Odds On Most Any Matchup: 5dimesSkyBetBetFairBetUS

And So It Goes....

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

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

June 14th, 2009 Picks

(skip recaps)0-2-0 today, thanks to Cal State-Failing Titanically and the prowess of Antonio Bastardo linking up with the Red Sox. Well, that's just fine because I'm eating Coco Puffs and celebrating the official recognition by IUPAC of `Element 112'. Of course, until they can figure out how to create trillions of these bad boys at a time (at the very least) it'll continue to be a news story with some interesting applications to particle physics and little utility to the rest of us.


With Two Outs Razorbacks Cut Titans Down To Size
Arkansas Razorbacks 10 - 6 Cal State-Fullerton Titans
The Titans' offense could only scratch out a few runs here and there against Arkansas' Dallas Keuchel.
``Home runs by Zack Cox and Andy Wilkins keyed an early offensive outburst by Arkansas, and Razorback starter Dallas Keuchel threw six solid innings to lead the Hogs to a 10-6 victory over Cal State Fullerton in the opening game of the 2009 College World Series. ... Tschepikow led off the third with a single and came home when Cox blasted a two-out home run deep into the right field bleachers for a 4-0 lead. ... The Razorbacks chased Ramirez with more two-out magic in the fourth. Fullerton coach Dave Serrano lifted Ramirez, and brought in Tyler Pill, who was greeted with a two-run single by Lyons to make it 6-2. Wilkins followed with a back-breaking three-run blast to right to make it 9-2."
Read more....Box ScoreQuotes And Notes

Rain Delays Inevitable As Sox Put Philly In The Red
Boston Red Sox 11 - 6 Philadelphia Phillies
Remember ``Wings"? Antonio's life was comically tragic in that show. Here, Antonio's life is not so comic. After throwing fewer than half his pitches for strikes and giving up 5 runs it's just tragic. And his last name isn't Scarpacci.
``Jason Bay and Jacoby Ellsbury homered, Julio Lugo had four hits, and the Boston Red Sox overcame another shaky outing by Matsuzaka to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 11-6 on Saturday night. Phillies starter Antonio Bastardo (2-1) issued three walks and Philadelphia made three errors in the first. Bay hit a long drive out to left-center for his 17th homer. With two runners on, Lugo lined a two-out single to center that skipped past Victorino. Both runners scored to put the Red Sox up 5-0."
Read more....Box Score

1) Iraq vs. South Africa - 2 goals or fewer
2) Who Will Win The St. Jude's Classic: Brian Gay vs. Any Other Player - Gay
3) New York Mets @ New York Yankees - N.Y. Yankees
4) Detroit Tigers @ Pittsburgh Pirates - Detroit
5) Arizona State vs. North Carolina - Arizona State
6) Jimmie Johnson vs. Tony Stewart - Johnson has a better finishing position
7) Chicago White Sox @ Milwaukee Brewers - Chicago
8) Spain vs. New Zealand - 4 goals or more
9) Seattle Mariners @ Colorado Rockies - Colorado
10) Houston Astros @ Arizona Diamondbacks - Arizona
11) Southern Miss vs. Texas - 10 runs or fewer
12) Los Angeles Lakers @ Orlando Magic - Los Angeles
13) St. Louis Cardinals @ Cleveland Indians - Cleveland
14) The Result Of Albert Pujols' 3rd Plate Appearance: Hit/Walk vs. Other - Other
15) Final Basket Of Game 6 Of The NBA Finals: 2PFG vs. 3PFG/FT - 3PFG/FT


South Africa hosts the Confederation Cup ahead of the World Cup in 2010.
Iraq won the Asian Cup in 2007 but still has much to prove to the world.
1) When Iraq takes the pitch at converted Ellis Park to face hosts South Africa it will be as defending Asian Cup champions, which they won in 2007. Unfortunately, they have not been able to further that success as they have been eliminated from World Cup qualification after going 2-1-3 (W-D-L) in their round three group. Only one of their 6 matches had 3 or more goals scored, a 2-1 away win over China. South Africa have qualified for the World Cup automatically as the host country, but would have been eliminated from contention in round 2 of the Confederation of Africa qualifying as they went 2-1-3 in their group with Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Equatorial Guinea. Only one of their six matches had 3 or more goals scored, a 4-1 home win over Equatorial Guinea. Looking at the table below shows the results of each sides last 5 matches, international friendlies but one Gulf Cup match for Iraq, a competition they failed to advance past the Group Stage in as well.
Recent Form
South AfricaIraq
Poland (1:0)Poland (1:1)
Portugal (0:2)Qatar (0:1)
Norway (2:1)South Korea (1:2)
Chile (0:2)Saudi Arabia (0:0)
Cameroon (3:2)Kuwait (1:1)
Most matches took place at neutral sites
FIFA has a decent preview of the match, with thinks to other tidibits of information. They don't offer much in the way of predicting the outcome, however. I thought the quotations selected for each coach were interesting.
``We have three games and if we win against Iraq, we will have a lot of confidence. That is what we are aiming at," ---South Africa coach Joel Santana

``We have tried our best to prepare the team for the FIFA Confederations Cup despite the short period that we had. Our team have good players who are skilful, and I'm really optimistic that we can deliver good performances in the tournament," ---Iraq coach Bora Milutinovic

Odds for this match have South Africa as a heavy favorite to win with a low scoring match being the money favorite. SkyBet has under 2.5 goals at 8/11 (-135) with over 2.5 goals at even (+100) odds. I don't see either of these sides fielding particularly potent offenses and would not be surprised to see a 1-0 South Africa win or 1-1 draw.

2009 PGA Tour Results
PlayerTo Par
Brian Gay-14
Bryce Molder-13
Robert Allenby-11
Paul Goydos-10
Heath Slocum-9
Vaughn Taylor-9
Woody Austin-9
Click players' names to see their results in 2009
2) Brian Gay is now 18 holes of solid golf away from his second tour win in as many months and his first since winning by 10 strokes at the Verizon Heritage. With a victory he would earn a spot at the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black next weekend. A quick look at the leaderboard shows Gay with a one stroke lead after having led each of the previous three rounds. His closest competitor is Bryce Molder, followed by Robert Allenby, Paul Goydos, and three others five strokes back. Of those top seven Gay is the only one to have won an event on the Tour this season, with Goydos, Slocum, and Allenby the only players with one top five finish this year.

Brian Gay has been the most successful golfer of the group including himself and those chasing him and a big part of that success has been his ability to get himself out of tough spots. He had to scramble to save par on a number of holes to maintain his lead in the 3rd round, as he talks about in this interview yesterday. Bryce Molder is the player with the best shot in that he has the least ground to make up. He was an all-star golfer in college and overcame a number of congenital defects, such as being born with no left pectoral muscle, to get where he is today. Of the group within 5 strokes of the lead Brian Gay is also the best performer in the fourth round. He is the only one in the group whose final round score is better than his score the first three rounds on average in 2009.

▐▀▌▐▀▌▐▀▌Click On The Image Below To Track The Top Three Groups ▌▀▐▌▀▐▌▀▐

4) The Detroit Tigers wrap up a three game Interleague series with the Pittsburgh Pirates today at PNC Park. The main sideline for the Tigers in this game is the play of Dontrelle Willis and how he'll do in his first at bat in over a year. For his career Willis is batting .234, with a .359 slugging average which would make him a very strong presence at the bottom of the order.

Dontrelle Willis throws out Podsednik from the ground in a game this season.
``I hope he pitches well because I want to see him hit." said Tigers manager Jim Leyland about Willis' upcoming National League start. And there lies the problem. Nobody wants to see Willis take just one at bat, he will probably need two or three to get that RBI extra base hit. To do that he will need to pitch a solid game and that has been a problem for him. Nearly two weeks ago he lasted only 21/3 innings against the Red Sox. He started out strong, but proceeded to walk in two runs on his way to giving up 5 earned runs off of zero hits. That's right, Willis allowed the Red Sox zero hits but still walked in a couple of runs, left the bases loaded when he came out, and had all three of those runners score. He's been difficult to hit off of when he gets his pitches in the strike zone, but his location has been awful all season for the most part. The one notable exception was a little gem he threw against the Texas Rangers back in May, shutting them out for 61/3 innings and allowing only one hit while walking only 2 batters. It's hard to say why Dontrelle has such a hard time staying under control, but when he does he is a terrific pitcher.

Starting opposite Willis will be Ross Ohlendorf. Ohlendorf has been up and down this season, though not to the extremes Willis has, on his way to recording a 4.82 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. His last couple of starts have been difficult for him, a 6 inning effort against the Braves with a game ERA of 4.50 and a 41/3 inning outing against the Mets with a game ERA of 10.38. He'll be facing a Tigers team who have struggled to score lately, with only 7 runs in their last three games. They are batting around their season average of .259 in that time, and have a .450 slugging average in those games so they are getting the hits, but have been unable to string them together, have had poor luck hitting into double plays, and have exercised some questionable base running in those games.

Either Dontrelle Willis will have to keep from losing it mid-way through or the Tigers will have to see a major resurgence in their offense.
Ohlendorf has yielded 11 home runs in 71 innings this season so there is a decent chance the Tigers will put some runs on the board with a homer, but if they cannot put men on base in front of that it will do them little good.

Pittsburgh is in the same boat, only their lack of scoring this season has stemmed from a lack of power in the batting order. They have had some breakout games in that department, including their game yesterday which saw two of their league trailing 36 home runs this season, but overall it is not something they can depend on. The Pirates are 11-24 this season when they do not hit a home run and Willis is not big on giving up homers with fewer than one every 8 innings pitched this season. What the Pirates can do is scratch out runs. They will need to continue batting near .300 as they have for their past three games. If they do that and Willis continues his trend of losing control in the middle of games and walking men on base it could get ugly very quickly for Detroit. Overall the Pirates have the stronger bullpen, especially when it comes to giving up home runs. Detroit should still be able to score off the Pirates' bullpen, but a major run would not be expected. Overall, I don't see Pittsburgh repeating their power hitting performance from yesterday, and would set 10 hits as a high mark for them in this game. Their biggest chance for victory lies in a Willis meltdown or a big hit off the Tigers' bullpen. Those things are certainly not unlikely to happen so I would not feel too nervous about picking the Pirates today. If Willis does not meltdown however, I would not give Pittsburgh a snowball's chance in hell.

7) It's funny, the main storylines for both the White Sox and the Brewers today revolve around pitchers in their bullpens. For the Brewers it is relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman's proximity to a 27 year old franchise record. He has pitched 18 scoreless innings so far this season and would break the record with his 19th today. For the White Sox it is the new addition of 2007 draft pick Aaron Poreda who pitched his first Major league effort on Friday, going for 22/3 innings while allowing only one hit. Unfortunately for both pitchers they were brought in facing 7 run deficits. That both games in this Interleague series between the Brewers and White Sox have become blowouts belies the fact that today's game has all the makings of a bullpen duel, though perhaps only after the starting pitchers give up more than their fair share of runs.

Both teams have talented bullpens, but will their performance even matter? Only if Looper or Buehrle, or both, continue their shaky ways.

Chicago will start Mark Buehrle today, easily their most dependable starter all season long. Even the steady Buehrle has been having some trouble lately, however. In his last start, against Detroit, he gave up 5 earned runs from 4 hits in 61/3 innings while walking an unusually high 4 batters. In the game before that he pitched decently against Oakland, going for 8 innings but still giving up 4 earned runs, and the White Sox lost badly as they could not generate a single run in support. He's been strong enough that it's hard to imagine he'll have the same trouble throwing strikes, but two such games in a row is already unlikely yet it's happened. Fortunately for Buehrle the Brewers appear to be headed into an epic slump. They were dominated by Jose Contreras who had just returned from a stint in the minors after an awful start to his season. Sure, he probably managed to improve some wrinkles in his mechanics in the lower pressure environment but Milwaukee surely played their part.

On the other side is Braden Looper. He has been called an innings eater, meaning he has the ability to go deep into games, saving the bullpens. That won't be necessary for a talented Brewers' bullpen that is itching at a chance to show their stuff. Looper has given up 12 home runs in 68 innings, or one every 5 or 6 innings, so he might get chased off early. Ideally he would be worked deep into the count by White Sox batters hitting foul, letting the bullpen in early without giving up runs, but the White Sox are actually hitting well in their past three games with a .414 slugging average resulting in 1.57 total bases per hit, or a double every other hit or so. To me that suggests runs will be scored by the White Sox.

Overall I think Buerhle has a better chance of limiting runs by the opposition. If he walks too many batters he could get into trouble, and the Brewers are certainly good at drawing bases on balls, but I'm counting on him throwing an overabundance of strikes. If Poreda can work his magic and Dotel can get back on track I favor the White Sox to hold on to a lead down the stretch and win this game.

Arizona will try and provide young Billy Buckner with some run support today, though they may not need it.
10) When it comes to records the biggest of the day has to be the Houston Astros' Ivan Rodriguez who is in line to catch his 2225th career game, which would put him one behind all-time leader Carlton Fisk. It may not imply much towards how the Astros will perform in this game, but with over 100 years of history an all-time record is fairly significant. Despite Miguel Tejada (2000th hit) and Lance Berkman (300th home run) passing major milestones during their current series against the Diamondbacks the Astros are batting a woeful .202 with a .312 slugging average in their past three games, thanks in large part to a 2 hit game against Dan Haren on Friday.

The Astros will face rookie pitcher Billy Buckner who has performed tremendously at the AAA level for the past couple of years, but has been ridiculously up and downARI 4 - 9 SF
ARI 3 - 2 LAD
in the Majors this year. In his last start he gave up 8 earned runs off of 13 hits and failed to make it out of the 6th inning, yet in his previous start he shutout the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium for 6 innings, allowing only 4 hits. Houston will start Brian Moehler who has posted a 6.95 ERA and 1.73 WHIP this season through 44 innings this season. In his last start, against the Cubs, he gave up 5 earned runs from 8 hits and only made it through the 3rd inning.

Ivan `Pudge' Rodriguez tags out Chicago's Mike Fontenot at home earlier this season.

Overall, I favor Billy Buckner in this matchup as he's shown better stuff this season when he is on. Moehler has had some solid games, but I think Buckner is the better pitcher at this stage in their careers. As great as Ivan Rodriguez's accomplishment and as much as his experience will help defensively he has not been contributing at the plate much lately. He has gone 6-for-31 in June, all singles, for a .194 batting average. I think Arizona's lineup is more likely to click all together with Houston getting spotty bursts leading to players getting on base, but not being batted in for runs. With Houston's bullpen giving up a home run once every 8 or 9 innings I can see Houston giving up a small lead, or falling further behind after the 7th inning and would trust Arizona's relievers with that lead much more.

14) Well, looks like Pujols walked in his first plate appearance in this game.

Albert Pujols' Hits + Walks, game-by-game, from most recent to first game of the season (left-to-right).
His on base percentage (OBP) has dropped off in the month of June, to .352 where it's been above .400 for the season as a whole and over .450 for most of April and May. You can click on the image to get a better look. He had a period of 5 games recently without getting on base more than once from a hit or a walk but in his past 4 games has gotten at least 2 hits or walks combined. I think it's likely he'll get at least 2 hits or walks in this game, and possibly even 4 total which would make hit/walk a very good choice in this prop. In three plate appearances against Cliff Lee (four now) Pujols has a hit and two walks. Assuming Lee is still in the game I think it's very likely for Pujols to reach base, especially if there are men in scoring position though it's doubtful we'll know if that's the case by the time the prop locks. In any case, I think the numbers speak for themselves.
UPDATE: Cliff Lee has pitched a no-hitter through 6 innings and is still under 70 pitches. I think he can keep up the no hitter until at least the 80 pitch mark. So, go with `Any Other Result'.

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