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AL All Stars: MLB All Star Game 2010
The American League’s dominance of the All-Star game is startling. Undefeated since 1996, the casual observer might assume they were playing against a college team, not the National League’s best players. Ever since Bud Selig made World Series home-field advantage contingent on the All-Star game’s result, it has aided the AL in the World Series as well. Simply put, the impact of home-field can’t be underestimated. As the 2010 edition approaches and lineups are announced July 4, here’s the starting lineup that, regardless of whether or not they’ll be voted in, gives the AL the best chance of continuing their dominance in The Midsummer Classic.
Starting Pitcher: Cliff Lee, Mariners- Due to the sheer number of pitchers, this is always a difficult spot to select. This year is no different, as many players are having great years, making it hard for players to separate themselves. The slightest of nods goes to Lee because of his dominance of late, pitching three straight complete games. He’s also a sentimental favorite after recovering from an injury that kept him out for the first month of the season; if not for that setback, his total of seven wins could be far higher. Perhaps the biggest question surrounding Lee is if he’ll even be in the American League by the time of the All-Star game; he’s a prime candidate for a trade, and the Mets and Dodgers of the NL have been discussed as possible destinations.
If not Lee, David Price, the league ERA leader, would be an excellent selection. He has quickly gone from an uncertain talent to the undisputed ace of the Rays. This honor would be the culmination of his ascendance.
Catcher: Joe Mauer, Twins- As long as Mauer stays healthy and continues to play near his potential, this position shouldn’t be in much doubt in the years to come. He has established himself as one of the game’s best players and the only thing lagging so far this season is his number of home runs. After suffering a nagging injury at the beginning of the season, his power production should dramatically increase in the second half of the season.
First Base: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers- This may be the hardest selection of any position in the league; either Cabrera or Justin Morneau would be a very worthy selection. Although his batting average is slightly lower than that of the former AL MVP, Cabrera gets the nod because his 20 home runs and 68 RBI compare favorably to the 16 and 52 for Morneau.
Second Base: Robinson Cano, Yankees- An MVP candidate on the best team in baseball, Cano is having an absolute breakout year. His .353 average leads the league and no other second basemen is close to his power totals of 16 home runs and 54 RBI.
Third Base: Adrian Beltre, Red Sox- Beltre has enjoyed a resurgence this year after leaving Seattle. With a .346 average to go along with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, and always a steady glove, Beltre gets the nod over Evan Longoria.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter, Yankees- In a great contrast to the American League’s abundance of talent at shortstop in years past, there is not a single AL shortstop hitting .300 this year. Although he’s underachieved thus far at the plate, Jeter is the choice due to superb defense (second highest fielding percentage of any shortstop in the league) and continued leadership on the best team in the majors. Also, although his offensive numbers are a disappointment for him, he still ranks in the top three for his position in every important category.
Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Rangers- After a sub-par, injury riddled 2009 season, Hamilton is returning to the form expected of him with a staggering season thus far. A Triple Crown candidate, he is hitting .340 with 19 home runs and 58 RBI. This would be Hamilton’s first All-Star trip after his dazzling display in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium in 2008.
Outfield: Brennan Boesch, Tigers- The fact that the unknown Boesch won’t actually be voted in is irrelevant here. In his first full season, the left-handed power hitter is batting an amazing .340 with 12 home runs and 46 RBI.
Outfield: Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners- Suzuki continues to do what he’s best at: getting lots of hits, leading the American League with 107 to go along with his .331 batting average. Suzuki has many other tools that don’t always show up in the box score, including incredible speed, great range in the outfield, and the most feared outfield arm in baseball.
Designated Hitter: Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers- Guerrero has thrived with his change of venue, in the process helping to make the Rangers the biggest surprise in baseball. After many wrote him off, he’s one of two Rangers with a legitimate chance at the Triple Crown. His league-leading 70 RBI accompany 18 home runs and a .336 average. Are you ready for some MLB betting? Get over to www.sportsbook.com
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MLB: Monday Night Baseball Betting Outlook2010-05-24
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had their share of problems at Tropicana Field the last two years. The Tampa Bay Rays haven’t had too much trouble this season against Boston - or the rest of the powerful AL East. The surging Rays return home Monday night and look to improve to 5-0 in the season series against the Red Sox when the division rivals begin a three-game set. The game is set for 7:00 PM ET on ESPN2, and Sportsbook.com lists Tampa as a -130 host favorite.
Tampa Bay (32-12, +13.3 units) owns the best record in baseball, aided by a 14-4 mark against AL East opponents. That includes a four-game sweep at Fenway Park from April 16-19, when the Rays outscored the Red Sox 24-9 despite batting .204 and striking out 33 times. Helping Tampa Bay in that series, 16 of its 29 hits went for extra bases. Evan Longoria went 5 for 15 and scored five runs.
The Rays’ success isn’t surprising to the Red Sox, who are 4-14 at Tampa Bay in the regular season since the start of 2008.
“I think coming into this year - and I don’t need to speak for Joe Maddon or anyone on their team - but it looked like they expected to be good,” manager Terry Francona told the Red Sox’s official website. “We saw enough of them this spring where we were thinking they were gonna be good.”
Longoria has tormented Boston (24-21, -2.2), with a .309 batting average and 10 homers and 36 RBIs in 37 career games. The slugger hit .385 with five homers and 16 RBIs to help the Rays win six of nine at home from the Red Sox in 2009.
The Rays are looking for a fifth straight home win after completing a 4-1 road trip with Sunday’s 10-6 win at Houston. Ben Zobrist continues to rebound after hitting .241 in April, homered and had three hits to raise his average this month to .387 with 13 RBIs. “Zobrist doing what he does almost gives them an extra player,” Francona said. “He’s a switch-hitter who can play multiple positions.”
John Jaso and Hank Blalock also homered Sunday as Tampa Bay amassed 15 hits to rally from an early 4-0 deficit.
“You have to do all those different things in order to win as many games as we have,” Maddon said. “The offense definitely picked us up.” Tampa Bay comes into this three-game AL East series 7-1 against teams with winning records.
Boston has won five of six, including an 8-3 win over Roy Halladay in Philadelphia on Sunday, doing their usual damage in interleague play, taking record to 40-21 since 2007.
Kevin Youkilis homered and scored three runs. He’s 8 for 19 with three homers and six RBIs in his last six contests. “He’s a good hitter who doesn’t give at-bats away,” Francona said. “He’s been terrific.”
The Red Sox will start Clay Buchholz (5-3, 3.26 ERA, 1.429 WHIP), who’s posted a 1.88 ERA while winning his last two outings. He yielded two runs in eight innings Wednesday in a 3-2 home victory over Minnesota.
Buchholz gave up four unearned runs over five innings to fall 6-5 to the Rays on April 17, dropping to 2-2 with a 2.01 ERA in five starts against them. However, the Red Sox have won last seven roads starts by Buchholz and Longoria is 2 for 12 versus the right-hander.
Rookie Wade Davis (4-3, 3.35, 1.379) will counter for Tampa Bay after giving up two runs over 5 2/3 innings in Wednesday’s 10-6 road win over the New York Yankees - his first victory in three starts. The right-hander has had one good start and one poor outing against Boston, both at Fenway Park. He surrendered eight runs in 2 2/3 innings of a 9-1 loss Sept. 12, but allowed one run over five innings April 16 in a game the Rays won 3-1 in 12.
Sportsbook.com has listed the Rays as -130 money line betting choice for those that follow sports betting closely, with the total Ov9. Tampa Bay is 14-3 when the money line is -100 to -150 this season and is 8-0 UNDER recently at Tropicana Field. Boston is unseemly 8-23 in the role of underdog and is 5-0 OVER in previous Monday night assignments.
This encounter is on ESPN2 beginning at 7:00 Eastern and the Rays are12-1 vs. an AL starting pitcher whose ERA is 3.50 or better this season.
StatFox Power Line – Tampa Bay -197
MLB: Twins and Tigers tangle for two2009-09-29
The next three days could determine the AL Central champion, and the most pivotal hours will come Tuesday. After rain washed out the scheduled opener of a four-game series, the division-leading Detroit Tigers and second-place Minnesota Twins will play a day-night doubleheader at Comerica Park. Detroit is favored in both games, but with the way the Twins have been playing, one would have to think that a sweep by the Tigers is unlikely. Therefore, the underdog bettor should bring home at least a small profit. Get the latest prices on the LIVE ODDS page at Sportsbook.com.
Detroit (83-72, +0.6) had a comfortable seven-game cushion in the division on Sept. 6, but that lead has dwindled to two as the Tigers have dropped 11 of 19 while the Twins (81-74, -1.9) are 11-2 since Sept. 13. Detroit has been tied or alone atop the division since May 10. No team has ever lost the title in the last week of the season after leading for that long.
“I thought it would go down to the wire and obviously that’s going to be the case,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I hope my players have some butterflies, but there’s a difference between nervous and scared.”
Minnesota’s surge includes winning two of three home games against Detroit from Sept. 18-20. However, the scene has now shifted to Comerica Park, where the Tigers are 48-26 this season and 21-8 in home games in day games.
They’ll also start one of the AL’s top rookies and their All-Star ace in Tuesday’s doubleheader.
Rick Porcello (14-9, 4.14 ERA) is 4-1 with a 3.28 ERA in his last six starts, boosting his chances to win AL Rookie of the Year. The 20-year-old right-hander is 1-2 with a 3.71 ERA in three starts against the Twins this season, and has lost his last two - both at the Metrodome - while receiving no runs from his teammates.
Porcello beat the Twins at home May 5, giving up four hits over seven innings of a 9-0 victory. The Tigers are 18-11 in his starts this season and they have won the last five at home.
Justin Verlander (17-9, 3.41) will try to give the Tigers another needed victory in the finale and match his career high for wins, set in 2007. He helped Detroit avoid a three-game skid Thursday, striking out 11 over seven innings of a 6-5 victory in Cleveland.
The Twins haven’t been easy to tame for the right-hander, who has a major league-leading 256 strikeouts. Minnesota has scored five runs in successive wins against Verlander over the last two months, including an 11-0 victory in Detroit on Aug. 8. The Tigers ace is just 3-8 (-8.7 Units) against the money line vs. teams averaging 2.75 or less extra base hits per game this season. (Tigers Record)
The Twins will counter with Nick Blackburn (11-11, 4.18) and rookie Brian Duensing (5-1, 3.33), who has been excellent since moving into the rotation Aug. 22.
Blackburn has put a difficult stretch behind him, winning his last two starts by yielding two runs in 13 1/3 innings after going 1-7 with a 7.36 ERA in his previous 11 outings. The right-hander was masterful Monday night as he scattered eight hits and struck out six over seven innings of a 7-0 win in Chicago. Blackburn is 2-2 with a 3.66 ERA in five career starts against Detroit, but both losses have come at Comerica Park. He’s 0-3 with an 8.00 ERA in four career appearances there and he and his teammates are 0-12 in road games when playing against a team with a winning record over the last two seasons.
“This is what we all play for. It’s a blast,” Blackburn said. “Being in a race like this makes it even more exciting. There’s more pressure, but it makes us enjoy the wins even more.”
Duensing is searching for his sixth consecutive victory as a starter and fourth in as many starts. The left-hander earned a victory at Chicago on Wednesday night, giving up four runs and nine hits over 5 2/3 innings. He won his only start against Detroit on Sept. 18, allowing four hits in 6 1/3 innings of a 3-0 home victory.
The Twins start the day 18-5 on Tuesday’s and are an underdog according to Sportsbook.com in both games. In the first contest Minnesota is +120 with total of nine and the nightcap could be adjusted by outcome of first game, but for now the Twinkies at +150 with total lowered to eight. The Twins are 19-10 vs. AL teams allowing 4.7 or less runs a game in the second half of the season.
Detroit has won last 23 of 33 home games against right-handed starters, which is the situation in Game 1 and the Tigers are 11-3 when Verlander is favorite in home park.
Both games are available for viewing in home markets and MLB.TV. The first AL Central battle starts at 12:05 Eastern with the nitecap at 7:05E. StatFox Power Line – Detroit -105 (Game 1), Minnesota -119 (Game 2)