There's no shortage of sports on Father's Day, including the final round of the US Open and an all-important Game 5 in the NBA Finals. Major League Baseball also has a full slate with some of the game's best-known pitchers taking to mounds, names like CC Sabathia, Stephen Strasburg and Jered Weaver.
Two more top-flight hurlers square off in Pittsburgh where the Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers close out their weekend set as well as their regular season series, and the good news is TBS will televise the 1:35 PM (ET) start to most of the nation. Sunday's rubber game features Zack Greinke on the hill for LA in his 240th major league start opposite Pittsburgh rookie Gerrit Cole who is making just his second.
It's also the second time that Cole has been the favorite after he beat the Giants and Tim Lincecum earlier this week in his MLB debut. The MLB odds have established Cole as small chalk -- we'll call it -115 for a consensus -- and totals bettors will make a decision on a 7 run mark that is juiced a little more to the high side.
Los Angles pulled even in the set with a 5-3 triumph on Saturday that took 11 innings to complete. Dodger relievers did their best to spoil a fine effort by Clayton Kershaw who worked the first seven frames allowing just three hits and striking out eight. On an LA roster packed with big names, it was Juan Uribe and Nick Punto who delivered the winning hits in the 11th.
Greinke's debut for the Dodgers came against the Bucs out in LA on April 5, and the righthander didn't disappoint by working into the seventh of a 3-0 victory. He got bombed the last time he worked off the PNC Park mound, however, surrendering seven runs in 6.1 innings while with the Brewers in 2011.
Cole's big league debut could not have gone better as the Pirates cruised to an 8-2 triumph vs. the Giants. The big righty made it into the seventh on just 81 pitches, and he also delivered a 2-run single in his first MLB at bat.
Rain was falling around Pittsburgh Sunday morning and there is more in the picture this afternoon. Since this is the Dodgers' only trip to Pittsburgh this season, expect the umpires to do everything they can to get the game in.
On the subject of umpires, Mike Estabrook will have the best seat in the house for the duel as he prepares to call balls and strikes for the eighth time this year. His level 3-3-1 O/U/P mark for 2013 includes his last three games staying below the total.
The weather forecast concerns me since Mother Nature could knock both starting pitchers out with an early delay. My play will be on the OVER.
Saturday Game 2
By: Willie Bee
Struggles continue for the Los Angeles Dodgers after they dropped Friday's series opener in Pittsburgh to the Pirates. They'll turn to their staff ace in Game 2 in hopes of not falling 11 games below .500.
Clayton Kershaw gets the ball for Don Mattingly's troops in the 4 PM (ET) matinee at PNC Park. A rippling effect from Thursday's move to put AJ Burnett on the DL (calf) means the Pirates are forced to call up Brandon Cumpton from Triple-A Indianapolis to fill in on Saturday. That, in turn, forces Pittsburgh to make two more moves to clear space on the 25- and 40-man rosters.
The uncertainty surrounding just who would start for the Pirates delayed the MLB odds release, and the moneyline came out a bit lower than I originally expected with LA sent out as -155 to -160 chalk. Scoreboard bettors are looking at a 7 run total that is priced a bit higher to the OVER.
This 9-game road trip got off to a losing start for the Dodgers whose bats were quieted by Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke in a 3-0 whitewashing on Friday. The setback was LA's fifth in six games while the Pirates found the winner's circle for the fifth time in seven tries.
Kershaw blanked the Bucs over seven innings in his second start of the season out in LA, earning the dubya in a 1-0 nail-biter against Burnett. That was the third straight start against Pittsburgh that went into the win column for the Dodgers after they dropped three of his first four assignments against the Pirates. Los Angeles is 2-1 in Kershaw's three career start at PNC Park, the southpaw fashioning a 3.17 ERA in 17 frames.
Get the day's odds report straight from Steven Suarez, right here~
A 9th-round pick in 2010 out of Georgia Tech, Cumpton started the year at Double-A Altoona before getting bumped up to Indianapolis. Ten starts and a relief outing netted a 3.31 ERA over the course of 65.1 innings for the righthander who can reach 93 or a little better with his fastball, which should make up 90% of his throws Saturday afternoon.
Alan Porter is the scheduled umpire for the plate in Game 2, and his 8-5 O/U record includes six straight OVERS to begin 2013 followed by five UNDERS in his last seven contests. His four previous plate assignments at PNC Park have gone 2-2 O/U.
Sunny skies with the thermometer climbing to 80º is the present forecast of Pittsburgh. A light westerly breeze (out to center) is also in the mix.
Los Angeles might be stinking up the joint right now, but I'm still going to lay the chalk on the Dodgers in Game 2. Don't forget to come back Sunday when we preview the series finale with a free MLB pick.
My pick: Dodgers -155 at Ladbrokes
Friday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
Road trips are generally looked upon with scorn by any team, especially those like the Los Angeles Dodgers who have been struggling since mid-April to get back over the .500 mark. But if the Dodgers were to handpick a place to go on the road to possibly jumpstart their season, they couldn't choose a better spot than Pittsburgh to meet the Pirates.
Los Angeles' journey, which also includes stops in the Bronx and San Diego, begins Friday at PNC Park where Stephen Fife takes the ball for the Dodgers opposite Jeff Locke of the Bucs. Locke was pushed ahead a day for this assignment (more on that later) which delayed MLB odds for the contest. The morning release pegged the Pirates around -145 with an 8 run total.
The Dodgers used Thursday to travel east following an emotionally-charged home series against the Diamondbacks. Los Angeles dropped two of three to Arizona, and lost four of the last five on that 10-game stand which started by taking four of five from the Padres and Braves.
Nine games below .500 overall, the Dodgers own the second-worst road record in the National League at 9-17. They've dropped eight of the last 11 away from LA, but have had a lot of success vs. the Pirates in recent years (12-1 last 13), and played very well at PNC Park where the Dodgers are 31-14 since it opened. Los Angeles has won seven of the last nine on this diamond, including three of four last season when all four contests went OVER the total.
Pittsburgh started this homestand by taking two of three from the Giants before being blown out on Thursday while going for the sweep. The Bucs are among the NL leaders in defending their home turf (23-12), and will not only be trying to reverse recent woes at PNC vs. the Dodgers, but also looking for revenge after getting swept in LA in early-April.
Dodgers Hit Road With D-Backs On Their Mind
Los Angeles is still seething over the way Diamondback pitchers went head-hunting in that series out at Chavez Ravine, and one can't help but wonder if some Dodgers aren't more focused on their series in Arizona a month from now than these games in Pittsburgh. Don Mattingly's club also can't help but look ahead to their short series in New York next week vs. the Yankees.
Fife is in the rotation due to a long list of injured LA hurlers, and is making his fourth start of the year on Friday. He was up for a spot start in April then recalled a couple of weeks ago to take Chris Capuano's spot in the rotation. He has pitched better at the MLB level this season (3.78 ERA) than in the minors (5.09), and this will be his first look at the Pirates.
Pirates Forced To Shuffle Rotation Due To Burnett Injury
AJ Burnett was originally slated to begin this series, but the former Marlin, Blue Jay and Yankee came up lame with a strained right calf to land on the DL. That forced manager Clint Hurdle to call on Locke a day earlier than expected, though he will still be pitching on his normal rest thanks to an off day earlier this week.
The Pirates have dropped both of Locke's June starts after emerging victorious in seven of his first 11 outings this season. One of those early defeats came in his 2013 debut out in LA where the young lefty tossed six frames and allowed four runs. This is his third career assignment vs. the Dodgers, and he's taken the loss in both of the previous contests.
A chance of scattered storms is in the Iron City forecast during the day, but it's supposed to clear off by game time and leave mostly clear skies with a light NNW wind (blowing out to right). Saturday's contest should also remain dry before rain possibly returns for Sunday's finale.
I'm drawn to the Dodgers on this underdog price, the only time they should get a 'dog moneyline this weekend, and that's why I will be backing them with my sports picks in the series opener.My pick: Dodgers +135 at Ladbrokes