In an effort to try to get out of the house for the first time since getting home from vacation, we'll go ahead and post Sunday's blog before the conclusion of all sports on Saturday night...with your permission, of course!
We hit our baseball total yesterday, nailing the Free 1* Winner with the Pirates/Cardinals Under 8. Jeff Karstens pitched his butt off, and Jaime Garcia was just as good as usual, and the final total of 2 came in just a hair below what I expected (that was sarcasm, so no one gives guff like that other time). What I'm trying to convey is that I have no problem with being 6 runs below the posted mark, but that was a surprise to me. A good winner, nonetheless, and the cold weather continues to drive down scores, especially for cold teams.
We're still waiting to see if the Jazz can get up by more than 4.5 on the Lakers, but let it be known I'm rooting like crazy.
Two more interesting NBA games on this Sunday card, but certainly a few spots to be careful. Let's get started.
Sports Wagering: NBA
Cavaliers @ Celtics - Cleveland by 1.5 with a total of 195. This is a pretty interesting line, given Cleveland pummeled the Celtics in game three. I think the one real debate about this game is going to be the "Cavs woke up" versus "Cavs brought 120% effort once, now we get 80%" schools of thought. And really, the only way to get a good idea of what to expect is precedent. So, for that, we turn back to the opening round games against Chicago. Lebron was quoted as saying that they felt they really needed game four against the Bulls, and sure enough, the Cavs came back in game five and actually struggled to close out Chicago. Now, here in Round Two, the Cavs clearly decided they needed game three, but did that take too much out of the tank? Boston is down 2-1, and they realize that another loss basically means they're done, so I think we get a nice bounceback effort from the Celts in this one. Plus, the Cavaliers shot 60% in the last one, and a repeat performance there seems somewhat unlikely, as a good deal of those makes were on jumpers. I lean Celtics to tie things up. On the total of 195, we're coming off a game that went way, way over the mark, but the Cavaliers played an absolutely perfect game. We haven't really seen a game where both teams play a "normal" contest, though I guess game one was about as close as we've come. That one ended at 194. That makes me think this total is pretty accurate, though coming off a monster over-game, I would prefer to look at the Under first.
Suns @ Spurs - San Antonio by 2.5 with a total of 206.5. This line is quite a bit lower than in game three, and I wonder if folks aren't all but done with the Spurs in this series. Of the 3 games that these teams have played, the Suns have outplayed San Antonio for, probably, about 9 of the 12 quarters. They have had more hustle, made their shots, defended better, and all-around schooled the veteran Spurs. Honestly, I'm impressed. Do the Suns wrap things up on the road, I wonder? The Suns bench played such a crucial role in game three, and I just wonder how they come back in game four. Is Tony Parker more hurt than he's letting on after taking a big spill early in game three? Is this a spot where someone on the Spurs comes out and puts on a Dwyane Wade-like performance to keep the season alive? Somehow, I just think the Suns are too much for the Spurs, and a sweep may be in order. The Spurs are a veteran team, which makes me think they're actually more likely to roll over, here. They know they're not coming back; they know they're overmatched; they know they blew chances to win both game two and game three, and the Suns aren't going to drop 4 in a row unless someone gets badly hurt. The resolve of a team is tough to handicap, but I happen to think the Spurs are cooked, and I lean Suns. The total could go both ways, really. If we think the Spurs aren't going to go full tilt, does that mean they let Phoenix score 110, or does that mean they fail to score - or both? This number is pretty high, considering it took a crazy 4th quarter shooting performance by the Suns to get to 206 in the last game, and this one comes out higher? I guess oddsmakers feel the defense gets a little lax, but I'm not sold. No lean on the total, yet.
Sports Wagering: MLB
Cubs (-135) @ Reds with a total of 8; R. Dempster vs. M. Leake;
Orlando Cabrera is 4-for-6 off Dempster;
Ramon Hernandez is 3-for-6 with a HR and 3 RBI off Dempster;
Scott Rolen is 3-for-8 with 2 RBI off Dempster since '05.
This line is frighteningly low, though really, all 3 of the lines in this series have been much lower than expected. The Cubs pounded out hits like nobody's business in the opener, but something tells me this low price on Dempster is too good to be true. Leake walked 7 Cubs when he faced them earlier this year, but allowed just 1 run in a quality start. Dempster is off to a solid start, but his team isn't winning his games. Slight lean to Cincinnati, just because of the screwy line.
Giants (-205) @ Mets with a total of 7; T. Lincecum vs. O. Perez;
Mark DeRosa is 2-for-3 off Perez with a HR and 3 RBI;
Bengie Molina is 3-for-6 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Perez.
Tim Lincecum actually has poor career numbers against the Mets. Of course, there were some different guys on those teams, and Timmy is 4-0 this year with a 1.70 ERA. That also means that there's no value on the Freak. Can we trust Oliver Perez? I doubt it. He could go 7 innings and allow a run, or walk 8 guys and get yanked after 3 rough innings. This is Mets or nothing. Probably nothing.
Braves @ Phillies (-200) with a total of 9.5; K. Kawakami vs. C. Hamels;
Chipper Jones is 9-for-22 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Hamels;
Brian McCann is 11-for-30 with a HR and 10 RBI off Hamels since '05;
Jayson Werth has a HR in 3 AB against Kawakami.
I just can't get over Hamels being a -200 favorite against teams not from Pittsburgh. I know the Braves have been struggling like crazy, but Hamels isn't an ace. He's just not good enough to be -200 against other marginal clubs. Still, Kawakami is a perfectly awful 0-5, 5.47 ERA this year so far. Pass you very much.
Marlins @ Nationals (-140) with a total of 9; A. Sanchez vs. L. Hernandez;
Jorge Cantu is 3-for-10 with a HR and 4 RBI off Hernandez since '05;
Wes Helms is 3-for-8 off Hernandez since '05;
Chris Coghlan, struggling in '10, is a perfect 3-for-3 off Livan.
Something a little screwy about this line, too. Maybe I'm just getting crazy, here, but to see the Nats as a -140 favorite against a starter that has a lifetime 3-0, 2.87 ERA mark against them, well, it just raises a red flag. Right now, this looks like a monster value on the Marlins, but such is the beauty of watching line movement. Let's keep an eye on this sucker.
Cardinals (-205) @ Pirates with a total of 7.5; A. Wainwright vs. P. Maholm;
Jason LaRue is 5-for-13 off Maholm with a HR;
Albert Pujols is 15-for-25 with a HR and 4 RBI off Maholm since '05;
Ronny Cedeno is 4-for-11 off Wainwright;
Garrett Jones is 4-for-6 off Wainwright;
Andrew McCutchen is 3-for-6 off Wainwright.
Adam Wainwright might be the best pitcher in the League, consistently, but strangely, has a lifetime 5.26 ERA against the Pirates. Maholm can't get Pujols, but has a 3-3, 3.09 ERA against the Cards in his career. There might be some value on the home dog, here, or potentially a home underdog RL? This is a longshot type of play, but something to consider.
Padres @ Astros (-120) with a total of 7.5; K. Correia vs. R. Oswalt;
Adrian Gonzalez is 6-for-15 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Oswalt since '05;
Carlos Lee is 5-for-8 with 2 RBI off Correia;
Pedro Feliz is 3-for-5 off his former teammate;
Geoff Blum is 3-for-9 with a HR and 5 RBI off Correia.
Roy Oswalt against the Padres as a -120 favorite? My, how the times have changed. I can't help but chuckle a little, since this is actually a fair line. The Astros can't hit, and they only seem to be getting worse. The Padres can absolutely pitch, and they seem to be able to scratch across enough runs to get the job done. Pretty fair line, I'd leave it alone.
Rockies (-135) @ Dodgers with a total of 7; U. Jimenez vs. C. Kershaw;
Dexter Fowler is 3-for-8 off Kershaw;
Todd Helton is 4-for-12 off Kershaw;
Matt Kemp is 9-for-22 with a HR and 2 RBI off Jimenez;
Russ Martin is 8-for-22 with 5 RBI off Jimenez.
This should be a fun one! Ubaldo Jimenez, a perfect 6-0 on the season and with a no-no in his belt already, takes aim at the Dodgers, and young phenom Clayton Kershaw. Jimenez has actually given up a few runs to the Dodgers in his career, going 5-3 with a 5.84 ERA. I think the Over might actually be the sneaky play, but Jimenez has messed with my head before, so avoiding is also a distinct possibility.
Brewers @ D'backs (-158) with a total of 10.5; C. Narveson vs. I. Kennedy;
Chris Young is 2-for-3 with a HR and 2 RBI off Narveson.
Not much to go on in this one, and a wildly high line for Ian Kennedy, though his 3.65 ERA on this young season has been a nice bright spot for the D'backs. Arizona can hit, and the thought, I assume, is that they'll put up a few runs against Narveson. The question with Milwaukee-related baseball is always whether they'll score 15 runs, or 0. It makes them tough to back, and though this dog price is quite tempting, I'm not sure I can deal with the Brew Crew just yet.
Tigers @ Indians (-118) with a total of 8.5; M. Scherzer vs. M. Talbot;
Talbot is rolling along - who would have thought we'd be saying that in mid-May? He's 3-2 with a 2.88 ERA, and he's been pretty effective every time out. Yes, he allowed 5 runs to the Jays, but he went 8 innings, and got burned by the long ball. If the weather stays frigid in the Midwest, the ball isn't going to travel as well, which makes Talbot a decent option. Of course, seeing the Indians as a favorite is always a bit disconcerting, and Scherzer's number are inflated from getting pounded by the Twins, repeatedly. Probably an afternoon pass for me.
Blue Jays (-123) @ White Sox with a total of 8; R. Romero vs. G. Floyd;
Adam Lind is 3-for-8 with a HR and 4 RBI off Floyd.
Ricky Romero is pitching pretty well, and Floyd isn't - there's the explanation for the Jays being a road favorite. Floyd is just 1-3 this season with a 6.89 ERA, and he is a career 0-4, 7.23 pitcher against the Jays. It almost looks too easy to fade the Sox, but you absolutely have to lean that way until Floyd gets his act together. Line movement could seal or break this one.
Orioles @ Twins with a total of N/A; TBD vs. N. Blackburn;
We don't know who's going on the Baltimore side, but we know the line is going to be inflated for the Twins. Blackburn, though, is 0-2 with an 8.38 lifetime ERA against the Orioles, who seem to be playing a tiny bit better, if still not quite "good." Again, this will likely be a bit of a longshot, but the value will probably be on the Baltimore side. A pass is probably on the docket, especially since we'll apparently not have a ton of time to analyze the pitching matchup, but give the O's credit for playing tough lately.
Royals @ Rangers (-165) with a total of 10; L. Hochevar vs. S. Feldman;
David DeJesus is 5-for-7 off Feldman with a HR and 3 RBI;
Ryan Garko is 2-for-5 with a HR off Hochevar;
Michael Young is a perfect 3-for-3 off Hochevar with a HR.
Feldman is regressing. He's a fun fade candidate, in general, but not so sure about against Kansas City. He's 2-0, 2.48 against the Royals, and DeJesus is really the only KC player with success against him. Hochevar has nice numbers against the Rangers, so the value is probably with the Royals, but since we're all about low volume, it might be a near-miss. That being said, I wouldn't argue with someone making a move on KC.
Rays (-150) @ A's with a total of 8; J. Shields vs. D. Braden;
Ryan Sweeney was 3-for-10 off Shields before this year;
Ben Zobrist was 4-for-6 off Braden before 2010;
Gabe Kapler was 3-for-7 before their meeting this season.
These two pitchers faced off roughly two week ago, and Braden got clobbered. He allowed 6 runs in 4 innings in a game the A's eventually lost 10-3. Shields went 7 strong frames, allowed 2 runs (1 earned), and earned himself another "W." I tend to like rematches in baseball, since the losing team usually comes out with a better mentality the second time, especially if the game is at home. I'd look at the A's, here, as a nice home dog.
Angels @ Mariners (-120) with a total of 7.5; E. Santana vs. J. Vargas;
Hideki Matsui is 1-for-2 with a HR and 3 RBI off Vargas;
Juan Rivera is 3-for-4 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Vargas;
Ichiro is batting .304 off Santana with a HR since '05.
Something about this game is yelling low-scoring pitchers' duel, but I don't know exactly what that is. Neither pitcher is dominating, though both are throwing the ball relatively well. Neither team is raking, though both are hitting the ball alright. Of course, I felt that same way about the game yesterday, so who knows.
Yankees @ Red Sox (-119) with a total of 9; A. Burnett vs. J. Lester;
Marco Scutaro was 6-for-19 off Burnett before this year;
Derek Jeter is 9-of-24 off Lester with 2 RBI.
These two guys faced off in the first series of the year, and neither pitched very well. Burnett allowed 3 earned in 5 innings, and Lester allowed 4 earned in 5 frames. Burnett has, historically, been decent against the Sox, and likewise with Lester. It was each of their first starts, so not much can be made of it. Since then, Burnett has been, arguably, the best pitcher in the AL. The Yanks are a little banged up, but they're still beating up on lesser teams, and have taken it to Boston in each of the first two in this series. The price is a little inflated because the Sox are going to be looking to avoid the sweep, but damn if the Yanks aren't rolling right now. Probably a pass.