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And So It Goes....

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

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

July 9th, 2009 Picks

(skip to picks)2-1-1 today, Mark Cavendish simply miscalculated I guess and failed to catch up to the leaders of the breakaway pack, though he did lead the sprinters who were trying to overtake them. So, a three game streak down the drain there. I was far more confident in Rosario Central to get a win or draw but I thought it would be more fun to pick the "More Runs" prop with the Braves and Astros. That one turned out to be kind of a bust with Wandy and Kawakami doing their thing and doing it well. The other pitchers weren't bad either. 5 runs in each game, and a push. Next up was Manny Ramirez in an attempt to get three picks fit in to the evening. A tip, picking to force picks in is never a good strategy, even for the monthly. Often they don't finish early anyways. Ramirez left us hanging for a long while before a last inning home run for the win. Then it was Josh Hamilton, any other result, and as of now it looks like he's just going to be a hole in the batting order tonight. So on to the picks.

Voeckler Holds Off Peloton, Wins 5th Stage Of Tour de France
Thomas Voeckler 4h29'35", Mikhail Ignatiev 4h29'42", Mark Cavendish 4h29'42"
I'll go ahead and put my ignorance of cycling on display here. Mark Cavendish claims the peloton needed just one more rider to make the push to overtake Voeckler. I wonder why he could not just bike faster, earlier, and do it anyways.
``Garmin, Agritubel and Columbia riders led the peloton from 15km to go but the six escapees held onto their advantage: 1’15” 10km from the finish. The first attack from the lead group came from Ignatiev with 6.5km to go. He was chased down and then, at the 5km mark Voeckler launched what ultimately became the winning move. He had a lead of 10” with 1,000 to go and arrived at the line with tears in his eyes. His victory is the second in the Tour de France for BBox Bouygues Telecom team and it came on the day of Jean-Rene Bernaudeau’s 53rd birthday. Ignatiev also held off the peloton finishing just ahead of Cavendish (THR) who led the bunch home. For a guy who has won two stages of the Tour de France already this year, Mark Cavendish doesn’t seem like a happy chap. He pouts he way through the post-race interview and seems to relish the chance to blame other teams for their lack of commitment. He increased his lead in the race for the green jersey but, after finishing third, lamented a missed opportunity afterwards…. `With a headwind it was always going to slow down. You’re limited to what you can do when it’s like that so we needed just one more guy from another team – just one guy from Quickstep perhaps – and maybe we’d have caught the front group. Okay, I won the sprint but I didn’t win the stage. But it’s absolutely nice to keep the green jersey, it’s a consolation…'"
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Wandy Continues Success At Home With Complete Game Shutout
Houston Astros 5 - 0 Pittsburgh Pirates
Kawakami And The 'Pen Shut Down Cubs
Atlanta Braves 4 - 1 Chicago Cubs
Wandy Rodriguez got plenty of support from guys like Carlos Lee and had his fastball working the edges of the plate all day.
``Rodriguez (8-6) won his third straight decision. The lefty is only one victory behind his total from last season. He's battled inconsistency in his career but said a game like this helps increase his confidence. Rodriguez gave up a pair singles with one out in the second before retiring the next 10 batters. He didn't allow another hit until Ramon Vazquez singled with two outs in the fifth. Delwyn Young singled with two outs in the ninth before Rodriguez struck out Garrett Jones to end the game. The crowd of more than 29,000 rose to its feet and cheered loudly. `When I [saw] that I had nine strikeouts, I said, 'Hey, I can do two more,'" he said. "So that's what I did.'"
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The Chicago Cubs' hitting woes continued and the Braves' pitching staff took advantage.
``It was just the second time this season Kawakami (5-6) gave up one run or fewer while pitching at least six innings. The run came on a sixth-inning homer by Kosuke Fukudome, whom he played with for nine years with the Chunichi Dragons of Japan's Central League. "He might have taken half of my happiness today," a laughing Kawakami said. The other half of Kawakami's happiness was preserved by shortstop Yunel Escobar, whose spectacular diving grab of a line drive off Fukudome's bat kept Atlanta ahead 2-1 in the eighth. The Cubs then gave away two runs in the ninth -- one on center fielder Fukudome's first error of the year and another on Kevin Gregg's wild pitch -- as fans booed the home team. Kevin Hart (0-1) was the latest Cubs starter done in by the team's offensive shortcomings. Making his first big league start as a fill-in for injured Ryan Dempster, Hart allowed only one run on four hits over five innings."
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Oliver Perez Picks Up Win After Ramirez Solo Shot In 9th
New York Mets 5 - 4 Los Angeles Dodgers (M. Ramirez, 1-for-5, 1 HR)
Manny Ramirez crushed one out to right field in the ninth, but it was too little, too late.
``David Wright snapped an 0-for-17 slump with his first RBI this month. Daniel Murphy doubled twice and made an incredible play at first base, and the Mets ended a four-game skid with their third victory in 12 games. Ramirez hit a leadoff shot to right in the ninth inning off Francisco Rodriguez, making it 5-4. The All-Star closer walked his next batter, but got Andre Ethier to ground into a game-ending double play with two on for his 22nd save in 25 chances. Ramirez, who stranded two runners with a sixth-inning groundout against Bobby Parnell, is 4 for 16 (.250) with two home runs and five RBIs since returning to the lineup."
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Andruw Jones Breaks Out The Big Bat, Smashes Angels With Three Home Runs
Texas Rangers 8 - 1 Los Angeles Angels
Aside from the four runs scored on three homers by Andruw Jones Texas also got three more from home runs by Chris Byrd and Tyler Teagarden.
``Vicente Padilla (7-4) struck out four and gave up one run in six-plus innings before leaving the game because of a bruised right palm. Pitching on eight days rest, Padilla gave up seven hits against the short-handed Angels, who were missing center fielder Torii Hunter and slugger Vladimir Guerrero because of injuries. The Rangers got to Angels starter Ervin Santana early, with Jones hitting home runs off him in the first and third, the latter sailing over the left field pole to give Texas a 4-0 lead. The oft injured Santana -- he's had two DL stints this season -- has failed to show the All-Star form of 2008 when he won 16 games. He had trouble in every inning but the second and allowed Omar Vizquel to score in the third on a wild pitch. Santana (1-5) then gave up the homer to Jones, a first-pitch hit that was driven over the left center field wall into the grassy knoll alongside the rocks in center field."
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1) Charley Hoffman vs. Daniel Chopra - Chopra cards a lower or equal front 9 score
2) Toronto Blue Jays @ Tampa Bay Rays - Tampa Bay
3) New York Yankees @ Minnesota Twins - Minnesota
4) Total Strokes Taken By Kenny Perry On Par 3 Holes: 11 or fewer vs. 12 or more - 12 or more
5) Randers F.C. @ Linfield - Randers F.C. win
6) How Many Hits, Runs, And Errors Will Be Recorded (Reds @ Phillies): 26 or fewer vs. 27 or more - 27 or more
7) Boston Red Sox @ Kansas City Royals - Boston wins by 3 runs or more
8) Washington Nationals @ Houston Astros - Houston
9) Atlanta Braves @ Colorado Rockies - Colorado
10) Nicole Powell vs. Sue Bird - Bird pts.
11) Florida Marlins @ Arizona Diamondbacks - Arizona
12) Josh Geer hits allowed vs. Tim Lincecum strikeouts - Lincecum strikeouts

2) Aided by a walk off home run and an walk off single in the first two games of this series the Tampa Bay Rays could complete a three game sweep of the fourth place Toronto Blue Jays today. Of course, that would mean coming out victorious over a potential AL all-star team starter Roy Halladay. Sure, Halladay has had somewhat of a rough time since coming back from a groin injury. He's 0-1 with a 4.85 ERA and 1.46 WHIP in his two starts during that time, including a game against the Yankees where he gave up three home runs and five earned runs while walking three batters. There's also the trade rumors swirling around Halladay after general manager J.P. Ricciardi stated Toronto would listen to the right kind of offer for him. Halladay is a seasoned veteran, however, a Cy Young winner, and six-time all-star, so I can easily see him coming back strong for this game.

Tampa Bay could complete a sweep of Toronto today, as long as David Price can find the strike zone.

Tampa Bay isn't a team Halladay has been dominating over through his career though. He's 11-8 against them with a 4.85 ERA, and 7-4 with a 3.82 ERA against the Rays over the past three seasons, great numbers but not his best. His first game back from injury was against Tampa Bay, one of his two losses of the season as he gave up two earned runs himself and the Blue Birds could only muster a single run in support against Jeff Niemann. Halladay will be focused entirely on his own performance, but for the Blue Jays' sake they will have to hope Tampa Bay's output last night, 10 runs and 17 hits, was not indicative of an overall resurgence in offense. In their last three games the Rays are batting only .231 with a .346 slugging average. Over the season their numbers are comparable to Toronto's, .273 batting and .437 slugging, so I'm inclined to think they will be able to scratch out at least a couple of runs against Halladay and the Jays' pen.

For Tampa Bay I think the main concern is not their offense, but rather how David Price will perform. Price is a highly touted rookie with a great arm, but he's been having issues with his control lately. He's already walked 30 batters this season in only 38 innings. In his last start he managed to last only 11/3 innings, walking five and giving up six earned runs to the Texas Rangers. Obviously, he'll need to do better than that and if he can manage to find the strike zone he'll be a very difficult pitcher for Toronto to score against.

The Rays' bullpen is strong, with a 3.36 ERA and 1.25 WHIP overall this season so even if Price is unable to go deep into the game I think Tampa Bay will have a chance to win. Unfortunately, if Cito Gaston determines to leave Price in through a brutal first couple of innings the Rays may find themselves down by too much to do anything against. Toronto always has a chance to win the game with Halladay on the mound and if he goes for a full 9 innings their chances will be even better. I feel like Tampa Bay has an even better chance of winning at home though, as long as Price throws a decent game, and can limit the Blue Jays to 3 or even 4 runs through 6 innings.

The John Deere Classic kicks off today. Can Kenny Perry repeat his championship performance from last year?
4) Kenny Perry won this event last year on the Tour with 16-under par through 72 holes, and a par on the first playoff hole. In that first place finish Perry carded scores of 11, 13, 12, and 13 on the four par 3's. He shot a 65 in the first round when he managed to end up 1-under on the par 3's and never repeated the feat. His only other appearance at TPC Deere Run was the year before where he finished in 11th place with a 12-under par through 72 holes. That's a pretty good score, and yet he did not get a single birdie on a par 3 that year, bogeying each hole except the 16th once and scoring par on the rest. His scores on the par 3's that year were 13, 12, 13, and 13. Really, it's difficult to birdie a par 3 as it requires a tee shot that places the ball close to the hole or making a long putt and if the tee shot is off a player is suddenly scrambling just to make par, requiring a chip shot to put the ball within 10 feet of the hole usually. Yes, Perry's putting average has decreased by about 1/20 of a stroke, but over four holes it is not a tremendous improvement and considering he's more likely to need to improve two strokes, from 13 to 11, to end -1 on the par 3's I think 12 strokes or more is a better choice.

5) This is the second leg of a Europa League qualifying round tie, being played at Mourneview Park in Northern Ireland. Linfield qualified for the Europa League due to their second place finish in the Northern Ireland Premier. Randers F.C. finished 5th in the SAS Ligaen but earned a spot in the qualifying round due to UEFA's Fair Play rules which reward domestic leagues for good sportsmanship, respect for their opponents, and discipline. Randers F.C. are currently up 4-0 after Linfield put up a good effort to go down 1-0 at the half. Randers F.C. took a 2-0 lead early in the second half and added salt to the wound with two late goals for the 4-0 win to nearly assure their advancement through the tournament.
Randers F.C. players celebrate during their 4-0 thumping of Linfield in Denmark.

One might assume Randers F.C. to take their foot off the gas with such a commanding lead and the domestic season ready to start on July 19th. I'm looking through the Danish news for verification of this, but one thing is for sure Georgian side F.C. Zestafoni had no qualms about taking it to Lisburn Distillery in their second leg, as they were up 4-0 last time I checked and 9-1 in aggregate. I believe I found some news claiming Randers had four players who were unable to obtain visas for Northern Ireland and so could not travel with the team. In any case Randers should field the superior side even without most of their regular Starting XI as they are professional football players and Linfield's squad plays only part-time. In terms of quality in domestic play Denmark ranks 19th among UEFA nations while Northern Ireland is ranked 46th. Some nations ranked ahead of Northern Ireland include, in no particular order, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Azerbaijan, and Albania with Faroe Islands not far behind. The odds from SkyBet on this match have Linfield at +330, a draw at +240, and Randers F.C. to win at -135 so that overall the win or draw is given a 47.8% chance. I'll take Randers F.C. to continue to dominate over the semi-pro Linfield side.

6) Throughout the season the Reds and Phillies have combined for 17.4 hits per game, 9.4 runs per game, and 0.98 errors per game, which sums to 27.78 hits, runs, and errors, just on average. Will this game be an average game? Looking at the graph on the right the batting numbers are for Cincinnati on the road and Philadelphia at home. The second column in the pitching numbers is for the starters going 6 innings and the bullpen going 3 innings. Both Owings and Moyer are averaging 6.0 innings per start in the past month and they have each averaged 52/3 innings this season. One can see that the batting numbers home and away suggest 26.88 runs, hits, and errors and that the recent pitching numbers suggest 28.11 runs, hits, and errors. If one takes the runs from the pitching and the hits from the batting, however, one comes up with 24 to 25 runs, hits, and errors. My reasoning for taking 27 or more is that unless Moyer and Owings both pitch very well tonight it should go over and that if either team is having a good day batting it will go over. There are just too many different scenarios for the over to reliably take 26 or fewer here.