Anyone else getting a good chuckle or two from the federal trial involving Roger Clemens? Most amusing is that of all the folks to accuse anybody of lying, the US Congress would seem the least justified to do so. What's that old saying about who gets to throw the first rock?
Ah, but I drift. The subject at hand is the baseball betting slate to begin the month of June. Clemens' trial came to mind when noticing a couple of his former teams meet Friday night to open a crucial AL East series. The Boston Red Sox, one of only six teams not to have Thursday off, will make an international stop to begin a short 3-game road trip at the Toronto Blue Jays.
Clay Buchholz opens the set for Boston with the first pitch (7:07 p.m. ET) being thrown by Toronto's Henderson Alvarez. The Blue Jays opened as $1.25 favorites with a 10-run total ('under' -115).
Boston will still be engaged in their series finale at Fenway against the Detroit Tigers when we go to press. The Red Sox take aim at a 4-game sweep of the Tigers with Josh Beckett on the mound, and oddsmakers like their chances as 135 favorites. Max Scherzer will oppose Beckett and the game carried a 9-run total.
Toronto was a half-game ahead of Boston at the bottom of the AL East standings that found all five teams within 2.5 games of first when play began Thursday. Friday will mark the start of the second series between the Jays and Sox this year after the two met at Rogers Centre in early April. Toronto took two of the three games in that set, with the 'under' also going 2-1.
Buchholz didn't pitch in that series and has had success against the Blue Jays during his career. Eleven career starts vs. Toronto have netted Boston a 7-4 record while Buchholz has fashioned a 2.49 ERA (68-2/3 IP). He's struggled this season, as a 7.19 ERA suggests, but is coming off his best start of 2012 last Sunday at home against Tampa Bay. Buchholz worked seven frames and allowed just two runs before the Rays rallied for a 4-3 win.
Alvarez faced the Red Sox in April and pitched well, though he was not part of the decision in the only game Toronto lost that series. The Blue Jays are 3-7 in his 10 assignments so far this campaign, and have dropped his last three starts with Alvarez posting a 6.23 ERA in that span.
Keep a close eye on the Don Best injury report for Friday and this entire series. Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia is expected to miss Friday's series opener with a jammed right thumb, and his availability beyond that is unknown presently.
Rangers Visit Anaheim For AL West Showdown
A few weeks ago, we wondered if any series this season between the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels would be significant. But after the Angels closed the month of May with a strong push, their series with the Rangers this weekend, and all subsequent meetings, appear to be as crucial as was predicted before the 2012 schedule got underway.
Texas was 11 games above .500 to begin May and held a 9-game lead over the Angels who were wallowing in last place of the AL West at 8-15. The Halos have climbed back to .500 following an 8-1 stretch to finish May, and now sit in second just 5.5-games south of the Rangers.
The division rivals will be meeting for the second time this year when they begin a weekend set at 10:05 p.m. (ET) on Friday. Texas right-hander Colby Lewis is headed to the mound against LA's Jerome Williams, and the Rangers are priced at -125 with the 8½-run total leaning 'over.'
Texas is starting this 7-game road trip off a couple of losses at home to the Mariners, including an embarrassing 21-8 defeat on Wednesday, the most runs scored against the Rangers at their own park in franchise history. The light-hitting Seattle club entered that series averaging just 3.66 runs per game, but outscored Texas 31-11 in the Tuesday and Wednesday contests.
Lewis struggled during May with the Rangers winning only two of his five starts. He exited April with a 1.93 ERA that ballooned with a 5.23 mark during his May assignments.
He didn't see the Angels when the clubs met mid-May in Texas, and has been a victim of bad luck and/or poor support in previous starts against them. Lewis limited Anaheim sticks to a .192 batting average in his last six assignments vs. the Halos, but the Rangers have managed to win just two of the games.
Williams was called upon for a long, 6-2/3 inning relief stint due to rain in Arlington during the previous series, and Texas hitters popped three homers among their 11 hits while scoring six times. His last seven starts have all been quality efforts, however, and the Angels were 4-1 in Williams' May assignments.
Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre have given Williams trouble in the past, combining for a .625 average and three homers in 17 plate appearances.
The Rangers swept the Angels the last time they were in Anaheim, and have won eight of the last 11 games played at the Big A. Texas is 16-9 away from home in 2012 while the Halos begin this series with a 13-11 home record.