Sunday's Game Four
By: Swinging Johnson
If You Can't Beat Them - Join Them
I switched sides yesterday after watching the Red Sox mash their way to two consecutive victories and trim my bankroll. But no more. I decided that Yankees starter David Huff was going to be the latest to fall victim to the barrage of Boston's bangin' bats and sure enough, the Red Sox offensive juggernaut continued as they exploded for a baker's dozen en route to their 13-9 victory. That winning ticket took some of the sting away from our previous two losses but it's another day and time to decide who we like in our MLB picks.
Boston's Historic Series
To gain some historical perspective of just how hot the Boston bats have been, consider that over the last four games (the last three of which have been against New York) the Red Sox have batted .386, with 17 dingers and plated 54 runs! The last time a visiting team scored at least nine runs in three consecutive games against the Yankees was in 1912, when I was just a wee lad, as the Red Sox crushed the NY Highlanders.
Mike Napoli has been a beast in the series going 7 of 12 and swatting three homeruns in the process. David Ortiz is only 3 for 13 but is 7 for 12 against today's Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda. The Red Sox will miss centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury for the third consecutive game after a foul ball injured his foot in Boston's series opener.
Jon Lester (13-8, 3.88 ERA) has been getting back into a groove and the timing could not be better. The veteran southpaw kicked off Boston's current five-game winning streak as he baffled the Tigers on Tuesday night, allowing only one run and striking out a season high nine batters in the Sox 2-1 victory. Over his past six starts, Lester is sporting a nifty 1.71 ERA and appears to be locked on and razor sharp.
Conversely, Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.99 ERA) has been ineffective over the course of his last four starts, posting a 0-3 record with a bulging 7.43 ERA. Recently, Kuroda has allowed seven runs to both the Tampa Bay Rays and then to the Toronto Blue Jays which were, not so coincidentally, both games the Yankees lost. Kuroda is 3-4 lifetime when starting against Boston and has posted 3.82 ERA and a WHIP of 1.256 in those contests. His team is 4-6 and -3.0 units in MLB odds but for those who like totals it's interesting to note that games against Boston in which he's started the Under is 7-3 and +3.5 units in MLB odds.
There's not much to think about here. We've got one pitcher who is in the best groove of the season and another who can't seem to keep the ball in the yard. Lester is finally pitching like the ace he knows he is while Kuroda is tossing beach balls.
Now let's look at the offense. Both teams have been lighting up the scoreboard but the Boston bats are otherworldly. Everyone is either knocking in doubles or blasting homers. The feeling inside the Boston clubhouse is peace, love and let's beat the hell out of the Yankees. If you're a contrarian then be my guest. However in my sports picks there is just no other choice in this matinee in the Bronx. The visitors will pack their bags with a sweep in hand and the AL East crown scarcely within their grasp
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Saturday's Game Three
By: Swinging Johnson
Time the F*** Out
Okay guys, enough is enough. I've tepidly backed the Bombers in both games of this series and have seen the Red Sox bash their way to a combined 21 runs, extending their lead in the AL East and dimming the hopes of a Yankees postseason appearance. But what about those who have been tailing the Yankees thus far? While we should consider ourselves lucky that the Yanks clawed their way back in the series opener only to fall short, it was last night that really kicked us in the gut. Up 8-3 in the seventh inning, we were counting our money but this Yankees bullpen, which I warned about in yesterday's article, is brutal.
Are these bad beats or just bad handicapping? Well, as I cautioned in both series previews of our MLB picks, this entire series shouldn't be worth more than a token bet. This is the biggest rivalry in all of sports and though we knew Boston had a clear edge in the bullpen, the starters looked fairly even. What we didn't account for was that the Beantown crazy train would light up the scoreboard like the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.
I Remain Bloodied but Unbowed. Let's Get This.
Does it really matter? These teams have been scoring touchdowns not runs. Thirty-seven runs in two games, are you kidding me? If you've been taking the Over in MLB odds then I marvel at your powers of prognostication. But just for kicks, let's talk about tonight's starters.
John Lackey (8-12, 3.22 ERA) reminds me of Salma Hayek's bountiful middle aged chest. Still looks great, just needs some support. Support is something the veteran right-hander has simply not gotten from his mates this season. Just take for example his last six starts in which his record is 1-4 but his ERA is a solid 3.19. The guy can't seem to catch a break but the lone W he did pick up was against these very same Yankees on August 17th when he scattered six hits and allowed only one run en route to a 6-1 Boston victory.
Yankees skipper Joe Girardi has seen enough of Phil Hughes and instead turns his lonely eyes to David Huff. This will be the 29-year-old's first start of the season after toiling in limbo throughout much of the summer and then emerging as a long arm out of the bullpen. He last pitched five innings of one run ball against the White Sox on Monday so he should be well-rested for this tilt.
Let's pop over and check out today's Baseball Best Bets~
I have been a huge John Lackey detractor. He hit free agency just at the right time when there was a dearth of pitching on the open market and the Sox dropped a bundle on a guy who has been a tad bit better than average throughout his career. Lackey's been injured and awful over the past few years but he's trim and healthy this season which has led to some gutsy performances with little to show for it.
David Huff may be the flavor of the week in New York but after four years with the Indians, he was too vanilla for their tastes and they cut him loose. Don't be seduced by his performance on Tuesday. This guy came to New York with an 18-26 record and a bloated 5.40 ERA.
I've been burned twice by the Red Sox and feel as though the time is right for the Sox to atone for their power outage this season with Lackey on the hill. They're absolutely destroying Yankee pitching and Huff doesn't scare me in the least. For my free picks, I'm switching sides this afternoon and picking the boys from Boston.
Happy Birthday Tishy!
Friday's Game Two
By: Swinging Johnson
Boston Red Sox (85-57, +15.5 units)
Who’d-a-thunk-it? The Boston Red Sox, off a disastrous 2012 campaign, began this season with tepid expectations and a relatively moderate payroll after lopping off the uber bucks spent to attract Messrs.’ Gonzalez and Crawford, only to soar to the best record in the America League. They did it again last night as the bats continued to bang with a 9-8 nail biter in Yankee Stadium.
Tonight they hope their Cinderella story continues, sending Felix Doubront (10-6, 3.66 ERA) to the hill as he tries to shake off whatever ailed him in his last start, where he was installed as a -250 favorite in MLB odds, against the White Sox when he surrendered four earned runs on seven hits in only 3.7 innings. However, in that game the Red Sox had already built a 5-0 lead before the roof caved in on Doubront and Boston held on for a 7-6 victory.
Doubront has been a pleasant surprise for the Sox, particularly down the stretch where Boston has won five of the last six games he has started. His only loss during that span was a clunker against – you guessed it – the New York Yankees where he was torched for seven runs on eight hits after working only four innings in his own backyard.
Check out Friday's Baseball Betting Odds & Lines Report for a breakdown of today's games!
New York Yankees (75-65, +7.2 units)
New York is trying to gain traction in their hunt for a wild card spot but shaky bullpens have cost them wins. Last night it was the legendary Mariano Rivera who coughed up a fur ball by allowing the tying run followed by Joba Chamberlain surrendering the game winner when Shane Victorino ripped a single that drove in Jacoby Ellsbury for the visitor’s 8-7 victory.
Andy Pettitte (10-9, 4.01 ERA) gets the ball tonight for the Bombers and he too was a victim of a shoddy effort from his bullpen when he left the mound in his last outing against Baltimore after allowing only two runs in six-plus innings of work only to see his lead vanish when the Orioles exploded for seven runs in the seventh inning en route to a 7-3 loss. Pettitte has been doing yeoman’s work recently for the Yanks, posting a 3-0 record and dazzling 1.05 ERA in his last four starts. The veteran southpaw has also pitched well against Boston this season, compiling a 2-1 record and a 2.14 ERA.
My first inclination is to ride the wave that is the Boston Red Sox but I have to think that these bats might be quieted by a resurgent Andy Pettitte. My other concern with the Sox here is that Felix Doubront may be showing signs of a weary arm. He looked anemic in his last start in MLB odds against the Chicago and got blasted by the Yanks when he faced off against them on August 16th.
I’m not normally one who pins his hopes on emotion because that is hugely overstated, particularly by fans who want to dabble in the art of sports gambling. But in this case, I have a sneaking suspicion that New York is still feeling the sting of a bad call by home plate umpire Joe West on what should have been a called third strike to Shane Victorino before he drove in the winning run.
Let’s cast our lot with the home team in our MLB picks tonight as the Yankees should even the series and gain some ground on the AL East leaders.Play the Yankees +103 at WilliamHill.com
Thursday's Series Opener
By: Swinging Johnson
Boston Red Sox (84-57, +14.5 units)
The Patriots scored almost three touchdowns last night against the Lions who managed only two safeties...er, let me start over. *A-hem* The Red Sox hit squad whacked the Tigers 20-4 in a game that saw Big Papi launch two lasers out of Fenway and collect his 2000th hit. In total, the Red Sox collected eight homeruns and 19 hits as they pack up their bags for a shuttle jump to New York and a date with the third place Yankees.
The Sox will meet the Yankees for the first time since Ryan Dempster drilled A-Rod in a 9-6 New York victory and one that has seemed to bolster New York's sagging playoff hopes. Tonight, Jake Peavy (11-5, 3.91), who has been winless in his four appearances against the Yankees, will take the hill in hostile territory.
However, Peavy has rekindled some of his old magic when he was a top shelf gunslinger for the Padres. The crafty veteran has turned in some stellar outings since the Red Sox acquired him on July 30th from the White Sox which has manifested in a 3-1 record and a 3.18 ERA in his six starts for Boston.
New York Yankees (75-64, +8.2 units)
The Yanks are coming off a three-game sweep of the White Sox after taking two of three against the Orioles. Yes, New York is back and they are contending for a postseason berth which is why this series is crucial to their success or lack thereof. After the Yankees staved off an eighth inning rally to cop a 6-5 victory last night over Chicago, they will now send Ivan Nova (8-4, 2.88 ERA) to do battle tonight.
New York has won Nova's last six starts and the 26-year-old native of the Dominican Republic is coming off one of his finest outings of the season with a nine-inning dandy over the Orioles on August 31st. In that appearance, he allowed only three hits and led the Yankees to a 2-0 blanking of Baltimore. Nova has not pitched against the Red Sox this year but did face them twice last season and got a W on each occasion, allowing a combined three runs. In his career versus Boston, he has compiled a 2-1 record and a 4.94 ERA to go along with a 1.464 WHIP while his team is 3-2 and +1.3 units in MLB odds.
All I can say is those Red Sox hitters must be tuckered out after blasting their way to a 20-4 victory over Detroit. They then had to jump on a plane and roll into the Big Apple to play in Yankee Stadium tonight. Yeah, you know where I'm going here. It's called "fatigue" and though it may not be the only factor in Boston bowing tonight, it could well be a vital one, so be mindful when choosing your sports picks.
A Boston fan may introduce the fact that the Red Sox are 4-2 (+2.3 units in MLB odds) when playing in Yankee Stadium this season and also advance the notion that Boston doesn't have fatigue, they've got momentum. Fair enough I say, but Peavy is 0-4 against the Yankees while Ivan Nova is pitching lights out recently and owns a 2-1 record over Boston throughout his career.
Perhaps I am underestimating the crazy train that the Red Sox are on right now but I sense an emotional letdown in this game while the Yankees recall vividly the drill session put on them by Dempster the last time these two teams met. Tread lightly but if you do decide to tread, look for New York to come out on top in your MLB picks.