Red Sox Hit Road, Face Francona & Indians
The whole nation's focus is on Boston right now, and Red Sox players will no doubt have their minds on the same to begin a 3-game series in Cleveland against the Indians. It definitely takes the edge off what should still be a warm, though quieter reunion between Tribe skipper Terry Francona and many of the faces in the BoSox dugout.
Game 1 is a pick 'em for all intents and purposes. The morning nickel line at 5Dimes had the Indians -103 and Sox at -102; 8.5 is the run total and the latest MLB odds favor the UNDER.
Boston completed its annual Patriot's Day Game, as well as a tribute to Jackie Robinson, roughly an hour before the downtown area was rocked by explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The Red Sox broke a 2-all tie in the bottom of the 9th for their third straight win in the wraparound series with the Rays, helping Boston to an 8-4 record and 1.5-game lead over the Yankees heading into play Tuesday.
Felix Doubront hits the mound for John Farrell's crew in the series opener, just his second start of the young season. Boston won the other at Toronto where the Venezuelan southpaw allowed three runs and nine hits in five frames, one of the hits a homer by Mark DeRosa. Doubront has split two previous assignments vs. the Tribe, losing in his only trip to the mound at Progressive Field (4.1 IP, 4 ER).
Ubaldo Jimenez is Francona's mound pick for the duel, his third of the year and first since a horrible outing vs. the Yankees last week in the Indians' home opener. That goes against Jimenez's trend a year ago pitching much better at home (3.70) than on the road (6.82). The Dominican split his two clashes against the Red Sox last year, winning with 10 K's in the home matchup and losing big at Fenway Park (4.1 IP, 7 ER, same stats as last Monday vs. NYY).
Damp and cool is the Cleveland forecast. There's a decreasing chance of rain as game time approaches and temps will be in the low-to-mid 50s. Let's take our chances with the home team in this one with a play on the Indians.
Zito, Giants Open 3-Game Series At Brewers
Barry Zito's first two starts of the season ended in the San Francisco Giants shutting out their opponents. Now the Giants open a 3-game set in Milwaukee where Zito has been hammered since joining San Fran in 2007.
That didn't stop the MLB odds from opening with the former Southern Cal star and the Giants as small road favorites. We'll call it -125 for a consensus on San Fran with 8 (O -110) for the scoreboard hurdle.
Zito owns a 7.66 ERA in seven starts on this field as a member of the Giants, who are 2-5 in those outings. Twenty-three walks in 31.IP are a big part of the problem for Zito, who never appeared here while with the A's.
Milwaukee has lost both of Wily Peralta's starts, though the last one at Wrigley Field vs. the Cubs was a much better showing. His limited time up in 2012 saw the husky Dominican pitch much better at home than he did vs. the Rockies on April 3, Peralta's only 2013 showing in front of the home fans.
The roof will be closed at Miller Park, and that should help the hitters since it will be warmer inside than outside (upper-40s at first pitch). The Z-Man has been money with 16 straight winning starts, including the postseason, and I'll add him to my free picks tonight.
Continuing To Ride The Astros Fade Train
No real analysis or stats needed here. I started a Fade the Astros project to begin this season and continue to stay on board for the near future. Look for a more detailed update on that next week, but for now the most important number is 2.15 following Oakland's 11-3 win on Monday. That figure is betting to win one unit in every Houston game so far, the Astros underdogs each time out.
Tuesday's tilt started with Oakland backers laying $2.00 against Houston. The A's are sending AJ Griffin to the mound against Brad Peacock for the Astros, and 7.5 is the number accompanying scoreboard wagers.
Oakland -200 for the final Tuesday free pick. Don't forget to check out my previews and picks for the series in Cincinnati between the Reds and Philadelphia Phillies.
[gameodds]3/224897/43/us[/gameodds]My MLB Picks: Indians -103, Giants -121, A's -200 at 5Dimes