MLB – New York Yankees @ Oakland Athletics

A.J. Burnett (5-3, 3.99 ERA) will look to complete the sweep by making a start for the New York Yankees (30-23) against the Oakland Athletics (27-29). The Yankees are hot right now having won 7 of their last 10 games. The Athletics meanwhile have been fairly mediocre posting a 5-5 record over the same time period. The Yankees have won both their games against the Athletics so far in this series by 5 and 7 runs respectively and the Athletics bats have not been going at all so far in this series posting only 3 runs over two games against the Yankees 15. The Yankee bats are clearly more powerful and give a huge edge to the Yanks against the Athletics.

 

The Athletics will look to counter the strong Yankee bats by sending ace Gio Gonzalez (5-2, 2.17 ERA) to the mound against the Yankees in an attempt to prevent the sweep. The problem that Gio will face is, will he get enough run support to win?  His last time out he gave up only 1 run and yet picked up a no decision. I think we can expect more of the same. The Athletics’ helpless bats will need to turn it up a notch against A.J. Burnett who looks to have figured out whatever issues he was having last year and he has posted strong results of late.

 

The Yankees will be kept in check somewhat against the Athletics but the Yankees will still win given their far better bats and a strong pitching performance from Burnett. I don’t like to pick the sweep in baseball because it is so rare especially for a road team, but the Yankees should really win this one.

 

Pick: New York Yankees

MLB – Texas Rangers @ Tampa Bay Rays

The Texas Rangers (29-26) look to take the rubber match against the Tampa Bay Rays (29-15) on Wednesday June 1st. Taking the mound for the Rangers is Colby Lewis (4-5, 3.90 ERA) who is coming off one of his worst starts of the season. Lewis was successful against the Rays last year in the post season and I would expect him to bounce back some after his rather poor outing his last time out. David Price (6-4, 3.54 ERA) meanwhile is coming off of his best start this season in which he posted 7 scoreless innings. Price on the other hand has historically struggled against the Rangers and likely will regress some in this outing.

 

The Rangers have the advantage in terms of offense. Pitching could go either way in this one as Price is a better pitcher but has had poor results against the Rangers historically while Lewis has had good numbers against the Rays in his career. Tampa Bay has the advantage of home field but Texas has been playing better of late. In this matchup I like history and will pick the better team right now, against a team that has struggled at home.

 

Pick: Texas Rangers

NHL – Boston Bruins @ Vancouver Canucks

Coming into the playoffs the Vancouver Canucks were probably the best team in hockey and they probably still are. The Canucks are 1st in Goals Scored, 1st in Goals Against, 1st in Power Play % and 3rd in Penalty Kill %. Compare that to the Boston Bruins who were 5th in Goals, 2nd in Goals against, 20th in Power Plays and 16th in Penalty kills.

 

Vancouver is cruising in the playoffs so far this  year. After a tough first series against the defending Champion Chicago Blackhawks, the Canucks won in 6 against Nashville, and 5 against a very, very good San Jose squad. Vancouver has even won 7 of their last 9 playoff games and has seemingly gotten stronger the further into the playoffs they have pushed. Vancouver has the offense to score when needed, and the defense to shut down opponents so they can control the tempo and pace of the game.

 

The Boston Bruins have just emerged by the skin of their teeth winning in 7 games against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Conference Finals. Boston is actually 2-2 in their last 4 and is hardly on a roll. They are a bit banged up with several players health being a question mark and they have benefited from some inspired play of some young players. Boston has also struggled on the road lately going 1-2 in their last 3 road games.

 

Vancouver is the odds on favorite in this series and many are even picking the Canucks to sweep the Bruins. I don’t think this series will end in a sweep but the way that the Canucks are playing entering play and the fact that they will have home ice advantage does lead me to believe they will take the opener.

 

Pick: Vancouver Canucks

Soccer – Chivas USA @ Vancouver Whitecaps

This matchup between two bottom feeders. Vancouver is given the win draw option in this pick and that will make all the difference. Vancouver has been terrible on the road picking up only 1 point this year. They are winning or drawing just 20% of the time on the road. Chivas meanwhile has been equally bad at home posting a 1-1-3 record or likewise only a 20% winning percentage at home. Neither of these teams are in good form and neither are playing well, either at home or on the road. In this one I like Vancouver only because they have the win draw option.

 

When both teams are playing terribly and this pick can go either way I like to go with the neutral option, even if its with the inferior team.That being said it wouldn’t surprise me if this one went either way and I would really stay away from this one. Both teams have only won 20% of the time with the current prop that is available so its really hard to say when neither team has done well at their respective props who will win. Given both teams poor performances the Draw seems to be the safest bet.

 

Pick: Vancouver Whitecaps, Win or Draw

Soccer – Argentina @ Nigeria

This international Friendly would typically be a slam dunk pick in favor of Argentina. However, the normal Argentina side will not be playing in this match. Instead Argentina will be playing their B side against Nigeria. In this match all the stars of Argentina will not be present and instead Argentina is basically playing an Under 25 squad against Nigeria. The previous matchups between these teams have all been one goal victories with one exception for Argentina. Nigeria has home field advantage and against a Argentine squad that will be potentially having eight players making their debut start an outright win for Argentina while still being possible is far less likely. Look for a somewhat slighted Nigerian squad to put up a valiant fight on home turf and force a draw in this one.

 

Pick: Nigeria Win or Draw

Soccer – Viikingit Helsinki @ KPV Kokkola

This prop is one of those early season soccer props where it is hard to really gauge the quality of either team so far this year. At this point KPV Kokkola is higher in the standings but has also played one more match. Kokkola also has the advantage of home field. Historically Viikingit Helsinki is the better team but Kokkola has had more success of late and also has home field advantage.

 

Viikingit Helsinki

Record: 2-0-2

Road Record: 0-0-1

Last 5: 2-0-2

 

KPV Kokkola

Record: 2-1-2

Home Record: 2-1-0

Last 5: 2-1-2

 

Recent H2H

September 4th 2010: KPV Kokkola 3-2

May 2nd 2010: KPV Kokkola 2-0

September 13th 2009: Viikingit Helsinki 3-0

 

Recent results would point toward taking KPV Kolkkola despite the long-term record being more beneficial to Helsinki. I think the key to this one is the slow start that Helsinki is off to. I also like the fact that Kokkola is playing this one at home and hasn’t lost yet early at home. Recent success in the 2010 campaign against Helsinki would also point to Kokkola. Helsinki is traditionally a far better team but, still finding their form and on the road Helsinki will struggle. Go with the home team with the win draw option in this one.

 

Pick: Viikingit Helsinki

Prop – Tennis – 3 Sets; 4 or 5 Sets (Nadal vs. Soderling)

Rafael Nadal has played 43 matches in Roland Garros (French Open), in those 43 matches he has only lost once. In those 43 matches he has played 3 Sets 34 times. He has only lost a set in two of his last 22 matches in the French Open.

 

Robin Soderling has had a pretty good record at Roland Garros but he has struggled in his outings a lot more often than the King of Clay (Nadal). Soderling has been in the finals in each of the last two years at the French Open. Soderling however hasn’t rolled like Nadal. Soderling has lost at least one set in three of the six matches of Roland Garros the last two years. In both the 2009 and 2010 finals Soderling then lost in straight sets. Though in 2009 Soderling did upset Nadal in Nadal’s only loss at the French Open, ever.

 

Soderling and Nadal have met seven times. Nadal leads the series 5-2. 4 of the 7 matches have ended in straight sets. Nadal has won the last two matchups,  both in 2010, at Wimbledon in 4 sets and Roland Garros in 3 sets. Nadal has a 2-1 French Open record vs Soderling, 2 of those matches ended in 3 sets, 1 went 4 sets. Nadal also leads 3-1 in Clay events with 3 of the 4 matches ending in straight sets.

 

Both of these players struggled in their opening rounds and have gotten on a roll of late. The past results indicate that a 3 set result is the most likely. On clay Nadal has defeated Soderling in straight sets 75% of the time.

 

Pick: 3 Sets