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And So It Goes....

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

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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.

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