FRIDAY SERVICE PLAYS
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Black Widow Sports
Detroit Tigers vs. Seattle Mariners
1* on Seattle Mariners -138
Detroit is 21-34 (-18.1 Units) against the money line vs. an AL starting pitcher whose WHIP is 1.300 to 1.400 over the last 3 seasons. That’s what the Tigers are facing in Erik Bedard of the Mariners tonight. Bedard is undefeated in his last 3 starts with a 1.84 ERA. Bedard has been brilliant at home, posing a 3-2 record and a 2.30 ERA in seven home starts. Bedard is 10-1 (+9.9 Units) against the money line in July games over the last 3 seasons. Bedard is clearly at his best at this time of year and we’ll back him tonight in a home win over the Tigers. Take Seattle on the Money Line.
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Oakland Athletics vs. Chicago White Sox
3* on Chicago White Sox -154
The White Sox finally ended their winning streak last night in a one-run loss to the A’s, but they’ll get a new streak started Friday. Play Against - All underdogs with a money line of +125 to +175 (OAKLAND) - poor AL hitting team (AVG <=.260) against a team with a good bullpen (ERA <=3.75), playing on Friday. This is a 42-8 ML System hitting 84% over the last 5 seasons. Play On - All favorites with a money line of -110 or higher (CHI WHITE SOX) - below average hitting team (AVG <=.265) against an average starting pitcher (ERA=4.70 to 5.70) -AL, with a hot starting pitcher- WHIP <= 1.000 over his last 3 starts. This is a 40-12 ML System hitting 76.9% over the last 5 seasons in favor of the Sox. Bet Chicago at home.
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Scott Spreitzer's **GRAND SLAM GAME OF THE YEAR!** (7-2, 78% Run!)
I'm laying the price with the White Sox on Friday night. Chicago had their win streak snapped last night, but are in prime position to begin a new one on the 4th. First of all, Mark Buehrle will be shooting for his 5th straight win. He's been practically untouchable in eight of his last nine starts. In fact, take out the anomaly on May 27, and you'll find that the veteran lefty has allowed just 10 earned runs and 46 hits in the eight strong starts, spanning 58 2/3 innings. That's a nasty 1.53 ERA to go along with a 1.04 WHIP. Buehrle has made seven home night starts in '08, and he's sporting a sparkling 2.96 ERA! I expect great numbers once again, facing an Oakland lineup that's averaged just 3.2 runs per game in six road night tries against southpaws. Overall, the A's are 3-9 in 12 road tilts against lefthanders, scoring an anemic, 2.50 runs per game. That won't be enough to cover Joe Blanton. The Oakland righty has a hefty 6.75 road ERA this season with a BAA approaching .300! He's even worse when those road games are under the lights. In four road night games this season, Blanton has been tagged for a 7.99 ERA! He'll be a sitting duck for a White Sox squad that's 18-7 at home against righthanders, scoring 6.48 runs per game. Game one went to the A's...but game two goes to the "Southsiders" in blowout fashion. My AL Grand Slam GOY is a play on the White Sox on Friday.
Scott Spreitzer's 25* MLB AFTERNOON ANNIHILATOR! (80% run with 25* plays)
I'm laying the short price with the Mariners on Friday. Let's toss out a couple of misleading stats right off the bat. First of all, Rogers looks better on paper in his most recent starts than he did when he began the season. While that's true in general, Rogers has been horrible in road day action in 2008. The Tigers have dropped all four of those starts and Rogers has been tapped for an 8.85 ERA. He's lasting less than five innings per road day start and the veteran lefty has allowed an average of 19.6 hits/walks per nine innings pitched. The second misleading stat is the Tigers' offensive numbers against lefties. While they own great stats overall, they're scoring a flat 4 runs per game when those outings have been daytime road tilts. Erik Bedard counters for the home team. He's pitched well, allowing two earned runs or less in five of his last six starts. Bedard owns a 2.30 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and .217 BAA in seven starts at SAFECO this season. Finally, while Rogers struggles dramatically in this situation (as mentioned above) Bedard has fared quite well. In three afternoon outings this season, Bedard owns a fantastic 1.72 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and .154 BAA! Combined with Seattle's 6.3 runs per game average against lefties in home day action and we have a great spot for the short fave. My Afternoon Annihilator is a play on Seattle.
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Larry Ness' Rivalry Showdown (Cubs/Cards)
My Rivalry Showdown is on the StL Cards at 8:15 ET. The Cubs and Cards own one of MLB's best rivalries and this is an important three-game series, as the Cubs wrap-up a 10-game road trip. Chicago lost 8-3 yesterday in San Francisco, failing to win another road series. After splitting the four-game series with the Giants (who own MLB's worst home record), the Cubs are 2-5 on their current trip, 18-25 on the road this year and have been able to win just THREE of 14 road series in '08. Carlos Zambrano will take the mound, making his first appearance since June 18. He's been on the DL with a right shoulder sprain and manager Lou Piniella is hoping for 85 to 90 pitches from his ace. "If he does well he can pitch six innings for us," Piniella said. Zambrano is 8-3 with a 3.13 ERA on the season in 16 starts (team is 10-6) but was 0-2 with a 5.75 ERA in the three starts prior to him going on the DL. His home ERA is 2.40 this year but his road ERA is 4.08, as in his last two road starts he allowed 13 hits and seven ERs in 6.2 innings in LA vs the Dodgers and seven hits and four ERs in 6.2 innings at Tampa vs the Rays. At 49-38, the Cards have been a big surprise this year but by now it's obvious, St Louis is a pretty good club. Braden Looper gets the start and the converted reliever owns a 2.49 ERA over his last four outings (team is 3-1) and is 9-5 on the year (4.26 ERA). This is his first start vs the Cubs in '08 but last year (in his first season as a starter), he faced the Cubbies four times, allowing only five ERs in 27 innings for a 1.67 ERA. Who knows what to expect from Zambrano but we know the Cubs are a far different team away from Wrigley. While they are 24-7 vs right-handers in the "friendly confines" (averaging 5.5 RPG), they are just 10-18 on the road vs righties, scoring almost two runs per game less (3.7). Looper handled this lineup last year and will do so again here. Rivalry Showdown on the StL Cardinals.
Larry Ness' 15* AL Game of the Week (45-32 with GOW plays since Opening Day)
My 15* play is on the Chi White Sox at 7:05 ET. Javier Vazquez threw a complete game last night, allowing just four hits while striking out 10. However, two of the hits were HRs and the three runs he allowed were enough to end Chicago's seven-game winning streak (nine straight home wins), as Oakland's Justin Duchscherer (MLB's ERA leader) and two relievers held the White Sox to two runs. Don't expect a similar result tonight. The White Sox have won 18 of their last 21 home games and tonight will not be facing Duchscherer, but rather the struggling Joe Blanton. Blanton comes in with a 4-11 mark (4.97 ERA), after going 1-5 with a 7.49 ERA in his last six starts. He's been MLB's biggest loser at home (he's 2-8 and the A's are 3-10 in his 13 home starts) but note that his home ERA is 4.32, compared to his road ERA of 6.75! The White Sox will start lefty Mark Buehrle. Buehrle won 81 games for Chicago in the five-year span of 2001-05 (team won World series in '05) but the last two season has gone just 22-22. He opened the '08 season struggling as well with a 5.81 ERA over his first eight starts (he was 1-5 and the team 2-6). However, in mid-May Buehrle regained his form and over his last nine starts is 5-1 with a 2.28 ERA (team is 6-3). He's been nearly unhittable in his last five outings, going 4-0 (team is 4-1) while allowing only five ERs over 39 innings (1.15 ERA!). The clincher in this game is that the A's have really struggled vs lefties on the road this year, going 3-9 while averaging a pathetic 2.5 RPG. By the way, the White Sox are 18-7 at home vs right-handers. AL Game of the Week 15* Chi White Sox.
Larry Ness' Las Vegas Insider-MLB (18-12 with MLB Insiders since May 26)
My Las Vegas Insider is on the Min Twins at 7:10 ET. The Indians won 96 games last year and were one win away from a World Series appearance (led Boston 3-1 in the ALCS but lost three straight games). The '08 Indians look NOTHING like last year's team. They open this three-game series with the Twins on a five-game losing streak and in last-place in the AL Central (37-48), 12 games behind the White Sox. The Indians own the AL's worst road record (15-26) and even trail the Royals (who won 69 games in '07) by 1 1/2-games! Paul Byrd takes the mound for Cleveland tonight and one could point to his 10-4 career mark against the Twins, as a reason the Indians are in good shape for this game. I'll even add that he's 6-1 with a 2.03 ERA in 10 starts at the Metrodome against the Twins. However, I'm filing all those things under "old news!" Byrd lasted just three innings vs the Twins in Cleveland on June 11, allowing six runs (five ERs) in an 8-5 loss (his shortest career outing versus Minnesota). That began a four-game slide for him in which he's allowed 28 hits and 18 ERs over 20 innings, for an 8.10 ERA. He's 3-9 with a 5.26 ERA in 16 starts this year (team is 4-12) and that includes a 1-7 mark with a 6.89 ERA in his nine road starts (team is 1-8). It also doesn't help Cleveland's outlook to point out that the team's bullpen owns the second-worst ERA in MLB in '08 at 4.85 and is 0-2 with one blown save (5.52 ERA) during the Indians' current five-game losing streak. Byrd and the Cleveland bullpen will face the red-hot Twins tonight, a team which has gone 15-3 over its last 18 games, averaging 5.94 RPG. The Twins are 31-16 at home in '08, averaging 4.83 RPG. Livan Hernandez gets the start for Minnesota. He opened his first-ever AL season pitching very well, allowing three ERs or less in seven of his first 10 starts in '08 (team went 8-2). However, he's allowed four ERs or more in six of his last eight outings. That being said, he's facing the Indians here, a team which is hitting an AL-low .247(also remember that AL-worst 15-26 road record). Hernandez owns a 4.00 ERA in 10 home starts and that's been good enough for the Twins to go 8-2 in those starts. Las Vegas Insider on the Min Twins.
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BIG AL's 4TH OF JULY UNDERDOG ANNIHILATOR!
At 4:10pm our selection is on the Detroit Tigers over the Seattle Mariners. Here is a battle of lefthanders that should be very interesting. 40+ year-old Kenny Rogers will take the mound for the Tigers to face the pitcher that many consider to be the best southpaw in the AL, Erik Bedard. Despite his very good individual numbers, Bedard has had a rough campaign with the Mariners so far (his first with this team) as he has battled injuries and inconsistencies throughout the first half. He also went from playing for a team with a some half-decent run scoring capabilites (the Orioles) to the worst offensive squad in the American League if not the Majors. Kenny Rogers has been just the opposite of Bedard. While his overall numbers are anything but spectacular, Rogers has been one of the most durable and consistent performers for his team so far in 2008. He has seventeen starts already for Detroit, and he has quality starts in six of his last seven trips to the mound. Detroit may be an underdog in this game, but you'd never know it looking at its record vs. Seattle recently. With their win on Thursday, the Tigers are now 8-2 in the last ten games vs. this Seattle squad, and they're also 16-5 vs. lefty starters this season. Take Detroit.
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Oakland Athletics @ Chicago White Sox
PICK: Chicago White Sox
Big hitting mismatch in this one as the A's have struggled mightily on the road vs left-handed starters. Oakland manages just 3.09 runs per game in this scenario. Chicago on the other hand has raked at home vs righties. They average a robust 6.55 runs per game here vs right-handed starters.
Oakland will send struggling righty Joe Blanton to the hill. The A's are just 5-13 when he has started in 2008. In his last eight starts Blanton has allowed 35 earned runs in just 45.2 innings of work. He has a 6.75 ERA on the road this season.
Chicago counters with veteran lefty Mark Buehrle who is on fire as of late. In his last nine starts eight have been quality starts. Over his last five outings he has allowed five earned runs in 39 innings of work. He is going deep in these games giving the Chicago bullpen a well deserved rest.
The White Sox had their seven game winning streak broken yesterday, but they start a new one tonight.
PLAY CHICAGO WHITE SOX
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Cleveland Indians vs. Minnesota
Play: Minnesota Twins
The Cleveland Indians hope to right the ship tonight as they begin a three game weekend set versus the Minnesota Twins. The Indians are in the midst of a very disappointing season as they sit in last place a full 12 games in back of the front running Chicago White Sox. They currently have lost five in a row and 8 of their last 10 posting only a 37-48 mark.
Tonight they will send veteran right-hander, Paul Byrd, to the hill in an effort to get back on the winning track. However, it looks to be a tall order as Byrd himself is having a horrible season going only 3-9 overall including a horrendous 1-7 mark on the road with an astronomical 6.89 ERA. He has had success versus the Twins in his career posting an impressive 10-4 record.
The Minnesota Twins come into this game off of a two game winning streak and have won 10 of their last 12 overall to put them into the thick of things in the AL Central. Their recent success has put them only 2 games in back of the White Sox with a 47-38 mark. Over their winning streaks the Twins have torn the cover off the ball posting a .329 team batting average.
Tonight they too will send a veteran to the hill in Livian Hernandez who has been tough at home posting a 6-1 record. He has been very tough over his last three starts going 2-1 with a very good 2.57 ERA.
SUPPORTING TRENDS: CLEVELAND is 4-17 (-17.6 Units) against the money line after a loss by 2 runs or less this season. MINNESOTA is 6-0 (+7.4 Units) against the money line with an on base percentage of .393 or better over their last 3 games this season. MINNESOTA is 12-5 (+8.8 Units) against the money line after allowing 1 run or less this season.
You have a very hot team in Minnesota, at home, taking on a Cleveland team that is struggling and is listed as a very reasonable favorite. I'm taking Minnesota in this one.