Five to Follow MLB Betting: Thursday May 22, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 5/21/2014
Brilliant move by the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday to re-sign shortstop Stephen Drew -- in the mediocre AL East that move could be the difference between winning the division or not. It also blocks potential signings by the Detroit Tigers or New York Yankees. I guarantee you one of those two would have tried to sign Drew after June 5 when the draft pick compensation fell off. So the Sox get their guy and at $4 million less than Drew would have gotten had he just accepted the team's $14.1 million qualifying offer. Drew won't be in the lineup for Boston for probably two weeks. The Sox could use him as they are slumping big time. Here's a look at their game Thursday and four other interesting matchups.
Blue Jays at Red Sox (-136, 9)
One of the leading candidate for AL Player of the Month in May likely is Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion. In April, he hit just two home runs and slugged .430. Entering Wednesday, Encarnacion has nine home runs, with three multi-homer games, and is slugging .699 in May. He is 8-for-39 in his career off Boston's Thursday starter, Jon Lester, with five doubles and two home runs. Lester (4-5, 2.67) faced the Blue Jays in Toronto on April 27 and allowed a season-high four runs in seven innings of a loss. He has a 2.16 ERA at Fenway this year. Toronto starts lefty Mark Buehrle (7-1, 2.11), who continues to hum along. The Jays have won all of his starts except April 25 vs. Boston when Buehrle was ripped for seven runs and 12 hits in 5.1 innings. Big Papi is a career .329 hitter off Buehrle with four home runs and 14 RBIs.
Key trends: The Jays are 5-0 in Buehrle's past five road starts. Boston is 1-6 in its past seven Game 3s of a series. The Sox are 7-1 in Lester's past eight at home vs. Toronto.
Early lean: Two of the AL's best lefties and a total of 9.0? Go "under"
Yankees at White Sox (+109, 9.5)
Keep an eye on the Pale Hose if they carry a lead into the ninth inning of this series opener with the Yankees -- I called Masahiro Tanaka's loss Tuesday! -- as the White Sox put closer Matt Lindstrom on the 15-day DL on Tuesday. He had converted five straight saves and fixed what had been a problem area at the start of the season. The leading candidate to take Lindstrom's spot is Ronald Belisario, but Robin Ventura might mix and match. It's not exactly a matchup of aces in this game. The Sox start Hector Noesi (0-4, 7.31), who was claimed off waivers from Texas in late April. He doesn't have much history against the Yankees. New York starts David Phelps (1-0, 3.33), who should be in the bullpen. His ERA on the road this year is 5.09.
Key trends: The White Sox are 2-11 in their past 13 at home against teams with a winning record. The Yankees are 0-6 in their past six at the White Sox.
Early lean: Take the "over" as I doubt either pitcher makes it through five innings.
Giants at Rockies (-113, 9.5)
With all the rash of pitching injuries this season around baseball, the Giants have to be thrilled that Tim Hudson missed just one start with a hip injury. He's set to return for Thursday's series finale. Hudson (4-2, 2.09) has allowed more than two runs in just one start this year but is 0-2 with a 7.41 ERA in six appearances at Coors Field. Hudson made a home start vs. the Rockies in April and allowed a season-high four runs in 7.1 innings. Troy Tulowitzki, who has been out of his mind at home this year, is just 4-for-17 off Hudson career. The Rockies start lefty Jorge De La Rosa (5-3, 4.14). Colorado has won his past five starts, and he has just a 2.37 ERA this month. De La Rosa is 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA against the Giants this season.
Key trends: The Giants are 5-1 in their past six road games against lefty starters. The Rockies are 1-6 in De La Rosa's past seven Thursday starts. Colorado is 4-0 in De La Rosa's past four against San Francisco.
Early lean: A rare total under 10 at Coors Field. The fact this is a day game should hinder the batters a bit with sun/shade. Go under with two good pitchers.
Rangers at Tigers (+114, 8)
Call it coincidence or not, but Texas slugger Prince Fielder didn't travel with the team from Arlington to Detroit for this weekend's series because of a herniated disc in his back that is leading to some arm weakness. Of course, Fielder was dealt by the Tigers to the Rangers this offseason, and he fell way out of favor in Detroit because of his postseason struggles. Fielder (.247, three HRs) is getting checked out Thursday, so it's still possible he plays later in the series. So that Rangers lineup will look to solve Detroit lefty Robbie Ray (1-0, 0.75) without him. He was supposed to head back to Triple-A but a minor injury to Rick Porcello kept him in the rotation. The Rangers start Yu Darvish (3-2, 2.32), about the only good healthy pitcher they have left. He has allowed a combined two runs and only seven hits while striking out 23 over his past two starts (16.2 innings).
Key trends: The Rangers are 4-0 in Darvish's past four road starts. The Tigers are 7-0 in their past seven against pitchers with a WHIP under 1.15. Texas is 4-0 in Darvish's past four vs. Detroit.
Early lean: Very, very rare you will see Detroit as a home dog this season. Take the opportunity, even against Darvish.
Dodgers at Mets (+140, 6.5)
It's hard to believe that Juan Uribe, at age 35, is still an important player to the L.A. Dodgers, but he's hitting .303 with four home runs and 18 RBIs this season. He's also likely ticketed for the disabled list after re-injuring a hamstring Tuesday. That means a platoon of Justin Turner and Chone Figgins at the hot corner, which isn't too impressive. The Dodgers might have called up infielder Alex Guerrero from Triple-A to take Uribe's roster spot, but Guerrero had part of his ear bitten off by a teammate during a scuffle Tuesday. No, the teammate's last name wasn't Tyson. L.A. starts Zack Greinke (7-1, 2.03) in this series finale. He has been nothing short of dominant, yet to allow more than two runs in a game. In fact, Greinke has given up two or fewer runs in 21 straight starts, the longest such streak in the majors since at least 1914. The Mets counter with lefty Jon Niese (2-3, 2.54). He's no slouch, yet to allow more than three runs in a start.
Key trends: L.A. is 6-0 in Greinke's past six road starts against teams with a losing record. The Mets are 1-10 in their past 11 at home against right-handed starters. The under is 6-1 in Greinke's past seven against teams with a losing record.
Early lean: No shock this is the lowest total on the board, and I'd still go under because I don't see the Mets scoring on Greinke, and the Dodgers likely won't get more than four on Niese.
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