especially with his offensive teammates struggling. To make things even worse, Cincinnati is traveling to Texas for a series that started in the worst possible way, as the Reds lost the opening game by four runs to zero.

Starting pitchers did a relatively good job in the last two games, but this made no difference because the Reds didn’t score a single run. Not even the mighty Mike Leake can offset such numbers and if the visitors are to end the losing streak of the three games, they need to come out firing. Arlington Park has never been a friendly arena for Cincinnati and if we take a look at their track record, the numbers are downright intimidating.

Both the teams, fans and management acknowledged the fact that the Reds are struggling against teams from the American League in general and the Western division in particular. On the other hand, all of them are optimistic about their chances to break the ice and they indicate the starting pitcher as their best weapon. Granted Mike is one of the most effective pitchers in the league, he will need some support but he might get lucky as his counterpart is one streaky pitcher.

Tepesch is highly unpredictable and has alternated extraordinary games with terrible ones, conceding a handful of runs in just a few innings. He is highly dependent on his teammates and usually the Rangers provide their pitchers with plenty of runs of support. On those rare occasions when the offensive malfunctions and Tepesch was not too sharp, Texas suffered humiliating defeats at the hands of mediocre opponents. This is what Cincinnati counts on, because if they take an early lead and cause an untimely retirement for Tepesch, Leake should be capable of carrying them to a rare victory in Texas.

Risk-averse punters would be wise to stay away from this game, because there are many things that can go wrong regardless of what they chose to bet on. By contrast, those who are seeking high profits and don’t mind taking chances to obtain them, should gamble a bit by backing the visitors all the way. To be more precise, they could be betting on Cincinnati to cover the -1.5 runs spread and increase their profits three times if this happens.

Runs galore at Rangers Park tonight

The Rangers don’t seem to mind that their fellow Texans from Houston joined them in the Western division of the American League, in fact they are thriving. The two teams are separated by 15 points and while the Astros are probably going to miss the playoffs once again, the Rangers will try to secure home pitch advantage in postseason. There are plenty of games left until then, with one seemingly easy match taking place tonight when they Indians come to town.

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Cleveland is mired in a seven games losing streak and they are struggling to stay afloat, with poor pitching being the reason for their downswing. The visitors will need to step up their game if they are to survive the opening match in Texas, because the hosts are a high scoring team. Scott Kazmir is the one that the Indians will be counting on to cool off the opponents’ bats but neither his record or earns run average are encouraging. Scott split his six decisions this season and conceded an average of five runs per game, so he will need all the support that his teammates can lend him.

Fortunately for Kazmir, the Indians might be ending their lengthy downswing tonight, when the Rangers will give another chance to Josh Lindblom. The starting pitcher is more used to playing in the minor leagues and his only start in MLB was a disaster. His ERA of 7.71 speaks for itself and was the result of a brief appearance against Oakland, in a game that Texas lost by nine runs to two. Josh was responsible for conceding four runs in the first four innings before he was retired.

Normally this would be a lopsided game with the Rangers overwhelming favorites to win, even if the Indians were not riding a losing streak. Bookmakers tend to be overestimating the hosts, hence the tiny odds for a home victory but this presents punters with an excellent opportunity of backing the underdog. On the other hand, there are not many willing to put aside the fact that Cleveland lost seven consecutive games and their pitchers were absolutely terrible.

They can still extract profit from this game, because an excellent way of capitalizing on the high odds is by wagering on more than 10.5 runs to be scored. The line is set at a relatively high value for good reason, but the Rangers proved over and over again that they can’t cover such a spread at Arlington Park. Furthermore, they will need a small miracle from Josh Lindblom to deny opponents that chance of scoring a couple of runs, and the fact that he will be under tremendous pressure won’t help his cause.

Yankees poised to win the first series at Tropicana Field

Tampa Bay won nine consecutive series at home against the New York Yankees, but they will have a hard time in keeping the streak alive. They have a struggling starting pitcher and one of the worst bullpens in major league baseball, something that is particularly worrisome against the leaders of the Eastern division. The hosts will be giving the ball to Roberto Hernandez who has a dismal percentage against the Yankees, not to mention an earned run average of 5.24 in six decisions.

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An insightful article about the balance of strength and the possible outcome of this fixture can be found at http://sports.yahoo.com/news/yankees-rays-preview-185925192–mlb.html. The information is a bit contradictory, given the fact that the Yankees are trying to undo years of disparaging history, while being clearly the better team. Another reason for concern is that the visitors will be playing against some of their veterans, due to the fact that they have sustained injuries and are sidelined.

On the other hand, the hosts will have Evan Longoria on the mound and with a batting average of .397 he remains the most dangerous player. On the other hand, the injury plagued visitors are still winning game after game and proudly sit at the top of the competitive division. Many punters will find it intimidating to bet on the visiting team who sends in players such as David Adams whose names don’t ring familiar.

It is easy to dismiss the Yankees after losing consecutive games and blame the numerous injuries, but it wouldn’t be a wise choice to bet against them. Curtis Granderson is in excellent form and he scored in pretty much every game this season, which should be encouraging despite his otherwise disappointing percentage at Tropicana Field. He should be more than a match for starter Roberto Hernandez, a pitcher who has conceded an average of 11 runs per game when facing the Yankees.

He might be more experienced than his counterpart, but this is only a pale consolation when his ERA is two points higher and his recent results below average. Perhaps the most alarming thing for the Rays is that they can’t rely on the pitchers in the bullpen, as these players were responsible for most of the runs that caused Tampa Bay to lose seemingly won games.

Divisional rivals fight for the first place

St. Louis lost three consecutive games and this string of disappointing results caused them to slip to the second place, one victory behind the leading Pittsburgh. Their otherwise strong home record recommends them as favorites in a match against their divisional rivals, despite losing the opening game. Cincinnati got away with a narrow margin victory and two runs were enough for them to secure victory in the opener. It is quite unlikely for them to score significantly more runs tonight when they will be facing one of the best starting pitchers in the National League.

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The Cardinals are right to start with Jamie Garcia in the second game of the series, as he is not only in superb form but also quite effective against Cincinnati. He started for 7 times against them at home and emerged victorious in six of those starts, with a seventh game ending without a decision for Jamie. This season he has an earned run average of 2.89, so it is refreshing to know that his ERA in the head to head games is even better, standing at 2.40.

On the bright side, St. Louis can rest assured that the first innings will not cause them any headaches, because it is hard to believe that the reeling Reds will find a way to pitch around Garcia. Before Cardinals fans get overly optimistic about their chances to win this match, they should take a look at the tables and notice that their favorite team is mired in a three-game losing streak. It is the lack of offensive prowess that brought them to this unfortunate situation, but once again the Reds are a dream opponent.

It looks like they are poised to make the hosts mission easier by sending in Bronson Arroyo, a starting pitcher who has good reasons to fear the Cardinals. He’s at the opposite end of the spectrum if compared with Jamie Garcia, as his head to head record translates to one victory in seven games. Add to this the fact that his earned run average against St. Louis is a subpar 5.58 and becomes fairly obvious that the visitors will need a small miracle to win the second game in a row. The last time he took the mound, the Nationals pounded him for eight runs while his own team couldn’t provide more than one run of support.

A potential scoring festival at Target Field

Minnesota are slowly clawing their way to the top of the central division, and they couldn’t have asked for a better opponent that LA Angels. The visitors are reeling and an unfortunate combination of mediocre pitching and abysmal batting, has caused the former division winners to hit rock bottom. They are now tied with Houston for the last place and one more loss is enough for them to suffer the first sweep against the Twins in more than four years.

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Everything seems to have gone down the drain for the Angels, who find it downright impossible to win games regardless of how their batting squad performs. The series against the Twins is particularly interesting, as LA was outscored in both games despite taking an early lead. This is a worrisome scenario for tonight, when they appear to have a slight edge in terms of starting pitchers, given the fact that the hosts chose to start Worley.

He has the highest opponent batting average in the league and with an ERA of 10.50, he looks like a sitting duck for the allegedly offensive LA Angels. Worley was terrible in both starts and his team couldn’t carry him despite Mauer being red-hot and scoring match after match. He’s the reason for Minnesota’s resurgence and the player that the visitors should walk time after time, because he can always score a home run when the bases are loaded.

The Angels conceded eight runs per game in both defeats this series, and they have no guarantee that this won’t happen again with Tommy Hanson as starting pitcher. The 27-year-old, split these two decisions in 2013, but with an earned run average of 6.55 is hardly a player to trust in the first innings. Add to this the fact that he rarely lasts more than five innings, and it becomes obvious that the Angels have no reasons to be overconfident ahead of this fixture.

Punters would be tempted to back the hosts to win the third game in a row, but the Worley factor should not be underestimated, not with the starting pitcher allowing an average of 10 rounds per match. A better solution would be to bet on more than 9.5 runs to be scored, even though the odds are not terrific. because this type of wager has the best ratio between reward and risk. For a glance at recent team performance and the standings, check out http://www.sportsearch.info/sports-statistics/Baseball-Statistics.php.

Houston wins the first official match in 2013

For a brief period of time Houston Astros found themselves at the top of Major League Baseball as a result of beating state rivals in the opening game. Texas Rangers is widely regarded as one of the favorites to win its division and among the teams with a decent chance at winning the World Series. They certainly didn’t look like one when facing the Astros and they will need to make some adjustments in their starting rotation. The pitching was below expectations and although Houston is not one of the best hitting teams in the majors, the hosts scored eight runs with relative ease.

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For Bo Porter, the opening game couldn’t have ended better and gave him his first win as a manager, but what’s most important, proved that his spring training strategy paid off. Erik Bedard was terrific in the 3 1/2 innings he played, although the coach chose to pull him out relatively early despite the fact that he didn’t concede a single run. It was a magical night for the Astros who won their 4000th victory and the opening match for the first time in over seven years.

Uplifting as these victory might be, Houston has a long and twisted road ahead of it and needs to finish the season with a winning record for the first time in five years. What’s most worrisome is that the Astros have lost more than 100 games for consecutive seasons and it was their hitting squad that dragged them to the gutter. On the upside, neither the fans nor the management have high expectations and the lack of pressure should help Houston get back on track and make an attempt at a rare playoffs berth.

Erik Bedard is one of the pitchers that have an excellent record against Texas, but the veteran player has been relatively sharp against other American League opponents. Porter will need him and his fellow pitchers to keep up because everyone is watching him now that he has become the youngest manager in professional baseball. His team can’t compete with the usual candidates for the playoffs, but despite the relatively low-budget, Porter has good reasons to be optimistic.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the Texas Rangers, a team that has high a budget and equally high aspirations. They were unable to prevent Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli from leaving the team in the season break and only time will tell whether the replacements will rise up to the challenge. Matt Harrison and Berkman are yet to prove their worth, following a rather disappointing first game for the Rangers, while Nelson Cruz was even worse in the opening game and one of his errors allowed Houston to score in the fifth inning.

The Astros will need to keep up this tempo at least until the All Stars game, because poor season starts prevented them from standing a chance in the second half in the last couple of years. It is going to be difficult for Porter to lead his young team to the playoffs, but if he succeeds in beating the odds he will have a long and prosperous career in Houston. An interesting recap of the opening game is available