Yankees at Red Sox Weekend

SHOWCASE SERES: NEW YORK YANKEES AT BOSTON RED SOX TIMES FOUR

It's been awhile since they've played this year...so you knew that the TV Networks were going to be all over the Yankees/Red Sox four-game series that will officially bring the first half of the 2012 Major League Baseball season to a close.

Tonight's game will be on the MLB Network. Saturday day-night doubleheader will be split between the MLB Network (early) and FOX (late). That Saturday Night game will get almost national coverage on "Baseball Night in America." Sunday Night's prime time spot on ESPN features this series as well...officially the LAST game before the Break.

Depending on how you look at baseball...this is either a matchup of an American League power and a playoff longshot...or it's a battle of two very even teams who are both legitimate threats to reach the World Series.

First, the standings:
New York: 49-32
Boston: 42-40

The Yankees are in first place in the AL East, with a large 7.5 game lead over the Red Sox. If the teams maintain their current paces, the Yankees will win about 98 games and easily coast into the playoffs...while Boston will finish about 83-79 and fall way short of preseason expectations. The Yankees have been on a tear for weeks now, even while suffering injuries to key players. Boston just went 2-5 on a West Coast swing against Seattle and Oakland, even though they were supposedly fixing chemistry issues that had plagued them.

In this light...we're looking at a great team against an average one. But...if you look at run differential...

AL RUN DIFFERENTIAL
Texas +81
Chicago +61
New York +58
Boston +50

We're looking at the third and fourth best teams in the league. The Yankees are still best in their division. But, Boston grades out as Wildcard material. A run differential of +50 on a team that's only two games over .500 suggests misfortune in close games that's going to even out during the second half of the season. And, that +8 edge for the Yankees over about 80 games just doesn't mean all that much in terms of day-by-day showdowns.

So....what is it? Are the Yankees going to be 15 games better in the standings come October? Or, will these two teams be neck-and-neck the way run differential suggests?

This series could help make that determination even before the All-Star Break. Should the Yankees win at least three of the four...then it's hard to take Boston seriously as much of a playoff threat. They would have fallen about 10 games off the pace, and wouldn't be over .500 for the season. But...if Boston wins at least three of four themselves, they would have made headway against that current deficit, and possibly come close to matching the Yanks in the strong indicator of run differential.

You know...this is always a big series...but this one is REALLY big!

Here are the probable pitchers for the four-game battle...

TONIGHT (on MLB Network)
New York: Kuroda (8-7, 3.17 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
Boston: Beckett (4-7, 4.06 ERA, 1.15 WHIP)

Kuroda has been an unsung story this year for the Bronx Bombers. He hasn't gotten the run support of other starters or he'd be getting some All-Star consideration. You'll see that he has better numbers than Nova and Hughes even though his won-lost record isn't as good. You know that balls can fly out of Yankee Stadium. Those ERA and WHIP numbers are solid indeed. Of course, Fenway is a hitter's paradise, so there's no guarantee Kuroda will outpitch Beckett. Both have strong WHIPS, and have pitched in bad luck this year in terms of their won-lost records.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON (on MLB Network)
New York: Hughes (9-6, 4.29 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)
Boston: Morales (1-1, 2.51 ERA, 1.07 WHIP)

Morales will probably fall back to earth with more time in the rotation, and more games in Fenway against strong AL East offenses. He might catch a break here if the Yankees rest some of their starters in this day game after a night game spot that's also part of a day-night doubleheader. Be sure you check the starting lineups for BOTH teams before making any Las Vegas bets. You don't want to invest in the junior varsity!

SATURDAY NIGHT (on FOX)
New York: Garcia (2-2, 5.94 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
Boston: Doubront (8-4, 4.42 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
This could be quite a fireworks show for the FOX broadcast. This is the worst pitching matchup of the weekend in terms of ERA and WHIP. Garcia isn't even a rotation starter this year. And, he couldn't keep things going earlier this week in a spot start at Tampa Bay. Doubront has had some good outings...but could be overmatched against a good offense in this hitter's park. Again, the starting lineups are going to matter. Be careful betting Over if a few key bats are getting rested. Consider either team that's closer to full strength with their batting order.

SUNDAY NIGHT (on ESPN)
New York: Nova (9-3, 4.05 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
Boston: Lester (5-5, 4.33 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)

Nice way to end the series. Not exactly a pitcher's duel with those numbers. But, given the home parks these guys pitch in...and the fact that this is the DH league...it's a strong matchup. Will both offenses be looking ahead to the break? This is the ultimate get-away spot for the regular season because everyone is thinking about their time off. Remember to keep that in mind on Sunday when you handicap the whole card. Slumping teams will be in the tank because they want to start their vacations early. Hopefully both of these teams will show up with peak intensity. If they don't, JIM HURLEY will know about it in advance thanks to his network of scouts and sources!

NETWORK is likely to have at least one major releases from this showcase series over the weekend. But, there are other matchups that we're also watching very closely:

San Francisco at Pittsburgh (potential playoff preview?)
Atlanta at Philadelphia (are the Phillies really toast?)
Toronto at Chicago White Sox (Could Chisox let down off Rangers sweep?)
Baltimore at LA Angels (tough test for the haven't-said-die-yet O's!)

Our trends and systems guys have some "Pre-All Star Break" angles that they'll be attacking for BLUE RIBBON clients. And, the hot weather that's forecast across the map is going to create some great opportunities in at least there different cities. This is a great time to try out our service on a day-by-day basis with your credit card here at the website...or by taking the plunge for the rest of the season at a great rate.

If you have any questions about NETWORK'S HIT & RUN BASEBALL service, please call the office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to ask your representative about football when you call. The earlier you sign up for the season, the more you save! And, remember that our "Dollars of August" NFL Preseason package is already available for early-bird credit card purchase right here at this website.

Back with you in the NOTEBOOK Saturday to begin our annual summer series of college football conference previews. The WAC is up first. We'll do the Sun Belt on Sunday. Weekends through the rest of July and August will be reserved for conference discussions. Mid majors in July...then the BCS conferences in August. The better prepared you are for the start of football, the more money you'll win once the games begin.

Whether you're talking baseball or football, JIM HURLEY is the man who's going to make sure you GET THE MONEY!

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