Washington Nationals Bryce Harper awaits Game 3 in D.C.

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As GamingToday went to press Monday, two teams had been eliminated from the MLB Playoffs and  Vegas phenom Bryce Harper was returning to D.C. for Game 3 against defending champ St. Louis.

Baseball’s first Wild Card one game elimination playoff last Friday saw two-time defending AL pennant winner Texas fall at home to upstart Baltimore. The Orioles showed one of the most dramatic improvements in baseball history, reversing their 69-93 record in 2011 to go 93-69 this season.

Atlanta’s home loss to St. Louis in the NL Wild Card playoff was controversial when left field umpire Sam Holbrook inexplicably, and after considerable delay, ruled Andrelton Simmons out when his pop fly landed clearly some 50 or so feet beyond the infield grass in left field.

Had the infield fly rule not been invoked the Braves would have had the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, trailing 6-3. It was the lack of immediacy in calling the infield fly that is the issue, not that the call itself was made (although that “judgment call” certainly can be called into question).

Atlanta’s protest stood no chance of being upheld given the implications and the chaos that would have resulted in rescheduling the resumption of the game the next day and upsetting the Playoffs schedule. Of course the same chaos results if a game is rained out. And there’s no assurance Atlanta would have taken advantage of that situation to ultimately win the game.

Perhaps it is time for major league baseball to enter the 21st century and use resources at its disposal to “get it right” whether it be the use of instant replay or making sure umpires know the rules of the game. Other than to settle a tie in the standings, seems blatantly unfair.

The introduction of a second Wild Card this season was a great idea. The idea of a one-game playoff was not. Hopefully this will be addressed by Commissioner Bud Selig and his archaic cronies and make this a best of three series beginning in 2013.

An even more egregious decision was having the League Division Series open at the site of the lower seeded team. The Yanks, Oakland, had better records than Baltimore, Detroit, San Francisco and St Louis yet had to play the first two games of their best-of-five on the road. They would get to host the final three games of the series but there is no home field advantage if there is no fifth game.

Strategically the home team has advantages in baseball that are not present in either football or basketball. There are strategic edges enjoyed by the home in hockey in being allowed to set favorable line matchups.

To have the team with the better record open with the first two games of a best of five series on the road is a huge disadvantage. Baseball would be well advised to restore the “true” implementation of home field advantage next season.

Cincinnati was able to overcome playing their first two games on the road by sweeping both in San Francisco. The Reds are in position to sweep the series with a home win on Tuesday over the Giants. They are -140 favorites with Homer Bailey opposing Ryan Vogelsong and are worth backing up to -150. UNDER 8 is also worth a play.

Should the Reds fail to wrap up the series in 3, then the Giants would be worth a look in Game 4 if made a +125 underdog or more. Cincinnati would be the play in Game 5 choice if laying no more than -150.

Oakland was unable to win either of the first two games in Detroit and its magical season is on the verge of extinction with one loss in their potential three home games against the Tigers. As such Oakland is a significant favorite to extend the series at -135 with lefty Brett Anderson facing mid season acquisition Anibal Sanchez of Detroit.

Anderson made just six starts late in the campaign. He posted decent stats, but his first four were considerably better than his last two. Sanchez is in the much better current form and the Tigers are worth a play in Game 3 at the attractive +125 price. Oakland has been a nice story but their offense was among the weakest in the AL.

Should the A’s extend the series, the Tigers would be the play in Game 4 if favored by no more than -150 in a start by Justin Verlander of at-120 with any other starter.

However, in a Game 5 Oakland would be the play against any Detroit starter other than Verlander, but would be playable against Verlander if made a dog of +150 or more. Expect the Tigers to wrap up the series in either Game 3 or 4.

The Yankees took the first game of their series in Baltimore and should win this series in 4 or less. Their lineup is just too powerful when fully healthy as it is now as batters one through seven are dangerous. Baltimore just does not have enough pitching to contain that lineup consistently. As they again showed on Sunday night, the Bronx Bombers are capable of a big inning when the game is on the line.

If the Yanks are priced at more than -150 consider playing them on the run line, laying a run and a half.

St. Louis was in danger of falling down 0-2 to Washington pending Monday afternoon’s result in what was pretty much a pick ‘em game.

The pick here last week was for the winner of the NL Wild Card game to advance to the World Series and that prediction remains in place unless the Cardinals are in need of sweeping all three games in Washington. In such a case you’d have to make the Nationals solid favorites to advance to the NLCS.

In playing out the balance of this series look to play on the Nationals in game 3 and 4 if they return home up 2-0, if they are favored by no more than -125. If St Louis evened the series at 1-1 on Monday then the Cardinals would be playable as underdogs in any or all of the games in Washington.

The predictions are for Detroit to meet the Yankees in the ALCS with the Yankees winning in 6 and St Louis to meet Cincinnati in the NLCS with the Cardinals winning in 7.

The NLCS should be a more competitively priced series than the ALCS in which New York is likely to be a solid favorite over the Tigers. The Reds should be less heavily favored over St Louis in the NLCS which would make St Louis an attractive play to advance to a second straight World Series if getting +120 or more.

Andy Iskoe and his Logical Approach is one of the most popular statistical breakdowns in sports betting. Andy is also a longtime baseball and football columnist at GT. Contact Andy at Andy­[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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