MLB – Tampa Bay Rays @ Los Angeles Angels

David Price and the Tampa Bay bullpen shut down the Angels on Monday night, as they defeated Los Angeles 5-1 in the first of a three game series.  Los Angeles hopes to reverse that on Tuesday with one of their aces on the mound as Dan Haren faces Alex Cobb.

It has not been easy for Alex Cobb this season so far, with his main problem being control issues walking 8 batters over 10 innings.

This will be his second matchup with Los Angeles and in three starts he has given up four runs in four and a third innings the first time around.  The Tampa Bay offense is hurting big time with a few key injuries to Evan Longoria and BJ Upton who both are day to day with a stomach virus.  The red hot Matt Joyce has been carrying the offense this season and is coming off an  amazing month of May during which he hit .414 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs.

Dan Haren is on the hill tonight after skipping his start over the weekend with New York because of back spasms.  He took care of the Rays earlier this year allowing just one run over seven and two thirds, and he has dominated them in his career coming in at 6-2 with a 2.57 ERA.  Los Angeles has lost three games in a row and they are just 14-16 at home this season, explaining their current third place standing in the division as they trail Texas by four and a half games.  The Angels offense has been non-existent over their past six games and they have lost five of those, scoring only two runs a game in the past week.

Opponents are only batting .195 vs Alex Cobb, because he has been effective in the strike zone.  He has a tuff match up tonight pitching against Haren who owns Tampa Bay.  I see a close game between to struggling teams, but I give the edge to the Angles who should get to the Tampa Bay bullpen early in this game.

Alex Cobb’s ERA isn’t a great indicator of how he has actually pitched this season, as the youngster has been effective when locating the strike zone with opponents’ batting just .195.  He runs into a tough matchup on Tuesday however facing one of the league’s best and who has historically owned Tampa Bay.  I look for this to be a tight game the whole way through, but Cobb short leash will put pressure on the bullpen which gives the edge to Los Angeles.

Pick: Los Angeles Angels

MLB – Colorado Rockies @ San Diego Padres

San Diego defeated Colorado 3-0 on Monday as the slumping Rockies finally post back to back wins Colorado’s Clayton Mortensen threw six scoreless innings and it was a good thing he did because Colorado is still having trouble scoring runs.  The Rockies have scored three runs or fewer in eight straight contests which is not conducive to winning and a lack of support is one of the reasons this team hasn’t won back to back games since May since the middle of May. The rotation can hardly be blamed for their struggles as of late and has allowed just five runs in the last five games and even much maligned starter Ubaldo Jimenez got in on the act last time out with a four hit shutout of the Dodgers. He has had great success versus San Diego, defeating the Padres in five straight while posting a 3.27 ERA in that span and hasn’t lost to them since the 2009 season.

San Diego had a three game winning streak coming into yesterday’s contest but their bats were very quiet.  This does not surprise me all; the Padres are not going to beat most teams with bats. That being said over the past 7 wins they have scored 31 runs which is very good for this team.  San Diego will have to lean very hard on their pitching once again as the team has the same look as a year ago needing solid performances from the rotation to be competitive. But as we saw on Monday that still doesn’t translate in to winning. The soft hitting Padres look to bounce back tonight when they send right hander Tim Stauffer to the hill, who is in need of a good because he allowed seven runs (five earned) in a 7-4 defeat at the hands of Houston while lasting only five innings.

Stauffer has not faced Colorado much over the past several years; four relief appearances allowing 3 runs over 7 innings.  I am not sure what to expect from Jimenez, who looked great last time out.

Pick: Colorado Rockies

NBA – Miami Heat @ Dallas Mavericks

The Heat has won on the road at least once in each post-season series they’ve played in. They won at Dallas on Sunday, which was only the second time Dallas has lost at home in the playoffs. While the home team does usually have an advantage, it doesn’t appear to necessarily be the case in this series.

If Miami wins tonight, they’ll just need one more victory to win it all. Likely, they’ll get one more win, lose one more, and then take the series back home. However, it’s a toss-up whether they can get that win tonight or if they will win on Thursday. The Heat have struggled when they’ve built up a lead. They have had double-digit leads in all three games and ended up losing Game 2, and allowed Game 3 to come within two points.

The Heat are the better team, but they need to be able to hang on to the lead. I’d go with the Mavs tonight, but the Heat on Thursday, and then the Heat for the championship on Sunday at home. Random stat – since the 2-3-2 format began in 1985, the winner of Game 3 in a tied series has won the championship all 11 times.

In the playoffs, two of Dallas’ losses have been at home, while two were away. During the regular season, 12 of their 25 losses were at home. For Miami, they have lost three playoff games on the road and one at home. In the regular season, 11 of their 24 losses were at home. However, during the regular season, when Dallas and Miami played, Dallas won both games – home and away.

Pick: Dallas Mavericks

Prop – NBA – Total Points Scored in 2nd Half

Currently on the Streak for the Cash page, this prop reads “How many total points will be scored?” However, it is listed at 10:05 (approx) and the game starts at 9 p.m. It appears this text should read “How many total points will be scored in the second half?”

If ESPN doesn’t change it, obviously pick 95 or more. If ESPN waits, this may end up being a push because it took too long to change and people have already made the pick on the incorrect wording.

Assuming ESPN does change the wording, here are the second-half points so far in the series:

Game 1 – 89 total second half points
Game 2 – 86 total second half points
Game 3 – 85 total second half points

The obvious pick is 94 or less. Only the Mavericks in Game 2 have scored over 94 points (with 95) in the series total. These have been close, relatively low-scoring games. If the wording becomes total second half points or total points per either team, take the under.

Pick: 94 points or fewer (assuming the wording changes)

Prop – NBA – Wade vs Nowitzki – Higher 1st Half Total

Here are the numbers for the first three games:
Nowitzki
Game 1 – 13 points in the first half (27 total)
Game 2 – 21 points in the first half (24 total)
Game 3 – 12 in the first half (34 total)

Wade
Game 1 – 7 points in the first half (22 total)
Game 2 – 12 points in the first half (36 total)
Game 3 – 19 points in the first half (29 total)

Nowitzki would win this prop for the first two games. Game 3 was played in Dallas, as is tonight’s game. The Mavericks find themselves putting together second-half surges while the Heat seem to fall apart. It’s a toss-up for sure, but go Wade, as the Heat are likely to come out strong and then falter early in the second half.

Pick: Dwayne Wade (or tie)

MLB – Atlanta Braves @ Florida Marlins

The Atlanta Braves (32-28) take on the Florida Marlins (31-27) in the first of a three-game set. Both teams have struggled of late, plagued by offensive woes and injuries.
Atlanta sends out a consistent arm in Tommy Hanson. Hanson is 6-4 on the season, posting a highly respectable 2.82 ERA. He’s dominated Florida, going 3-1 with an ERA hovering in the mid 2’s since last season. Hanson has not allowed more than 2 ER in his last six NL starts, and has proven a valuable asset to his franchise.
The Marlins send out minor league call-up Brad Hand. Hand is making his major league debut. His numbers in Double-A Jacksonville were average at best, posting a 7-1/3.53 in 11 starts.
This really isn’t a difficult call. With Hanley Ramirez recently placed on the DL, the Marlins lose arguably their most potent bat. Atlanta’s Hanson has dominated the league this season, posting an ML-best .170 opp. avg. since April 22nd. The Marlins have lost 5 games in a row, and I expect Atlanta to take advantage of Florida’s inexperienced starter in the first game of this series.
Pick: Atlanta Braves Win

MLB – Boston Red Sox @ New York Yankees

The 1st Place New York Yankees (33-24) square off versus the Boston Red Sox (33-26) in the first of a three-game set between the rival clubs. The Red Sox have owned New York this season, posting a 5-1 record against the Bronx Bombers to this point in the season. Boston swept the Yankees in their last trip to New York, but much has changed since these two teams last met, as the two clubs are now vying for the lead atop the American League East division.

Jon Lester  (7-2, 3.94) takes the mound for the Red Sox tonight. Lester, while posting an impressive record thus far, has had a huge amount of offensive support this season. Of his seven wins in 2011, six have come with at least 6 runs for Boston. Lester has struggled of late, with an ERA of 6.52 over his last five starts. He has not reached the 7th inning of any of these games, but has recorded 3 wins during this stretch. The Yankee lineup struggles pretty significantly against Lester, with a combined career average of .231. One exception is Derek Jeter, who is batting .316 lifetime versus the lefty. A-Rod, Teixiera, and Cano have combined for just 20 hits in 90 at-bats all time against Lester (.222).

Lester faces off against Freddy Garcia (4-4, 3.34). Garcia has dominated the Red Sox in the past, but has struggled recently, with a 7.11 ERA and an 0-1 record in 2011 versus the Sox. His career numbers are far better, pisting a 2.79 ERA and a perfect 2-0 record in three starts against the Red Sox over the past two seasons. This year’s Red Sox have experienced varied success against Garcia. David Ortiz bats a career .303 with two home runs versus Garcia, and Carl Crawford has hit an even .300 lifetime against him. Adrian Gonzalez has yet to have a career hit off Garcia, but is coming off a hot Oakland series, and shows no signs of slowing down.

The Red Sox seem to have the Yankees in their crosshairs this season, and I expect that trend to continue here. Look for the Red Sox to jump out to an early lead and provide Lester with the run support he has seen so far in 2011.

Pick: Boston Red Sox Win