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Orioles at Yankees – Free Pick ALDS Game Five

Baltimore Orioles +185 at New York Yankees -195 (Total: 7.5)

Jason Hammel vs. C.C. Sabathia

Baseball made a concerted move to manufacture more drama when they decided to add the pair of do-or-die one-game Wildcard Playoffs.  They’ll get more than they ever dreamed of today when a ridiculous fifth and sixth elimination takes center stage.  Every single series has ended (or will end today) with a winner-take-all finale.

So, who has the edge tonight in Yankee Stadium?  Let’s take a look at some numbers and stats and see if there is a winning edge for either side amidst all this postseason chaos.

Everyone knows all about CC Sabathia and his postseason (as well as regular season) resume.  Once again he will get the ball in a huge spot with the season on the line.  The Orioles, on the other hand, hand the ball to young Jason Hammel, who despite his relative inexperience has seemed poised and in command in big moments in the late regular season as well as game one of this series.  Both pitchers have been sharp of late, with ERA’s in the twos over their last three starts.  Hammel enters a bit more rested, having only thrown 14 innings compared to CC’s 24 innings.  I expect both to get the job done today, and to turn over a “winnable” game to an “all-hands-on-deck” bullpen.

It defies many offensive statistics, but there is just something very alluring about the Orioles, especially in the +180 to +190 range.  Their record in one-run games is staggering, and while some experts will write it off as “luck” I am inclined to believe there are some significant psychological factors at work here.  And they will likely rear their heads tonight.

After the Raul Ibanez twice-miracle Wednesday night, all was well in the Bronx.  A-Rod was a gracious teammate and magnanimous fading superstar, Joe Girardi was a genius, and the Yankees were headed to the World Series.  Now, after pinch hitting for A-Rod for the second night in a row – this time with a game-ending out as the result, where is this team, and especially A-Rod mentally?

I imagine when the game gets tight tonight, the Oriole magic once again reveals itself.  The Orioles, loose and carefree, the Yankees squeezing the sawdust out of the bats – I think that is the difference.  The series has been full of tight games, and there is no reason to think tonight won’t be the same.  Given the Orioles nearly 80% winning percentage in one-run games, why not take a flyer on them at nearly 2:1 odds??

Free Pick:  Baltimore Orioles to WIN +185