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Gameday Predictions: Wed, Nov 27, NBA, NFL, NCAAF

With the Los Angeles Lakers still a few weeks away from having superstar guard Kobe Bryant back in the lineup, they’ll need to find a way in the meantime to win away from the Staples Center. They’ll get their second chance in as many nights Wednesday as they tangle with the Brooklyn Nets.
The Lakers have beaten the Nets 10 straight times but are 1-5 on the road, with its five losses coming by an average of 15.6 points. Plus, no Kobe but still — rare loss at home. Nets have tons of injuries and look flat

Turkey Day Pro Football
The Baltimore Ravens appeared to be losing a battle to a Super Bowl hangover while the Pittsburgh Steelers merely appeared punch drunk, but the fierce rivals have each turned around their seasons to move into playoff contention. Pittsburgh goes for its fourth straight victory when it visits Baltimore on Thursday night in an AFC North clash that could have major postseasons ramifications. Baltimore is faltering…

UPSET OF THE WEEK!: The Dallas Cowboys are tied atop the NFC East and can keep pressure on the competition with a win over the visiting Oakland Raiders on Thursday. The Cowboys go into their traditional Thanksgiving contest tied with Philadelphia for the division lead. The Raiders gave up a late touchdown in a 23-19 loss to Tennessee to fall one game behind a group of six teams tied for the final AFC wild card. Dallas is going to let one slide here…

Wed, Nov 6, 2013: NBA, NFL

While things haven’t gone well early on for the Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics, one of these proud franchises is certain to end its historic season-opening losing streak. The Celtics are hoping to avert their worst start in 67 years Wednesday night when they host a Utah team trying to avoid dropping its first five games for the first time since 1974-75. Vegas is takng the Celtics by 4.

The Chicago Bulls may have assumed that with Derrick Rose back, they would be back to their customary spot atop the Central Division. The Indiana Pacers, who host the Bulls on Wednesday, will not be so easily shoved aside. The Pacers are the only unbeaten team left in the NBA after easily dispatching the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday and are holding opponents to 85.5 points per game and even with Rose, Indiana is favored by 2.5 at home.

Thursday Night Football: Although RGIII received much of the credit for the Redskins success in his rookie campaign, much of last season’s success hinged on a powerful ground game led by Alfred Morris, who rumbled for a season-high 121 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries against the Chargers last Sunday. For the Vikings Adrian Peterson, who had been dealing with a hamstring issue for weeks, tied his season high with 140 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s defeat.

MLB: Dodgers at Giants

Earlier this year, much earlier, Barry Zito couldn’t lose at AT&T Park going 9-0 at one point. And while he couldn’t win anywhere else, you could take the good with the bad. But then he couldn’t win anywhere and got dropped from the rotation. Such has been his tenure with the Giants. Major success (2012: won last 15 games he started and both post-season appearances — including Game 1 of the World Series) and major failures (too many to list here…).

Wednesday night, Zito will get one last chance to end his Giants’ career with a ‘W’ in San Francisco. He will face the now reigning NL West champion and bitter division rival Dodgers.

The appearance of Zito (4-11, 5.91) back in the rotation is going to divide fans. One side is just done with him; thanks for the key victories, we like you but, since you’re not winning anymore, goodbye. The other side wants to see Barry win one last game in the orange and black.

The team has said it decided to shut down starter Madison Bumgarner for the final five games, and they need Zito to start in his place. But I doubt that’s anything more than a nice coincidence.

Trouble is, the Dodgers are the only NL team with a winning record at AT&T Park and are in full post-season ramp-up mode — not to mention Los Angeles is only two games behind the Braves as it attempts to secure home-field advantage during the National League playoffs.

Add to that Ricky Nolasco (8-2, 3.14 ERA) is fighting for a place in the Dodgers starting rotation and you have a mountain for Zito to climb for the win.

But as Zito has shown Giants fan time and again, just when you think he’s done, he has a little more to give.

MLB: Cardinals at Rockies

St. Louis carries a one-game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates into the third contest of a four-game series against the Rockies in Colorado on Wednesday. As St. Louis was unleashing a 15-hit attack in an 11-4 victory over the Rockies on Tuesday, it was getting a big assist in the standings by San Diego who was winning its second straight in Pittsburgh.

Right-hander Adam Wainwright (16-9, 2.96 ERA) takes the hill in the third of a four-game set against the Rockies at Coors Field, as St. Louis looks to maintain its one-game edge over the second-place Pirates in the National League Central.

The Cardinals/Rockies series is tied at 1, and it will be Rockies righty Tyler Chatwood (7-4, 3.20) who looks to swing it in Colorado’s favor. Chatwood has struggled with a right thumb injury and his efficiency this season. He allowed seven hits and walked six D-backs in his last outing on Friday.

Chatwood has struggled with a right thumb injury and his efficiency this season.

Rockies first baseman Todd Helton is a .281 career hitter with 22 homers and 67 RBIs in 109 games against the Cardinals. Helton plans to retire at the end of the season but can he put a bite on Wainwright to improve the Rockies team ERA of .222 against Wainwright, with Troy Tulowitzki 1-for-11?

[copy assembled from and other sources]

MLB: Yankees at Orioles

New York Yankees veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte (10-9, 4.03 ERA) has settled into a groove following a rocky stretch and looks to continue his stretch of strong performances in the third of a four-game series at the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday.

Pettitte has dominated the Orioles like no other opponent over his 18-year career, posting a staggering 28-6 record against them in 44 appearances (42 starts). Tuesday’s victory pulled New York within two games of Tampa Bay for the second wild card.

The O’s send Scott Feldman to the hill Wednesday, and he’s coming off one of his best pitching performances of the season. He went the distance in Friday’s 4-0 win over the White Sox, allowing just five hits and dominating Chicago. The veteran’s outing marked Baltimore’s first complete game this season.

Beating the White Sox is one thing and not a very big one though Feldman last appearance against New York on Aug. 31 he only gave up one run on six hits in seven innings.

Despite the lack of success against Pettitte, the Orioles have won five in a row against left-handed starters and have made only 42 errors in 144 games — staggering to consider when the fewest errors by a team in a 162-game season is 65 by the 2003 Mariners.

[copy assembled from and other sources]

MLB: Tigers at Red Sox

Both the Tigers and Red Sox have comfortable leads in their divisions but that doesn’t allow them any room to slack off. Wins are still a must heading to the post season.

Two games into the series and the potential playoff preview between the top two hitting teams in the major leagues is all about pitching. Each club looks to break out offensively when the Boston Red Sox host the Detroit Tigers in the rubber match of their three-game set on Wednesday.

Miguel Cabrera was back in the lineup for Detroit on Tuesday after missing three games and coming out of the previous two early with an abdominal strain. He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.

They can live with that performance (but only so long) since the Tigers have already won the regular-season matchup with four victories in the seven-game series, their first season series win over the Red Sox since 2007.

With Rick Porcello toeing the rubber for the Tigers and veteran Ryan Dempster taking the ball for the Red Sox, two AL titans will meet once more in September, knowing they might meet again in October.

Porcello (11-7, 4.44 ERA) is coming off his second straight win as he held Cleveland to two runs over 5 2/3 innings last week. The 24-year-old’s success can be attributed to his control – he has issued only 35 walks in 148 total innings. Porcello is just 1-2 with a 9.00 ERA and five walks allowed in four career starts against the Red Sox, though the lone win came at Boston.

In his last appearance, Dempster (7-9, 4.75)  allowed only three runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings to snap a four-start winless streak. The veteran could be fighting for a spot in the rotation with All-Star Clay Buchholz close to being activated from the disabled list. Dempster is just 5-7 with a 4.93 ERA in 17 home starts this season.

[copy assembled from and other sources]

MLB: Diamondbacks at Reds

Not for nothing, this series is a really big deal to the Diamondbacks and Reds. The Cincinnati Reds still have a commanding lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the wild-card race, but the Diamondbacks are not going away. Arizona looks to chop another game off the deficit when it visits Cincinnati again on Wednesday.

After sweeping the Orioles last week and taking two of three from the Pirates in Pittsburgh over the weekend, Arizona has split its first two games in Cincinnati, coming away victorious Tuesday on the back of stellar performances from a pair of their All-Stars.

The Reds and Arizona are fighting over some individual acclaim this week as well, and Paul Goldschmidt hit a grand slam on Tuesday to extend his NL RBI lead over Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips, 100 to 92.

Still looking for his first win since coming off the disabled list at the beginning of August, Brandon McCarthy (2-7, 4.84 ERA) will toe the rubber for the D-backs. McCarthy is trying to snap a four-start losing streak. The veteran made it out of the sixth inning in only one of those turns and was knocked around for four runs on seven hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings.

Mike Leake (10-5, 3.01) is also trying to snap a four-start winless streak as well but does have two quality starts in that span. The 25-year-old lasted only five innings in a no-decision at Milwaukee last week, allowing four runs on nine hits. Leake went eight innings at Arizona on June 22, yielding two runs on four hits without factoring in the decision.

Goldschmidt is 1-for-6 with one RBI in his career against Leake but by now I would think he has figured him out and will do some damage tonight.

[copy assembled from and other sources]

MLB: Pirates at Cardinals

The NL Central is one of the only tight races in baseball and St. Louis capitalized on a ninth-inning error to push across the tying run before prevailing in 14 innings to improve to 4-7 against the Pirates this season. The victory moved the Cardinals within two games of first-place Pittsburgh in the National League Central entering Wednesday’s second game of the series.

The Pirates are hoping for more of what they saw during the first four months of the season. Overall, Pittsburgh is 7-4 against St. Louis this year, including wins in six of the last eight games but have lost four straight.

Three of the Buc’s 14 shutouts this year have come against the Cardinals.

Pirates starter Francisco Liriano (12-5, 2.83 ERA) is coming off a nightmarish outing, getting battered for a career-high 10 runs in a season-low 2 1/3 innings by the Colorado Rockies. He had won three straight starts and permitted two runs or fewer in eight of his previous nine outings before the debacle, in which he also gave up 12 hits.

Liriano has won both career starts versus the Cardinals, including a one-run, seven-inning outing on July 29.

Cardinals’ right-hander Shelby Miller (11-7, 2.89)  takes the mound for St. Louis and has lost twice to the Pirates in a three-start span in April, giving up five runs and 13 hits over 11 2/3 innings, but the Cardinals failed to score in either outing. Miller is 6-2 with a 1.74 ERA in 11 home starts.

[copy assembled from and other sources]

MLB: Mariners at Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox sent a strong message that they are all in when it comes to the American League playoff race, pulling off a three-team deal to land former Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy from the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night. The trade for a front-line starter should provide a boost for the Red Sox heading into the middle contest of a three-game set against the visiting Seattle Mariners.

Seattle’s pitching staff has been beat up by Boston, giving up 38 runs in four straight losses to the Red Sox this month. The Mariners hope to halt that trend when Hisashi Iwakuma takes the mound Wednesday followed by ace Felix Hernandez on Thursday.

Iwakuma (10-4, 2.87 ERA) has experienced few bumps in the road, and perhaps the biggest came against the Red Sox on July 9 in Seattle. He lasted only three innings, giving up six runs on eight hits.

Red Sox right hander John Lackey (7-8, 3.19) has lost his last two starts and been knocked around in both, serving up three homers and five runs over 6 1/3 innings versus Baltimore last time out. Lackey saw plenty of the Mariners from his days with the AL West-rival Los Angeles Angels, compiling a 15-10 mark and 3.60 ERA in 30 career starts.

The Red Sox have taken four of five from the Mariners this season. And despite winning 10 of 14, going 15-9 in July, Seattle hasn’t won 16 games in a month since going 18-9 in June 2007.

[copy assembled from and other sources]

MLB: Orioles at Royals

It depends on who you ask but I think there is still hope for the Royals this year.  Detroit is coasting, Cleveland is showing some weakness and I’m still thinking the George Brett effect is going to hit soon. If only because on the anniversary of the Pin Tar Incident this clubhouse might get to see the video of Brett storming out of the dugout and almost killing an umpire. THAT is the kind of passion a team needs at some level to win and KC could use a dose.

The Kansas City Royals have shown some improvement since coming back from the All-Star break with three wins in five games. The Royals attempt to get a leg up in a series against another contending team when they host the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday.

Baltimore is fighting for ground in the American League East and sits 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox, with the Tampa Bay Rays in between. The Orioles had a five-game winning streak come to an end in Tuesday’s 3-2 setback and have two more at the Royals before heading home for a showdown with the Red Sox.

Wei-Yin Chen (5-3, 2.67 ERA) is on the mound for the O’s and right-hander Ervin Santana (6-6, 3.18) will go for the Royals.

Chen has won each of his two starts since coming off the disabled list on July 10, allowing a total of two runs in 13 1/3 innings. The Taiwanese lefty has posted four straight quality starts dating to May 7, when he held Kansas City to two runs in 6 1/3 innings. Chen has faced the Royals three times in his career and owns a 0-1 record with a 5.82 ERA.

Santana bounced back from a terrible start before the break by holding powerful Detroit to two hits in 7 1/3 scoreless innings on Friday.

Royals pitchers have the sixth-best ERA in the AL but consistency with the bats has plagued them, ranking 10th in the American League in on-base percentage and last in the AL in slugging percentage.