07/13/2012 - (Sportsbook Betting Lines) - The Washington Nationals are in first place in the National League East and will get to know some of their division foes even better over the next few weeks with 14 straight games.
The Nationals will begin the NL East stretch tonight with the first of four in a row against the Miami Marlins in south Florida. They lost two of three to Colorado at home following a four-game winning streak and headed to the All- Star break following a 4-3 loss to the Rockies on Sunday. Jordan Zimmermann, who will start tonight, did not figure into the decision that day with seven innings of one-run ball.
Tyler Clippard was dealt the loss for allowing the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth.
"I feel real bad on that one for [Zimmermann]," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "His record's not indicative of what kind of first half he's had. He's been outstanding."
Ian Desmond homered and Steve Lombardozzi drove in a run for the Nationals, who are four games ahead of Atlanta and 4 1/2 games in front of New York in the division standings.
Washington has been a big surprise this season and hopes Zimmermann can get back into the win column tonight. Zimmermann is 2-0 in his previous three starts and will try to reach the .500 mark. He has made 17 starts this season, going 5-6 with a 2.61 earned run average, and lost at Miami on May 28 this season. In six career starts against the Marlins, the right-handed Zimmermann is 0-3 with a 4.81 ERA.
Miami was supposed to compete for NL East supremacy this season, but is nine games behind Washington.
The Marlins closed out the first half of the season by going 3-4 on a seven- game road trip that culminated with Sunday's 5-4 loss at St. Louis. A three- run bottom of the ninth inning propelled the Cardinals to victory, while Miami first-year closer Heath Bell gave up all three runs to absorb the loss.
"I've let the whole organization down ... I had the worst first half I've ever had and I think all my teammates can definitely blame me," said Bell, who suffered his sixth blown save of the season.
Austin Kearns hit a three-run homer and Omar Infante finished 3-for-4 with a run scored in the loss. Anibal Sanchez started for the Marlins and did not record a decision after he threw six innings of two-run ball.
Josh Johnson will try to pitch the Marlins out of their funk when he takes the hill Friday night. Johnson is 1-0 in his past three starts and did not receive a decision in a 7-6 win at Milwaukee on July 4, when he was tagged for five runs and six hits in five innings. The big right-hander is still 5-5 in 17 starts with a 4.06 ERA.
Johnson defeated Washington back on May 30 and is an impressive 8-0 in 16 games (15 starts) in this series.
Miami has won three of five matchups with the Nationals this season and swept a three-game series at Marlins Park from May 28-30.
<< Terry found not guilty of racial abuse
London, England (Sportsbook Betting Lines) - Chelsea defender John Terry was found not guilty on Friday of racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand. Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle announced his verdict after a five-day trial, saying that Terry was
<< Will NCAA be next to pile on Penn State?
Philadelphia, PA (Sportsbook Betting Lines) - The typically heavy-handed NCAA has remained remarkably tight-lipped on all matters related to the scandal that has engulfed Pennsylvania State University. The recent release of the Freeh report has reiter
<< Knicks ink Kidd, re-sign Novak
New York, NY (Sportsbook Betting Lines) - Jason Kidd, second on the NBA's all-time list in assists and steals, officially signed with the New York Knicks Thursday. The Mavericks and Kidd were reportedly putting the finishing touches on a multi-y
<< Report: Griffin out of Olympics with knee injury
Los Angeles, CA (Sportsbook Betting Lines) - Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin will reportedly miss the Olympics after suffering an injury to his left knee during practice for the U.S. national team Wednesday. Griffin was set to undergo
First-place Pirates open second half vs. Greinke, Brewers >>
(Sportsbook Betting Lines) - The Pittsburgh Pirates look to continue their surprising season when they take on the NL Central-rival Milwaukee Brewers this evening in the opener of a three-game series at Miller Park. The Pirates are first in the Centra
Disappointing Phillies seek to get on track against Rockies >>
(Sportsbook Betting Lines) - The Philadelphia Phillies are at rock bottom right now and hope to turn things around when they start the second half of the season tonight against the Colorado Rockies in the opener of a three-game series. The five-time d
Reds turn to Latos in opener with Cardinals >>
(Sportsbook Betting Lines) - Streaking right-hander Mat Latos can remain unbeaten since April and perhaps propel the Cincinnati Reds back into first place tonight, when they open a three-game home set with the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball P
White Sox make a stop in Kansas City >>
(Sportsbook Betting Lines) - The top team in the American League Central Division opens the second half against one of its pursuers tonight, as the Chicago White Sox visit the Kansas City Royals for the first of three games at Kauffma
Teams that should be in: Michigan State, Indiana
Work left to do: Illinois, Purdue, Michigan, Iowa
Behind the big two, the pecking order might be in a bit of flux. Has Michigan State passed Indiana after handling the Hoosiers in East Lansing? Where is Illinois in that mix? What looked like a four-big league last week could be morphing into five -- and even six is not unthinkable at this point if everything breaks right.
Should be in:
Michigan State [21-8 (8-6), RPI: 20, SOS: 15] The Spartans made it four-for-four on the homestand, a gigantic accomplishment that leaves them in extremely good shape. MSU is only 1-6 on the road and is at Michigan and at Wisconsin to close things out, meaning the date with the Wolverines on Tuesday looms very, very large. Beating Texas early will hold up well, as will the rout of Bradley and the win over BYU, but will 8-8 be enough? It very well could be, as the computer numbers are good, but why chance it?
Indiana [18-9 (8-6), RPI: 24, SOS: 32] Hmm ... good thing the last two are at Northwestern and home to Penn State, because IU might want to get both to feel completely safe after dropping its third in the last four, fading after halftime at Michigan State. Who knew the best nonconference win would be over Southern Illinois, which is a gift that keeps on giving for the Hoosiers. The win over Wisconsin also looks good on the mantel.
Work left to do:
Illinois [21-9 (9-6), RPI: 31, SOS: 25] A good performance at Penn State leaves the Illini in pretty good shape. Can they go to Iowa and take care of business to really look on their way? That's a huge game, as there is a possible cluster of teams that will end at 9-7. Illinois beat Bradley, but has lost to Xavier. A 9-7 mark and a semifinals trip in Chicago could be enough with the computer profile hanging in there, but it would be better not to mess around, clinching at least a tie for third.
Purdue [18-10 (7-7), RPI: 47, SOS: 28] Couldn't get it done at Iowa, but did win at Northwestern to put 9-7 squarely in sight. Where does that leave the Boilermakers, though? Even if they beat Minnesota and Northwestern at home, that won't help the computer numbers. Nonconference wins over Virginia, DePaul and Oklahoma are solid, but not spectacular. The Boilers very well might need an upset in the B10 quarters to have a legit claim.
Michigan [19-10 (7-7), RPI: 55, SOS: 53] Well, Michigan did what it needed to do, winning at Minnesota to take control of its fate. The Wolverines have Michigan State and an already-wrapped-up-the-league Ohio State at home to close, so the chances are there. Win both and we can talk. There is no marquee win yet in the profile, and the Wolverines were splattered in several games against name opponents. A mediocre computer profile fueled by a lack of road wins isn't helping, either.
Iowa [16-12 (8-6), RPI: 80, SOS: 64] For the sake of being complete, we'll add Iowa, this season's Stanford. It's plausible that the Hawkeyes could get to 10-6 (at Penn State, vs. Illinois left), but where does that leave them after a gruesome nonconference performance where the best win was over ... Toledo? Iowa State? Cornell?? If they get to 10-6, we can start to look at what they need to do in the B10 tourney, although my gut sense is that they would need to make the final and have knocked off Ohio State or Wisconsin on the way to have any real claim.
For more College Basketball betting lines go to MySportsbook.com
Additional sports lines can be found at: www.Sportsbooks.com
After all the trouble that’s ensued since Braylon Edwards allegedly punched one of LeBron James’ homeboys in the face at a club, the Cleveland Browns have sent away their last remaining player of worth to the New York Jets. This is a great move for Dirty Sanchez and all, but it’s even better for the Knicks. Now Donnie Walsh can say, “You get to haunt Braylon Edwards with your posse if you sign here!” next summer.
Putting that aside for a moment, the move is a clear indication that the new-look Jets are gunning for the Super Bowl this year. I don’t think that New York thought that Dirty Sanchez was going to be such a rock star. With a 75.2 passer rating that was killed against the Jets, Sanchez is doing an admirable job of managing games and putting the Jets in a position to win. The defense has been the major story in New York thus far, but the acquisition of Braylon Edwards makes this offense loaded with talent that can dent any defense…as long as Dirty Sanchez continues his meteoric rise.
Thus far, Edwards has been a non-factor in the NFL piling up just 139 receiving yards on 10 catches. He has yet to find the endzone, and with the Browns mired in the most unsexy quarterback controversy of all time (Anderson vs. Quinn...yawn), there going nowhere fast. Edwards is two seasons removed from a career year which saw him catch 80 passes for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns when the Browns were the spread killing monsters of 2007. In 2008, injuries slowed the receiver down to just 873 yards and three touchdowns though he played in all 16 games.
So that being said, we really don’t know if Braylon Edwards is just a flash in the pan, or a legit threat. At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, he is a prototypical receiver. But he’s also shown a strange, and unwarranted, talent for dropping passes. Lining up opposite Jericho Cotchery, a speed demon with 23 catches, 356 yards and a single touchdown, may give Braylon the open looks he needs. A change of scenery may also rejuvenate the star receiver.
In return, the Browns will receive Chansi Stuckey, online football betting a special teams player you’ve never heard of and a pair of draft picks. That’s a tall order for a guy whose only real value right now is in his name, and it shows no promise to the Browns that they can rebuild around those acquisitions. Braylon was the only reason to hope for the Browns to go 3-14 SU this year. Without him, they don’t have a single guy on offense that can scare any team.
For the Jets, it’s a response to the pounding that they took at the hand of the Saints. Thomas Jones and Leon Washington have averaged around 4.0 yards per carry each on the ground, but striking a fair balance between the passing and rushing attacks in New York has been a struggle. You have to believe that the trio of Dustin Keller, Jericho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards will give Sanchez the weapons he needs to unleash through the air. Theoretically, that would open up holes for the rushing game. But the proposed public option health care plan works in theory too. We need to see the proof in the pudding before we start loading up mega bucks on the New York Jets to take the AFC.
The one wrinkle in this whole thing is that Braylon could very well be suspended by the league for disciplinary action due to his “brawl” with LeBron’s friend. If that’s the case, the Jets may have to bench him for a few games leaving them with a somewhat depleted receiving corps for a few games. Also, this is a guy who gets in fights with people at clubs. New York may not be the best place for him. Just sayin’.
The Jets have a long week before they meet the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football Betting in a virtual pick ‘em game. Braylon’s excess baggage may be a distraction, and his curiously low production may be what we should be expecting of him overall, but for the Jets, taking a chance to strike gold is well worth it. At the end of the year, they can simply just blame it on their rookie quarterback.