We only thought Hiroki Kuroda was going to miss this weekend's series in New York between the Yankees and Baltimore Orioles. The hurler will not only take part, but is being called upon to complete a sweep for the streaking Yankees.
Kuroda was originally in line to start Friday, but a hip flexor 86'ed that appearance and it was thought he would miss at least a week or more. He's obviously progressed much faster than anticipated, and will climb the mound Sunday instead of Phil Hughes.
Once again the first game on the baseball betting board, the series finale was initially sent out with New York backers laying $1.40. That is down after early trading with the Yankees available for -120 to -125, and the MLB odds are also offering a 9 run total leaning heavily to the UNDER.
Just as they did Friday, the Yankees spotted the O's a 2-0 lead before rallying for the Game 2 win. Saturday's triumph wasn't nearly as exciting as New York's walk-off dubya in the series opener, but the end result was just as effective with the Yanks taking over second place in the AL East while Baltimore slid into a tie for third with the Rays.
Hammel missed the Yankees last weekend in Charm City, but has beaten them twice already this season. One of those wins came against Kuroda on May 22, a 6-3 decision at home as a very small underdog. The righthander has picked up only one win since that game, and the Orioles have dropped his last six assignments while Hammel pitched to a 5.55 ERA in that stretch.
Just last Sunday, Kuroda faced this same Orioles lineup in Baltimore where he lost for the second time this season in as many tries. The 38-year-old allowed fiver homers and nine runs in eight innings combined those two outings, a stark contrast to the complete-game shutout he twirled against the O's at Yankee Stadium in April.
New York has won just two of his last six starts after cashing seven of the first nine. Kuroda's ERA during the recent 6-game string is 4.12 to swell his season mark by almost a run since he owned a sub-2.00 mark in mid-May.
Gerry Davis, who just a month ago celebrated his 31st anniversary as an MLB ump, is in line to work the plate. His previous 17 contests behind the mask have split right down the middle on the totals (8-8-1 O/U/P), with home chalk up to -140 going 6-2.
Another warm and muggy day is in store for the Bronx, a SW wind in the 10-12 mph range giving flies headed to LF a little extra lift. In the interest of consistency, I'm going to back Kuroda for the fourth time this year against the O's..
My pick: Yankees -122 at Bet365
By: Willie Bee
Pinstripe magic or bad luck for the Birds? The decision is yours, but regardless which way you choose, the Baltimore Orioles missed a golden opportunity Friday night in New York against the Yankees.
Game 2 of the set leads off Saturday's baseball betting card and finds Chris Tillman on the bump for the visitors against New York's Andy Pettitte. The matchup began as a pick 'em before overnight wagering pushed the Yankees out to thin chalk this morning. The MLB odds are listing 9 for the total, juiced a little more to one side or the other depending where you play.
Baltimore appeared headed for its sixth consecutive win over the Yankees before things went awry in Friday's final frame. Matt Wieters punched a homer off Ivan Nova in the second to stake Miguel Gonzales to the early lead, but it wasn't enough to survive the ninth when an error by closer Jim Johnson, a bases-full walk and Vernon Wells' walk-off RBI single turned things around.
Lost in the exciting win was Nova's complete game effort that helped New York to its fifth straight dubya, as well as within a half-game of the Birds for second in the AL East.
Baltimore's string of wins with Tillman on the mound was extended to eight last Sunday in a 4-2 decision over the Yankees at Camden Yards. Tillman worked the first six frames while allowing two runs and striking out six, his only assignment vs. NY this season.
The Orioles also won both of his starts against New York at Yankee Stadium last season, though it wasn't because Tillman dominated pinstriped hitters (8 IP, 6 ER), As with most pitchers over the years, Robinson Cano has been a tough out for Tillman with the Yankee second sacker 10-for-19 (.526) plus a couple of homers.
New York broke a 3-game skid with Pettitte on the mound last Monday in Minnesota. Pettitte didn't factor into the decision with five innings of work and the Twins scoring four times, the fourth consecutive start in which the southpaw surrendered at least four runs, and Saturday will be his first assignment of 2013 vs. the O's.
Jerry Meals is scheduled to call the balls and strikes for Game 2, bringing a 10-7-1 O/U/P record on totals into the matchup. Both of his plate assignments at Yankee Stadium in 2012 stayed UNDER the mark. Warm and sunny is your forecast for the Bronx this afternoon, a 12-15 mph wind from the WSW also in the mix (out to left-center).
Baltimore's offense has been slowed this week, and New York's has been a middling bunch all season. I'm going to bank on the UNDER in Game 2 of this set for my free pick.
By: Willie Bee
What's this? A series between the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles that will not include Hiroki Kuroda on the mound?
AL East rivals collide for the fourth time this year, and Kuroda won't be taking part in the battle as he has the last three after being sidelined by a hip injury. The Yankees hurler was in line to start Friday's series opener set for a 7:05 PM (ET) start in the Bronx, but manager Joe Girardi will send Ivan Nova to the bump in his place.
Buck Showalter turns to Miguel Gonzalez with the O's looking to bounce back from a Thursday setback while maintaining a 5-game winning run against the Yanks. Opening MLB odds suggested Baltimore would do just that as small favorites around $1.15. We're seeing more -110's on Friday morning, and the 10th meeting of 2013 between the clubs is carrying a 9 run total (O -115).
Six of the previous nine clashes have gone to the Birds who swept the Yankees in Charm City last weekend. This is the second series in New York, the other coming in mid-April when the Yankees won two of three. That entire set stayed below the total, leaving UNDER bettors happy with five cash-outs in the last six Bronx tilts.
Gonzalez Gets Extra Rest For Friday's Assignment
If you have been following the Orioles at all this season, you're probably tired of hearing someone refer to the starting rotation as a revolving door. It's not really a shock since Showalter and the Orioles needed a dozen different starters to get through each of the past two seasons, a number that was topped already for 2013 when Scott Feldman became the 13th different starting pitcher a few days ago in Chicago.
Gonzalez was originally in line to take the mound when Feldman bumped him Wednesday, giving him eight days of rest for this assignment after last pitching June 27. Oriole hitters gave him plenty of offense and he toiled into the seventh with nine K's in a 7-3 victory.
The 2nd-year big leaguer out of Mexico has done pretty well overall against the Yankees in two starts this season (2.77 ERA), but lost a game in New York due in part to his own wildness (5 BB). Gonzalez has been excellent in the Bronx otherwise, posting a 2.36 ERA in four career starts, including ALDS Game 3 last October.
Yanks Come Off Road With 4-Game Win Streak
The sweep in Baltimore last weekend had New York mired in a 5-game slump, but Girardi's gang turned things around in Minnesota with a 4-game brooming of the Twins. The Yankees showed every sign of injuries finally catching up to them when they closed June with just five wins in an 18-game stretch, and will now get to spend the next couple of weeks at home. This series with the Orioles is the first of a 10-game stand that will take the team up to the All-Star break.
Nova is making just his third start since the end of April, and how long he stays in the rotation might be determined by the extent of Kuroda's injury. A good showing here, and speedy return by Kuroda, could also give Nova the slot currently held by David Phelps who has struggled of late. The Dominican made a long relief outing in Baltimore a week ago, the only time he has faced the O's this season, and owns a puffy 5.42 ERA against them in his career.
Mother Nature should allow this series to go off without a hitch with only a 10% chance of rain all weekend in the Big Apple. Mid-80s are forecast for tonight's first pitch, along with a 10-12 mph SW wind (out to left).
Baltimore bats went a little quiet in Chicago to begin this road trip, and they could wake up in New York against Nova. But I'm going to get behind the Yankees and the positive MLB odds in the series opener with a play on the Bronx Bombers to end their skid vs. the Orioles.
My pick: Yankees +100 at Bet365