Aces in the Bases
PITCHERS DUELS GALORE IN MARQUEE WEDNESDAY SHOWDOWNS
Wednesday was the spot on the calendar for many of baseball's top pitchers to get their second starts of the season. Fans were treated to diamond duels up and down the afternoon card. Among highlights if you love pitching, and lowlights if you love offense:
Detroit/Tampa Bay was 2-0 into the top of the 9th inning
Boston/Toronto was 2-1 into the bottom of the 8th inning
Washington/NY Mets was 1-0 into the 7th inning, and 2-0 into the 8th
Milwaukee/Chicago Cubs was 1-0 into the 7th inning
Unders went 4-1-1 in the early afternoon duels. And, in many cases, those duels were just the backdrop for the ongoing drama many teams are dealing with early in the 2012 campaign. The Boston Red Sox lost AGAIN to fall to an embarrassing 1-5 out of the gate. Steve Strasburg got his first win of the new season as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery. Let's run through some of the highlights as we continue to monitor key stats and key storylines early in what's shaping up as a very interesting season. Games are presented in rotation order, starting with the National League...
CINCINNATI 4, ST. LOUIS 3
Total Bases + Walks: St. Louis 15, Cincinnati 20
Garcia: 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 4 K, 1 BB
Cueto: 5 IP, 3 ER, 3 K, 0 BB
Vegas Line: Cincinnati -125, total of 7
Huge win for the Reds, who were in danger of falling 3.5 games behind the Cards in the first week of action. Neither starter got the memo about pitcher's duels today. But, the total landed on the Vegas number as the bullpens came through well. Offensive bases show the Reds should have won 5-4 instead of 4-3. No big deal unless you were rooting for the Over. St. Louis is still 5-2 in the standings even with the loss, not losing a step without Albert Pujols. Cincinnati moves back to equality at 3-3. That's disappointing with a home heavy schedule, but a menu of Miami and St. Louis to start a season is far from a gift. Looks like the NL Central is shaping up to be quite a battle this year.
WASHINGTON 4, NY METS 0
Total Bases + Walks: Washington 20 New York 7
Strasburg: 6 IP, 0 ER, 9 K, 3 BB
Santana: 5 IP, 1 ER, 8 K, 3 BB
Vegas Line: Washington -125, total of 6
High strikeout efforts from both starters. That's 17 K's in just 11 innings for Strasburg and Santana. So far, moving in the fences hasn't exactly ignited scoring in Gotham. Through six home games, only 38 total runs have been scored. That's 6.2 per game for both teams combined. The Nats and Mets are both 4-2 upon completion of this series. Washington heads home to host Cincinnati this weekend. New York visits Philadelphia, in series that could have very interesting consequences in these early stages of the NL East race. With all the talk about Miami being poised to make headlines this month (meaning the team, not the loudmouth manager), don't lose track of Washington. Nice young team with a great attitude.
MILWAUKEE 2, CHICAGO CUBS 1
Total Bases + Walks: Milwaukee 10, Cubs 12
Gallardo: 7 IP, 1 ER, 6 K, 2 BB
Dempster: 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 K, 3 BB
Vegas Line: Milwaukee -125, total of 7
The wind was blowing in from center, which usually means Under even if temperatures aren't in the 40's. Maybe the total here should have been 3.5! George Kottaras hit a two-run homer to get the win even though the Cubs ended the game with more offensive bases. One blow equaled two runs for the Brew Crew. Milwaukee moves to 4-2 in what's shaping up as a great NL Central race. Chicago falls to 1-5 despite playing at home. Maybe there will be two separate races...St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Cincinnati at the top of the division...Chicago, Houston, and Pittsburgh trying to avoid the humiliation of being worst in the league at the bottom.
Over in the American League...
CHICAGO WHITE SOX 10, CLEVELAND 6
Total Bases + Walks: White Sox 22, Cleveland 24
Danks: 5.2 IP, 4 ER, 3 K, 5 BB
Masterson: 5 IP, 3 ER, 2 K, 1 BB
Vegas Line: Cleveland -140, total of 7
The only non-pitcher's duel in the early slate...the Chisox struck four four runs in the top of the first inning off of Masterson. They would have another big inning later in the game to break things open. That's why they were able to win handily despite losing offensive bases. They clustered their offense very efficiently. The White Sox move to 3-2, as they hope to be a team that rises from a mediocre mix to challenge Detroit in the AL Central. Cleveland falls to 1-4 despite playing nothing but home games. That's a horrible way to start a season...and early evidence that the Tribe probably aren't going to matter much.
TORONTO 3, BOSTON 1
Total Bases + Walks: Boston 5, Toronto 7
Lester: 8 IP, 3 ER, 6 K, 2 BB
Romero: 8.1 IP, 1 ER, 5 K, 2 BB
Vegas Line: Boston -125, total of 8
Now...THAT'S a pitcher's duel...not just 3-1 on the scoreboard but 7-5 in offensive bases! Nobody could make contact or draw many walks! Strong outings for both Lester and Romero in terms of baserunners allowed and pitching at least eight innings. Boston's in one of those ruts now where they can't score anything when they get pitching, and they can't get pitching on the days that runs score. We don't attribute this yet to anything Bobby Valentine is doing wrong. The sample size is too small. But, you know that a 1-5 start is going to create a feeding frenzy amidst the vultures in the Boston media. The Red Sox are off Thursday before playing their home opener Friday against Tampa Bay. Toronto moves to 4-2 with the win. They stay home to face Baltimore this weekend. Wow...pretty friendly schedule to start the season for the Jays. Let's see if they can keep things going for a few months before the schedule eventually grinds them down. Oddsmakers have been known to underrate Toronto for long stretches because they don't account for the killer division. Stick Toronto in the AL Central, and they'd get more respect.
TAMPA BAY 4, DETROIT 2
Total Bases + Walks: Tampa Bay 9, Detroit 8
Shields: 8 IP, 2 ER, 5 K, 1 BB
Verlander: 8.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 K, 2 BB
Vegas Line: Detroit -170, total of 7
Verlander was having a huge day until he got tired in the top of the 9th. BOOM! A 2-0 lead turned into a 4-2 deficit while Tigers fans looked on in disbelief. Somehow, Tampa Bay scored four runs on just nine offensive bases! Another shaky outing from ace reliever Jose Valverde. He blew a save against Boston (ultimately vulturing a win). He allowed a hit and a walk here before ending the threat after the damage was already done. These two teams play again Thursday afternoon. The Rays have to be extremely pleased with a 4-1 start against the likes of the Yankees and the Tigers. Detroit is also 4-1, as both of these teams are setting an early tone for what is expected to be a run at the playoffs.
JIM HURLEY always gets off to hot starts. You can join in the fun with NETWORK by calling 1-800-323-4453. We have great rates for seasonal packages. If you'd like to try out our service for a few days online...just make a few clicks and have your credit card handy.
Don't forget about basketball! There are big games every night and the playoffs are shaping up to be something special. What's great about April is that you can win big in TWO sports seven days a week, with split sessions in play often because of daytime MLB schedules. Have you been taking advantage? It's time to start!
Games of interest for us Thursday in MLB:
Tampa Bay at Detroit (early)
Cincinnati at Washington (early)
Miami at Philadelphia (late)
NBA matchups of interest tonight:
Miami at Chicago on TNT
Memphis at San Antonio
Dallas at Golden State on TNT
That's right...the Heat and Bulls may be providing an Eastern Conference championship preview tonight on TNT. And, Memphis/San Antonio is likely to have a playoff feel in a revenge battle from last year when the Grizzlies stunned the Spurs.
Big night...big money...all waiting for the biggest name in handicapping...JIM HURLEY!
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