Five to Follow MLB Betting: Thursday May 8, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 5/7/2014
Here is something you don't see every day in Major League Baseball: Every home team is favored on a fairly busy slate. Usually there is some crummy team playing at home like the Astros or Cubs who would be an underdog, but not this day as both are on the road. Here's a look at five interesting matchups.
Twins at Indians (-172, 8)
I have no explanation for how the Minnesota Twins went from one of the majors' worst offenses last year to a solid seventh in runs this season. It's not like all-star Joe Mauer is having a big year, batting .296 with two home runs. And don't expect Mauer in this early afternoon getaway game. He is dealing with back spasms and expected to get a few days off. That weakened Minnesota lineup faces Cleveland's Justin Masterson (1-1, 4.01). He had his best outing of the season last time out, blanking the White Sox on four hits over 7.1 innings. He pitched April 6 vs. the Twins and was rocked for six runs in 3.2 innings. Brian Dozier is 6-for-12 with six walks off him. Minnesota starts Kevin Correia (1-3, 6.09). He got his first win last time out, holding the Orioles to a run over seven innings. He hasn't faced the Tribe.
Key trends: Minnesota is 2-9 in Correia's past 11 road starts. Cleveland is 10-3 in Masterson's past 13 starts vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Mauer's lefty bat will be missed against Masterson, who might be returning to 2013 form. Take the Tribe on the runline as well at +125.
Phillies at Blue Jays (-129, 8.5)
I realize Toronto is at home here, but I'm a tad surprised this isn't close to a "pick'em" with how good Philadelphia starter A.J. Burnett (2-1, 2.06) has been of late. The Phils lost his first two starts but have won his past five. He hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of them. Burnett has a 0.98 ERA in his last four starts. Of course, he was a Blue Jay from 2006-08 and was solid there. Bet on a Jose Bautista hitting prop here. He is 6-for-14 with three home runs and seven RBIs off Burnett. The Jays start knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (2-3, 5.01). He has three straight quality starts. Jimmy Rollins is a career .304 hitter vs. Dickey.
Key trends: Toronto is 0-5 in Dickeys' past five Thursday starts. The "under" has hit in eight of Toronto's past 10 at home against teams with a winning road record.
Early lean: Dickey's flutter-ball is unpredictable, so go with Burnett.
Orioles at Rays (-178, 7.5)
Any chance the Orioles might have of winning the AL East this season could come from an elbow exam that all-star catcher Matt Wieters had with Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday. Obviously, it's never a good thing to see that guy, and there's a chance Wieters could have torn ligaments in his right elbow. That would mean Tommy John surgery. That's not to say Wieters won't play in this game as he has been playing through it, and the results may take a few days. But keep an eye on that. The Orioles start Ubaldo Jimenez (1-4, 5.19) in the series finale. He pitched 7.1 scoreless innings in his last start after struggling all season. He also struck out a season-high 10. The Rays start lefty David Price (3-2, 4.44). He has been inconsistent his past four starts. Price was 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in four 2013 starts against the Birds.
Key trends: The Orioles are 3-7 in their past 10 road games against lefty starters. The Rays are 4-1 in Price's past five at home.
Early lean: Price hasn't been great at home this season but usually is better there. Take the Rays.
Royals at Mariners (-140, 7)
The "over" for this series opener is the biggest favorite on the Thursday MLB board at -125. Seattle is actually contending in the AL West, and I'm not totally sure how, other than Felix Hernandez. The Mariners start their No. 2 guy behind King Felix in this one: Hisashi Iwakuma. He made his season debut off a finger injury last weekend and allowed four runs in 6.2 innings in Houston. Iwakuma pitched eight shutout innings in his lone 2013 start vs. the Royals. Kansas City starts lefty Danny Duffy (1-2, 2.19). He had been relieving all year and started last time out, allowing a run and two hits over four innings vs. the Tigers. Robinson Cano is 3-for-6 with a homer and four RBIs off Duffy.
Key trends: Kansas City is 6-0 in Duffy's past six road starts. The Mariners are 2-9 in their past 11 at home against teams with a losing record. K.C. is 1-6 in its past seven in Seattle.
Early lean: I would roll the dice on the Royals because the Mariners are likely to be gassed and use up their bullpen after playing a doubleheader in Oakland on Wednesday. The Royals will beat the M's to Seattle as they play an afternoon game Wednesday in San Diego.
Marlins at Padres (-144, 7)
The Marlins were by far the worst offensive team in the majors last season, but they have shown how things can turnaround quickly, ranking No. 5 in runs this year. The Padres have taken their place as MLB's worst offense by far. Jacob Turner (0-0, 9.90) starts this series opener for Miami. He returned from a month on the DL Saturday and allowed six runs and four hits in four innings against the Dodgers. This will be his first road start of the year. San Diego starts Ian Kennedy (2-4, 3.43). He allowed a season-high 11 hits over five innings last weekend against Arizona. Kennedy faced the Marlins in Miami on April 6 and held them to a run over six innings. Giancarlo Stanton is 4-for-11 with two home runs off Kennedy.
Key trends: The Marlins are 1-8 in Turner's past nine road starts. The under is 5-1-1 in Miami's past seven on the road. The under is 5-2 in Kennedy's past seven. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings in San Diego.
Top under choice of day. Padres can't hit anywhere, and the Marlins can't on the road (.215), where they are only 2-10. And they have a cross-country
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