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Baseball 101: Trust underdogs to deliver bucks

Jul 17, 2001 2:01 AM

After nearly one month of studying results, I feel confident in predicting that at least six underdog winners are available daily when all 30 teams are in action.

The oddsmakers are uncanny in their breakdown of games. The results have been down the middle with remarkable frequency. Either favorites or underdogs consistently win by margins of 8-7 and 8-6-1. So, there is money for the taking.

No Bull From Pen:

The New York Mets should point to the bullpen if they work their way back into the playoff picture in the second half of the season.

Left-hander John Franco, thought to be done at age 38, is throwing as well as ever. Franco had not allowed a run in his last 131/3 innings, a stretch that began June 9. Franco remains a reliable set-up man for Armando Benitez, who is a perfect 19 of 19 in save opportunities. The Mets should be in good shape from the eighth inning on to make a run if the offensive production improves and the starting pitching heals.

”¦Ron Villone has come alive after being sent to the Houston Astros from Colorado during the year. Villone was 1-3 with a 6.36 ERA for the Rockies and opposing hitters were batting .295 against him. Since joining the Houston bullpen, Villone is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA. The left-hander has yielded just one run in his last 81/3 innings and the league is batting just .167.

The Big Hurts

Heading any list of wounded has to be Boston right-hander Pedro Martinez. The two-time defending Cy Young winner is bothered by a rotator cuff and is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks. Pedro may not pitch until September. The Red Sox have nine players on the DL, including shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. But, that’s nothing compared to Atlanta. The Braves have 11 on the DL, including shortstop Rafael Furcal (shoulder), who was injured July 7 and is out for the season.

Rocky economy

The Colorado Rockies, one of baseball’s biggest disappointments, can point to the past 10 days as the height of frustration. Ace left-hander Mike Hampton, who jumped out to a 9-2 start, is the main culprit.  Hampton has dropped five straight games as a heavy favorite.

Colorado experienced a major recession, dropping a mammoth $975 from the previous week.  Minnesota has made bettors a $910 profit over the past three weeks.

Here is the list of losing high-priced favorites.

Sunday, July 8

Kerry Wood (—165) ”” Detroit 9, Chicago Cubs 6

Thursday, July 12

Shane Reynolds (—175) ”” San Diego 7, Houston 4

Darryl Kile (—165) ”” Detroit 7, St. Louis 5

Troy Mattes (—165) ”” Tampa Bay 10, Montreal 0

Mike Mussina (—160) ”” Florida 9, NY Yankees 3

Friday, July 13

Mike Mathews (—150) ”” Detroit 4, St. Louis 1

Saturday, July 14

John Burkett (—220) ”” Baltimore 4, Atlanta 1

Wade Miller (—210) ”” San Diego 8, Houston 6

NL teams rising from last week were San Diego (up 370), Florida (up 285) and Atlanta (up 85). Headed south were Colorado, Chicago (down 325) and San Francisco (down 185).

Bullish in the AL were Kansas City (up 375), Detroit (up 265) and Toronto (up 245). The bears during the past week were Tampa Bay (down 145), New York (down 105) and Cleveland (down 1105).

JULY 14

NL Money Line Record

Philadelphia  

+1320

Chicago  

+1005

Arizona  

+880

San Diego  

+570

Los Angeles  

+210

Milwaukee  

+ 50

San Francisco  

-125

Houston  

-130

Florida  

-220

Atlanta  

-350

St. Louis  

-795

Montreal  

-840

Pittsburgh  

-950

Cincinnati