MLB – Tampa Bay Rays (35-30) at Detroit Tigers (35-30)

The 35-30 Detroit Tigers take on the 35-30 Tampa Bay Rays for one day to complete an end-of-May series at Comerica Park after both teams finished up series’ on Sunday.

Detroit was surprised by the visiting 34-32 Seattle Mariners who garnered a four-game split while Tampa Bay fought off the 30-33 Baltimore Orioles twice in a row after dropping the opener at Camden Yards.

Detroit beat Tampa Bay twice at Comerica Park last month 6-3 and 7-6. The weather didn’t allow three games to be played so as a result we have the continuance of that May 23-25 series.

The Tigers are still hot winning 10 of their last 14 after falling in three straight immediately following May 25’s postponement. As for the Rays since May 14 when they were 23-15, things have turned for the worse until last Saturday at Seattle. Tampa Bay has won six of their last eight games to start feeling good about themselves again. A three-game slide to begin June slowed any momentum they were seizing at home.

On the road the Rays have been average of lately going an atrocious 2-8 before sweeping all three at the 31-35 Los Angeles Angels and taking two of three at the Orioles. 1-0 Alex Cobb with a 4.24 ERA will try to keep the road wins coming. After two no-decisions at home, Cobb allowed seven hits, but just one run during 6.1 innings of a 4-1 win in LA.

If he’s able to pitch well against Detroit then 1-6 Phil Coke better bring his “Best game.” With a 4.11 ERA Coke has been in the wrong clubhouse this season and the Tigers are 4-8 when he goes in games and 3-6 when he starts. Coke pitched a limited 3.1 innings on May 23 against Tampa Bay suffering a right ankle injury. Not helping matters I am sure was a 27-minute rain delay which had to effect both teams some. Detroit won 6-3 while Coke shedded two hits and one run during limited action.

For his first start since hurting himself, the 36-31 Texas Rangers roasted Coke for 10 hits, six runs, four earned, during five innings. He also walked three batters during the road affair. Coke’s had a lot more experience in away games this year than at home. At Comerica Park he’s just 1-1 throwing 14.1 innings during three starts. The 28-37 Kansas City Royals kicked in two runs while the Mariners mopped seven runs in during 4.1 innings. Seattle dialed in six runs, two earned, one start earlier for Coke.

This should be a close game but I give a small edge to the Tampa Bay Rays because I just do not trust Phil Coke in this spot.

Pick: Tampa Bay Rays

MLB – Arizona Diamondbacks (35-30) at Florida Marlins (32-31)

The Marlins lost for the second straight game Sunday, with Daniel Hudson getting the in a strong performance.  Arizona will put Zachary Duke on the mould against Florida’s Ricky Nolasco.

Zach Duke has looked good for Arizona since coming off the disabled list.  He is pitched 7 innings and has allowed less then 2 runs in two of his last three starts.  The lefty has had no success vs the Marlins in the past, going 0-5 in 7 career starts with a ERA of 6.49.  Arizona has been playing well, far better then expected.  Shortstop Stephen Drew has had a good month with .357 average and 10 RBIs in June.

Ricky Nolasco has had his share of rough outings for Florida this season but all in all he has been fairly consistent, pitching six innings or more and allowing less than four runs in nine of his 13 starts.  He has been thrived against Arizona over his career, going 5-1 in six starts with a 3.38 ERA and 0.98 WHIP.  The Florida Marlins have really fallen apart over the past couple of weeks after they pulled within a couple games of the division lead, as they have now lost nine of ten overall and trail the Phillies by seven games.  Even with the 0 for 5 outing in Sunday’s loss Mike Stanton has been on a power surge here to start June, already with five home runs and ten RBIs this month.

No team in the majors is playing as poorly as the Marlins are here of late, but in their defense seven of their last ten losses have been by just one run.  Most of this rough stretch has come at home, but you still have to believe they possess a small home field advantage.  These pitchers have complete opposite track records against one another’s team, so I am sticking with that trend on Monday and taking Florida to even up the series.

Pick: Florida Marlins

Prop – MLB – What will be the result of Curtis Granderson’s First Plate Appearance?

So far this season Curtis Granderson has a .344 OBP and has struck out 65 times in 272 Plate Appearances. That means Granderson either gets a Hit, Walk or Strikeout roughly 58% of the time this season. That would imply the odds favor the Hit, Walk, Strikeout option. However, Granderson has not been as good in the first inning posting a .261 OBP in 46 Plate appearances. Granderson has 9 hits, 3 walks, and 9 strikeouts in 46 Plate appearances in the first inning this year or a 45.6% Hit, Walk or Strikeout result. Those first inning splits are relevant because Granderson typically hits 2nd guaranteeing a 1st inning at bat when he hits there.

 

Given his results this year and the near 50/50 ratio performance that he has put up this year I would go with the 1st inning math and say Any other Result here but the numbers speak for themselves and you would do well to avoid this prop.

 

Pick: Any other Result

MLB – Milwaukee Brewers @ Chicago Cubs

The Milwaukee Brewers (38-28) are the hottest team in baseball right now and they travel to face their arch rivals, one of the coldest teams in the MLB, in Chicago, the Chicago Cubs (25-39).

 

The Brewers are coming off of a fantastic home series in which they swept the St. Louis Cardinals and are now in sole possession of first place in the NL Central for the first time since July 4th 2009. The Brewers pitching has been fantastic and Prince Fielder is swinging the hottest bat in baseball having hit HR’s in 8 of his last 10 games. Ryan Braun is also heating up for the Brewers hitting two HR’s in the last 10 games after a relatively quiet May and is also hitting .310 with 5 RBI’s over the last week. Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks are also starting to contribute, just about the only top Brewers stick that hasn’t really done anything lately is Casey McGehee. Randy Wolf (4-4, 3.49 ERA) meanwhile is coming off of arguably his best start pitching 6 and 2/3 innings against the New York Mets on 6/8 allowing just one run. Wolf has been a very streaky pitcher this year alternating between hot streaks and cold streaks. Wolf has struggled throughout his career against the Cubs though and that is something that any picker must keep in mind.

 

The Chicago Cubs, where to begin. The Cubs haven’t been hitting. The Cubs haven’t been pitching, their starters are not going deep and their bullpen is blowing up. The Cubs are 3-13 over their last 16 games, I don’t know if it can get much worse than that. The two things to keep in mind here are, Rivals and Dempster. As bad as the Cubs are, this rivalry is remarkably similar to the Packers-Bears rivalry. No not in length because obviously the Brewers have only been in the NL for a few years, but the fan bases have seized upon the Wisconsin-Chicago rivalry and turned the Brewers-Cubs rivalry into a very intense and passionate rivalry. So despite the Cubs being terrible and the Brewers being good the differences between the teams is somewhat negated, much as the Packers-Bears rivalry is hard to predict, no matter how good either team is on a given year. The other factor is the Cubs starter, Ryan Dempster (5-5, 5.96 ERA). Dempster has been absolutely phenomenal against the Brewers over his career. For whatever reason the Brewers just haven’t been able to hit Dempster who has managed to keep both Prince and Braun below .250 on their careers against him. Dempster has struggled this year but he is coming off of a solid start his last time out and will look to continue to shut down the Brewers in this one.

 

The Brewers have been absolutely phenomenal lately and they should win this game against a helpless Cubs squad. I think it will be interesting to see if the Cubs learn from their idiotic decisions to pitch to Albert Pujols against the Cardinals a few days ago and decide to pitch around the red hot Prince Fielder. If the Cubs wise up and pitch around Prince this game could go either way. In that situation the tie breaker will be #5 hitter, Casey McGehee who has been absolutely woeful this year after two solid seasons. That being said McGehee has been good against the Cubs throughout his whole career, hitting 5 HR’s in just 25 games including a 3 run HR earlier this year and a Grand Slam last year both were game winning hits. If McGehee continues to slump and the Cubs grow a brain and pitch around Prince this will be closer than recent performances would suggest. If the Cubs continue to be stupid in how they pitch elite hitters or Casey gets hot then the Brewers should win this game. Naturally the way the Cubs have been managed recently, I expect the Cubs to continue to pitch to elite hitters, why they continue to do so is beyond belief to me.

 

Pick: Milwaukee Brewers

Soccer – Derry City @ Shamrock Rovers

In the second soccer match of the day we get to pick another gem from the Irish Premier League.  These two teams are only separated by 5 points on the table and will meet up for the second time this season.  Let’s look at the numbers in this middle of the season battle…

Derry City

Overall Record:  8-5-3

On the Road:  4-2-2

Last 5:  2-2-1

Shamrock Rovers

Overall Record:  10-4-2

At Home:  6-0-1

Last 5:  3-1-1

This is definitely a match that I wouldn’t pick if I had any kind of streak at risk.  These two teams are close to each other on the table and drew the first two time they played this season.  After looking at the numbers I like Shamrock but not enough to risk a streak on them.  If you plan on pick be careful and expect the unexpected.  I will have to go with the home team but not by much.  You have been warned!!!!

Pick:  Shamrock Rovers Win

Soccer – IFK Mariehamn @ FC Inter Turku

We begin this week off with a soccer pick from the Finish Premier League(thanks again Streak Master).  This match is another one of those soccer picks that almost all of us have never heard of.  In this one we have two teams that are only separated by 6 points on the table, so lets look at the numbers….

IFK Mariehamn

Overall Record:  4-1-3

On the Road:  2-0-2

Last 5:  2-0-3

FC Inter Turku

Overall Record:  6-1-1

At Home:  3-1-0

Last 5:  4-1-0

After looking at the numbers it looks like this match although being tough to pick should be easier than expected.  Turku is playing really good soccer and haven’t lost at home yet this season and have  a +14 Goal Differential on the season.  Mariehamn isn’t that bad of an option with the draw but I feel that the home team(who just won 6-1 at home) is much better and should be able to win this one.

Pick:  FC Inter Turku Win