Angels-Dodgers Take Center Stage to Start New Baseball Week
THE BASEBALL NOTEBOOK: "FREEWAY SERIES" WILL BE LOTS OF FUN IN LA-LA LAND ALL WEEK LONG (AND WE'LL HAVE PLENTY OF WINNERS!)
PLUS NBA FREE AGENCY CHATTER: PAUL, HAYWARD & LOWRY ALL LIKELY TO BE ON THE MOVE COME EARLY JULY
This doesn't exactly qualify as a news flash but the two Los Angeles-area Major-League Baseball teams have won a grand total of one World Series championship in the past 29 years (see then-Anaheim Angels, 2002) - but better believe it'll be a whole lot of fun all this week when the surging-hot LA Dodgers (51-26, won 10 in a row) battle the Los Angeles Angels (40-39, in the hunt for one of the American League's wild card berths).
The teams play Monday/Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, then Wednesday/Thursday in Anaheim and first reaction is the Halos would "sign" for a two-series four-game split right now, especially because the Dodgers are slated to throw ace LHP Clayton Kershaw (11-2, 0.92 WHIP) come Thursday night.
The Dodgers, as anyone who's been watching lately can tell 'ya, right now qualify as the best all-around team in the bigs as they rank first in the National League in team ERA (3.28) and 4th in the league in runs scored (394 runs) and they just finished off back-to-back home series sweeps versus the New York Mets (a four-game broom job) and the Colorado Rockies (a key three-game weekend sweep) and let us remind you that Dave Roberts' crew outscored those two NL teams 58-to-18 ... yowie!
If the Angels' somewhat sketchy starting pitching (note the 4.50 ERA ranks 15th in MLB) is gonna silence the likes of 1B Cody Bellinger (24 HR, 55 RBI) and friends than they better challenge the Dodgers with an array of high/hard stuff because we noted in both the series against the Mets and then against the Rockies this Dodger team went to town on low fastballs and slower stuff ... how about Bellinger's two "ding-dongs" in Sunday's wild/wacky 12-6 come-from-way-behind win against the Rockies?
Hey, the Dodgers have been cashing as big-time betting favorites the past 10 days - a three-game sweep in Cincinnati preceded those Mets/Rockies sweeps - and step right up and take note that the Dodgers are laying a two-to-one price in the series opener Monday with five-and-fly LHP Rich Hill getting the ball against Angels' journeyman RHP Ricky Nolasco (2-9, 5.23 ERA).
Make sure you're all aboard for the "Freeway Series" as we look to put a real hurtin' on the Las Vegas/offshore books and also remember ...Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are banging outs lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do is check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Plus, the Football Season is right around the corner with preseason games set for early August!
In other MLB Notes ...Folks, Angels-Dodgers isn't the only marquee matchup series to start off the new week:
The Chicago Cubs (38-37 and 1.5 games back of NL Central-leading Milwaukee) head into the nation's capital starting Monday for a four-game set against the Washington Nationals who may be playing .600 ball but actually have not shaken for good the likes of the pesky Atlanta Braves (9 games back) and New York Mets (11 games back but coming off a weekend road sweep in San Francisco) and on your "what to watch" list here is Tuesday's expected start by Nats RHP Max Scherzer who toyed with another no-hitter in his last start before losing in Miami.
Also, don't sleep on the four-game set pairing the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins against the Boston Red Sox (.001 behind the New York Yankees starting off the new week). The Twinkies really put the boomerang on Cleveland last weekend with a three-game sweep of the host Tribe after Cleveland swept a four-game Fathers' Day weekend series in Minny. Now can Paul Molitor's crew (39-34) keep on playing great road ball as Minnesota's an electrifying 23-9 away from Target Center ... right, go figure!
NBA FREE AGENCY NOTES
Was it really only a year ago when Kevin Durant inked his $26-plus million contract with the Golden State Warriors (okay, that actually happened last July 4th during the famed Coney Island "Hot Dog Eating Contest" when ESPN reported the Breaking News).
Now, let's fast-forward to the here-and-now and there's a bevy of high-profile NBA free agents ready to hit the marketplace come midnight ET on July 1st (that's this Saturday) and so here's some thoughts on three big-time names:
CHRIS PAUL, PG - The Los Angeles Clippers probably are not gonna re-sign both Blake Griffin and court leader Paul and we say the lead guard will be gonzo with Houston a more-than-likely destination. Paul - who averaged 18.1 ppg and 9.2 apg - could also listen closely if former employer New Orleans steps up to the plate. Last year Paul earned nearly $23 million ... what's the bank-breaking number now?
GORDON HAYWARD, SF - Conventional wisdom all along said that this long-time Utah Jazz star would be wearing green-and-white and re-joining his Butler college coach Brad Stevens but Hayward (21.9 ppg and 5.4 rpg) is leaning more towards Miami at this late stage of June with rumors persisting that Heat boss-man Pat Riley might even ink two free agents by early July ... did someone say "superteam"? Hayward earned in excess of $16 million last season and is sure to bust the $20 million mark once he signs on the dotted line.
KYLE LOWRY, PG, -- You know what folks have been saying about this fiery lead guard: He doesn't always rise to the occasion in the post-season and so it'll be extremely interesting to see what suitors Lowry has south of Canadian border after playing his past several seasons in Toronto. Lowry banged out a $12 million contract last season but we're wondering if Houston will get 'em closer to 20 mill if the Rockets are unable to sign Paul or perhaps the Clippers will be interested should Paul exit the Hollywood scene.
NOTE: We will begin our annual summertime NFL team-by-team quick hitters in the next edition of Jim Sez plus there's more Baseball and NBA Free Agency news too.
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