Odds On Most Any Matchup: 5dimesSkyBetBetFairBetUS

And So It Goes....

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

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Friday, June 5, 2009

June 5th, 2009 Picks

I have a slight inkling how Rafael Nadal must have felt after today with an excruciating string of losses leading to my personally going, 1-2-0 today. Started off with a shaky Safina winning her match in straight sets, but 18 games, then bet the wrong way on Randy Johnson and his 300th, and finally managed to end the day on a high note with the Philadelphia Phillies bringing me back to W1.

Dinara Safina Defeats Dominika Cibulkova 6-3 6-3
So close to the domination expected by Safina over Dominika:
``The Russian was nervous and far from her best, but her inexperienced Slovakian opponent did not possess the variety of shots to knock the top seed off her pedestal. Safina will face Svetlana Kuznetsova in a clay-court final for the third time this year, after losing in Stuttgart and winning the title in Rome."
Read more....

Randy Johnson Collects 300th Win Against Nationals
San Francisco Giants 5 - 1 Washington Nationals
Wow, it came down to one pitch on a full count with the bases loaded. A ball and the tying run would have walked home. A strike and the inning was over:
``He [Johnson] left leading 2-1, but nearly wound up with a no-decision. The Nationals loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth before Adam Dunn was called out on strikes with a full count on a knee-high fastball from reliever Brian Wilson. ...although Wilson's strikeout of Dunn was a borderline call disputed by the Nationals slugger."
Johnson pitched a great game, however, and deserved the win. The Giants defense helped out as well:
``After Dukes' hit, Johnson walked Austin Kearns to give the Nationals runners on first and second with none out. But second baseman Emmanuel Burriss thwarted a rally with the defensive play of the game. On a one-hopper that hit the mound, Burriss dived to his right to stab the ball backhanded, then flipped it out of his glove to shortstop Edgar Renteria to start a dazzling double play."
Read more....

Hamels Pitches Complete Game Shutout, Dodgers Fail To Score For Second Time This Season
Philadelphia Phillies 3 - 0 Los Angeles Dodgers
Congratulations to Cole Hamels and the Phillies who won 3-0 at Dodgers Stadium:
``In his first start in Los Angeles since winning the clincher of the NL championship series, Hamels (4-2) threw 97 pitches, retiring 18 of his last 20 batters and allowing only two runners as far as second base -- one of them on defensive indifference in the ninth."
Read more.... Box Score

Picks (Click on bold matchups to scroll directly to their previews)
1) Robin Soderling vs. Fernando Gonzalez - Gonzalez
2) Mike Weir vs. Ben Curtis - Weir cards more birdies on the front 9
3) Florida State vs. Arkansas - Arkansas
4) Jim Furyk vs. Vijay Singh - Furyk cards a lower or identical second round score
5) Ole Miss vs. Virginia - Virginia
6) Shamrock Rovers @ Cork City - Shamrock Rovers win or draw
7) Rice vs. LSU - LSU
8) Tampa Bay Rays @ New York Yankees - New York
9) Kansas City Royals @ Toronto Blue Jays - Kansas City
10) Mike Skinner vs. Ron Hornaday Jr. - Hornaday Jr. has a better finishing position
11) Philadelphia Phillies @ Los Angeles Dodgers - Philadelphia
12) Minnesota Twins @ Seattle Mariners - Minnesota
13) Will Ichiro Suzuki's Hit Streak Reach 28 Games: Yes vs. No - Yes
14) CS Fullerton vs. Louisville - CS Fullerton

1) This half of the bracket was supposed to bring a highly anticipated Rafael Nadal vs. Andy Murray matchup, or at the very least Nadal who had never lost at Roland Garros through some 40 odd matches. Fernando Gonzalez prevented Murray from making his entry into this round, however, defeating him soundly in 4 sets in the quarterfinals while Soderling pulled off the upset of the year, if not the decade, by defeating #1 ranked Nadal in the fourth round.
Match Stats
1st Serve %59.3%65.9%
1st Serve Won %76.4%82.4%
2nd Serve Win %55.5%67.5%
Receiving Win %42.1%44.3%
Unforced Errors197100
Data through all 5 rounds of play
Those kinds of wins demand attention and the analysts are split over who they expect to come out victorious today, with Gonzalez having the experience and being the better player on paper and Soderling... well, Soderling beat Rafael Nadal. At the French Open! You can read their views by clicking here and selecting a preview.

Looking at the table to the right one can see that, on paper, Gonzalez is a clear choice to come out of this match victorious. He's won over 80% of his first serves and over two-thirds of his second serves, compared to 76% of first serves won and 56% of second serves for Soderling. He's also won a greater proportion of his points receiving (points played with the opponent serving). Those could be attributed to Gonzalez playing an easier draw as he had avoided any player ranked #25 or higher all the way till the quarterfinals where he played #3 Andy Murray. Soderling, on the other hand, has faced players ranked #15 or higher in the past three rounds, including of course a match with #1 Nadal. Where Gonzalez has shown clearly better play then is in his first serves put in play and unforced errors. Soderling has faulted on just over 40% of his services, while Gonzalez has only failed to put his first serve in play 34% of the time. Soderling has also committed nearly 200 errors in this tournament, most coming against Nadal (59) and Ferrer (61). That he won those matches at all is incredible and evidence of his opponents not playing their finest games.

Gonzalez has dominated, losing one set on the way to the semi-finals of the French Open, but will he be good enough to succeed where the King of Clay failed?

I do think Gonzalez will have to be at his absolute best to defeat a supremely confident Soderling, but having just defeated the #3 ranked player in the world in 4 sets, including a 6-0 thumping in one set, his confidence will be riding high as well. Soderling has the more impressive victories of the two. He has the more unimpressive wins up to this point as well as in his straight sets victory over #91 Kevin Kim with two of the sets being decided on tie break. While I feel Soderling is certainly capable of defeating Gonzalez I think Gonzalez would have to play down for that to happen.

4) The Memorial Tournament is hosted by Muirfield Village Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus designed course established in 1974. Both Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk have won this event once in the past, with Furyk taking home the winners' purse in 2002 and Singh in 1997. Since 2002 Singh's best finish was 4th place in 2003 with Furyk topping out with an 8th place finish in 2005.

Vijay Singh will have to shoot better than 75 to have any hope of receiving a paycheck this weekend.
In the 19 rounds they have each played at this event, from 2002 till now, Furyk has carded a lower score 8 times, Singh has carded a lower score 8 times, with the two carding identical scores 3 times. That includes their result from this years first round where Furyk was 8 strokes better and has put himself in second place with a 67 while Singh will be looking to make the cut after his 3-over 75. That would make this Vijay Singh's worst round at Muirfield Village since 2002 while Furyk was one stroke off the 64 he shot in the third round in 2005.
Click here for written descriptions of each hole.
Clearly, Singh will be playing more aggressive in an attempt to guarantee his paycheck from this weekend, but will he be able to outpace Furyk? Well, the greatest stroke change from round to round for either player is 9 strokes by Furyk from the second to the third rounds. A 9 stroke improvement. He regressed back to a 68 in the final round that year, a 4 stroke decline, his worst since 2002. Vijay Singh's greatest improvement since 2002 was 4 strokes, going from a 71 to a 67 after the third round in 2007.

Singh may very well match or better that 4 stroke improvement after shooting a 75, but Furyk has been playing well this year, earning $1.5 million from 11 events this year and it's difficult to see him playing that much worse in the second round.

Sand saves such as this will keep Jim Furyk in the hunt for the lead at The Memorial.
Singh has been recovering from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee and while he seems to be mostly back in full form he has missed four cuts out of 12 events, earning $800,000. While Vijay Singh is one of the best golfers in the world Jim Furyk is right up there and injured or not Furyk has had a much better year on the Tour so far. I do think Furyk will card higher than 67 and Singh will do better than 75, but not by a combined 8 strokes or more.

Cork City hope to recover from a dreadful loss at Drogheda United.

A victory would see Shamrock Rovers move into a tie with Cork City for second place."
Shamrock Rovers visit Turner's Cross, the home ground of Cork City F.C. in a match that could potentially move them into a tie for second place behind Bohemians in the tables. Cork will be looking to rebound from two consecutive losses in league play, one at home to Bohemians and the other away at last place Drogheda United. Shamrock are riding a 5 match undefeated streak with their latest being a 3-1 win away at Dundalk who lie one place above Drogheda. With that recent victory, and having lost only one match on the road this season, Shamrock Rovers are very confident heading into this one.

Both clubs will face some injury concerns, with Cork City having to do without Joe Gamble (Knee), Robert Mezeckis (Achilles), Davin O’Neill (Ankle), Shane Duggan (Ankle), and Cillian Lordan (suspension). Darragh Maguire and Stephen Rice will face late fitness tests for Shamrock Rovers and Sean Webb will be out indefinitely with a back problem. Joe Gamble, regular substitute for the Irish national team and having appeared in 9 matches for Cork is their only major injury and his absence from midfield may disrupt their ability to transition from defense to offense. Shamrock should see Maguire and Rice fit and that will help them tremendously in this match.

“We’ve been very good away from home and have lost only one game on the road so far this season – so going down to Turner’s Cross holds absolutely no fear for us."
---Shamrock Manager Michael O'Neill

Being at Turner's Cross Cork City are the favorites in this match with their odds at 4/5 to 8/11 (-125 to -140) while Shamrock are being given 3/1 odds or worse. Given these clubs' recent form and overall performances this season I really think Shamrock provide a great value as they should be able to pull off a draw if not win outright. In a low scoring contest Cork City may win 1-0 but Shamrock are one of the better offenses in the Irish Premier ranking 3rd overall with 21 goals scored in 15 matches. Yes, it is a low scoring league, so a 1-1 draw seems quite likely.

9) The Kansas City Royals take a trip up north to the Rogers Centre to visit the Toronto Blue Jays, bringing with them a 7 game losing streak, a .149 batting average from their last series, and a .234 slugging average to go along with it. The story of the day, of course, is Zack Greinke extending his streak of innings pitched without giving up a home run while going for his 9th win of the season to tie league leader, Toronto's Roy Halladay.

The Kansas City Royals will attempt to snap their 7 game losing streak today in Toronto.
Greinke hasn't had much success in the past at the Rogers Centre, posting a 1-3 record with a 6.65 ERA during his career. “I haven't really pitched there recently. Last year, I thought I pitched decent, but they got a couple runs in tough situations and it ended up not being good." said Greinke, explaining away his past poor performances against the Blue Jays. Greinke is coming off his worst start of the season, a 7 inning start against the Chicago White Sox in which he gave up 3 earned runs. He had not given up more than 2 earned runs in his previous 10 starts and the performance was still enough to qualify as a quality start though the Royals lost the game 7-4. Greinke struck out 7 batters and walked none. It was his second consecutive game, spanning 16 innings, in which he did not walk a batter.

Facing off against the newly minted ace extraordinaire is hot prospect Ricky Romero. Romero has posted a 5.08 ERA and 1.60 WHIP through 5 starts. He started off the season strong, but has struggled since landing on the disabled list after straining one of his obliques while sneezing. In his last two starts

, against Boston and Baltimore, he's pitched 91/3 innings while giving up 7 earned runs from 17 hits while walking 6 batters.

Greinke will try and mow down the Blue Jays, a somewhat tall order at the Rogers Centre.

Romero can whip a towel to work on his mechanics all day long but he will still have to hope the Royals' remain impotent at bat. At .149 one can't help but expect the Royals to hit semi-decently in this game. If Romero continues to walk batters regularly they may not need all that many hits to score runs, but I expect he'll settle down soon enough. As long as he doesn't sneeze too hard before the game he should pitch a decent game. Given Greinke's track record in Toronto that could spell trouble for the Royals, but I expect the two or three runs Romero gives up will be enough to win this game.

11) The Philadelphia Phillies can thank Cole Hamels for their seventh straight win after he pitched a complete game shut out of the Dodgers, trumping Clayton Kershaw's quality effort. The Dodgers can thankfully count on not having to see Hamels again for a while and look forward to a meeting with 46 year old veteran Jamie Moyer. Moyer has posted a 6.75 ERA and 1.63 WHIP through 10 starts while giving up 14 home runs in only 531/3 innings pitched. Moyer is coming off his best start of the season, against the Washington Nationals where he pitched 6 innings, giving up only 1 earned run from 3 hits. The run came from a Josh Willingham home run. If Moyer's most recent game against the Dodgers is any indication he will not be repeating his performance against the Nationals. Not even close.

Philadelphia seeks their 8th consecutive victory, and Jamie Moyer the 251st of his career.

The one hope Philadelphia fans do have is their teams success against left handed pitchers, left handers like Eric Milton. Milton has been pitching great since having his elbow surgically reconstructed, posting a 3.14 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in his three starts, most recently against the Chicago Cubs against whom he gave up 2 earned runs in 41/3 innings. Over his career he has not been nearly as successful against the Phillies' batting order, however. In 69 at bats against Milton the Phillies have hit 5 home runs, batting .319 with a .638 slugging percentage. Players like Ibañez, Victorino, and Utley are all batting over .300 against lefties in general this season. They will need to provide all the run support they possibly can for Moyer in this game.

Overall I'd have to say the Dodgers look like the better pick, especially considering Milton's success in a limited number of innings so far this season. Milton will probably not be able to reach 100 pitches so the Phillies will get a good long look at the Dodgers' bullpen, but that is probably a worse scenario for them than facing Milton for 7 innings. Milton is pitching even better than he did before the surgery and so a return back to his career averages would seem likely, especially against Philadelphia. If Moyer can pitch even half-way decently tonight and give up at most 4 or 5 earned runs I think Philadelphia has a good chance to win.


  1. KC Royals should be always competitive enough to keep pace with the others. I really like them; they’ve always been my favourite teams in MLB. Just read about them here:

  2. I also agree, I also think the royals will win this game, Greinke should be dominant, but you never know, haha.

  3. Dude, SFTC is melting my brain. I think I'm jinxing myself. I pick Rice, turn on the game 'oh nice, they're winning 4-1.' An hour later they're getting crushed 11-6. I might just flip coins for the rest of the month. Do you see this crazy animal leading for the month??? It's unreal.