Kansas City keeps chasing a dream

kansasThe odds are stacked against them as the Royals sit on the third place in the Central division, nine victories behind leading Tigers. The odds of leapfrogging both Cleveland and Detroit in the remaining months of the regular season are slim to none, but Kansas City is not going to lay down its weapons. Their best bet is to extend the winning streak long enough to overtake either Tampa Bay or Oakland Athletics and secure one of the two wildcards.

This week they’ve played some impressive baseball and swept Minnesota, at the Metrodome without conceding more than one run per game. Now they travel to Toronto to face another rock-bottom team, with the Blue Jays being long eliminated from the playoffs race. They’ve won just three of the last 10 games, but enjoyed an unexpected surge against the New York Yankees to win the series.

Now they turn to one of their best pitchers and hope that Mark Buehrle will extend his winning streak of six consecutive decisions after an impressive performance in August. He faced the Royals more times than any other pitcher in Toronto and except for Billy Butler, opponent sluggers didn’t cause him too many headaches. Overall he conceded an average of four runs per game and was tagged for seven lost decisions in 2013 but he can improve his record with six starts left.

The match preview at http://espn.go.com/mlb/preview?id=330830114 suggests that the visitors will come out firing on all cylinders trying to keep their faint playoffs hopes alive. Alex Gordon is the player that could help them break Mark Buehrle but all eyes are on the Royals’ starting pitcher Ervin Santana. He posted an ERA of 3.21 this season and he has every reason to be frustrated by the fact that he lost seven of the 15 decisions.

His teammates didn’t support him properly and even when he left them ahead after five or more innings, the reliever somehow found a way to squander that advantage. Nevertheless, he will need to stay sharp tonight and capitalize on the fact that the home team lacks motivation and struggles offensively. Ervin won his last three decisions in Toronto and since the All-Star break he lost just one decision while limiting opponents to less than three runs per match. This is one of those rare opportunities to back the visiting team, with most bookmakers offering odds of 1.90 and above.

White Sox try to cause an upset to high-flying Tigers

whitesoxIf it wasn’t for the abysmal Houston, the White Sox will be not only trailing the central division but also be the worst team in Major League Baseball. Fortunately for them the Astros seem adamant to retain that title and this means that Chicago will not have to explain its fans how it was possible to finish last out of 30 teams. Meanwhile they’re trying to win the celebration for Detroit, their divisional rivals in the central division by winning the series against them, one day after taking the opening game.

They did a fine job in scoring six runs against a great starting pitcher, but they will need to double their efforts to achieve a similar performance against Max Scherzer. The pitcher holds the record for the most victories in 2013 and another triumph at US Cellular Field would make him the first Detroit player to earn 18 victories so early in the season, 45 years after a similar performance. He lost a single decision this season and concedes less than three runs per game on average, or formidable numbers for a pitcher.

Normally he shouldn’t worry too much ahead of a game against Chicago White Sox, given the fact that his opponents are not famous for scoring plenty of runs. He comes after an uplifting performance against Cleveland in a game that his team won by 10 runs three while he only conceded two of them. Obviously he starts as favorite in the duel against Hector Santiago, a starting pitcher that lost 7/10 decisions this season. The numbers are clearly suggesting that he is an average player at best but to be perfectly honest they are misleading because Hector was the victim of inadequate support.

It is obvious that a starting pitcher who posts an ERA of 3.43 doesn’t deserve to lose seven decisions, but this is how things go and Santiago needs to adjust. To start with, he will need to last at least six innings, because it is very risky to trust the bullpen to preserve even a two-run advantage. There are some signs of improvement recently for the White Sox who outlasted the Yankees and won by six runs to five in overtime thanks to a collective effort.

When it comes to odds, Detroit is once again terribly underpriced at 1.50 to prevail away from home and it all rests on the shoulders of the starting pitcher. Max Scherzer is truly a formidable player but relying exclusively on his ability to throw balls is risky and any astute pitcher will refrain from risking everything on one card. On the other hand, the hosts enjoy odds of 2.60 even though their chances to win are above 40%, so it is only fair to say that the value is with the White Sox. On the long run what truly matters is to bet on events whose odds offer value, to mitigate occasional losses caused by bad luck.

LA Angels’ last chance to make the playoffs

LA Angels was expected to dominate the division alongside Texas, but after more than half of the regular season has passed, the Californians are struggling to make the playoffs. They sit in the fourth place, behind Seattle and unless something changed genetically overnight it would probably watch the postseason on TV. Cincinnati was in a very similar situation one and a half months ago but the Reds somehow found the strength to rebound in a match against Texas. To refresh your memory head on to http://www.sportsearch.info/everything-is-on-the-line-for-cincinnati/ and see how their resurgence began.

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Now it is time that the Angels do something similar and luckily for them, they don’t have to worry about facing a top opponent, but the ailing Blue Jackets. Toronto has all but forsaken its dreams of making the postseason and sits in the last place in the Eastern division, with just 50 victories. They are one of the worst traveling teams in the American League and don’t have any reasons to be optimistic ahead of this game, except for the fact that LA Angels lost six games in a row.

They will give the ball to Josh Johnson who lost seven decisions out of eight this season and has posted an ERA of 6.08 overall. July has been even worse, with the starting pitcher conceding an average of eight runs per game and his teammates could do nothing for him despite providing plenty of runs of support. This is the first time that Johnson faces the Angels and his away from home record reads 0-4, so everything seems to be against him and the Blue Jackets.

Los Angeles needs to capitalize on this rare opportunity of ending the losing streak by winning the opening game of the series against Toronto. Garrett Richards is anything but an ace and although he posted better numbers than his counterpart, he is less experienced as a starting pitcher. He spent most of the time in the bullpen and it is uncertain how long he can last in an intense game, but if recent results are any indication, he could well make it past the fourth inning.

This is truly a do or die situation for LA Angels but even if they sweep Toronto and overtake Seattle in the Western division, their chances to make the playoffs are slim. Frustration is growing in their quarters because after investing hundreds of millions in proven players in an attempt of strengthening both the pitching squad and the offensive, results are mediocre at best. Bookmakers offer decent odds for a home victory, with the average revolving around value of 1.90 which is acceptable but not terrific.

Justin Verlander tries to justify the investment against Texas

Detroit is still clinging on its first place in the Central division, but its lead has been reduced to one victory and they would have a hard time in extending it tonight. At least on paper, things look promising for the Tigers, as they will have Justin Verlander on the mound and they also have home pitch advantage. It is time for the pricey acquisition to justify his $200 million upkeep, and there is no better opponent to do it than by beating the Rangers.

Justin Verlander tries to justify the investment against Texas

Texas invested a lot of money in purchasing hard-hitting players and so far the results are not justifying this investment. Granted the Rangers are still in the race for the playoffs and just one victory behind the leading Oakland, fans and management alike are not content. Better than average pitching and hitting is simply not enough for the ambitious Texas and games like this one against MLB’s elite are the best chance to prove themselves.

Having to compete against Justin Verlander is bad enough, but the Rangers will have to do it on a hostile arena where the Tigers were dominant this season. The starting pitcher is a menace and he has an excellent track record against Texas, winning five of seven decisions. Pitchers love to blame their teammates for their lack of success, but Justin’s record is consistent with his ERA of 2.84 in those starts.

Speaking of earned-run average, the season he conceded even more runs and the number soared to 3.71 which is not the stuff that an ace pitcher can brag with. Improving the number against the Rangers is usually wishful thinking, but in this series anything can happen as former results clearly prove. These two are not known as streaky teams, which makes it even more surprising that Detroit won the first game by seven runs to two, while losing the second by a virtually identical score.

The Rangers came out firing on all cylinders in game two and they will stick to this winning strategy tonight, despite the fact that they will be facing a vastly superior pitcher. While they count on their red-hot offensive to deliver victory in this series, they have a promising pitcher to keep Detroit at bay. Martin Perez was briefly sent to the minors but he returned with a vengeance and won all starts while conceding less than 1.5 runs per game. More on his performance, and the expectations for this match can be read at http://sports.yahoo.com/news/rangers-tigers-preview-042041178–mlb.html.

This makes him quite a threat for Detroit and makes it hard to justify odds of 2.45 offered by most bookmakers for the Rangers to prevail. The visiting team is not the kind to be intimidated by a stellar pitcher, especially when they faced and defeated him several times in the playoffs. The third game of the series will be amazing for the people in the stands and those watching it live on television, but it can be just as profitable for bold punters. Texas is the underdog, but one that could cause a major upset in Detroit and as long as the odds revolve around the current value it would be silly to miss out on the opportunity.

St. Louis poised to end Oakland’s winning streak

No team likes the idea of traveling to Oakland and being compelled to win on this particular arena is a thought that gives many shivers. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they are exactly in this situation and if they are to tie Pittsburgh for the lead, they need to defeat the A’s at home. This is a tall order, because the hosts have an impressive home record and are riding a three games winning streak, but St. Louis has an ace up its sleeves. This ace is Adam Wainwright, one of the best starting pitchers in Major League Baseball and definitely one of the hottest this season.

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Adam is trying to break out of the funk after losing two consecutive decisions, something that hasn’t happened since 2011. He made it into the double digits area by winning a start almost one month ago, but since then he is constantly looking for victory number 11. Unlike other pitchers who cross this threshold, Wainwright fully deserves every single win and his earned run average of 2.31 is the ultimate proof.

Even when St. Louis sluggers fail to deliver the kind of performance that fans and teammates expect from them, Adam Wainwright finds ways of carrying the Cardinals. This time he will be caught between a rock and a hard place, because Oakland is a formidable defensive team and it is unlikely for the visitors to score many runs. There is one source of optimism for St. Louis, because Wainwright will be opposed by Parker, a starting pitcher who split his 12 decisions this season.

He concedes an average of four runs per match and even if the visitors are not bursting with energy upfront, four runs of support for Adam might be enough. The hosts have won the opening game and they feel great at the Coliseum, not to mention that they are highly motivated to extend the winning streak. Texas is the main favorite in the Western division and the most likely candidate for a playoffs berth but Oakland has tied them for the lead.

Both teams have earned 47 victories in 2013 and both of them will be playing at home against formidable starting pitchers from the central division of the National League. Punters will notice that St. Louis is regarded as favorites to prevail by most bookmakers although the two teams are evenly matched. This could well turn into a match decided by a single run, so it is wise to refrain from trusting either team to cover the -1.5 spread.

Adam Wainwright is the reason for why the Cardinals are slight favorites to prevail and although he lost two consecutive decisions it is worth trusting him once again. At these odds there is no reason to go against the trend and expect Adam to lose another start, and it is just as risky to touch the Totals wagers. Give St. Louis credit and back the visitors at full stakes, because after all, doubling up your investment is not such an unpleasant scenario.

Standings don’t matter when Dodgers meet Diamondbacks

Not surprising, the Western division in the National League is the most competitive one, but very few expected the Diamonds to be leading while the Dodgers to sit on the last-place. Arizona won 35 games and has a winning record away from home, while Los Angeles is barely scrapping enough points to stay above the .400 line. For a club with high expectations and considerable investments in starting pitchers and sluggers, the Dodgers are a train wreck and they need to turn things around quickly.

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One way of getting back in the race for the playoffs would be to defeat the leader and there is no better opportunity to do so that by taking the first game of the series. Standings don’t matter at all tonight because the hosts will be starting with Clayton Kershaw, the only pitcher in their rotation who has conceded less than two runs per game. The fact that he won only 5/9 decisions says a great deal about his teammates and the lack of support, but even a few rounds will be enough against Arizona.

The Diamondbacks will start with Wade Miley, a pitcher who is about to break the psychological threshold of 5.00 for ERA. Even so, he has five victories to his name and this is entirely the merit of a strong batting unit and a formidable bullpen. He has an excellent record at Dodgers Stadium, but has conceded an average of eight runs per match in the last four games. These are contradictory facts that make it very difficult for punters to decide if it is worth backing the underdog.

The odds for a home win are tiny and one needs to be very confident in Clayton Kershaw’s ability to pitch to take the Dodgers at 1.50. He is winless in the last three games and the offense is entirely to blame, but there is no guarantee that their bats will suddenly turn hot. On the other hand, Arizona offers plenty of support to Miley but it is only a matter of time until the starting pitcher will need to earn wins.

An interesting and potentially profitable way of wagering on this match implies a hedging strategy that is only accessible to those who have a sizable bankroll. They can back the Dodgers to cover the -1,5 spread at odds of roughly 2.15, while also wagering on the visitors to win at 2.75. The worst-case scenario is obviously a narrow margin victory for LA, but the odds of something like this to happen are slim to none.

St. Louis favorites to improve away record

The Cardinals are leading the central division and have the best percentage away from home, with an excellent opportunity to improve this record arising tonight. What would normally be a very difficult game, could easily turn into a scoring festival as St. Louis travels to Los Angeles for a confrontation with the Dodgers. LA is without a doubt the biggest disappointment this season, following an impressive campaign of acquisitions that so far went nowhere.

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Instead of leading their division and making a convincing run for the playoffs, the Dodgers are sitting on the last-place and are seven points behind the leading Giants. With three teams being tied for the first place, LA is in dire need of points and facing one of the hottest teams in the National League won’t help them at all. Don Mattingly is increasingly concerned about whether his team will make it to the playoffs or not, with a failure bound to lead to his dismissal.

Los Angeles won by nine runs to two against Milwaukee, but they have minimal chances of scoring so much against Lance Lynn. The starting pitcher won 6/7 decisions this season and has an earned run average of only 3.27, not to mention that he receives plenty of runs of support. This explains how it is possible for a pitcher who concedes an average of three runs per game to lose a single decision, but as long as the Cardinals keep scoring, he has nothing to worry about.

Lance will not have to worry about Andre Ethier as the former All-Star will be sidelined with an injury, while the remaining batters are not in great form. The Dodgers used to be a formidable opponent at home, but this year they have a losing record and failed to win even the important game played on Jackie Robinson Day http://www.baseballdaily.com/jackie-robinson-day-celebrated-by-dodgers/.

One reason for why punters should be confident in backing the Cardinals tonight is that they hold the best away record in MLB. Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter and Carlos Beltran have scored plenty of rounds recently and they shouldn’t have a hard time against Chris Capuano. Since he played for Milwaukee, the starting pitcher entered a downward spiral and it goes without saying that the Dodgers have second thoughts about whether it was a good idea purchasing him.

There is no point in crying over spilt milk and the best that the hosts can do is to focus on the first innings, when Lance Lynn proves to be more vulnerable. The starting pitcher conceded most of his runs in the early stage of the game, although his teammates eventually bailed him out. St. Louis has an excellent bullpen so unless the Dodgers defeat Lance early and build a commanding lead, the visitors could easily turn the tables in the final innings.

Capuano lost five decisions and won just once, not surprising for a starting pitcher who has an ERA of 6.58 in 10 matches played against St. Louis. His career earned run average is not much better, with all the facts suggesting that the Dodgers could conceded as many as six runs while Chris is on the mound. The Cardinals won five games out of a total of seven this season and are en route to winning the six match.

David goes against Goliath

There is no better way of describing the confrontation between the Boston Red Sox and the last-place Toronto, when the divisional rivals go head to head. Punters are right to consider this a lopsided match, but odds of 1.80 offered by most bookmakers make it a very tempting proposition. Boston is on the verge of winning the 19th match in April, setting a new franchise record and consolidating its position at the top of the East division.

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Superb pitching and some phenomenal performances from sluggers, brought the Red Sox at the top of the food chain with 18 victories in 25 games. They are also the holders of the best away record in Major League Baseball, and lost just twice on the road which would make them more than a match for the struggling Blue Jays. David Ortiz is not only one of the most prolific players for the visitors, but quite surprising one of the most constant players, scoring run after run.

Nothing can be achieved at least not at the same scale as what Boston has accomplished without formidable pitching and that’s exactly what Jon Lester stands for. The veteran starting pitcher is undefeated this season, and with four winning decisions in as many games his earned run average of 2.27 is reassuring. The last time he pitched against Oakland he gave his team a scare early on, but fortunately for him the offensive rebounded quickly and provided him with the necessary runs of support.

This time he should have a much easier mission against the Blue Jays, despite the fact that the match is played in Toronto as the opener in a three-game series. His counterpart is Brenden Morrow who has an abysmal record against the Red Sox and an equally disappointing season start. He is still searching for the first victory in 2013 after losing both decisions and compiling an ERA of 5.27, simply too high to make any runs of support matter.

Against Boston he never found a way of shutting down the sluggers and he conceded an average of nine runs per match. The visitors will reactivate Hanrahan who was sidelined with an injury but trained with the team and appears to be fit to face Toronto. Punters shouldn’t have any second thoughts about backing the visitors tonight especially with the odds offered by bookmakers being unreasonably high when the best and the worst teams in the East division go head to head.

Jackie Robinson Day celebrated by Dodgers

Jack Roosevelt Robinson passed away 41 years ago, but the Jackie Robinson Day is celebrated every year by Major League Baseball teams. On these fateful days, every player in all the teams wear a shirt with number 42 as a token of appreciation for one of the most important players in MLB history. Except for these days, the number 42 is not going to be featured on the back of any player, as the league has retired this number back in 1997.

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Every year when Jackie Robinson Day is celebrated, the Dodgers play a significant part, as this is the team for which Jackie broke the baseball color line. Before that, black athletes competed in the Negro league and it was Jackie who changed all that in 1947 making him the first black player to start for a Major League Baseball team. From that point onward, more black athletes were allowed to play in MLB ending decades of discrimination and greatly enhancing the quality of the sport.

Jackie Robinson was widely regarded as a tremendous talent and an extraordinary character, which explains why the league honored him by retiring his number. The first ever Jackie Robinson Day was held on April 15, 2004 and the event proved to be a huge success and it draw huge crowds at stadiums year after year. This season there was a dire need for a special moment that would end the violence on the pitch, particularly between Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.

In the first game of the series the two teams were at each other’s throats and some players were even engaging in plain violence. Some were suspended, some left the pitch injured and it looked like things will turn from bad to worse with more players to be ejected from the game. Fortunately both teams understood the significance of the moment and put aside their petty rivalries to celebrate Jackie Robinson as he deserved. His surviving family was on the pitch, and players were wise enough not to ruin the show by turning a beautiful sport into a brutal fight.

Jackie Robinson, remains one of the most iconic figures in baseball history, with his achievements both on and off the field being remarkable. He was not only the first black player to compete in major league baseball, but also the first vice president of an American Corporation. Back then, there were no other black television analyst in MLB and once again Robinson was the first to break the color line.

He remains one of the few professional athletes to be awarded the Congressional Gold medal and the Presidential Medal of freedom. His contribution to the sport is widely regarded as most significant, and his place in baseball’s Hall of Fame is well deserved. Alongside Stan Musial about who readers can learn more by visiting http://www.baseballdaily.com/stan-musial-dies-at-92-years-old Jackie Robinson, is an iconic baseball player was legacy into it and was figure serves as an example for young players.

San Francisco Giants sign Buster Posey for eight years

It seems like players are finally winning the invisible war with their teams and succeed in convincing the managers to expand their contracts by seven years rather than one. This certainly applies to star pitchers such as Buster Posey who just signed a 167 million contract that will span over nine years. It is quite an achievement for the champion catcher who will be playing for the reigning champions until 2022 and might well end his career here. He had no intention of leaving the club anyway, and this contract will only reinforce his commitment for the Giants.

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He’s been amazing during spring training and his recent performance buoyed the Giants confidence ahead of the highly anticipated season start. Barry Zito has only good words to say about his younger colleague and this means a lot coming from a highly respected pitcher. Posey will make increasingly more money in the upcoming years, with a bit over $10 million to be earned in 2014, $16.5 million the next year, 20 in 2016 and for the remaining years he will earn $21.5 million. This is not an amount to frown upon and it is only fair to say that Buster has to be pleasantly surprised by how much the Giants value him.

On the other hand, the catcher needs to prove his worth and a nine-year commitment is intimidating even for a very talented player. The Giants will pay for him more than they did for Matt Cain, and for a player who has joined the Major League Baseball only three years ago the performance is remarkable. General manager Brian Sabean hopes that Posey will become the face of the franchise. So far he is definitely right on track with a major contribution to the recently conquered World Series.

Both Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy are staunch supporters and there are many reasons to link their contract extensions to the signing of Posey. The numbers he posed speak for themselves, as he batted .336, scored 24 home runs and 103 RBIs in less than 150 games. While his talent and commitment are beyond doubt, one thing that should worry the Giants is his fitness as Posey suffered an injury in his left ankle two years ago. Although he has completely recovered now, there is always the risk for him to suffer a new injury that will keep him on the bench for a long period of time.

On the bright side, the club plays the long game and accepts the possibility of having Posey indisposed for a while because they regard him as an invaluable player. Some go a step further and say that they see no reason for why Buster wouldn’t extend his contract after this long one will eventually expire. It is a bit excessive to think a decade in advance but at the same time it is refreshing to see how much optimism this young player can produce. http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/buster-posey-167m-year-deal-giants-18841919#.UVcg51dj–Z claims that there is more than meets the eye about his contract, citing bonuses.

If you become the National League’s MVP he will receive an additional $100,000 and the same amount for winning the World Series MVP. He will get 25,000 less for a National League series award and there are several prizes worth $50,000 in store for him if he wins the Gold Glove, an All-Star game election or a Silver Slugger one. The future looks bright for Buster Posey and despite the significant investment, the Giants have no reasons to regret their generosity because it would eventually pay off.