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BALTIMORE ORIOLES (96-71) at NEW YORK YANKEES (97-69)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: New York -200 & 7.5 under -120
After an incredibly close four games, it's only fitting that the Orioles and Yankees will play a deciding Game 5 of their ALDS on Friday afternoon, with the winner facing Detroit in Saturday's ALCS.
With Baltimore's 13-inning win on Thursday, these teams have now split 22 games this season. The past three games have all been decided by one run (the past two in extra innings) and Game 1 was a 2-2 score entering the ninth. Game 5 figures to be another low-scoring affair with the Orioles batting .197 with a .238 on-base percentage for the series and New York not much better with a .216 BA and .280 OBP in the four games. Baltimore starters have a 1.82 ERA (5 ER in 24.2 IP) in the ALDS, while the Yankees starters have a 2.35 ERA (8 ER in 30.2 IP). Both teams will be trotting out their aces, with Jason Hammel going up against CC Sabathia. Although the New York left-hander is 17-4 in his career versus Baltimore, he was saddled with a 6.38 ERA and 1.64 WHIP in three starts against the O's during the regular season. Meanwhile, Hammel has allowed two runs or less in three of his four starts against the Yanks this year. With this series being so tight throughout, this money line is way too lopsided towards New York. Not only are the Orioles 7-4 at Yankee Stadium this year, but they are also more accustomed to close games, going 31-10 in one-run games, and prevailing in 17 of 20 extra-inning affairs.
Hammel (8-6, 3.42 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) pitched pretty well in his first career postseason start in Game 1, allowing two runs on four hits in 5.2 innings. He struck out five, but he did walk four batters too. Hammel is 1-3 with a 5.24 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in nine career starts versus New York, but has pitched pretty well in his past three starts at Yankee Stadium (3.71 ERA). Although Hammel hasn't personally won a baseball game since June 22, he hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of his past four starts, carting a 3.12 ERA with 17 K's in 17.1 innings over this span. But for the Orioles to win this game, the middle of the lineup needs to get going in some capacity. They have been terrible the entire ALDS, as No. 3 hitter Chris Davis is 4-for-16 with 5 K's, cleanup hitter Adam Jones is 2-for-19 with 4 K's, No. 5 hitter Matt Wieters is 2-for-17, usual No. 6 hitter Jim Thome is 1-for-12 with 4 K's and No. 7 hitter Mark Reynolds is 3-for-16 with 6 K's. That's a combined 12-for-80 (.150 BA) from the 2-through-7 hitters. However, other than closer Jim Johnson (5 ER in 4.1 IP), the rest of the Baltimore bullpen has been outstanding this series with a combined pitching line of: 13 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 13 K's.
Sabathia (16-6, 3.32 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) has led his team to four straight wins, going 3-0 with a 1.65 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 35 K's in 32.2 innings during this span. That includes a near complete game in Baltimore in Game 1 when he lasted 8.2 innings, allowing two runs on eight hits, one walk and seven strikeouts. That makes him 6-1 with a 3.29 ERA in 11 postseason starts with the Yankees. Sabathia has been even better at home this year, going 7-4 with a 2.69 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, .199 opponents' BA and 104 K's in 97 IP. Several Yankees sluggers have also been silenced for this series. Alex Rodriguez is 2-for-16 with 9 K's, Curtis Granderson is 1-for-16 with 9 K's, Robinson Cano is 2-for-18 and Nick Swisher is 2-for-15 in the ALDS. However, just like Baltimore, New York's bullpen has been phenomenal all series, combining for a 0.79 ERA, 0.55 WHIP and 10 K's in 11.1 innings.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (91-76) at WASHINGTON NATIONALS (101-66)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Washington -133 & 6.5 over -120
After Jayson Werth tied the series at two games apiece with a walk-off home run on Thursday, the Nationals and Cardinals will play Game 5 of their series on Friday night to see who advances to the NLCS.
Gio Gonzalez takes the mound for Washington amid a potential Cy Young season. In 33 starts he has a 21-8 record, 2.91 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. His numbers are even better at home, where he has a 2.38 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. Overall, Washington tends to dominate St. Louis at home, going 10-3 against them over the past three seasons. And even though the Cardinals dominate lefty starters with a 31-19 (.620) record against them, they have yet to figure out Gonzalez, who is 1-0 (team 2-0) with a 1.29 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in his two career starts against St. Louis, both of which came in the past seven weeks. Both of those starts also came against Adam Wainwright, who takes the hill for the Cardinals on Friday after losing to Gonzalez in Game 1 of this series. He is having a solid season with a 3.88 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, but his ERA jumps to 4.20 on the road where St. Louis is just 6-9 in these 15 away outings.
St. Louis has been mediocre on the road this season with a 40-44 record away from Busch Stadium, losing 24 of the past 39 road tilts (.385). Although Wainwright has good career numbers against the Nationals (4-3, 3.54 ERA), he has been shelled in his past two trips to the nation's capital, allowing 10 runs, 15 hits and six walks in just 7.2 innings of work. The most recent of those outings came on August 31, when Gonzalez blanked his team in a 10-0 laugher. However, the Cards have scored 21 runs on 30 hits over the past three games of this series, so they are certainly capable of providing some run support. However, the St. Louis bullpen on the road has to be a concern for them. Cardinals relievers are 8-18 with a 4.42 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 11 blown saves away from home this year.
Washington is 10-4 when Gonzalez takes the mound in his home ballpark this season, as he has recorded 92 strikeouts in 90.2 innings. The only time he ever faced the Cardinals at Nationals Park was on August 31, when he threw a five-hit shutout, striking out eight batters. He averages 6.5 innings per start at home this season and is supported by a stellar crew of relievers. The Washington bullpen has a 3.30 ERA and 1.24 WHIP this season with a 28-19 record. They have compiled 52 saves on the season, converting on 75% of their opportunities. Washington's relievers were outstanding on Thursday, with three no-hit innings, racking up eight strikeouts in the nine outs. The Nationals offense needs to snap out of its funk though, as they are scoring a pathetic 2.2 runs per game in the NLDS, batting just .215 with a .287 on-base percentage. However, Gonzalez is one of a few pitchers in baseball that can deal with such little run support.