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MNF Predictions, Saint-Seahawks, Dec 2, 2013

If the Seattle Seahawks can extend their franchise-record home winning streak Monday against the New Orleans Saints, they’ll likely assure the road to the Super Bowl goes through Seattle. Seattle’s Russell Wilson is the less-notable quarterback in the matchup, but he is 13-0 at home with 26 touchdowns against six interceptions. The Seahawks also boast the league’s No. 3 rushing game with Marshawn Lynch (925 yards, 9 TDs) leading the way. The Seahawks have the second-ranked pass defense, but they will be short-handed in the secondary.

New Orleans has won three straight, but it’s had to squeak out the last two by a combined seven points. Their offense has been less-than-stellar the past two weeks, but the Saints still rank third in the NFL in total yards per game and second in passing yards. The defense, often a weakness for New Orleans, has been rejuvenated under coordinator Rob Ryan and has allowed more than 400 total yards only once all season.



MLB: Red Sox at Dodgers

Today is the one-year anniversary of the trade that reshaped two organizations and the schedule makers have decided to bring those two teams together. Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and the Los Angeles Dodgers will host their former teammates on the Boston Red Sox in the rubber match of a three-game set on Sunday.

The short term results after the trade last year: Boston went on to a 93-loss campaign while Los Angeles finished eight games behind the eventual World Series champion Giants.

This year, both franchises from the super swap have excelled. The Red Sox are battling the Rays for first place in the American League East. The Dodgers, meanwhile, hold a sizable advantage in the NL West, and are 46-11 since June 22.

The Dodgers will square off against recent Boston addition Jake Peavy. In four starts with the Red Sox, the right-hander is 1-1 with a 4.18 ERA. Overall this season, he is 9-5 with a 4.25 ERA.

Chris Capuano (4-6, 4.70 ERA) is slated to start Sunday for the Dodgers. He will face his hometown team for the first time in his career. The Dodgers have won each of Capuano’s last seven starts. He is 1-1 with a 5.75 ERA in four Interleague outings this season.

Additionally, the Dodgers have not dropped a series since losing two of three to the Pirates in mid-June.

Today isn’t going to be a pitcher’s duel and really won’t showcase the players who changed hands in the trade. Both these teams have serious offensive might and it will be on full display.

[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

MLB: SF-SD, STL-CHC

Cardinals at Cubs

The St. Louis Cardinals will attempt to earn a split against the Chicago Cubs when the National League Central rivals meet at Wrigley Field on Sunday for the finale of their four-game set. After being blanked in the series opener, St. Louis edged Chicago 3-2 before suffering a 6-4 setback on Saturday.

Lance Lynn suffered his third loss in four starts after winning 11 of his first 12 decisions for the Cardinals, who fell for just the second time in nine games but dropped into a tie with the Pittsburgh Pirates for first place in the division.

Alfonso Soriano has hit six of his 16 home runs in his last eight games. Chicago has won six of its last eight contests but occupies fourth place in the NL Central, 14 games out of first place.

All-Stars Adam Wainwright (12-5, 2.30 ERA) and Travis Wood (6-6, 2.69) will square off at Wrigley Field in the last contest before the break.

Wainwright looks to close out the first half with his third consecutive triumph. The 31-year-old has worked at least seven innings in each of his last three outings and has won eight of his nine home decisions this year, is 6-6 lifetime versus Chicago.

Wood is attempting to make it back-to-back victories after going 0-3 over his previous six starts. The 26-year-old defeated the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday, allowing two runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings. Wood is 3-3 in eight career outings against the Cardinals, including a road loss on June 17 in which he gave up four runs – three earned – and seven hits in seven frames.

Giants at Padres

If Tim Lincecum can pitch a  no-hitter in July of 2013 then it goes to reason that Barry Zito and win at least 1 game on the road. Something he has yet to do this year.

The San Francisco Giants look to complete a four-game series sweep of the host San Diego Padres on Sunday and have outscored the Padres 23-3 over the first three games of the set, adding to San Diego’s misery this month. The Padres have lost 18 of their last 21 contests to fall a season-high 13 games under .500 and 9 1/2 behind first-place Arizona in the National League West.

Zito has gone 0-3 with a 5.82 ERA over his last seven outings, six of which the Giants lost but has faced San Diego three times this season, going 1-0 with a 1.65 ERA.

Eric Stults (7-7, 3.50) is on the mound for San Diego Stults has been the Padres’ most consistent starter, going 5-5 with a 2.89 ERA in 13 outings since May 7. San Diego is 7-1 in his eight home starts, posting six straight victories.

On Zito’s side, however, is the Padres’ recent struggles at the plate. San Diego has lost 18 of 21 games, and much of that is due to an unproductive offense. The club hasn’t reached a double-digit run total since May 25 and has amassed just three runs in three games this series.
[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

MLB: HOU-TEX, LAD-SF

Ed note: With 8 days of games left before the All-Star Break we’re spicing things up. 2 predictions a day instead of 1 so, 16 events available to put together the longest streak (currently 10) and win the $150 ($25 for second!). Choose one, both or none each day to build your streak. Good luck.

Astros at Rangers

Texas blew a chance to move into first place in the American League West by losing to the Astros Saturday, a defeat that snapped their six-game win streak against their state rivals.

The Astros look for another bright spot to a dismal season and Jason Castro attempts to make Sunday equally enjoyable when the Houston concludes a three-game series against the host Texas Rangers. Castro was named to the American League All-Star team, hit a tiebreaking three-run homer and threw out two base stealers.

Pitching for Texas, Justin Grimm (7-6, 5.84 ERA) compiled a 5-3 record and a 3.93 ERA, registering six quality starts in his first nine outings but, he hasn’t recorded another one since.

Erik Bedard (3-4, 4.59 ERA) has a 2.16 ERA in two appearances against Texas this season, including a 3 1/3-inning relief appearance in which he recorded his first major-league save. He is 5-4 with a 3.38 ERA in 17 career appearances (16 starts) against the Rangers.

It’s easy to predict the Rangers in this one… and I’m going to. Yesterday was a fluke.
[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources

Dodgers at Giants

The Los Angeles Dodgers sent a message to their division rivals by acquiring starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco from Miami for three minor-league pitchers Saturday. They’re hoping to make another statement in Sunday’s rubber game against the San Francisco Giants, who are aiming to build on Saturday’s much-needed victory. The win was the Giants’ second in their last 12 games, while the surging Dodgers lost for just the third time in their last 14 games.

The Dodgers will turn to ace Clayton Kershaw (7-5, 1.93 ERA), who has allowed only four earned runs against the Giants in his past four starts covering 32 innings.

Chad Gaudin (2-1, 2.60) will come off the disabled list Sunday to start for the Giants, who look for their first series win since they took two of three from the Padres on June 17-19. Gaudin has been a focused, mature and refreshing addition to San Francisco’s rotation.

Frankly, Kershaw is due for a hiccup and the Giants are not going to stay 4-for-50 with runners in scoring position like they have over their last nine games.

[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

MLB: Yankees at Orioles

The New York Yankees are on the verge of finishing last in the majors in runs scored for the month of June and have shown no sign they are about to break out of the collective slump. And it won’t get any easier on Sunday in the third game of their series with the Orioles.

Baltimore will be sending to the hill Chris Tillman, who has won six of his past seven starts and is 5-0 in June. Behind him The Orioles will look to continue to deliver with their explosive offense, one that scored four runs in the opening frame on Saturday and kept tacking on runs on the way to an 11-3 victory.

The young Orioles, led by Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Chris Davis, have climbed three games ahead of the Yankees, who are without young star power as well as most of their veteran staples, and threaten to create even more space on Sunday.

New York leans heavily on its pitching, and in the finale it will hand the ball to its most reliable starter, Hiroki Kuroda, to prevent a sweep at the hands of its American League East rival. As good as Kuroda has been this season, the Orioles’ top hitters have experienced some success against him, with Nick Markakis and Jones batting .385 and .375, respectively. Davis has just one home run against Kuroda but is a .285 hitter in his career off him.

Many sources agree that this year might be the changing of the guard for these rivals as New York might be forced to start rebuilding and Baltimore is full of young talent that can produce and isn’t intimidated by the old men in pinstripes.

[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

MLB: Giants at Diamonbacks

Yeah. That’s right. Been a Giants kind of week. You’ll live.

Coming to Spring Training at the Giants camp this year wasn’t a very opportunity rich place to be as a pitcher. They really didn’t need any but were open to adding one utility reliever and the guy rising to the top was Chad Gaudin, who was impressive in his openness to accept nearly any offer and responsibility and also delivered consistent and effective long relief all Spring.

That translated without incident into regular season long relief that’s been consistent and very effective. And the Giants have needed it WAY more than they expected. To say Gaudin was a huge addition might be overstatement but he has been needed more than management expected and the results have been awesome.

So much so that when starter Ryan Vogelsong was forced to the extended DL with a broken right pinky (throwing hand) San Francisco, instead of panicking for a trade, going to a 4-man rotation gave Gaudin a shot at a start, something he hadn’t done in years.

The result? He shut down one of the most potent offenses in baseball. Gaudin was laser sharp against a dangerous St. Louis Cardinal offense and executed high heat (94!), off-speed precision and nailed his 6-innning pitch cap at 79 (80 max). It was beautiful, fun to watch and a much needed boost to a Giants team who’s starting rotation has been all over the map so far.

Based on that performance the Giants of course are curious if that was a fluke or if Gaudin can deliver a gem like that one. Today he gets his chance against another potent offense in the rubber match of the 3-game stand with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Arizona will throw D-backs southpaw Tyler Skaggs at the Giants. Skaggs has toed the rubber only twice this season. The 2009 first-round Draft pick blanked the Rangers for six innings on May 27 but surrendered five runs in 5 2/3 frames to the Cardinals on Tuesday. He takes the mound in place of veteran Brandon McCarthy who is on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.

MLB: Dodgers at Rockies

Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Dodgers’ free-agent signing from Korea who is off to a stellar start in his first Major League season, said Saturday he “doesn’t know” if he will make his start in the series finale at Coors Field.

Ryu has lingering foot pain after taking a Mark Trumbo comebacker off the top of his left foot during his two-hit shutout Tuesday night against the Angels.

If Ryu can’t make the start, it’s likely Matt Magill, who hasn’t pitched since May 25 with Triple-A Albuquerque, would be called up. Manager Don Mattingly was non-committal on the subject after Saturday’s 7-6 loss in 10 innings.

Ryu has been not only one of the top rookie performers so far this season, but one of the top pitchers in the NL. The 26-year-old has registered nine quality starts among his first 11 and has pitched at least six innings in 10 of them.

The Rockies will be going with left-hander Jorge De La Rosa in the rubber match between National League West rivals. The Dodgers are not his favorite opponent, as the left-hander is 0-8 with a 6.75 ERA in 14 career appearances — 10 starts — against them.

Both the money line and my predictions are all over the map for this one but, going to lean towards the Dodgers.

[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

MLB: Rangers at Mariners

MLB Game Preview: Rangers at Mariners

Commentary available on game day.

[copy assembled from MLB.com and other sources]

NBA, Game 3, Heat at Pacers

NBA Playoff Preview: Game 3, Heat at Pacers

Commentary available on game day.
[copy assembled from NBA.com and other sources]

NBA: Game 1, Grizzlies at Spurs

It’s the San Antonio Spurs against the Memphis Grizzlies with a berth in the 2013 NBA Finals at stake. And it promises to be a good old-fashioned, physical matchup.

This should be a defensive showdown between teams built around big men with Memphis countering Tim Duncan with 7-foot-1 Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph down low. Memphis held teams to an NBA-low 89.3 points during the regular season, and the Spurs tied for third in defensive efficiency. The Grizzlies also were second defending the 3, which could slow down Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

What a year it has been for the Grizz. New ownership. The Rudy Gay trade. A franchise-record 56 wins. And now a first-ever trip to the West finals.

The Spurs, are the dominating big brother in the Southwest Division with their four NBA championships and the fifth-best all-time winning percentage in the league since this franchise moved to the NBA in 1976. No coach and player have more postseason games than San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich and Duncan with 200 over 16 seasons.

Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, who won an NBA title in 1977 as a player with Portland, has his Grizzlies believing they can win one, too. The No. 5 seed in the West ousted first the Clippers, then the Thunder by winning eight of its last nine games, including three of four on the road.

A key in this series will be Parker and Conley. Parker is averaging 22.4 points a game this postseason, while Conley is averaging a career-best 17.6 points while handing out 7.6 assists a game.

Reason being is San Antonio is going to do everything it can to force the ball out to Conley and make him win the games, something that’s not likely to happen in Game 1. Cleavie is predicting a blow-out among other things. Doubt that.

[copy assembled from NBA.com and other sources]