WEDNESDAY SERVICE PLAYS

WEDNESDAY SERVICE PLAYS

STU FINER

Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees

Don’t look at the names of the starting pitches.  Look at there numbers and look at what they have done for their respective teams.  Edwin Jackson comes in with a big upside there is no doubt about that, but he hasn’t found his groove yet.  He still walks too many hitters and doesn’t go deep in to games.  On the season Edwin is the only starting pitcher under .500 for the Tampa Bay Rays.  He has won only two games while pitching on the road this season.  It is not as if this guy is just having a tough couple of months.  His ERA in 2006 was 5.45.  In 2007 he was 5-15 for these same Rays.  He had an ERA of 5.76.  He isn’t exactly winning the CY Young award with those numbers.

Ponson this season is pitching as well as he has in five years.  Sure you may not like him, sure teams may grow tired of him but he still is effective.  For the season he is 5-1.  That includes an undefeated mark at home.  He pitched a big game already for the Yankees.  In a Subway Series game he went out there and battled and put up zeros.  This guy isn’t pretty but he fins ways to win.  Even on the Rangers earlier this season he had an ERA in the three’s and he had a winning mark (4-1).  The Yankees will win the final game of this mini two game set.

New York Yankees (-)


Minnesota Twins at Boston Red Sox

Two top level teams square off tonight.  Trust us though this is a miss-match.  The line is sky high and it should be.  There isn’t a chance Josh Beckett and the Red Sox lose this game.  There is no starter in baseball that is better in a big game.  Josh has been stellar once again this season.  Last season he finished up with 20 wins and should have been the CY Young award winner.  This season his numbers ERA isn’t the same but that is just a few un-lucky bounces.  He has thrown 107 innings and allowed just 97 hits on the season.  You want to talk about his location or his walk total?  Try 105 strikeouts to 22 walks.  A staggering five to one ratio is not something you find often.

Josh is 4-1 in Fenway this season.  He pitches to the situations.  Josh is about one thing, about winning.  If the Sox are up 10-1 he doesn’t mind giving up a few runs, he just will not allow teams to rally.  He has an ERA of 4.32 at home but so what?  He has lost just one game, does it matter what his earned run average is?  Trust us when Josh needs a big out he gets it.

Boston is the best home team in all of baseball.  It doesn’t matter what happened last night.  Sure they came back and won but tonight it won't even be close.  They win games 10-9 and they can win ball games 1-0.  Either way you better believe the Red Sox come out on top.

Boston Red Sox (-)


Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers

It is sad to say it but the Indians are a dead team.  This team was just one win away from being in the World Series a year ago.  In fact they were up a few games against the Red Sox in that series.  They ran in to Josh Beckett and the Sox and haven’t recovered since.  Would you believe the fact that this team is 37-52 on the season?  That includes 30 losses on the road.  They have 30 road losses and they haven’t the all-star break.  They have been not just their fans but all the “investors” out there.  It is time to jump ship and stay off the boat.

The Tigers on the other hand are picking up steam.  Don’t forget this team was just 2-10 to start the 2008 baseball season.  Did the Tigers panic?  Did their manger panic?  Did they make any trades?  No their manager, general manager and players knew they would bounce back and they have.  Their offense is clicking on all cylinders.

This team is still killing the ball without one of their best players.  Going through a line-up with: Granderson, Polanco, Guillen and Cabrera is no easy task.  Look for the Tigers to put up more runs then they did last evening.

Detroit Tigers (-)


Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays

Look for Toronto to have a much better game here tonight at home.  A.J. has been on roll for a long time.  Sure he had a few clunkers in there.  The problem for A.J. is the fact that he gets hit very hard when he is not on.  He will be on against a weak team tonight.  Just two starts ago he threw an absolute gem.  Seven innings of four hit ball and no runs.  Even more impressive was the fact he struck out 11 batters.

At home A.J. sports a 5-3 mark.  His ERA is high but as we said earlier that is due to a few rough starts.  Garett Olson on the other hand hasn’t succeeded away from Camden.   On the road he has an ERA of 5.75 he also is just 3-3.  He averages just five innings per start and that taxes the bull-pen.  It is too tough to go out there and attempt to get six or nine or twelve outs against a team.  The Jays are up and down but they still have the talent to win, especially in their building.

Toronto Blue Jays (-)


LA Angels at Texas Rangers

How impressive are the Angels on the road this season?  There isn’t even a team close to their stature on the road.  They are a good team at home, as they are 26-20 but that doesn’t compare to the damage they have done on the road.  The Angels will not blow you away.  Their offensive is below average, they don’t hit a ton of home-runs and they don’t steal a ton of bases.  They just know how to win.

They have the best manager in all of baseball.  They are able to play this season in and out.  They also have a fantastic bull-pen led by one of the best closers in all of baseball.  Before we get to Rodriguez we have to take a look at a few other key parts.  Jose Arredondo has done a fantastic job coming out of the bullpen.  He has appeared in 18 games and allowed a grand total of three runs.  Scott Shields has been his usual self.  This guy has four wins out of the bullpen and an ERA of 2.57.

Then we finally get to the man to K-Rod.  This guy has a shot to break the all-time saves record.  He already has saved 35 games on the season!  38 innings for K-Rod, 23 hits and 36 strike-outs.  Scary numbers for a guy who has appeared in 41 games.  Bobby Thigpen has to watch out.  Weaver and the Angels will show why they are the best road team in baseball.

LA Angels (-)


Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals

The Royals continue to get no respect on the season.  People look at their record and think oh this team isn’t capable of beating good baseball teams, well don’t make the same mistake that so many people have already this season.  This is a team that just a week ago beat the Diamondbacks two of three in Arizona and followed that up with a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Royals are the definition of scrappy.  The only difference this year is the fact they actually have a few talented players.

The Royals have five players that have eighty hits on the season.  They are led by their slugger and All-Star Jose Guillen.  Jose has stepped up in a big way for the Royals.  He is hitting right near .300 and already has 64 RBI with 13 home-runs.  Their offense doesn’t end there though folks.  DeJesus is hitting .316, Grudzielanek hits .313 and the list goes on and on.  Behind Brian Bannister at home the Royals are more than capable.  Taking them tonight will prove to be the right play.

Kansas City Royals (+)


Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athletics

You may look at this pitching match-up and think it is even.  You take a look at Miguel Batista and see he is just 4-10 on the season with a high ERA.  You then take a look at Joe Blanton and see he is just 5-11 with a high ERA.  Don’t fall in to that trap though.  Listen we aren’t here to tell you Joe Blanton has been pitching like an ace.  He has been disappointing but he is better than his numbers indicate.  Even his ERA which isn’t good isn’t terrible.

Joe also has been hit very hard on the road.  He has an ERA that is 5.73 on the road.  He also has allowed six long balls and over a hit per inning.  He has been better at home.  He has logged 83.1 innings and has an ERA of just 4.32.  No matter how we slice it we know that his numbers won’t blow you away, but if you know Joe you know he is capable of a big game.  He has won twelve or more games for three straight seasons.  Last season he won 14 games with an ERA under 4.00.  The guy still knows how to pitch and now will have to step up with Rich Harden gone.

Oakland Athletics (-)


National League   

Florida Marlins at San Diego Padres

We have two pitchers heading in opposite directions tonight.  Scott Olsen has been getting hit very hard.  In his last three starts he has allowed thirteen runs.  His last start was especially terrible.  We know it was in Colorado but he didn’t even compete.  This was a game he had a nine run lead in folks.  We don’t care what ball-park you pitch in you have to protect that lead.  Five innings last start, eleven hits, nine runs, eight earned runs, just three strikeouts and three home-runs.   Those numbers are putrid.  Scott’s ERA is up to 3.96.  Not only that but he has won just four games all season.  In 18 starts four wins, this guy is not a guy that battles, make no mistake about that.  There is a reason why he has one road win, one road win all season!

Cha Seung Baek is the complete polar opposite.  Baek was fabulous in his last start.  On the road he went in against the Diamondbacks and threw six innings of two hit ball.  Not only did he allow just two hits, but he walked one batter and struck out seven.  In Baek’s last seventeen innings he has 19 k’s.  That really shows us that his stuff is coming around.  We all know how much up-side and how he is an A-level prospect, maybe this is the time he puts it all together.  At home against a free-swinging line-up we will take our chances.

San Diego Padres (-)


St. Louis Cardinals at Philadelphia Phillies

Look for the Phillies to bounce back tomorrow night.  Their bats were just silenced last night.  Just two nights ago they were down 10-1 to the Mets and actually got the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning.  They were down 10-9 with a man on second.  Last night they were just shut down by a pitcher on his game.  Tonight the Phils don’t have to worry about that.

Mitchell Boggs goes tonight for the Cardinals.  Don’t be fooled and look at his record.  He is 3-1 but that is a mirage and that won’t be the trend.  Why is that the case you ask?  Well he gets hit hard and he walks batters, on top of that he doesn’t go deep in to ball games.  Mitchell has thrown 28.2 innings in his five starts.  He has allowed 32 hits and already walked 15 batters.  Against a top notch line-up in this ball park those numbers won’t cut it.

J.A. Happ goes for the Phillies.  He threw very well in his first and only big league start.  He is a lefty that moves the ball in and out.  Happ will do enough for the Phillies to win.  Look for Philadelphia to get back on track.

Philadelphia Phillies (-)


Houston Astros at Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates are so good in their building. In fact they don’t get nearly enough credit for being that force at home. It isn’t just their record, which is very good. They have a record of 26-19 at home, beyond that though they have just played well there. They hit over .260 with power. They also pitch exceptionally well.

They have a team ERA of just 4.04 at home, in comparison look at the Astros, they have an ERA over 4.30. The Pirates hit .263 at home. The Astros hit .240 on the road. These numbers may not seem that different but they are huge folks. Overall there difference is clear, the Pirates are the better team in their building.

Pittsburgh Pirates (-)


Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals

John Lannan doesn’t get enough credit. Sure we know that his record isn’t great, there is no denying that. Lannan is just 4-9 on the season. Has he deserved better or what though? John has an ERA that ranks in the top 20 of all National League starters. You want to see how tough a pitcher is? Just take a look at their road numbers. We know John is home but this shows a lot.

John is 3-4 on the road. You may look at that and dismiss it, but don’t.  Remember he plays for a last place team. Not only does he have three wins on the road but he shuts down teams. He has an ERA of 2.53 and has allowed just four home-runs. 64 road innings and just 60 hits allowed. John overall has almost a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio. He will be able to get the free-swinging Diamondbacks here tonight.

Washington Nationals (-)


San Francisco Giants at New York Mets

It is time for Johan Santana to get it going. Johan hasn’t been bad folks he has been terribly un-lucky. How many pitchers can go out there and throw 21 innings, allowing three total runs and not win any games?

Last start for Johan he threw eight innings and allowed two runs. The start before he threw six innings and allowed three runs. The start before that Johan threw seven innings and allowed one earned run. Are you starting to get the drift? In Johan’s last nine starts he hasn’t given up more than four earned runs in any of them. Johan is just 7-7 on the season, but he is top ten in the league in ERA and is a guy that knows how to win. Three wins at home with a sub 3.00 ERA. Don’t think Johan has forgot how to win, or forgot how to pitch. The Mets have won four straight, he won’t get in that way.

New York Mets (-)


Colorado Rockies at Milwaukee Brewers

Another high line game here in Milwaukee. Another game that you jump all over the favorite. Sure the line is high but did you expect anything else? The Brewers are now going for it all here in the 2008 season. Fresh off their trade for C.C. Sabathia the Brew Crew send their “other” ace to the hill.

Ben Sheets has been their horse all season. He just continues to get better and better and better. So far this season he already has ten wins. Even more impressive is the Brewers record in his seventeen starts. Would you believe Milwaukee is 12-5 in his seventeen starts? Incredible numbers as they win almost 70% of his games.

It isn’t just about Sheets here tonight either. Milwaukee’s bats have been lighting it up. Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Corey Hart and company are putting up some massive totals. Did anyone see the ball Braun hit in the first inning last night? He may be one of the best hitters in all of baseball. Milwaukee is going for it. They know every game matters. They will get it done again here tonight.

Milwaukee Brewers (-)


Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs

Is this NL Central shaping up to be a fantastic race? Is this now the great arms race of 2008 or what? Just when the Brewers make a splash the Cubs make just as big of one. C.C. Sabathia heads over to the Brewers for a few top prospects and then within 48 hours the Cubs get Rich Harden. Rich Harden may not have the same name recognition but when healthy there may not be a better pitcher.

One guy who is on that level is Carlos Zambrano. Big Z is back off the DL and rearing to go. He sure didn’t miss a beat in his last start. Carlos missed three weeks but came back nasty as ever. Six innings, four hits, no runs with five strikeouts.

There may not be a more determined pitcher at home than Carlos. He is 4-0 at home this season with an ERA of 2.40. Not too shabby on the road either with a 5-3 mark. The bottom line is Zambrano wins any where, any time against any one. Here against the Reds he will do just that. He shut them out in his last start against them, the same thing looks likely tonight.

Chicago Cubs (-)


Atlanta Braves at LA Dodgers

When you can give us Tim Hudson at the price you better believe we are going to be on it. Tim’s name doesn’t come up with the other “big boys” of the National League but it should. This season he is 9-6 with an ERA of just 3.19. His control has been better than ever this season. That has really allowed him to work deeper in games and pick up more victories.

19 starts for Tim on the season and he already has logged 120 plus innings. In those 121 innings he has walked just 36 batters. You may say well he must allow a ton of hits, not so fast. 121.1 innings and just 109 hits. Tim has had a few wins stolen from him by his spotty bullpen. He knows when he has to go deep in to ball games to have a chance at a victory. Take for example his last start. Tim went back out there for the seventh and ended up allowing just one earned run and four hits in his seven innings. Against a line-up that still struggles to score runs, look for the Braves to claim this road victory.

Atlanta Braves (+)

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SPORTS ADVISORS

NATIONAL LEAGUE

St. Louis (51-40) at Philadelphia (48-43)

The struggling Phillies send left-hander J.A. Happ (0-0, 3.86 ERA) out for just his third career start in the middle game of a three-game series against the Cardinals. Philadelphia dropped its fourth in a row in Tuesday’s series opener, losing 2-0. The Phillies are now 7-15 in their last 22 outings overall, 1-9 in their last 10 at home and 2-8 in their last 10 against winning teams.

The Cardinals will trot out left-hander Mark Mulder (0-0, 13.50), who will make his first start since last September as he comes back from two shoulder operations. With Tuesday’s win, St. Louis improved to 10-5 in its last 15 on the highway, 24-11 in its last 35 against winning teams and 12-4 in its last 16 versus the N.L. East.

St. Louis leads the season series 3-1, the lone defeat being a 20-2 home shellacking. The visitor is now 13-6 in the last 19 series clashes going back to 2006, while the Phillies remain 10-6 in the last 16 head-to-head matchups.

Happ made his first start of the year on Friday, getting a no-decision after allowing two runs on three hits in 4 2/3 innings as Philadelphia beat Johan Santana and the Mets 3-2 at home. The 25-year-old, whose only other big-league start came in 2007 against the Mets, was called up from Triple-A last week and will face the Cardinals for the first time in his career.

Mulder, meanwhile, is hoping to get his career back on track. He pitched only three games last season, all in September, and he went 0-3 with a whopping 12.27 ERA. Since coming off the disabled list, he’s had two relief stints totaling 1 1/3 innings. On Thursday against the Mets, he allowed two runs on two hits in just one-third of an inning to blow a 5-4 lead, but St. Louis came back for an 8-7 home win.

Mulder is 0-3 with a 5.21 ERA in three career starts against Philadelphia, though he hasn’t faced the Phillies since his first start of 2006. In that April outing, he got a no-decision, allowing three runs on seven hits in seven innings in a 4-3 St. Louis road win.

With last night’s 2-0 final, the under is now 23-10 in the Phillies’ last 33 games overall. However, in this rivalry, the over remains on a 7-3 tear and is 11-3-2 in the last 16 meetings at Citizens Bank Park.

ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE


Atlanta (43-48) at L.A. Dodgers (44-46)

Right-hander Derek Lowe (6-8, 4.02 ERA) will toe the slab for the Dodgers in the rubber match of a three-game home set against the Braves. Los Angeles, which nearly got a perfect game from Hiroki Kuroda in a 3-0 series-opening win Monday, came back Tuesday and got slaughtered 9-3. Still, Joe Torre’s troops are still on hot streaks of 6-2 overall, 52-24 at home against losing teams and 14-3 with Lowe facing losing teams at Dodger Stadium.

The Braves, who will counter with right-hander Tim Hudson (9-6, 3.19 ERA), remain on a 3-7 slide, though they have alternated wins and losses in their last four. Tuesday’s victory aside, Atlanta is in funks of 17-36 on the road and 2-6 in Hudson’s last eight starts. On the bright side, they are 17-5 in their past 22 behind Hudson against the N.L. West.

This is the second series this season between these teams, with Atlanta having swept a three-game home set in April. The Braves are 6-1 in the last seven clashes and 5-1 with Hudson on the hill against the Dodgers.

Lowe has been up and down over his last seven starts, going 4-3, but he has given up three earned runs or fewer in seven of his last nine outings. One exception came on Friday at San Francisco, as he allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits in five innings, but still got the win as L.A. rallied for a 10-7 victory.

Hudson is 2-3 with three no-decisions (all Braves losses) in his last eight starts, though he was solid in Friday’s 6-2 home victory over Houston, yielding just one run on four hits in seven innings. However, he’s given up six earned runs in each of his last two road games and didn’t make it past the fifth inning in either contest, losing 7-5 at Texas and 9-5 at Toronto.

Lowe is 4-4 with a 3.26 ERA in nine home starts this year, and he’s 2-4 with a 3.88 ERA in 16 career appearances (nine starts) against the Braves. In the April series at Atlanta, he was dealt a 6-1 loss, allowing five runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. Hudson, meanwhile, is 2-5 with a 4.34 ERA in 10 road starts this season, but he’s 5-1 with a 4.07 ERA in nine career starts versus the Dodgers (none this season).

For L.A., the under is on streaks of 12-4 overall, 19-8 at home, 4-1 behind Lowe and 12-3 with Lowe going in the third game of a series. For Atlanta, the under runs include 4-2 overall, 37-15-1 on the road, 12-5 against the N.L. West, 7-2 in Game 3 of a series, 9-3-1 with Hudson hurling on the road and 9-4-1 in Hudson’s last 14 starts overall. Finally, the under is 4-1 in this year’s season series, with the lone “over” coming Tuesday night.

ATS ADVANTAGE: L.A. DODGERS and UNDER


AMERICAN LEAGUE

L.A. Angels (54-36) at Texas (47-44)

The road-warrior Angels will trot out right-hander Jered Weaver (8-8, 4.17 ERA) for Game 3 of a four-game series against the Rangers at the Ballpark in Arlington. Los Angeles opened the series with a 9-6 win Monday night, but came out on a the short end of a 3-2 final Tuesday. The Angels are still 5-2 in their last seven games, and they continue to own baseball’s best road mark at 28-16, including 12-5 in their last 17. They’re also 7-3 in Weaver’s last 10 outings.

The Rangers have won three of their last four overall and they’re on runs of 10-4 run against the A.L. West and 28-13 against right-handed starters. However, for the second night in a row, because of injuries, Texas has been forced to call up a minor-league pitcher to make his big-league debut. The Rangers will go with Michael Ballard, who has spent the entire year in Double-A Frisco, where he went 8-3 with a 3.97 ERA in 15 starts.

This is the third series of the season between these two teams, with the Angels having taken four of the last six games.

Weaver has gotten a decision in each of his last nine starts, going 6-3, but he’s alternated wins and losses over his last five outings. On Friday against Toronto, he yielded two runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings in an 8-2 home victory, and he’s thrown at least six innings in five of his last six starts.

Weaver is 4-4 with a 4.85 ERA in nine road starts this season, and he’s 2-1 with a 2.36 ERA in seven career starts against the Rangers, including a 2-1 home victory on April 5 in which he scattered three hits over seven shutout innings.

Although last night’s game stayed well under the posted total, the over is still 10-3-2 in the last 15 meetings in this division rivalry, including 4-2-1 in the last seven in Texas. Also, the over is 5-2 in L.A.’s last seven overall and 11-6 in Texas’ last 17 home contests.

ATS ADVANTAGE: L.A. ANGELS and OVER

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DUNKEL

St. Louis at Philadelphia   
Philadelphia looks to snap its home losing skid (losers in nine of its last 10 at Citizens) against a St. Louis team that will start Mark Mulder for the first time in almost 10 months.  The Phillies are the pick (-125) according to Dunkel, which has Philadelphia favored by 2.  Dunkel Pick: Philadelphia (-125).  Here are all of today's games.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 9

Game 901-902: Florida at San Diego
Dunkel Ratings: Florida (Olsen) 15.062; San Diego (Baek) 13.864
Dunkel Line: Florida by 1; 10
Vegas Line: San Diego (-110); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Florida (+100); Over

Game 903-904: Houston at Pittsburgh
Dunkel Ratings: Houston (Moehler) 15.074; Pittsburgh (Van Benschoten) 14.663
Dunkel Line: Houston by 1 1/2; 10
Vegas Line: Houston (-115); 9 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Houston (-115); Over

Game 905-906: St. Louis at Philadelphia
Dunkel Ratings: St. Louis (Mulder) 13.630; Philadelphia (Happ) 15.824
Dunkel Line: Philadelphia by 2; 9
Vegas Line: Philadelphia (-125); 10
Dunkel Pick: Philadelphia (-125); Under

Game 907-908: San Francisco at NY Mets
Dunkel Ratings: San Francisco (Sanchez) 16.054; NY Mets (Santana) 15.919
Dunkel Line: San Francisco by 1/2; 6 1/2
Vegas Line: NY Mets (-195); 7
Dunkel Pick: NY Mets (-195); Under

Game 909-910: Arizona at Washington
Dunkel Ratings: Arizona (Owings) 13.147; Washington (Lannan) 14.434
Dunkel Line: Washington by 1 1/2; 7 1/2
Vegas Line: Arizona (-110); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Washington (+100); Under

Game 911-912: Cincinnati at Chicago Cubs
Dunkel Ratings: Cincinnati (Cueto) 15.289; Cubs (Zambrano) 14.875
Dunkel Line: Cincinnati by 1/2; 10 1/2
Vegas Line: Chicago Cubs (-180); No Run Line
Dunkel Pick: Cincinnati (+170); N/A

Game 913-914: Colorado at Milwaukee
Dunkel Ratings: Colorado (Rusch) 15.202; Milwaukee (Sheets) 14.856
Dunkel Line: Colorado by 1/2; 9
Vegas Line: Milwaukee (-230); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Colorado (+210); Over

Game 915-916: Atlanta at LA Dodgers
Dunkel Ratings: Atlanta (Hudson) 15.880; LA Dodgers (Lowe) 14.856
Dunkel Line: Atlanta by 2; 6 1/2
Vegas Line: LA Dodgers (-110); 7 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Atlanta (+100); Under

Game 917-918: Tampa Bay at NY Yankees
Dunkel Ratings: Tampa Bay (Jackson) 14.722; NY Yankees (Ponson) 16.866
Dunkel Line: NY Yankees by 2; 9
Vegas Line: NY Yankees (-120); 10
Dunkel Pick: NY Yankees (-120); Under

Game 919-920: Minnesota at Boston
Dunkel Ratings: Minnesota (Hernandez) 15.438; Boston (Beckett) 17.108
Dunkel Line: Boston by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: Boston (-240); 9
Dunkel Pick: Boston (-240); Under

Game 921-922: Cleveland at Detroit
Dunkel Ratings: Cleveland (Byrd) 14.827; Detroit (Bonine) 15.168
Dunkel Line: Detroit by 1/2; 11 1/2
Vegas Line: Detroit (-145); 10
Dunkel Pick: Detroit (-145); Over

Game 923-924: Baltimore at Toronto
Dunkel Ratings: Baltimore (Olson) 13.723; Toronto (Burnett) 15.817
Dunkel Line: Toronto by 2; 8
Vegas Line: Toronto (-165); 8 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Toronto (-165); Under

Game 925-926: LA Angels at Texas
Dunkel Ratings: LA Angels (Weaver) 16.643; Texas (Ballard) 14.925
Dunkel Line: LA Angels by 1 1/2; 8
Vegas Line: No Line
Dunkel Pick: N/A

Game 927-928: Chicago White Sox at Kansas City
Dunkel Ratings: White Sox (Vazquez) 14.493; Kansas City (Bannister) 16.259
Dunkel Line: Kansas City by 2; 10
Vegas Line: Chicago White Sox (-125); 9
Dunkel Pick: Kansas City (+115); Over

Game 929-930: Seattle at Oakland
Dunkel Ratings: Seattle (Batista) 14.102; Oakland (Blanton) 16.481
Dunkel Line: Oakland by 2 1/2; 7
Vegas Line: Oakland (-160); 8
Dunkel Pick: Oakland (-160); Under

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Alex Smart

Houston Astros -115

The Houston Astros (41-50) enter into todays tilt against the Pittsburgh Pirates (42-47) trying to end a four game winless streak vs the Bucks , which includes losing the first two contests of their current three game series here in PNC Park. The Houston Astros have a very good chance, of avoiding the sweep, as they will have an opportunity to go up against a pitcher , Ben Van Benschoten (1-2, 10.64 ERA), that has recorded some horrendous numbers during his brief mlb career. The right handed hurler has the dubious distinction of owning the worst career ERA (9.04) in history ,among pitchers with at least 75 innings of work. He owns a 1-10 life time record along a with a ugly 8.82 ERA in 16 career starts. Meanwhile, the Astros will respond with the capable Brian Moehler (4-4 , 4.13 ERA). The righty thrower has allowed 3 ERs or less in 8 of his 10 starts this season, and 2 ERs or less in 5 of those outings. Considering how badly Ben Van Benschoten , has pit ched for the Pirates in the past, it will be an easy decision to keep fading him until he proves himself competent at this level. Final notes & Key Trends: The Pirates have lost 17 of their 24 games after a win. Play on the Astros

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Marc Lawrence

Play On: Kansas City

The Royals send Alan Bannister up against Javier Vazquez in Kansas City tonight in an American League Central division battle. Make no bones about it, Bannister has enjoyed solid success at home this season (6-4 3.26 ERA) as opposed to on the road (2-6 8.14 ERA). That fits nicely onto Vazquez' 0-3 mark in his last three road starts with a 5.21 ERA. Look for Vazquez to fall to 0-6 on the road on Wednesdays here tonight. Back Bannister and the Royals as a live home dog.

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Jimmy The Moose

Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals
Prediction: Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona has struggled recently but they are facing a team they've had a lot of success against recently. Arizona is 4-1 in their last 5 games vs. a left-handed starter. The D'Backs are 5-1 in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a losing home record. Washington has lost 6 straight. The Nationals are 5-13 in their last 18 home games. Washington is 4-10 in their last 14 games as a home dog. The Nationals have lost Lannan's last 5 home starts. The Nationals are 5-16 in his last 21 starts overall. Arizona has won 10 of the last 12 meetings between the clubs. Play on the Arizona Diamondbacks -.

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MATT FARGO

Cincinnati Reds @ Chicago Cubs
PICK: Cincinnati Reds

The Cubs put a halt to the Reds four-game winning streak but that is no reason to back off the high-priced underdogs here. Cincinnati is 7-3 over its last 10 games and despite being 12 games under .500 on the road this season, play away from home has definitely improved. The Reds are 10-11 over their last 21 roadies following a dreadful 7-18 start through their first 25 away games. Over this recent 10-game stretch, pitching has been the cog as they have posted a solid 3.36 ERA including a 1.93 ERA from the bullpen.

Chicago has been deadly at home and that is part of the reason this price is so high. After sweeping the White Sox in their last homestand, the Cubs were in the midst of a 14-game home winning streak but the Orioles ended that by taking two of three. The pitching has allowed 6.3 rpg over the last four home games and during the recent 6-8 stretch, they have allowed 5.0 rpg while the offense has mustered four runs or fewer seven times. Since a nine-game win streak, the Cubs are an average 16-15 over their last 31 games.

Edinson Volquez is getting all of the press in the Reds pitching staff but Johnny Cueto cannot be left out of conversations. He had a rough stretch from mid-April through mid-May but he has been very solid since. Cueto has given up just six runs in his last four starts and he has allowed three runs or fewer in nine of his last 10 starts with six of those being quality performances. His ERA over that span is 3.64. He has struggles on the road with a 5.49 ERA but all of that came early as his last four roadies yielded a 2.42 ERA.

Carlos Zambrano had a very fine performance in his return from the disabled list as he did not allow a run in six innings against the Cardinals. After posting eight quality outings in his first nine starts through May 12th, he has only four over his last eight. His ERA over those eight games is 4.11 which is up from a 2.03 ERA though those first nine games. Zambrano has not had much luck against the Reds over the last two seasons as he is 4-4 with a 4.09 ERA. Play Cincinnati Reds 1.5 Units

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Scott Ferrall

Toronto -175 over Baltimore--I have to take AJ Burnett at Rogers in this one, even though both teams are sinking fast.  UNDER 8.5 RUNS

TEXAS (no matter the line) over Angels--Padilla will kick Weaver's ass in Arlington with those crazy Ranger bats

Chicago -120 over Kansas City--Vazquez will chew and spit out the Royals in KC.  The White Sox will batter Bannister like a bitch.  OVER 9 RUNS

Seattle +155 over Oakland--Take Batista with the pay out if he upsets the A's in the East Bay.  They can do it because Blanton blows.  OVER 8.5 RUNS

DODGERS -120 over Braves--I can't stop laying the lumber on LA.  They are hot and Atlanta's not.  Hudson struggles at the Revine.  UNDER 7.5 RUNS

Yankees -120 over Tampa--Ponson gets the job done against Edwin Jackson.  Bombers will have an easier time than they did against Kazmir.  OVER 10 RUNS

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LUCKY LEPRECHAUN SPORTS

Tampa Bay +110 over NY YANKS

The Rays are 11-2 in their last 13 vs. a team with a winning record and 26-10 in their last 36 games vs. a starter with a WHIP greater than 1.30, while the Yanks are 1-4 in their last 5 games as a favorite of -110 to -150. Edwin Jackson comes in off 3 solid outings as he 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in his last 3 starts, allowing just a .262 OBP and posting a 1.00 WHIP in the 3 games. Edwin hasn't pitched that bad on the road, going 2-2 with a 4.07 ERA, plus he is 3-2 with a 3.68 ERA in his day starts. Edwin is also 2-2 with a 4.72 ERA in 6 career starts vs the Yanks, including a 1-1 mark with a 3.00 ERA in 3 starts vs them this year. Sidney Ponson is just 8-9 in his career vs the Rays with a 4.32 ERA, while in his lone start vs them this year he allowed 5 ER ojn 12 hits and 3 walks in just 5 innings of work. For the year Sidney has a solid 5-1 mark with a 4.18 ERA overall and even though he is 2-1 in his last 5 starts the ERA is pretty high at 6.00, while he has allowed teams a .444 OBP to go along with his 2.13 WHIP. That's mainly due to the run support the Yanks and Rangers have been giving him, but I'm not expecting big run support today as the Yanks offense has been sputtering of late. In the last 10 games only once has the Yanks offense shown up and that was the 18 run outburst vs the Rangers in Sidney's last start. Now if you take out that game then the Yanks offense has put just 2.6 rpg in the other 9 games. Even with the 18 runs the Yanks are scoring just 4.1 rpg and hitting only .225. Despite being shutout last night, the Tampa offense still has put 6.1 rpg on the board in their last 14 games and the score 5.2 rpg on the road for the year, including 6.2 rpg in their last 13 away from home. This is an important game for the Rays, as they do not want to get swept here by the Yanks, so look for their offense to hit Ponson hard, while Edwin keep the anemic Yankee offense at bay. Tampa gets the win easily.

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Bobby Maxwell

Arizona -110 at WASHINGTON 

Micah Owings (6-7, 5.15 ERA) is pitching for his spot in the major leagues. The Arizona starter has been shuffled between the starting rotation and bullpen and there is talk around the team that he could be headed to Triple-A if he doesn't have a good outing.

He's lost six straight decisions is is 0-5 with an 8.28 ERA in his last six outings. But remember the pitcher that opened the season with four straight wins and the guy who also brings a big bat to the lineup because he can hit.

Washington goes with John Lannan (4-9, 3.60) who has dropped five straight decisions.

The D'Backs have won two straight and Brandon Webb pitched them to a 2-0 victory in Washington on Tuesday. And now they're looking to win a third straight, something they haven't done since mid-May.

We like the fact Owings is pitching for his job. With the sense of urgency he'll deliver tonight. Play Arizona.

3♦ ARIZONA

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Chris Jordan

Anaheim at TEXAS 

Off last night's 4-0 Sweep, including the White Sox right here, we take the Angels in Texas.

The Angels, owners of baseball’s best road record at 28-16, will get the best of the boys from Arlington. We want to list right-hander Jered Weaver in this one, as the workhorse has gotten a decision in each of his nine starts and is 2-1 with a 2.36 ERA in seven career starts against Texas. With his durability on overload this season, there’s no reason to doubt he won’t be able to get it done when he toes the slab tonight. The Halos have won five of their last seven overall, 12 of 17 on the highway and seven of Weaver’s last 10 starts. Good enough for me to believe, so take the road team in this one.

2♦ ANGELS

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MATT FARGO  *GOY ALERT* Non-Division Game of the Year

The Dodgers were slowed last night as the Braves bounced back last night after getting nearly no-hit on Monday. Los Angeles was shelled for nine runs and prior to that, it had been doing it with pitching as the offense has been fairly non-existent as has been the case for most of the season. Los Angeles is hitting just .256 on the year including .241 over its last 10 games and its 4.1 rpg on the year is tied for 24th in the Majors. That drops to 3.9 rpg in home games, good for 26th in baseball.

The Braves season long road woes have been highly publicized but things have gotten better and the corner may have been turned. They average just 3.8 rpg on the road and that has been the main cause for winning only 13 games away from home. Atlanta is 6-5 in its last 11 road games and averaging 4.8 rpg in those contests so there has been a steady improvement. The 3.75 ERA for the season is 2nd in the N.L. behind the Dodgers. In five meetings, Los Angeles is averaging a mere 1.8 rpg against Braves pitching.

Tim Hudson was remarkable to start the season and although he had gotten more inconsistent, he has still been fairly steady. One reason to like him even more here is the fact that he has allowed six earned runs in each of his last two road games. That has knocked his road ERA to 4.34 for the season but still, six of his 10 road starts have been quality outings. His 3.19 ERA on the year is good for 10th in the National League. Hudson is 5-1 with a 4.07 ERA in nine career starts against the Dodgers.

Derek Lowe has been very inconsistent after putting together a very solid April where he posted a 2.88 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in six starts. Since May, his ERA is at 4.50 while his WHIP is at 1.46 and his 4-7 record is nothing to be proud of. The Dodgers offense has been either hit or miss in his starts as it has scored six runs or more eight times but it also has scored three runs or fewer 11 times including two or fewer nine times. The Dodgers have scored a grand total of run in his last two home starts. Play Atlanta Braves 5 Units

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Dave Cokin.

SEA Mariners and OAK Athletics
Take SEA Mariners

The Mariners are just hideous and Miguel Batista has been downright awful all season. But Joe Blanton has terrible numbers at home for the A's, and I have to wonder about this team's mindset following the Harden deal. I'm going to take a shot at the underdog Mariners to score the upset tonight.

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Jim Feist

ATL Braves and LA Dodgers
Take Under

The two teams with the lowest runs allowed in the NL face off here on Wednesday. The Dodgers lead the league, allowing 356 runs on the year while the Braves are a close second at 370. Both teams boast excellent starting pitching and tonight Tim Hudson will face Derek Lowe. Hudson hasn't done too well on the road, posting a 2-5 mark with 4.35 era. Lowe on the other hand has pitched very well at home, boasting a 3.26 era. The right handed sinker ball pitcher has a 4-1 KO/BB ratio at Chavez Ravine this year. Neither team is known for their hitting this year either, so we'll take the under here on Wednesday and look for a very good pitcher's duel.

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SAPKOWSKI

Premium
MIL Brewers
PHI Phillies
HOU Astros

Free picks
CHI Cubs
OAK Athletics

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Nostradamus

TB/Yanks Over 10 +110
Minn/Bost Under 9 +100
Florida -110
Sox/KC Under 9 -120
Seat/Oak Over 8 -130
Dodgers -120

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JOHN FINA

Cincinnati Reds/Chicago Cubs Under

Today we expect a low-scoring game as the Cincinnati Reds do battle with the Chicago Cubs. One reason why we expect a low-scoring game is because both these teams will be sending to the mound solid starting pitchers. This says it all... The Cincinnati Reds Starting Pitcher (Johnny Cueto) has a 1.96 ERA in his last 3 starts, while Chicago Cubs Starting Pitcher (Chad Billingsley) has a 2.75 ERA in his last 3 starts. We expect to see a low-scoring game today. As you can see, both these teams will be sending to the mound solid starting pitchers. Take the Cincinnati Reds/Chicago Cubs Under!

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TONY MATHEWS

Cleveland Indians vs. Detroit Tigers
Selection: Detroit Tigers -145

The Cleveland Indians will use starting pitcher Paul Byrd. Paul Byrd has had huge pitching problems as of late. In fact, Paul Byrd has a 6.87 ERA in his last 3 starts. We see Paul Byrd having another bad game today.

The Detroit Tigers will use starting pitcher Eddie Bonine. Eddie Bonine has been pitching very well as of late. In fact, Eddie Bonine has a 2.55 ERA in his last 3 starts. We see Eddie Bonine pitching another great game today.

The Cleveland Indians are 7-23 in their last 30 road games, while the Detroit Tigers are 19-7 in their last 26 home games.

The Detroit Tigers are 3-1 in their last 4 meetings against the Cleveland Indians, and should be able to get another win tonight!

Take the Detroit Tigers!

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Steve Janus

Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers    
Play: Los Angeles Dodgers

Atlanta has lost Tim Hudson's last 5 home starts and are just 2-7 in their last 9 games overall. The Dodgers are 6-1 over their last 7 games overall and are 14-3 at home when Derek Lowe starts against a team with a losing record.

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Sean Higgs

St Louis Cardinals vs. Philadelphia    
Play: Phillies -1.5

Mulder is coming off the DL. Look for the Phillies to be patient and work his pitch count up. The Philly bats will erupt tonight and pound the suspect STL middle relievers.

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