A special Baseball Hall of Fame class with Rivera

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For opposing teams, it was the most threatening sound in all of sports …

“’Til the sandman he comes

Sleep with one eye open

Gripping your pillow tight

Exit light

Enter night

Take my hand

We’re off to never-never land.”

Then “The Sandman” emerged from the bullpen and took to the pitcher’s mound. This past week, Mariano Rivera was the first player unanimously elected into the Baseball Hall Of Fame, receiving all 425 votes. Joining Rivera was Harold Baines, Lee Smith, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, and Roy Halladay.

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All of the recipients deserved the honor, but it was Rivera that was inducted last and certainly the most awaited. Over his 19-year career, all with the New York Yankees, the closer amassed a record, 652 saves, and retired with 952 games finished, also a record.

The Panama native had a lifetime, 2.21 ERA, which is lowest for any pitcher with at least 1,000 IP in the live ball era. He was a 13-time all-star and helped New York win five World Series titles and seven American League pennants.

“Mo” only blew back-to-back save opportunities eight times in his storied career and never blew three save opportunities in a row.

Like most of his career, he spoke eloquently at his induction. I doubt we will ever see the likes of another Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio. But I know we will never see a closer as dominating as Mariano Rivera. Congratulations to him and the rest of the 2019 inductees. Thank you for all you have given to the sport and to us.

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Here are this week’s Best Bets (all records, stats, and trends are as of print and may change as can starting pitchers):

Wednesday

Padres at Mets: Normally, when releasing predictions, I like to stick to top tier teams. This Wednesday, the NL East’s fourth place team takes on the NL West’s fifth place squad.

There was hope for New York when the season began. However, sharing the division with the likes of the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, and the Philadelphia Phillies has taken its toll on them. Don’t get me wrong, they are a respectable, 23-24 vs. the NL East. It is when facing the Central and West (15-26 combined) that has been their demise.

The big difference in this specific contest is the pitching matchup. Noah Syndergaard takes the mound at home while Dinelson Lamet climbs the hill on the road for the Padres. Syndergaard owns a record of 7-4 with a 4.36 ERA on the campaign, fanning 118 batters in 119.2 IP. The right-hander has compiled a career record of 44-26 with a 3.20 lifetime ERA.

Lamet, who is making just his fourth start of the season, has an 0-2 record with an ERA of 5.14. The second year pitcher only has 14.0 IP under his belt in 2019.  The Mets have a lot of pride and I feel it will show in this matchup. The Padres are 1-7 the last eight games played vs. the NL East and 2-7 the last nine games played overall. METS

Indians at Blue Jays: The Tribe started the week just three games behind the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central and if the season ended today, would be a Wild Card team. They have dominated Toronto, winning all four meetings this season and seven of the last nine going back to last season.

The Indians are a strong road team, sporting a 25-20 away mark and go into Rogers Centre facing a Blue Jays team that is just 18-30 at home. The Tribe are one of baseball’s most savvy and experienced clubs and I do expect them to make a race with the Twinkies for the AL Central crown.

Shane “Not Justin” Bieber takes the mound for Cleveland. The right-hander owns a record of 9-3 with an ERA of 3.69, striking out a whopping 156 batters in 124.1 IP. For Toronto, Marcus Stroman gets the nod. The righty owns a record of 6-10 with an ERA of 3.06 along with a mere 93 K’s in 117.2 IP. Over the last two seasons, the Duke product has a record of 10-19 with a 4.30 ERA.

Once he gets lit up, the Blue Jays then go to a shaky bullpen (Team ERA of 4.88, ranking 21st). On the flipside, the Indians own the No. 4-ranked pitching staff in baseball with a team ERA of 3.86.

Cleveland is 6-0 the last six games played on the road and 23-8 the last 31 games played overall. Toronto is 11-29 the last 40 games played vs. teams with a winning record and 24-49 the last 73 games played overall. The first series took place in Cleveland and the lines closed between $1.35 and $2.00. If the line here opens up or moves above $1.50 you can play the run line. INDIANS

Last week: 2-1

Season: 22-18

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