The baseball season is just two weeks old and already there have been some notable events, two of which occurred this past Saturday.
Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez tossed the franchise’s first no hitter when he blanked Atlanta 4-0 despite issuing 6 walks. Jimenez had a solid 2009 and all 3 of his 2010 starts have been quality starts. Don’t be surprised if he’s in the race for the NL Cy Young Award along with more heralded pitchers including San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum, Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay and the St. Louis duo of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.
Speaking of Halladay he, too, is off to an outstanding start in his first season in the National League. The Phils have won all 3 of his starts and in 24 innings Halladay has allowed just 2 walks and 21 hits while compiling a 1.13 ERA.
Atlanta, Florida and Pittsburgh have also gotten off to fine starts. Pittsburgh seeks to end 17 straight losing seasons. There is a long way to go but their starting pitching tandem of Zach Duke and Paul Maholm give the Buccs a chance to be competitive in at least two fifths of their games.
One of the more entertaining offenses of the early season has been that of the Washington Nationals. The team from our nation’s capital has been scoring runs in bunches, scoring at least 4 runs in all but two of their first dozen games and at least 7 runs in 4 of their last 5. Unfortunately their pitching leaves much to be desired, at least until Stephen Strasburg is called up. The latest Nat to be hammered hard was Jason Marquis who, on Sunday, did not record an out while allowing 7 runs in the top of the first inning to Milwaukee as part of a Brewers’ 10 spot to open the game. It was arguable the worst start of Marquis’ career and he pitched last season in the altitude of Colorado.
More surprises are in store as baseball bridges the gap between basketball and football.
Here’s a look at four weekend series.
Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee: Both teams start the week 5-7 and struggling to find consistency. They meet for the second time this season with the Cubs winning 2 of 3 at home last week in a trio of high scoring games (14, 13 and 14 runs).
RECOMMENDED PLAYS: OVER Totals of 9 or lower in any matchup; Cubs as underdogs of plus 120 or more in any matchup or if favored by minus 125 or less in starts by Ryan Dempster or Randy Wells; Milwaukee as underdogs against other than Dempster or Wells.
St. Louis at San Francisco: This has the potential for being one of the best played series of the weekend, featuring outstanding pitching from both teams.
RECOMMENDED PLAYS: UNDER Totals of 7 or less in matchups featuring the Giants’ Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito or Jonathan Sanchez against St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright or Brad Penny; play the Underdog in such a matchup; OVER Totals of 8 or lower if the Giants’ Todd Wellemeyer (ex-Cardinal) faces Kyle Lohse or Jaime Garcia; St. Louis if favored by no more than minus 140 against Wellemeyer.
Toronto at Tampa Bay: Tampa has been red hot to start the season but Toronto has also played winning baseball through the first two weeks even after dropping 3 straight over the weekend at home to the Angels. For the Blue Jays lefties Ricky Romero and Dana Eveland have been impressive in their first few starts. Tampa has had the better offense although Toronto’s Vernon Wells and Adam Lind are having great Aprils.
RECOMMENDED PLAYS: Toronto as underdogs of plus 130 or more in a starts by Romero; Tampa Bay in all other matchups or if favored by 130 or less against Romero; OVER Totals of 8 or less in any matchup except UNDER 8 or higher if Matt Garza opposes Romero; OVER Totals of 9 or lower if Toronto’s Brandon Morrow or Brian Tallet faces James Shields or Wade Davis.
N.Y. Yankees at L.A. Angels: The Yankees continued their recent success against the Angels, taking 2 of 3 from the Halos at home last week after having eliminated them in last season’s ALCS. Former Yankees Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui each homered in the series and Matsui was warmly received as he received his World Series ring. The Yanks have gotten outstanding pitching from the top of their rotation but Javier Vazquez has struggled in his two starts.
RECOMMENDED PLAYS: Angels as underdogs of plus 125 or more against CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett of Andy Pettitte or as favorites of any price against other Yankee starters; Yankees as underdogs of any price in starts by Sabathia or Pettitte or if favored by no more than minus 120 with any starter against Joe Saunders or Scott Kazmir; UNDER Totals of 8 or higher if Sabathia or Pettitte oppose Weaver, Pineiro or Santana; OVER Totals of 9 or lower if none of those pitchers, or the Yanks’ A.J. Burnett, starts.