The two best teams in baseball square off in the Bronx to begin their second half of the season. Tampa Bay (54-34, +2.7 units) trails New York (56-32, +7.4) by two games and would like to close the gap even further with a series triumph. The Rays have played with the off-kilter intensity of Mel Gibson, not in the present form, but like his character in “Mad Max –Road Warrior”. Tampa Bay has far and away the best road record in baseball at 28-14 (+12) and they are flat out fantastic in the division with 12-2 mark, which includes a pair of wins May 19-20 at Yankees Stadium.
For New York fans and many of the players, this series starts with a melancholy feel, as legendary public address announcer Bob Sheppard and “The Boss” George Steinbrenner, both passed away this past week. “I think he’s a father figure to everyone that was in our organization in the past or present, because he really took care of his players,” Jeter said. “You know, whether it was a player that’s on the team now or someone that played for a week 30 years ago.
The Yankees will wear patches on their uniforms for the remainder of the season to honor Steinbrenner and Sheppard.
New York returns home like they are just out of the microwave, winners of eight of last nine. Among the hottest Yankees is pitcher C.C. Sabathia (12-3, 3.09 ERA), whose been delivering as consistently as UPS. Sabathia is 8-0 since June began with miniscule 1.81 ERA. In fact, in his last 38 2/3 innings, the big lefthander has permitted four earned runs. The Bronx Bombers are -175 money line favorites at online sports betting outlets and no wonder with the big man 15-0 vs. teams averaging 2.75 or less extra base hits per game in the second half of the season over the last three seasons. (Team’s Record)
After scuffling for awhile, the Rays are back online, also winners of eight of last nine outings. Tampa Bay deserves notice for 12-1 record vs. an AL starting pitcher with ERA of 3.20 or better this season, nonetheless, James Shields (7-9, 4.87) is curious choice as starting pitcher for series opener. Shields is 1-8 with a 7.00 ERA in his last nine outings and 2-7 with 5.54 ERA in 11 career starts against the Yankees.
“I’m happy that we’re playing them right out of the gates,” Shields told MLB.com. “We’re right behind them right now and it’s a good chance for us to pick up a couple of games on them.” With those words in mind, you can’t help of thinking of Ace Ventura saying “All righty than”.
Game 1 Edge: New York
The team in pinstripes has the third best home record in baseball starting this series at 28-13. For those seeking sports betting tips, New York is playing 40 of final 74 games at home, which will give them definite edge along with inflated money and run lines. A.J. Burnett (7-7, 4.75) will again pitch on this FOX Saturday afternoon affair. Two weeks ago Saturday, he was dreadful at Los Angeles, lasting just three innings and permitting six runs. That concluded a stretch of five June starts with an ERA over 11 and the Yankees coaches deducted Burnett needed to start using his change-up more and this has brought immediate results, allowing two total runs in last two starts covering 13 2/3 innings. The Yanks are 43-18 in Game 2’s, but have won just one of Burnett’s previous six starts.
Jeff Niemann (7-2, 2.77) has arguably been manager Joe Maddon’s most dependable starter all season, particularly on the road. Niemann is 4-0 (the Rays are 8-0 in 2010 when he starts) in visiting uniform and Tampa Bay is inconceivable 17-2 in the second game of a series when the 6’9 right-handed toes the rubber. The Rays best bet to win is grab the lead before the eighth inning since New York is 4-26 when trailing after seven frames and 48-4 when leading.
Game 2 Edge: Tampa Bay
The series finale matches a pair of lefties, one representing the past and present, with the other already an All-Star with unlimited future. Andy Pettitte (11-2, 2.70) is 38 years old and is getting better with age, being an All-Star again this season. Pettitte is extremely knowledgeable hurler, quickly figuring out what pitches are working from his repertoire and keeping hitters off-balance. Pettitte and teammates are 12-3 as favorites this year and 22-10 in day games. Skipper Maddon would be wise to load lineup with right-hand sticks as opposing LH hitters are batting .167 vs. Pettitte’s tosses.
The Rays counter with All-Star starter David Price (12-4. 2.42) who is fulfilling the promise as Tampa Bay’s top pick of the 2007 June draft. The 24-year old has all the pitches, including a tight slider and improving change-up. He and the Rays are 6-0 in the division and 6-1 in the day time.
Game 3 Edge: New York
This should be a highly competitive series given how each team has played. Tampa Bay has 3-2 lead this season and somewhat surprisingly, the last six meetings have gone Over the total for those betting on sports. Both clubs are exceptional in their roles of home and away, yet the visiting team has taken five of past six. Despite this, it’s very difficult to bet against the Yankees at home, thus will be betting them for this weekend.
Sportsbook series odds: Tampa Bay +170, New York -220
3Daily Winners Pick: New York