Tuesday's MLB Tip Sheet

Tuesday's MLB Tip Sheet

Tuesday's Tip Sheet
By Josh Jacobs

This past weekend in hardball witnessed a skimp, nine underdogs cashing in on the money line versus 21 ‘Ws’ awarded to favorites. With a full 15-game card waiting to cut the tape on Tuesday's action, it’s worth taking a look at the best opportunities to back a dog or two.

Beginning at 7:10 p.m. EDT, the New York Yankees (6-7, -394) enter the second contest of a three-game series in Tampa Bay.

The Rays (6-6, +120) have grabbed three of their last four games, most notably working for two victories against Baltimore during a weekend home stand. Although tallying up a .248 batting average so far this season, Tampa is currently ranked seventh in the Majors with 63 runs.

But what’s intriguing in Tuesday’s pairing of these two AL East rivals is who will climb on top of the dirt hill.
   
With Rays’ right-handed starter Edwin Jackson expected to make his third appearance this season, posting a 2-0 record with a rock bottom 0.64 ERA, there’s reason for optimism in the clubhouse.

It was on Apr. 5 that Jackson tossed the first gem of the season against the same club slated to step into the batter’s box, New York. In six innings of work, the fifth year starter surrendered only five hits and one earned run. His 102 pitches resulted in four strike outs and Tampa Bay was able to wrangle the Bronx Bombers by the final score of 6-3 (Tampa was installed as a $2.05 visiting underdog).

It was then on Apr. 10 that Jackson returned to duty, this time dominating a Seattle batting order left bewildered. In eight innings on the slab, Jackson recorded his best outing as a starter, tossing a two hitter which resulted in a 7-0 shutout over the Mariners (Tampa closed as a $1.21 home favorite).

This is surely not the same Edwin Jackson who closed out 2007 with five wins in 31 starts and a 5.76 ERA to boot. Jackson has either perfected his blistering fastball, adding much needed location or there’s new found movement. Personally it looks to be a combination of several factors which have netted the hurler very favorable results.

In 2007, Jackson was 1-1 in three starts against the Yanks (pitching in 15.1 innings, giving up 17 hits for 10 earned runs). It was in July of ’07 that once again had the Tampa Bay starter throwing a four-hit game, while surrendering zero runs.

The New York Yankees have been floundering at the plate. The Pinstripes are ranked 26th worst in the league with 3.31 runs per game, are 1-4 on the road versus righty pitchers and are 0-3 when trailing from the seventh inning onward.

More indication of a Yankee offense struggling to make contact is an 11-2 record on the ‘under’ this season. Breaking it down even further, New York has gone ‘under’ five times in a total of six contests played on the road.

With the team hitting for a combined .253 BA and injuries to shortstop Derek Jeter and day-to-day catcher Jose Molina (who’s hitting .364 in 33 appearances as the plate), the Bronx Bombers have been pressed to improve offensive production in only the second week of the regular season.

For backers parlaying New York to lose and cash in on the ‘under’ on the road thus far, a +890 bankroll has been the bet of choice.

If the Rays can jump on Yankees’ pitcher Andy Pettitte (1-1, 3.09 ERA) in the early stages of this contest, while utilizing team speed (13 stolen bases on the season) to continue posting runs on the scoreboard (5.25 runs per game), a Tampa pick to win upright could be a ‘dog play to look at.

Tampa Bay is batting .269 with 21 RBIs and six long balls against lefty pitchers this season.

The Rays are 7-5 on the run line, resulting in surplus of 2.08 units. Overall, Tampa Bay is 120 units up in ’08.

Most books have opened the Yankees as $1.29 road favorites, with a total sitting at nine runs.

Minnesota (6-6, +23) at Detroit (2-10, -1229) – 7:05 p.m. EDT

Being feared on paper is one thing, actually applying that thick lumber into scoring opportunities is another. For the Tigers, neither fear nor offensive production is present on the playing surface.

Detroit has not embraced home field advantage this season. The Tigers’ 0-6 record at home has translated into a money robbing -1430 units (-1229 money line on the season). The lineup is hitting .243 versus righties, while the starting pitching has amassed a 6.84 ERA with the bullpen tossing a 5.79 ERA.

Southpaw slinger Nate Robinson will make the start for the Tigers on Thursday and his 0-1 record with a 7.84 ERA isn’t what the club expected from the tail end of the rotation. In a 12-6 rout by Boston on Apr. 10, Robinson was yanked after 5.1 innings of outlandish ball. In 107 pitches, the 30-year-old left-hander was tagged for eight hits and four runs.

In support for backing Minnesota, expect lefty hitters Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Mike Lamb and hot swinging left fielder, Jason Kubel to jump on Detroit’s Robinson early on in this contest. Robinson has been lit up against southpaw hurlers, giving up a mind boggling .538 BA and a 1.418 on-base plus slugging percentage. He’s only faced 13 left-handed batters so far this season, but these sloppy numbers could be an indication of events to come.

In 95 at bats versus lefty pitchers, the Twins have made contact for a .274 BA with 10 RBIs. Catcher Mauer is hitting a .333 average with two RBIs this season versus fellow southpaws.

The Tigers are coming off a six-game road trip which witnessed the slouching club racking up only two wins. Detroit is 3-3 on the ‘over’ this season at home.

Minnesota has been installed as a $1.30 underdog, while the total is hovering around nine runs.

Milwaukee (8-4, +486) at St. Louis (9-4, +446) - 8:15 p.m. EDT

The Brewers are coming off two straight wins against the Mets this weekend. Behind starters Ben Sheets and Jeff Suppan, Milwaukee has churned out a 4-2 record on the road, while the bullpen has worked for a 2.33 ERA (on the road).

The Cardinals, in comparison, have excelled with their relievers. In the last three games (2-1 in a three-game series in San Francisco), the bullpen has combined to produce a smothering 2.62 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP. Leading the charge has been right-hander Salmon Torres (2.89 ERA with six strikeouts in a total of 9.1 innings), righty David Riske (1.23 ERA in 7.1 innings of work) and southpaw reliever Brian Shouse (1.15 WHIP in 4.1 innings this season).

But while Milwaukee has posted some impressive bullpen numbers at home, it’s been a different story on the road. The Brewers’ relievers have combined to chalk up a 4.21 ERA overall (a 1.88 difference from the home ERA). Some contributors to the inflated ERA include Dave Bush, Eric Gagne and Manny Para.

St. Louis has done a bang up job inside its own stadium. With a 5-1 home record, the Cards have cut the cover on the ball for a .272 BA, while driving in 24 RBIs. St. Louis is 5-1 when leading in the seventh inning and is 5-0 when leading in the ninth.

Milwaukee is 2-7 in its last nine head-to-head meetings against the Cards.

The odds against the Brewers to take the first-game of the series is a long shot, coupled with the troubles that starter David Bush has had this season. Bush is 0-2 in 10.2 innings pitched. His first outing of the season resulted in a defeat against the Cubs, a game where Bush surrendered six hits, six runs and five base on balls.

Most books have installed the home town Brewers as $1.20 favorites.

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Re: Tuesday's MLB Tip Sheet

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Cincinnati (6-7) at Chicago Cubs (7-5)


Two N.L. Central foes renew their rivalry for the first time in 2008, as the Reds send ace Aaron Harang (1-1, 2.14 ERA) to the hill to battle the Cubs’ Ryan Dempster (1-0, 0.69).

Cincinnati took Monday off after getting swept over the weekend in Pittsburgh, losing a pair of one-run games on Friday and Saturday, then getting blasted 9-1 on Sunday. The Reds are 2-4 on the road this year. Also, they’re in funks of 2-6 on the road (2-4 this year) and 2-6 as a favorite.

The Cubs capped a 4-2 road trip with Sunday’s 6-5, 10-inning victory in Philadelphia. Going back to April 5, Chicago is on a 6-2 roll.

These teams split their 18-game season series last year, though the Cubs did win three of the last four. Also, the road team went 7-4 in their final 11 battles of 2007.

The Reds improved to 16-5 in Harang’s last 21 road starts and 20-6 in Harang’s last 26 as a road underdog when the hard-throwing right-hander dominated the Brewers in Thursday’s 4-1 victory in Milwaukee. Harang, who gave up just a run on five hits with no walks and three strikeouts against the Brewers has surrendered just five earned runs in three starts spanning 21 innings.

Harang is 8-3 with a 4.44 ERA in 15 career starts against Chicago, including 4-0 with a 4.65 ERA in eight outings at Wrigley Field. Last year, he faced the Cubs six times, going 3-2 with a 4.76 ERA. One more positive for the Reds: They’re 5-0 in Harang’s last five starts at Wrigley.

Dempster has made a very successful transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation thus far, yielding just two runs (one earned) on four hits and four walks with 10 strikeouts in two starts spanning 13 innings. One Wednesday in Pittsburgh, Dempster threw seven shutout innings and gave up just a single hit and two walks, with the Cubs needing 14 innings to pull out a 6-4 victory. In his one home start this season, Dempster held the Brewers to two runs (one earned) on three hits in six innings, winning 6-3.

Dempster is 3-3 with a 5.00 ERA and five saves in 31 appearances (seven starts) against the Reds. He hasn’t started against Cincy since 2005 when with the Marlins.

The under is 6-1 in Harang’s last seven starts overall. Also, the under is 4-1 in the last five series meetings and 5-2 in the Reds’ last seven overall. However, the over is 4-2 in Chicago’s last six overall.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Boston (8-6) at Cleveland (5-8)


One night after watching closer Joe Borowski implode in a tough loss to Boston, the Indians will try to bounce back when they send Paul Byrd (0-2, 11.05) to the mound opposite knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (1-1, 3.27) in battle of grizzled veterans.

Borowski blew a 4-3 ninth-inning lead on Monday night, giving up four hits and three runs in just 2/3 of an inning to lose 6-4. Cleveland has lost eight of its last 11, including four of the last five overall and four of five at home. Meanwhile, Boston is now in the midst of its first three-game winning streak of the season.

The Red Sox are now 10-5 against the Tribe since the start of last season, including four straight wins going back to Game 5 of last year’s American League Championship Series. Going back even further, Boston is 12-5 in its last 17 games in Cleveland.

Byrd got pummeled in Thursday afternoon’s 9-5 loss at the Angels, giving up six runs on five hits (three earned runs) over just three innings. The right-hander, whose first two starts have come on the road, returns to Progressive Field, where he went 8-4 last year despite a beefy 5.68 ERA.

Byrd is 4-2 with a 4.12 ERA in seven career outings against the Red Sox, Last year, he faced them twice, giving up two runs (one earned) in six innings in an 8-4 road win in May, then allowing two runs on six hits in five innings in a 7-3 playoff victory in mid-October. Cleveland is 3-1 in his four starts against Boston the last two years (2-0 at home).

Wakefield wobbled a bit in Thursday’s home start against Detroit, yielding three hits and five walks over five innings, but he surrendered just two runs (one earned) and recorded a 12-6 victory.

Wakefield is 9-8 with a 4.50 ERA In 23 games (18 starts) against the Indians, including 5-4 with a 4.64 ERA In 11 appearances (10 starts) in Cleveland. However, last year Wakefield faced the Indians (once in the regular season, once in the playoffs), and went 0-2 with a 6.97 ERA.

The over is 6-1-2 in Byrd’s last nine starts overall, 7-1-1 in his last nine at home, 3-0-1 in his last four against Boston and 5-2-2 in Wakefield’s last nine overall. Furthermore, including last night’s high-scoring affair, the over is 6-1-2 in the last nine series meetings.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER

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