Today we take a look at what should be 2 of the best games of the day.
Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees
Tampa Bay travels to the Bronx in an unfamiliar role this late in the season, carrying an MLB-best record of 28-11 (+1,014) into this series. To put the current record in perspective, the Rays didn’t win their 28th game of the 2009 season until June 4 (56th game). The Rays are 1-2 against the Yankees in 2010, losing the series at Tropicana Field in April. Overall, the team has dropped 10 of the last 15 meetings, including seven straight at Yankee Stadium. Their fortune may change in New York this time around, carrying an impressive 15-4 road mark (+1,050) into this division battle.
Rays SP Wade Davis’ success on Wednesday will depend on how he deals with nerves of starting off such an important series. The right-hander’s 0-2 mark and 5.73 ERA in two starts at Yankee Stadium will do little to ease the pressure. Davis will also need to demonstrate more control against a patient Yankees’ club, as he’s issued 21 free passes in 41 innings thus far. Overall, the Rays have won four out of his seven starts, including two out of three on the road (+50).
New York can seize some type of control of the division, even if for just a moment, with a series win. The Yankees currently trail the Rays by two games, as their 25-13 record (+740) in 2010 is the best start for the franchise since 2003. The team has enjoyed great success against right-handed starters thus far in 2010, producing a 17-7 record (+720). Success against right-handers is just the start for the team offensively, as they lead the majors in batting average and runs scored per game. Fans will bring a wave of confidence into the stadium on Wednesday night knowing their beloved Bombers possess the best home record in all of baseball. In fact, since the 2009 All-Star break, New York is 44-11 in regular season games at Yankee Stadium.
Yankees SP A.J. Burnett looks to continue his recent success at Yankee Stadium, as he leads the Majors with a 0.86 home ERA. He has surrendered just two earned runs in 21 innings of work at Yankee Stadium this year. Over his last 14 home starts, the right-hander owns a 7-2 record and 2.49 ERA. Few pitchers have enjoyed the kind of success Burnett has against the Rays, owning a 12-4 mark and 2.76 ERA in 22 career starts against them. His ERA against Tampa is the lowest all-time against the Rays for any pitcher with at least 100 innings against them. On 4/11/10, he recorded a 7-3 win at Tropicana Field, allowing just six hits and two earned runs over seven innings.
Bettors will be drawn to possibly playing the first-place road underdog in this matchup, but the recent series history at Yankee Stadium and having Burnett on the mound may be too intimidating to wager against.
Value may be found on the total, as the Rays are currently averaging 5.8 runs per game on the road. The Over is also 17-6 in Yankees’ games when the total is 9 to 9.5.
Chicago Cubs at Philadelphia Phillies
Chicago has finished its recent eight-game homestand and heads on the road to face the Philadelphia Phillies and then an interleague series against the Texas Rangers. The Cubs have gone 7-12 (-680) on the road this season and they suffered thru a 1-5 stretch the last time they left Wrigley Field. Offensively the team must try and do a better job in producing against left-handed starters, going 4-8 against them this season (-920) and hitting for a combined .249 average. The bullpen has been far from effective on the road, posting a 6.80 ERA, as they’ve issued 30 walks in just 49 innings of work.
Cubs SP Tom Gorzelanny is making his eighth start of the season, posting a 1-4 record and 3.60 ERA so far in 2010. He allowed a season-high five runs on nine hits in his last outing, a 10-6 home loss to the Pirates. The left-hander has proven most effective on the road this season, with a 2.50 ERA in three starts compared to 4.50 at home. Chicago has posted a 1-6 record (-720) in his seven starts this season, scoring a total of just 15 runs in those six losses.
Philadelphia continues to impress at Citizens Bank Park, logging an 11-6 record (+220) in the team’s first 17 home games. Offensively at home, the team leads the National League in scoring 5.76 runs per game. Since the 2007 season, Philadelphia has the fourth-highest winning percentage (.581) among NL teams at home with a 151-109 record. Included in this home record is a dominating 32-13 mark against NL Central opponents. The Phillies are 10- 1 overall against the Central during the 2010 campaign. The only real concern in this matchup is the team’s even 5-5 mark (-270) against left-handed starters this season.
Phillies SP Jamie Moyer has turned back the clock recently, leading the Phillies to victory in three straight games (+341). The 47-year-old left-hander has allowed nine runs and just 13 hits over his last 21.1 innings of work. He faced the Cubs just once during the 2009 season, falling 10-5 in defeat after giving up five runs (four earned) in lasting just five frames. The month of May was a disaster for him during the 2009 season, with a 1-4 record and highly-inflated 8.01 ERA over six starts. The tide has definitely turned, as he goes for his fourth straight win this month in as many starts.
The linesmaker has made Philadelphia a favorite for good reason, with a 9-4 (+570) mark against the Cubs over the last three seasons. Playing the run-line is the real value, with the Phillies winning by two or more runs in all five wins with Moyer on the mound.
In the other dugout, bettors should be wary of the run-line due to over half (22) of the Cubs’ first 39 games being decided by two or fewer runs. Chicago has yet to deliver a victory for dog bettors when placed as a road underdog of +125 to +150 (-300). Even worse, the Cubs are 7-20 in that situation the last three years.