3-2 +120 on Thursday. Six plays for Friday with one daytime start.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (JAIME GARCIA) AT CHICAGO CUBS (RANDY WELLS)11:20 AM PACIFIC

We haven’t picked on the Chicago Cubs in a while—they’ve taken advantage of a favorable scheduling sequence and actually won some games lately. Make no mistake, however, this is still a bad baseball team capable of losing two of three to the lowly Houston Astros. Our big gripe with the St. Louis Cardinals has been a lack of ‘urgency’ in the midst of a pennant race. Despite this lack of intensity, however, the Cards are still in the hunt but need to pick up some games on Milwaukee. And as luck would have it they’re in a perfect setting to take two of three if not pull off the sweep. The Cubs are -13.2 units overall this season and have lost -10.1 units against their divisional foes. Their losses at Wrigley Field aren’t quite as brutal as in recent years, but they’ve still dropped -6.2 units there. St. Louis has taken 7 of 10 from the Cubs this season and this weekend series is crucial if they’re going to get back in the NL Central hunt.

Bet St. Louis Cardinals (Garcia) -140 over Chicago Cubs (Wells)

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (RYAN VOGELSONG) AT HOUSTON ASTROS (WANDY RODRIGUEZ)

The Giants let another one get away in Atlanta last night and we cashed a winner in the process—they squandered another gem from Tim Lincecum who went 7 strong innings allowing 5 hits and 1 ER by providing no run support in a 1-0 loss. The good news for the Giants is that they’re in the perfect ballpark to get some of those games back. The Houston Astros took 2 of 3 this week from the Chicago Cubs, but that says more about the pitiful state of the Cubbies than it suggests any upside on these ‘stros. Here’s the carnage that is the Houston Astros 2011 season: -34.9 units overall, -19.1 units at home, -34 units against right handed pitching and -23.2 units against teams with winning records. This play would be justified on the basis of going against the Astros but the Giants set up especially well—they’re 20-12 +7.5 units against left handers this season and have won 11 of 14 against the Astros dating back to 2009.

Bet San Francisco Giants (Vogelsong) -135 over Houston Astros (Rodriguez)

CLEVELAND INDIANS (JOSH TOMLIN) AT DETROIT TIGERS (MAX SCHERZER)

The Indians trail the Tigers by 1.5 games in the AL Central and could make that up this weekend. Tribe in better form winning 7 of their last 10 to the Tigers 4-6 record in their last ten games. Detroit has lost money (albeit a small amount) in most situations while the Indians made money in a couple of relevant spots—they’re +16.5 units in night games this year and +10.1 units against right handed pitching. They’ve won 6 of 9 head to head this season and we’ll take them as road underdogs here.

Bet Cleveland Indians (Tomlin) +125 over Detroit Tigers (Scherzer)

SEATTLE MARINERS (FELIX HERNANDEZ) AT TAMPA BAY RAYS (WADE DAVIS)
Felix Hernandez isn’t a bad pitcher by any stretch of the imagination but is he good enough to justify the Mariners being favored over the Tampa Bay Rays on the road? We sure don’t think so. The Rays have lost money at home but the M’s have been horrible on the road going 23-38 -11.1 units. Felix Hernandez has put up good numbers away from the Jet City but we’re not convinced that a 3.06 ERA justifies his valuation here and particularly given that Seattle is just 7-8 -1.9 units in his road starts. Tampa has struggled to keep up with the Yankees and Red Sox atop the AL East but don’t forget that we’re talking about a team that is 10 games over .500 facing an opponent that is 16 games under .500. Hernandez is good but not that good and we’ll gladly back the substantially better team as short priced home underdogs.

Bet Tampa Bay Rays (Davis) +110 over Seattle Mariners (Hernandez)

BOSTON RED SOX (ANDREW MILLER) AT KANSAS CITY ROYALS (JEFF FRANCIS)

Andrew Miller may not be the ace of the BoSox staff but he does give us the opportunity to step in with the AL East contenders against a moribund Royals team. KC starter Jeff Francis is in dismal form (8.04 ERA L3) and the Red Sox have been solid against lefties this year going 26-14 +7.6 units. KC, meanwhile, has struggled against southpaws going 10-20 -8.6 units. The disparity in class is monumental with KC losing 8 of 10 and Boston just ½ game out of first place in the rugged AL East.

Bet Boston Red Sox (Miller) -125 over Kansas City Royals (Francis)

TEXAS RANGERS (MATT HARRISON) AT CHICAGO WHITE SOX (JAKE PEAVY)

Some trepidation about the Rangers here—will the stunning bottom of the 9th loss at Anaheim last night have a long term effect on this team’s focus and psyche? For now, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt—this is a team that has won 8 of their L10 and has been pretty consistent all year long. The White Sox have been playing well lately and Jake Peavy has pitched better than he has in quite some time (2.91 ERA L3) but the Rangers hit RHP well. The White Sox have been a huge money loser at US Cellular Field this season dropping -17.7 units overall. At a near ‘pick’em’ price we’d rather play on the Rangers.

Bet Texas Rangers (Harrison) -110 over Chicago White Sox (Peavy)

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