Baltimore begins their home campaign this afternoon taking on another division foe to begin the 2015 season. In the battle of birds, which team looks to be the better choice against the MLB odds?
Toronto’s Trip Continues
The Blue Jays second series of the season will be in Crap Cake city taking on the Orioles. Toronto players have to pleased leaving the Bronx with a series victory and knowing they could have swept the Yankees except for a bullpen malfunction in Game 2. The Jays entered that three-gamer with a recent 3-17 record at Yankee Stadium, which had to make the trip satisfying.
Toronto has not had the same difficulties in Maryland, but was 8-11 versus the O’s last year and was 4-6 on the road against them. The Jays will be out to change their luck and might have some unfamiliar name to help them.
Edwin Encarnacion in known quantity and he is Toronto’s leading hitter after a trio of contests with a .417 batting average and two home runs. However, outside of the Blue Jays locker room not everyone else knows centerfielder Kevin Pillar (.333) and second baseman Devon Travis (.333), who have both gotten off to good starts.
Conversely, Josh Donaldson (2 for 11), Russell Martin (1 for 11) and Jose Bautista (0-12 and 8 strikeouts) have not and it is hard to imagine Toronto wins another road series without contributions from them.
Baltimore Off to Good Start, Seek To Continue at Home
Last season the Orioles were a popular play at home for those who were making MLB picks with a 50-31 record, which added up to +13.85 units versus the sportsbooks betting odds. Off their series win over Tampa Bay, Baltimore will attempt to build on something which has been quite successful. Since Oriole Park at Camden Yards was opened in 1992, the O’s are 17-6 in their first game of the season.
The three hottest hitters thus far on Buck Showalter’s lineup card have been Travis Snider (.444), Alejandro De Aza (.308) and Steve Pearce (2 HR’s and 9 total bases).
For this series, Showalter will be looking for more production from Adam Jones (1 for 11) and Manny Macado who is hitless in nine at bats.
For Chris Davis this will also be an important day as the team celebrates its first division title in 17 years, as he was suspended for 25 games late last season for using Adderall. "I think I was a little emotional just getting on the plane last night," Davis said. "I hope I can hold it together. I feel like I have this image of myself as a tough guy, so it would look pretty bad if the starting first baseman runs down there crying and blubbering like a baby."
Pitching Matchup – Buehrle vs. Norris
Mark Buehrle will not be listed among the best hurler of his generation, but there is not a manager in the game that would not have wanted him on their staff the past 14 seasons. The lefthander over the past double-baker’s dozen years (that’s 14 unfamiliar with term) has been a model of consistency with at least 30 starts, 200 or more innings and 15 or more quality starts. The former 38th round draft choice has not broken 90 MPH in years, but mixes in slow four-seam fastballs on both sides of the plate and a looping curveball that is too tempting to hitters.
It is not a coincidence Bud Norris is starting the home opener for Showalter since for his career the right-hander has been a notorious play at home by MLB handicappers for years. His overall career record is only 53-57, but when pitching in his home park, Norris is 31-24 (45-35 is all team’s record) and many of those were with horrible Houston teams. Norris has a low to mid-90’s heater with a tilted slider and a split change and last year at Camden Yards was 8-2 (O’s record 10-4).
Jose Reyes and Encarnacion look to be the two best choices on the Blue Jays roster, both with favorable matchup against Norris.
Jones is due to bust out and he long has hit lefty pitchers well.
Pearce is not a bad option either the way he has begun the season.
Odds and Outcome
Baltimore began as a -120 home favorite in MLB Odds and is now in the -112 range with a total of 8. While I like Buehrle a great deal, especially early in the season, Norris is a home park pitcher, Baltimore has enjoyed a great deal of home opener success and after being shutout, the Orioles are 15-2 in their next outing. When making this sports pick, I’ll choose the Birds of Baltimore.
MLB Free Picks – Baltimore wins -112 at YouWager