Toronto Blue Jays at Texas Rangers (-135, 9)
Series tied 0-0
The Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays don’t like each other very much and aren’t afraid to show it on the field. Both teams try to keep their emotions in check when they meet in the American League Division Series for the second straight season, with the top-seeded Rangers hosting Game 1 on Thursday.
The Blue Jays battled back from a 2-0 deficit to win the series in five games last October, capped off by a memorable bat flip by Jose Bautista after a go-ahead home run in Game 5. Bautista was hit by a pitch the final time the teams faced off during the regular season May 15 and went hard into second base attempting a takeout slide against Rougned Odor, who took exception and knocked Bautista back with a hard right hand to kick off one of the more vicious benches-clearing incidents across the majors this season. “I expect it to be a good game, good series,” Toronto third baseman Josh Donaldson told ESPN after the Blue Jays’ wild- card victory over Baltimore on Tuesday. “Two quality teams going at each other. Hopefully all that stuff’s put in the past and we go out there and play great baseball.” The Blue Jays got a walk-off, three-run homer from Edwin Encarnacion in the 11th inning Tuesday to take out the Baltimore Orioles in the wild-card game and head into the ALDS with momentum.
TV: 4:38 p.m. ET, TBS, Sportsnet (Toronto)
LINE HISTORY: The Rangers open Game 1 as -140 favorites and were bet up ever so slightly to -141. Since then, the line has come back on the Jays, currently sitting at Rangers -135. The total for this game was pegged at 9. Check out the complete line history here.
WEATHER REPORT: There is a slight chance of thunderstorms in the area, but otherwise temperatures will be in the high 80’s. It should be noted there is an expected pitchers wind gusting in from right field at seven to nine miles per hour.
Blue Jays – C R. Martin (probable Thursday, finger), CP R. Osuna (doubtful Thursday, shoulder), RP J. Benoit (out indefinitely, calf).
Rangers – 2B R. Odor (probable Thursday, shin).
SERIES PRICE (PER SPORTS INTERACTION):
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “We haven’t posted a line for the Toronto-Texas series because we don’t know who is pitching yet. Perhaps baseball should enact a listed starting pitcher rule, at least during the postseason.” – Odds consultant Scott Cooley of BookMaker.eu.
WHAT SHARPS SAY: “Toronto heads to Texas off an emotional home win on Tuesday night, so the Blue Jays are in a difficult scheduling spot. Texas also holds a slight pitching edge with Cole Hamels against Marco Estrada. However, the Blue Jays were actually the better team this season and had a 91-71 X_WL record (expected won-loss based on run margin), while the Rangers were just 82-80 X_WL. The reason the Rangers had a better real won/loss record is because they were 36-11 in games decided by exactly one run this season, while Toronto was just 21-25.” – Covers Expert Steve Merril.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Blue Jays RH Marco Estrada (9-9, 3.48 ERA) vs. Rangers LH Cole Hamels (15-5, 3.32 ERA)
Estrada was strong down the stretch, allowing a total of two runs in 19 innings over his final three turns, to bounce back from a rough stretch over the previous month. The 33-year-old Californian did some of his best work in the playoffs last season with a 2-1 record and a 2.33 ERA in three starts to go along with 15 strikeouts and one walk. One of those wins came at Texas, where Estrada breezed through 6 1/3 innings on one run and five hits to help Toronto avoid elimination in Game 3.
The Rangers try to take a commanding lead in the series by throwing aces Hamels and Yu Darvish in the first two games, with Hamels getting the nod in the opener. The former World Series hero for the Philadelphia Phillies struggled down the stretch, allowing five or more runs in four of his final six starts, but went at least six innings in each of the last four. Hamels started twice in the postseason against Toronto in 2015 and went 0-1 while allowing a total of nine runs (four earned) in 13 1/3 innings.
* Blue Jays are 9-2 in their last 11 games versus a left-handed starter.
* Rangers are 18-3 in Hamels’ last 21 home starts.
* Under is 6-1 in Blue Jays last seven games following a win.
* Over is 6-1-1 in Hamels’ last eight starts overall.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is backing the home side in Game one of this ALDS rematch, with 64 percent of wagers on the Rangers. When it comes to the total, bettors think it will be a low scoring affair, with 67 percent of wagers on the Under.
Boston Red Sox at Cleveland Indians (+128, 8.50)
Series tied 0-0
Boston’s David Ortiz makes his last playoff run and starts it against a team managed by Terry Francona, who helped guide Ortiz and the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. Francona must find a way to work around Ortiz with a pitching staff at less-than full strength when the Cleveland Indians host Boston in Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday.
The Red Sox had a chance to earn homefield advantage throughout the playoffs but closed with five losses in the last six games to drop into third place and make it necessary to travel to Cleveland for Game 1. Ortiz went 3-for-20 with one extra-base hit in those six games while being showered with tributes, but the bigger issue for Boston was closer Craig Kimbrel suffering the loss in two of those games and issuing six walks in two total innings over his three appearances. The Indians’ pitching issues have more to do with health as Carlos Carrasco (fractured finger) will miss the playoffs, Danny Salazar (forearm) is limited to the bullpen and Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber (quad) starts Game 2 on 10 days’ rest. “He’ll throw an extended side on Tuesday, which will line him up for Friday,” Francona told reporters of Kluber. “Klub really wanted to pitch Thursday. We’ve been talking about it for three or four days, but I just kind of overruled him.”
TV: 8:08 p.m. ET, TBS
LINE HISTORY: The Indians opened this game as +120 home dogs and bettors have faded them to the current number of Indians +128. The total has been set at 8.5. Check out the complete line history here.
WEATHER REPORT: It should be a beautiful night for playoff baseball in Cleveland. The forecast calls for clear skies with temperatures in the mid 60’s at gametime. There will be a slight hitters wind blowing out to left field at approximately six miles per hour.
INJURY REPORT: No notable injuries.
SERIES PRICE (PER SPORTS INTERACTION):
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “Unsurprisingly, it’s all Boston money in this series. Our clients are just piling on the BoSox. Right now, we’ve got about 85 percent of the wagers on the road team, and we’ve moved 13 cents in that direction.” – Odds consultant Scott Cooley of BookMaker.eu.
WHAT SHARPS SAY: “Boston faltered down the stretch, and because of that, they are on the road in Cleveland. The Red Sox actually finished the season with a 98-64 X_WL record (expected won-loss based on run margin) which was the second best in MLB behind the Cubs. The Indians had just a 91-70 X_WL record. The reason Cleveland had a better real record is because they were 28-21 in games decided by exactly one run this season, while Boston was just 20-24.” – Covers Expert Steve Merril.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox RH Rick Porcello (22-4, 3.15 ERA) vs. Indians RH Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26)
Porcello emerged as an AL Cy Young candidate in the second half and went 8-1 over his final 11 starts, yielding three or fewer earned runs in each of those outings. The New Jersey native had a string of 11 straight starts completing at least seven innings come to an end in his last two starts as he surrendered a total of six runs and 16 hits in 12 1/3 innings against Tampa Bay and Toronto. Porcello earned a home win over Cleveland on May 22 and is 10-4 with a 3.35 ERA in 22 career starts against the Indians.
Bauer might have slotted fourth in a fully healthy Cleveland rotation and struggled down the stretch with a 7.20 ERA in his last five starts. The lone quality start in that bunch came Saturday, when the UCLA product held Kansas City to three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out nine in six innings. Bauer faced Boston twice this season – once in relief – and allowed a total of six runs and 10 hits in six innings.
* Red Sox are 11-2 in their last 13 road games versus a right-handed starter.
* Indians are 7-0 in their last seven home games versus a right-handed starter.
* Under is 5-0 in Red Sox last five overall.
* Over is 4-0 in Bauer’s last four home starts.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Bettors are Backing the BoSox in Game one with 62 percent of wagers on Boston. The total is a a little more split, with 54 percent of wagers on the Over.