It's not often that you get to see the same pitching matchup three times in less a month, but that is the case Friday night in New York where the Yankees begin a 3-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Sunday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
Two runs are all the Toronto Blue Jays have managed in the first two games of their series against the Yankees in New York. It won't be any easier for them to score on Sunday when they have to take on the ace of the New York staff.
Then again, the Yankees will also be facing a tough veteran hurler in the contest that finds RA Dickey on the hill opposite CC Sabathia. New York is favored in the -130 to -140 range to complete the sweep, and Sunday morning betting odds odds show an 8 run total after the number started a half-run higher on the overnight lines.
David Phelps held the Toronto lineup at bay on Saturday while Robinson Cano fueled the Yankees with a couple of homers in a 7-2 triumph. The Blue Jays entered the series having scored 36 runs in winning four straight vs. the Red Sox and Giants, but have just 12 hits in losing the first two tilts in this set, and are 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
Dickey has strung together consecutive quality starts the last two times out, and whiffed a season-high 10 San Francisco batters this past Tuesday to notch his third win of the season. He pitched well enough to win in New York at the end of April (7 IP, 3 ER), but it was the Yankees who went home victorious instead with a 3-2 decision.
Sabathia has failed to decision in either of his last two assignments, games the Yankees eventually won to bring them to 6-3 this season when their ace climbs the hill. He also struck out a season-best 10 Tuesday when he battled Felix Hernandez and the Mariners, a game New York rallied to win, 4-3.
Dickey and Sabathia collided over in Queens last June in a Mets-Yankees contest, and neither figured into the decision which ended 6-5 in favor of the pinstripes.
A 50% chance of showers is in the Big Apple forecast for Sunday afternoon when the thermometer may never make it out of the 50s. The Blue Jays do come to New York in August, and both crews have an open date before that series begins, should the umpires have to postpone matters.
Speaking of umpires, 15-year veteran Sam Holbrook is up next to work the dish on Sunday. Each of his last two plate assignments jumped the total to bring him to 5-3 O/U on the season, along with one push.
The weather is scaring me away from the total, and instead I'll make my play on New York to sweep the Jays out of town. Another series coming to a close Sunday afternoon finds the Red Sox aiming for a sweep of the Twins, and we have a preview and a free MLB pick if you're interested.
My pick: Yankees -134 at Bet 365 Sportsbook
Saturday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
If the Toronto Blue Jays never see Hiroki Kuroda again, that will be just fine with them. The New York Yankees hurler was just about unhittable Friday night in the series opener between the two clubs, marking the fifth straight time the pinstriped bunch beat the Blue Jays with Kuroda on the mound.
Toronto will try and regroup to even the series Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium where Brandon Morrow takes his turn in the Blue Jays rotation opposite David Phelps. New York opened as high as -140 chalk before that number was whittled down to the -120 to -130 range on the morning MLB odds.
Kuroda blanked the Blue Jays over eight innings on Friday, allowing just two hits along the way while trimming his season ERA below the 2.00 level. It was the third time this year that Kuroda clashed with Toronto's Mark Buehrle, each ending in a New York victory.
The Yankees clocked Morrow when he faced them here a little more than a month ago, banging two homers and scoring seven times before sending him to the showers in the sixth. That outing left the Blue Jays 0-4 in Morrow's 2013 starts, his ERA up over 5½.
Morrow hasn't necessarily been pitching lights out since then, but Toronto has won his three starts after last seeing action on this mound. Walks, 11 of them in a little more than 19 innings combined his last three assignments, have been a big thing for Morrow who missed his last turn in the rotation because of back issues.
Phelps has progressed in each of his three starts this month after beginning the schedule as New York's long man out of the 'pen. He made six relief appearances before taking over for the injured Ivan Nova, and limited the Indians to just a solo homer in the first inning this past Monday at Cleveland in a makeup doubleheader while pitching into the seventh.
The one o'clock start in the Bronx should find the thermometer in the upper-60s and never get much warmer as the game progresses under cloudy skies. A 10 mph wind from the south is also in the forecast (RF corner to LF corner).
Rob Drake is slated for just his fifth plate assignment of the season, and brings a 2-1-1 O/U/P mark into the game. Home favorites have won three of his four previous games behind the plate.
The 8.5 run total for the contest favors the OVER, and that's the direction I'm going to play this matchup once again. Coverage of the Red Sox and Twins series in Minnesota, along with free MLB picks, is also part of my schedule this weekend at SBR.
My pick: Blue Jays-Yankees Over 8.5 (-120) offered at Will Hill.
By: Willie Bee
Mark Buehrle and Hiroki Kuroda will duel in Game 1 of this set, which SBR will follow from in its entirety, the third time they have met since April 20. Both encounters went to New York by identical 5-3 scores, and that is reflected in Friday's MLB odds with the Yankees in the -145 to -150 range after opening 15-cents or so higher.
The third series meeting between the two division foes finds New York with a 6-1 record the previous two sets, and winners of the last four. The 4-game series at Yankee Stadium in late April produced two OVERS along with a push on the totals board. The first Kuroda and Buehrle clash n Toronto on April 20 closed around a pick 'em, with the Yanks slight favorites at some MLB betting outlets. New York closed near -140 in the follow-up bout five days later.
Yankees Have Had Buehrle's Number
Buehrle definitely had his good stuff last Saturday in Boston, a 3-2 Blue Jays win that the veteran lefty didn't figure into the decision. It was just the third time this season he hadn't allowed a home run, and a huge improvement from his three previous road starts in which he allowed 17 runs in less than 16 innings of work at Tampa Bay, Detroit and here in the Bronx.
Getting whacked by the Yankees, especially on their diamond, is nothing new for Buehrle. Combined with his time pitching for the White Sox, Buehrle's teams are now 1-13 vs. the Yankees after the Blue Jays lost both of his outings against them in April, three different Yankees taking him deep in his start at Yankee Stadium.
Vernon Wells and Robinson Cano hit two of those home runs, and they've been tough outs over the years for Buehrle. Each has three homers and is hitting at least .400 off the southpaw, with Ichiro Suzuki (.426, 23-for-54) also a thorn in his side.
Yankees Lead in AL East Shrinks to One
After dropping two of three to the Mariners this week, New York enters the weekend with just a 1-game lead over the Red Sox. They might also be without starting pitcher Andy Pettitte for a while following his start on Thursday when he had to exit early with a cranky back.
Kuroda pitched better but earned no decision in the Yankees' win in Toronto than he did in the game he won on this mound April 25. He has been very tough at home, Kuroda's only blemish coming in his season debut against the Red Sox when he was hit on his right fingers by a line drive.
He had never seen the Blue Jays before he got to New York last year, and Toronto slapped him around pretty hard the first time Kuroda faced the Jays. But New York has won each of his four assignments vs. Toronto since then while Kuroda pitched to a 2.02 ERA. The Blue Jays have seen their bats heat up recently, however, scoring 33 runs in the last three games, two of them wins over the Giants in a mini-series.
With New York winning both of the previous meetings between these two hurlers by the same 5-3 count, it was no surprise to see the total open at 8 runs. It remains on that mark Friday morning, priced an extra 20¢ or so to the OVER.
Weather should be fine for batters and pitchers alike with temps in the upper-60s for the start of the contest and a light north breeze blowing left to right. I'll be banking on the two lineups to bring home the bacon tonight with a play on the OVER.
My pick: Blue Jays-Yankees Over 8 (-120) at Bet 365 Sportsbook[gameodds]3/226738/43-349-192/us[/gameodds]