The big storyline for the rest of the sports world has to be the fact that all 4 teams facing elimination in last night's NBA playoff action, had their darkest fears realized and were sent packing for the summer. A bigger story, at least for me, emerged in Atlanta though. I was expecting a close game between the Braves and the Mets, and I was banking on the Atlanta bullpen to pull things through for the Bravos, but it didn't work out that way at all. Both big guns from that pen, O'Flaherty and Kimbrel, coughed up a lead in the 8th and 9th innings respectively, so it was left to Jordan Walden, the reclamation project off the Angels scrap heap, to carry the water. Walden got 2 quick outs and then proceeded to do what he used to do in Anaheim. He fiddled around and nibbled his way into a scoring situation for the Mets and finally got beat using his 2nd or 3rd best pitch. Baseball is a beautiful, albeit maddening, game.
THE NBA (2-2 ATS/SU/TOTALS last night and 8-10/9-9/9-9 so far for the week)
BUTTA (no play last night and 0-1 so far for the week)
NETS (-290) over Bulls - The Nets are installed as 6 1/2-point chalk for this game, and my guess is that with the Bulls so badly beat up, Brooklyn will get there. I don't see how the Bulls can keep up with Lu Deng sitting this one out. Deng is the Bulls most complete player without Derrick Rose around, and even though guys like Butler, Bellinelli, Gibson and Nate Robinson have been helping to pick up the slack all season long, I think the loss of Deng spells doom for the Bulls tonight. Hinrich has been stout all season also, and he's highly questonable as well. There is a spirit that Chicago has played with all season though, and maybe they keep this one close. But in the end, I like the Nets to win the game. The TOTAL also looks like a close proposition as well, and I don't want anything to do with it, but according to my numbers, the OVER (181 1/2) would be the play. NETS 101, Bulls 83
THE SHOW (2-2 last night and 15-10 so far for the week)
The wise thing to do tonight would probably be to jump right back on the Braves. Lightning can't possibly strike that bullpen twice, but alas, I look for something better.
BUTTA (0-1 last night and 4-3 so far for the week)
YANKEES (HUGHES -125) over Athletics (Colon) - Bartolo Colon has a way of catching lightning in a bottle from time to time, but I don't think today will be the day he can do that. The Yanks are 4-1 in games Hughes has started against the A's over his career, and they're also 21-2 in games Hughes starts at home when the Bombers are coming off a loss.
ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR
1. Cardinals (Wainwright -125) over BREWERS (GALLARDO) - The Redbirds have opened a can on the Brew Crew in the first 2 games of this series, so there's good reason to be cautious today. Wainwright has shown signs of being the guy he was before the injury so far this season, and while his lifetime record against the Brewers is only 9-6, his career ERA versus Milwaukee is a scant 2.00. He's also 28-11 in his career when on the road against division opponents. Gallardo is in a good groove right now for the Crew, and he has impressive numbers in home starts over the last 3 seasons (31-10) and especially when those starts are against a team with a winning record (16-3). These are numbers that keep me off this game, but what has me wanting badly to lean on the Cards this afternoon is the fact that Gallardo is 1-11 lifetime against them with a 6.86 ERA. YIKES!
2. PADRES (RICHARD +110) over D-Backs (Corbin) - This kid Corbin looks like he has the potential to be something special, but Clayton Richard is 6-0 lifetime against the Snakes.
RUN-(NING) LINES (7-7 ATS/7-7 SU/8-6 TOTALS last night and 35-45/36-43/47-33 so far for the week)
1. White Sox (+1 1/2, O7 1/2) at ROYALS
2. RANGERS (-1 1/2, U9) over Red Sox
3. Mariners (+1 1/2, U7 1/2) at BLUE JAYS
4. ASTROS (+1 1/2, U8) vs. Tigers
5. Orioles (+1 1/2, U9) at ANGELS
6. Athletics (+1 1/2, U8) at YANKEES
7. Twins (+1 1/2, U9) at INDIANS
8. Mets (+1 1/2, U7 1/2) at BRAVES
9. CUBS (+1 1/2, O7) vs. Reds
10. Marlins (+1 1/2, U7 1/2) at PHILLIES
11. Cardinals (-1 1/2, O7 1/2) over BREWERS
12. PIRATES (+1 1/2, U7) vs. Nationals
13. PADRES (+1 1/2, O7 1/2) vs. D-Backs
14. Dodgers (+1 1/2, U7) at GIANTS
15. Rays (-1 1/2, O9) over ROCKIES
That's all I've got for today, folks. Happy hunting. Have a great day, be careful out there and I'll talk to you again tomorrow.