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Sports Prediction Game: Fri, Nov 29, NBA, NFL, NCAAF

Sacramento has shot less than 50 percent from the field in every game this season so it’s surprising that in their last meeting the Clippers required a rally from five points down over the final 3:18 and a Chris Paul free throw with 2.5 seconds to earn the win. The Kings will be playing their first game in five days when they host the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday and I don’t expect it to be that close this time around.

The Chicago Blackhawks look to extend their winning streak to five games as they continue their seven-game road trip against the Dallas Stars on Friday. Chicago started its lengthy trek with a loss at Colorado but has reeled off four straight victories, including a 3-2 comeback triumph at Calgary on Wednesday. Dallas is looking to avenge a 5-2 home loss to Chicago on Nov. 9.

Business-as-usual denials aside, No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Auburn are preparing for perhaps the biggest game ever in this rabid in-state rivalry Saturday. The teams that have hoarded the last four national titles have only met once before when both were ranked in the top five in 1971. Both teams are contenders going into this one but Alabama has won 18 straight away from home, the longest active streak in the FBS and one shy of the longest such streak in school history. I think that streak is going to end.

Friday, Nov 15, 2013 Predictions: NCAAF, NBA

Ten days after spoiling Oregon’s national title hopes, Stanford looks to avoid a letdown on Saturday when the fifth-ranked Cardinal visit USC to face the much-improved Trojans. Stanford has won three straight following a loss at Utah, while USC improved to 4-1 under interim coach Ed Orgeron with a 62-28 rout of California last Saturday. The Cardinal should receive a test from USC, which boasts the Pac-12’s second-ranked run defense and features one of the nation’s top kick returners in Nelson Agholor, who had two of USC’s three punt returns for touchdowns against California. Stanford will still win.

The Boston Celtics look to get back in the win column Friday night when they cap a three-game homestand against the surging Portland Trail Blazers. Boston had surprised many with a four-game run that included a buzzer-beating win at Miami but finally fell flat at home against Charlotte on Wednesday, shooting just 37.7 percent in an 89-83 loss. The 83 points represented the second-lowest scoring output of the season for the Celtics, who have won nine in a row at home against Portland.

Fri, Nov 8, 2013: NBA, NCAAF, NFL

The Golden State Warriors put up a good fight against the San Antonio Spurs before falling short in six games in the Western Conference semifinals last spring. The Warriors will get an early chance to see how they stack up against the Spurs this season when they visit San Antonio on Friday.

UCLA will try to duplicate its effort against host Arizona and star running back Ka’Deem Carey when the No. 18 Bruins ready themselves for a Pac-12 game Saturday night. UCLA held Carey to a season-low 54 rushing yards in last season’s 66-10 victory. That also marked the last time Carey has been held to double digits in rushing. UCLA is hoping to get a repeat performance from quarterback Brett Hundley.

NFL Game of the Week: 

The Seattle Seahawks return to the scene of a bitter playoff defeat when they face the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Seattle may be 8-1 for the first time in franchise history but hasn’t forgotten about last season’s 30-28 NFC divisional round playoff loss to the Falcons. The Seahawks rallied from a 20-point deficit to take the lead with 31 seconds left before Matt Ryan moved Atlanta in position for Matt Bryant’s game-winning 49-yard field goal.

Friday, Nov 1, 2013: Premier League, NFL, NBA

Not many –if any– Phoenix Suns fans were expecting much in positive results this year but things are getting off to a rousing start. What else to call a totally unexpected 104-91 thrashing of Portland and, AND Miles Plumlee coming up with 18. With now Bledsoe and Dragic with giant question marks over their head is Plumlee going to stake a claim to the face of the franchise? A repeat performance might give that nutty notion some legs…

On to Premier League soccer because, why not. Saturday Arsenal takes on Liverpool and that’s good news for Arsenal because so far this season they SUCK AT HOME. On the road, they’ve only lost 1. Arsenal will have to slow down prolific scoring from Daniel Sturridge though, at home I doubt that. Even so I’m wondering how far out on a limb this prediction is.

And let us not forget REAL football. Most of the NFL will be taking naps this Sunday with a heavy load of byes (and miss-matches) but there are still interesting games going on. Actually, forget it. Sunday looks like yawns. Monday Night Football has some juice though. The Bears aren’t ruling out an early return of Smoking Jay Cutler — but not Monday. This is going to leave Chicago looking to Josh McCown who was NOT shabby at all taking Jay’s place. The difference only being some successful, desperate play by the Redskins. And Greenbay can create the same pressure. Plus starting is a whole different set of trouble for a back-up quarterback.

MLB: Marlins at Nationals

Jordan Zimmermann can move one step closer to 20 victories when the Washington Nationals host the Miami Marlins in the second of a four-game series Friday night. Zimmermann (18-8, 3.33) leads the National League with 18 wins and cannot afford to stumble with the Nationals sitting five games behind Cincinnati for the second wild card with nine games remaining.

And at least for today, things still look positive for Washington to stay on track to accomplish that.

The Marlins have been out of any thoughts of the post season for months and tonight’s starter Jacob Turner (3-7, 3.51 ERA) has not won since the All-Star break, going 0-6 in his last 11 outings and failing to get through six innings in his last seven starts.

He had a rocky outing against the Nationals on Sept. 8, lasting only four innings and giving up five runs on nine hits —  including a pair of homers. He also was taken deep twice in his last start, when he allowed three runs on five hits in five innings versus the Mets.

His short outing are thanks in no small part to manager Mike Redmond not wanting to destroy his young talent’s confidence. Well done.

On a personal note Miami outfielder Juan Pierre, with 2,215 career hits, needs one to pass Joe DiMaggio on the all-time list. No small feat.

I’m tempted to think the Marlins and Turner will pull a rabbit out of their hat tonight but probably not.

[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

MLB: Royals at Tigers

Kansas City holds a winning record over Detroit this year and it’s unlikely the Tigers don’t care as they have a near lock on winning their division. KC on the other hand is scratching a clawing it’s way to a wild-card spot.

Friday night they both through two of their best starters at each other as Bruce Chen and Justin Verlander face off in a match-up of aces. Detroit leads the AL with 96 quality starts. Kansas City and Boston are tied for second with 86.

Verlander owns a 15-5 career mark against Kansas City, though he has yet to pick up a win against the Royals in five games this season. He allowed four runs on eight hits in seven innings with seven strikeouts. He also lost to the Royals last month after giving up two runs over eight innings but still sports a 15-5 record and 2.80 ERA in 28 starts against Kansas City.

The last time the Kansas City Royals paid a visit to the Detroit Tigers, they dropped the final two of a five-game series that ignited a string of seven straight defeats and put them on the brink of postseason irrelevance. Kansas City regrouped to win 13 of its next 18 to climb back into playoff contention

Chen turned in his third straight strong outing by limiting the Tigers to two runs over seven innings to improve to 4-2 since joining the starting rotation on July 12. He has permitted two runs or fewer in nine of his 11 starts, but he put forth a clunker at Detroit on Aug. 18 – yielding six runs in 5 1/3 innings to take the loss. Chen is 6-8 with a 5.23 ERA in 20 career appearances (18 starts) versus the Tigers.

[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

MLB: Tigers at Royals

Kansas City is one of the teams trying to chase down the Tampa Bay Rays for the American League’s second wild-card spot and can’t afford too many setbacks. The Royals won for the ninth time in 12 games on Thursday when third baseman Mike Moustakas hit a walkoff homer in the 13th inning for a 7-6 win over the Seattle Mariners.

Anibal Sanchez (12-7, 2.68 ERA), who leads the AL with his impressive ERA, will take the hill on Friday night for the Tigers. After giving up two or fewer runs in seven straight starts, he’s allowed seven runs on 11 hits in 11 2/3 innings over his past two outings.

The Royals will send out ace James Shields (10-8, 3.03) , who is coming off five consecutive quality starts. In his last outing against the Blue Jays, he struck out nine over seven shutout innings.

Miguel Cabrera has had two days to rest his sore body and it is uncertain if the 2012 Triple Crown winner will be in the lineup when the Detroit Tigers visit the Kansas City Royals for Friday’s opener of a three-game set.

Cabrera is batting .421 with two homers and six doubles in 38 career at-bats against Shields but more interestingly, Kansas City leads the majors with 131 steals and recorded nine thefts in last month’s five-game series in Detroit.

[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

MLB: Reds at Dodgers

Los Angeles (49) and Cincinnati (48) lead the majors in runs following the All-Star break but,  the Dodgers didn’t fare well in their first home game in sole possession of first place in the National League West, and look to turn it around Friday when they continue their four-game set against the Cincinnati Reds. Los Angeles’ offense managed only a pair of RBI groundouts as Cincinnati took the opener.

So, this is going to be very interesting.

Clayton Kershaw (9-6, 2.01) the three-time All-Star, who leads the majors in ERA and ranks second in the NL with 148 strikeouts, has lasted at least six innings in 16 consecutive starts. In seven all-time starts against the Reds, Kershaw is 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA.

Pit that against Homer Bailey (5-9, 3.84 ERA), who despite no-hitting the Giants and fanning a career-high 12 still took the loss Sunday to the Pittsburgh Pirates after giving up three runs and seven hits over 6 1/3 innings. Bailey is 2-7 with a 4.74 ERA away from home this season and 3-2 with a 4.54 ERA in six career outings against Los Angeles.

It may be simplistic but the Reds are going to get to Kershaw (unlikely? it’s possible) and Bailey is going to have to keep the ball down. No NL team has had more success against the Reds since 2006 than the Dodgers, who have gone 32-16 against Cincinnati in that time, including 15-7 at Dodger Stadium.

I don’t even like these teams and I can’t wait to see how this plays out. It’s hard to go against Kershaw but the crazy prediction is so much more fun.

[information assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

MLB: Athletics at Angels

Part II of the B3TZ Sports MLB Streak Game begins with an important AL West match-up. 

The A’s are my favorite to take the whole thing this year since I neither believe my beloved Giants will make the cut and the idea of another Bay Bridge Series is repulsive. Sure, every is saying Detroit, Boston or Atlanta but last year’s run in the Oak-Town was a clear indicator to me that their time was near. Like this year, near.

The American League West-leading Oakland Athletics attempt to pick up where they left off prior to the All-Star break when they visit the division-rival Los Angeles Angels on Friday in the opener of a three-game series. Oakland, which enters with a two-game lead over the Texas Rangers.

Right hander A.J. Griffin (8-6, 3.68 ERA) looks to extend his winning streak to four games as he faces the Angels for the second time this season. Griffin has held the opposition scoreless in two of his last four outings, tossing his first career shutout against the Cincinnati Reds on June 26 and scattering six hits over eight frames in a win over Boston on Saturday.

Jered Weaver will take the hill for the Angels and the right-hander has posted a 3-5 record and 3.63 ERA this season. He suffered the loss on Saturday against the Mariners, who ended his string of three consecutive quality starts. In that outing, Weaver allowed a home run for the first time in four starts.

Thirteen of the Angels’ first 20 games after the All-Star break will come against AL West opponents so they have ample opportunity to make up ground and the Athletics hope Yoenis Cespedes’ power display in winning the Home Run Derby carries over, as the 27-year-old Cuban has gone 19 games without one.

[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

MLB: CIN-ATL, MIL-ARI

Reds at Braves

The goal for the Cincinnati Reds and the host Atlanta Braves is the same as the two teams meet Friday for the second contest of a four-game series. The Reds and Braves would like to enjoy a late lead as they both feature two of the majors’ best relief corps – Atlanta relievers rank first in baseball with a 2.66 ERA and Cincinnati’s bullpen owns a 28 2/3 innings scoreless streak. Both teams are capable of rallying, however, as the Braves and Reds each own 14 victories in their last at-bat.

Atlanta’s lineup might not be as strong as usual on Friday. Braves right fielder Jason Heyward exited Thursday’s series opener in the second inning with a strained right hamstring.

The Reds’ Bronson Arroyo (7-7, 3.55 ERA) gets the start and the 16-year veteran has struggled away from home, going 1-5 with a 5.70 ERA and only 14 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings on the road. He gave up four runs on eight hits in five innings in a loss to the Braves on May 6.

Opposite him, right-hander Kris Medlen (6-8, 3.45) takes the mound for the Braves. Medlen has rebounded nicely from a 1-6 start, going 5-2 in his past seven outings with seven walks in his last 45 innings. He pitched well in a 5-4 loss at Cincinnati on May 7, allowing two runs on four hits in seven innings.

The Braves are the best home team in baseball this season, going 30-13 (.698) at Turner Field.

Brewers at Diamondbacks

After being selected to the National League All-Star team, Patrick Corbin will aim to show that he belongs on Friday as he guides the Arizona Diamondbacks into the second contest of its four-game series versus the visiting Milwaukee Brewers. The left-hander has 10 wins under his belt this season – with the first coming at the expense of Milwaukee on April 6.

Corbin (10-1, 2.40) has yielded a home run in each of his last five contests after allowing just four in his previous 13 BUT has also held the opposition to two runs or fewer in 14 of his 18 outings.

The Brewers will counter with lefty Tom Gorzelanny (1-2, 2.12 ERA), who is making his third spot start of the season and second this week. He has spent most the year in the Milwaukee bullpen but excelled when given the chance to start.

Gorzelanny took the loss on Sunday against the Mets but surrendered only two unearned runs over six innings, walked none and struck out eight, his most since July 1, 2011.

 

[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]