Sunday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
The New York Yankees have a chance to pull off a series sweep for the second time this week, and this time it could make a huge statement against a division rival expected to rule the AL East this season.
New York will send Ivan Nova to the mound Sunday afternoon in Toronto with the Blue Jays on the ropes in the weekend set. Josh Johnson is up for the Blue Jays in the 1:07 PM (ET) start, and he will be carrying the chalk for the contest as the -140 MLB odds favorite. SBR's live odds are showing 8.5 for the scoreboard tally.
Defense let the Jays down on Saturday, a 5-3 loss in 11 innings that was the fifth for Toronto in seven games to fall to 7-11 on the year, six games behind the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees were able to keep pace with Boston, staying just two games back with their ninth win in 11 contests after beginning the campaign 1-4.
Vernon Wells homered for the second straight game against his old squad, part of a 3-hit afternoon to fuel the New York lineup and raise his average above .300.
Nova evened his record at 1-1 the last time out, a win this past Tuesday in the opener of a series against the Diamondbacks. It was certainly a better result than his season debut 11 days later, his turn in the rotation interrupted by that rain-plagued series last week in Cleveland. But the Dominican still struggle with his command, and hitters are seeing an more than four pitches on average each plate appearance and batting over .300.
New York is 4-2 in his six career starts vs. the Blue Jays, both losses coming on this mound while Nova fashioned a 4.50 ERA in 18 frames north of the border.
Johnson is coming off a quality effort this past week vs. the White Sox, but the Blue Jays have remain 0-3 with the big righty on the mound. He faced the Yankees once while with the Marlins, a 2009 start in Miami that he pitched very well in for the victory (7 IP, 1 ER, 3 Hits).
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Tim Timmons should be under the mask for Sunday's finale and has split his two previous plate assignments of 2013. The same rings true for his last four games at Rogers Centre, though he does own an UNDER edge the past three seasons at 39-54-7.
Temps will drop below freezing tonight in Toronto and it's never going to warm up enough to open the roof for this game despite the sunny forecast. Saturday's match marked the seventh UNDER in the last eight Yankee games, so I'm going to split my play in this one with a pick on the low side of the total plus grabbing New York as the underdog.
My pick: Yankees +130, Under 8.5 at 5 Dimes.
Saturday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
Home runs were popular Friday night in Toronto where the Blue Jays opened a weekend set with the New York Yankees. The long balls helped New York to a quick advantage in the game, and the Yankees now take aim at winning their fourth consecutive series when the two clubs get right back to business in an early matinee on Saturday.
Bettors with a lot of shopping options can find an underdog price on either team. New York is favored at some MLB odds boards, Toronto at others, and I'm just going to call it a -105 pick 'em to make things easy. Hiroki Kuroda is on the mound for the Yankees against Mark Buehrle of the Blue Jays, and the total is available at 8.5 to 9 runs.
Travis Hafner and Robinson Cano continued their good starts to the 2013 campaign to help New York to the 9-4 win Friday night. Hafner hammered one of three Yankee home runs and New York inched up a half-game in the AL East ranks on the idle Boston Red Sox. Kuroda went the distance to claim a 5-hit shutout last weekend vs. the Orioles, his second consecutive victory after an ill-fated season debut against the Red Sox. He saw the Blue Jays three times a year ago, winning two of the three and getting bombed in the other on this mound. Toronto busted out the lumber in that game, cracking three homers and scoring seven times during Kuroda's five innings.
Be sure to check out Joe Freda's Double Header pick on the Yankees AL East Rivals, the Baltimore Orioles.
The Blue Jays have won all three of Buehrle's starts despite only one of them being a quality effort. That came his last time out against his old mates from Chicago's South Side, Buehrle working into the seventh and surrendering just two runs in a 4-3 victory. The previous two trips to the hill saw the southpaw charged with 11 earned runs over 9.2 innings.
Buehrle last saw the Yankees early in 2011, and his last victory against New York came in April 2004. That turned out to be his only win vs. the Yanks while pitching for the White Sox; Chicago was 1-11 in his 12 career starts against New York with Buehrle posting a 6.38 ERA.
The inconsistent strike zone that belongs to Laz Diaz is what we have to live with in Game 2. Both of his plate assignments this season jumped the total after the OVER was 18-14-1 in 2012.
Indoor baseball will once again be the order with snow expected this morning in the Toronto area and temps never making it out of the 30s. I'm going to ride the Yankees once again; we'll be back Sunday with a preview and pick in the series finale.
My pick: Yankees -105 at Bet Online
Friday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
The division rivals are set for one of those 7:07 PM (ET) starts inside Rogers Centre, and the initial battle on the mound is between Andy Pettitte for the visitors and Brandon Morrow for the home team. Toronto went out as a very small favorite with the moneyline tightening to almost a pick by Friday morning.
An 8.5 run total is also on the MLB odds board, and the high/low pricing depends which betting outlet you patronize.
Both teams are trying to catch the Red Sox in the early going. The Yankees (8-6) are 2.5-games back of Boston after winning four of six during their just-completed homestand against the Orioles and Diamondbacks. Toronto (7-9) is 4.5 behind in fourth and just split a 4-game series with the White Sox to begin this homestand.
here do we believe that the best value lies for our MLB picks in this opening matchup?
Battered Yankees Get Bad News On Jeter's Recovery
New York's list of walking wounded has been well documented, but it got a little longer on Thursday when it was revealed Derek Jeter's rehab took a hit. The left ankle that Jeter broke in last year's ALCS has another crack in it, and the Yanks' captain will apparently be shut down for a while with mid-July a new target for his return to action.
The piecemeal lineup Joe Girardi is sending out in the absence of Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira has certainly been doing its part to keep the SS Pinstripe afloat in the American League East waters. It helps that Robinson Cano is off to a strong start along with Travis Hafner, who just might turn out to be the best $2 million gamble prior to spring training.
Pettitte missed his assignment last Sunday vs. the Orioles with back problems, which are to be expected when you're in your 18th big league season. The southpaw's 494th regular season start will be his 44th vs. the Blue Jays and 24th in their park. Pettitte saw them twice last year, splitting the results with the loss coming on this mound.
Toronto is also without its 1st-string shortstop after Jose Reyes suffered his own ankle injury recently, and injury that will cost him about three months. Add to that Jose Bautista missing some games recently for the Jays who just got Brett Lawrie off the DL from a spring rib-cage injury.
Morrow wasn't supposed to be the real ace this season after the Blue Jays added RA Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson to the rotation last winter. But it's Morrow who leads the rotation with a 4.60 ERA and running hot-&-cold in three starts. Even when Morrow has pitched well, as he did last Sunday in Kansas City, the Blue Jays have lost each of his assignments.
Roof Shut On Cold, Windy Night In Toronto
This is going to be a good night to have a roof on the stadium in Toronto. It is supposed to be a wet day in the area, then clear off a bit with the temps dropping into the 30s during the evening accompanied by SW winds, the gusts reaching 25-30 mph.
As you'd expect, the Yankees have the historical edge in this series (289-229), and they've won 22 of the last 36, going 11-7 each of the past two seasons. But it's been pretty even in Toronto where New York is 92-87 at Rogers Centre since the building opened midway through the '89 campaign, going 4-5 in Toronto both of the past two years.
Five of the nine between the two squads on this diamond in 2012 finished short of the total, and all four of the Blue Jays' games against the ChiSox stayed UNDER.
This pick's for you, Mikee! Yankees even money as road pups. Don't forget to check back throughout the weekend for game previews and free picks as we trail this series in its entirety.
My MLB Pick: Yankees +100 at The Greek