Will the Seattle Mariners earn a split in their weekend series with the New York Yankees, and first single-season advantage over the Bronx Bombers since 2002, with a victory on Sunday?
The MLB odds think they will with the Mariners favored in the -145 to -150 range at most reputable betting outlets. As that moneyline would suggest, it is Felix Hernandez's turn in the Seattle rotation while David Phelps is up for the Yanks. The total opened 7 but had been moved down to 6.5 runs at many sports books following overnight action.
A third consecutive UNDER in this series -- and fourth straight between the two teams this season -- was the result of Saturday's 3-1 win by New York. Andy Pettitte earned his fifth dubya of the campaign, and 250th of his career, by working into eighth with the Mariners only able to muster three hits along the way. Mariano Rivera struck out three in the ninth for his 22nd save of 2013, and No. 630 for his career.
New York was able to stay just 1.5 games back of Boston in the AL East with the victory. and 1.5 ahead of third-place Tampa Bay. The setback kept the Mariners fourth in the AL West, a half-game behind the Angels.
Phelps has run hot and cold splitting his time between the bullpen and rotation for New York. Sunday will be his eighth consecutive start since taking the slot formerly occupied by Ivan Nova, and his first career start against the Mariners. The Notre Dame alum is coming off a 6-inning, 1-hit performance vs. Cleveland on Tuesday, and the Yankees are 2-1 in his three road starts.
Hernandez has been something of a Yankee killer over the years with a career ERA under three vs. New York (108.1 IP). King Felix certainly pitched well enough to beat them in the Bronx on May 14 with six innings on his ledger and only one run allowed, but his bullpen blew a 3-1 lead and Hernandez wound up with a no-decision in a 4-3 loss, Seattle's only setback in that series.
Home teams have done very well with Mike Muchlinski calling the plate this year, winning eight of his 11 assignments (home favorites) while the OVER owns but a 6-5 edge. The roof at Safeco Field should be open on what promises to be another pretty nice day in Seattle. Sunny and 65º is the forecast for game time, possibly reaching 70º by the end of the game, with an 8-10 mph breeze out of the NNW (left-center across to 1B line).
I'm really not too fond of laying $1.50 on a team like the Mariners, especially against the Yankees, but bite the bullet I will with a play on Hernandez and the M's today.
My pick: Mariners -150 at Bet365
Saturday's Game Three
By: Willie Bee
DNA testing is currently underway to find out just who that was on the mound for the Seattle Mariners against the New York Yankees on Friday night. It sure as hell wasn't Jeremy Bonderman.
Whether it was indeed Bonderman or an imposter instead, Seattle managed to level the series with the Yankees with a 4-1 victory. New York got on the board in the top of the first, and then the lineup went cold vs. Bonderman and three relievers. A pair of 2-run singles in the fourth for the Mariners provided the only other offense on the evening, and now the Mariners are a win away from taking a season series against the Yanks for the first time since 2002.
Saturday's tilt pits a pair of veteran southpaws as Andy Pettitte climbs the mound for the visitors opposite Joe Saunders for the M's. New York has the chalk line on the MLB odds board at -135 or so, and baseball bettors are also contemplating an 8 run total that is juiced to the UNDER.
Pettitte is making his second start since his first DL stint of the season. I say first because the 40-year-old is bound to be rested for some other ache or pain later on this summer. The Indians roughed him up in New York this past Monday when his outing lasted exactly as long as his start just before he went on the injured list (4.2 IP).
That assignment just before hitting the DL came against the Mariners who have now beaten Pettitte twice the last three times they have faced the old man.
Saunders is coming off a winning effort at the White Sox earlier this week to stop what had been a 3-game slide for the Mariners with him on the hill. The former Virginia Tech star has been outstanding at home this year with the M's 4-2 in his six assignments at Safeco Field where he has a 2.25 ERA and is holding opposing hitters to a .215 average.
Laz Diaz will squat behind the catcher for this game calling the balls and strikes, and brings a 7-4 O/U mark into the contest. A nice sunny afternoon is in the forecast for Seattle where temps should be in the upper-60s at first pitch (1 PM local) and climb into the mid-70s before game's end.
New York has done a good job against lefthanders this season (13-6), but I simply don't trust Pettitte right now. I'll make a small play on the home 'dogs in today's contest.
My pick: Mariners +124 at Bet365
Friday's Game Two
By: Willie Bee
One big inning was all the New York Yankees needed to get their long road trip started on a winning note Thursday at the Seattle Mariners. Now they take aim at a fifth consecutive dubya with a very distinct advantage on the mound.
The second contest of this 4-game series in the great northwest finds Hiroki Kuroda on the hill for New York as the clear favorite over Seattle's Jeremy Bonderman. MLB odds list the Yanks in the -155 to -160 range, along with a 7.5 run total that is priced to the UNDER for the second straight night.
Robinson Cano's 3-run homer ignited a 6-run third inning for New York on Thursday, and that was all Phil Hughes and his pinstriped pals from the bullpen needed in a 6-1 triumph. Mark Teixeira also went deep for the Yankees, his third since coming off the DL a week ago, and New York was able to keep pace just behind Boston in a tightly-bunched American League East.
Kuroda has certainly pitched tougher than New York's 7-5 record in his 12 assignments would suggest. The Yankees have plated just 13 runs combined in his last six starts, nine of those in the only two games they won. A 2-2 record and solid 2.70 ERA are what Kuroda has done in four tries vs. Seattle, his only appearance at Safeco a winning one last year (7 IP, 1 ER).
Perseverance, thy name is Bonderman. Give this guy some credit for sticking around and still trying to live his dream, but to say he's hoeing a tough row would be like saying President Obama's administration is under a little public scrutiny these days. His first appearance on an MLB mound in more than two years didn't go well last week vs. the Twins, who took Bonderman deep three times and scored seven before chasing him in the fifth.
Top that off with the fact New York has chewed him up over years, including Travis Hafner and Ichiro Suzuki while wearing other uniforms, and it all points to a long night for Bonderman.
The top was indeed off at Safeco Field on Thursday, and it should be again this evening with the thermometer around 70º at first pitch plus a light NW breeze (left to right). Mark Wegner is in line for plate duty, and brings a 5-game UNDER string into the contest after five of his first seven assignments finished above the total.
Disregarding the 3-game skid New York is on when Kuroda pitches, I'm going to knock off some of that chalk with a run line play on the Yankees. Don't forget to come back tomorrow when we have another preview and free picks in this series.
My pick: Yankees -1.5 (+100)
Thursday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
A trip out west won't make all of the latest news regarding Alex Rodriguez and the shady clinic down in Florida go away, but it just might be the best thing for the New York Yankees since they can at least escape some Big Apple tabloid journalists.
Check out our Thursday Morning MLB Odds & Betting Lines Report.
Joe Girardi's club makes its only visit to Seattle for a 4-game set against the Mariners, the last time the teams will face each other in 2013. It is the start of a weeklong trip to the Left Coast where the Yankees also stop in Oakland next week. Taking the mound first for the Yanks is Phil Hughes who was sent out as -125 chalk, that moneyline holding after overnight wagering.
Eric Wedge and Company counter with Aaron Harang, and SBR's live MLB odds shows a 7.5 run total that is fairly evenly split high and low.
New York hits the road as rumors swirl about possible suspensions for two of its players, Francisco Cervelli in addition to A-Rod, following new information in the Biogenesis clinic scandal. Like Rodriguez who is on the 60-dal DL rehabbing his hip injury, Cervelli is also currently out of action with a broken hand. The Yankees are trailing only Boston in the American League East race, and begin the trek following a sweep of the Cleveland Indians to rebound a bit from a 1-7 stretch that carried over from late-May into June.
Seattle took a loss Wednesday in one of the stranger extra inning games you'll ever witness. Scoreless through 13 innings, both the Mariners and White Sox plated five runs in the 14th to continue the marathon, eventually going to Chicago in the 16th, 7-5. The M's begin this long set eight games under .500 and tied with the Angels for third place in the American League West.
Mariners Seeking First Season Series Win Since '02
The Mariners escaped from the Bronx with two wins in three tries when the squads clashed about three weeks ago, and can win their first season series since 2002 if they can at least split this set. One push on the totals board in New York led to a 1-1-1 split for scoreboard watchers.
Hughes has been on the mound for four consecutive Yankees losses, a string that was kicked off by one horrible appearance vs. these Mariners in NYC. The righty couldn't even finish the top of the first having already given up seven runs. He had been pretty decent in his career against Seattle before that outing, but the recent struggles actually started one game before that May 15 assignment as Hughes is falling victim to the long ball (7 HR in last 23.2 IP).
Harang is making something of a historic start tonight with the Yankees being the last of the current 30 MLB franchises on his opposition list. He does have some history vs. Lyle Overbay (most of it bad) and Ichiro Suzuki (almost all of it good), but has never gone up against the Yanks. He pitched well enough to win last week in Minnesota, but the bullpen negated his effort which came one start after a complete-game shutout at Safeco vs. the Padres.
Pinstripes Have Prevailed Last Two Trips To Safeco
Compared to how they've manhandled some teams throughout history, New York's all-time advantage vs. Seattle is modest (225-176) even with a .561 win percentage. That record includes their three postseason matchups.
The Yankees are 109-92 over the years in Seattle, 42-27 at Safeco Field which includes the two ALCS clashes in 2000 and 2001. New York won each of its last two series in the Emerald City, and is 5-2 in the most recent seven contests on this diamond. The last five in Seattle all failed to reach the total.
I have tried on several occasions to call Safeco Field and ask about the roof being open or shut, but had no luck. The current forecast -- mid-70s at first pitch, only a 10% chance of rain & light NNW breeze (LF in) -- makes me think it will be open.
Five of the last eight at Safeco jumped the total, and that's the way I'm going to play this series opener. Don't miss my preview and free pick for the series finale in St. Louis between the Cardinals and Diamondbacks.My pick: Yankees-Mariners Over 7.5 (-110)