Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, September 26

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, September 26

Wunderdog

Phoenix at Minnesota
Pick: Phoenix +9

The anticipated duel between Los Angeles and Minnesota is not going to happen. That is because this Phoenix team won twice in LA, and punched their ticket to the WNBA Western Conference Finals. This notably was against an LA team that had lost just two games on their home court all season. They head to Minnesota as a confident team, taking on another team that lost just twice on its home court all season. They dropped all four games to Minnesota on the season, but all of those occurred in the first 18 games of the season. Phoenix is now a healthier, and better team that has been 11-5 since the last time Minnesota saw them. The Mercury have risen to an 8-2 ATS mark in their last 10 games vs. a winning team, and have come a long way since their last loss to Minnesota. This line is over done, and the dog has some bite here. Take Phoenix.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, September 26

Craig Davis

As for today's free play (much like yesterday's), the Rays will flat dominate the Yankees and it won't be pretty.

New York cashed in their off-season ticket a month ago, and the proof is in the pudding. How you can call yourself a manager of the best franchise in baseball history and start Phil Hughes tells me all I need to know... you're a moron!!

There are million Triple-A pitchers who could have been called up and pitched as poorly as Hughes... so why throw Hughes out there???

That guy might be the worst pitcher in baseball, throwing BP right down the middle of the plate for the Rays to get practice for the post-season.

Having said that, I can't fault Ivan Nova for the losing streak. He's done his best to keep the Yankees alive in the post-season race, but he doesn't get a ton of run support. My question is... are the Rays pitchers really that much better than the Yankees pitchers or do they just want it more?

I think you know the answer to that. The Yankees players don't see to have any desire to get to the post-season and this will be the first time since 1993 that the Yanks aren't playing in October.

Kind of embarrassing if you think about it. Somehow, some way, the Rays will get the road win today because they want to host the Wild Card game vs. Cleveland or Texas.

Take Tampa Bay as your free play of the day.

5♦ TAMPA BAY

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, September 26

Jeff Benton

Your Thursday freebie is the Under in the Angels-Rangers contest.

Texas is still alive for a wild card spot, and last night they did take care of business over Houston in a 7-3 final. I do not feel the runs will be adding up tonight, as even with last night's Over the total, Texas has still played Unders in 4 of their last 6 games overall.

The Halos have also been Under the total in 4 of their last 6 games, including yesterday's 3-1 win over Oakland.

Jerome Williams takes the ball to the hill for Los Angeles, and Williams is looking to end the season on a 5 start winning streak. His ERA stands at 3.75 for his last 4 efforts, and I expect him to be tough on the "tight" Texas hitters in this spot tonight.

Matt Garza will hit the hill for Texas, and Garza got his act together his last trip to the slab, working a shutout into the 9th against the Kansas City Royals before surrendering a solo homer in a 3-1 win.

Gonna look for the runs to be hard to come by in this one, and the Under to come through in the Angels-Rangers contest.

2♦ L.A.  ANGELS-TEXAS UNDER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, September 26

Brad Wilton

Now my free play winner for Thursday, and it will be for the Tampa Bay Rays to get the broom out in the Bronx, and sweep this 3 game set from the host New York Yankees.

It was a nice run by the injured and battered Yanks, but last night they were officially eliminated from the postseason for the first time in many years.

The Yankees have dropped 8 of their last 11 games to fade off the wild card radar, while the Rays have won 6 in a row to take over the leaders spot on the wild card board.

Last chance here for the great Mariano Rivera to trot out to the mound at home, but will he be in any position to get the ball at the end of the game?

I do not think so, as the Yankees have scored a grand total of just 13 runs total in their last 8 losses, and just are not getting the job done at the plate.

The job will get tougher against Alex Cobb who is a lifetime 3-1 with a 2.34 ERA in his 6 career starts versus New York.

Ivan Nova is fresh off a complete game shutout of the San Francisco Giants his last time out, but he has pitched into some hard luck against the Rays this season, going 0-2 versus them despite an ERA just over 2.

Rivera may take the ball in this game, but I doubt it will be with the game on the line.

Take Tampa to complete the sweep at Yankee Stadium with the win tonight.

3♦ TAMPA BAY

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, September 26

Brett Atkins

My free winner is on the Texas Rangers Run Line, as they're going to need to keep things going and will need to extend their win streak if they want to go to the playoffs.

Although all Run Line plays automatically list pitchers with the starters who are scheduled to go at the time of the wager, I am not concerned with who goes for either team tonight and want you playing this game on the Run Line regardless. I still may mention both hurlers, because they are going to be listed, but IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to be sure you have action even if one of the pitchers scheduled to start is scratched, and re-wager the game if that takes place.

In opening this four-game series against the visiting Los Angeles Angels tonight, I think the opponent alone will have the Rangers fired up, knowing they can make a run at the postseason at the Halos' expense.

Texas sits one game behind the Cleveland Indians for the American League’s second wild-card spot with four games left in the season. And even though the Angels have been one of the hotter teams in baseball the past five weeks with a 23-9 mark, Texas has won 11 of 15 meetings against Anaheim.

You'll likely end up with Angels right-hander Jerome Williams (9-10, 4.55 ERA) against Texas righty Matt Garza (4-5, 4.56), and I don't mind this pitching clash. Garza, who snapped a five-start winless stretch with an impressive outing against Kansas City, is 2-1 with a 3.82 ERA in six starts at Rangers Ballpark since being picked up from the Chicago Cubs.

Take the Rangers on the Run Line.

3♦ TEXAS -1.5

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, September 26

Chris Jordan

My free winner for tonight is on the Arizona Diamondbacks over the San Diego Padres, before the Snakes slither home to close out the season against the Washington Nationals.

And I want you to go ahead and list Trevor Cahill against Robbie Erlin, as I think we're going to see the Arizona right-hander dominate one again.

Though his season hasn't gone the way he' hoped due to injuries, and he's vividly struggled with mechanics, he's pitched better of late. Spanning his last eight starts, he is 5-0 with a 2.64 ERA.

I know Erlin has been impressive as well, during this late-season cup of coffee, and he comes in after tossin 7-2/3 scoreless innings against the Dodgers and has a 1.80 ERA in his last four starts, but this is going to be a bad start for him. Despite how good he's looked short-term, the 22-year-old left-hander has a 3-3 record and a 4.34 ERA over his last eight starts.

I like the Diamondbacks and will list both.

3♦ ARIZONA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday, September 26

Scott Delaney

My free play for Thursday night is on the Toronto Blue Jays/Baltimore Orioles going Over the posted number.

I don't see how you play this game any other way, with Toronto's Mark Buehrle and Baltimore's Miguel Gonzalez toeing the slab.

Starting with the Blue Jays' left-handed veteran, as impressive as he tends to be and as consistent as he shown us he can perform, I don't think he's got it like he used to, and tends to lose command quicker than he has in the past. He's just 12-9 this season, has a 4.09 ERA and over his last three starts is 1-2 with a 6.60 ERA.

As for Gonzalez, he's in after tying a career high five walks and a career low with two hits on Saturday, when he took the loss in Tampa Bay, where he allowed three runs on one home run. He's now a disappointing 2-5 with a 5.20 ERA in his last nine starts.

I don't know who is going to win this game, but it looks like it's going over.

3♦ Blue Jays/Orioles OVER

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