The New York Yankees (68-47, 35-22 home) took ownership in Game 1 of a 4-game series with the Texas Rangers (67-47, 31-25 away), via jumping all over Ryan Dempster on Monday night and sending the new Ranger pitcher to the bench after giving up 8 runs over 6 innings, resulting in an 8-2 victory for the Bronx Bombers. Tonight, the two division-leading teams square up once more for another exciting clash, as the Rangers Matt Harrison (13-6, 3.31 ERA) tries to help his Texas team bounce back in a tough pitching duel against Hiroki Kuroda (10-8, 3.24 ERA).
Hiroki Kuroda is likely just who the Yankees would like to see on the mound in Game 2 tonight, as New York tries to earn their 6th win in 7 games and will have to face a solid opponent on the mound in Texas’ Matt Harrison. Kuroda, despite losing his last decision (a 0-1 loss against Seattle), is 4-1 in his last 5 decisions, and has given up just 7 runs in his last 5 starts spanning 35 innings of work. Also to his advantage tonight is the fact that he’s only been seen a total of 50 times by the Texas batting order, giving up just 1 home run and 4 RBIs across the board. Though he’s not had great success against Texas in the wins and ERA columns, posting an 0-2 record with a 4.50 ERA, Kuroda’s last outing against them was solid, with just 2 runs allowed in a 2-0 game in which he pitched 6 2/3 innings. He’ll likely look to stay wary of the core Texas hitters, including David Murphy, Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, and Nelson Cruz, the latter who is batting .448 in his last 8 games. This should be an interesting match-up for Kuroda at home, who is 7-4 with a 2.55 ERA at Yankee Stadium, but he’ll have to focus on keeping the ball down against the middle of the Texas lineup, who no doubt will be looking to swing big to get back on track after last night’s loss.
Matt Harrison on the other hand may be the Rangers leader when it comes to wins, but he’s been struggling mightily as of late, posting a 1-2 record over his last 4 starts with a 5.55 ERA. Having just one quality start in his last 4 outings, Harrison will certainly hope that he’ll be able to bounce back to the form of his last start at Yankee Stadium, in which he went 8 innings and gave up just 1 run and got the win in a 5-3 game in April, 2011. Overall though, Harrison has been so-so against New York, posting a 2-2 record with 4.26 ERA as a starter against the Yanks, and key to his success will hinge on being able to get around guys like Nick Swisher, who is 4-for-10 lifetime against hime and is hitting nearly .370 with 8 RBIs in his last 7 games. That doesn’t include other offensive assets like Curtis Granderson (4-for-12, 2 home runs), who is due for coming out of a 1-for-14 slump, and Robinson Cano, who is hitting .340 in August. The Yankees showed they can jump all over a pitcher in just one big inning, and with one of the best hitting teams in baseball set to build on a fine performance and facing a pitcher who’s been shaky, fireworks could be flying at Yankee Stadium by the end of the night.
Betting Lines for the New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers at Oddsmaker sportsbook.
The Yankees come into tonight’s match-up getting -138 odds to win straight up. Having won 5 out of the last 6 games overall, and 5 straight at home over Texas, the smart money may be sticking with the Yankees to prevail at home. The +128 odds for Texas as underdogs is tempting, but we’ll give it another game before we decide that Texas has what it takes offensively to rebound against New York.
Against the spread, the Yankees have covered in 7 out of their last 8 wins, and 4 straight at home. Texas on the other hand has failed spread pickers going their way in 4 out of the last 5 contests overall. Therefore, if you’re leaning towards the Yankees on the betting lines in the first place, take note of the improved +145 odds taking New York to surpass 1.5 runs over the Rangers’ total. Though Kuroda has suffered poor run support from time to time this season, with a shaky Matt Harrison and big Yankee bats looking to do more damage tonight, we are definitely down for picking the Yankees with the spread. For Texas to cover as underdogs at +1.5 runs, you’ll need to be a little stronger with your money hand with just -165 odds given.
For the total runs tonight, 9 runs stands as the mark for the over/under. The total between these two teams has gone over in 4 out of the last 5 meetings, not surprising considering each team’s standing as Nos. 1 and 2 in AL offensive production. Two teams that score a lot, when faced with good pitching on both sides, usually means you’re wagering on one of the two pitchers to have an off night, and get the score run up on them. We should expect a better hitting night from the Rangers, but the X-factor is how well Matt Harrison pitches. We’re going out on a limb and pushing a small wager on the +105 odds taking the game to stay under the total runs.