MLB Picks: Rangers at Yankees Series Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 4/15/2011
Easily the biggest Major League Baseball series of the weekend comes in the Bronx when the AL East-leading New York Yankees and the AL West-leading Texas Rangers face off for three games in a rematch of the 2010 American League Championship Series, won in an upset by the Rangers last season. With the way the AL looks early this year – i.e. struggles of teams like the Red Sox and Twins – it could easily be a preview of the 2011 ALCS. New York is a -225 series favorite with Texas at +175.
How the Teams Enter
For a while there Texas looked like the best team in baseball. In fact, the Rangers started 9-1 to become just the second franchise in MLB history to start by winning nine of its first 10 games the season after reaching the World Series. However, it has not been a good week for Texas. It started with a 2-0 win in Detroit on Monday for that 9-1 start that matched the best in franchise history. But it all started going south in Tuesday’s 5-4 loss to the Tigers, a game in which Rangers star and reigning AL MVP Josh Hamilton broke his upper right arm on a controversial first-inning play.
By now you no doubt know the story: Rangers third-base coach implored Hamilton to tag up from third on a foul pop about 50 feet left of home plate because there was no one covering home. It might have been the shortest sac fly in history. Hamilton raced the catcher to the plate and tried to avoid Victor Martinez’s tag by sliding headfirst, only to suffer the break. He’s out 6-8 weeks. Hamilton ripped the third-base coach for the decision – calling it “stupid” -- but later apologized. Hamilton hit .359 with 32 home runs and 100 RBI in 2010 and won the MVP despite missing the final month last year. He's hitting .333 this season with seven RBI. The Rangers might actually have enough lineup depth to withstand this. David Murphy, who hit .355 with three homers and 17 RBI last September as Hamilton's replacement, will start in Hamilton’s place. Texas now is quite thankful it didn’t trade Michael Young this offseason as well. It lost the final game of the Detroit series and enters on its first losing streak of the year.
Rather quietly, New York has overtaken early surprise Baltimore by winning two straight and three of four to take over the AL East lead. Perhaps more pleasing to Yanks fans is the fact that they already have a five-game lead over the hated and last-place Red Sox. Alex Rodriguez looks like an MVP again. He has reached base in all 10 games in which he played this season. Eight of his 14 hits have gone for extra bases (four doubles, four HRs). He’s hitting .412 with nine RBI. The Yankees have scored at least four runs in 10 of their 11 contests this season. They are tied with the White Sox for the most four-run games so far.
Rangers at Yankees Probables
Friday: Matt Harrison (2-0, 1.29) vs. Ivan Nova (1-0, 6.10) – Harrison has been great, allowing one run in seven innings in each of his first two starts, making him the only left-handed pitcher in the majors to have multiple outings of seven or more innings and one earned run or fewer. Nova gave up four runs on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings against the Red Sox in his last start. He has never faced Texas. New York is a -150 favorite.
Saturday: Derek Holland (2-0, 2.25) vs. Freddy Garcia (0-0, 9.00) – Holland is 0-2 with a 9.49 ERA in two career starts and one career relief appearance against the Yankees. Garcia makes his first start of the year after he was skipped once for a rainout. He was 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA in two starts vs. Texas in 2010 while with the White Sox.
Sunday: Alexi Ogando (2-0, 0.00) vs. CC Sabathia (0-1, 1.45) -- Ogando has been one of the surprises in baseball so far, not allowing a run in 13 innings. He allowed two hits and a walk in seven innings in a 2-0 win over the Tigers on Monday – the Rangers’ last win. Sabathia has gotten no run support this year. He could and probably should be 3-0. He beat the Rangers in his only regular-season start against them in 2010, then was 1-0 in two ALCS starts.
Rangers at Yankees Prediction
If you are betting on this series and want to take Texas and the nice +175 price, then I think you have to expect the Rangers to win the first two games because Sabathia is obviously due a victory and Ogando will come back to earth eventually. But if you look at the pitching matchups those first two games, the Rangers could easily do so. I would take Harrison in Game 1 for sure. I am not as confident in Holland. Can Texas keep the Yanks in the park? New York’s 21 homers ties a franchise record through the first 11 games of the season. I would take the Rangers at that price – Hamilton’s injury might unite them for a short burst of success.
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