Blue Jays at Yankees Picks and MLB Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 5/17/2013
Are the Toronto Blue Jays starting to live up to the preseason hype that saw them as the World Series favorite back in the spring? Frankly, I thought it was all a bit much that Toronto was a favorite after adding Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and a few others in the big trade with the Marlins as well as dealing for reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey of the Mets and signing free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera of the Giants.
Reyes is good but injury-prone (as has been proven out), Buehrle is in the tail end of his career and never was a dominant pitcher, and Cabrera and Dickey had career seasons in 2012. Would the Jays finish over .500 and make some noise in what looked like a very winnable AL East? Sure. World Series favorites? I don't think so.
It's a small sample size, but Toronto enters Friday's series opener at Yankee Stadium on a season-high four-game winning streak. The Jays have won back-to-back series against pretty darn good competition in the Red Sox and Giants. However, at 17-24 and buried in the AL East cellar, there's still a long way to go.
The surprising Yankees lead the East and finished up a home series with the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night.
Blue Jays at Yankees Betting Story Lines
Toronto's pitching is still pretty shaky, ranking No. 13 in the AL with a 4.75 ERA with just 18 quality starts and a bloated WHIP of 1.46. The offense seems to be coming around, however. Toronto has scored double-digit runs in three straight games for the first time in a decade. The Giants don't know what hit them. Toronto scored five first-inning runs in Wednesday's 11-3 win and six in Tuesday's 10-6 victory. It was the first time the Blue Jays scored five or more runs in the first inning in consecutive games in franchise history. No team had scored five or more first-inning runs in consecutive games in seven seasons.
The impetus for this explosion seems to be when Manager John Gibbons moved Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to the top of the batting order. In the winning streak, that trio has combined to go 21-for-46 (.457) with two home runs, 14 RBI and 16 runs scored. Cabrera is playing through a leg problem that recently needed an MRI, but he's 7-for-16 (three doubles) with four RBI and five runs scored from the leadoff spot.
Cabrera and Co. will see Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (5-2, 2.31) on Friday. He allowed two runs and six hits in 7.2 innings in a win over the Royals last time out, his sixth straight quality start. Kuroda has faced the Jays twice this year, going 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13.2 innings. Bautista and Encarnacion each have two career homers off Kuroda. Cabrera has two hits in six at-bats. Brett Lawrie is killing Yankees pitching overall this year, batting .357 with two homers and four RBI.
The Yanks activated Curtis Granderson off the disabled list this week, and he's 1-for-7 with a run scored in his two games entering Thursday. His return gives the Yankees a decent problem: four solid outfielders along with Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells. New York can't possibly sit Wells, who's probably the AL Comeback Player of the Year. Many panned the Yanks when they acquired Wells from the Angels, but he's been terrific, hitting .301 with 10 homers and 23 RBI entering Thursday. Ichiro is hitting only .238, so he could be the odd man out most nights, although I'm sure Manager Joe Girardi will go by pitching matchups. New York DH Travis Hafner also has had an excellent comeback season. He's hitting .260 with six homers and 18 RBI but hasn't played since Monday because of a sore right shoulder that has been a big problem in the past. An MRI didn't show any major problems, and Hafner is “iffy” for this game.
Wells and Co. will face the lefty Buehrle (1-2, 6.19). He hasn't been good but did have his best start of the year last time out, holding the Red Sox to a run and five hits over seven innings. He's 0-1 in two starts this year against the Yankees, allowing eight runs and 14 hits in 12.1 innings. Wells has to be salivating at seeing Buehrle again. Wells is hitting .480 with three homers and 10 RBI in 50 career at-bats against the southpaw. Robinson Cano is batting .400 with three homers and nine RBI in just 20 at-bats. Ichiro is hitting .426 in 54 at-bats, so he'll certainly be in the lineup.
New York is 6-1 against the Blue Jays this season. Toronto hasn't won a season series against the Bombers in 13 years.
Blue Jays at Yankees MLB Betting Odds and Trends
The Yankees opened at -145 on BetOnline and the Jays at +135 with the total at 8.5. Toronto is 23-17-1 “over/under” this season (12-7-1 on road) and 19-22 on the runline. All Yanks trends entering Thursday: New York is 16-20-4 O/U (9-10-2 at home) and 22-18 on the runline.
The Jays are 5-0 in their past five against righty starters. They are 0-4 in their past four Friday games. The Yankees are 6-1 in their past seven against lefty starters. They are 5-0 in Kuroda's past five starts against teams with a losing record. New York is 15-1 in Kuroda's past 16 pitching on normal rest (four days). The Yanks are 7-3 in Kuroda's past 10 series openers. The over is 9-2 in Toronto's past 11. The under is 4-1-1 in Kuroda's past six series openers. The Yanks are 4-0 in Kuroda's past four against Toronto.
Blue Jays at Yankees Picks and Betting Predictions
Here's a pretty amazing stat: The Yankees are 16-0 this season when they score first (entering Thursday). And almost as amazing: They have lost only twice when leading at any point in a game. Clearly if New York has a lead in the ninth, the game is over because Mariano Rivera is as automatic as ever. I'd like to roll the dice on Buehrle because the Jays are hot, but he's an ugly 1-9 with a 6.19 ERA in his career against New York. Take the Yanks and the over.
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