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And So It Goes....

Overall: 7-1-0 (0.875)
Basis Function: Daubechies4

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

May 6th, 2009 Picks

2-2-0 today, ...WLWL... and so on lately. My first pick was Mischa Zverev, who was defeated by Andreas Beck in straight sets, 3-6 4-6. 'Nuff said. My second pick was the San Francisco Giants. Things started off right when Renteria and Aurilia singled, bringing Bengie Molina up to bat. Molina nailed the first pitch over the plate to put the Giants up 3-0. Lincecum had a solid game, allowing 2 runs off of 4 hits, while striking out 7 batters in 7 innings. Still, the Giants found themselves up only 3-2 entering the 8th inning. Sean Marshall walked Renteria and gave up a single to Aurilia prompting the Cubs to bring in Samardzija for a little relief pitching. He provided little as he hit Molina with a pitch and then proceeded to give up a 2 RBI double and an RBI single. Cotts was brought in with runners on first and second and he did well to induce an inning-ending double play. Valdez and Affeldt secured the remaining 6 outs on 8 batters in the 8th and 9th to secure a 6-2 win for the Giants, Lincecum's third of the season.

My third pick was the Minnesota Twins. Rick Porcello showed why he's one of Detroit's top prospects as he pitched 7 shutout innings, allowing only 4 hits by the Twins. Nick Blackburn had a downright atrocious outing as he made it through only 3-1/3 innings, giving up 9 runs, 6 of them earned. The Tigers scored all 9 of their runs in the first four innings and the Twins could never get that one last hit to drive their men home. Detroit won easily, 9-0.

My last pick was Denver's winning margin. Denver led by 8 after the first quarter, but Dallas came back to make it a 3 point game at the half. Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony were struggling mightily, and it was mostly Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, and Chris Andersen who kept them from falling behind. The third quarter was back-and-forth but the Nuggets maintained their 3 point margin. In the 4th Billups and Anthony got back on track in a serious way. Anthony scored 7 points in the first three minutes and the Nuggets raced out to a 12 point lead. 'Melo kept on going from there, scoring 8 more points in the quarter. Denver was able to nurse a 15 to 17 point lead and the Nuggets won by 12, 117-105. Jason Kidd finished the game with 7 assists, his season long average in road games. So on to the picks!

1) Barçelona @ Chelsea – Barçelona advance
2) Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby – Ovechkin pts.
3) Minnesota Twins @ Baltimore Orioles – Baltimore
4) Philadelphia Phillies vs. Johan Santana – Philadelphia total hits
5) Boston Bruins @ Carolina Hurricanes – Boston
6) Orlando Magic @ Boston Celtics – Boston
7) Pittsburgh Pirates @ St. Louis Cardinals – Pittsburgh
8) Los Angeles Galaxy @ Real Salt Lake – Real Salt Lake win
9) Texas Rangers @ Oakland Athletics – Texas
10) Ron Artest vs. Los Angeles Lakers win margin – Los Angeles win margin


1) I'll start off with a nice analysis by Phil Thompson at SkySports. He's calling a 3-2 win by Barçelona. Here's a slightly anglocentric preview from the BBC. They point out that the home side has advanced in 66.8% of all Champions League ties after a 0-0 draw away. Goal.com's preview points out Chelsea's emphasis on not conceding an away goal. It will be difficult for Barçelona to score on a defensively focused Blues side, but it shall also be difficult for Chelsea to score on the possession dominating Blaugrana. Their prediction: Barçelona advance with a 1-1 score. The Telegraph give a nice preview in which they analyze key one-on-one matchups on the pitch. They also predict each team bring out a 4-3-3 formation for this leg of the tie.

As for my thoughts on the match, it’s tough to gauge how this leg will go since Chelsea didn’t really show their offense in the 1st leg and Barçelona’s defense was not tested too greatly. The near goal by Drogba off a Barçelona error is an example of how Chelsea’s size and skill can allow them to score. I think Barçelona have the better keeper in Valdes, but Chelsea will test their possession style of play. Chelsea will also be dangerous on corners with such height, should they get any. I might switch to Chelsea in fact, because what I saw from Barçelona is what I saw from Arsenal in their 1st leg; an unwillingness to take risky and difficult shots, instead passing the ball around to set up gimmie shots on goal. On the other hand, if Chelsea move even one man out past 18 yards Barçelona should be able to find that 'gimmie'. Chelsea are 15-9-2 at Stamford Bridge, with two of those draws being scoreless. With any draw where a goal is scored resulting in Barçelona advancing the Blues are essentially 15-9 at home. Barçelona are 18-6-3 away from the Nou Camp, with one of their draws being 0-0, making them 23-3 away for purposes of this matchup. Barçelona are the odds on favorites to come out on top by a goal or more, and with non-clean sheet draws sending them through to Rome Barçelona are heavy favorites. I computed odds along the lines of Barçelona at -130 to +160 for Chelsea. Skybet has Barçelona at -200 to advance, and Chelsea at +110.

3) Baltimore are starting Mark Hendrickson on the mound who has had an awful start to his season, recording a 5.79 ERA and a 2.01 WHIP. His first game of the season he did well, limiting Tampa Bay to 1 run and 6 hits in 51/3 innings. Baltimore ended up winning that game 5-4. Other than that a typical game from Hendrickson has involved 5 innings pitched and a half dozen runs or more being given up. He's not injured, and he was not this poor last season so I would expect him to settle down at home and have a fairly good outing, giving up 3 to 4 runs at most. Minnesota has not been heavy with the bats in their last three games, batting .252 and slugging .330. That last number has not been helped by the fact that the Twins have not found the yard in their past three games. Kevin Slowey is starting for Minnesota, and his numbers suggest he's been pretty good for the year. He has a 1.47 WHIP and a 5.17 ERA to go along with a 4-0 record. His strikeout to walk ratio is 11.5 as he's only walked two batters all year. I just don't see that continuing for Slowey, and do not see a middle-of-the pack pitcher on a team like the Twins going 5-0 to start the season.

4) Johan Santana is on one of the hottest stretches in his career. He's averaging 8.8 strikeouts per game over his past 5 starts. Last season the most he'd averaged over a 5 game period was 7.6 in his final 5 starts. Part of the reason for this is it's not altogether uncommon for him to record 5 or fewer strikeouts in a 7 inning start. He's had 5 or fewer strikeouts 15 times in his last 39 starts. He's also had 8 or more strikeouts 11 times in that period. You can see how many games with a particular number of strikeouts Santana has had by looking at the graph below. You can also see that the Phillies average a couple more hits per game, and that they average one fewer hit per game against Santana than they do against all pitchers combined. Of course, they only batted against Johan 5 times last season. In those 5 games the Phillies had more hits three times, 7-6, 13-4, and 8-6; they pushed once, 6-6; and they lost once, 10-5. I think Santana is due to have a mundane start, and the Phillies will do well to avoid striking out when they fall behind on the count, instead fouling out, popping or grounding out, or getting a hit.
6) Boston lost Game 1 to Orlando after being down by 28 points early in the 3rd quarter and coming back to within 4 points late in the 4th. All the reasons I gave for why Boston should have won Game 1 apply to this game. I fully expect Rajon Rondo to be more aggressive on Rafer Alston, and for Paul Pierce to avoid foul trouble in this game.

8) First off, Real Salt Lake have been absolutely dominant at Rio Tinto Stadium so far this year. They defeated last season's MLS champions, Columbus, 4-1 and followed that up with a solid 2-1 win over Eastern Conference leaders DC United. Their third road game was a 6-0 thrashing of New England where the Revolution were completely outclassed. Here is a very fine preview from goal.com. Real are dealing with injuries to their keeper, Nick Rimando, but have a solid prospect in Seitz to replace him. They will also be missing Javier Morales at mid-field, and Jamison Olave on defense through suspension. For the Galaxy, their best strategy will be to keep men back, play for the draw, and hope that Landon Donovan can make something happen on their counters. With Robbie Findlay and Movsisyan headlining one of the most powerful home attacks in Major League Soccer I think Real will be too strong for the Galaxy to overcome.

10) After the Rockets won in L.A. by 8 points in Game 1, with Artest making 8 field goals, I was inclined to think Houston could keep Game 2 close with Artest making at least 6. Then I looked at their numbers over the regular season and in these playoffs. Artest is averaging 6.4 field goals per game on the road, and in four games against the Lakers this season he has averaged 5.8 field goals. This graph shows the expected distribution of field goals made (FGM) for Artest on the road and the Lakers' winning margins at home, based on this season's averages. The bar graphs show the actual counts of games with a certain number of FGMs or wins by a certain amount. One thing to keep in mind is that there are 5 Lakers' home wins left off the high end of the graph, including a 27 point win over Houston at the beginning of the season. I can see Yao Ming playing fewer minutes in this game, especially if his knee is swelling, and consequently Artest making more baskets. Of course, if Yao is limited then Artest can go ahead and score, but the Rockets' chances will still be worse. I think the Lakers can turn this one around and win by 10, which would be enough to outpace Artest in 87% of his road games.


  1. Chelsea will win 1-0 or 2-0... Just a prediction
    Great analysis though!

  2. lol at the old school phillies pick.

    I fear I'm possibly too confident on this RSL pick. it's too obvious. gotta hope ricketts doesn't play out of his mind again

  3. old school phillies pic*

  4. You were right to be confident in it, that was a crazy way to end the game and RSL have nobody but themselves to blame for not getting three points from the result.