MLB Picks: Cubs at Red Sox Series Odds and Predictions
by Darin Zank - 5/20/2011
A couple of teams that don't get together very often headline the first round of Interleague Play this weekend as the Chicago Cubs hit Beantown for the first time in almost a century for a three-game series with the streaking Red Sox.
The Cubs just swept two games in Florida, winning 7-5 Wednesday thanks to a good bullpen effort and 5-1 Thursday behind five-plus decent innings from struggling starter Casey Coleman. Still, the Cubbies are only 4-6 over their last 10 games. So going into the weekend at 19-23 Chicago sits in fifth place in the NL Central, 5.5 games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals.
Boston just swept two games from Detroit, getting seven shutout innings from starter Clay Buchholz in a 1-0 victory Wednesday and scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 victory Thursday. So the Sox, after that slow start to this season, have won six games in a row and nine of their last 11 to pull above .500 on the year. Heading into the weekend Boston, at 23-20, occupies third place in the AL East, and they're only a game and a half back of the first-place Tampa Bay Rays.
Statistically speaking, the Cubs rank second in the majors with a team batting average of .278, sixth in on-base percentage at .333 and 14th in scoring at 4.2 runs per game.
Chicago pitching, though, has been a bit of a disaster, ranking 27th in ERA at 4.50, 29th in team WHIP (walks + hits/innings pitched) at 1.45 and dead last in quality starts with just 14.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, rank eighth in the league in hitting at .258, fifth in OBP at .336 and 11th in scoring at 4.3 RPG.
Boston pitching ranks 25th in ERA at 4.20, 20th in WHIP at 1.34 and 26th in quality starts with 20.
The Cubs will send lefty Doug Davis to the mound for Friday's series opener against fellow lefty Jon Lester for the Red Sox (7:10 p.m. EST, WGN). Then Carlos Zambrano will start for Chicago Saturday (7:10 p.m. EST, Fox) against Alfredo Aceves for Boston. And former American Leaguer Matt Garza will go for the Cubbies Sunday (8:05 p.m. EST, ESPN) against knucklehead Tim Wakefield.
Davis, after having elbow surgery last year, made his first start of this season last Saturday, allowing one earned run in five innings vs. the Giants, walking one and striking out six in a 3-0 Cubs loss. He hasn't pitched against Boston since 2008.
Lester has allowed nine ER on 21 baserunners (hits + walks) in 11 1/3 innings over his last two starts. And his last three starts have played ‘over’ their totals. Lester has never pitched against the Cubs.
Zambrano, like Lester, has had a couple of rough outings in a row, giving up 10 earned runs on 19 baserunners in 12 1/3 innings, as the Cubs lost both those games. Big Z has no recent history vs. Boston.
Aceves, meanwhile, will be making his first start since 2009 Saturday in place of the injured Daisuke Matsuzaka. He owns a 2.60 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in 17 1/3 innings of relief this season.
Garza has allowed just one ER in his last two starts, covering 11 innings, although he's walked seven in that span. This is uncharacteristic, considering he had walked 13 in his previous 44 innings. For the season his ERA sits at 3.72, although his WHIP is a bit high at 1.37. Garza is very familiar with the Red Sox, and vice-versa, having pitched the last few seasons for Tampa Bay. Last year Garza pitched 35 innings vs. Boston, allowing 20 ER on 38 hits, walking 15 and striking out 18.
Wakefield is replacing the injured John Lackey in the Sox rotation. The 44-year-old knuckleballer has made two previous starts this season, and a bunch of relief appearances, and his ERA sits at 5.40. He last pitched against the Cubs in 2005.
These two teams last met during an interleague series at Wrigley Field in 2005. The Cubs have not played a game at Fenway Park since the 1918 World Series.
The American League has taken the season interleague series from the National League seven seasons in a row. Last year Chicago went 8-10 vs. AL teams, while Boston went 13-5 vs. NL teams.
Cubs vs. Red Sox Betting Odds and Trends
The Red Sox have been posted as big -220 favorites to win this series at Bodog, while the Cubs are getting +180 to pull the upset.
The ‘over/unders’ are 24-18 in Cubs games this season.
The ‘over/unders’ are 19-20 in Red Sox games this season.
The Cubs are 5-8-2 in series this season.
The Red Sox are 6-6-2 in series this season.
The ‘over/unders’ are 11-9-3 in games played at Fenway Park this season, which are averaging 9.1 RPG.
MLB Picks: Cubs vs. Red Sox Predictions
Boston started slowly this season, but it looks like they're coming around like most of us figured they would. The pitching matchups in this series don't necessary give Boston an advantage, but the Sox are hot, and they should take this series.
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