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Thursday Service Plays

Thursday Service Plays

SPORTS ADVISORS

NBA PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(2) Boston (3-2, 1-3-1 ATS) at (7) Chicago (2-3, 3-1-1 ATS)

The Celtics got a somewhat controversial Game 5 victory at home and now head to the Windy City with a chance to eliminate the Bulls when this best-of-7 series resumes at the United Center.

For the second straight game and the third time in this series, the Celtics and Bulls needed overtime to settle things Tuesday, with Boston prevailing 106-104 but once again failing to cover, this time as a 7½-point home chalk. Point guard Rajon Rondo (game-high 28 points, eight rebounds, 11 assists) nearly notched another triple-double and Paul Pierce finished with 26 points, including the game-winning basket with less than four seconds to play. Boston, which rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to force the extra session, also got huge contributions from Glen Davis (21 points, six rebounds) and Kendrick Perkins (16 points, 19 rebounds).

Chicago had a chance to force a second overtime in Game 5 when Brad Miller, going up for a layup, was fouled hard by Rondo with two seconds to play. However, Miller missed both free throws (the second one intentionally) to end the Bulls’ upset bid. Ben Gordon, playing on a bad hamstring, had a team-high 26 points as six of the seven Bulls who played significant time scored in double figures (the only exception was Miller, who had five points). Chicago finished with a 50-44 rebounding edge, the fourth time in five games in this series that the Bulls have finished with more rebounds.

The Celtics are now 15-4 SU in their last 19 games overall, but just 5-6-1 ATS in their last 12. Boston has now topped the century mark in seven straight games and 13 of its last 14. Meanwhile, Chicago is on a 14-7 SU roll and a 7-4-1 ATS streak, and the Bulls have scored in triple digits in 20 of their last 26 contests, putting up 107 ppg during this stretch.

Boston is now 9-3 SU in the last 12 meetings with the Bulls and 8-4-1 ATS in the last 13. However, Chicago is 4-1-1 ATS in the last six clashes since March 17. Also, the underdog is 5-0-1 during this six-meeting stretch after the favorite cashed in each of the previous nine in this rivalry.

Chicago is 29-14 at home this year (22-20-1 ATS), while the Celtics are 28-15 as a visitor (23-19-1 ATS). The teams split Games 3 and 4 at the United Center, with Boston winning 107-86 as 3½-point road underdog Thursday and the Bulls prevailing 121-118 in double-overtime Sunday, pushing as a three-point chalk.

The Bulls are in the midst of pointspread streaks that include 13-4-1 after a SU loss, 6-1-1 in first-round postseason games, 5-1-1 versus winning teams, 5-2 when playing on one day of rest and 8-3 on Thursday. However, they’re 1-4-1 ATS in their last six at home (all as a favorite) and 1-4-2 ATS in their last seven when laying points in the playoffs.

Despite their troubles covering the number in this series, the Celtics remain on ATS tears of 6-1-1 on the road, 36-15-1 as an underdog, 5-1-1 when catching less than five points, 43-17-1 as a road underdog, 6-0-1 as a playoff ‘dog and 13-5 when playing on Thursday. But Doc Rivers’ squad is just 1-6-1 ATS in its last eight against Central Division squads.

The over is 6-1 in the last seven meetings between these teams (4-1 in this series). Additionally, for the Celtics, the over is on streaks of 6-1 overall, 19-7 against the Eastern Conference, 8-2 in first-round postseason games and 5-1 when playing on one day of rest. Finally, the Bulls are on “over” stretches of 8-2 in first-round playoff action, 10-4 against the Atlantic Division, 6-1 against winning teams and 9-3 when favored by less than five points.

ATS ADVANTAGE: CHICAGO and OVER


(3) Orlando (3-2 SU, 1-4 ATS) at (6) Philadelphia (2-3 SU, 4-1 ATS)

The Magic go on the road for Game 6 at the Wachovia Center aiming to put the 76ers away, but they’ll have to do so without center Dwight Howard, who was suspended for this contest after intentionally throwing an elbow in Game 5.

Orlando got 24 points and 24 rebounds from Howard in Tuesday’s 91-78 victory as an 8½-point favorite, as the Magic covered for the first time in this series. Rashard Lewis matched Howard with 24 points, and Orlando had a 45-33 rebounding edge, including 15-4 on the offensive end, and went 8-for-23 from three-point range en route to halting a 2-8 ATS dive. However, the bad news for the Magic came Wednesday when the NBA suspended Howard for Game 6 after he intentionally elbowed Philadelphia center Sam Dalembert in the back of the head early in the contest.

Andre Iguodala led Philadelphia with 26 points in Game 5, and Andre Miller had 17 points, six assists and four steals, but Miller also had five turnovers. Philly also made just 4 of 18 three-pointers (22.2 percent). The Game 5 non-cover ended the 76ers’ 6-0 ATS surge against Southeast Division opponents.

Orlando is 7-2 SU (5-4 ATS) in the last nine games between these teams. However, the Magic have been favored in all five games in this series and have gone just 1-4 ATS, and the underdog in this rivalry is still 27-12 ATS in the last 39 clashes.

Orlando is 28-15 SU (26-16-1 ATS) on the highway this year, including Sunday’s 84-81 Game 4 win at Philly in which it failed to cash as a 4½-point chalk. Philadelphia is 25-18 SU (20-21-2 ATS) on its home floor.

Despite Tuesday’s effort, the Magic remain on pointspread slides of 3-8 overall, 0-5 in roadies, 1-10 against the Atlantic Division, 2-7 against the Eastern Conference and 2-7 as a favorite.

On the flip side, the 76ers are still 13-4-1 ATS in their last 18 contests against Southeast Division foes, including 6-1 ATS in the last seven, and they’re on additional ATS rolls of 5-2 at home and 6-2 after a SU loss of more than 10 points. On the downside, the Sixers are 1-6 ATS in their alst seven after a SU loss and 1-4 ATS in their last five after a non-cover.

The last four games in this series have stayed below the posted total, and the under is 6-2 in the last eight contests overall and 4-1 in the last five matchups at the Wachovia Center. Additionally, the under for Orlando is on tears of 17-5 overall, 10-2 against Atlantic Division foes, 11-2 after a day off, 7-1 in first-round playoff games, 6-1 after a SU win and 5-1 on the road. Likewise, the under for Philadelphia is on streaks of 10-3 in first-round playoff games and 10-3 when catching points in the playoffs.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER


WESTERN CONFERENCE

(4) Portland (2-3, 3-2 ATS) at (5) Houston (3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS)

The Rockets will try advance to the Western Conference semifinals for the first time since 1997 when they host the Trail Blazers inside the Toyota Center in Houston in Game 6 of this best-of-7 opening-round playoff series.

Houston took a 3-1 series lead to Portland on Tuesday but failed to close out the Blazers, losing 88-77 as a 5½-point underdog. The Blazers got 25 points apiece from Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, and they forced 17 Rockets’ turnovers. Houston got 21 points from Luis Scola and 15 points and 12 rebounds from Yao Ming, but the Rockets got outscored 24-15 in the fourth quarter.

The Rockets have won eight of their last 11 overall (6-5 ATS) and now they return home where they squeaked by in Games 3 and 4, failing to cover in either contest as a favorite.  The Trail Blazers have won eight of their last 11 overall, going 9-2 ATS, including three consecutive spread-covers in this series.

Houston has won eight of the last 11 in this rivalry (6-5 ATS) and the host has won seven of the last eight (3-5 ATS). The Rockets have won five straight over the Blazers in Texas (2-3 ATS), and Portland has not scored more than 94 points in any of its last five trips to Houston.

Portland is on ATS runs of 16-5 overall, 8-2 against Western Conference teams, 4-1 as a ‘dog, 6-1 after a spread-cover and 5-0 after getting one day off. The Rockets are on ATS slides of 1-6 as a playoff favorite, 1-4 as a home chalk between five and 10½ points and 5-11 in conference quarterfinal action, but they are on positive pointspread runs of 5-2 at home (0-2 in this series), 27-9-3 on Thursdays and 19-7 after a non-cover.

The under has been the play in each of the last three games in this series after the over rolled in during the first two games. The over is still 6-3 in the last nine head-to-head meetings between these two, but the under is 6-2 in the last eight matchups inside the Toyota Center.

For Portland, the under is on runs of 5-0 on the road, 15-7 as a ‘dog, 5-2 as a road ‘dog and 5-2 against the Southwest Division. Houston is on “under” streaks of 5-2 overall, 20-8 after a non-cover, 4-1 after getting one day off and 5-0 as a playoff favorite.

ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE


NATIONAL LEAGUE

San Diego (11-10) at L.A. Dodgers (14-8)

The top two teams in the N.L. West begin a four-game weekend series at Dodger Stadium, where L.A.’s James McDonald (2-1, 7.11 ERA) is set to oppose the Padres’ Josh Geer (0-0, 4.91) in a battle of rookie right-handers.

San Diego capped a three-game series at the Rockies with Wednesday’s 7-5 defeat and it has now dropped seven of its last nine after beginning the season 9-3. During the slump, the Padres have lost five of six on the road. Additionally, the Friars are in funks of 20-48 as a road underdog, 28-58 versus winning teams, 1-4 against the N.L. West, 1-5 against right-handed starters and 1-4 in Geer’s last five starts, but they have won five consecutive games on Thursday.

The Dodgers return home after a nine-game road trip that saw them go 4-5, including last night’s 9-4 loss to the Giants. Los Angeles is unbeaten in six home games this season, outscoring its foes – the Giants and Rockies – by a combined tally of 64-17. Also, despite last night’s loss in San Francisco, Joe Torre’s club is also on positive runs of 12-5 overall, 36-16 at home, 25-10 as a favorite and 11-3 against N.L. West rivals.

These teams split a four-game series in San Diego to open the season, but Los Angeles is still 9-4 in the last 13 clashes, including taking five of the last six in 2008 at Dodger Stadium.

Geer’s only start this season came on April 19 at Philadelphia, and he allowed just two runs (one earned) on six hits and no walks in seven innings. He left with a 4-2 lead, but San Diego couldn’t hold it, losing 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth. Geer has also pitched four innings out of the bullpen, allowing five runs (six earned) on seven hits. The rookie has yet to face the Dodgers.

McDonald gave up five runs (all earned) in five innings on Saturday at Colorado, but he ended up getting the win as the Dodgers held on 6-5. The 24-year-old has pitched poorly in two road starts (10 runs allowed in 7 1/3 innings), but he’s been sharp in two home outings (one start), scattering five hits and three walks over 5 1/3 scoreless innings. McDonald’s career against San Diego includes just one scoreless inning of relief last season.

All four meetings in San Diego this month stayed under the total, but 20 of the last 28 Padres-Dodgers clashes in Los Angeles have played to the “over.” Additionally, the Dodgers are on “over” stretches of 7-1-3 overall, 4-1-1 at home this season, 8-1-1 as a home favorite, 8-0-1 against right-handed starters and 5-0-3 versus the N.L. West. Similarly, San Diego carries “over” trends of 4-1 overall, 9-3-1 on the road, 5-2 in N.L. West contests, 7-1 on the road against righty starters and 9-2 in series openers.

ATS ADVANTAGE: L.A. DODGERS and OVER

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Cajun Sports

Arizona D-Backs vs. Milwaukee Brewers     
Play: Milwaukee Brewers   

Miller Park will be the site of tonight’s National League battle between the host Milwaukee Brewers and the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks. Arizona was hoping to duplicate last season’s performance during the month of April but they have come up short with a record of 8-12 W/L (-6.2). The D-Backs are averaging a mere 3.6 runs per game with a batting average of .228 and an OBP of .301. Milwaukee is 26-5 W/L (+17.6) in home games versus National League teams with an on base percentage .315 or worse and 17-2 W/L (+14.5) in home games versus National League teams scoring 3.8 or less runs per game on the season the last 3 seasons. The Diamondbacks are even worse when they hit the highway posting a record of 1-2 (-1.0) averaging only 0.7 runs per game and a batting average of .126. Not only are the Diamondbacks struggling to score runs their bullpen ranks near the bottom in ERA with a 5.43 ERA on the year with four save opportunities and three of those blown. If Arizona has managed to get a lead their bullpen has not been able to hold the lead which in turn never allows this team to build any type of momentum. Tonight they will send Max Scherzer to the bump with his 0-2 record in three starts and ERA of 4.91 (1-9 W/L -9.7 units L2Y). The key for Milwaukee will be Scherzer who has averaged 4.9 innings per start and with any offense at all the Brewers should be able to get into the D-Backs bullpen early. Arizona is 15-36 W/L on the road facing a team with a winning record, 4-11 W/L on the road versus right-handed starters, 2-7 W/L as a road underdog and 5-16 W/L on the road their last twenty-one games overall. The Brewers will send right-hander Jeff Suppan to the hill with his 1-2 record and an ERA of 7.32. Over his last three starts the Brewers have gone 2-1 which included wins at Houston 9 to 8 and at the New York Mets 4 to 2. The Brewers have owned this series of late going 10-4 W/L (+5.9) during the last three seasons and 6-1 W/L (+4.7) at home when facing the Diamondbacks. Milwaukee is 36-16 W/L at home when facing a team with a losing record, 5-1 W/L their last six versus a right-handed starter, 5-1 W/L when installed as a favorite and 6-2 W/L their last eight when Suppan takes the bump as a favorite. Suppan (team record) is 37-16 W/L (+18.8) at home with a money line of -100 to -125 since 1997 and (team record) 53-36 W/L (+16.3) at home when the money line is +125 to -125 since 1997. We also have a MLB System that is active for tonight’s game and it says to Play Against MLB (NL) road teams when the money line is +125 to -125 with a bullpen that blows 38 percent or more of their save opportunities against an opponent with a starting pitcher who has an ERA of 6.70 or higher on the year. Our TPR (Team Performance Ratings) Index projects the Brewers getting the win tonight by 1.76 runs. The Math Model also projects a Brewers win with an average score of 5.7 to 3.9. With all systems go we will back the host here and lay the short price with Suppan as the Brewers get the win.

Graded Selection: 2* Milwaukee Brewers 6 Arizona Diamondbacks 4

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Rocketman Sports

San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers     
Play: Los Angeles Dodgers     

LA Dodgers are 6-0 at home this year. San Diego bullpen has a 5.35 ERA on the road this season. LA Dodgers are scoring 5.7 runs per game overall, 8.3 runs per game at home and 5.7 runs per game against right handed starters this year. Dodgers batting average at home is a whopping .367 as a team. LA Dodgers bullpen has been good with a 3.41 ERA overall and a 3.37 ERA at home this year. We'll recommend a small play on the LA Dodgers tonight!

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Craig Trapp

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets    
Play: Portland Trail Blazers +5

Lets keep up the winning free plays as yesterday Craig's free MLB play covered late with the RedSox winning in the 10th inning. Great comeback by BOSTON saved our free play!! We'll take it! Today we switch sports as Handicapper Craig Trapp gives out his free winner in the NBA. We are going to breakdown and give the winner between Portland at Houston in Game 6 of the NBA playoffs!!! Portland is facing elimination as they are down 2 games to 3! Lets look at the betting trends and give you the winner today!!

Betting Trends

-POR are 16-5 ATS in their last 21 games overall.

-Trail Blazers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 road games.

-Rockets are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as a favorite.

-Road team is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings.

Once Portland's young team got over the excitement of the NBA playoffs in Game 1 they have really outplayed Houston. Since that game they are 3-1 ATS and have won three in a row ATS. Love the better athletic and skilled team with there back against the wall. Also the best player on the floor is on the Blazers with Brandon Roy. No one will be able to stop him tonight as he goes for 30 plus. Aldridge will also have a very good game and think Portland will keep this close if not win outright. SCORE POR 93 - HOU 91

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Marc Lawrence

Play On: Tampa Bay w/Garza vs. Beckett

The Rays host the Red Sox in the opener of a 4-game series in Tampa tonight when Matt Garza matches serves with Josh Beckett. With Beckett struggling early on this season and owning an 8.98 ERA in his last three starts, and having issued 10 walks against 13 strikeouts in those efforts, we'll look for Garza to improve on his 8-1 career team start mark against the BoSox here tonight.

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Jimmy The Moose

Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
Prediction: Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox won another one last night and have now won 9 of their last 10 games. Boston is 12-1 in their last 13 games overall. In their last 11 games as a favorite they are 10-1. Beckett takes the mound tonight and the Red Sox have won 3 of his 4 starts this season. The Rays have lost 2 straight and are 3-7 in their last 10 overall. AT home they have lost 5 of their 7 games this season. Garza is 1-2 on the year with a 4.97 ERA. The Rays are 0-3 in his last 3 starts and his ERA in the 3 games is 6.38. Play on the Boston Red Sox -.

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MTi Sports

Toronto Blue Jays at Kansas City Royals
Prediction: Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto is 13-0 when they are off a loss in which they held the lead and allowed at least five runs with only one of the wins by a lone run. Take the Jays.

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Ben Burns

Chicago Blackhawks at Vancouver Canucks
Prediction: Vancouver Canucks

While the Hawks are certainly capable and worthy of our respect, I feel that Vancouver is likely to win this series.

After sweeping the Blues, the Canucks have had an extra long layoff. That can work both ways. On one hand, it can cause a little bit of early "rust." On the other hand, it allows players some time to recover from any nagging bumps and bruises.

I expect the Canucks, who were as impressive as any team in the first round, to use the added rest to their advantage. They're an outstanding 15-2 their last 17 home games (4-0 L4) and I look for them to start things off with a victory. Consider Vancouver for the game and the series.

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Allen Eastman

Take 'Over' Boston at Chicago

If we can get a high 190 or low 200 we will be taking this total over. I think that Boston has proven that it is a straight 'over' team without Kevin Garnett. Neither team can stop the other's guards and the 'over' is a crazy 22-6 in Boston's last 28 home games. Also, five of the last six meetings between these two have gone 'over'.

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DAVE COKIN

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS / WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Take ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Daniel Cabrera continues to have all kinds of trouble for the Nationals. The big righty has now strung together nine straight non-quality starts going back to last season, and he's up against a tough Cardinals lineup tonight. Mitchell Boggs is certainly no great shakes, but he'll at least throw strikes, an apparent foreign concept for Cabrera. That 12:7 BB:K ratio for Cabrera is a killer, and he's fade material at any reasonable price right now. I'll back the Cardinals to win tonight.

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JIM FEIST

FLORIDA MARLINS / CHICAGO CUBS
Take FLORIDA MARLINS

Florida broke of its skid with a big win as a dog at NY. This team has plenty of talent and is still in first place. Starter Chris Volstad is outstanding, at 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA, fanning 22 in 23 innings. The Cubs are a .500 team at home and have battled injuries. They've had trouble defensively, as well, and the Marlins can attack opponents with speed. Chicago lefty Sean Marshall is 1-3 with a 4.38 ERA against the Marlins, and is winless this season overall with a 4.50 ERA. The wrong team is favored. Play the Marlins.

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John Martin

1 Unit on New York Yankees -1.5 -115

I like the Yankees to win this one by at least 2 runs Thursday, but more likely 5 runs or more. The Angels are really struggling to score runs this season. They let Mark Teixeira go to New York in the offseason, and their biggest bat in Vlad Guerrero is injured right now. The Angels are only putting up 4.1 runs/game on the road this season as a result. New York is getting their bats going, putting up 33 runs in their last 5 games, scoring better than 6 runs/game during this stretch. This is a huge mismatch on the mound with A.J. Burnett taking down Anthony Ortega. The righty for the Angels in Ortega is off to a tough start in his first year as a starter, giving up 2 home runs in his lone start with a 7.20 ERA. The Angels are only 3-9 in their last 12 games following a win. The Yankees are 8-1 in their last 9 when their opponent allows 2 runs or less in their previous game. The Yankees are 9-2 in their last 11 home games overall. Instead of laying big juice on the Money Line, I’ll back the Yankees to win this one by at least 2 runs on the -1.5 Run Line at nearly even money. Cash in with New York on the -1.5 Run Line Thursday.

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Bobby Maxwell

Red Sox -110 at TAMPA BAY 

Today's FREE winner comes from the diamond as we go with the Red Sox to get it done in Tampa Bay against the Rays.

It looks a little like deja vu tonight for the Red Sox as they return to Tropicana Field and face the pitcher who helped knock them out of the playoffs last year in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.

Matt Garza (1-2, 4.97 ERA) is on the hill for the Rays, facing the Sox who he beat in Game 7 after going seven innings and allowing just one run, earning himself ALCS MVP honors. But look for this series, especially tonight, to be a lot different.

Boston has won 12 of 13 games, they are scoring runs and they are the hottest team in baseball. They got a 6-5 win in Cleveland on Thursday when they got the first ever homer from Jonathan Van Every in the 10-inning and rallied from a 5-0 deficit to win 6-5. Josh Beckett (2-1, 6.00 ERA) is on the hill tonight and he's already beaten the Rays this year, giving up one run in seven innings on April 7 as Boston got the 5-3 victory.

The Rays are in last place in the A.L. East and the Red Sox are pounding the ball and winning games.

Play Boston to get this one against the Rays.

2♦ BOSTON

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Jeff Benton

Orlando at PHILADELPHIA -5 

For Thursday’s free play, we’ll head to the NBA playoffs and back the 76ers minus the points in their win-or-go-home contest against Orlando.

Simply put, if the Magic have struggled as much as they have in this series with Dwight Howard on the floor, how in the world are they going to overcome the big man’s absence tonight? As you likely now know, Howard was suspended for Game 6 because of a cheap-shot elbow he threw at the back of Sam Dalembert’s head. So gone from the Orlando lineup is an All-Star big man who has A) posted a double-double in every game in this series; B) blocked 14 shots in five games; and C) averaged 24 points and 15.8 boards per game.

You tell me who on Orlando’s team is going to pick up that kind of slack? Because I don’t see anyone on the roster who can do it, particularly given the fact that with Howard on the floor, the Magic have lost twice to the Sixers outright, while two of its three wins were struggles, including a last-second 84-81 victory in Game 4 in Philadelphia.

Lastly, not only have the Magic failed to cover in four of the five games in this series, but they’re still just 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games, including 0-5 ATS (1-4 SU) on the road. Meanwhile, the Sixers have cashed in five of their last seven home games (2-0 ATS at home in this series) and they’re an impressive 13-4-1 ATS in their last 18 games against teams from the Southeast Division.

Bottom line: Without Howard, this is a throwaway game for the Magic, and once they get down early, look for coach Stan Van Gundy to do the smart thing and rest his starters for a Game 7 back in Orlando. Lay the points with the home chalk.

3♦ PHILADELPHIA

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Karl Garrett

Orlando at PHILADELPHIA -4' 

G-Man not crazy about the side in this Magic-Sixers game, but I am willing to take a little action on the total. I have a feeling this game is going to once again land on the LOW side.

Thus far, the last 4 in this series have landed UNDER the posted total, as have 6 of the last 8, and 7 of the last 10 games played between the clubs.

The loss of Dwight Howards points is going to be hard for Orlando to make up, further showing why the UNDER is the way to go tonight.

Finally, for the season Philadelphia is 16-25-2 UNDER the posted total this season in their 43 home games to date, whiel Orlando is 21-22 UNDER the posted price in their 43 away games to date.

Stick with the trends, and play Game Six to land LOW.

2♦ UNDER

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Sports Gambling Hotline

Orlando +4' at PHILADELPHIA 

We are well aware of the suspension of Dwight Howard for this game, but we are not very excited about laying a couple of baskets with the 76ers.

Philadelphia has only been favored once in the last fifteen meetings between the teams, and they lost that game outright.

Orlando is still a positive 26-16-1 against the spread on the road this year, while Philadelphia is under .500 for the season on their home hardwood, at 20-21-2 against the math.

No doubt Philly should take advantage of a Howard-less Orlando team, but Orlando should still be able to stay inside of this impost.

We are calling for a close game all the way, and for the Magic plus the points to stay inside of this impost.

Play on Orlando!

1♦ ORLANDO

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Scott Delaney

Play Los Angeles on the Run Line in its NL West showdown tonight with San Diego.

I know the Dodgers are coming home after getting shelled by the Giants, but that's even more reason to believe they'll be looking for the win tonight. It's the start of a four-game weekend set, and they'll be out to avenge last night's loss immediately.

They shouldn't have any trouble getting into a rhythm against San Diego's Josh Geer, who has shown a knack for leaving his pitches high in the zone, a mistake that will cost him in Dodger Stadium against the men in blue.

I know right-hander James McDonald hasn't exactly been the go-to guy this season, but he's shown flashes of dominance against the D'Backs, Giants and the Rockies twice. The key thing to make note of is how his innings have progressively increased since April 10, from just 2 1/3 frames to five in his last start, in Denver.

He catches a break as the Friars come into Chavez Ravine after swinging away in the rarified air inside Coors Field, and won't get any time to recover in having to play immediately against their rivals. I doubt that offense will have its timing down right away.

Let's play the Dodgers in a series-opening rout as they improve to 7-0 at home this season with their 9th win in San Diego's last 12 trips to LA.

L.A. DODGERS

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Matt Rivers

For Thursday lay the points with the Rockets.

Experience, experience, experience!

Portland has had a great season and is a team to be reckoned with in the future for sure but the Blazers are just too young today and it will show. Brandon Roy is blossoming into a Superstar, LaMarcus Aldridge may not be far behind, Greg Oden will get better and become a defensive force and overall these Trailblazers are very solid.

But today is a tough tough spot for the young boys from Portland to be successful in. For one today's visitors are not the same team on the road as they are at the Rose Garden. They did play decent enough competitive ball in the two road games in this series at the Toyota Center, covering one of them, but it was the Rockets who were pretty much in the lead in both games throughout and never in true danger of not winning either game.

Now in a do or die situation on the highway I don't see this young Portland team being able to muster enough offense against Ron Artest, Yao, Shane Battier and the very solid Rockets' defense. Roy probably will get his but other sources are going to be hard to come by and in the end Houston is just going to be a bit too much and advance in an 8-10 point victory.

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Re: Thursday Service Plays

Red Dog Sports

LA Angels at New York Yankees

Play over 10 runs as the Yankees have played 4 overs and just 2 unders at home. Together these two have played 24 overs, 15 unders and a push this year. Ortega has an ERA of 7.20 and Burnett's ERA is 5.47. The pitchers have combined for 4 overs and one under this year. The last 14 meetings have provided 10 overs and 4 unders. Play the over on Thursday!

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Re: Thursday Service Plays

John Ryan

Florida Marlins vs. Chicago Cubs
Play: Chicago Cubs     Pick Title: Cubs

Ai Simulator 3* graded play on the Cubs as they square off against the Marlins. Supporting this graded play is a series of strong game dependent angles. Note that Chicago has become a very good investment in specific roles. Note that they are 15-5 (+9.5 Units) against the money line at home when the money line is +125 to -125 over the last 2 seasons; 37-13 (+17.3 Units) against the money line in home games in the first half of the season over the last 2 seasons; 23-10 (+11.7 Units) against the money line at home with a money line of -100 to -125 over the last 3 seasons. Florida starter Volstad is off to a solid start this season, but this matchup against the Cubs simply does not favor him at all. He has allowed a 316 BA in the respective careers of the Cubs players. Volstad throws a variety of pitches and does not rely on his FB for first pitch strikes. Problem is that it is far more difficult to throw a curve for a strike than a FB. The Cubs are a patient hitting team and will look to work the count and make him throw pitches in order to get to a favorable hitter’s count. On the first pitch, he throws FB 69% of the time, curve 24%. When behind in the count he throws FB 77%, curve 11%, and change 8%. Curve balls must be hit the opposite way and the Cubs have many hitters on their roster than truly excel - like Manny does - in going the opposite way consistently. Take the Cubs.

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