Thursday Service Plays

Thursday Service Plays

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Virginia Mountaineers -3 at Colorado Buffalos

Both teams have had an off week to prepare for this game, but in their last game the Buffalos beat Eastern Washington 31-24, wile the Mountaineers were upset, losing to East Carolina 24-3. West Virginia looks to get back in the BCS picture after getting upset 2 weeks ago, while Colorado looks to get some respect and some national attention by beating a nationally ranked team and staying undefeated. The Mountaineers are led by QB Pat White (280 yds 5 TD 1 INT), who is also the leading rusher (160 yds). White is helped in the rushing attack by RB Noel Devine (141 yds). White's main targets are Jock Sanders (11 rec 82 yds 2 TD yds) and Alric Arnett (4 rec 70 yds 2 TD). The Buffalos are led by QB Cody Hawkins (475 yds) 4 TD 2 INT). The Buffalos rushing attack is led by the freshman RB duo of Darrell Scott (93 yds 1 TD) and Rodney Stewart (76 yds). Hawkins' main targets are Scotty McKnight (11 rec 157 yds 1 TD) and Patrick Williams (8 rec 82 yds).

Staff Pick: White has to rebound from a horrible performance (72 yards passing) against East Carolina, as that game was the first that WV did not have a TD since the 2001 season. The Buffalos feature a strong D up front, as in their first 2 games they have held their opponents to an average of only 59 yards per game. The Buffalos need to get more production from the running game, as they average only 3.5 yards per carry (90th in the nation). Hawkins has played well for the Buffalos (71.6% completion percentage), but the running game must help him out or the Mountaineers D will blitz often and drop LB's into coverage. This is the first ever meeting between the two schools and WV is 12-10 all time versus Big 12 opponents. Colorado is a young team that has a ton of talent and they can prove they are legit with a win at home on Thursday night. Look for the Buffalos to put up a valiant effort, but Pat White will bounce back and have a big game passing, as the Buffalos secondary is mediocre. The Mountaineers will win a close game and cover the spread, as they begin to climb back up in the rankings.

Mountaineers 31 Colorado 27

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Wunderdog

Connecticut at New York
Pick: New York -1

The Eastern Conference Semifinals will begin in New York as the Connecticut Sun take on the New York Liberty. The Sun opened the season looking like the class of the WNBA with an 8-1 start, but the finish was a very pedestrian 13-12 mark, which included losses in three of their last four games. What is most eye-opening here is the Sun has failed to beat a team with a winning record on the road since June 20! They have averaged losing these games by 6.5 points a game. The Liberty suffered two losses to the Sun during their opening 8-1 run, but when these teams met later in the season, the Liberty won at Connecticut by six points, as a 5.5 point dog. The Liberty has not only bridged the gap between them and the Sun at the beginning of the season, but is valued here at home especially in a game they just basically have to win to get the cover.

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Marc Lawrence

San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks
Prediction: San Francisco Giants

Tim Lincecum and the Giants close out their series against Randy Johnson and the Diamondbacks in Arizona tonight. Lincecum loves hurling on Thursdays, going 5-1 in his MLB career, including 3-0 away. With 8 walks and 36 strikeouts in his five career starts against Arizona, and with the Diamondbacks having scored more than 4 runs in just 1 of their last 10 games, we'll back Lincecum and the Giants here this evening.

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Jimmy The Moose

San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks
Prediction: Arizona Diamondbacks

The Giants have been playing a lot better but heading into last night's game they had lost 2 straight and are facing a team they always struggle against. The Giants are 20-41 in their last 61 road games vs. a left-handed starter. San Francisco is 17-36 in their last 53 games overall vs. a lefty. The Giants have lost 5 of their last 6 road games vs. a team with a winning record. Heading into game 3 of the series last night the Diamondbacks had already won the first two games. Arizona needs to win this one to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Giants are 5-13 in their last 18 trips to Arizona prior to Wednesday's game. Play on the Arizona Diamondbacks -.

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Big Al McMordie

Houston Astros vs. Florida Marlins     
Play: Houston Astros   

Add the Houston Astros' 24-year-old righthander Alberto Arias' name to the list of young pitchers who have made an big initial impression this season switching from reliever to starter for his team. Arias was plugged into the rotation for injured starter Wandy Rodriguez as they opted to keep spot starter Chris Sampson in the bullpen. And Arias took full advantage of his first Major League start at home against Pittsburgh on September 8, giving up no runs on only two hits with six strikeouts over five innings. Keeping guys like Sampson in the bullpen allows Houston to give a youngster like Arias an abbreviated start without having to worry about their relievers ruining it for him. Houston probably wishes the season had started after the All-Star Break as it has been firing on all cylinders in the 2nd half. It's winning situations like this that can give young starters like Arias the confidence they need as they progress forward to perhaps become a full-time rotation member. Florida's 24-year-old lefty Scott Olsen hadn't won a game in nine straight starts heading into his last appearance on Friday, but he finally got the monkey off his back in that game. But it took a start against the lowly Washington Nationals to put Olsen back on the winning track. Look for Houston to put Olsen back in the loss column tonight. Take the Astros.

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Scott Ferrall

Baltimore +170 with Olson upsetting Litsch at Rogers

Saunders -130 and Angels at Oakland

KC -170 and Zach Greinke over the Mariners at Kaufmann

CINCY -130 and Volquez over Loshe and Cards in the Queen City

HOUSTON +130 at Florida--Arias over Olsen in Miami

CUBS -250 over Brewers--Harden beats Bush at Wrigley


NCAAF

Colorado +3 from WVU

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Frank Jordan

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves
Play: Philadelphia Phillies   

Simple as this it is Cole Hamels and the Phillies at Atlanta against a 3-11 pitcher. Play Philadelphia

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The Gold Sheet

KEY RELEASE

COLORADO by 7 over West Virginia

COLORADO 24 - West Virginia 17—Both teams off last week. Key question is whether WV can get its offense going after 5 Patrick White TDP in opener vs. Villanova, but then only 3 points & 251 yards at East Carolina?Colorado sees plenty of spread offenses in the Big XII, allowing 23 ppg LY vs.Oklahoma, Baylor, Kansas and Texas Tech, but 55 to Mizzou. Buffs need some ball control from frosh RB Darrell Scott to help scrappy QB Hawkins.


SPORTS REPORTER

*COLORADO over WEST VIRGINIA by 2
Our Zone Blitz rated West Virginia’s 2008 investment prospects as “Poor”, so don’t be looking for one of those boring, generic forecasts that says something like, “West Virginia should be just fine post-Rodriguez.” It just doesn’t have to be that way. Colorado to visitor: ‘We’ve got rushing speed to match your rushing speed, we’ve got defensive contain speed for the edges you love to exploit, and our quarterback was raised to throw the ball first.’ For Cody Hawkins, throwing it into the visitor’s 3-3-5 defense is a bit of a sticky wicket, for he is sometimes a little too fearless for his own good. But West Virginia is off turf, on grass, at altitude, in trouble. COLORADO, 29-27.


Power Sweep

West Virginia at COLORADO - 1st meeting. Colorado does have a large altitude edge as they have been in it for TWO months while WV just came in this week. WV is off a bye (like CU) and is 14-3 SU on the road (11-5-1 ATS). Colorado did upset #3 Oklahoma at home LY, has 14 returning starters and is in year 3 under Hawkins (traditionally the year a new HC does best). LY they only lost to Kansas (finished 12-1, #7) by 5 but are just 3-7 as a HD and WV is 9-4-1 as an AF. Two out of WV’s L/3 SU road losses came in a night game.


Winning Points

West Virginia over Colorado* by 9

Bill Stewart is making major statements about going back to more basic zone option plays, and that is bad news for a Colorado defense that sees little of those tactics in the Big 12, and will have a difficult time adjusting to the speed of Pat White. WEST VIRGINIA 31-22.

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Jim Feist

BAL Orioles @ TOR Blue Jays
Take Over

A couple of decent offensive teams meet here. Baltimore is 6th in the AL in runs scored, while Toronto has been terrific offensively in the second half of the season while getting key offensive players healthy. The joke in Baltimore is that the Orioles are in a tailspin these days, thanks to a pitching staff that can't even get health insurance anymore. They are on their way to their 11th straight losing season. You can't walk batters in a hitter-friendly stadium like Toronto, but Orioles righty Daniel Cabrera has walked 90 in 180 innings, a terrible ratio. And he's getting worse: 14 walks in his last 12 innings! Jesse Litsch is 1-3 with a 5.24 ERA against the Orioles, and an 11.57 ERA this season. Cabrera is 4-8with a 4.92 ERA against Toronto, walking 48 in 93 innings. Look for plenty of runs in this one. Play the Orioles/Blue Jays over the total.

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Dave Cokin

MIN Twins @ TB Rays
Take MIN Twins

The Twins are really struggling on the road, rookie Glenn Perkins has been terrible lately and James Shields is usually money at home for the Rays. So how come I like the Twins tonight? It's the situation. TB is in a big letdown spot off the two tremendously important wins over the Red Sox, and they can actually relax a bit here as they clinched the AL East tie-breaker with the Wednesday win, in effect giving them a three game lead over Boston. The Twins desperately need to get some good things done this weekend as they're still down in the Central and time is running out. Given the scenario, I'll go for the price and call for the Twins to upset the Rays tonight.

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JEFFERSONSPORTS

MLB EARLY RELEASE
KC -180 (Greinke)

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Sports Gambling Hotline

St. Louis at CINCINNATI -130 

We have no problem laying a little juice with the Reds tonight, as Cincinnati appears to be taking the end of this season very seriously, winning their last 4, and 7 of their last 9 games.

The same cannot be said for the Cardinals who have now lost their last 7 games, and are 8-12 their last 20 games played at Great American Ball Park.

Kyle Lohse's road ERA is a little bloated at 4.58, and he hasn't gone past the 6th in either of his last pair of starts.

Edinson Volquez did shut the Cards down back on August the 17th when he worked 7 scoreless against Lohse, and St. Louis and picked up the win.

For the year, Volquez is a positive 8-2 at home, and 16-4 for the year with an ERA just over 3. Cincy pitching has been dominant the last couple of nights against the Cardinals, and will be again tonight.

Play on Cincinnati.

1♦ CINCINNATI

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Karl Garrett

White Sox at YANKEES -130 

Tonight I will go with the Yankees to make it 3 of 4 against the White Sox.

Former Yankee Javier Vazquez has struggled the last 2 times he has faced his former team, as the righty has allowed 10 runs over his last 11 innings of work against New York for an 0-2 ledger.

Mike Mussina looks like he is going to fall short in his bid to win 20 games, as he is 17-9 for the year, but has lost his last pair of starts in ugly fashion.

I like the Moose to get back on track tonight, as Mussina is 2-0 his last 3 starts against Chicago, tossing 19 innings, while allowing 7 runs to scores.

New York is 4-2 in the season series this year, and more importantly 7-2 in the House that Ruth Built since 2006 versus the Pale Hose.

Lay a little home wood, and go with New York tonight.

2♦ YANKEES

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Bobby Maxwell

Minnesota +140 at TAMPA BAY 

Expect a letdown with the Rays tonight after they just took two of three from the Red Sox. Now they've got the Twins coming to town who are in a fight of their own with the White Sox for the A.L. Central division.

Minnesota is looking to regroup after losing four straight, including a 6-4 loss Wednesday in Cleveland. The Twins are 2 1/2 games out of first in the Central and they have to keep pace with the White Sox until they meet for a three-game set in Minnesota starting Sept. 23.

The Rays and Twins split a two-game series in Minnesota in April and the Twins have won 11 of their last 16 matchups in Tampa Bay. Glen Perkins (12-4, 4.40 ERA) goes for the Twins in this one, making his first start against the Rays.

James Shields (13-8, 3.50) is on the hill for the Rays and he's just 1-1 with a 5.94 ERA in three career outings against Minnesota. He gave up five runs in five innings of a 6-5 loss on April 16 in Minnesota.

Letdown factor plays a big part tonight as the Twins steal one in Tampa. Play Minnesota.

2♦ MINNESOTA

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Sports Advisors

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

(21) West Virginia (1-1, 0-1 ATS) at Colorado (2-0, 1-0 ATS)

West Virginia, which took last weekend off after a stunning upset loss at East Carolina, travels to Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo., for a nationally televised non-conference matchup against the Buffaloes.

West Virginia, then ranked No. 8 and considered a possible national title contender, got steamrolled 24-3 at East Carolina as a 7½-point road chalk on Sept. 6. Star QB Patrick White rushed for 97 yards to pace a ground attack that totaled 179 yards, but he threw for just 72 yards and led just one scoring drive – on a second-quarter field goal. The Mountaineers lost the turnover battle 2-0, were outgained 386-251 and were on the short end of a 36-24 difference in time of possession.

Colorado, which also had last weekend off, barely held off Division I-AA Eastern Washington 31-24 in a non-lined home game on Sept. 6. The Buffs trailed 21-7 at halftime and needed 17 fourth-quarter points to avoid the upset, capped by an interception return for a TD in the final two minutes. QB Cody Hawkins (28 of 38, 261 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) was steady, though his lone pick was returned for a TD in the second quarter. Colorado allowed just 47 rushing yards but yielded 303 through the air.

This is the first-ever meeting between these schools.

The loss at East Carolina aside, the Mountaineers have still won 14 of their last 17 games on the highway (11-5-1 ATS) and are on positive pointspread streaks of 9-4-1 as a road favorite, 5-1 after a loss of more than 20 points and 5-1 following a non-cover. The Buffaloes, conversely, are on ATS slides of 3-7 as a home pup and 2-7 after a SU win.

The over for West Virginia is on runs of 4-0 after a SU loss, 5-1 after a bye week and 5-1 in Thursday contests. Also, the total has also gone high in four of Colorado’s last five lined games and is on a 4-0 run following a SU win, though the under is 10-2 in the Buffs’ last 12 non-conference tilts and 4-0 in its last four in September.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER


NATIONAL LEAGUE

Milwaukee (84-68) at Chicago Cubs (91-59)

The Brewers, desperately trying to win the N.L. wild-card after having fired manager Ned Yost on Monday, send Dave Bush (9-10, 4.24 ERA) to the hill at Wrigley Field against the first-place Cubs and red-hot Rich Harden (10-2, 2.04 ERA) to close out a three-game set.

Milwaukee snapped a five-game losing skid with Wednesday’s 6-2 win at Wrigley Field, prevailing despite losing No. 2 pitcher Ben Sheets to an injury after two innings. The Brewers, who trail the Mets by one-half game in the wild-card race, still remain in a major freefall, losing 12 of their last 16 contests overall, and they’re also 1-8 in their last nine against winning teams and 4-12 in Bush’s last 16 road starts.

Despite having their five-game winning streak halted last night, the Cubs remain eight games up on the Brewers in the N.L. Central race. Chicago is 51-22 in its last 73 home games and has won five of six against Milwaukee.

The Brewers have lost three straight games started by Bush, after winning five in a row behind the right-hander. On Sunday at Philadelphia, Bush allowed three runs on five hits in six innings of a 7-3 loss.

Bush is 3-6 with a 5.25 ERA in 13 appearances (12 starts) on the road this year, and he’s 1-7 with a 5.16 ERA in 10 career starts against Chicago, including 0-2 with an 8.53 ERA in two outings against the Cubs this year.

Harden has been money for weeks, winning five straight decisions while the Cubs are 7-0 in his last seven starts, with the right-hander yielding two earned runs or less in six of those outings. On Thursday at St. Louis, he allowed two runs on five hits in six innings of a 3-2 victory.

Harden, acquired in a trade with Oakland earlier this year, is 5-0 with a 1.79 ERA in 14 combined home starts this year (2-0, 1.80 ERA in six outings at Wrigley Field). Also, in his lone career start against Milwaukee back in July, he allowed just a run on six hits with nine strikeouts in seven innings in an 11-4 road win.

The over is 21-8-4 run in the last 33 clashes between these rivals In addition, the over is on runs of 5-0-4 for Milwaukee overall and 6-2-3 for the Brewers on the road. On the flip side, for Chicago, the under is on streaks of 4-1-1 overall and 5-2-1 at Wrigley.

ATS ADVANTAGE: CHICAGO CUBS


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Chicago White Sox (84-67) at N.Y. Yankees (81-71)

The White Sox, looking to pad their lead in the A.L. Central, hand the ball to Javier Vazquez (12-13, 4.13 ERA) to wrap up a four-game road series against the Yankees, who will counter with fellow right-hander Mike Mussina (17-9, 3.63).

The teams have alternated wins and losses in the first three games of this series, with New York rallying late for a 5-1 victory on Wednesday. The Yankees sport several positive streaks, including 5-1 against the A.L. Central, 18-8 at home versus winning teams, 8-1 with Mussina facing a club above .500 and 7-1 with Mussina going against A.L. Central squads.

Chicago has been treading water lately with a 4-6 record in its last 10 games. The White Sox also carry a bevy of negative streaks, including 1-8 against right-handers on the road, 6-16 on the highway against winning teams and 3-8 against the A.L. East. In addition, with Vazquez throwing, Chicago is 0-6 in its last six against winning teams and 0-7 in the last seven against the A.L. East.

The Yankees are on a 9-3 tear in the last 12 meetings with the White Sox, 7-2 in the last nine clashes in the Bronx and of 5-0 in Mussina’s last five home starts versus the Pale Hose.

Chicago has won two of Vazquez’s last three starts, including Sunday’s 4-2 home victory over Detroit. In that outing, the 32-year-old threw 7 2/3 innings of three-hit shutout ball, and he’s given up a combined four earned runs over 19 2/3 innings in his last three starts (1.83 ERA).

New York had won seven straight behind Mussina before losing his last two outings. On Saturday against Tampa, he allowed five runs on eight hits in five innings of a 7-1 home defeat, his shortest outing since July 28.

Vazquez is 5-7 with a 4.47 ERA in 15 road starts this year, and he’s 1-4 with an inflated 6.14 ERA in five career starts against New York. Mussina is 10-7 with a 3.70 ERA in 19 starts at the Stadium in 2008, but he’s a mediocre 17-16 with a 4.57 ERA in 38 career starts against the Sox.

The under for Chicago is on runs of 7-1-1 on the highway and 21-6-2 against the A.L. East, and each of Vazquez’s last five starts have stayed low and the under is also 6-2-1 in Vazquez’s last nine road efforts. Meanwhile, for New York, the under has cashed in nine of Mussina’s last 12 home starts and is 8-3 in Moose’s last 11 outings against winning teams.

ATS ADVANTAGE: N.Y. YANKEES and UNDER

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The Gold Medal Club

Minnesota @ Tampa Bay
PLAY TAMPA BAY -155

More juice here than we are used to, but it is warranted. After a successful and emotional series win over there rival leaders the Boston Red Sox, the Rays can use this momentum to finish strong.We note Tampa Bay is 20-1 as home chalk in this price range, and with Shields on the mound look for that to go to 21-1. Shields has certainly been formidable going 9-2 at home this year and is 2-0 in his last 3 starts with an era of 1.57! On the flip side Perkins looks like he has hit the wall, although he is 5-1 on the road this year, his last 3 starts have been disastrous.He is 0-1 with an era of 8.56 and a whip over 2.

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Ben Burns

Los Angeles Dodgers @ Pittsburgh Pirates
PICK: Under

Maholm has been tough at home all season. In fact, he's gone 7-2 with a 3.32 ERA and 1.174 WHIP in 15 starts here. The 'under' was 8-6-1 in those games. He'll face a Dodger lineup which has really struggled to score runs during the daytime. Indeed, the Dodgers have seen the 'under' go 26-18 when playing during the afternoon and they've averaged a mere 3.7 runs in those games, while hitting just .251. As for the Pirates, they haven't hit particularly well vs. southpaws (.248 average, 4.4 rpg) and they'll be at the disadvantage of facing Kershaw for the first time. Last time out, Kershaw allowed just four hits and one run through six innings at Coors Field. That game finished well below the total with a final score of 5-1. Given that Kershaw has a much better ERA during the day than he does at night, I won't be surprised if this afternoon's game proves to be relatively low-scoring once again. Consider the UNDER (1*)

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Vegas Experts

Minnesota Twins at Tampa Bay Rays

If the Tampa Bay Rays are listed as $1.50 favorites or higher, you might as well not even show up if you're the other team. That's because the AL East leaders are a sensational 32-2 in that price range this season, including 25-1 at $2.00 or less. Incredibly, tonight's starter James Shields owns a 12-0 team start record in the original price range we talked about. Shields also has posted a 1.57 ERA his L3 starts. Who are we to argue with these numbers?

Play on: Tampa Bay

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Nick Parsons

Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves
Prediction: Philadelphia Phillies

Although the Phillies are way too pricey to release as a pay play you're reading about them here because I do see value with the Phils on Thursday. At this price, you may want to simply consider using them in a parlay but, the fact is, the value with Philadelphia should not be passed up on here. Philly is once again running hot in making their late season playoff push just like they did last year! Now, having won six straight, and having their staff ace on the mound tonight, they should not be denied. Cole Hamels is only allowing opponents to hit .224 against him this season. He also is 6-3 on the road this season. Hamels is 5-2 in his career against Altanta and the southpaw has held the Braves to a .229 batting average in his career. Keep in mind that this even includes his most recent outing against Atlanta. That came in July and Hamels got roughed up. In other words, it's revenge time for one of the best southpaws in the game! Originally it looked like the Braves were going to go with Jo Jo Reyes in this match-up tonight but it now looks like Mike Hampton will get the call. Either way, neither one of those southpaws is in the same class as Hamels. When you couple that factor with the fact that the Phillies are rolling and confident while the Braves are playing out the string here and you can see why the Phils are the play on Thursday night!

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Drew Gordon

LA Angels at OAKLAND +105

First thing that jumps out at you in this contest is the number... Doesn't it seem tantalizingly low for Joe Saunders, who's been a beast on the road (9-3, 2.74 ERA away)? When you consider a couple things, it becomes clear why the number is where its at, and why the only play here is on the surging A's...

Sharp bettors know there's something fishy about the bargain price on Joe Saunders. It starts with each team's recent play, that is to say, the sudden struggles of this Angels team, versus the sudden surge by the Athletics. Angels have lost two in a row, but already they're playing like a team with ZERO interest in the remainder of the regular season. Also, with Guerrero out and Rivera likely a scratch, the Angels offense got a lot weaker overnight.

Athletics on the other hand, have seemingly found their groove, even though it means absolutely nothing except pride at this point. They've won 4 straight, averaging a hearty 6.25 runs per game over that span, and now get a shot at a pitcher they dominated the last time they saw him. That's right, for all of Joe Saunders success this season, the last time he saw the A's he got rocked for 6 runs in just 1 1/3 innings back on August 27th!

The last piece of the puzzle is the A's rookie Josh Outman, who was rock-solid against a top-tier Rangers offense in his first start of the season, allowing just 1 run over 5 innings Saturday. That was the game that started the A's winning streak, and I expect Outman to handle a short-handed/disinterested Angels offense in this one as well.

Bottom line, you're right to question the number on this contest, because it does stand out as fishy. Although its tough to side with the A's after a woeful season, the Angels are not themselves, as they prepare for their postseason run. In the end, Outman gets the job done, while the hot-hitting Athletics beat up on Saunders once again tonight!

Take Oakland behind Outman over the LA Angels and Saunders in this MLB match up.

3♦ OAKLAND

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