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And So It Goes....

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

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Friday, May 8, 2009

May 8th, 2009 Picks

1-0-0 yesterday with Luongo fending off enough shots to win pretty easily over Khabibulin 26 to 14. The Canucks only took 15 shots on goal in three periods and overtime. The Blackhawks took 3 or 4 shots more than the Canucks in each period.

I couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger on the morning baseball picks though. Ah well, at least I didn’t get shat upon with Donald. That was pretty much Poulter shooting the best round of his life at Sawgrass and Donald was just average save that triple bogey on #2. What happened there? Did he just try and hit the green in two and end up in the drink? One way or another it’s on to the picks.

1) Jim Furyk vs. Kenny Perry – Perry cards a lower front 9 score
2) Sergio Garcia vs. Zach Johnson – Garcia cards a lower 2nd round score
3) Rio Ave @ Guimarães – Guimarães win
4) Washington Capitals @ Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington
5) New York Yankees @ Baltimore Orioles – New York
6) Boston Celtics @ Orlando Magic – Boston
7) Joey Logano vs. Brad Keselowski – Keselowski has a better final position
8) Boston Bruins @ Carolina Hurricanes – Carolina
9) Chicago Cubs @ Milwaukee Brewers – Chicago
10) Texas Rangers @ Chicago White Sox – Chicago
11) Los Angeles Lakers @ Houston Rockets – Los Angeles
12) Kansas City Royals @ Los Angeles Angels – Kansas City

1) Since Kenny Perry finished 2nd at the Masters and Jim Furyk finished 10th Furyk has generally been more successful. Although he missed the cut at the Verizon Heritage he was able to follow that with an 11th place finish at Quail Hollow and is currently in 14th at The Players' Championship. Perry finished at even par in the Zurich Classic and is now in 79th at The Players'. Both players finished at even par on the front 9 in the first round. Furyk ended up playing much better on the back 9, with his putting especially making a difference. Since 2001, in 27 rounds at TPC Sawgrass, Furyk has shot even par or better 17 times on the front nine. His average front 9 score is +0.2, his median score is even par, and he's shot anywhere in between -3 and +4. Kenny Perry has also played 27 rounds in that time, shooting even par or better on the front nine 19 times. His average front 9 score is -0.1, his median score is even par, and he's shot anywhere in between -4 and +3. There have been 23 rounds in which both players golfed. Furyk had the better score 7 times, Perry 10 times, and they had the same score 6 times. You can find Kenny Perry's stats and Jim Furyk's stats on pgatour.com, as well as their first round stats by clicking on their names on the leaderboard. There are a lot of signs pointing towards Furyk as the pick here, but I'll go for the player with the historical odds here. You can see a hole-by-hole tour of the course by clicking on the Sawgrass clubhouse below.

2) Sergio Garcia is the defending champion at The Players Championship. He finished the first round six strokes behind the leader, Ben Crane, who shot a very fine 65. That hasn't stopped Garcia before, who finished two strokes over par after the cut in 2007 before coming back to take 2nd place. Zach Johnson was one stroke worse, carding an even par 72 in the first round. It's an improvement from last year when he shot a 76 in the first round, followed by a 79 before being cut. Johnson was accurate in the first round and found the green in regulation on 13 holes, but his putting average of 1.923 on those holes sunk him. Sergio Garcia hit only 9 holes with a chance to make birdie, but his terrific short game and putting allowed him to get 5 birdies anyways. Since 2001 Garcia has played 31 rounds at TPC Sawgrass and has carded par or better 18 times. His average score has been 71.6 and his median score is 72. Johnson only started playing this event in 2005 and in the 15 rounds he's played has only made par or better 7 times. His average score has been 72.8 and his median score, 73. You can check out Johnson's superior stats on the Tour this year and compare them with Garcia's respectable numbers. It's hard to believe Garcia can avoid staying out of trouble at Sawgrass with his aggressive play, but that's been the case for the most part the past 8 years.

3) Rio Ave is a team battling to keep their spot in the Portuguese Super Liga. Currently, they lie 2 points clear of relegation with 3 matches remaining. They visit Estádio D. Afonso Henriques to take on 8th place Vitória de Guimarães and it will be difficult for them to get a result having scored only 3 goals in 13 away matches this season. With 9 points left to earn Guimarães have been eliminated from UEFA Cup qualification after making it to the Champions League qualification stage last season. As a traditionally strong club in the Super Liga they have their pride left to play for, and will wish to finish this disappointing season strong. Rio Ave has been in good form recently, winning at home against Trofense and away at Naval 1o Maio, and drawing at home against S.C. Braga who are currently 5th in the tables. The victory against Naval 1o bodes well for Rio Ave as Naval had one more win at home than Guimarães and have the same number of goals scored and conceded as Guimarães as well. Vitória de Guimarães have had a difficult time at home recently, having played F.C. Porto and Sporting Lisbon recently, both losses. They've done better against the bottom half sides, winning 3-1 against Belenenses and 1-0 against Naval 1o Maio. Both teams are at full strength for this match and you can click on either team's logo to see their `convocados' for this match, the list of players named to the squad. Most European books have their true odds set at around 46% for Guimarães to win, a draw at 28%, and Rio Ave winning at 24%. I calculated similar odds, but with the draw at 33% and Rio Ave winning at 19%. Overall Guimarães should have the quality to win 1-0 or 2-0, but if Rio Ave are tenacious in the backfield this could be a 0-0 draw.

5) The Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees met on opening day with C.C. Sabathia facing off against Jeremy Guthrie. Sabathia gave up 6 runs and 8 hits to the Orioles before being relieved after 42/3 innings and the Yankees were down 6-1. The Orioles went on to win the game 10-5. Since then the Orioles have gone 11-17, though they are 2-1 in their last three games, scoring 12 runs while batting .253 and slugging .518. The Yankees are 13-14 since that opening day fiasco, but are currently on a 5 game slide. In their past 3 games they have batted .266 and slugged .431 while scoring 12 runs and giving up 19. Ever since they came back, down 9-4 to the Angels going into the 8th, to win 10-9, the Yankees' bullpen has been unable to hold on to a lead. I'm inclined to think that run of bad luck is about to come to an end against a Baltimore team whose bullpen is also apt to give up a lead. Neither Sabathia nor Guthrie have had incredible starts to the season. Both have ERA's around 5.00 and both have WHIP's over 1.35. Sabathia has the credentials to suggest he is a better pitcher than those numbers show, however. That means Baltimore will be less likely to provide Guthrie with the run support he'll require as the Yankees have batted .313 and slugged .583 off of Guthrie in their careers. Oh, and I guess Alex Rodriguez is returning to the lineup for New York, though I highly doubt he'll contribute much on offense or help Teixeira see better pitches in his first game. I just see the roles being reversed from opening day in this game and the Yankees coming out victorious.

6) The Boston Celtics travel to Orlando and attempt to regain home court advantage tonight. Rafer Alston was suspended for one game by the NBA for smacking Eddie House upside the head in Game 2 which leaves Orlando with Anthony Carter and Tyronn Lue at the point guard position. Courtney Lee has practiced with the Magic while wearing a protective mask and I fully expect he'll be on the court for this important game. The loss of Alston should not damage Orlando's aspirations too greatly as Carter and Lue are capable enough at running the offense and neither they, nor Alston, are too likely to slow Rajon Rondo. That matchup will be a big advantage for the Celtics throughout the series. Boston will also need Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins, and Brian Scalabrine to step up on both ends of the court. Scalabrine especially can be a boost with his three point shooting. The Magic have to be happy that Hedo Turkoglu looks to be returning to top form since they'll need every thing they've got to win against Boston. If Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis are feeling it from behind the arc and Dwight Howard around the basket the Magic should win, but I think Boston's good game trumps theirs. Paul Pierce must stay out of foul trouble and have a good game. Orlando has the home court advantage, obviously, but Boston is skilled enough to fire on all cylinders on the road.

9) Picking the Cubs here is putting some faith in Ryan Wells and the rest of the Chicago bullpen to pitch well against the Brewers' batters. I expect them to continue returning to 'mortal' status after that 20 hit outing. I also like the Cubs' batting to remain strong.

10) Honestly, even I'm not sure how I can take the White Sox here with Jose Contreras on the mound for them. Matt Harrison pitched 6 scoreless innings in his last start against the White Sox, though that was against a lineup without Jermaine Dye, Thome, or A.J. Pierzynski. Contreras, on the other hand, has an 8.31 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP. In his one start against the Rangers, last Saturday at Rangers Ballpark, he gave up 7 earned runs on 7 hits in 31/3 innings. The Rangers are batting .310 and slugging .500 in their last three games, but that's about average for them. They also have career batting averages of .311 and .492 slugging in 61 at bats against Contreras. I guess I'm just not quite ready to believe that Contreras is that bad of a pitcher and he will throw some scoreless innings in the near future. I imagine Harrison will need some run support tonight against the White Sox, who are batting pretty well lately, and if Contreras can just limit that for even 5 innings I like the White Sox bullpen to complete the victory.

11) The Los Angeles Lakers will be without the services of Derek Fisher for tonight's game after he was suspended by the NBA for charging Luis Scola and following through with a forearm shimmy. That will hurt Los Angeles as they were already thin at the point guard position, and with Jordan Farmar struggling so far in these playoffs. Fisher also provided some timely three point shooting. On the positive side Farmar and Shannon Brown should be able to keep up with Aaron Brooks more easiliy. The Lakers could really use a good game from Andrew Bynum, but he's shown a tendency to wilt when challenged on defense, which is what the Rockets will do. As for the Rockets, they will be fired up for this game to maintain home court and to show Kobe and the Lakers they will not be intimidated. If Pau Gasol can slow down Yao, and Lamar Odom and Kobe can get some support from their bench the Lakers will win this game, but you have to like the Rockets' chances here.

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