If it seems like it has been longer than a little more than five years since the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees met in the 2007 postseason, it's understandable. A lot has changed for both clubs since then, beginning with CC Sabathia switching dugouts.
By: Willie Bee
The New York Yankees broke out the bats for a season-high 11 runs in Monday's series opener against the Cleveland Indians, and they'll look to continue their dominance in this series while extending their win streak to three on Tuesday.
Like the bettors who wager on the sport, superstitions are a big part of baseball. You can count rainouts among that long list.
Crash Davis forced a rainout for his struggling team in the movie Bull Durham, but the Cleveland Indians didn't need to resort to such shenanigans on Wednesday when Mother Nature stepped in and postponed Game 3 of their series with the New York Yankees. The washout came at a time the Tribe had dropped five of six, including the first two of this set, with their starting rotation a complete mess.
How much it helps the Indians shake the slump remains to be seen as they prepare for the series finale tonight at Progressive Field (7 PM ET). That is if the weather cooperates, which doesn't appear likely according to the latest forecast.
New York is sending Phil Hughes to the hill for this one while Cleveland goes with Zach McAllister. The contest is close to a pick 'em according to SBR's live odds with the Yankees priced -107 at 5Dimes and -103 on the take-back for the Indians. The total is pegged at 8.5 and a few pennies higher on the OVER.
We will also see if the unscheduled day off has an effect on a New York lineup that blistered Tribe pitchers for 25 runs Monday and Tuesday. The Yankees may need some extra runs to support Hughes who got through just four innings of his season debut last Saturday and allowed four runs (3 earned). Hughes, who has been dealing with a stomach virus the past few days, got a late start to the season due to back issues, and is 2-1 his past three starts vs. the Indians (loss at Progressive Field).
McAllister was a victim of defense and lack of run support in his season debut last Friday at Tampa Bay. The big righty allowed four runs (2 earned) in his six innings vs. the Rays in taking the 'L' in a 4-0 decision. Thursday will be his first career start against the Yanks, and he has struggled over his brief career keeping the ball in the park at home (16 HR, 86.1 IP)
There is a 100% chance of rain in the Cleveland area throughout the day and into the evening. With one makeup already to work out, there will be extra pressure to get this game in despite the weather.
Let's see if we can score a daily double with plays on the Yanks and the OVER. Keep your browser pointed at SBRforum.com this weekend when I continue to follow the Yankees back in the Bronx with analysis and free picks in their series against the Baltimore Orioles.
My pick: Yankees -107, OVER 8.5 (-107) at 5Dimes
Season: 7-8 (-$2.05)
By: Willie Bee
Eight games into his first season as Cleveland Indians manager, Terry Francona is already scrambling for arms to send to the mound.
Forced to use Wednesday starter Brett Myers in long relief on Tuesday, Francona hast yet to decide who will take the hill for the top of the first inning in Game 3 of this 4-game series with the New York Yankees. Ivan Nova is slated for the Yanks and the MLB odds opened with New York -115 chalk in the original matchup. That moneyline is sure to go up once the Tribe announces Nova's opponent.
The total was set at 9 runs, and we can also expect that to increase once Cleveland comes up with a starting pitcher.
Considering how New York's lineup has performed in the first two games at Progressive Field, the OVER is looking good regardless who pitches for the Indians. Robinson Cano popped his third homer of the series along with a pair of doubles in Tuesday's 14-1 shellacking of Cleveland, and Andy Pettitte posted his second strong outing of the campaign to handle the pitching side for the Yankees who have now won three straight.
Carlos Carrasco allowed New York's first seven runs, but was ejected in the top of the fourth to force Francona to call on Myers and leave Game 3's pitcher a mystery. Cleveland could recall either Daisuke Matsuzaka or Corey Kluber from Triple-A Columbus to make the spot start. Matsuzaka worked five innings of a 5-3 loss last Saturday at Indianapolis and would be pitching on three days rest. Kluber threw 80 pitches the night before in a 7-4 win, and would be working on his normal schedule.
Nova got knocked around last Friday at Detroit, surrendering four runs before being sent to the showers in the fifth. The Tigers took the contest by an 8-3 count after closing as -175 favorites. Nova will be facing the Indians for just the second time in his career, and first trip to the bump in Cleveland. The Dominican righty posted a 4.19 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in five spring starts.
Jerry Meals, now in his 16th full season in the bigs, is in the umpire rotation for the plate this evening. It's his third time behind the dish this year, and both of his previous contests calling balls and strikes went OVER the total.
Cleveland might not even need a pitcher for this game since the weather forecast is calling for a 70% chance of rain. The clubs close this series on Thursday when there's even more rain in the picture.
I fully expect Yankee hitters to stay hot tonight and lean OVER the total for my play in this one.
My pick: Lean to OVER prior to official MLB odds being relieased.
Season: 7-8 (-$2.05)
By: Willie Bee
Our coverage of this 4-game series at Progressive Field continues with tonight's second game scheduled for a 7:05 PM (ET) start. Veteran Andy Pettitte takes his second turn in New York's rotation, and the Yankees have been installed as -120 favorites on the MLB odds board. Indians skipper Terry Francona gives the ball to Carlos Carrasco.
The total skipped between 8 and 8.5 overnight before settling at 8 on Tuesday morning.
Travis Hafner homered and drove in four runs Monday in his Cleveland homecoming, and Robinson Cano popped two out of the yard to lead New York's 11-6 triumph. The Yankees are 31-16 vs. the Tribe since the start of 2007, including Cleveland's 3-1 record in the ALDS that season, and boast a 52-29 regular season mark at Progressive Field.
One injury concern to come out of Game 1 was Cleveland catcher Carlos Santana who is day-to-day with a bruised left thumb. The Indians are expected to make a roster move and activate former Yankee Jason Giambi who has missed the first seven games with a back injury. Now in his 19th season, Giambi is 8-for-28 (.286) lifetime vs. Pettitte.
Pettitte got his campaign started on a good note with eight strong innings vs. Boston last Thursday. The southpaw will be making his first start in Cleveland since May 2009, and owns a 3.26 ERA vs. the Indians since 2000. His opponent will be appearing on a major league diamond for the first time since Aug. 2011. Carrasco faced the Yankees twice that year (1-1, 4.91) and is in the Cleveland rotation while Scott Kazmir is on the DL.
Baseball bettors will want to keep an eye on weather reports throughout this series. There is a 40%-50% chance of rain this evening in Cleveland where it should be in the low-60s at first pitch.
Jordan Baker, in just his second season as an MLB umpire, is slated to work the dish for the second time this season, He worked the Reds' 15-0 pasting of the Nats last Friday which easily went OVER the number, but the UNDER dominated his contests last year (2-15-2 O/U/P).
The OVER is tempting, but I'm going to run with New York's run vs. Cleveland with a free pick on the Yankees.
My pick: Yankees -120 at The GreekSeason: 6-5 ($0.82)
By: Willie Bee
One other big difference in the opener of their 4-game series on Monday afternoon is the Tribe favored to beat the Yanks for the first time in close to four years, a span of 24 meetings in this series. Bookmaker sent this one out with Cleveland carrying -120 chalk, and the moneyline was still hovering around that mark at most online sportsbooks on Monday morning.
Game 1's total opened a little heavy on the OVER 8. I'll be tagging along for the ride this entire series with analysis and free picks, and perhaps I'll finally bust my SBR cherry for the season with a winning moneyline or run line pick along the way.
The last time Cleveland closed as the favorite vs. the Yankees was May 29, 2009. Cliff Lee was facing Andy Pettitte that Friday when the Tribe was around -125 chalk at the bell. Pettitte and the New York pen promptly put a 3-1 decision on the Indians, and the Yankees have gone 17-7 as the favorite since that meeting while averaging about -175 on the MLB odds board.
Yanks, Tribe Look To Build Off Sunday Shutouts
Cleveland and New York are each coming off lopsided shutout victories as decided road underdogs on Sunday. Sabathia won't be facing his old team in this series after chunking seven shutout frames at Detroit in a 7-0 triumph over Justin Verlander and the Tigers. The Indians also got seven shutout innings from Justin Masterson in a 13-0 rout in Tampa against David Price and the Rays.
In each case, Sunday's wins helped New York and Cleveland avoid being swept over the weekend. It was the second straight series defeat for the Yankees, however, after they dropped two of three at home to the Boston Red Sox to begin the season.
Blanking the Tigers stopped a 6-game skid for the Yankees against Detroit, a streak that included being swept in the ALCS last October, and also helped the New York pitching staff slow an ugly start to 2013. Yankee hurlers allowed 33 runs in the first five games and enter this series with a 5.37 ERA, 26th in the majors. New York starters had a 5.47 ERA before Sabathia's effort.
Cleveland's staff has fared much better in the early going with a 3.40 ERA, good enough for 12th in the majors, and held the opposition to a .199 batting average in getting off to a 3-3 start.
Kuroda Tests Fingers After Injury In Season Debut
Hiroki Kuroda gets the call today for Joe Girardi's gang after taking a line drive off his right hand in his season debut vs. the Red Sox. Boston's Shane Victorino lined a shot back up the middle leading off the second inning, and Kuroda instinctively reached for the ball with his pitching hand. He stayed in the game for four more batters, hitting two and walking another before leaving the mound.
Kuroda faced the Indians twice last season and split the two decisions with a 2.40 ERA. The loss came at Progressive Field where a 3-run homer by Michael Brantley in the first frame did all the damage in a 3-1 Cleveland victory.
First-year Indians skipper Terry Francona will hand the ball to Ubaldo Jimenez for his second assignment of the campaign. Jimenez worked six innings at Toronto last Wednesday and allowed just a run, but didn't figure into the decision which eventually went Cleveland's way in 11 innings. He saw New York twice last season and took the loss both times (5.73 ERA, 11 IP).
The weatherman is forecasting a 60% chance of rain for the 4 PM (ET) start, and the threat of precipitation increases into the evening hours. There is also a 15 mph S/SW breeze in the picture (out to left-center/center). This is New York's only trip into Cleveland, and rain is in the forecast for the next three days as well.
Let's start this series off with a play on the Indians, and hope the rain holds off long enough to get a full nine innings in.
My MLB picks: Indians -116 at 5DimesSeason: 6-4 ($1.98)