Home run (Safe bet)
In Kansas City, take the home town Royals, on at 1.57, to defeat the Boston Red Sox.
Sometimes you just don’t need to overthink things. In this Sunday clash, you have a Boston team that sits comfortably at the bottom of the American League East taking on at Royals team fighting for the top of the AL Central. One team needs this game to further their post-season aspirations and should play accordingly, the other is formally eliminated from the playoff race and recently lost their hardest-nosed player (Dustin Pedroia) to season-ending hand surgery.
If you need a little more than that, I shall oblige. Boston’s overall hitting has been weak all year but has gotten worse recently. In the past week, the team has hit .230 with a .303 on base percentage and a .365 slugging percentage (all those numbers are down from their season totals). Starting pitcher Joe Kelly has been okay overall since being acquired by the Red Sox from the St. Louis Cardinals. But in his past five starts he’s faltered to the tune of a 4.82 ERA.
The Royals will rely on pitcher Jason Vargas. The key for Vargas is just how well he beats up on weak teams. His record in 2014 against sub-.500 winning percentage clubs is 6-3 with a 2.33 ERA. That will position him nicely against Boston.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
In San Francisco, pick the Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers to score fewer that 6 runs; you can have it at 1.87.
A low-scoring total is always made possible when the Dodgers start Clayton Kershaw, who gets the assignment here. Baseball’s best pitcher is 18-3 with a 1.67 ERA. The man has only given up more than one earned run in a game once in his past six starts. What makes that stat particularly impressive is he hasn’t pitched fewer than eight innings in any of those games. In other words, he leaves little time for a faulty reliever to mess up one of his masterpieces.
The upshot is that the Giants’ starter Yusmeiro Petit – and any relievers who follow him out of the San Francisco bullpen – need only be okay to keep the overall run tally down. The good news: Petit actually has the ability to match Kershaw. In his last outing, the Giant pitcher threw a four-hit, one-run complete game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Petit, when he’s on is fantastic. He actually set a Major League record earlier this season, retiring forty-six straight batters. While he has had a few bad moments, they rarely come at home. In twenty-one games at AT&T Park, he’s 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA. (Elsewhere, he’s 1-1 with a 5.27 ERA).