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And So It Goes....

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

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Friday, June 12, 2009

June 12th, 2009 Picks

(skip recaps)Well, 1-0-0 is all I eked out today with the Nationals coming through in the end. Incredibly an error at the end of a game worked in my favor and a Nationals reliever earned a save. I definitely missed out by passing on Mickelson, Livorno, and the Canadian hurdlers though. But who the fuck cares, right mate? So on to the picks.


Phillips Error Nullfies Zimmerman Gaffe, Biemel Secures His First Save The Season
Washington Nationals 3 - 2 Cincinnati Reds
Phillips' error nullified an earlier one made by Ryan Zimmerman that allowed Gonzalez score from second on an infield single to put the Reds up 1-0.
``With the bases loaded and one out, Ryan Zimmerman bounced a slow grounder to shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who flipped to Phillips to force Alberto Gonzalez. As Anderson Hernandez crossed the plate with the tying run, Phillips threw wildly to first, allowing Guzman to score. The win was the third in 16 games for the Nationals, who left 12 runners on base before the eighth. Julian Tavarez (2-4) pitched two scoreless innings in relief of John Lannan and Joe Biemel got his first save of the year, pitching a scoreless ninth."
Read more....Box Score

1) Brian Gay vs. Charles Howell III - Gay cards a lower front 9 score
2) Phil Mickelson vs. Padraig Harrington - Mickelson cards a lower 2nd round score
3) Minnesota Twins @ Chicago Cubs - Minnesota
4) Los Angeles Spark @ Indiana Fever - Los Angeles
5) New York Mets @ New York Yankees - N.Y. Yankees
6) Boston Red Sox @ Philadelphia Phillies - Philadelphia
7) Pittsburgh Penguins @ Detroit Red Wings - Detroit
8) Goals Scored In 1st Period: 0 or 1 vs. 2 or more - 0 or 1 goal
9) Will Sidney Crosby Have Any Points: No (0) vs. Yes (1 or more) - No (0)
10) Seattle Mariners @ Colorado Rockies - Colorado
11) Phoenix Mercury @ Sacramento Monarchs - Sacramento
12) San Diego Padres @ Los Angeles Angels - San Diego

1) Brian Gay is the leader at The St. Jude Classic after 18 holes. Gay marauded through the front 9 in the afternoon with a 31 even though the conditions were a bit windy as compared with the morning. That 4 under from four birdies and five pars is quite a bit better than Charles Howell III's even par 35 earned through one birdie, a bogey, and seven pars. Historically, neither golfer has been significantly more successful than the other. Gay has two top 5 finishes, once in 2004 (T-5th) and in 2007 (4th). Howell III has only played in this event twice in the last five years before this year, and finished tied for 9th in 2004 and missed the cut in 2008. Of the eight rounds Howell III has played at TPC Southwind in the last five years then he has carded scores under par in 4 of them (50%) while Gay has played 19 rounds in the past five years, carding scores under par in 7 of them (37%). You can compare histograms of their front 9 scores by clicking here.

Brian Gay lines up a putt on #9. Gay had four birdies on the front 9 yesterday afternoon.

Although Brian Gay had a much better first round than did Charles Howell III both golfers are having one of their most successful years on the Tour to date. Comparing Gay's 2009 Tour stats and Howell III's 2009 Tour stats one sees that both have placed well in events this year, with Gay earning around $121,000 per event and Howell III earning around $87,500 per event. Brian Gay is also a bit better statistically in terms of scoring average, sand save percentage, driving accuracy, Greens-In-Regulation percentage, birdie average, and putting average.

``My neck is still tight and sore. I don't know if there's something else going on in there or not. I don't think it's bothering me as far as swinging the club, but just kind of a pain in the neck."
---Brian Gay on how he felt during round 1
Lately, however, Gay has had to deal with a number of minor injuries including soreness in his neck, a rib injury, and back problems. In an interview following the first round Gay said his ribs and back are better but he still has soreness in his neck. Obviously, that did not affect his game too greatly in the first round, but it remains a concern as he continues to play.

With a win at TPC Southwind Brian Gay would qualify for the U.S. Open next weekend, though he may be looking forward to having a weekend off. I think he will approach the following rounds the same as any other and just try and play well and play the same as usual. Charles Howell III is likely to make the cut if he can shoot even par and would make the cut if they culled the field before the start of today's round. He should not be feeling too much pressure to make up ground. Considering Gay's 31 is his best front 9 score at Southwind in the past 5 years it seems likely he will shoot a few strokes worse, a 34 or 35. Howell III, however, is not likely to improve drastically and I see a 2 under 33 as the best he would most likely do and a 34 or 35 as his result. There is no clear favorite here, but with Gay already playing better this weekend and slightly better overall in 2009 I would favor him to win this matchup today.

2) Aside from Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson is quite possibly the best golfer in the world this year.

Mickelson misses a putt but played a solid round overall.
Although his 2 under 68 left him 4 strokes off of the top spot after the first round he already has two Tour wins from 10 events, earning an average of $320,000 from each. His group partner, Padraig Harrington, has not seen nearly the same success, missing the cut in 2 of his last 4 events, and earning a `paltry' $400,000 from 11 PGA Tour events. On the European Tour he has been more successful, earning $380,000 from 6 events and being one of the top 10 players in strokes per round.

Much has been made of the distraction provided Mickelson by his wife's recent breast cancer diagnosis. Mickelson was able to field some questions on that matter in his post-round interview yesterday.

Q. Phil, was this as tough a round of golf as you've ever played with everything that's been going on?
PHIL MICKELSON: ``I thought the pairing I had, playing with Padraig and Cameron was a perfect pairing to make the day lighthearted. We talked about a number of things that were not related to what's been going on, and so it's been really good."
With a great grouping it seems Mickelson will be able to keep focused on golf and having fun, and I think that will make enough of a difference here to ensure he stays 4 strokes in front of Harrington through this round.

3) The Minnesota Twins reopen interleague play with their first trip to Wrigley Field in eight years, so the experience will be a new one for most of the players on their roster. It will be a three game series at Wrigley, over the weekend, with all three games being in the day. Minnesota is a dismal 5-15 in day games this season. Today's game won't be an easy one either, not with Randy Wells pitching for the Cubs.

The Twins go south for a matinee against Randy the Kid.
Wells may have an 0-2 record but his stats this season, pitching-wise at least, eclipse even Carlos Zambrano's. He has a 2.23 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 642/3 innings this season, 26 of them with AAA Iowa, meaning he has pitched even better for the Cubs than he did in the minors. He's coming off one of his lesser starts of the season, a 62/3 inning 7 hit effort in which he gave up 2 earned runs to the Reds. Prior to that he pitched for a full 7 innings against the Braves, allowing only 2 hits, one a home run, his only of the season. His 0-2 record then represents the weakness of Chicago's offense, at least when he's been pitching. The Cubs are 0-2 when Wells is pitching having scored 20 runs in his 6 starts, less than 4 per game with many of those runs coming late in the game.
"It's like, 'Man, you didn't get the win again,' [I'm like] hey, I lived it."
---Randy Wells on the messages he receives after games

His counterpart, Kevin Slowey, has not had the same issues with run support. Although he has a 4.21 ERA and 1.43 WHIP his record is 8-2 making him one of the winningest pitchers in baseball this season. A big part of his success has been the offense Minnesota provides, but another major component has been his excellent command of the strike zone. Through 722/3 innings this season Slowey has walked a total of 9 batters. That his WHIP is still at 1.43 shows he is very hittable, but with a lack of free base runners he is able to keep men from advancing and scoring too often. Of course, when teams hit off of him like Seattle did in his last start - three home runs in 42/3 innings - they are going to score runs. That he got out of that game with only 4 earned runs against is a small miracle.

Despite some amazing stuff Randy Wells is still seeking his first win in seven starts.

Being that Wells throws right and many of the Twins' sluggers bat left I can see Wells giving up 2 or 3 runs in this game. The question then is will Slowey's luck continue to hold in preventing runs by the Cubs or will Fukudome, Soriano, Lee, and the many other potential offensive weapons have a field day? Chicago is batting .248 with a .393 slugging average in their last three games, almost exactly their batting numbers for the season as a whole. Unless they can improve on that I don't see them stringing together enough hits to effectively score runs in this game. Even if Wells does pitch a gem, with 7 shutout innings, I think Minnesota will be able to do some damage against the Cubs relievers such as Marmol, Heilmann, and Gregg. There are so many factors favoring Chicago, playing at Wrigley, the Twins' lack of success in day games, Wells on the mound, etcetera that it's hard to pick against them, but I see Wells as having a bit of a let down today and that will be enough to give the Twins the victory.

6) Two of the best teams in Major League baseball will clash tonight at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Both teams are wrapping up tough stretches in the schedule and both teams have seen success through those stretches. Boston is 8-2 in their last 10 games and just finished up a three game sweep of the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. They will be starting Jon Lester who is coming off a pair of very impressive starts in which he has racked up 23 strikeouts over 15 innings while allowing 2 earned runs from 5 hits. His opponents were no walk overs either, as he shut down Texas at Fenway and Toronto at the Rogers Centre. Joe Blanton, for Philadelphia, has not done so badly himself after a rocky start to the season and is coming off 6 inning, 1 earned run against outing against the Dodgers in L.A. Boston has been hitting the ball better in their past three games, but the Phillies have averaged more total bases per hit overall this season. Lester will be a difficult prospect, but at Citizens Bank Park I favor the Phillies. I also don't think Lester will be striking out 10+ for a third consective game. Finally, Madson should have at least as good a chance of preserving a lead as Brad Lidge who is currently on the disabled list.

9) NHL Playoff hockey already has a reputation for placing a premium value on disciplined, conservative, defensive play. If that is the case then one might expect Game 7 of the Stanley Cup to be the epitome of that style. If previous games between these two are any indication the Penguins will have their work cut out for them. Including the regular season the Penguins have scored 7, 0, 1, 1, 4, 4, 0, and 2 goals in 8 games against Detroit. It was a game in November which saw the Penguins win 7-6 in overtime at Detroit, with Chris Osgood in goal no less. In their other three games at Joe Louis Arena, all in 2009, the Penguins have not scored more than 1 goal. Clicking here one can see Sidney Crosby's point production in all 8 games this season. The shaded areas represent games in Detroit. One can see that the Penguins have scored 19 goals in 8 games against Detroit this season, with Crosby accumulating 6 points (2 goals and 4 assists). That means Crosby has had a hand in less than 1/3 of the Penguins' goals this season. I think Pittsburgh could very well be held to under 3 goals in this game and given these numbers it would seem Crosby is more likely to be shut out in that situation.

12) Well, it's getting on in the day and so I'll just post a quick link to some raw stats. Looking over these stats I'm thinking the Padres are due to have a good game offensively with a large number of extra base hits. I also think Palmer will have to pitch a gem to allow the Angels to win this game. He could, certainly, but the Angels' bullpen may blow it in any case. For a base runs analysis and a link to an explanation of `Base Runs' click here. For a look at pitching stats, timeline of quality starts, links to recent performances, and simple batting and bullpen statistics click here.

UPDATE: Sorry, but it appears the links in these documents are not being converted correctly into flash movies so Adobe Reader will be required to view them.