WEDNESDAY SERVICE PLAYS

WEDNESDAY SERVICE PLAYS

STU FINER

Oakland Athletics at Tampa Bay Rays

What is there not to like about the Rays here tonight on a Wednesday afternoon? Sure this team ended the first half on a tough note but that happens to all baseball teams over the course of a season. Did you think they weren’t going to have a losing streak? Did you think they were just going to run away with the AL East?

James Shields has been great this season. You don’t have to look much further than his last start to see how well he has performed this season. He pitched against fellow right-handed power arm A.J. Burnett.

Shields went out there and threw seven innings of just one run ball. In those seven innings he allowed just four hits and two walks. Shields has 104 strikeouts this season to just 24 walks. What else do you need to know?

Tampa Bay Rays (-)

Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees

The Yankees have finally turned things on in the last week. They have come out and posted an impressive record since the break. Tonight they actually send their most reliable starter to the hill. Who would have thought that Mike Mussina could have won 20 games this season? Well that is possible.

Mike is 12-6 on the season and he has earned it. Mike has logged 113 innings on the season and has only issued 16 walks. 16 walks in 113 innings is a fantastic ratio. He also has gotten a lot more swings and misses. This season Mike already has 74 strikeouts.

The Yankees will continue their winning ways at home.

New York Yankees (-)

Texas Rangers at Chicago White Sox

We like the White Sox t get the job done at home tonight against the Rangers.  The Rangers are a team that depends just on offense.  If any of you out there pay attention, you know that hitting comes and goes during the course of a season.  It especially comes and goes for the Texas Rangers.

When they talk about the effect of the “Dog Days” of summer, they are really taking about the Texas Rangers.  Playing thirty or forty games in 110 degree weather does not help a team stay locked in.  Sure this game is on the road but their offense has already begun to slow down.

The Rangers are just an average team on the road.  The White Sox on the other hand are more than fifteen games over the .500 mark.  Look for them behind Clayton Richard to get the job done.

The Sox pounded the ball last night and the Rangers pitching staff is a six run inning waiting to happen.

Chicago White Sox (-)

Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals

Love this line tonight for the Royals. Any time you can get the team’s best pitcher at home at this type of number you have to jump all over it. I don’t care if he was going up against Roger Clemens in 1990. It is just too good of a value. That is what this is about value.

Zack was hit hard in his last start but so what? He is not going to be perfect all season. At home this season though he has been perfect while throwing gem after gem. Zack is 3-0 at home with an ERA under 2.40. Does it get much better than that? We don’t think so, the Royals have showed a ton of fight this season. At home, at this price we are with them.

Kansas City Royals (-)

Cleveland Indians at LA Angels

Sometimes there are games that you look at, and think to yourself something must be up. There must be a reason why this game looks too easy. Tonight this Indians at Angels game is one of those. You look and think there is no way the Angels lose behind their ace. Guess what? Go with your gut.

Listen Vegas is going to make you pay for it. You aren’t going to get Lackey for cheap, especially at home. Especially now that the Angels are a 60 win baseball club. Yes they have a better record now than the Red Sox. They actually just came off a sweep against those same Red Sox this season, to stake their claim a top the American league.

Lackey has lost just two games all season that includes just one loss in his building. This guy has 72 strikeouts to just 17 walks. Anything more you want from an ace?

LA Angels (-)

Boston Red Sox at Seattle Mariners

I am sure many of you out there are thinking how in the world can the Mariners be favored? How in the world does a team like this actually lay wood against the Red Sox. Two words for you on that notion…. Felix Hernandez. This is a guy worth every penny here tonight. This is a guy that shuts down the best line-ups in baseball with regularity.

How about his last start? Six innings just four hits allowed to along with eight strikeouts. That is what an ace goes out and does. How about his last start against the Boston Red Sox? He went in to Fenway and shut-out the Sox. You are telling me he can’t shut down this line-up in Safeco field? Sure he can.

His last start against the Sox he went six innings and allowed six hits and no runs. Look for a similar line tonight. The Mariners will push across enough runs against the Sox young starter.

Seattle Mariners (-)

Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles

Jeremy Guthrie doesn’t get any credit. For a guy with his numbers he sure does fly under the radar. This is a pitcher that hasn’t pitched well just this season, but since he has been a given a chance to start. In 2007 he started 26 games and posted an ERA of close to 3.50. That included logging a 175 innings while allowing just 165 hits.

This season Guthrie has once again been doing his job. In his last ten outings he has allowed more than four runs just one time. One time! He is a starter that knows the importance of battling and going deep in games. Just take a look at his last six starts. All six innings or more.

A.J. Burnett is a little up and down for our liking. He pitched a great game last time out, but still gave up the key hit when it mattered. Give us the Orioles tonight as this game will be a low scoring affair.

Baltimore Orioles (-)


National League    


San Diego Padres at Cincinnati Reds

Make no mistake about it Bronson Arroyo is auditioning for another job. There is a lot of talk that the New York Yankees are looking out Bronson. See teams have been looking at him for quite a while. He had one of the worst all-time starts though about a month ago. On June 24, 2008 he went to Toronto and allowed eleven hits and ten runs in just one inning of work. Ouch! Does that not bloat the ERA?

Since then the kid has been pitching great. He actually hasn’t lost a game since then.  In fact he has won all four of his starts since then. In those four starts he has allowed a total of just eight runs. He also is coming off two big starts. Two starts that saw him beat first place teams. He shut down the Cubs and the Mets en route to two victories.

Cincinnati Reds (-)

Pittsburgh Pirates at Houston Astros

We like the Astros to get back on track here tonight. After all can you trust the Pirates on the road? Even a die hard Pittsburgh Pirates fan would say they aren’t trust worthy. The Pirates are eight games under .500 on the season. That is respectable in a tough division. The only problem is they are seven games over .500 at home. Yes this team is a whopping 17-32 on the road.

The Pirates send arguably the worst road pitcher in all of baseball to the bump. This is a guy that everyone liked before the season. Where are all his supporters right now? Ian is 3-8 on the season with an ERA of 5.83. On the road Ian is 1-6 with an ERA of 7.71. On the road Ian is 1-6 with an ERA of 7.71. Yes folks we had to repeat those numbers, just so it can have that lasting effect. If you want to play the Pirates, be our guest but you are making a huge mistake. Houston Astros are the play.

Houston Astros (-)

Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies

We are here once again.  The Rockies are in a similar position this season just as they were during last season.  The Rockies have struggled a lot this season.  No matter what we can’t ignore tat fact.  That fact is the main reason we get them so cheaply tonight.  The Rockies are better than what they have shown.

Mr. Kuroda has been two totally different pitchers this season.  Kuroda has been great at home.  In fact he hasn’t lost a single game in Los Angeles.  His record sits at a perfect 3-0 with an ERA of just 2.63.

A little different story on the road though.  He is just 2-6 on the road this season with an ERA of 4.99.  In just 52 innings he has given up 63 hits and a total of 34 runs.  Those numbers won’t cut it against a Rockies team that can still mash.

Colorado Rockies (-)

Atlanta Braves at Florida Marlins

We like the Braves to bounce back here tonight.  We told you two nights ago that the Braves would be able to knock off the Marlins in the first game of the series.  Tonight we are telling you they will take care of business again.

It is a nice pitching match-up in Florida, but call us crazy we will still take our chances with Tim Hudson.  Tim Hudson has been great this season.  His name has gone under the radar all season.  A lot has to do with the fact that the Braves have under-achieved.

Tim is 10-7 this season with an ERA of just 3.31.  He just doesn’t allow base-runners.  Only three out of every ten batters even get on base against him.  We will take the road team in this NL East match-up.

Atlanta Braves (-)

Philadelphia Phillies at New York Mets

How about the game between these two teams last night?  This was a classic July contest.  This was a game that may have changed the landscape of the entire NL East division.  You had Johan Santana going for the Mets.  The big 20 million dollar min, the big off-season hired gun.  He faced off against Joe Blanton.  Joe was making his first start in the NL and his first start for the Philadelphia Phillies.

To make a long story short the Mets collapsed.  The Mets collapsed almost as bad in this game as they did last season.  This was a team that was up 5-1 heading to the seventh inning.  This was a team that was up 5-2 in the ninth inning.  The Phillies then stunned the Mets and pounded out six runs on five hits.

We promise you that the momentum will carry over.  It is still unknown if Billy Wagner will be unavailable tomorrow.  Either way we like the Phillies in that spot.  If Wagner pitches he won’t be 100 percent.  If Wagner doesn’t pitch, well we all saw what their bull-pen was capable of.  Look for the Phillies to start taking the NL East right by the throat.

Philadelphia Phillies (+)

Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals

C.C. Sabathia has really been great for the Brewers.  He has already come to the NL Central and already picked up three wins.  Sabathia has gone nine innings in both of his last start.  All told C.C. has pitched 24 innings since coming over from Cleveland.  He has allowed just five runs in those starts.

We just feel that those innings are going to catch-up with him.  C.C. had dead arm issues earlier in the season and this is when those type of bumps and bruises arise.  Throwing back to back complete games is something no pitcher outside of Roy Halladay is used to doing.

The Cardinals blew a big lead last night and you know they will step up tonight.  The Cardinals want to protect their home field.  Look for Looper to pick up the W here tonight.

St. Louis Cardinals (-)

Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks

We know the Cubs have been bad on the road this season.  We aren’t going to ignore that fact, but can everyone say relax.  This team is not fifteen games over .500.  After all this team is still the best team in the National League.  No they aren’t a great team, but they are a very good team.

The Cubs are such a balanced ball club.  This is one of the few teams in the league to rank in the top ten in both offense and defense.  The Cubs offense is the second best in all of baseball.  The only offense that is better is the Texas Rangers and we all know what their pitching staff looks like.

The Cubs also have a team ERA of 3.83.  That is an excellent number.  Tonight with Ted Lilly on the mound they will show why they are the best team in the National League.

Chicago Cubs (-)

Washington Nationals at San Francisco Giants

Somebody has to actually win this ball game folks.  If there were ties in baseball we would predict that would occur in tonight’s game.  As we said last night though, these two teams are almost equally as bad.  One team struggles mightily on the road, the other team is the worst home team in all of a baseball.

There is something that people are ignoring though.  Playing at home is still an advantage.  When two teams are so close, when the line is so close you look for any little advantages you can obtain.  One of those advantages tonight is the fact the Giants are playing in their own ball park.  They will win his game tonight.

San Francisco Giants (-)

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Sports Gambling Hotline

Atlanta at FLORIDA +105 

Tonight we go with Florida over Atlanta.

Last night, the Braves were limited to just 1 hit against 4 Florida pitchers, to drop to 16-33 on the road for the year. Tonight's starter Tim Hudson has not had much luck in his highway starts this season, as the righty stands at 2-6 away from home with an over 4 ERA.

Ricky Nolasco is coming off a home loss to the Phils, but this kid has been very overpowering at time this year. We expect Nolasco to mow down this lineup that only mustered 1 measly hit last night.

Florida is right there in the thick of the NL East chase, and they have won 3 of 5 at home against Atlanta this year.

Play on the Marlins to take the rubber game tonight.

2♦ FLORIDA

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Bobby Maxwell

Philadelphia +120 at N.Y. METS 

Philadelphia rallied for a six-run ninth inning on Tuesday and beat the Mets 8-6, snapping New York's three game winning streak over the Phillies. Tonight we're going to go with the Phillies to make it two in a row behind the pitching of Brett Myers (3-9, 5.84).

Myers has really struggled this season but he's got good stuff and has dominated the Mets since 2004. Philadelphia is 6-3 in his last nine starts against New York and he's held them to three runs or less in four of his last five outings against them.

John Maine (8-7, 4.22) is on the mound for the Mets and he hasn't lasted long in his recent outings, not lasting six innings in any of his last four starts. On Friday he gave up five runs on five hits in 4.2 innings of a 5-2 loss to the Reds. He's faced the Phillies twice this season and given up a combined four runs in 11.2 innings and the Mets have won both.

The Phillies are 10-2 in their last 12 as an underdog and 9-2 as a road 'dog. Philadelphia is 4-0 the last four times Myers has started at Shea Stadium in New York and the Phillies are 8-2 in their last 10 on the Mets' home turf.

We'll take the plus-money with Myers and the Phillies tonight in New York. Play Philadelphia.

3♦ PHILADELPHIA

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Karl Garrett

Minnesota at NY YANKEES

Can't go against the Yankees right now, as the Yanks have won their last 5, have won 9 in a row at home, and are now 18-3 at home since 2002 against the Twins in the Bronx.

Glen Perkins has been steady for the Twins, but the Yankees have already seen him once, getting to him for 5 runs in 4 innings, as Perkins absorbed the loss.

Mike Mussina has been stellar this month, going 2-0 in his three July starts, allowing just 3 runs over 18 innings of work. Mussina was the winner against Perkins back in that May start at the Metrodome, as he worked 6 innings of 2 run ball.

New York's offense is certainly awake right now, and the G-Man is going to lay the run-and-a-half, and take the Yankees on the RUN LINE.

3♦ YANKEES -1 1/2 RUNS

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Jimmy The Moose

Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles
Prediction: over

Toronto has played the over in 4 straight and the over is a profitable 8-3 in their last 11 games. The over is 8-3-1 in their last 12 games as an underdog. The over is 6-2 in their last 8 road games. The over is 12-3 in their last 15 divisional games. The over is 5-1 in the Orioles last 6 games and the over is 21-7-1 in their last 30 games overall. The over is 7-1-1 in Baltimore's last 9 divisional games. The over is 6-1 in their last 7 home games. The over is 14-3 in the last 17 meetings between the clubs. Play the over.

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Marc Lawrence

Pittsburgh Pirates at Houston Astros
Prediction: Houston Astros

After opening the season on a strong note with three straight wins, Pittsburgh's Ian Snell has fallen on hard times, dropping 8 of his last 10 team starts. That's what happens to pitchers who sport a 7.71 ERA on the road. That almost four runs worse than his home ERA (3.86) this season. With Snell 2-5 with a 6.94 ERA in day games and Brian Moehler 5-2 with a 3.24 home ERA this season, look for the Astros to come up shooting here this afternoon.

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Nelly

Cleveland + over Los Angeles

After a brilliant start to his season John Lackey has not been sharp in his last three starts. Opponents are hitting .325 against Lackey in that span and his ERA is 6.75. The Angels have managed to win two of those three games but Lackey has allowed five home runs and he faces a Cleveland team that is playing much better than most people think. The Indians have thrown up the white flag with the trade of C.C. Sabathia and injuries have devastated a team that was expected to contend this season. Still Cleveland won four in a row to close the first half of the season and has had success since winning a series in Seattle and taking the first game in Los Angeles. Cleveland is averaging over six runs per game in the last ten contests while hitting close to .280. The Angels are not a great hitting team against left-handed pitching and two key right-handed bats will be out of the lineup with Torii Hunter and Mike Napoli sitting out. Aaron Laffey has allowed three or fewer earned runs in six of his last eight starts and his 3.61 ERA on the season is very solid. Cleveland has actually won four of the last six road meetings in this series and with big underdog status on Wednesday afternoon this Tribe are worth a look.

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James Patrick

Blue Jays vs. Orioles

The O’s are a poor 7-19 in Wednesday action and the Blue Jays have captured 4 of the past 5 meetings with Baltimore and Toronto starter Burnett is 5-1 versus the Orioles. Our Wednesday selection is Toronto Blue Jays.

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Great Lakes Sports

Philadelphia at New York Mets
Play on: New York Mets with Maine

The New York Mets are 7-0 their last seven games as a home favorite, and 4-0 their last four home games vs right hand starting pitchers. The New York Mets is also 11-2 in their last 13 games, and 12-2 in starting pitching Maine last 14 Wednesday starts. We look for the New York Mets to grab the home win tonight.

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Scott Ferrall

Baltimore -115 over Toronto--I'm thinking Guthrie here over AJ Burnett.  The O's are good at Camden, while the Jays are 10 under .500 away from T-Town

FELIX THE KING AND THE MARINERS -135 over Boston--He'll outpitch Clay Buchholz in the Emerald City

LACKEY -170 at home vs Cleveland--He's just so much better than Laffey it's not even funny

SF -120 over Washington--Flip a coin--they both suck.  The pitchers in this one Correia (Giants) and Balester (Nats) are both horrible--go light !

CUBS -110 over Diamondbacks--I'm on Lilly over Davis in the desert.

St.Louis +115 over Milwaukee--I say Looper gets the upset over Sabathia

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SPORTS ADVISOR

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Milwaukee (57-43) at St. Louis (57-45)

The Brewers trot out recently acquired left hander CC Sabathia (9-8, 3.51 ERA) in the third game of a four-game series against the N.L. Central Division rival Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Milwaukee, which beat St. Louis 4-3 on Tuesday, has won six straight games (including five in a row on the road) and is on further runs of 13-3 against winning teams and 15-4 in division play.

St. Louis, which will counter with right-hander Braden Looper (9-7, 4.60), had won five straight games before dropping the first two of this series. The Cards are 0-5 in Looper’s last five starts against winning teams.

The Brewers have won six of their last seven against St. Louis, including the last four in a row.

Since being traded from Cleveland earlier this month, Sabathia has been sterling, winning all three starts, pitching two consecutive complete games and posting a 1.88 ERA in 24 innings. In a 9-1 win at San Francisco on Friday, he allowed just four hits (one solo homer) in going the distance. Sabathia has gone at least seven innings in 12 of his last 14 starts, with four complete games.

The Cardinals are 3-3 in Looper’s last six starts, but he’s gone 1-2 with three no-decisions in that stretch, lasting just three innings Friday after allowing six runs on eight hits in an 11-7 win over San Diego.

Sabathia is 2-4 with a 3.20 ERA in eight road starts this season, and he’s 1-0 with a 4.63 ERA in two career starts against St. Louis. Looper, meanwhile, is 4-4 with a 4.95 ERA in 11 home starts this year and is 4-5 with a 4.76 ERA in 31 appearances (five starts) against Milwaukee.

The over is on an 8-3 tear for Milwaukee and has cashed in four of its last six on the highway. But the under for St. Louis is on runs of 6-0 against winning teams and 5-1 against left-handers, and the under is 7-3-1 in 11 meetings this season between these two teams.

ATS ADVANTAGE: MILWAUKEE


Chicago (58-42) at Arizona (50-50)

The Cubs, with the best record in the National League, will give the ball to southpaw Ted Lilly (9-6, 4.49 ERA) as they try to avoid a three-game sweep against the N.L. West-leading Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Chicago, which dropped the series opener 2-0 Monday and got belted 9-2 Tuesday, has lost five of its last six and is in a 5-13 funk in its last 18 road games.

Arizona, which will send left-hander Doug Davis (3-4, 4.14) to the mound, is just 10-23 in its last 33 games against teams with a winning record. But the Diamondbacks have had the Cubs’ number, going 27-7 in the last 34 home games against Chicago and 18-8 in the last 26 clashes overall.

The Cubs have lost in Lilly’s last three starts, after winning five in a row behind the 32-year-old. On Friday, Lilly got a no-decision, allowing just one run on six hits in seven innings, but getting no help offensively in a 2-1 loss at Houston.

The D-Backs have also lost three in a row behind Davis, who is 1-1 with five no-decisions in his last seven starts. He lasted just three innings Friday against the Dodgers, giving up five runs on five hits in an 8-7 home loss.

Lilly is 4-3 with a 3.78 ERA in 11 road starts this season, and he’s 1-2 with a 2.74 ERA in five career appearances (three starts) against Arizona. Davis is 2-2 with a 4.20 ERA in seven home starts this year, and he’s 7-5 with a 3.39 ERA in 13 career starts against Chicago.

The under is 38-17-3 for the Cubs in their last 58 games as a chalk, and the total has gone low in four of Davis’ last five home starts for Arizona. Finally, in this rivalry, the under is on a 7-2 spree at Chase Field and is 9-4 in the last 12 meetings overall.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER

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Alex Smart

Seattle Mariners -123

The Boston Red Sox have taken the first two games of this series against their hosts tonight the Seattle Mariners. I am predicting a third straight victory will not occur in this spot. The BoSox previous to their mini win streak, had lost 10 of their L/12 road games, and have a strong possibility of adding to those negative numbers , as they send the struggling Clay Buchholz (2-5, 5.88 ERA) to the hill. The young right hander has been every inconsistent this season, failing to make it past the 6th inning in his L/5 starts and has been battered in recent outings, giving up 21 ERs in his L/17 innings of work . It must be noted that the BoSox have lost 7 straight road games when Buchholz starts.

Meanwhile, the Mariners will return fire with up and coming pitching star Felix Hernandez(7-6, 2.95 ERA). After a slow beginning to his campaign the right hander ,has allowed more than 3 ERs only once in his L/10 starts and is 5-1 along with a minuscule 1.84 ERA in his L/7 starts. The Mariners are also 4-1 in his last 5 starts against the Red Sox , including a gem at Fenway Park, where he allowed just one hit in a shutout win. Considering the BoSox are 4-17 on the road against a pitcher with a 4.00 ERA or better this season, it will be an easy decision to back Hernandez to bring us home some dough on the moneyline.

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Greg Daraban

Los Angeles at Colorado

Dodgers have played very very well in this park since the Rockies moved from Mile High.

Take LA Dodgers

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STEPHEN NOVER

San Diego Padres @ Cincinnati Reds
PICK: Cincinnati Reds

Greg Maddux is on the hill and he's not pitching at Petco Park. That's not good if you're the San Diego Padres.

Maddux hasn't won during his past 13 starts. He's been especially brutal on the road with a 6.27 ERA. He has allowed 24 earned runs in his last five starts spanning 27 1/3 innings.

Don't look for Maddux to get better pitching during the day at hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park. Maddux has a 5.85 ERA there in six lifetime starts.

San Diego's middle relief has fallen apart. Respected set-up man Heath Bell has surrendered seven earned runs in his last three innings. Injuries and loss of confidence are really hurting San Diego. The Padres have dropped seven of their last eight games and 10 of their past 13.

Reds starter Bronson Arroyo is pitching much better than he did earlier in the year. He's won four in a row. He has given up just two earned runs during his last two home starts, spanning 14 innings.

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MATT FARGO

Pittsburgh Pirates @ Houston Astros
PICK: Houston Astros

This is a very good price for the Astros who look to grab the series finale before the off day on Thursday and a big weekend series at Milwaukee beginning on Friday. It may well be over already for Houston but the next 17 days will determine that with a majority of those games against division teams. The Astros are right at .500 at home and despite the recent offense slowdown, they are hitting .275 at home on the season. The difference in home/road records is 7.5 games.

The Pirates continue to have their road struggles as they are 17-32 on the season away from home and the problems are a combination of both hitting and pitching. Pittsburgh is hitting .257 on the road while the ERA is a horrendous 6.38 which is easily the worst in all of baseball. It has allowed five runs or more four times on this roadtrip and tonight’s starting pitcher certainly does not help matters as explained later. The Pirates are 16-37 in their last 53 games as a road underdog.

Brian Moehler has been a very solid addition to the Astros rotation. Moehler continued his consistent performance last time out against the high-powered Cubs as he allowed one run, a homer, on four hits in seven innings while striking out three. It was his first quality start in his last four outings so it was definitely a big step out. He has a 3.59 ERA in seven home starts and he has allowed exactly one run in three consecutive outings. The Astros are 5-1 in Moehler’s last six home starts.

As mentioned, the Pirates road pitching has been a disaster and one reason has been the performance of Ian Snell. He has been awful away from home, going 1-6 with a 7.71 ERA in his 10 road starts. Only three of those 10 games have been quality outings and even more disturbing could be the 2.01 WHIP which is one of the worst road ratios in baseball. This has not been a profitable spot in the past as the Pirates are 5-21 in Snell’s last 26 starts as an underdog. Houston gets to him again. Play Houston Astros 1.5 Units

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LEE KOSTROSKI

Pittsburgh Pirates @ Houston Astros
PICK: Houston Astros

Brian Moehler has allowed one or fewer runs in four of the last six games and his numbers at home are excellent with a 3.59 ERA despite pitching in a high scoring ballpark. In home games opposing batters are hitting just .235 against him and Moehler beat the Pirates earlier this month. Houston's bullpen does not have great numbers but the unit has a lower ERA, more saves, and fewer blown saves than the relief corps for Pittsburgh.

The Pirates are 16-41 in the last 57 road games and Pittsburgh owns a near MLB-worst 16-32 road record on the season. The Pirates are actually 18-45 in Houston over the last several years as this has been a tough place to play. The Pirates have lost six of the last seven road series, getting swept in three of those sets. Pittsburgh did manage to win the first game of this series but they were fortunate to get the opportunity with a blown save opportunity from the Astros.

A few years ago Ian Snell was one of the rising stars in the NL but he has taken a major turn for the worse this season. Snell is 1-6 in his road starts with a 7.71 ERA. Snell has walked 58 batters in just 100 innings pitched this season and Snell has been tagged for four or more runs in six of his last nine starts. Snell has not won a start on the road since early April so this should be a good situation for the Astros to deliver a win today.

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Carlo Campanella comp

Atlanta Braves at Florida Marlins
Prediction: Florida Marlins

Reason: Atlanta favored on the road at Florida on Wednesday, but offer very little value based on their 6-15 record as road Favorites between -100 and -150 this season. Things look even worse in this situation as they start Hudson, who's already 0-6 when starting on the road as a Favorite below -150 this year! Backing the value with Florida at home, as they've won 6 of their last 9 games and own a solid 28-22 home mark.

7* Play On Florida

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Dave Cokin

TEX Rangers and CHW White Sox
Take CHW White Sox

Clayton Richard makes his debut for the White Sox Wednesday, and that in itself is a real shocker. Richard hadn't shown anything of note since being drafted back in 2005, and was not even among the top 30 prospects in a less than sensational White Sox farm system heading into this season. But Richard has had a phenomenal year. He was much better than his 6-6 AA ledger might indicate. Since moving up to AAA, Richard is 6-0 with some dynamite peripherals, and he's gotten more than two groundball outs for every one in the air. The lefty is not a big strikeout pitcher, but evidently his sinker is working beautifully. A couple cautionary notes on Richard. Nerves can always be an issue for a first-timer, and I don't like the fact he hasn't started since July 9. But the Rangers are mired in a funk presently, and Kevin Millwood is getting drilled. So I'll give the debuting Richard and the White Sox the vote here.

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Re: WEDNESDAY SERVICE PLAYS

Jim Feist

TEX Rangers and CHW White Sox
Take Over

The Rangers aren't exactly the kind of team you want to make your major league debut against, especially as a pitcher. Clayton Richard does just that here on Wednesday as he gets his first major league start. It's been a meteoric rise for Richard, who started the season at AA Birmingham and then moved to Triple-A Charlotte before getting the call to the majors here on Wednesday. He will face the best hitting team in baseball, the Rangers. The Rangers lead the Majors with 547 runs scored this season. They send Kevin Millwood to the mound who has been less than impressive. Millwood is 6-6 on the year with a 5.23 ERA, but has lost his last two starts allowing 10 earned runs and 21 hits in just 11 2/3 innings. We expect a lot of runs here on Wednesday and go with the OVER!!

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Re: WEDNESDAY SERVICE PLAYS

MATT RIVERS

For Wednesday take the money with the Phils.

Brett Myers is back from his minor league stint after the dreadful recent pitching and can go one of two ways here. He can get drilled against a solid New York lineup or the righty could have figured things out and get back to that All-Star form. I'm banking on something closer to the latter as the minors can be humbling and help make a man which Myers has proven to be throughout his solid career as both a starter and a closer.

Both offenses are powerful and should get their licks in as Myers and John Maine should have their hands full so even if I am a little off about Myers it's not like we will certainly lose.

Billy Wagner is not healthy and with the lights out Brad Lidge on our side we certainly are not at a disadvantage in the bullpen category which is fine with me.

In the end this is a very very winnable game that will certainly depend on which Myers shows up. All in all to get Howard, Rollins, Utley, Burrell and the Fightin' Phils plus a little bit in this rivalry spot is certainly worth a play.

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