Odds On Most Any Matchup: 5dimesSkyBetBetFairBetUS

And So It Goes....

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

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 30th, 2009 Picks

(skip to picks)2-1-0 again today. Had a four game streak and then I got greedy and put it all on the Mets. Why? I cannot say. Will I do it again? You cannot know. Well, OK, yea I probably will though stopping at 2 right per day seems like a good strategy. I'll be going for 6 consecutive days over .500 here. So on to the picks.


Karlovic Remains Unbeatable On Serve, Downs Verdasco With 35 Aces
I. Karlovic def. F. Verdasco 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 7-6 (11-9)
Verdasco never had a break point opportunity as Karlovic won 94% of his first serves.
``The pattern of aces and very few rallies - in which the tiebreaks became all-important - would not have been to the taste of some spectators. It was the giant Croat who had the best of those tiebreaks and he prevailed 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (4-6), 6-4, 7-6 (10-8) in three hours and one minute. With the match locked at 3-3 in the third set, play was suspended to the rain. Resuming just half an hour later, it appeared the first delay of the tournament had sparked Karlovic into action, as he raced to 0-40 on Verdasco’s serve. The Spaniard sent down two thumping serves to peg the score back to 30-40. However Karlovic finally gained the first and only break in the entire match when his 25-year-old opponent pushed a backhand into the net. As if it was ever in doubt, the world No.36 duly served out the set. The fourth set saw a return to the previous pattern and it ended in a tiebreak. When a double fault by Verdacso handed Karlovic a mini-break to lead 3-1, the small gathering of Croatian fans were already celebrating victory. But a terrier-like Verdasco fought back, with a brilliant return helping to level it 3-3. Both players then had opportunities to win the tiebreak. Verdasco had a set point at 8-7 on his own serve but Karlovic took a gamble and ripped a thunderous return winner onto the baseline. Then Karlovic rose and seized the moment at 9-8, sealing a place in the last eight when Verdasco pushed a backhand long"
Read more....Match StatsKarlovic Post-Match Interview

Roddick Moves Into Quarterfinals With A Roar
A. Roddick def. T. Berdych 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 6-3
Roddick was the only Andy looking like they might have a chance in the finals today.
``Roddick turned Berdych’s form upside down in his win. Berdych had come into the last 16 without dropping a set, something he had not achieved in a Grand Slam since 2007. This showed that he was finding his feet again on grass and he might even have fancied his chances of making the quarter-finals. Roddick blew all that away with a strong and accurate hitting performance. Roddick’s victory owed much to the power of his serving. He served 24 aces during the match and did not offer a single break point. Berdych challenged him strongly, as Roddick had anticipated, in the first set in particular but once the American had wrapped that up, the pattern was established. Berdych simply could not come close enough to Roddick for long enough to do any real damage."
Read more....Match StatsRoddick Post-Match Interview

McGehee Gaffe Lets Mets Back In, Grand Slam Boots Them Right Back Out
Milwaukee Brewers 10 - 6 New York Mets
Fernando Nieve gave up 3 runs from 11 hits in 31/3 innings. Maybe Jerry Manuel should have left him in.
``McGehee nearly gave New York a way out after giving the Mets life with starter Braden Looper (6-4) cruising and Milwaukee leading 3-0. With two outs and a man on first in the sixth inning, the Brewers third baseman dropped Fernando Martinez's routine fly ball when it hit the heel of his glove and dropped harmlessly to the ground, putting runners on the corners. Brian Schneider hit the next pitch off the wall for a two-run double to cut it to 3-2, but Looper got out of the jam. In the bottom of the inning, Hardy had his third extra base hit when Martinez tried to make a diving catch on a liner to put men on second and third with one out. After Ryan Braun popped out and Prince Fielder was intentionally walked, McGehee drove a high fastball from reliever Brian Stokes into the Brewers bullpen in left center field to make it 7-2."
Read more....Box Score

1) Dinara Safina vs. Sabine Lisicki - Safina wins 2-0
2) How Many Games Will Be Played Between Victoria Azarenka vs. Serena Williams - 19 games or fewer
3) AC Omonia Nicosia @ Grasshoppers Zürich - Grasshoppers Zürich win
4) WSOP $50,000 HORSE Event: Will The Winner Be A Bracelet Winner, Yes vs. No - Yes
5) Philadelphia Phillies @ Atlanta Braves - Atlanta
6) Minnesota Lynx @ Atlanta Dream - Atlanta
7) Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh Pirates - Pittsburgh
8) Tampa Bay Rays @ Toronto Blue Jays - Tampa Bay
9) How Many Pitches Will Johan Santana Throw: 104 or fewer vs. 105 or more - 105 or more
10) Los Angeles Angels @ Texas Rangers - Los Angeles
11) Minnesota Twins @ Kansas City Royals - Kansas City
12) Detroit Tigers @ Oakland Athletics - Oakland
13) How Many Runs Will Be Scored Before The 5th Inning: 3 or fewer vs. 4 or more - 3 or fewer


Johan Santana has a complete game in him. It took half the season (7/4/08) to see the first of four. We're nearing half way through this season.
9) So far this season Johan Santana has thrown 105 or more pitches in only one-third of his 15 starts. He may have been ailing after the 120 pitch game against Washington in which he walked 6 batters, four in one inning. He's had a series of low pitch count starts which is not in line with how he was used last season when he threw at least 105 pitches in 21 of his 35 starts in 2008. He has yet to pitch 8 or more innings so far this season. It took Santana until July 4th to pitch a full 8 innings, and after that he did it 5 more times, including three complete games. I think the umpire for the day will also play an important role as the single biggest factor adding pitches to a count, aside from foul balls, will be balls and walks. The potential home plate umpires for tonight's game are Cederstrom, O'Nora, and Wolf. One can see their statistics here, through the end of May. Pitchers average nearly twice as many walks with Cederstrom at home plate than with O'Nora and Wolf. One can check the game preview an hour before first pitch to see where the umpires will be. If Cederstrom is umping I would definitely go 105 or more. If O'Nora and Wolf are at home plate I would hesitate, but I think Santana may go for a full 8 innings this game with the bullpen having pitched 152/3 innings since his last start. Of course, Feliciano, Rodriguez, and Troncoso rested yesterday so there is no real need for Santana to pitch deep into the game.

13) Jason Marquis and Chad Billingsley have started 15 and 16 games this season, respectively. The scoring has totaled 4 or more runs in 7 of Marquis' games and 8 of Billingsley's games, or about 50% of the time. The graph below sums up whether it was Marquis or Billingsley giving up the runs or their own team scoring the runs. One can see that most of the time when the score went over 3 runs it was due to the Rockies or the Dodgers scoring. Marquis has had some awful games, but Billingsley has very rarely given up more than 2 runs in the first four innings (twice in 16 starts). I do think if there is a pair of pitchers who can keep the scoring down to start the game it is these pitchers. One should note, however, that the total runs scored was 4 or more in both pitchers' previous start against the opposition but that both times it was the `other' pitcher (not Marquis or Billingsley) who gave up all of the runs in those games.
Click to view large version.

Monday, June 29, 2009

June 29th, 2009 Picks

(skip to picks)2-1-0 today as David Huff followed a gem against Pittsburgh with a straight up bad start against the Reds. Owings was solid for Cincy too. Then got my streak back up to two with a couple of WNBA picks. Go home team! So on to the raccafracas picks.


Micah Owings Finds His Groove As Phillips, Reds, Knock Around The Tribe
Cincinnati Reds 8 - 1 Cleveland Indians
Owings got bombed and Huff threw a gem their last times out so of course Huff is the poor pitcher who gets bombed and Owings is the unhittable one today. Should have seen that one coming a mile away.
``Micah Owings (5-8) gave up one run and five hits over six innings for only his second win in eight starts since May 21. Brandon Phillips broke out of a 1-for-16 slump with three hits, three runs and three RBIs as the Reds took two of three from their Ohio rivals to move back to .500 overall. Phillips had a two-run single in a four-run third inning off David Huff (3-3). He had an RBI single and scored on Jonny Gomes' homer in the fifth, then singled, stole second and scored on a single by Hernandez against Rafael Perez in the seventh. Ramon Hernandez also had three hits and three RBIs for Cincinnati. The Indians had two runners on base against Owings in the third, fourth and sixth and could not deliver. The Indians dropped further into last place in the AL Central with their 10th loss in 12 games."
Read more....Box Score

Shock Rock Monarchs Early To Give Mahorn First `W' As Coach
Detroit Shock 86 - 72 Sacramento Monarchs
Apparently Bill Laimbeer was sick of coaching a losing WNBA team so they got Rick Mahorn to coach.
``Shavonte Zellous scored 18 points to lead the Detroit Shock to an 86-72 victory over the Sacramento Monarchs on Sunday night, giving Rick Mahorn his first win as a head coach. Detroit took control by outscoring the Monarchs 23-11 in the second quarter to take a 47-28 halftime lead. The Shock outshot Sacramento 46 percent to 21 percent in the period and had an 11-2 edge from the free-throw line. The Monarchs pulled to 66-60 with 7:24 left, but Detroit scored the next four points and cruised to the win."
Read more....Box Score

Los Angeles Defense Sparks Route Over Storm
Los Angeles Sparks 82 - 55 Seattle Storm
Los Angeles kicked Seattle's ass after losing in Seattle a couple of days ago.
``Playing their third game without injured three-time league MVP Lisa Leslie, five players scored in double figures for Sparks (3-5). Betty Lennox had 14 points, Vanessa Hayden scored 12, DeLisha Milton-Jones 11 and Noelle Quinn 10 for the Sparks. Shannon Bobbitt had a season-high eight assists. The Sparks used an aggressive defensive effort and outhustled the Storm in the second quarter to take a 41-30 halftime lead. [Los Angeles] made a season-high 19 free throws and had a season-high 23 assists. They held the Storm to a season low in points and forced them to commit a season-high 22 turnovers."
Read more....Box Score

1) Fernando Verdasco vs. Ivo Karlovic - Karlovic
2) Dinara Safina vs. Amelie Mauresmo - Mauresmo
3) Juan Carlos Ferrero vs. Gilles Simon - Ferrero
4) Tomas Berdych vs. Andy Roddick - Roddick
5) England (U21) vs. Germany (U21) - Germany
6) New York Mets @ Milwaukee Brewers - New York
7) Chicago White Sox @ Cleveland Indians - Chicago
8) San Francisco Giants @ St. Louis Cardinals - St. Louis
9) Detroit Tigers @ Oakland Athletics - Detroit


Ivo Karlovic (bottom) has yet to lose a service game on grass this year and leads the Tour in aces. Fernando Verdasco (top) hopes to avenge a loss at Nottingham last year to Karlovic.
1) Ivo Karlovic faces #8 Fernando Verdasco in the fourth round at Wimbledon. Both players are seeking a place in the quarterfinals here at SW19 for the first time in their careers. Verdasco has had a good run of quarterfinal appearances in tournaments this year and has shot up in the rankings to be rated one of the top 10 players in the world coming into Wimbledon. He should face a stern challenge from the 6'10" Croatian Karlovic who leads the ATP Tour this year in aces by a wide margin. Karlovic has been sensational on grass this year as well. He has already served over 100 aces and has not had his serve broken once at Wimbledon. In fact, he has held service 100% of the time on grass courts this year. It is for these reasons he is being billed as `The Man No One Wants To Face'.

Verdasco is one of those who wishes he might have avoided Karlovic in the draw. Verdasco is 1-2 against Karlovic in their careers, including a hard fought loss to him last year on the grass courts at Nottingham. Looking at their stats from this year it is clear that Karlovic dominates on service but that if there is a man to break the Croat it might be Verdasco. Verdasco has converted 44% of his break point opportunities and has won 42% of his receiving points.

Both players have done well so far with neither dropping more than one set in any single match in the first three rounds. Looking at their profiles and playing activity one can see Karlovic has done a bit better on grass this season with a quarterfinals appearance at Queen's Club before losing to Andy Roddick. Verdasco has lost twice on grass this year and both times to opponents ranked lower than Karlovic. He's looked good in this tournament so far, however, and I have a sneaking suspicion he may break Karlovic's serve early and win easily as the match unravels from there. If Karlovic can continue to hold service like he has, however, he should be able to win the match with one or two break points.

Dinara Safina (left) is the #1 player in the world but has yet to win a Grand Slam. Will an in-form Amelie Mauresmo (right) extend her wait another few months?
2) World #1 Dinara Safina has made it into the second week of Wimbledon for the first time in her career having bowed out in the third round or earlier for the past six years. Her opponent today will be Amelie Mauresmo, currently ranked #17 and winner of Wimbledon in 2006. Mauresmo has been this far at Wimbledon four times in the past, with two semifinal appearances to go along with her champion effort in '06. Dinara Safina has played well so far having yet to drop a set or been forced in to a tie break situation. Mauresmo struggled a bit in the first round, but from there has been nearly as good as her top seeded counterpart.

One aspect where Safina has done better is in her first serve percentage and double faults. Mauresmo has double faulted on 20 of 209 of her serves (9.6%) while Safina has only failed to bring the ball into play on 11 of 197 serves (5.6%). Mauresmo does have a slightly more powerful serve than Safina, however, and has recorded 25 aces in the tournament to 11 for Safina. Head to head Mauresmo holds the advantage having won 4 matches and lost 2 over the years with Safina taking their most recent encounter in 2008 on the hard courts in Moscow. On grass courts this year Mauresmo defeated #7 Vera Zvonareva at Eastbourne prior to this event and Safina made a run through a series of top 75 ranked opponents at 'S-Hertogenbosch before losing to #47 Tamarine Tanasugarn.

Well, I think I played pretty good match. I was really ‑‑ a little bit I got tight in the first set because it was a little bit close. Like she had set point in the first set. But once I had set behind, I think I played much better in the second set.
---Dinara Safina regarding her play in round 3

Dinara Safina is ranked #1 in the world for a reason and that reason is that wherever the tournament, on whatever surface, one finds her there amongst the last remaining. She is a very skilled player, but she has yet to win a Grand Slam title and has had problems in the past performing under pressure. In an interview after her third round match against Kirsten Flipkens Safina mentioned feeling the pressure and not having fun and playing well until she had taken the first set. I think Mauresmo is finding the form that saw her through to the semifinals three years in a row from 2004 to 2006 and if she can break Safina's serve early will be able to take advantage of Safina's stiff play. On the other hand, if Safina breaks Mauresmo early I think Mauresmo will remain calm and still have a chance to win.

England played Germany to a 1-1 draw with a drastically different side than the one that saw them through to the final. They'll have to make do without Joe Hart, Agbonlahor, and Frazier Campbell once again.
5) Germany and England are set to clash in Malmo for the UEFA Under-21 Championship. The two sides have met once already in this tournament in the Group stage with the result being a 1-1 draw. That match was played after England had secured their place in the semifinals and coach Stuart Pearce had made a number of changes to the Starting XI. Pearce will have to fiddle around with those eleven for this championship match as well with bookings in their semifinal against Sweden leading to the suspensions of Frazier Campbell, Gabriel Agbonlahor, and keeper Joe Hart for this match. England tried to appeal the booking of Hart for unsportsmanlike behavior during the penalty shootout with Sweden, but the appeal has been rejected. Pearce will not say whether Scott Loach or Joe Lewis will get the start against Germany, but either keeper would be a decent replacement. Germany will be without Ashkan Dejagah who is suspended, while Marko Marin may also miss due to the injury he sustained against Italy in the semifinals.
Success is not coming away as a gallant loser. We feel we have had no success yet. The only way we will deem to have success is if we win.
---Stuart Pearce, England U-21 head coach

UEFA.com features the best coverage of the match. Theo Walcott looks to feature in a central attack role with Campbell and Agbonlahor out. It is a position he was not entirely unfamiliar with, though Arsene Wenger did not generally place him in the lead strike position at Arsenal. England is the more talented team and even with Agbonlahor and Campbell out they still have extremely talented players like Micah Richards and James Milner available. I think the loss of Joe Hart in goal may prove to be a costly one, however, as he is much more capable of defending the net in a penalty shootout should the match come down to it. Additionally, Pearce is forced to move players out of position up front and while this is not always a detriment it can hamper efficiency and may well be the difference between a well played cross leading to a goal and a late cross being cleared out. As long as Germany can defend strongly on England's set pieces I think they will emerge victorious.
This final will be a completely open game. The English have a few suspended players, but we don't really care about that.
---Germany's Andreas Beck

England (probable, 4-1-4-1): Loach (Watford); Cranie (Portsmouth), Richards (Manchester City), Onouha (Manchester City), Gibbs (Arsenal); Muamba (Bolton); Milner (Aston Villa), Cattermole (Wigan), Noble (West Ham), Johnson (Middlesbrough); Walcott (Arsenal)

Germany (probable, 4-4-2): Neuer (Schalke); Beck (Hoffenheim), Howedes (Schalke), Boateng (Hamburg), Boenisch (Werder Bremen); Castro (Bayer Leverkusen), Khedira (Stuttgart), Aogo (Hamburg), Marin (Borussia Moenchengladbach); Wagner (Bayern Munich), Ozil (Werder Bremen)

8) You know, I really hate picking against Tim Lincecum. Not only is he an incredible pitcher but he's also got a certain likableness about him. When you see him walk to the dugout with a grizzled veterans arm about his shoulders you can't help but marvel that this kid is the best pitcher in his league. As for his skill as a pitcher consider he has two complete games in his last three starts and pitched for 8 innings in the third. Over those 26 innings he's given up 4 earned runs from a single homer, 22 hits, and 3 walks while striking out 29 batters. That's a 1.38 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP along with an incredible 9.7 K/BB ratio. Let those numbers sink in for a bit. .... .... .... .... OK, now consider that Lincecum has won all of his starts against the Cardinals and went 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA against them last season.
Keep your eye on the ball Redbirds. Pujols, Duncan, Rasmus, Molina. These are just a few of the Cardinals who need to regain their form from last season.

That's not to say St. Louis has not been able to hit off of or score on Lincecum. Skip Schumaker, Albert Pujols, and Chris Duncan have all batted .333 or better off of Lincecum in their limited plate appearances against him.

The problem is they will need more than a few hits from a few spots in the order to score runs. One major contributor who has been MIA for a while this season is Khalil Greene. Greene is second on the team this month, behind Pujols, in home runs per fly ball, yet his batting average on balls in play is an atrocious .125, he's simply grounding out or fouling out when he bats the ball onto the field. Perhaps fortunatley for St. Louis Greene has been placed on the 15 day disabled list with social anxiety disorder. In his stead the Cardinals will need right handers Brian Barden, Mark DeRosa, and Albert Pujols to step up and send one or two out of the park as that will be the only reliable way to score runs against Lincecum who has yet to give up a home run to a right handed batter. After all, Lincecum has to give up a home run to a righty eventually.

Overall, I think the Cardinals have the offensive power to score 3 or 4 runs on Lincecum. If their lineup played as they did last year they would not be struggling to score, but this is this year and it may be a little too much to expect everyone to break out of a slump at once, and against The Freak. Brad Thompson is filling in for Kyle Lohse and this will be his last start. He's done well in the rotation and has been a solid contact pitcher with a stellar ground ball to fly ball ratio of over 2.50 as a starter. I think Thompson can keep St. Louis in the game, it's only a question of whether St. Louis can score at all. San Francisco has a fairly good bullpen with a 3.45 ERA and 1.37 WHIP overall so if St. Louis struggles to get on base versus Lincecum I would expect them to struggle throughout the game. The Cardinals are a gut instinct pick, and that is all.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

June 28th, 2009 Picks

(skip to picks)2-1-0 today as Stepanek stepped on my streak like the clumsy Ursa he resembles. I'm not one to be discouraged, however, and I took the White Sox today to win by 1 and then Seattle to send the Dodgers to a rare loss at Dodger Stadium. Really quite luckly there. If Brian Wilson had managed to take care of a two run lead I would have had a perfect day yesterday (yes, ignore tennis). A few more good ones on the board, and guess what? U.S.A. is only +600 to win against Brazil. Online polls around the web have U.S.A. garnering quite a few votes. You beat Spain 2-0 and the world listens I suppose. Go Yanks!! And on to the picks.


Radek Stepanek Battles Through Knee Pain To Down Ferrer In Thrilling Five Sets
R. Stepanek def. D. Ferrer 7-5 7-5 3-6 4-6 6-4
There was only the question if they gonna tape my knee and, you know, it's gonna ‑‑ the pain's gonna go away or not. I gave myself, you know, if I'm gonna finish the set, the whole set with the pain, then I'm gonna retire. But slowly the pain was leaving. I was able to play with the tape. It was actually very uncomfortable, but, you know, I was able to play.
---Radek Stepanek about possibly retiring from the match
Apparently the match between Stepanek and Ferrer was pedestrian and hardly worth noticing as it is one of the few gentlemen's singles matches not written about on the day. It was a battle by Stepanek who aggravated his left knee up 6-5 in the first set. His knee is what caused him to retire in Madrid back in May. Well, he fought through the pain and eventually the pain subsided and he held on to take the first set 7-5. He went down 0-3 in the second set and it looked as if he would just not be quick enough to play through, but he managed to find a way back to tie the set at 3-3 and went on to take another set 7-5. He had a little help here as Ferrer double faulted at critical break points, and gave the free points to Stepanek 11 times in all after missing the end line 7 times in the first two rounds combined. Ferrer took the next two sets but in the fifth was unable to duplicate as Radek Stepanek pulled off the win!
Match StatsStepanek Interview (post-match)

Rookie Beckham Earns White Sox Revenge With A Bevy Of Hits, A Walk Off Single
Chicago White Sox 8 - 7 Chicago Cubs
This time it was the White Sox who laughed last in another well fought Windy City War.
``Gordon Beckham singled in the winning run with two outs in the ninth, and Scott Podsednik homered while tying a career high with four hits to lift the Chicago White Sox to an 8-7 victory over the Cubs on Saturday. White Sox starter Mark Buehrle and the Cubs' Ryan Dempster were shaky, but Podsednik was at his best. He drove in three runs while scoring two and just missed a possible triple before flying out in the eighth, when his shot down the right-field line landed about a foot foul. Even so, the White Sox nearly lost thanks to three errors that resulted in three unearned runs."
Read more....Box ScorePhotos

Felix Hernandez Nearly Perfect As Mariners Roll Behind No. 620 For Griffey
Seattle Mariners 5 - 1 Los Angeles Dodgers
``The Seattle Mariners overcame some distressing news from ailing third baseman Adrian Beltre, and evened their interleague series against the Los Angeles Dodgers with another dominating performance by Felix Hernandez. Beltre informed the club that he'll undergo surgery Tuesday in Los Angeles to have bone spurs removed from his troublesome left shoulder, which was operated on in September for the same reason. He's expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks. Hernandez scattered four hits over eight innings, Ken Griffey Jr. and Russell Branyan each hit home runs, and the Mariners beat the Dodgers 5-1 on Saturday night for their eighth victory in 11 games. Hernandez (8-3) allowed an unearned run, struck out nine and walked one. Rafael Furcal reached on an infield hit in the third inning and scored from third when eight-time Gold Glove right fielder Ichiro Suzuki misplayed Casey Blake's sinking liner for his second error of the season. Hernandez retired his next 12 batters and 16 of his final 17 before David Aardsma finished up."
Read more....Box Score

1) Cincinnati Reds @ Cleveland Indians - Cleveland
2) Philadelphia Phillies @ Toronto Blue Jays - Philadelphia
3) Tony Stewart vs. Jimmie Johnson - Johnson has a better finishing position
4) What Will Be The Winning Score At The Travelers: 20 under par or better vs. 19 under par or worse - 20 under or better
5) Chicago Cubs @ Chicago White Sox - White Sox
6) Minnesota Twins @ St. Louis Cardinals - Minnesota
7) United States vs. Brazil - United States wins or loses by 1 goal
8) Colorado Rapids @ Seattle Sounders F.C. - Colorado win or draw
9) Colorado Rockies @ Oakland Athletics - Oakland
10) Sacramento Monarchs @ Detroit Shock - Detroit
11) New York Yankees @ New York Mets - Yankees
12) Seattle Storm @ Los Angeles Sparks - Los Angeles
13) Houston Dynamo @ Los Angeles Galaxy - Houston win


The Cleveland Indians' bullpen continues to struggle so the addition of Asdrubal Cabrera along with a resurgent Grady Sizemore could be the difference between victory and defeat today.
1) The Cleveland Indians are currently in last place in the American League and have split the first two games against in-state opponent Cincinnati. Each team has dominated one of the games with the Indians winning the first 9-2 and the Reds winning the second 7-3. In their respective previous three games the Reds have been performing much better offensively, although the Indians have been the better offensive team over the season. Cincinnati has a .309 batting average and .491 slugging average in those three games, incredible numbers for a team that scores just 36% of their base runners and uses over 3 total bases per run scored. The Indians have been decidedly mediocre in comparison, batting .227 with a .381 slugging average in their last three. Cleveland will hope Grady Sizemore will begin to look like the healthy last season version who hit 33 home runs as he continues his play at the designated hitter position. The Indians will also give a fitness test to Asdrubal Cabrera to see if he can be inserted into the starting rotation for today's game in the spot vacated by the recently traded Mark DeRosa.
Grady Sizemore triples against Ian Snell last week. Sizemore struggled before returning from injury.

Facing Sizemore and Cabrera should make things tougher for Reds starter Micah Owings. Owings will attempt to add another increasingly rare quality start for the Reds' starting rotation after Homer Bailey picked up the win yesterday.

``We didn't start giving up these runs until we started playing these [American League] teams. The AL is built for offense. You might have as good of a hitter hitting ninth as you do hitting leadoff."
---Reds manager Dusty Baker
He'll also want to avoid anything close to resembling his last start against an AL team where he gave up 6 earned runs from 9 hits, including three home runs, in just 52/3 innings to the Toronto Blue Jays. For the Indians, starter David Huff will simply want to avoid a complete let down after pitching an 8 inning shutout gem against the Pittsburgh Pirates in his last start.

I think Owings is capable of shutting down a team like Cleveland if they begin to slump, but in this game he would probably be considered to have done well if he gave up only 3 earned runs in 6 innings. Cleveland will want a significant lead (3 runs at least) down the stretch as their bullpen continues to struggle and Rafael Perez will not be activated until tomorrow. As long as David Huff can keep Cleveland ahead, however, I like their chances against a Reds team that in all likelihood will struggle to score runs if not hit in the very near future.

The United States will miss midfielder Bob Bradley, but are glad Carlos Bocanegra remains healthy. Brazil will start the same side which defeated South Africa 1-0 in the semifinals.
7) The United States will take on defending champions Brazil in the final of the quadrennial Confederations Cup. Brazil already defeated the United States 3-0 in the Group stage, a defeat that looked sure to put the United States out of the semifinals before a 3-0 defeat of Egypt and an 0-3 loss by Italy to Brazil made a 6 goal swing in goal differential to send the United States through. In the semifinals the United States defeated world #1 Spain 2-0 while Brazil tackled South Africa 1-0 in a hard fought match.

Given how dominant Brazil looked in their 3-0 win it would seem the United States have little chance in this match. Of course, given how the United States looked in that match and the one against Italy they had no business playing with Spain either, let alone beating them. Two to nil. A number of previews from the CBC, New York Times, and goal.com can be found through Google. For the most part people expect Brazil to come out victorious and it is only a question of whether the United States can play with enough vigor and ferocity to keep the game close. bluedevils0829 at ESPN put together a fine preview highlighting three keys to the game for the United States.

  1. The spirit and fight has to be there.
  2. Don't give up an early goal.
  3. Attack early.

I agree whole-heartedly with these points and emphasize #1 as the most important. Brazil want the US to attack, they want the field to open up as they know they will be able to use their quickness and skill in dribbling to create danger on the counter attack. They will try and score early to force the U.S. to adopt a more offensive approach. The United States does need to attack, but they need to do so intelligently. They need to have confidence they can score with Landon Donovan playing the link-up midfielder's role and making one solid cross leading to a goal. If they have the fight to give it their all on the defensive end they can afford to focus on the attack and possibly even bring a third man up.

Probable starting lineups from LATimes.com
: GK Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Luisao, Andre Santos; Gilberto Silva, Felipe Melo; Robinho, Kaka, Ramires; Luis Fabiano

USA: GK Tim Howard; Jonathan Spector, Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit, Carlos Bocanegra; Landon Donovan, Ricardo Clark, Benny Feilhaber, Clint Dempsey; Jozy Altidore, Charlie Davies

Soccer is a difficult game to score in so to win by two goals would be a fairly dominating performance. I think the United States is too confident and too hungry to allow themselves to be dominated. Whether they lose 1-0, 2-1, or win 2-1 I think they can keep the game close.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

June 27th, 2009 Picks

(skip to picks)2-0-0 today, Cubs and Jacobs with the TKO in the nick of time. Crazy Cubs game it looks like, and some funny images from it as well. For example, I did not know that compared to Derrek Lee Jamie Fox looks like a grown up Wally from ``Leave It To Beaver". And so on to the picks.


Young Guns Geovany Soto And Jamie Fox Smoke White Sox
Chicago Cubs 5 - 4 Chicago White Sox
Kevin Gregg ended the game with an inside pitch that was called a strike after having been called a ball for the rest of the inning. Marmol had a 54.00 ERA and 12.00 WHIP today while Sean Marshall got twice as many outs as he with a single pitch.
``Dye gave the White Sox a 1-0 lead in the first with his 17th homer. Jim Thome tied it at 2 in the fourth with a solo drive that broke an 0-for-13 slump after Fox -- who had three hits -- hit a two-run drive in the top half. But on a day when the ball was carrying, Soto landed the biggest blow after Fox singled with one out and Mike Fontenot reached on first baseman Paul Konerko's error. Fresh off the revelation that he tested positive for marijuana at the World Baseball Classic Soto, the 2008 Rookie of the Year, drove his seventh homer out to center to help send Contreras to his second straight loss. The Cubs hung on even though Carlos Marmol nearly blew it in the eighth. Jim Thome drove a two-run double off first baseman Derrek Lee's glove and Marmol then intentionally walked Paul Konerko to load the bases again. Sean Marshall came in and pinch hitter A.J. Pierzynski grounded into an inning-ending 3-2-3 double play on the first pitch."
Read more....Box Score

Daniel Jacobs Remains Unbeaten With Win In Tucson
D. Jacobs def. G. Walton by TKO (8th round)
``Like a patient matador, Jacobs (17-0, 15 KOs) picked apart Walton, turning to his vicious uppercut whenever "Blaze" leaned in too close, trying to hit a home run. Tucsonan Bobby Ferrara stopped the fight 1:59 into the eighth round after Jacobs battered Walton against the ropes. Jacobs' TKO victory in front of about 1,800 fans at Desert Diamond Casino continued his steady climb up the middleweight division."
Read more....Round-By-Round

1) Radek Stepanek vs. David Ferrer - Ferrer
2) Tommy Haas vs. Marin Cilic - Cilic
3) Victor Hanescu vs. Gilles Simon - Hanescu
4) Kenny Perry vs. Anthony Kim - Perry cards a lower third round score
5) Philadelphia Phillies @ Toronto Blue Jays - Philadelphia
6) Jason Leffler vs. Joey Logano - Logano has a better finishing position
7) Chicago Cubs @ Chicago White Sox - White Sox
8) Cincinnati Reds @ Cleveland Indians - Cincinnati
9) San Francisco Giants @ Milwaukee Brewers - San Francisco
10) Florida Marlins @ Tampa Bay Rays - Tampa Bay
11) Phoenix Mercury @ Minnesota Lynx - Minnesota
12) Washington Mystics @ Chicago Sky - Chicago
13) Seattle Mariners @ Los Angeles Dodgers - Seattle


Having retired twice since May 10th Radek Stepanek (left) simply hopes he can avoid another injury. David Ferrer (right) is hoping he can step into the semifinals this year.
David Ferrer (current 52 week ATP ranking #21) and #23Radek Stepanek meet in the third round at Wimbledon. Neither played particularly well in the weekends between Roland Garros and this tournament with Ferrer losing in the quarterfinals at 's-Hertogenbosch to #81 Ivan Navarro in straight sets while Stepanek opted out of the grass court circuit to play in a clay tournament in Prostejov, Czech Republic. Stepanek was leading 6-2 1-1 over Pablo Cuevas before he was forced to retire after sustaining an ankle injury. Stepanek has not played an event in the three weeks from then until now and even as late as June 4th reports were that he may miss Wimbledon altogether. The lack of news regarding his ankle suggests to me he has more or less fully recovered, but in a long 5 set match it could become an issue. That he's also had two retirements in a month suggests to me he is pushing his body by playing in Wimbledon.

Head to head Ferrer holds the edge at 3-2 but this will be the first time the two have met on a grass court. Ferrer won their most recent encounter at Roland Garros last year, a back and forth 5 set victory with each player dominating individual sets. Both players have done well to get to the third round though neither has faced anyone ranked higher than #80 to this point. Ferrer has done better of the two, in my opinion, especially in terms of his return game. He has lost only one set so far, to Kevin Kim in the first round, and defeated #66 Fabio Fognini in straight sets in the second round while winning 54% of his receiving points. Stepanek has not played exceptional by any means, but he has played well enough to win. His second round match against #80 Potito Starace went five sets, but it was more due to Starace playing a strong match than Stepanek playing poorly.

Overall, neither player has an overpowering serve in the 130mph range. For Stepanek that is a good thing as he has had trouble historically against powerful services which are always an advantage on grass courts. Stepanek has committed fewer unforced errors in this tournament, though neither player has been error prone thus far. Each player have accumulated a total of 7 double faults through the first two rounds as well. The main area I give the advantage to Ferrer is in his return game where he has been able to dominate his opponents. Stepanek will not be so easy to win receiving points against, but I think Ferrer will convert an extra break point or two and those will be the match deciding games.

Tommy Haas (left) and Marin Cilic (right) gave it their all yesterday to take it to a first to win two consecutive sets match today.
2) Tommy Haas and Marin Cilic had their match suspended yesterday due to darkness all tied at 6 games apiece in the fifth set. It was a thriller of a match by all accounts and these highlightsHighlights and match report here show some terrific plays being made by both men.

With everything tied at 6 games each in the fifth set this match will come down to who can be first to win two consecutive sets. In other words, who will be the first to hold service and break service in consecutive sets. Looking at the match statistics from yesterday one can see that Haas committed fewer errors and was better at getting his first serve into play, but that Cilic won more of his first and second serves overall. Cilic also won a higher proportion of his receiving points and to me that is the single biggest factor in determining who is more likely to break serve. From the percentage of first serves in play and the percentage of first and second serves won Cilic is a bit more likely to win a point on any given serve (67% to 63% for Haas). Overall I like Cilic to win in this short form of the match.

Friday, June 26, 2009

June 26th, 2009 Picks

(skip to picks)3-1-0 today thanks to Venus Williams and the NBA Draft. Vijay Singh's very solid, but not good enough, 4-under 66 was two strokes off the mark to win the prop on Streak for the Cash. Better luck next time Vijay and on to the picks.


Venus Williams Starts Slow Finishes Strong
V. Williams def. K. Bondarenko 6-3 6-2
Venus Williams is a five-time champion at Wimbledon. Let's hope she can finish strong on the tournament as a whole.
``As so many find against Williams, Bondarenko was on the defensive from the outset, saving break point in the first game of the match. But it was not long before Venus made the breakthrough. The five-time Wimbledon champion sent a backhand down the line to bring up two break points for 3-2, and Bondarenko sent a forehand way long for Venus to convert the second. Then at 3-5, a massive return from a weak second serve gave Venus set point. Another huge return wrapped up the set. [Bondarenko] saved break point for 2-4 with a most wonderful dropshot at the end of a 19-stroke rally, only for successive errors to hand over the tamest of breaks. Venus underlined her superiority with the fastest serve of the day, and within 10 minutes she took the victory with her first match point."
Read more....Match StatsWilliams Interview (post-match)

At 5 Under Lucas Glover Remains Four Strokes Off The Lead
L. Glover -5 (65), V. Singh -4 (66)
Vijay Singh and Lucas Glover were neck and neck throughout the first round. Both players killed the back nine with runs of three birdies in a row. Singh had an early lead of one stroke through five holes but he and Glover remained even after nine as the two players alternated birdies on #7, #8, and #9 with Glover carding the extra. Singh made his run of birdies on 11 through 13 to regain a one stroke lead but Glover's run came right after that and they were back to all square through 15. Singh bogeyed to finish out the round one stroke behind the U.S. Open Champion.
Singh's ScorecardGlover's ScorecardPhotosGlover Post-Round InterviewRound 1 Wrap-Up

Griffin, Thabeet, Harden Round Out The Top Three In This Year's NBA Draft
Hasheem Thabeet went second to the Memphis Grizzlies, then Jordan Hill and DeMar DeRozan went #8 and #9 to New York and Toronto to give the PAC-10 two picks in the 6-10 range. (Aside: New York fans are idiots if they're going to boo Jordan Hill because he's not Steph Curry. Sit back and enjoy watching Reggie Miller zero calorie lite and be glad you did not draft him.) Hansbrough went early, before Lawson, at #13 to the Indiana Pacers. They've got a truly Larry Bird-esque lineup now, except without as much skill and aside from Hansbrough a lot less trash talking. A bunch of teams called dibs on foreign born players not ready to play in the NBA yet with the 20-25 picks, and the Big East, especially Pittsburgh had to wait until the second round to be selected.
Simmons Draft DiaryFord's Draft GradesGoogle Draft Day News Glom

1) Zach Johnson vs. Boo Weekley - Weekley cards a lower front 9 score
2) Tommy Haas vs. Marin Cilic - Haas
3) Anthony Kim vs. Sergio Garcia - Garcia cards a lower second round score
4) Chicago Cubs @ Chicago White Sox - Cubs
5) Kansas City Royals @ Pittsburgh Pirates - Pittsburgh
6) Philadelphia Phillies @ Toronto Blue Jays - Philadelphia
7) Indiana Fever @ New York Liberty - New York
8) San Francisco Giants @ Milwaukee Brewers - Milwaukee
9) Minnesota Twins @ St. Louis Cardinals - Minnesota
10) Colorado Rockies @ Oakland Athletics - Colorado
11) Daniel Jacobs vs. George Walton - 8 rounds or fewer


Marin Cilic (right) had to battle past smash server Sam Querrey in five sets while Haas (left) simply had to wait for Michael Llodra to crash into something.
2) 31 year old Tommy Haas will meet young up and comer Marin Cilic in the third round of Wimbledon this afternoon. The two have had very different routes into the third round so far. Haas had some trouble with a strong serving Alexander Peya (ATP 52 week rank #197) losing the first set tie break before taking the tie break in the second set 7-0 and winning the next two sets comfortably. Haas' second round match was cut short when his opponent, Michael Llodra, collided with a ball boy, the umpire's chair, or both, and was forced to retire in the first set. Cilic won his first round match against Alberto Martin handily in straight sets 6-3 6-4 6-4 before being taken to the limit by #47 Sam Querrey.

Cilic may have been worked harder so far this tournament, but it is still early going and I would not expect any player who has made it this far to be significantly drained from even a pair of five set 3 hour marathons. Of the two Tommy Haas has played much better recently, and on grass courts especially. Looking at their playing activity this year one can see Haas has defeated the likes of Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic while taking Roger Federer to five sets all in the past two weeks. Based on that it would seem smart to take Haas, but I can see the big serve of Cilic giving him trouble, just like Peya's did in the first round. I also think he will be less prepared for the match having played only 7 games in the second round. This is very close and I think it will come down to whether Cilic can play fundamentally sound enough to play a good return game. I think Haas will break Cilic's serve more than once and Cilic will need to do the same to win this match. Of course, if you want some reassurance in picking Cilic keep in mind that Haas lost for the first time this year to another 6'6" player with a big serve, Sam Querrey, and is only 1-4 against 6'10" Ivo Karlovic.