Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 28

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 28

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B.C. @ CalgaryFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: B.C.FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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There are some extenuating circumstances heading into tonight’s matchup between the BC Lions and Calgary Stampeders. The major one being the recent flooding that has plagued the city of Calgary. On one hand, the Stamps might be bolstered with energy and emotion to play hard and win tonight for the people that have suffered through so much over the last week. Perhaps a solid performance can give them some temporary relief from the devastating flood situation. On the other hand, Calgary’s practice and preparation for this game was altered a bit due to the flood and it leaves a legitimate question; how well prepared and focused can Calgary be with everything that is going on around them? 
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That is a very real debate I have about this game and it is why my wager is a smaller, free play variety one in this game. However, putting the flood situation aside for one moment, I believe BC is the better of these teams and will be the better team come the end of the season making them worthy of support catching a FG tonight.
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BC’s season ended at the hands of the Calgary Stampeders in last year’s West Division Final. The Lions were dominant throughout the regular season and were favored to get to the Grey Cup once again but those dreams were dashed as Calgary, with backup QB Kevin Glenn under center for the injured Drew Tate, came into BC and dominated the game and defeated the Lions 34-29 to advance to the Grey Cup. 
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This is a circled spot for the BC Lions as they will be seeking revenge. BC QB Travis Lulay should hold the edge over Calgary’s QB Drew Tate who was criticized a bit by his head coach John Hufnagel for not playing well in the preseason. Tate still has a lot to prove as a starting QB in the CFL. 
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Calgary’s defense underwent some changes in the offseason while BC’s remains very much intact from the dominating defense that allowed the fewest points in the CFL last season. The Lions possess a solid defensive line and secondary and they have the best LB corps in the league with Adam Bighill and Solomon Elimimian. 
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BC is also very well coached and playing with a chip on their shoulder entering the new season after not getting back to the Grey Cup game last year. It’s worth noting BC was one of only three teams in the CFL last season to notch a winning road record in the regular season going 5-4 SU in their 9 road games. The off the field flood situation in Calgary and with the Lions playing with revenge tonight for their West Final loss to Calgary last season, I’m comfortable recommending the BC Lions for a smaller investment to dish out some payback tonight.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 28

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San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado RockiesFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: San Francisco GiantsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Giants come into Colorado riding a four-game losing skid but a day off on Thursday came at a good time as it was their first one off in over two weeks. The offense has been having a tough time, scoring three runs or fewer in eight of their last 11 games but facing Colorado can turn things around. San Francisco has scored six runs or more in six of 10 meetings and it will be up to Barry Zito to get things going on the right track. He has been horrible on the road this season, posting an 11.28 ERA and 2.51 WHIP in five starts on the highway with the Giants going 0-5 in those games. Many will be going against him here based on that lack of success but that is one of the reasons we will be backing him tonight as contrarian value is present. The Giants are 11-4 in his last 15 starts against teams with a losing record. While the Giants have been struggling, the Rockies have not been doing much better as they have dropped three straight games and are 4-11 over their last 15. They are coming off a brutal loss on Thursday as the bullpen again imploded, pushing its ERA to 6.32 over the last five games and 5.40 over the last 10 games. Jhoulys Chacin is coming off consecutive quality starts for the third time this season but he has been unable to cash in a third one each of the previous two times. Overall, he has been pretty solid this year but he has had his share of blowups including his worst start of the season which came here against the Giants as he allowed eight runs in 5.1 innings.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 28

Dave PriceFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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San Diego Padres +108FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Padres are showing value at this price considering the way Volquez has dominated Miami. The right-hander is 4-0 (5-0 on the money line) with an ERA of 1.74 in five career starts versus the Marlins. Ricky Nolasco hasn't been as sharp versus the Padres, going 4-4 (4-5 on the ml) with an ERA of 4.67 in nine starts. The Padres have won six consecutive series openers. They've also won 7 of their last 10 in the underdog role and 9 of their last 11 in Miami. Take San Diego.

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Atlanta Braves -164FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Braves have been tough to beat at home where they are 25-11 on the season. Arizona is a game over .500 on the road, but the Braves are 7-0 in their last 7 home games versus teams with a winning road record. The D-backs have dropped 5 of 6 on the road and 44 of 62 as a road dog of +151 to +200. They've also lost 6 of 7 in Atlanta. The Braves have won 5 of 6 at home this season when Teheran gets the starting nod, and he has posted a tidy ERA of 2.52 in these contests. Former Brave Delgado is 0-4 on the moneyline in his last 4 and 1-7 on the moneyline in his last 8 starts at Turner Field. Bet the Braves.

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Vegas ConnectionFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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San Diego Padres at Miami MarlinsSERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Miami MarlinsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Volquez vs Nolasco Padres right in the mix in the NL West, but face Nolasco who has always been tough in the state of Florida. Nolasco gave up just 1 run when he faced SDG last month.

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SPORTS WAGERSFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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TORONTO -3 over HamiltonFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Tigercats scored 85 points in two preseason games and all of a sudden they are a force to be reckoned with? We’re not buying that for a second. Hamilton has more holes on its team that any other on both sides of the ball. QB Henry Burris can be dynamic one week and throw five picks the next. Chris Williams, who accounted for a whopping 33% of Hamilton’s scoring a year ago is nowhere to be found, as he continues to hold out. Yeah, the Ti-Cats have some talented receivers but so does every team but minus their best player and with a poor decision making QB running the show, we’re suggesting that Hamilton is the most overvalued team to start the season. Its 2-0 preseason record means jack because the two teams they played, Montreal and Winnipeg, didn’t give a damn while the Ti-Cats went all out in both games in order to establish a “new attitude”.  Defensively, Hamilton was the league’s worst team last year and few of those players return, leaving the Ti-Cats with a group that has essentially never played together. To make matters worse, Hamilton also has to adapt to an entirely new coaching staff.
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The Argos got progressively better as the season wore on en route to a Grey Cup win and while the hangover effect is always lingering, these Argos are still the class of the East and may even be stronger this season. Ricky Ray is as reliable and consistent as any QB in the game. Ray has plenty of weapons at his disposal and along with Chad Owens, the two make up the deadliest duo in the CFL. If containing Owens isn’t daunting enough, the Ti-Cats have to be concerned about Chad Kackert’s ability to change a game too. The Argos will score points. Gone from the Argos is the entire starting defensive line and three of the five starters in the secondary from the team’s Grey Cup win. We say big deal. Defense starts on the defensive line and last year’s impressive starting line-backing corps returns intact. That solid line is very likely going to force Henry Burris into making some poor decisions like he always does, especially in the first game when Burris is at his worst and without his best receiver. A lot of people think the Argos were a fluke last year but they weren’t. This is a well-coached, well-disciplined, hugely talented and quick Toronto team that is just as focused this season as they were last. Frankly, this is a cheap line to spot at home against perhaps the worst team in the CFL or damn near it.   
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B.C. Lions +140 over CALGARYFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Stampeders made it to the Grey Cup game a season ago and were expected to win after they surprisingly defeated the Lions in the West Final. That team went 12-6 and they virtually bring back the same defense as they did last season. Offensively, the Lions are stable at QB, they have an outstanding RB in Jon Cornish (1457 yards in 2012) and they also have a decent core of receivers, although Johnny Forzani is on the rack to start the year. The question for the Stamps or uncertainty is on the offensive line, where there are changes and likely an entire year of ups and downs. Calgary should have little trouble scoring. In fact, they had the fewest two-and-outs in the league a year ago. When QB Drew Tate starts and finishes a game, the Stamps are 5-0. However, Calgary’s defense is not close to being in the same class as the Lions and that’s going to bite them in several games this season. The Lions are the class of the West while Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatchewan can all finish either second, third or fourth.
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Forget revenge, that angle is lame. The real story here is that the Lions are the top team in the West in terms of balance, talent and defense. If the Lions fall behind, they have the ability to come back. If the Lions get out to a nice lead, they aren’t likely to relinquish because their defense, which ranked first in just about every key category a season ago is just as good this season. B.C. allowed an average of just 19 points a game last year and that’s an incredible number in this league. And in the rare case that B.C’s defense is having an off game, the offense is more than capable of putting up some serious numbers. Travis Lulay threw for over 4,200 yards with 27 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions last season and he did it with the best pass protection in the CFL for two years running. The Lions bring back the core of their talent but they did not stand pat in the off-season. They traded or released some of its dead weight and even traded the face of the franchise for years, Geroy Simon, to the Riders in order to improve. Back in the fold is receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux, who spent the last two years in the NFL after he piled up 1,972 yards and 12 touchdowns in ’09 and ’10 for the Lions. Lulay has multiple, outstanding options to throw to. The Lions are loaded and anything being offered on them has to be considered a gift. This one is no exception.

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SPORTS WAGERSFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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St. Louis -104 over OAKLANDFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The A’s are 12 games over .500 but they are a combined 14-1 against the Angels and Astros and if you take away that, they are a game under .500 against the rest of the league. Give the A’s credit for getting the most out of a mediocre lineup but things get much tougher here against the Cardinals and Shelby Miller. Before there was Michael Wacha, the Cardinals pitching prospect generating buzz was Shelby Miller. But Miller tripped in the minors and some of the excitement turned to doubt. With a 8-5 record and 2.35 ERA, is the hype justified? Damn right it is. It's still early in his career, but so far Miller's skills are that of an All-Star-caliber starter. Miller has struck out 101 batters in 92 innings. Solid control and more than a strikeout per inning add up to elite command for a starter. Miller has one disaster outing in 15 starts. Miller is only 22, but he's pitched with consistency and the poise of a veteran. If there's a nit to pick, it's his inefficiency. Miller has lasted 7 innings in only 3 of 11 starts because he runs up high pitch counts but at this park, he should absolutely thrive again.
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Bartolo Colon owes us money and it’s time to collect. 10-2 with a 2.93 ERA is the most remarkable SP stat this season for a pitcher of Colon’s skills, or lack thereof. Yeah, he rarely walks anyone but he’s now striking out fewer batters than any time in his career. Colon has whiffed four or less in five straight starts. He’s inexplicably escaped jam after jam by pounding the strike zone and letting his defense do the rest. Fortunately for Colon, those hard hit balls (25% line drive rate over his past five starts) have been hit right at people but that won’t last. Bartolo Colon is a two-pitch pitcher and throws his fastball 85% of the time, the highest mark in the league among starters with 5+ starts. Batters are sitting on his fastball and he delivers it every time. This is not a 10-2 pitcher with an ERA under 3.00. Colon is not even an average pitcher. He’s predictable and he’s survived on his control and more luck than any pitcher in the game. Like we said, it’s time to collect.
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COLORADO -1½ +146 over San FranciscoFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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We hate to sound like a broken record but Barry Zito pitching at this park has less chance of success than Mike Tyson would have in a game of Scrabble against Ken Jennings. Zito’s ERA over the past month is 4.90 and his xERA is 6.02 over that same span. He’s posted an ugly 1.56 WHIP this season and the only reason he has any wins is because his strand rate was high. Zito’s 37%/28%/35% groundball/line-drive/fly-ball profile this season has held up somewhat in San Francisco’s AT&T Park but on the road is 0-4 with an 11.28 ERA and a BAA of .432. In 22.1 road innings, Barry Zito has allowed 48 hits.
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The only way we would pass on this one is if Larry King was pitching for the Rockies but he’s not. Jhouly’s Chacin is and that’s all the information required. Fading Zito is a no-brainer. 
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Philadelphia +140 over LOS ANGELESFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Dodgers have won six in a row and two straight with Chris Capuano on the hill but Capuano is too risky to trust in the price range. The buy low - sell high philosophy now gets applied here. Capuano has had two DL stints already this year. At age 34, his injuries seem to be chipping away at his skills, as suggested by his 5.45/4.60 ERA/xERA before his last two starts against the struggling Yanks and at San Diego. There are other warning signs in Capuano’s skill set as well. His groundball rate is trending the wrong way and it’s now at just 39% on the year, down from 46% in his first four starts (he’s only started eight games this year). Capuano’s line-drive rate has also increased to an eye-opening 31%. The Dodgers have won just three of Capuano’s eight starts.
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John Lannan has been hurt by a ridiculously low 57% strand rate. Lannan has made just five starts this year but the Phillies have won three of them because Lannan almost always gives his team a chance to win. He’s only allowed one jack in 24.2 innings and that’s because he’s an extreme groundball pitcher with a GB rate of 54%. Lannan’s other skills leave plenty to be desired. There’s a reason this guy has been up and down from the minors  for years but this is precisely the type of park that Lannan thrives in and at this price he and the Phillies are worth a wager.
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BOSTON -105 over TorontoFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Josh Johnson has been on a June tear since returning from the DL (triceps). Johnson has a 25/7 K/BB in 25 innings this month with an ERA of 2.84, which is a vast improvement from the 6.86 ERA he posted in April. With his stock soaring, now is the time to sell high on Johnson because he’s not nearly as good as his recent numbers suggest. Two outstanding starts in San Fran and at home against Colorado have Johnson’s recent numbers skewed in his favor. Truth is, he barely escaped his other two starts against Baltimore and Texas, lasting a combined 11 innings and surrendering 12 hits and seven runs. Jonson’s line-drive rate over his past three starts is an alarming 36% and that alone should scare you away from backing him. He'll have a tough test this time, as Boston leads baseball in runs scored and OPS. The Sox are a small price here because Allen Webster is on the hill.
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Webster’s surface stats look very ugly (0-2 11.25 ERA) but it’s a small sample size and as is often the case with a small sample size, one or two poor starts cause the numbers to balloon. Webster’s ceiling, however, is very high. Webster had been in the Dodgers system since 2008 before coming over to Boston in a 2012 trade. He throws three plus pitches: fastball, slider, and curveball, and his change-up is rapidly approaching plus level. His fastball hits the mid 90’s and tops out at 97, and combined with his hard slider with nice late break, he induces a lot of swings and misses and groundballs. In fact, Webster’s groundball rate is an elite 57%. He struggled upon first arrival to AA-Portland in 2012, but came on strong as the year progressed. Command has always been Webster’s greatest struggle but he impressed during spring training by posting 14/1 K/BB in 11 IP. He followed that up with a 12/3 K/BB in 10 IP at Triple-A Pawtucket to start 2013. The club has worked with Webster extensively on speeding up his delivery and repeating his mechanics and it appears it may have started to pay off. The swing-and-miss/groundball combo bode well for his transition to the majors and as he hones in his command, he could jump from a back-end starter to a #2 or #3 in the rotation. The numbers don’t say it, but Webster is more than capable of throwing a gem and chances are he’ll also receive good run support. Underlay.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 28

Harry Bondi

MIAMI (-120) over San Diego

We remained perfect this week with another FREE game winner on Baltimore over Cleveland. The Steam Team also was perfect again last night cashing on the Minnesota Twins. Tonight lets see how HOT we really are by backing the worst team in baseball! The Miami Marlins are coming off a three game sweep of Minnesota and have won five of their last six. The Fish have been much improved with slugger Giancarlo Stanton back in the lineup. The Padres have been struggling having lost four of their last five. Edinson Volquez goes to the hill for San Diego and he has really struggled with his command. He was horrendous in his last outing walking seven while allowing five runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 6-1 loss to the Dodgers. The Fish give the ball to Ricky Nolasco who has been really solid in his last five starts, posting a 2.87 ERA. He should get the win tonight if the Marlins continue their improved offensive play. Take Miami.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 28

Nelly

San Diego Padres + over Miami Marlins

Consistency has never been a strong suit for Edinson Volquez but if you take away an awful Coor�s Field start from earlier this month he has been on a pretty nice run of starts. In five of his last six starts he has allowed four or fewer earned runs and in only one of those starts did he walk more than four batters. Three of his last four road starts have been strong efforts and he is producing strikeouts at a solid pace. The Padres are just 6-10 behind him this season but they have won two of his last three starts and facing a Marlins team with the worst record in baseball should be a favorable opportunity. San Diego swept Miami earlier this season, surrendering just one run in three games and while Miami has picked up several recent wins the offensive numbers are still very poor, batting .228 and scoring just 3.1 runs per game on the season. Even with wins in seven of the last 10 games Miami is just hitting .235 and there has been some good fortune with three one-run wins in that span. Ricky Nolasco is the veteran of the Miami pitching staff and while he holds a solid 3.68 ERA Miami is just 3-7 in his last 10 starts, getting two or fewer runs of support in seven of his last 10 outings. Nolasco has been a much worse pitcher at home where is ERA is 4.06 and his ERA is nearly twice as high in night games at 4.50 with Miami going just 2-8 in those games. Miami has received great recent numbers from the bullpen but overall San Diego has featured far superior relief pitching and the Padres are a more formidable offensive team, scoring almost 4.4 runs per game on the road this season.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 28

Bob Balfe

San Diego Padres +120

I would rate these pitchers about even. Volquez needs to cut down on his walks a bit, but you know what it all boils down to Miami just not being able to score runs. Its so sad to see a team do everything wrong not to push home runs night after night. If the Marlins win this game its in 1-0 or 2-1 fashion. You just can't bank on that. Take San Diego

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 28

Ross Benjamin

Houston Astros +123 

In spite of the huge disparity in these two clubs payrolls the Astros have won 7 of 10 from the Angels this season. The Houston starter Bud Norris has been dominant in 3 starts this season versus the Angels posting a microscopic 0.43 ERA. Norris has been consistently strong at home over the last 3 seasons and has posted a stellar 2.67 ERA in 9 starts this year at Minute Maid Park.

Play against any road team of +125 to -125 on the money line when they're revenging a home favorite of -150 or more loss, and they have a winning percentage of .380 to .460 on the season. By playing the home team in this exact situation you would be 41-14 (74.5%) since the start of the 1997 season. Play on the Houston Astros as a 2* selection.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 28

Jeff Scott Sports

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Texas/ Cincinnati Under 9.5: I will be looking to take the Under in this one. Both offenses come in struggling, as the Reds have scored just 2.9 rpg in their last 10 games, while the Rangers have put up just 3.8 rpg in their last 5 games. It won't get easier for the Offenses tonight as they will be facing a couple of solid starters. Johnny Cueto is off a very bad start at Arizona, as he allowed 7 ER's in just 4.1 innings of work, but in his 7 other starts this year he had allowed just 10 total ER's. I expect him to bounceback off that bad outing. Martin Perez is making just his third start of the year and he has been solid in his first 2, allowing just 5 ER's in 12.1 innings of work. He will be facing a Reds team tat struggles vs lefties on the road, hitting just .227 and scoring 3.14 rp/9 off of them away from home. This one has the makings of a low scoring game.

ATLANTA -166 over Arizona: The Braves are a pretty dominant home team, winning 37 of heir last 51 overall here, including 25 of 36 this year. The Braves are also 38-14 in their last 52 home games vs a righty and 21-7 in their at 28 games off an off day. On the other side we have a diamondbacks squad tat is just 18-44 in their last 62 road games as a dog of +151 to +200 and 1-6 in their last 7 games played here. Tonight the Braves send out Julio Teheran and he has been very good at home, going 3-1 with a 2.52 ERA and the Braves have gone 5-1 in his home starts. Randall Delgado mae 14 starts in this park as a member of the Braves and while he has a decent 3.71 ERA in those starts, he is 2-6 in this park. Both offenses are struggling right now, but the Braves are at home and have the edge on the mound. I look for them to take game 1 here.

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Philadelphia/ Dodgers Over 8: Capuano has an 8.31 ERA at home, while John Lannan has a 5.84 ERA overall and an 8.22 ERA on the road. The Phils offense is healthy and waking up, while the Dodgers offense are also starting to score some runs. At least 10 should be scored in this one.

LA Angels -130 over HOUSTON: This game should be rated higher, but with LA off a big 3 game sweep of the Tigers they may be a bit flat. I don't think they can afford to be flat as they have a lot of ground to make up. This is a big reveng series for the Halos and with the team starting to play much better I will take them in this spot.

Toronto -105 over BOSTON: Toronto lost 7-4 last night but the gave away all 7 run in just one inning and held Boston Scoreless the other 7. Josh Johnson is starting to pitch very well, while Allen Webster is horrible. Look for the Jays to pick up a nice road win here.

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Seattle/ Chicago Under 7: Neither offense is any good and there is solid pitching on the mound. Iwakuma has a 1.46 ERA at home and his home starts have averaged 6.38 rpg. Wood has a solid 3.46 ERA on the road and his road starts have averaged just 6.6 rpg. The Under is 7-1-1 the last 9 meetings and 9-1-1 in Wood's ast 11 starts on grass. Should be around 5 runs scored here.

Washington +140 over NY METS: The Mets are off a long trip and played in Colorado just yesterday. Big situational spot for the Nats here. The Mets hit just .194 at home vs lefties and I see Washington getting to Harvey for a few here. Nats are a live dog in this one. 

Kansas City -136 over TAMPA BAY Hmmmm Shields vs Walters? Give me Shields any day in that matchup. Look for KC to bounceback with a nice win here.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 28

Chris Jordan

My free play is on the Colorado Rockies, minus the money against the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants. And go ahead and list both Colorado's Jhoulys Chacin and San Fran's Barry Zito, as I think this is a pitching mismatch.

Let's start with Zito, the aging veteran who at times can be a handful, but other times shows his age. Zito has struggled mightily away from AT&T Park, as he's 0-4 with an 11.28 ERA with a suitcase in hand in 2013. And even though he's seemingly done well at Coors Field well in his career, posting a 3.70 ERA in nine starts, this season he's already allowed five runs on 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings there in May.

On the other hand, there's Chacin, who is in after firing seven scoreless innings with five hits and three strikeouts while beating the Nationals in his last trip to the mound. The right-hander, who is 6-3 on the season, has a 1.74 ERA while winning his last three starts.

Take the Rockies and list both in this one.

2♦ WASHINGTON

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Brett Atkins

My free play for tonight is on the Miami Marlins, as I have no problem laying the chalk against the visiting San Diego Padres, who have seemed to stumble a bit since a recent surge pushed them upward in the National League West standings. The Friars, who have lost two straight and six of 10, are just 14-22 on the road this season.

With the Fish, they may be the worst team in baseball and they may be halfway to 100 losses, but they've won three straight and seven of 10. Now they catch a Padres team that finished up a homestand Wednesday, traveled to the Southeast and now have to deal with not only a feisty Marlins team, but the humidity of Miami.

Take the home team and lay the low chalk.

2♦ MIAMI

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 28

Scott Delaney

I know, I know... Max Scherzer is up for the American League Central-leading Detroit Tigers. But there's something about his win streak this season that falls more under the due theory than Tampa Bay's Alex Colome. So with Scherzer boasting an 11-0 mark and 3.05 ERA, I think this might be the time to look for his first loss.

I know Scherzer would be the first starter to win his first 12 decisions to begin a season since Roger Clemens in 1986, but I like the value with Colome, who has not allowed an earned run in his first two Major League starts - a win against the Marlins and a no-decision against the Yankees.

Now the 24-year-old, right-hander will be making his first career appearance at Tropicana Field, and with the hype of the crowd behind him, and the challenge of facing Scherzer, I'm taking a shot with the home underdog.

2♦ TAMPA BAY

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Friday, June 28

Craig Davis

Your free play of the day is the St. Louis Cardinals in their series opener against Oakland.

This should be a fun series if you like pitching because the Cardinals and Oakland A's have gotten where they're at right now with solid starting and bullpen pitching.

Oakland has lost their lead in the AL West but still find themselves right on the heels of the Texas Rangers in the division.

The A's held a two-game division lead two weeks ago over the Rangers, but have gone 5-7 since that lead which finds them now 1/2 game behind Texas for the division lead.

In his last outing, Bartolo Colon (today's starter) allowed a three-run homer and six other hits over eight innings but the A's still gave him some run support in a 6-3 victory at Seattle.

He's looking for his 8th straight win... but no A's pitcher has won eight consecutive starts since Barry Zito did it back in 2005.

The Cardinals, on the other hand, are looking to get back to their consistent winning ways and would like to break free from the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are tied atop the division with them.

Shelby Miller (8-5, 2.35) will get another shot to win his 9th game and has had solid success as a rookie this year. In fact, he leads all rookies in wins and strikeouts (101).

Miller, to me, is in a better situation with a better squad behind him and that's why I'm giving them to you as your free play of the day.

1♦ ST. LOUIS

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