Previewing Rangers-Yankees Series

DARVISH/KURODA PITCHER'S DUEL LAUNCHES BIG THREE-GAME SET BETWEEN RANGERS/YANKEES

The most exciting summer action in Major League Baseball occurs when the best teams are playing each other. The pennant races are already very clear because of the wide divide between the have's and the have not's. When contenders square off, every game matters!

That's certainly the case in the Texas Rangers/New York Yankees series that gets under way Tuesday in the Bronx.

WON-LOST RECORDS
Texas: 44-32 (back in first place in the AL West)
NYY: 41-34 (third in the AL East, 2.5 games behind Boston)

The Rangers ended their recent tailspin with a fantastic week against the Oakland A's and St. Louis Cardinals. A potential disaster turned into an important lesson about maintaining intensity game by game. At the moment, it looks like Texas will be in a dogfight with Oakland for the AL West crown...AND a battle royal with the AL East for a Wildcard if the Rangers can't win the West.

The Yankees continue to hold their own well while waiting for the cavalry to arrive. Those horses sure are slow! That's what happens when high paid thoroughbreds age. New York is definitely capable of getting hot in the second half and being the best team in the AL. But, the margin for error sure is slim, even if you're just talking about reaching the playoffs.

Let's look at the probable pitchers for this three-game set.

TUESDAY'S PITCHERS
Texas... Darvish: 7-3, 2.84 ERA, 0.97 WHIP
NYY ...Kuroda: 7-5, 2.78 ERA, 1.06 WHIP

Think this game will get much coverage over in Japan?!

Darvish was pushed back a day to get a little extra rest. Summers can be brutal in Texas and it's been hot for awhile now already. Very solid numbers across the board so far this season. Darvish has been mixing in about one borderline start for every three good ones in recent weeks. He might be in position to really shut down the shorthanded offense of the Yanks.

Kuroda has almost matched Darvish stat for stat...though he's been getting a little less run support...and it's admittedly harder to post great numbers in Arlington. Darvish would have scary-great numbers if he pitched his home games in one of the West Coast pitcher's parks. Kuroda certainly has what it takes to match Darvish inning for inning in a one-game showdown. Worth thinking about the Under in this one given those impressive pitching stats.

WEDNESDAY'S PITCHERS
Texas ...Grimm: 6-5, 5.57 ERA, 1.54 WHIP
NYY ... Pettitte: 5-5, 4.20 ERA, 1.32 WHIP

Note that this game will be nationally televised in prime time by ESPN. Grimm has been trying to tread water this year. That's tough in Arlington...with the numbers giving you some context for how tough that is. He's really been in trouble vs. good offenses. There's some question about whether the Yankees qualify as a good offense with their current lineup.

Those are disappointing numbers for Pettitte...and he's generally been worse than that in recent weeks except for good outings against the bad offenses of Seattle and Kansas City. Handicappers should think about the Over here. The Yanks do have home field advantage and the better of two disappointing starters. Has the market priced that properly?

THURSDAY'S PITCHERS
Texas ...Holland: 5-4, 3.43 ERA, 1.29 WHIP
NYY ... Hughes: 3-6, 5.09 ERA, 1.42 WHIP

Remember that this is a day game to finish the series, and a getaway spot for both teams. Texas heads home to host Cincinnati, while the Yankees travel to Baltimore for series that both start Friday. That suggests no-show potential, or at least a flat spot, for a team if they won the first two games.

Holland has allowed four earned runs in each of his last four starts...and in five of his last eight starts. So, he's not doing as well lately as those full season numbers would suggest. He still gets the nod in this pitching matchup because Hughes is so erratic. Handicappers must use situational analysis plus nuts and bolts stat study to find the best play here.

JIM HURLEY is likely to have at least one big play in this marquee series. Of course, there are several great matchups going on right now. Also on the ledger:

Cincinnati at Oakland
Toronto at Tampa Bay
Cleveland at Baltimore
Colorado at Boston

You can purchase the best bets on the daily board right here at the website with your credit card. Be sure to take care of business early on Wednesday and Thursday because of the day games. If you have any questions about baseball or early bird football, call the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Back with you in the NOTEBOOK Wednesday for more baseball coverage. We'll be mixing baseball and early football through the summer. Be sure you're building your bankrolls for Fall Football with SIZZLING SUMMER BASEBALL from JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

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