Giants, A’s making Bay Area baseball sizzle

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With the Memorial Day weekend behind us the next milestone in the long baseball season will be July 4. By then nearly half of the 162 game season will have been played.

Most teams have played 60 games and aside from individual accomplishments the big story in baseball surrounds the outstanding play by the two Bay area teams in California.

Through Sunday only San Francisco and Oakland winning at least 60 percent of their games. The Giants, at 42-21, have the best record in baseball and are already 9½ games up in the NL West with the high payroll Los Angeles Dodgers in second place at 33-31.

Across the Bay, the Athletics have the best record in the AL at 39-24. But unlike the Giants, Oakland’s divisional lead is considerably less with three of their four rivals between 4½ and 8 games behind.

If the season ended this past Sunday both the LA Angels and Seattle would earn AL Wild Cards. In the other AL divisions Detroit leads the Central by 3 games over Cleveland and Toronto leads the East by 5½ over Baltimore with the Yankees a half game behind the Orioles.

No.  only is Detroit’s divisional lead the smallest of the three AL leaders but their margin over the last place team is just 5 games over last place Minnesota.

The Tigers bullpen — including the all-important closer position — remains a concern and should be the main focus of any mid season acquisitions contemplated. Last season the Tigers won the division by just a single game over Cleveland.

The tightest division race is in the NL East. Atlanta and Washington are tied at 32-29, a slim percentage point ahead of surprising Miami (33-30). Ultimately the Braves and Nationals should separate themselves from the Marlins whose chances were greatly hurt when sensational ace Jose Fernandez was lost for the season.

Still, for a team that was projected to be one of the worst in baseball the Marlins’ first half success has to be considered a significant accomplishment.

Milwaukee is continuing to attract believers with their 5 game lead in the NL Central over defending NL champion St. Louis. The Brewers have displayed great balance with their identical 19-13 records at home and on the road.

Part of the Giants’ success in building the best record in baseball rests in their dominance at home and solid play on the road. SF is an MLB best 22-9 at home while also going 20-12 on the road.

The Dodgers are also 20-12 on the road but their putrid 13-19 home record is the reason why they trail their arch rivals by such a large margin in the standings.

Oakland is 22-12 on the road while AL East leading Toronto is 19-11 away from home. Detroit is another anomaly in that the Tigers are a solid 17-11 on the road but just 16-15 at home.

The reason for the relatively weak records atop the NL East is related to the fact that all five teams in the division have losing records on the road.

The ability to win on the road is often a key indicator of a team that is likely to make the postseason regardless of the sport. In baseball if a team can win 60 percent of its home games and go even 50/50 on the road that team will win 89 or 90 games, a record good enough to make the Playoffs often as a division winner and almost certainly as a Wild Card in most seasons.

In wagering on baseball games, or in the other sports for that matter, it is always a good policy to back teams that show an ability to win on the road, especially when made underdogs.

Here’s a look at four series this weekend.

Reds at Brewers: The only meeting saw the Reds win 3 of 4 in Cincinnati. The OVER/UNDER was 2-2 with the teams combined to average 7.0 runs per game. The Reds starting pitching has been more than adequate, led by the outstanding season being fashioned by ace Johnny Cueto. But the offense averages just 3.4 runs on the road.

Milwaukee’s starting pitching is very well balanced but does not feature an ace such as Cueto. Veteran Kyle Lohse has been the most effective starter with only Matt Garza showing signs of struggling. Offensively the Brewers have been average.

Plays: Cincinnati -120 or less in a start by Cueto against any Milwaukee starter; Milwaukee as underdogs of any price with any starter not facing Cueto; UNDER 8 or higher in any matchup except in starts by Cincy’s Tony Cingrani or Homer Bailey.

Rockies at Giants: The teams are 4-4 this season against each other. The UNDER is 5-3 with the teams averaging a combined 8.9 rpg. Tim Hudson and Madison Bumgarner have been the top starters although both Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain have also been solid. Colorado’s rotation has been hindered by injuries with promising Jordan Lyles the latest to go on the DL. And now star slugger Carlos Gonzalez is out which lessens the effectiveness of Troy Tulowitzki.

Plays: San Francisco -150 or less if Tim Lincecum does not start; Colorado as underdogs of any price against Lincecum; Colorado +160 or more against other San Francisco starters; UNDER 7.5 or higher in any matchup not started by Lincecum; OVER 6.5 or lower in games not started by Bumgarner or Hudson.

Rangers at Mariners: Texas has won 5 of the 9 games this season. The UNDER is 5-4 with the teams averaging a combined 8.7 rpg. Seattle’s pitching has been paced by both Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma (who started the season on the DL. The Rangers’ rotation has only one true reliable starter, Yu Darvish, and has been beset by injuries and ineffectiveness.

Plays: UNDER 6.5 or higher if Hernandez or Iwakuma oppose Darvish; Texas as underdogs of any price in a start by Darvish against any Seattle starter; Texas +120 in starts by other than Darvish and not facing Hernandez or Iwakuma; Seattle – 150 or less in starts by Hernandez or Iwakuma not opposing Darvish; Seattle as underdogs of any price not facing Darvish.

Angels at Braves: Both teams have decent starting pitching with the Braves having the better bullpen. The Angels’ rotation is led by Jered Weaver and C J Wilson. Atlanta has been paced by Julio Teheran whose 1.80 ERA and 0.93 WHIP lead the rotation. But their other starters have been above average and are close to one another statistically. In fact, of the 7 pitchers to have started a game for the Braves this season, none has an ERA above 3.70 and only one, Gavin Floyd, has a WHIP above 1.30.

Plays: UNDER 8 or higher in any matchup; Atlanta as underdogs of any price in start by Teheran against any Angels starter; Atlanta +140 or more with any other starter against any Angels starter; Angels – 130 or less in starts by Weaver or Wilson against other than Teheran.

Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]

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About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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