A cruising Hiroki Kuroda will be the differential when the Boston Red Sox meet rivals the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. Kuroda has proved to be a consistent anchor in the New York pitching rotation. Not only are his numbers good – 11-8 with a 3.06 ERA – but he also gives the potent Yankees offence a chance to win nearly every time out. Case in point: he’s gone at least six innings in fourteen of his past fifteen starts.
In contrast, Boston’s Josh Beckett has struggled to find any sort of regular success. Overall he’s 5-10 with a 5.19 ERA and looked horrible last time out, coughing up six runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings of work versus the Baltimore Orioles. There is so much distraction in Boston right now with questions about how much support the owners still have for manager, Bobby Valentine. Expect that to further hurt the Red Sox chances. Go with the Yankees at 1.62 instead of Boston at 2.30.
With Chad Billingsley pitching like an ace, look for the Los Angeles Dodgers to beat the Atlanta Braves on the road. Billingsley has been brilliant since the start of the second half, going 5-0 with a 1.56 ERA. Opposing batters have hit a paltry .209 in those games.
Admittedly, Mike Minor has also pitched well since the All-Star Break (10 runs given up in 37 2/3 innings), but the Dodgers lineup has been tremendously bolstered with the additions of Shane Victorino and Hanley Ramirez, making matters tough on Minor. Moreover, the recent revelation that LA’s biggest rival, the San Francisco Giants, have lost key star Melky Cabrera for the season (suspension for using banned substances), should give the Dodgers additional motivation. Side with Los Angeles at 2.05 as their momentum should put them over the top against Atlanta (1.77).