Home run (Safe bet)
Take the New York Yankees, on at 1.51, to win at home versus the Texas Rangers.
“Change of scenery” is the key phrase to consider in this Thursday game. Brandon McCarthy was languishing for the Arizona Diamondbacks (5.01 ERA) before being shipped to New York earlier this month. It’s not that McCarthy had pitched as bad as his ERA indicated, but he was playing for a team with no post-season prospects.
Now, with the Yankees, he’s with a flawed-but-promising club that could win the American League East, which is surprisingly wide open this year. This possibility has appeared to reinvigorate McCarthy, who is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in his first two starts in New York. He’s also joined by Chase Headley, who has also been languishing with a poor San Diego Padres club before being traded earlier this week. Expect him to add a much needed boost to the Yankees lineup.
Beyond the momentum McCarthy and Headley may bring to this game, the Yankees also benefit from playing a woeful Texas Rangers side. The bottom-dwelling AL West team (yep, they’re even worse than the Houston Astros), appears listless. Their starter in this game, Colby Lewis, complained last outing about a player bunting for a base hit when his team was up by two runs. (The whimpering was widely ridiculed, so don’t expect Lewis in the best frame of mind.) Quite frankly, even if he was it might not make a difference. Lewis owns a terrible 6.37 ERA in seventeen starts this year.
Squeeze play (Gutsiest call)
In Oakland, look for the A’s and the Houston Astros to combine for fewer than 7.5 runs; take it at 1.95.
The factors to look at here are the Houston Astros’ lineup is the AL’s worst at run scoring and O.Co Coliseum is a below-average run-scoring facility. With the A’s giving Jeff Samardzija the pitching assignment, Houston should be kept at bay. Although Samardzija has faced good offensive teams (like the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays) in his first three starts since being traded to Oakland by the Chicago cubs, he’s put up a 3.27 ERA. Against a challenged club like Houston he should do even better.
Of course, the X-factor here is that the A’s are a great run-scoring club (second in the AL). But have some faith in Astros starter Scott Feldman. For the most part this season, Feldman has been a solid performer. In fact, he’s thrown a quality start (six innings or more pitched; three runs or fewer allowed) in four of his last five outing. Notably, the Astros have a subpar bullpen, but if Feldman can do his job and the Astros scuffle at the plate, this bet can still come in.
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