Cards Red Sox Game 6-7 Previews

BOSTON HAS TWO CHANCES (IF NEEDED) TO CLOSE OUT THE 2013 WORLD SERIES AT FENWAY

After splitting their first two games in storied Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox were temporarily underdogs to win their 2013 World Series battle against the St. Louis Cardinals. But, taking two of three in St. Louis has now put the Sox in the driver’s seat according to the markets…as they are prohibitive favorites to win at least one of the maximum two matchups that remain.

The problem?

*They have to beat hot pitcher Michael Wacha Wednesday Night

*They’d have to win with struggling pitcher Jake Peavy Thursday Night

Obviously the team wants to take care of business Wednesday and throw a big parade as soon as possible. Let’s look at the postseason pitching performances thus far for the projected starters. Then we’ll take a brief look at a possible Thursday game as well since tomorrow’s NOTEBOOK will be devoted to the Bengals/Dolphins game in the NFL.

GAME SIX STARTERS (POSTSEASON STATS ONLY)

Wacha: 1.00 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 28 K’s, 27 innings in 4 starts

Lackey: 3.26 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 20 K’s in 19.1 innings in 3 starts and 1 relief app

Wacha was at least mortal in this first start at Fenway back in Game Two, after being untouchable through the National League brackets. He allowed two earned runs in six innings of that one, and allowed four walks after only allowing a grand total of four walks in his previews 21 innings. Stat analytics suggest that Boston should have more success against him the second time around. But, that’s NOT what happened in the Dodgers series. He pitched seven shutout innings of two-hit ball in his second go-round there, after hurling 6.2 innings of shutout ball the first time.

John Lackey gave up three earned runs in 6.1 innings in the first meeting, and ended up suffering the loss as a result. Though, he did come in and pitch a gutsy inning of relief in Game Four to help preserve a critical win. Will that appearance mess up his normal preparation? Those most directly involved will say no. But…it’s an experimental maneuver that isn’t tried often teams don’t want to risk a bad start from a key rotation guy.

A very interesting challenge for handicappers. The numbers show Wacha having an edge in terms of recent form. Outside the numbers, you see the potential for a high scoring game because both offenses are in a second look situation (third, actually for the Cards with Lackey) and the Red Sox rolled the dice a bit using Lackey in relief. Does that make the Over a smart play rather than either team side?

Should Wacha beat Lackey for the second time this series, we’re mostly likely to see Peavy vs. Kelly in Game Seven (though both managers are open to trying out creative solutions when they don’t trust their starters). Let’s review their postseason numbers quickly…

GAME SEVEN STARTERS (if necessary)

Kelly: 4.15 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 9 K’s, 21.2 innings in 4 starts

Peavy: 7.11ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 8 K’s in 12.2 innings in 3 starts

You can see why there’s hope for the Cards. They’ll be getting their second look at a pitcher who’s been in bad form to begin with. Maybe the World Series is already over given the favorite is back at home for two games if needed. You can certainly see the potential for a lot more drama still ahead!

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Back with you tomorrow to continue our schedule of big game previews. On tap:

Thursday: Miami/Cincinnati in the NFL

Friday: Early Look at Michigan/Michigan State in Saturday’s top day game

Saturday: #7 Miami at #3 Florida State in a potential BCS Buster

Sunday: Indianapolis/Houston on NBC

Monday: Chicago/Green Bay on ESPN

For now…the focus is on the final hours of the 2013 baseball season. We’ll be crowning a new World Champion in very short order. WHEN CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE ON THE LINE, YOU NEED WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!

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