Opening Day saw its share of solid performances, but none was better than the show Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw put on.
Kershaw tossed a 4-hit shutout, and drove in LA's winning run with a homer in the bottom of the eighth to fuel a 4-run outburst, to lead the Dodgers to a four-zip triumph vs. the San Francisco Giants. The southpaw signed a huge extension in the past few days, and delivered something that is a rarity this early in any season, a complete game.
Matt Cain certainly held up his end of the bargain for our Monday afternoon play on the UNDER in the Giants-Dodgers affair, part of a very early 8-5 trend to the low side of the MLB betting totals. Home teams are also 8-5, good enough for a 40¢ return, while favorites are 7-5 with one game closing as a pick 'em.
Blue Jays Face Huge Expectations In Season Opener Vs. Tribe
No team added more talent to its roster during the winter than the Toronto Blue Jays, and the end result is the team went from cellar status in the AL East to among the favorites to win the pennant. A big chunk of the roster haul will be on the field at Rogers Centre tonight when the Blue Jays host the Cleveland Indians in the season opener for both clubs.
MLB odds for the matchup have Toronto priced from the mid -160s to the mid -170s behind RA Dickey, last year's NL Cy Young winner. We'll call it -170 for a consensus morning line. Justin Masterson will oppose Dickey with 8.5 for the game total and shaded to the OVER.
The Blue Jays fell off to a 73-89 record a year ago to finish fourth in the American League East, 22 games south of the Yankees. They initially went out as 35/1 long shots to win the 2013 World Series about the time manager John Farrell left to take over the helm of the rival Red Sox.
Enter John Gibbons, back for his second stint as Toronto skipper. Also coming aboard via trades or free agency are Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Sergio Santos, Emilio Bonifacio and Melky Cabrera. The Blue Jays opened the season 8/1 to win the Series, second only to the two Los Angeles squads, and just behind the Angels (3/1) at 7/2 to take the American League flag.
Dickey spent much of spring training traveling with Team USA in the WBC, and endured hot-&-cold results in his assignments vs. Mexico and Dominican Republic. The 38-year-old knuckler won 20 games for the Mets with a 2.73 ERA last season, leading the National League in strikeouts and innings pitched.
Cleveland also saw a lot of changes since the end of the 2012 campaign, including Terry Francona taking over the managerial reins. Among the new players Francona will have at his disposal are Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Drew Stubbs, Mark Reynolds and Brett Myers.
Masterson got the Opening Day nod for the Tribe last April and dominated the Blue Jays with an 8-inning, 1-run, 10-K performance.Unfortunately for him, Cleveland's bullpen coughed up a 4-1 lead in the ninth and Toronto went on to a 7-4 win in 16 innings. The former San Diego State star added seven shutout frames vs. the Jays later in the 2012 season, and is 2-1 with a 3.03 ERA against Toronto in four starts since joining the Indians in 2009.
With possible snow in the Toronto forecast, we can count on the roof Rogers Centre roof being shut. I'm going to have my eye on the Indians this April as a dog play, but not tonight. I am adding Toronto on the run line to my MLB picks for this one.
Dodgers, Giants Continue Series at Chavez Ravine
We mentioned the pitching clinic Kershaw and Cain put on in Monday's matchup between the Dodgers and Giants. Both teams once again send talented arms to the hill Tuesday in a battle of southpaws as Madison Bumgarner tries to even San Fran's record and Hyun-Jin Ryu makes his MLB debut for LA.
It's close to a pick at most online sportsbooks monitored by SBR odds with the Dodgers very slight home chalk on the morning line. The total is 6.5 to 7 runs at various wagering outlets.
The Giants couldn't mount any challenge against Kershaw and they'll now be facing another tough lefty in Ryu. The chunky Korean got in a lot of work this spring and responded admirably with a 3.29 ERA and 27 Ks in 27.1 IP while limiting hitters to a .183 average.Bumgarner also had a fantastic spring (2.29 ERA, 19.2 IP, 18 K) and has had a lot of success over his career at Dodger Stadium.
For the second of my free picks, I'm going to once again get behind the pitchers with a play on the UNDER in Tuesday's tilt.
My MLB picks: Blue Jays -1.5 (+120), Giants-Dodgers Under 6.5 (+100) at The GreekSeason: 2-2 ($0.05)