It was just another wacky day in major league baseball yesterday. The Cincinnati Reds were befuddled all day by Jaime Garcia and their nemesis St. Louis Cardinals and looked certain to lose. The battled back to tie the game in the 8th inning at 4-4, and then blew the game WIDE open with nine runs in the 9th to spoil the home opener (which included a really nice tribute to the late Stan Musial).
But that odd game doesn’t compare to the bizarre ending in Texas which ended with one of the worst called third strikes I’ve ever seen. Unless the homeplate umpire was Lt. Frank Drebben, a.k.a Enrico Pallatzo (what, are Naked Gun references too dated for you?? It’s a little before my time as well, but a good movie!) there is NO excuse for that call. I tip my cap to Joe Maddon for not completely losing his sanity and remaining relatively controlled considering it was a 5-4 game and Evan Longoria was in the on deck circle.
If you bet the Rays last night, I imagine you were less calm and understanding than the stately Rays manager…
On to today’s free picks:
Chicago White Sox +142 at Washington Nationals -150 (Total: 7)
Jake Peavey (1-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Both starters were sharp in their season opener, with Peavey allowing a run while Gio hurled a shutout. Both exited the game with 0.67 WHIPs and have fans excited for their next starts. The Nationals might be most balanced team in all of baseball, especially if they keep getting All-Star level production out of Bryce Harper in the three-spot of the lineup. Chicago can also put some runs on the board, though they are one of the more strikeout prone teams in the league.
I expect Gonzalez to tally at least a half-dozen punch-outs and to pitch a good game, but I love the VALUE in Jake Peavey tonight. Peavey has historically been fantastic at the start of the season, before fatigue and the seemingly inevitable injury problems tend to set in. If he can give them an outing similar to his first they have a good shot today.
With baseball, it’s not always wise to bet the best team; good teams lose 60-65 games a year. Instead, I try to look for good value along the way. At +140 or more, Chicago with Peavey on the mound is a good value play.
Free Pick: Chicago White Sox to WIN +142
Oakland A’s +135 at Los Angeles Angels -142 (Total: 7.5)
Jarrod Parker (0-1, 7.20 ERA) vs. CJ Wilson (0-0, 4.50 ERA)
Both Parker and CJ Wilson were less than sharp in their first outings of the season, allowing plenty of runs and base runners – both allowed more than 1.5 people to reach base per inning. Numbers like that will make it tough to win many major league baseball games. However, I expect both to bounce back nicely tonight and pitch solid games.
This is another game where the home team and favorite has an advantage, but the road team has a legit potentially shut-down starter on the hill, which gives them some good value. I’ll take the value of Parker at +135.
Free Pick: Oakland Athletics to WIN +135