Five to Follow MLB Betting: Thursday April 10, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 4/9/2014
Let the ESPN hype machine begin: the Red Sox and Yankees face off for the first time this season on Thursday, and most books will have live betting on all four games this weekend because, well, it's Red Sox-Yankees and they are almost always on national TV. Here's a look at that and four other interesting matchups on Thursday.
A's at Twins (+125, 8.5)
No team likes to be swept at home, and that's what could be facing the Twins on Thursday against Oakland. The A's did have starting shortstop Jed Lowrie in the lineup on Wednesday despite the fact he left Monday's 8-3 win over Minnesota after being hit by a pitch on his right foot. He apparently felt fine after Tuesday's day off. The A's haven't had Coco Crisp since Sunday due to a wrist injury, and he won't play here. He's hitting .267 with a homer. Minnesota hasn't had one of its best hitters, Josh Willingham, since Sunday with a hand injury, and he's unlikely to be back for this one. The Twins have almost no power without him (he hasn't homered yet). Oakland starts Dan Straily (0-1, 4.50 ERA). Not many Twins have faced him. Minnesota counters with Mike Pelfrey (0-1, 5.06). If he's not getting the ball down, he's in trouble. Few A's have seen him, and Crisp is the only one with a homer off Pelfrey.
Key trends: Minnesota is 1-6 in Pelfrey's past seven starts. The "over" is 7-0 in Minnesota's past seven overall.
Early lean: Twins salvage one. A's likely to rest a few regulars in a getaway game and a trip to Seattle on deck.
Pirates at Cubs (+121, TBA)
Chicago is going to finish with at least 90 losses for a fourth straight season, that's pretty clear. When the Cubs score, their pitchers stink. When their pitchers do well, they offense does nothing. Why not bring Javy Baez up now and give North Siders something to look forward to? Don't expect much offense for Chicago on Thursday against young Pirates phenom Gerrit Cole. He mostly shut down the Cardinals in his 2014 debut and was 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 13 strikeouts in two starts against the Cubs as a rookie. His road ERA was nearly a run-and-a-half better away from Pittsburgh last year as well. Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, who had his first two-homer game Tuesday, is 3-for-6 in his career off Cole. No Cub has homered off him. The Cubs start their second-best pitcher, lefty Travis Wood. He was so-so in his opener against Philly. Wood was 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA in three 2013 starts vs. Pittsburgh. He has Andrew McCutchen's number as the NL MVP is only 2-for-18 with five strikeouts off Wood.
Key trends: Pittsburgh is 6-1 in its past seven against lefty starters. The over has hit in just three of Wood's past 18 home starts.
Early lean: The total figures to be 7-7.5 when posted (Wrigley wind factor), and I doubt this game sees more than four runs unless the wind is blowing out a ton.
Red Sox at Yankees (+100, 8.5)
Boston generally beat up on the Yankees last season, winning 13 of 19 matchups. I don't know about you, but I'm tired already of the Derek Jeter "lasts." His last Opening Day leadoff at-bat. Last Game 1 Yankee Stadium at-bat. Last ground-rule double in a Wednesday day game under cloudy conditions off a left-handed pitcher whose last name begins with T. Enough already. Both teams have key players on the DL: Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino for the Sox and Mark Teixeira and David Robertson for the Bombers. Sox outfielder Grady Sizemore didn't start Wednesday afternoon's game against Texas only because it was after a night game. Look for that often this year to save his knees. He'll play Thursday. Sizemore has been terrific in his return to the majors. Sox starter Clay Buchholz was 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA in three starts a season ago against New York. Yanks second baseman Brian Roberts is 10-for-25 in his career off Buchholz. Yanks starter Michael Pineda is largely a mystery to the Boston hitters.
Key trends: Boston is 6-1 in the past six meetings. The over is 6-2 in the past eight.
Early lean: Have to like Buchholz at such a small price (-110).
Indians at White Sox (+105, 7.5)
Want to know one reason the Cleveland Indians grabbed an AL wild-card spot last season and nearly caught the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central? The Tribe were an obscene 17-2 against the White Sox. I hope you took my advice from Tuesday's White Sox 15-3 win in Colorado when I said Sox rookie Jose Abreu would hit his first homer of the season. He hit two and is among the AL RBI leaders. Avisail Garcia also had two. Each side had games Wednesday afternoon before flying to Chicago. The Tribe bullpen could be spent as they had a home doubleheader against San Diego, already the team's second doubleheader this season. Danny Salazar is scheduled to start Thursday. He was 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA in two starts last year against the Pale Hose. The Sox start lefty John Danks. He was 0-1 with a 6.30 ERA against the Indians in 2013. Ryan Raburn almost surely will get a spot start somewhere for Cleveland. He's 11-for-35 with five doubles, three homers and eight RBIs in his career off Danks.
Key trends: The Indians are 11-1 in their past 12 in Chicago. The over is 17-6 in the past 23 meetings at U.S. Cellular Field.
Early lean: Sox take advantage of Cleveland's taxing Wednesday. They are going to want some payback for last year's embarrassing showing vs. the Indians.
Diamondbacks at Giants (-130, 7.5)
The seats of Arizona GM Kevin Towers and Manager Kirk Gibson have to be feeling warm with the Snakes off to the worst start in the National League and also with the worst pitching staff in the NL. Randall Delgado (0-1, 11.57), who has taken the place of injured ace Patrick Corbin in the rotation, starts Thursday's series finale with the Giants. He was roughed up by the Rockies in his first start of the year. Delgado was 1-1 with a 0.71 ERA in 12.2 innings vs. San Francisco a season ago. Scorching-hot Giants first baseman Brandon Belt is 1-for-6 off him. The Giants start Ryan Vogelsong (0-0, 9.00), who hasn't been good since 2012. He wasn't against Arizona last year, either, going 0-1 with a 5.60 ERA in 17.2 innings. Aaron Hill is 9-for-16 with a homer off him. Mark Trumbo, red-hot for Arizona, is 0-for-3.
Key trends: Arizona is 5-1 in Delgado's past six starts in Game 3 of a series. The over is 11-4-2 in Vogelsong's past 17 home starts.
Early lean: Like the Snakes here as Vogelsong isn't the same guy he used to be. Delgado has very good stuff when under control.
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