There are some really intriguing matchups beginning tonight in Major League Baseball to kick off the final week before the All-Star Break. The Rangers head to Baltimore to meet the Orioles who are flying high off yesterday’s dramatic 2-1 win over the rival Yankees highlighted by Adam Jones’s ninth inning homer off Mo Rivera. This is a big series for both, as the Rangers hold a slim ½ game lead in the American League West and the Orioles are in a tie for the final wildcard spot with the surging Rays.
Meanwhile, a great interleague treat will take place in Pittsburgh where the two most anonymous elite teams link up for a throwback series of resurgent 70’s powerhouses. The series begins in great fashion with a pair of All-Star starters with ERA’s in the twos taking the mound.
It is an enormous series for both cities, as the A’s are in a tight race with the Rangers and the Pirates are tied with the Cardinals for the NL Central lead as well as the best record in all of baseball. This series is especially huge momentum-wise for the city of Pittsburgh who has endured twenty straight losing seasons. After two straight losing series, it is important for their collective psyche to head into the break with good, positive momentum.
So will either team be able to muster offense against the other tonight? Let’s dig inside the opener of a great series for tonight’s free pick.
Oakland A’s -107 at Pittsburgh Pirates -101 (Total: 7.5)
Bartolo Colon (11-3, 2.78 ERA) vs. Jeff Locke (8-1, 2.12 ERA)
Jeff Locke may not be a household name, but he is a significant reason why the Pirates are tied for the best record in the Bigs. His 2.12 ERA ranks behind only Clayton Kershaw in the National League, and ahead of bigger names like Matt Harvey, Adam Wainwright and Stephen Strasburg. He has shown no signs of faltering or tiring lately, going 2-0 with a 1.78 ERA in his last three outings.
Bartolo Colon is just as good of a story, albeit a much different one. He has had success in the big leagues for a long time. A LONG time. He also has a PED suspension in his not-so-distant past. Oakland rolled the dice bringing him in, and it has paid off big time. The A’s are 13-4 in games he has pitched, and he has been a workhorse as well, logging over 113 innings already this season.
Colon ranks third in the AL in wins, but his ERA is more than a half-run lower than Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers. In short, Colon has been nearly flawless this season. I think he will pitch well against a scuffling Pirate lineup. I also think runs will be tough for each team to come by. I like Oakland to win a close game in a low-scoring affair tonight.
Free Picks: Oakland A’s to WIN -107 & Run TOTAL UNDER 7.5
Detroit Tigers -130 at Cleveland Indians +122 (Total: 7.5)
Max Scherzer (13-0, 3.09 ERA) vs. Scott Kazmir (4-4, 4.89 ERA)
The Tigers are 14-3 with Scherzer on the hill, and he is personally a perfect 13-0 and in line to start the All-Star game. It is the best start to a season for a pitcher record-wise since Roger Clemens in 1986. This is one of those games where it is easy to get cute and outthink yourself. I’m avoiding that tonight.
Take the Tigers, who despite losing yesterday still mustered more than enough offense to continue their dominance over the Indians. It’s a pretty good line for a better team with a far better starter at just -130.
Free Pick: Detroit Tigers -130