Category Archives: Top Stories
Newly acquired outfielder Carlos Beltran didn’t do much in his debut with the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants Thursday, but they won anyway. The Giants now head to Cincinnati for the opener of a three-game series Friday night with the struggling Reds (7:10 pm Eastern). Bookmaker has set the line at Reds -110
San Francisco just took two of three games from the Phillies in Philadelphia, even though they scored a total of just eight runs in the series. So heading into this series the Giants, winners of 13 of their last 18 games, lead the NL West by four games over the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks.
Beltran went 0-4 Thursday night, but the Giants beat Philly anyway 4-1.
Cincy, meanwhile, just got swept four games at home by the New York Mets, losing 10-9 Thursday afternoon. So the Reds, who are just 8-15 this month, sit in fourth place in the NL Central, 6.5 games back of the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers.
Ryan Vogelsong (8-1, 2.10), who would lead the NL in ERA if he had one more inning pitched, will start for the Giants Friday night against Dontrelle Willis (0-1, 3.71) for Cincinnati. As of Friday morning BetOnline.com is listing the Reds as -109 favorites for Friday night’s game, with an over/under of 8.5.
Vogelsong, who spent the last four seasons playing in Japan and in the minors, is 13-for-16 on quality starts this year for San Fran. Over his last four starts Vogelsong has allowed just six earned runs on 25 hits in 25 1/3 IP. The Giants are 11-5 in Vogelsong’s starts this year, with the O/Us going 4-12.
Vogelsong has started once vs. the Reds this season, allowing two ER on eight hits in six innings of a 3-2 San Francisco victory back in June.
Reclamation project Willis is one-for-three in quality starts this year. In those three starts lefty Willis has given up seven ER on 16 hits and eight walks in 17 IP. The Reds are 1-2 in Willis’ starts, and all three of his starts have played under the totals.
Willis hasn’t pitched against the Giants since 2007.
San Fran is 29-26 on the road this season, while Cincinnati is 27-27 at home.
The Giants are also 20-8 in games in which their opponents have started left-handed pitchers this season.
In the first encounter between these two teams this year the Reds split four games out in San Francisco back in June. Three of those games played under the totals.
The over/unders are 41-58 in Giants games this season, 56-45 in Reds games and 31-20 in games played at Great American Ballpark.
As for Friday’s game Vogelsong and the Giants have been on a bit of a roll, so we’ll go with San Francisco to open this series with a win.
MLB Odds Provided By BangTheBook.Com
St. Louis -157
The Cincinnati Reds will try and even things up against the NL Central rival St. Louis Cardinals tonight in Game 2 of the three-game set. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
Cincinnati’s normally active bats went quiet on Monday in a 1-0 shutout loss as a 115 road underdog. The setback dropped the Reds to an even 43-43 on the year and three games in back of the Cardinals in the division. They are 23-21 at home this season and 20-22 on the road.
This is still the most productive lineup in the National League with an average of 4.71 runs per game, but it has only managed to score a total of 10 runs in its last four games. Edison Volquez will be on the mound tonight for Cincinnati. He is 5-3 on the year with an ERA of 5.65 in 15 starts. He got the win against Tampa Bay last Wednesday; giving up three earned runs on four hits in 6.1 innings of work. Volquez is 1-2 with a 4.94 ERA against the Cardinals.
St. Louis is now 5-2 in its last seven games including a three-game sweep over Baltimore last week. It is 46-40 overall and one game ahead of Milwaukee and a game and a half ahead of Pittsburgh in the NL Central. The Cardinals are 24-22 on the road and 22-18 at home.
Albert Pujols, who broke a bone in his wrist in mid-June, has been upgraded to questionable for this game after coming off the DL. His return would be a welcome sight for a lineup that has struggled a bit in his absence. St. Louis still leads the NL in hitting with a .269 team batting average and is second in runs scored with 399, but is 6-7 since he went out.
Jaime Garcia is slated to get the start for the Cardinals. Last Thursday against the Orioles, he gave up five earned runs on 10 hits in just 5.1 innings but still managed to get the win. Overall this season he is 7-3 with a 3.33 ERA. Garcia is a perfect 4-0 against the Reds with an ERA of 4.33.
Head-to-head, the Reds are 4-3 this season including a three-game sweep at home in mid-May. The total has gone ‘over’ in four of the seven games. This time around, stick with Cincinnati to even this series as its lineup bounces back tonight to get the win.
The NBA Trade Deadline is about 24 hours away from being reached, and though the New Jersey Nets missed out on the biggest fish in the sea this year, Carmelo Anthony, that didn’t stop them from pulling off a blockbuster trade. New Jersey has reached an agreement to acquire superstar PG Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz.
In this deal, New Jersey will be packing a ton of players that will be going to Utah. The Nets are trading the expiring contract of Troy Murphy to the Golden State Warriors, while Dan Gadzuric is going to be coming back from Golden State along with Brandan Wright in this deal. However, the biggest deal here is that there is now a legitimate superstar to build around in Deron Williams, and the hope is that he can be extended soon to keep him from becoming a free agent in two seasons.
For Utah, the deal will send back some incredibly young talent. The duo of Derrick Favors and Devin Harris will be heading to the Beehive State, and there will be a pair of first round draft picks coming to the Jazz to boot.
Williams fell out of favor with Utah when he was in an argument with long-time Head Coach Jerry Sloan just before the All Star Break. Still, the former member of the Illinois Fighting Illini has never played for any other team in the league than Utah, and this will be his first time back on the East Coast as a star of a team.
The question here is whether the wheeling and dealing is really done for either team. New Jersey still really doesn’t have that great of a nucleus in place, but if both Williams and Brook Lopez can be locked down long term, at least it is a good starting point. Utah now has a full backcourt to go with its full front court, but there are absolutely no legitimate superstars left on the team, and Sloan has already departed.
Williams is one of the best point guards in the league both in terms of assist production and scoring. He is putting up 21.3 points and 9.7 assists per game for the season. Favors now joins a stacked front court which already includes Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap, Mehmet Okur, and Al Jefferson when all of them are healthy. The rookie is only averaging 6.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, but the Nets probably have only just barely scratched the surface of his potential. Harris, a veteran point guard, is averaging 15.0 points and 7.6 assists per game, though he had fallen out of favor as well with New Jersey and was certain to be moved before the NBA trade deadline.
The question still remains whether the Portland Trail Blazers, who were eager to acquire Harris, are going to be dealing at the deadline as well to move Andre Miller and/or some bigs like Marcus Camby and Greg Oden, all of which are on the radar of several other teams.
Half time 1-1
Full Time 2-2
Our bettintg tips and preview below:
On form Fulham try to break Villa Park hoodoo
Fulham travel to Villa Park on Saturday having won four out of their last seven games in the Barclays Premier League, and progressed through to the fifth round of the FA Cup with an emphatic 4-0 win over Tottenham this time last week; things are looking up for Mark Hughes’s side. However Villa have also put a few results together of late and with the addition of Darren Bent to their striking repertoire will look to distance themselves from an increasingly tight relegation battle.
The home side also have a bit of a hex over the Cottagers; Fulham have never beaten Aston Villa on the road in the Premiership in nine attempts.
Fulham’s away record both this season and last, not just at Villa Park, is abysmal – the London club have only won one of their last thirty league games on the road – courtesy of a victory at the Brittania stadium against Stoke in December. Mark Hughes men will realise that the game on Saturday is an important one as both they, and the home side, are in danger of being sucked into a battle for Premier League survival. Fulham sit in 12th position before kick-off, just five points above West Ham in the relegation zone, whilst Villa are down in 14th, one point further back from the visitors.
Fulham will look to build on their 1-0 victory over Newcastle on Wednesday night, but will have to do so without the services of Bobby Zamora, who is still recovering from a broken leg and Swiss defender Phillipe Senderos who has an Achilles problem.
January loan signing Eidur Gudjohnsen is available for selection and should give the guests a bit of extra guile and class either as a frontman or attacking midfielder. Steve Sidwell will relish the chance to take on his former club, where he spent an unhappy and generally frustrating period.
The home side lost to League leaders Manchester United at Old Trafford in midweek but will be looking to re-find the form they showed in victories against Blackburn, Wigan and Manchester City in their three previous matches. They will have to do so without Luke Young and youngster Fabian Delph, who both are sidelined with knee injuries, but beyond this Villa have few injury worries. Gerard Houiller has a number of options up front, including new signing Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor, who has an excellent scoring record against Fulham. Richard Dunne is set to make his 400th career start at centre back if selected.
Both Villa and Fulham are in considerably better positions than they found themselves in early January, when both spent time in the bottom three. I wouldn’t go as far to say that this is a six-pointer but a win for either side can steer the victor to mid table security, whilst the defeated side are in danger of being dragged back into a relegation dogfight. Due to Fulham’s poor record away from Craven Cottage, Villa will be deemed as the favourite and a win should see the home faithful rescinding some of their scepticism for manager Gerard Houiller.
Midweek victors Bolton and Spurs clash at White Hart Lane
Spurs and Bolton meet at White Hart Lane on Saturday with both sides looking to bounce back from a mid season dip in form and push on towards qualification for European football next year. Spurs will be looking to keep pressure on fourth placed Chelsea and can join their London rivals on 44 points with a win, whilst Bolton will be keen to complete the double over Harry Redknapp’s men after winning 4-2 at the Reebok Stadium earlier in the season.
Tottenham go into Saturday’s fixture as the bookies favourite and will be looking to build on the three clean sheets that they have kept at home in their last three League outings at the Lane; the chances of which will be helped by the return of England International centre back Michael Dawson, who should start in the place of Sebastian Bassong. Spurs form of late has not been up to Champions League standard however, with only one win in their last five games – a 1-0 victory over Blackburn at Ewood Park in midweek. Harry Redknapp has called for his strikers to fire them into Champions League contention, and Peter Crouch duly answered against Rovers to head the winner; he should start again up-front alongside Jermaine Defoe. Spurs have only scored 33 goals in their 24 League outings this season, considerably less than the teams above them, and they will need to improve this if they are to challenge for Europe’s Elite club competition.
January signing Steven Pienaar is fit to play and is contention to start on the left wing in the absence of flying Welshman Gareth Bale, who is not yet fit to return to the starting line-up. Spurs will also be without Croatian playmaker Luka Modric, a player who has been at the fulcrum of Spurs’s creativity and style much acclaimed over the last 12 months. Tom Huddlestone is still missing, so Wilson Palacios should deputise alongside Jermaine Jenas in the centre of the park. Redknapp revealed this week that he had the chance to sign experienced Dutch defensive midfielder Mark Van Bommel in the transfer window, which he spurned; the Spurs gaffer probably wishes he could call upon the now AC Milan midfielder with Tom Huddlestone still in recovery.
Like Spurs, Bolton have had a run of poor results of late but got back to winning ways in midweek, also with a 1-0 win at home to Wolves. New loan signing Daniel Sturridge came off the bench to score the winner in that game, and is expected to get his first start for the Trotters on Saturday afternoon. Sturridge was something of a revelation in his time at Manchester City but has found his chances very limited at Chelsea and will be looking to reignite his career during his loan spell at Bolton.
Bolton’s other new signing David Wheater should start, and he will need to get back to grips with the pace and quality of Premiership football quickly if Bolton are to take anything from White Hart Lane. Wheater’s centre half partner Gary Cahill will be a key man also, as between them they try to nullify the aerial threat of Peter Crouch. Cahill was heavily linked with an exit from the Reebok Stadium in January, and was not short of suitors; Owen Coyle will be mightily relieved to have kept his star defender, at least until the summer. Lee Chung Yong is back from the Asia Cup but will probably be rested, whilst Jlloyd Samuel is unavailable due to a calf strain.
The next couple of games have the ability to make or break Tottenham’s season, with Bolton’s visit being followed by a tricky trip to Sunderland and then their first leg against AC Milan on Tuesday week. The North London side can ill-afford to take their minds of the task at hand and Bolton will be ready to take advantage of any inconsistency or European daydreaming. This is the type of game that Spurs really need to be winning if they are to challenge for a top four finish, whilst Bolton can use the game to measure how far they have come since their impressive start to the season.
(21-2, 9-9 ATS)
West Virginia Mountaineers
(15-7, 9-10 ATS)
The Backyard Brawl is always one of the most brutal games of the season on the collegiate gridiron, and you can bet that Monday’s NCAA basketball betting affair between the Pitt Panthers and the West Virginia Mountaineers will be just as bloody.
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A mini two game skid for college basketball betting fans came to a close for the Panthers on Saturday, as they took down the Cincinnati Bearcats 71-59 at the Petersen Events Center. Unfortunately, that was the last relatively easy game in at least a week for the top team in the Big East, as U-Pitt has to travel both to Morgantown and to the City of Brotherly Love this week to take on the Villanova Wildcats. Head Coach Jamie Dixon will tell you that a split in these two games would be just fine with him at this point just to keep the Panthers in the running for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Ashton Gibbs has been on fire offensive for the men in blue and gold of late, as he has scored 25 and 24 points respectively in his last two battles to raise his scoring average up to a team high 16.3 points per game. Gary McGhee has played well of late in limited minutes, averaging 9.0 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game since December 27th.
Dealing with the U-Pitt bigs is going to potentially be a problem for West Virginia, which was really outdone by the aforementioned Wildcats in Saturday afternoon’s NCAA basketball wagering war. The ‘Neers didn’t get a single point out of Joe Mazzulla or leading scorer Casey Mitchell, though Mitchell only played 13 minutes in his first game played in two weeks thanks to a suspension for violation of team rules. It appears as though Head Coach Bob Huggins is ready to put his sophomore standout back into the fold this coming week after using him off of the bench for 13 minutes on Saturday. However, Mitchell, who is averaging 15.7 points per game this year, has only been good for an average of 9.3 points per game since January 16th. Kevin Jones and John Flowers, who played a total of 77 out of a possible 80 minutes between them on Saturday, have to be huge on Monday for WVU to be able to pull off this upset. The two are dynamos on the glass, but they only had seven boards in spite of the fact that they had a healthy 31 points between them at Villanova.
West Virginia is certainly going to be up against it in this one, but we tend to believe that this is the day that Mitchell is going to be back and ready to shine in the spotlight of a nationally televised college basketball betting battle. Don’t be shocked if the big dogs in the Big East get bounced on Monday.
College Basketball Free Pick: West Virginia Mountaineers
Torres Transfer adds spice to Champions League Chase
Chelsea and Liverpool have served up some classic matches over the years, both in the Barclays Premiership and the UEFA Champions League – a competition that both stuttering Chelsea and resurgent Liverpool hope to be competing in next season. The spotlight will inevitably be on £50 million Spanish striker Fernando Torres following his January move to the Blues, as the stage is set for the ex-Liverpool frontman to make his debut, fitness permitting, against his old club. The Spaniard inspired Liverpool to victory at Anfield earlier in the season, scoring both goals in a 2-0 victory; Chelsea will be looking for revenge at Stamford Bridge with the chief architect of their demise in the previous fixture now amongst their ranks.
At the turn of the year both clubs found themselves considerably behind the pace-setters and off the boil in both performance and position in the Barclays Premier League. However both teams have had more positive results of late; Liverpool have won the last three games without conceding a goal, whilst Chelsea have recorded impressive victories in potential banana skin fixtures against Sunderland and Bolton. The Reds revival in form is down to caretaker manager and Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish, who this week was given a vote of confidence by the clubs owners, and whom has a real chance of fulfilling his ambitions of becoming the club’s manager on a permanent basis; his opposite number Carlo Ancelotti has pulled his head off the chopping block with improved results, mainly down to his attackers rediscovering their ability to find the back of the net on a regular basis.
The importance of the fixture is given extra zest with Fernando Torres most likely lining up against his former teammates. Torres’s move to Chelsea has incited the Liverpool fans who previously worshipped him, and the Spaniard can expect a frosty reception and a few boo’s from the travelling scouse supporters. Liverpool have such an illustrious history and a comprehensive fanbase, who do not accept second best; the sale of the clubs most valuable asset threatens to relegate them from one of the biggest football clubs in the world game to a selling club in the second tier of the Premiership. Fixtures like the one this Sunday will dictate whether the Champions League winners of 2005 can recapture former glories or will be forced to accept that they are no longer part of the elite of English football.
Liverpool’s new goalgetter Luis Suarez made a scoring debut from the bench against Stoke in midweek, and with Andy Carroll not fit Suarez is expected to make his first start against Chelsea. The Uruguayan has big boots to fill after Torres’s departure and the striker showed promise against Stoke. If his scoring record of 111 goals in 159 games for Ajax is anything to go by, the Kop may have a new hero and a winning goal on Sunday will go far to eradicating the bitterness of Torres’s exit. Although there will be new faces on show at the Bridge, the home supporters will recognise ex Chelsea playmaker Joe Cole, who may also feature if he recovers from a knee injury and have an important part to play if the visitors are to take anything from this fixture.
But where does Torres fit into Chelsea’s line-up? With Chelsea free-scoring in their latest games in both League and Cup, Torres threatens to upset the Drogba-Anelka machine that has started to fire. Another ex Liverpool striker, Nicolas Anelka, may draw the short straw to accommodate the Chelsea fans latest idol, and despite Torres and Didier Drogba’s undoubted class, as with any strike partnership they may take time to gel. The home faithful may also be treated to another new face, in the form of Brazilian centre back David Luiz, who may make his debut on Sunday – the towering defender has been earmarked as John Terry’s long term defensive partner.
In the bigger picture a win for either team can springboard them to a strong end to the season and a push towards European football next season. Chelsea are currently in 4th place, with Tottenham close on their heels and the three teams above them continuing to tally points. Liverpool’s rejuvenation has powered them up to 7th, nine points behind Chelsea, and an away win against one of the League’s leading teams would be a major shot in the arm to the scouser’s season. The so called “Big Four” has been shaken up with Spurs’s progression at home and in Europe, and big spending Manchester City’s quest for Champions League football, and if Chelsea or Liverpool want to play a major part in the title race a win on Sunday is a necessity.
So, Liverpool’s new found solidarity and improved defence versus Chelsea’s revitalised goal scoring and the addition of El Niño, the Kid; something has to give. Expect fireworks from the first whistle, and hopefully a free flowing spectacle. The odds will favour the home team but Liverpool should not be underestimated as Kenny Dalglish has given the team a steel and desire to win that just wasn’t there in Roy Hodgson’s tenure. The Torres factor will be extra motivation to the travelling team to unite and get a result, but his undoubted class may prove too much for his former employers – let battle commence
Newcastle’s lost against Fulham took them down to tenth in the table and they’ll keen to get back to winning ways after that result. Their mid-table position isn’t the most secure with six points the margin between themselves and relegation.
Arsenal are on incredible form, having won their last six games in all competitions, not many sides have beaten teams with such ease due mostly to the speed and technical ability of their passing game.
I think both teams will come into the match full of confidence so there could well be a few goals. Unfortunately for Newcastle United fans I expect Arsenal to score the majority of them again.
Arsenal will attack, look to dominate possession and go for goals while Newcastle United will attack and try to cause Arsenal problems when they can so it should be open. It’s a ‘must win’ game for both clubs but a fully restored Arsenal side should ease to a fairly comfortable win.
Stoke were easily brushed aside by Liverpool on Wednesday night when they offered very little in attack and on that display they are very hard to fancy at best odds of 5/4. They might be a different team at home but they’ll have to be to beat high-flying Sunderland who remain in good form despite a 4-2 loss at home to Chelsea in midweek. Mistakes cost them on Wednesday and there is a growing feeling that Chelsea are returning to something like their best so a 4-2 defeat against the in-form champions isn’t such a disastrous result.
Sunderland have coped well in the goalscoring department since the departure of Darren Bent and their away form has also been good lately, with their last two road trips ending with victory at Villa and Blackpool. Stoke have won their last two at home and they welcome back skipper Ryan Shawcross who should help shore up the defence that let in two at Anfield midweek. However, it’s offensively that Stoke look set to struggle and one goal in their last three games is a sign that they aren’t creating enough chances in front of goal.
If Sunderland can keep it tight at the back – something they admittedly failed to do against Chelsea – they are overpriced to win this. The Black Cats won the reverse fixture 2-0 and we’ll take the 3/1 they can repeat the trick.
The top seed David Nalbandian advanced into the second round of the Movistar Open, it wasn’t an easy match for the Argentine as Berlocq broke his serve three times to take the second set.
“I wasn’t troubled so much by the conditions, heat and a bit of altitude, because it’s the same in Cordoba. But this was the first match I’ve played on clay this year. It was a tough encounter and I had difficulties in the second set. But in the third set I raised my level again.” – said Nalbandian after the match.
He will meet now for the first time Horacio Zeballos who also had some problems with qualifier Hocevar but managed to win in two sets. Nalbandian made 10 double faults which haven’t anything with the adaptation to clay, Zeballos plays an offensive game and if Nalbandian isn’t at his best a surprise isn’t out of cards here but is hard to go against Nalbandian as he has a superior movement on court and better ground strokes from the back of the court, he creates good angles and can push Zeballos behind the baseline, the odds on Nalbandian are too low for a confident win on him and we back Zeballos with handicap.