Yesterday we took a shot on a big underdog when we backed the San Francisco Giants (+140) on the road against the Atlanta Braves. And if you were to just look at the box score, it would look like it was a bad bet, that clearly did not end well for us. But if you watched the game, it was much closer than the final score might lead you to believe.
The Giants had two runners on in the first inning and grounded into a double play to kill the rally. They then got runners on base again in the second and third innings before once again having two men on with no outs in the fifth, and once again grounding into another double play. The Giants had plenty of opportunities to score but just couldn’t get the runs on the board.
And on the flip side, Johnny Cueto, while getting hammered for four runs in just four innings, only allowed two hits. It was command issues that plagued Cueto as he walked five batters. So, it wasn’t like the Braves were teeing off on Cueto, he just couldn’t find the strike zone, and the game quickly got out of hand. What can you do, when you take lots of underdogs as we do, you are going to lose games once in a while. For today’s bet, we will head to Cleveland where the Indians are in desperate need of a win as they host the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Philadelphia Phillies are in Cleveland Sunday for the Sunday Night Baseball game of the week. This is game three of a three-game set, and both teams badly need the win. The Phillies find themselves in a deep hole with just a handful of games left on the schedule as the trail the Milwaukee Brewers by five games for the second wild card in the National League. While the Phillies catching Milwaukee and jumping both the Mets and Cubs as well in the process, is a long shot, anything can happen in baseball and the season isn’t over until you are mathematically eliminated from contention.
For the Indians, they have a clearer path to the postseason as they trail the Tampa Bay Rays by just one game for the second wild card in the American League, with the Oakland A’s just two games ahead of Tampa Bay for the first wild card. It is going to be a thrilling finish in the American League, and we could end up with a tie for one or more of the wild card slots before all is said and done.
Starting for the Indians is Adam Plutko (7-4 4.34 ERA), and for the Phillies it is Vince Velasquez (7-7 4.89 ERA). The game total over-under is set at ten and a half runs. The Indians are -127 home favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 3:37 PM PST from Progressive Field in Cleveland.
The Cleveland Indians had won six straight games before blowing a big lead last night against Philly. With the surge, they managed to close the gap on the Rays and give themselves a fighting chance to make the postseason. But the Rays have done a solid job of nearly matching Cleveland win for win and are clinging to a one-game lead over the Indians.
When you look ahead to the rest of the schedule for the Indians, they have three games against the Chicago White Sox next which should be very winnable, before finishing up the season with three games against the Washington Nationals, who are fighting for a playoff spot themselves. Tonight may very well be the final home game of the season for Cleveland if they fail to make the playoffs, and you can expect a rowdy crowd tonight in the home regular-season series finale for the Indians.
Adam Plutko hasn’t been elite this season, but he has done a great job of giving his team a chance to win games. He isn’t the type of guy that will go out and dominate a game for seven-plus innings, but he also very rarely loses a game for you either. And he seems to be raising his performance as the stakes are going up as his ERA is a full run lower since the All-Star break than it was to start the season, and in September when it has mattered the most, he has been solid.
In his last three starts, Plutko has allowed just two earned runs in each start, and the Indians managed to win all three games. And that has been the case much of the season as when Plutko pitches, the Indians seem to win. They are 13-6 in his nineteen starts this year.
Vince Velasquez for Philadelphia has had a similar trend this season as the Phillies have been doing a lot of winning with him on the mound as of late. After really struggling in May and June, mostly in mop-up duty out of the bullpen, he has turned it on here late in the season. There was a stretch earlier this year where the Phillies were an atrocious 3-11 when Velasquez appeared in a game.
But the Phillies have now found a way to win his last four starts, and nine out of his last twelve. But when you take a closer look, the Phillies are winning in spite of Velasquez, not because of him. Since August 1st, Velasquez has allowed twenty-four runs in just thirty-seven innings of work. It will be interesting to see how Velasquez fares tonight against a Cleveland team that has been one of the better hitting teams in the game here in September.
You can tell how mentally strong a team is by how well they play on the road. And this Phillies team just isn’t great away from the City of Brotherly Love. The Phillies have fewer road wins that teams like the Arizona Diamondbacks, San Francisco Giants, and New York Mets, all teams that will be missing out on the playoffs this year. When you their compare road record to other NL teams, they are in line with the San Diego Padres, and the Pittsburgh Pirates in terms of road wins. That’s not great company to be in.
And when you look at the Cleveland Indians, they are really good at home. The Indians are sixteen games over .500 at Progressive Field, giving them one of the best home records in all of baseball. And when you look at how they are playing at the moment, they are the much hotter team. The Indians had won nine out of their previous eleven games before blowing a three-run lead last night. I think they find a way to win tonight.
I’m not sure this is all that bad of a number as it is priced fairly well, I just think that the Indians are going to win tonight, and the books are charging us a very reasonable price to back them, so that is just what I will do. Give me the Cleveland Indians as small home favorites tonight in game three on Sunday Night Baseball!