No celebrating for pro baseball’s 4 and 10 Boston Red Sox

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Other than Friday’s ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, the weekend highlight for Boston was Sunday night’s rainout of the series finale against their bitter rival, the New York Yankees.

After spoiling the festive Friday mood by losing to New York 6-2, the Red Sox rebounded by taking a 9-0 middle innings lead over the Yankees in Saturday’s contest.

But after allowing a single run to the Yankees in the sixth inning to narrow the wide game to 9-1, the Yankees put up a seven spot in both the seventh and eighth innings to pull off a remarkable comeback to defeat Boston 15-9.

The 9-run comeback tied the Yankees’ record for greatest comeback, a feat that they’ve pulled off 5 times. Interestingly, three of those comebacks have come at the expense of the Red Sox. The loss dropped Boston to last place in the AL East with a 4-10 record, four full games behind Baltimore and Tampa Bay who are tied for third and fourth place.

The BoSox are a wreck, battling injuries that have taken away a significant part of their offense and wreaked havoc with both their starting and relief pitching.

Controversial manager Bobby Valentine wasted little time at the start of the season in living up to his reputation with some ill timed remarks about star Kevin Youkilis that prompted a rebuttal from another star, Dustin Pedroia.

Boston showed signs of weakening at the start of the 2011 season, getting off to 0-6 and 2-10 starts before turning things around to, at one point last summer, having the best record in all of baseball. But September’s 7-20 swoon that caused the Sox to miss the Playoffs by a single game served notice that changes were needed.

Changes occurred with the departure of manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein. But thus far those changes don’t appear to be the ones that were needed.

The two teams with the best records in the National League are surprises to many. Both Washington and the Los Angeles Dodgers are 12-4.

The Dodgers have ridden the hot start enjoyed by Matt Kemp who has already mashed nine home runs. The Nationals are doing it with pitching – all five starters are allowing less than a base runner per inning!

St. Louis has started 11-5 and is the only team in the 6 team NL Central with a winning record.

The best record in baseball is held by two time defending American League champion Texas at 13-3. Not surprisingly the Nationals, Dodgers, Cardinals and Rangers have been the most profitable teams at the betting windows in the season’s first three plus weeks, combining for better than 28 units of profit.

Despite all that offense 11 of Texas’ 16 games have stayed UNDER the total with another game ending in a push. That mark has been matched by another team noted for its offense, Detroit.

The Pirates have had 13 UNDER results in 15 games. The pitching has been fairly good but the offense has been anemic. Pittsburgh has averaged just 1.8 runs per game at home and 2.1 per game on the road.

Ouch!

But its that kind of combination – poor hitting and solid pitching or great hitting combined with weak pitching – that lead to profits by playing UNDERs or OVERs, respectively.

Here’s a look at four weekend series.

Brewers at Cards: Milwaukee’s offense has been barely average, scoring just over 4 runs per game. The pitching has not performed as well as expected. Little to criticize with St .Louis aside from the struggles of starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, who is responsible for 3 of the 5 losses and carries a bloated 9.85 ERA. By contrast young Lance Lynn has been outstanding while cagey veterans Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook have started strongly.

St. Louis took 2 of 3 at Milwaukee over the season’s opening weekend, roughing up Brewers’ ace Yovani Gallardo in the process. Gallardo has gone 3 for 3 in quality starts since.


Potential plays:


• Brewers +120 ore more in starts by Gallardo or Zach Greinke.

• Cardinals -140 or less without Wainwright not facing Gallardo or Greinke.

• UNDER 7 or higher if Gallardo opposes Lohse, Lynn or Westbrook.

Nationals at Dodgers: Dodger Stadium has long been a park that favors pitchers and that form should hold true here. Defending Cy Young Award winning lefty Clayton Kershaw leads the Dodgers who have also gotten a pair of quality starts from another lefty, Ted Lilly, to start the season. Righty Chad Billingsley has pitched well in 3 of his 4 starts. Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano have been the early weak links.

Washington’s rotation is anchored by Stephen Strasburg who has been brilliant in his 4 starts. The rest of the rotation has been nearly as good with only Edwin Jackson posting a poor ERA (4.26) even while allowing under a base runner per inning.


Potential plays:


• Nationals +120 or more in starts by any pitcher other than Jackson.

• Nationals +150 or more if Jackson starts.

• UNDER 7 or higher if Kershaw or Lilly don’t face Jackson.

• OVER 8 or lower if Jackson opposes Capuano or Harang.

Tigers at Yankees: Justin Verlander has picked up where he left off last season and has three quality starts in his 4 outings, the same number as the entire Yankees rotation. Starting pitching has been an issue for the Yankees with only Ivan Nova (3.79) having an ERA lower than 5 among the five starters

The Yankees do have a solid bullpen with closer Mariano Rivera still at the top of his game as he approaches age 42. Past Verlander, the Tigers’ starting pitching been average at best with young Max Scherzer having had a very rough start to his season.


Potential plays:


• OVER 9 or lower not involving Verlander.

• Yankees +150 or more against Verlander if starting Nova or CC Sabathia.

• Tigers -150 or less in a Verlander start.

• Either team +120 or more in starts not involving Verlander.

Rays at Rangers: Texas starting pitching has been considerably better than Tampa’s to date with only James Shields off to a strong start for the Rays. Texas is also blessed with a strong bullpen, anchored by closer Joe Nathan.

Tampa did as good a job as any team is 2011 in containing the Texas offense, limiting the Rangers to 4 runs or less in 9 of their 13 meetings, including 3 games of the ALDS. The teams averaged just 8 total runs per game in those 13 meetings.


Potential plays:


• Rays +125 or more any matchup.

• Rangers -120 or less any matchup.

• UNDER 9 or higher any matchup during the series.

 

 

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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