Baseball officially enters the month of June, which unofficially signifies the 1/3 mark of the season. At this point, teams start to separate themselves a little bit; the teams that showed some unlikely promise either emerge as legitimate (like last year’s Orioles) or they start to fade and regress to the norm (like last year’s Astros team, which was actually competitive through two months. And we know how that ended up). This season, early darlings like the Royals and Milwaukee have sunk back to the bottom of their divisions and are unlikely to ever be factors in 2013. They are really close to becoming officially “sellers” at the trade deadline.
Meanwhile, a few unexpected division leaders or contenders have yet to fade. The New York Yankees have been doing it with a patchwork lineup, but are still near the top of the East despite injuries to nearly half their projected Opening Day lineup. Meanwhile, the Pirates may be trailing the Cardinals (who are on pace to win 110 games) but they aren’t trailing anyone else – as in NO ONE in baseball, despite possessing a run differential nearly 50 runs worse than St. Louis and Cincinnati. Is their pitching really good enough to overcome a bottom tier offense, or is this just another cruel set-up en route to the inevitable disappointment for Pirate fans?
It should be a great month of baseball leading up to the All Star break, and with the interleague play of the past few weeks wrapped up, it is back to business as usual in the MLB. Let’s take a look at the first game of a good series kicking off tonight and start the week off with a nice win.
Cleveland Indians +110 at New York Yankees -118 (Total: 7.5)
Justin Masterson vs. Andy Pettitte (4-3, 3.88 ERA)
The Yankees took a rain-shortened shutout loss last night to the Red Sox, but had a late night at the park as they waited until after 11pm to officially send everyone home for the night. Tonight, they will try to snap their recent funk and put the memory of a four-game sweep to the city-rival Mets in the rearview mirror.
Pettitte has been solid for the Yankees this year, who continue to get remarkable performances from 40-year old players, who is 4-3 with a 3.88 ERA – more than adequate for a fourth starter in the American League. This is his first start returning from a brief stint on the disabled list, but I expect him to not show too much rust or ill-effect. This isn’t his first time around the block…
However, Justin Masterson has been about a run a game better for the Indians, who also bring a better lineup to tonight’s matchup. The Indians have gone 23-6 this season when their starter lasts a full six innings or longer. Justin Masterson has done just that in 11 of his 12 starts, including his last eight in a row.
Look for Masterson to give the Indians another good start against a scuffling Yankees lineup which might finally be coming a bit back to Earth.
Free Pick: Cleveland Indians to WIN +110