Several potential World Series matchups fill the early part of the week on the baseball betting schedule. The Angels and Dodgers are in the midst of their Freeway Series at Chavez Ravine. The Mets are at the Trop taking on the Rays in a collision of playoff hopefuls. Even the Red Sox, despite their early struggles, are still very much in the thick of the AL race as they venture south to meet the Miami Marlins.
But who would have figured the series in Baltimore between the Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates to be a clash of squads at or near the top of their respective divisions? Indeed, that is the case when the Bucs and O's begin their set at Camden Yards on Tuesday (7:05 p.m. ET).
The initial mound battle will be Brad Lincoln for Pittsburgh against Baltimore's Wei-Yin Chen. Early odds had the Orioles priced around -150 with an 8½-run total.
Clint Hurdle's Pirates are tied for the NL Central lead with Cincinnati as the season's 11th week commences. No, that's not a misprint. Ten weeks into the schedule, Pittsburgh is in first place. The offense remains a bit impotent, though recently showing signs of getting stronger, and Pirates hurlers have been solid all season and a huge reason why Pittsburgh backers are $11.00 in the black while also providing income for 'under' bettors (36-20-3).
Lincoln has shuffled between the bullpen and rotation for the Pirates, with Tuesday's outing his third start to go with 13 relief appearances. The former University of Houston standout got kicked around in Cincinnati last Wednesday, lasting just 12 outs and allowing five Reds runners to come plateward. He made three interleague starts for the Bucs in 2010, losing twice and picking up a no-decision in the other assignment which went into Pittsburgh's win column.
Buck Showalter's Orioles begin the week in third but just a game out in the tight AL East. Baltimore got this homestand started by taking two of three from the Phillies, winning the Saturday and Sunday contests in extra frames to move to 34-26 (+14.8 units). On the totals side of the MLB odds ledger, the O's are 30-29-1 to the 'under.'
Baltimore snapped a 3-game losing skid with Chen on the hill his last time out, a strong 7-IP, 1-ER performance at Fenway Park to beat the Red Sox 2-1 as a +160 underdog. Chen's only interleague experience to date came last month in Washington, and it wasn't pretty with the Nationals plating six in his 4-1/3 innings of work. Chen has a 2.16 ERA in five starts this season at home, and the Orioles are 3-2 in those games.
The Bucs and O's have met for just three interleague series before now, and Pittsburgh owns a slight 5-4 edge, including two of three in 2008 when the clubs last met in Baltimore.
Pale Hose, Redbirds Open Series In St. Louis
Only 13 players born in Colombia have played in the majors, and three of them made their big league debuts this season. Among that trio is Jose Quintana who gets the call for the White Sox on Tuesday when Chicago begins a 6-game road trip at the St. Louis Cardinals.
This is yet another potential Fall Classic preview with Chicago leading the AL Central and defending World Series MLB champion St. Louis just two games behind the leaders in the NL Central. The Cards will counter with Adam Wainwright on the mound for the 8:15 p.m. (ET) start. St. Louis is 145 chalk with an 8½-run total for openers.
Quintana was pulled up from Double-A in early May and has stuck around while John Danks is on the DL with a shoulder injury. The word is that Danks, who makes a rehab appearance Tuesday for Triple-A Charlotte, should be back on the big league roster soon, so this could be Quintana's last game with the South Siders for a while. The lefty has been an asset for Robin Ventura and the White Sox with a 2.05 ERA in three starting assignments and a couple of relief showings.
Wainwright continued his mastery on the Houston mound in his most recent trip to the mound, improving his career record to 5-0 in six outings at the Astros' home park. He ran out of steam in the sixth inning and allowed all of Houston's runs in the 4-3 St. Louis victory. That start was preceded by the Mets roughing him up in New York (6-1/3 IP, 7 ER). Wainwright's last two starts at home, however, were excellent winning efforts as he combined for 15 innings while allowing just one run.
St. Louis has a 10-8 lead vs. the White Sox in previous interleague encounters. That includes a 7-2 edge at home with the last meeting in St. Louis 11 years ago at Busch II. The Cardinals swept that set, but the White Sox returned the favor at US Cellular Field in 2006 when the clubs last squared off.