: The second half begins just the way the first half ends, with a sweet, succulent victory! It sure as heck wasn't easy, but the Sox pen gave up just 1 run, as usual, and after 1 ungodly inning, John Danks was superb. Yes, a little luck helped, but the Twins continued to come up a buck short despite having opportunities. So, with that casher in the bank, we've now won 4 straight Paid Plays with an All Star Break wedged in there, and last night's winner improves the already superlative Paid Run to 33-19. The fun continues, no doubt about it.
Sports Wagering: MLB
Phillies @ Cubs (-140) with a total of N/A; J. Blanton vs. T. Lilly;
Shane Victorino is 4-for-12 off Lilly;
Jayson Werth is 3-for-9 with a HR and 3 RBI off Lilly;
Alfonso Soriano is 5-for-14 with 2 RBI off Blanton since '05.
This line doesn't make a lick of sense to me. Either Lilly is going to throw a no hitter, or this line is drastically overvaluing the Cubs veteran starter. The Phillies are a better team with a starter that is, in my estimation, only slightly the inferior. The Cubs have some significant bullpen issues, outside of maybe 2 arms, and the Cubs also have the problem that they're floundering and never look like they want to play. Blanton gave up 3 runs in 7 innings against Chicago earlier this year, and Lilly is 1-4 with a 6.43 lifetime ERA against Philadelphia.
Astros (-130) @ Pirates with a total of 8.5; B. Myers vs. Z. Duke;
Lastings Milledge is 5-for-14 with 3 RBI off Myers.
Interestingly, both pitchers in this one have solid numbers against the other club. Myers is 4-4 with a 2.68 ERA against the Pirates, and Duke, though he's coming off the DL and that makes this one a little scary, is 2-4 with a 3.25 ERA lifetime against the 'Stros. Myers pitched well against Pittsburgh back in April and helped get his club a win, and Duke hasn't pitched against the Astros this year. Not to mention, Duke hasn't pitched against anyone in a month. The rust factor is the only one I'm really looking at.
Rockies @ Reds (-140) with a total of 9; J. Hammel vs. B. Arroyo;
This should be a fun series to open the second half. The struggling-going-into-the-Break Reds, and the comeback kids (mostly at home) from Colorado. Jason Hammel and Bronson Arroyo have each been pitching pretty darn well, though Hammel has seemingly found a way to pitch at home almost every time out, it seems. Arroyo has been decent enough against the Rox in his career, and Hammel, in brief work, is 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA against the Rockies. I know both teams are known for their fireworks, but I wonder if we're not getting some value on the Under?
Nationals (-145) @ Marlins with a total of 7; S. Strasburg vs. R. Nolasco;
Christian Guzman was 3-for-10 off Nolasco coming into 2010.
Ricky Nolasco has been a pretty hefty disappointment, this year. Yes, he's 9-6, but that 4.55 ERA is way too high for someone with stuff as good as Ricky's. He's 7-2 lifetime against the Nats, but took 1 of those 2 losses earlier this year, surrendering 5 runs in 4 innings of an ugly outing back in April. Strasburg is coming off an electric start against the Giants, but (and this is a big "but") the Nats can't win on the road. Period.
Brewers @ Braves (-185) with a total of 8.5; R. Wolf vs. T. Hanson;
Ryan Braun was 3-for-7 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Hanson coming into 2010;
Matt Diaz is 7-for-13 with 4 RBI off Wolf;
Chipper Jones is 7-for-15 with a HR and 4 RBI off Wolf since '05;
Brian McCann is 4-for-9 with a HR and 4 RBI off Wolf.
Randy Wolf has been a complete disaster against the Braves in his career, 4-12 with a 5.31 ERA, one of his worst marks against any team he's faced enough to really make a statement. Hanson tossed 8 shutout innings against the Brewers earlier this year, and he's coming off a productive outing against the Mets. The Braves should wax Milwaukee in this one, but the price is too darn high.
Dodgers @ Cardinals (-150) with a total of 7.5; C. Billingsley vs. J. Garcia;
Matt Holliday is just 5-for-20 off Billingsley, but has 3 HR;
Randy Winn is 11-for-25 with 5 RBI off Billingsley.
This game feels like a pretty steep line for a good Dodgers team, but at the same time, the Dodgers usually have issues in St. Louis, and young Jaime Garcia has been a very reliable starter. Billingsley for the Dodgers is 1-2 with a 4.40 ERA against the Cards, so he hasn't necessarily been bad, and Pujols is just 2-for-12 off Chad, lifetime. The Dodgers haven't seen Garcia, and with Manny coming off the DL, you know he'd love to put one more notch on his belt. Probably won't be making a play on this game, but definitely take a look at how the teams play in the first game back before making a move on this one.
D'backs @ Padres (-125) with a total of 6.5; D. Haren vs. J. Garland;
Stephen Drew was 3-for-6 off Garland before 2010;
Nick Hundley was 8-for-18 off Haren before 2010.
The player numbers aren't of great importance in this one, as both guys have started against the other team this year, already, and Garland has done so, twice. For Haren, he faced San Diego in his first start of the year, and outpitched Garland with 7 innings of 1-run ball. Garland has been marginal against the D'backs both times he faced them this year, though the Padres are 1-1 in his starts. The obvious concern, here, is that the San Diego pen is the best in the League, and D'backs is the worst, so they'll likely need a 2 run lead, at least, when the starters leave, to feel any kind of safe. Still, Haren is a definitely buy-low pitcher, even this late in the year.
Mets @ Giants (-135) with a total of 7.5; J. Niese vs. B. Zito;
David Wright is 4-for-11 off Zito with an RBI.
This is another game where I feel the home line is a little inflated because of the timing. The first game out of the Break is always a screwy one, and even though Jone Niese has been outstanding, and Zito has been struggling, the Giants are getting the love because they're at home and people know the name Zito. I know San Francisco is a much better home team than road, and I know their offense seemed to perk up a little going into the Break, but I worry that Zito is running out of gas near the halfway point. I can't back the Giants, that's for darn sure.
Tigers (-140) @ Indians with a total of 9; M. Scherzer vs. J. Westbrook;
Carlos Guillen was batting .417 off Westbrook between '05 and '09;
Brandon Inge was batting .348 off Westbrook with 2 HR and 6 RBI since '05;
Magglio Ordonez was batting .364 off Westbrook with 2 HR and 6 RBI since '05;
Ramon Santiago was 5-for-7 off Westbrook before 2010.
Westbrook has faced the Tigers twice already this year, and amazingly, he's pitched relatively well against them both times. He's 5-8 and with a 5.69 ERA lifetime against Detroit, but that doesn't appear to be the case this year. We all know about the Tigers' road woes, too. Scherzer stunk against the Indians earlier this year, but that was before he went down to the Minors and got his game back. I'd like to try to back the Tigers in the pitching match-up, but not away from Comerica.
Rays @ Yankees (-185) with a total of 9; J. Shields vs. C. Sabathia;
Sorry player numbers, you have no place in this one. This side is basically where it should be given that Shields hasn't been himself over the last month-plus, and is a lifetime 2-7, 5.54 hurler against the Yankees. Sabathia, meanwhile, is 8-3 with a 2.97 ERA against Tampa, and shut them down in a start against the Rays earlier this season. Tampa was starting to hit the ball a little better after a brief slump, so I wonder if that carries over. It's just not a place I'd think we want to roll the dice.
Blue Jays (-165) @ Orioles with a total of 9; R. Romero vs. B. Bergesen;
I know the Orioles laid waste to the slumping Rangers going into the Break, but Ricky Romero tossed a complete game, 1-run gem against them earlier this year, and Bergesen seems to almost find a way to give up 3 or more runs in every start, even if it looks like he might get out of there only giving up 2. Seriously. The Orioles are going to be a live dog plenty of times the rest of the way, but I wouldn't go pouncing on them right out of the gate.
Rangers (-135) @ Red Sox with a total of 9.5; C. Lewis vs. F. Doubront;
This is quite a price to be laying on the road in Fenway, isn't it? I can't help but think that this line is based far too much on the starting pitchers, and not nearly enough on the bullpens, the lineups, home field edge, etc. Colby Lewis continues to put up solid numbers, though he's not unhittable by any stretch, giving up 3 runs in 5 innings here at Fenway back in April. Felix Doubront would seemingly be vulnerable to a good lineup like Texas, but is he going to just implode? I doubt it. This is too high a price for the Rangers in Boston, even if the Red Sox are banged up.
Leans: Red Sox-1
White Sox @ Twins (-130) with a total of 8; G. Floyd vs. F. Liriano;
Paul Konerko was 3-for-9 with 2 HR and 6 RBI off Liriano before 2010;
Jason Kubel is 9-for-25 with 3 HR and 6 RBI off Floyd;
Denard Span is 8-for-14 with 2 RBI off Floyd.
Gavin Floyd has just been completely unhittable since early June, and no one is surprised. He stinks for 2 months, then cranks it up come summertime. Liriano, on the other hand, has been very inconsistent since a strong opening month. He's 0-3 with a 6.84 lifetime mark against the White Sox, and gave up 3 runs in 6 innings against them the only time he faced the Southsiders this year. Floyd is 4-4 with a 4.22 ERA against the Twinkies, and I'm not sure I'm willing to stop backing Floyd until he gives me a strong reason to reconsider.
Leans: White Sox-2
Athletics @ Royals (-150) with a total of 7.5; G. Gonzalez vs. Z. Greinke;
Daric Barton is 3-for-5 with a HR and 2 RBI off Greinke;
Mark Ellis is 4-for-11 with 3 RBI off Greinke;
Kurt Suzuki is 5-for-13 off Greinke;
Yuny Betancourt is 4-for-9 with an RBI off Gonzalez.
While the player numbers might seem to indicate an edge for Gonzalez, the pitcher numbers might say otherwise. Gio is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA lifetime against the Royals, while Greinke is 4-0 with a 2.88 ERA against the A's. Kansas City has, rather quietly, played solid baseball the last 2 months under new manager Ned Yost, and I wonder if Greinke comes back renewed, after the Break. It seemed like he needed a mental rest, fighting those uphill battles every night with the bullpen behind him blowing lead after lead. Well, now the pen is solid, and Greinke can go back to dominating. This line is pretty accurate, in my opinion.
Mariners @ Angels (-140) with a total of 6.5; F. Hernandez vs. J. Weaver;
DOUBLE REMATCH ALERT! These two have faced off twice already this year, and the Angels have won both games. Weaver's certainly done his part, so I don't want to take any credit away from the Angels starter. Jered has gone 14.1 innings in his two starts against the Mariners, giving up just a single unearned run. Tough to do better than that. Felix was awful in one start, a game the M's lost 8-0, then was much better his second try against the Angels, but his pen surrendered a handful of runs in a game the Mariners lost 5-1. The Angels need this game more, no question, but King Felix has been, arguably, the best pitcher in the AL over the last month, throwing 4 complete games, going 8 innings 2 other times, and has lowered his season ERA to just 2.88. Wow. At this price, he deserves a look.