Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, May 18

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, May 18

Will RogersFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Milwaukee vs. St. LouisFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: St. LouisFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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I've cashed the Cardinals multiple times earlier in the week as a free play winner and think Saturday happens to be a good time to jump on them again as they host the Milwaukee Brewers. They took Friday's opener, 7-6, which was their 13th win in 16 games.  Milwaukee is going the other way right now, losing 13 of 15.  This series appears to be a big mismatch.  St. Louis is now 7-1 vs. Milwaukee this year.
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Here are my keys to the game:FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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1.  Lance Lynn - I have to start here. He's 6-1 in his eight starts with a 2.88 ERA.  At home, he's 4-0 with a 2.00 ERA. Since his 1st start of the year, he's allowed more than three runs only one time.  Needless to say, I don't think Brewers starter Marco Estrada will be much match for him. Estrada has an 8.22 ERA his last three starts, though he did win his last.
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2.  Hitting woes - The bottom four hitters in Milwaukee's lineup showed why they are hitting higher in the order Friday night, going a combined 0 for 15 Friday.  Heading into yesterday, the Brewers were averaging just 3.3 runs per game on the road.
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3. X-Factor - The Cardinals seem to have solved their previous bullpen woes somewhat with Edward Mujica having saved all 12 games in 12 opportunities.

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Big Kat SportsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis CardinalsFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Take: St. Louis CardinalsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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In a battle of two teams going in opposite directions, the St Louis Cardinals will look for back to back wins over the Milwaukee Brewers when the two teams meet tonight at Busch Stadium in St Louis. The Cardinals took Game 1 of the series after putting up a 5-spot in the bottom of the first before eventually holding on for the 7-6 victory. Lance Lynn, who will be looking for his seventh win on the season, will be on the hill this evening for the Cardinals. He has been excellent for St. Louis this season, posting a 6-1 record with a 2.88 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. He has been better than that in his last five outings, posting a 1.80 ERA with 37 K’s in 35 innings pitched. Lynn will be opposed by Marco Estrada, who hasn’t pitched nearly as well as his 3-2 record. He has an ERA of 5.32 and is putting people on the bases at an alarming rate, allowing 49 hits and 13 walks in just 45.2 innings pitched. The Cardinals, who have won 13 of their last 16 games, have been excellent in the spot they are in here tonight against the Brewers. They are 16-5 in their last 21 home games when listed as a favorite of -150 to -200 and have won 12 of their last 16 games following a win. They have also been very good with Lynn on the bump against teams with a losing record, winning 17 of 21. The Brewers, who have been a bit of a disappointment in the NL Central this season, have struggled a bit in the situation they are in here this evening. They have lost 32 of their last 44 games on the road when listed as an underdog and have gone just 3-13 in their last 16 games against teams with a winning record. They are also an awful 1-12 in their last 13 games against teams from the NL Central. Pair those numbers with the fact that the Cardinals have gone 26-10 in the last 36 head to head meetings and we’ll lay the price with them at home to get the win and get us back on track here with the Free Plays. Get this one as early as possible because we expect the price to be through the roof as first pitch approaches!!!

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MLB Predictions

Kansas City Royals +126

The reason I like this play is similar to why I took Kansas City last night. Oakland isn't hitting well lately, although they did win last night it was 2-1 with 6 hits. KC's starter Santana is 3-2 with a 2.79 ERA, .250 OBA and 1.10 WHIP. He will be up against Tommy Milone who has been up and down this season. He has given up 4+ earned runs in 4 of his 8 starts and then 2 or fewer in the other 4 (his ERA is 3.71). The A's are 0-5 in Milone's last 5 starts. I had this closer to a pick'em and I think the Royals rebound with a victory tonight.

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Bob Balfe

Cincinnati Reds -110

The Reds have been the better team in this series. Cincinnati is always going to get more hits and have more base runners. The Phillies usually only score so many runs and need flawless games to beat teams that hit the ball well. Take the Reds.

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SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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CLEVELAND -1½ +143 over SeattleFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Joe Saunders seemed to establish himself as a solid mid-rotation pitcher last season with a 4.07 ERA and helping the Orioles get into the playoffs. This year, he's regressed into something awful with a 5.51 ERA, 18BB and 20 K’s in 47.1 IP. On the road, Saunders is 0-4 with an ERA of 12.54 and that’s after facing Oakland, Texas, Houston and Toronto. He gets a difficult assignment against the Indians' robust offense in Cleveland and it’s not likely to end well. Something good is happening for the Indians. The team is contending and that means big crowds. For a team that has not experienced success for years, those big crowds inject energy. The players will come to the park today extremely jacked up after a three-run walk off homer last night to take the opener, 6-3. The Indians have now won two in a row, four of six and 15 of their past 19 ball games.
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We targeted Zach McAllister as a breakout candidate before the season started and he’s paid off handsomely already. McAllister has developed one of the nastiest sliders in the game and he can locate it just about anywhere he wants. McAllister has also been equally as effective against lefties as he has against righties, which is another step to becoming an elite starter. The Indians have won the past three games that McAllister has started and he should get plenty of support here against one of the biggest stiffs in the game in Joe Saunders.
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Kansas City +121 over OAKLANDFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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When Dayton Moore was named general manager in 2006, he quickly put a seven-year plan in place to rebuild the Royals. The farm system (outside of Billy Butler and Alex Gordon, who were in Double-A) was basically starting from scratch. The Royals hadn't been active in the international market. He changed that and became an aggressive big spender in international signings and the draft. Along the way, Moore’s moves offered the Royals gradual progress. Maybe not in wins, but these draft picks eventually developed into major leaguers such as Moustakas and Hosmer. Money spent on international free agents also bore fruit. And trading a Cy Young Award winner in Zack Greinke netted farmhands and young, major league-ready talent: shortstop Alcides Escobar and center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who now anchor the Royals’ defense. However, despite all these efforts, the lack of pitching remained their undoing. All the methods they had used to develop position players simply didn’t yield the elite pitching prospects that often turn struggling teams into contenders. So Moore made some moves. The ball started rolling with last season’s trade deadline and didn’t stop until well into the offseason. In the following order, Moore acquired these pitchers: Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, James Shields and Wade Davis. As for Earvin Santana, though his 2012 numbers (9-13, 5.16 ERA) shouldn't have merited any interest from the Royals, two of Moore’s top evaluators, Jim Fregosi Jr. and Gene Watson, had watched Santana throw during the last two months of the season. Both believed that not only was Santana’s slider back, but he could bounce back all the way to his 2010 and 2011 form when he won a combined 28 games for the Angels. Boy, were they right. Santana is posting the best skills he has shown since 2008. His strikeout rate surge is supported by a 10.6% swinging strike rate. His dominance over right-handed bats is a thing of beauty. Santana has 39 K’s in 48 innings while issuing just six walks. He also has an outstanding 2.79 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP with an xERA of 3.31. There is nothing fluky about Santana’s hot start and he has a great opportunity to thrive again at this park.
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Tommy Milone has made eight starts and has an even 4/4 split in quality starts versus disaster starts. With some glaring weaknesses in his Milone’s profile, most notably a 35%/20%/45% GB/LD/FB split, it’s no mystery as to why Milone is at the mercy of the park conditions when he takes the hill. He does have some upside and some outstanding control but he’s the second best pitcher on the hill today. The A’s offense isn’t as good as either and now we get the benefit of a tag with the better offense and better starter.
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Chicago +118 over L.A. ANGELSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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1st 5 innings. There is no such thing as due to win, which many will apply to Joe Blanton and the Halos today. Truth is, it gets more difficult to win after each passing loss and that’s what Blanton faces today. He also faces a White Sox team that has won five in a row. Blanton is 0-7 with an ERA of 6.46. He’s been tagged for eight jacks in 46 innings to go along with a BAA of .359 and a 1.87 WHIP. Blanton remains as hittable as any pitcher in the business and even Adam Dunn and his feeble bat has five hits in 23 AB’s versus Blanton and two of those hits left the yard. Blanton, pitching for the Angels is a combination to avoid right now while the opposite is true for the South Side and Hector Santiago.
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Last year, Santiago opened the season as Chicago’s surprise closer but too many BBs and HRs ended experiment quickly. He began a new experiment in Sept/Oct, where in four starts (19 IP) he had 26/11 K/BB, 4 ER, and 24/19 GB/FB. Any pitcher with a strikeout rate must be taken serious but Santiago remained a high risk because of those walks. 2013 comes along and Santiago has walked just eight batters the entire season in 32 innings. He has maintained a high strikeout rate with 31. Santiago also has an elite 1.08 WHIP and he hads a much better chance for success here than Blanton. Because this choice is based on the starters, we’ll play it in five innings.

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SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Lucas Martin Matthysse by KO TKO or DQ +110 over Lamont Peterson
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This fight takes place in Atlantic City, at the Boardwalk Hall. The interim WBC light welterweight title is on the line and most experts are having a tough time calling a winner here. We see it differently. Lucas Martin Matthysse is 33-2 with 31 KO’s and both of his losses could have easily been wins. The Argentinian has uncanny power, as his 31 knockouts out of 33 fights can surely attest to. His punches hur even watching them and his boxing ability is underrated, as well. It’s surprising that he is only a 2-1 favorite because he would likely defeat this opponent 9 out of 10 times, suggesting he should be at least an 8-1 favorite.
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Lamont Peterson is in way over his head in here. The man nicknamed “Havoc” was knocked down and lost a wide decision to Timothy Bradley back in Dec. of 2009. He was given a gift win against the now we KNOW” overrated and over-hyped Amir Khan. Victor Ortiz had Peterson down twice in round 3. In his last, Peterson stopped a washed-up Kendall Holt in eight rounds and all we can say about that is “big deal”. Lamont was also recently suspended for substance abuse. Matthysse has his career on the line in this one, and an impressive win here will ensure him some upcoming big-time fights/paydays. This one might not end in the first round, like Lucas’s last fight did, but there is little doubt that he’ll either knock Peterson out cold or it will be a slower/gradual breakdown. Either way, this one isn’t going to make it to the final bell and Peterson is not going to emerge victorious. It’ll be Matthysse who gets the EMPHATIC statement win.

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SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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INDIANA -5 over New YorkFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Pacers only received notice a few hours before tip-off in Game 5 that starting point guard George Hill would have to miss the game due to failing the NBA’s concussion policy. The Pacers certainly had no inkling that this would happen and had to insert D.J. Augustin into the starting line-up on such short notice. George Hill’s status is questionable for this one, although he is scheduled to undergo tests this afternoon in the hopes of playing tonight. Even if he is absent, we feel confident that the Pacers can still soundly defeat the Knicks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
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The Knicks don’t have the greatest point guards to begin with. Even with D.J. Augustin inserted into the starting unit, it is still a wash with the Knicks employing a below-average 3 point-guard rotation of Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, and Jason Kidd. None of the Knicks three points guard would qualify as a top 20 point guard in this league, so having to resort to starting D.J. Augustin in place of George Hill isn’t that much of a nightmare for the Pacers as one would think. This isn’t like the Thunder losing Russell Westbrook. The Pacers still rely mainly on Paul George and Roy Hibbert, with David West proving to be a big factor in this series as well. Hibbert was stymied in Game 5 as he was plagued for most of the game with foul trouble and only ended up playing 31 minutes. With Hibbert off the court for those 17 minutes, the Knicks outscored them by 10 points, which ended up being the difference in the game’s final margin. As long as Hibbert can minimize the foul calls against him here, then the Knicks are in trouble.   
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Meanwhile the media has dubbed Game 5 as J.R. Smith’s “breakout” game. We fail to see how he came anywhere close to having a breakout game. J.R. Miss still shot under 40%, which stretches his streak now to eight straight playoff games and he was only 1 of 4 from beyond the arc. Carmelo yet again played me-first basketball as he shot the ball 28 times, and failed to collect a single assist. The Knicks can get away with that in MSG, but when these shots aren’t dropping on the road, they will be hard-pressed to beat the Pacers, whose game-plan involves pounding the ball in the paint with Hibbert and West. Lastly, it has to be mentioned that the Pacers have played inspired basketball all season in front of their home crowd. The Knicks have failed to win a game in the regular season or postseason this year in Indiana. Indiana has also won all five of their home playoff contests by double digits margins. These trends certainly support a play on the Pacers in this one, as they will be energized and ready to close out the Knicks, with or without George Hill. It is time for the Pacers to wear their own funeral black to the stadium to celebrate the demise of the Knicks and we’re on it.
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Pass NHL

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WunderdogFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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San Francisco at ColoradoFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Under 10.5FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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After a pair of slugfests to open this series, I expect things to settle down here in Game Three. The Giants starter, Tim Lincecum is getting ever close to the form that made him one of the top pitchers in baseball, as he has struckout at least 6 batters over each of his last five starts, and has a respectable 3.76 career ERA vs. the hard-hitting Rockies' lineup. Tyler Chatwood has held the Giants in check, establishing a 2.93 ERA against them in limited appearances. The UNDER is 17-8-1 in Lincecum's last 26 starts after his team scored 5+ in their previous game. The Rockies are 8-3-1 to the UNDER in their last 12 vs. a winning team. Look for the pitchers to be in charge here, so play the UNDER.

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Joe GavazziFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Chicago White Sox vs. Los Angeles AngelsFOR SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Chicago White SoxFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Even a blind pig finds an acorn which is exactly what has happened with the CWS underperforming offense after their 2-0 start to this extended weekend series. Now the White Sox have won 4 consecutive games while the Angles have lost 3 straight to drop to 15-27 including 8-13 on this field. Blanton clearly is not the answer. The Angels have dropped all 8 of his starts over which time he is 0-7 with a 6.46 ERA, 1.87 WHIP. Blanton is off an outing in which he allowed 7 runs on 12 hits in 4 2/3 IP of an 11-4 loss to KC. Yet the Angels are strangely made a mid-priced favorite in this game making it our Perception/Reality Underdog Game of the Day! Santiago enters pitching for his place in the rotation. This despite the fact his YTD numbers show a 2.23 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 31/8 KBB. In 7 career starts, Santiago is 3-1 with a 1.93 ERA. And the White Sox are thinking about trading him! I know at least one manager, on today’s opposing bench, who would love to have Santiago in the rotation. Late innings should belong to the Pale Hose who sport a bullpen index advantage of 156-112.

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Ben BurnsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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White Sox vs AngelsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: OverFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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After a couple of low-scoring games to start this series, I won't be surprised if the bats come alive this afternoon.
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Blanton has seen five of his eight starts top the total, including three of four at LA. (He's 0-3 with a 7.22 ERA and 1.986 WHIP here.) He's backed by an LA bullpen which has a 5.01 ERA and 1.48 WHIP at home.
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While Santiago has impressive numbers, he's still only made a few starts and he gave up two home runs last time out. Overall, he gave up six runs (3 earned) in 5 2/3 innings, permitting eight hits.
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After the last 3-0 loss vs. Sale, which was less than a week ago, the Angels saw their next game produce 15 runs. Don't be surprised if this one also hits double-digits.

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Jeff AlexanderFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Red Sox -128FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Twins have lost their last 4 at home to the Red Sox and will have a tough time ending that skid with Scott Diamond on the hill. Diamond is 0-3 with a 7.16 ERA at home this season, and the Twins are 1-8 in his last 9 home starts. The Red Sox are 8-1 in their last 9 games as a road favorite. Bet Boston.

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John RyanFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Miami MarlinsSERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Miami MarlinsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The simulator shows a high probability that the Marlines will avenge last night’s loss, which was a 10* loser on the FREE picks pages. Still, I stand at 9-7 on the season with those free pick 10* selections. The record truly does not matter. What does matter is that by playing dogs as graded by my Simulator and supporting fundamental research, those plays have made3.39 units per unit wagered. So, a dime player has made $1,356 off of these plays alone. This number is based on a dime player playing a dime on 25* plays and then playing 2.5 times less that amount to equate to the 10* grading. The wager on the 10* plays would then be $400 The 25* plays in MLB stand at a profit of $11,350 based on the 49 releases this season. The add in the ‘15* Pair of Titans’ cards where each card has TWO DOGS lined at least +140 and higher and the 5* parlays that go with that card and they have made a combined profit of $5,288 wagering $600 on the 15* plays and $200 on the 5* parlays. So, you can readily see that win percentage matters little in my MLB methods and units made mean everything.

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WunderdogFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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New York at IndianaFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Under 179.5FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The deeper this series goes, the harder it has become to score for both teams. Over the last three games, they have averaged just 162.6 points per game. The Knicks are getting nothing from Jason Kidd, as he is 0-17 from the field in his last nine games. The Knicks have averaged just 77 ppg in the two games played here, and Melo has yet to make a field goal in the fourth quarter here, when the Pacers really turn it up defensively. The Knicks are 26-17 UNDER this season when facing a winning team. They are also 26-16 UNDER after a home game. Indiana is a perfect 7-0 this year after back-to-back games in which 175 or fewer points were scored. Take the UNDER.

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Jeff Scott Sports

4 UNIT PLAY

Pittsburgh/ Houston Over 7.5: (Added) Great stat here for this one. Houston has been a dog of +200 11 times this year and in the last 10 times the Over is 8-1-1, with all 10 games putting up 8 or more runs. Houston has averaged 3.6 rpg in these games, while their Pitching has allowed 6 rpg in those games. Overall this staff is 30th in ERA and WHIP and they have allowed 5 runs or more in 8 of their last 10 games overall. Erik Bedard has been a big part of making this staff so bad, as he has a 6.75 ERA overall, including an 8.25 ERA in his last 3 starts. The Over is 5-0-1 in his starts and his games have averaged 13.5 rpg.  This Pittsburgh offense is really starting to coe around, averaging 4.4 rpg in their last 10 games. This team did struggle vs lefties earlier in the year, but of late they have been tagging them good, hitting .269 and scoring 6.65 rp/9 off of them in their last 10 games. Hell Pittsburgh may get the over on their own here, but for good measure I expect the Astros to put up at least 3 of their own. Burnett is not unhittable and the Astros have scored decently when installed as huge dogs. Let's get at least 10 runs in this one.

3 UNIT PLAY

Philadelphia/ Cincinnati Under 8: Good pitching matchup here should lead to a low scoring game. Kyle Kendrick has been Philly's most consistent starter this year not allowing more than 2 ER's in each of his last 7 starts, while posting an ERA of 1.83 over that stretch. At Home he has an ERA of 4.01, but just 2.82 in his last 3 starts here. He has also fared well vs the Reds of late, allowing a total of 3 ER's in his last 3 starts vs them. Bronson Arroyo has been up and down this year, but he has allowed 2 ER's or less in 4 of his last 6 starts and just 2 ER's in each of his last 2 starts vs Philly. The Offenses are playing well right now, but today will belong to the pitching. Both starters have the ability to shut these offenses dwn and I feel they will, making this a pitcher's duel.

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Jack Jones

Detroit Tigers -119

The Detroit Tigers have a massive edge on the mound Saturday. They should be a much heavier favorite as a result. I'll gladly take advantage by backing them at an excellent price tonight.

Anibal Sanchez gets the ball for Detroit looking to continue his Cy Young-caliber 2013 campaign. He has gone 4-3 with a 2.05 ERA with 66 strikeouts over 52 2/3 innings this year. He has also posted a 1.82 ERA through four road starts.

Justin Grimm is 2-3 with a 4.28 ERA and 1.485 WHIP through six starts for Texas. He has really been knocked around the yard of late, going 0-3 with a 7.02 ERA and 1.800 WHIP in his last three starts.

The Tigers are 12-4 in their last 16 games vs. a starter with a WHIP greater than 1.30. The Rangers are 3-10 in their last 13 games as a home underdog of +110 to +150. Bet the Tigers Saturday.

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Jesse Schule

Kansas City Royals AT Oakland Athletics
Pick: Oakland Athletics

The A's won Game 1 in a pitcher's duel between James Shields and Jarrod Parker. Adam Rosales hit an eighth inning home run to seal the deal for Oakland, as they came from behind for the victory. Oakland will send Tommy Milone to the mound in Game 2, and he's coming off a loss to Seattle his last time out. Tommy has always been a better pitcher in his home park, and this season is no exception, posting a 2.63 ERA at O.co Coliseum compared to a 4.93 ERA on the road. He's also been good against the Royals, posting an ERA of 1.20 in his last two starts. Kansas City will hand the ball to Ervin Santana, who's been slipping up after a good start to the season. Santana (3-2, 2.79 ERA) allowed four runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings in a 4-2 loss to the Mets his last time out. Prior to that he took the decision in a 4-3 loss to Baltimore. Yoenis Cespedes is 2-for-6 lifetime versus Santana, but both of those hits went out of the ballpark. John Jaso also hasn't been fooled, he's 7-for-14 with a home run versus the veteran right-hander. Oakland appears to have quite a favorable matchup here at home, and the price is very reasonable.

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