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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Must See Sports – Fourth Weekend of July 2013

Last week's advantage/disadvantage record, excluding series: 2-1
Last week's advantage/disadvantage record in series: 1-0-2
2013 Advantage/Disadvantage Record, excluding series: 29-28 
2013 Advantage/Disadvantage Record (series only): 4-4-3

This is the final weekend of the MLB monopoly on the sports world. If you're a buff of America's pastime, enjoy it while it lasts!

Thursday, July 25

Major League Baseball

Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox
Jeremy Hellickson (9-3, 4.62 ERA, 100 Ks) – Rays  vs John Lackey (7-7, 2.95 ERA, 100Ks) – Red Sox

We have not reached the “every game is big” part of the season yet, but every game between these two American League East rivals is huge. These teams are separated by a half game for the best record in the American League as well as the division.

John Lackey had been on a roll before losing against the New York Yankees last Saturday. Still, he is a tough out. In his 17 starts, Lackey has surrendered more than four earned runs only once, in May. Jeremy Hellickson has been feast or famine. When he gives up runs, they come in bunches, but he usually does not give them up and has done so very little of late. He is riding a winning streak of five straight decisions.

The hot bats in this game are those of first baseman James Loney (.316, 9 HR, 46 RBI) of the Rays and David “Big Papi” Ortiz (.323, 19 HR, 65 RBI, 1.001 OPS) of the Red Sox. Excluding a July 14 pinch hit plate appearance against the Houston Astros, Loney has reached base in 26 of the last 27 games in which he has come up to bat. Ortiz has reached in 29 of his last 31 games.

The Rays are the hotter team but Lackey has been lights out at home. This game is a coin toss, but playing at Fenway tips the scales ever so slightly to the Sox.

Advantage: Red Sox

Who's laughing now? 1
Sunday, July 28

Major League Baseball

St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves
Shelby Miller (10-6, 2.77 ERA, 118 Ks) – Cardinals vs Kris Medlen (6-10, 3.78 ERA) – Braves

Medlen and the other regular starters must step up during their turns in the rotation in light of the season ending ankle injury suffered last night by ace starting pitcher Tim Husdon. However, he has gone into a tailspin, losing three straight decisions and having a lot of trouble keeping opponents off of the bases.
Miller has cooled off a little after being very hot in the beginning of the season.

Regardless, I like the Cardinals in this game because of a pitching advantage and all of their weapons (hitting, fielding, pitching) are clicking in sync. In addition, left fielder Matt Holliday (.268, 13 HR, 47 RBI) will be back from the 15 day D.L. The Braves have been touch and go since the All-Star break.

Advantages: Game – Cardinals, Series – Cardinals

Eric Young, Jr. of the New York Mets stays with Tim Hudson of the Braves, whom he accidentally spiked at first base. Hudson is out for the year. 2

Monday, July 29

Major League Baseball

Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers
Jered Weaver (5-5, 2.98 ERA) – Angels vs Matt Garza (7-1, 2.87 ERA) – Rangers

The Rangers may have gotten the best addition to their starting pitching in the annual MLB trade deadline swaps with Matt Garza. Garza is pitching very well of late and knows how the manage a tight game as well as any other starting pitcher. He was just what the doctor ordered for a banged up starting rotation in Texas.

Jered Weaver is also as good as it gets, giving up no earned runs in his last two starts. But the support simply isn’t there for Angels pitching on a day to day basis. The Angels bullpen needs to do an about face, starting now, if they are to have any chance of salvaging this season. I see no reason to expect such a change. In addition, Josh Hamilton (.233, 14 HR, 41 RBI), who has not risen to any occasion this year, is nursing a sore ankle.

Both teams have been cold, but Texas is simply the better team and they are at home. I expect Garza to inject some energy into the pitching staff.

Advantages: Game – Rangers, Series – Rangers

Jered Weaver (left) and his wife, Kristin (right), have had little to celebrate on the field this season. 

Tuesday, July 30

New York Yankees at Los Angeles Dodgers

Andy Pettitte (7-8, 4.39 ERA) – Yankees vs Ricky Nolasco (6-9, 3.72 ERA, 106 Ks)

The Dodgers are the hottest team in baseball and with the recent trade for Ricky Nolasco from the Miami Marlins, the first place Dodgers are poised to go in for the kill in the National League West. The 41-year-old Andy Pettitte consistently gives the Yankees a good enough performance to get a win for the team each night.

The Yankees? Their bats have completely vanished. With the pending suspension of Alex Rodriguez in connection with the Biogenesis scandal, the prolonged absence of shortstop Derek Jeter (.250, 0 HR, 1 RBI), and the impotence of the batting order since June, and the season ending loss of first baseman Mark Teixeria (.151, 3 HR, 12 RBI), who hasn’t been right for quite some time, I see no cause for optimism with the Yankees against any prime opponent.  

Advantages: Game – Dodgers, Series – Dodgers

Yasiel Puig (left) celebrates a homerun with Adrian Gonzalez (right) last night. He's getting hot again! 4

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